Thursday, December 31, 2009

odyssey part !!

Wednesday morning I shower, but since our clothes are vacuum packed in the suitcase and we are still apprehensive about whether our luggage will fit in the car, I get to return to my same clothes.  My favorite.  Charles accompanies me to the airport to contact Renault again.  They have a remote office so the kind information ladies call again for us.  We wait 15 minutes then are driven to pick up our car.  Car is very small, but has seven seats.  I drive around the parking lot for a while since I haven't driven a stick shift for years, but then feel able to follow him back to our hotel with the grinding gears only making the car smell a little bit bad.  We load up the car and see that we either have to sit on laps or Charles and Matthew will have to take the train.  They go to the airport to see about that while I try to find my way over there.  I paid extra for GPS and it had been working when I picked up the car, but then with all of the packing and jostling something had been bumped and I couldn't get it to turn on.  After a short 10 minute relationship I was already completely dependent!  How could I get back to the airport?  I hesitantly found my way over there and pulled over to talk to Matthew.  A security parking person made me move so I pulled up a little and we tried to talk again.  I was mostly worried about the GPS not working so when the very large bus started honking at me and I had to move, we hadn't quite talked out our plan for the day.  I was still stressed about using the clutch, French traffic, having no idea where I was, etc. so I was pulled into some kind of vortex and had driven for quite some time before I could find a place to pull over.  We then fiddled with the GPS for a while and finally got it to work.  Yea!  Ella suggested we return to the airport to talk to daddy, but I thought they had probably gone to the train since it had been awhile.  I decided to head out and meet them later at the house.  We had to get gasoline and no one had eaten anything so we stopped and nervously waded through those transactions.  I realized that I had Matthew and Charles' passports, but they had all of the euros.  I asked at the convenience store if I could get some cash with my debit card since I could see that I had a toll road ahead of me.  They wouldn't, but assured me that I could use my credit card at the toll booth.  We finally relax as the sweet GPS lady tells us where to turn and really feel like we are on our way.  The first toll booth I pull out my credit card.  It doesn't work.  Try another card. It doesn't work.  My debit card.  No luck.  Call the attendant, "Je n'ai pas l'argent."  I have no money.  She comes over looking completely annoyed, cars are honking at me (am I supposed to run through the gate people?), and am told to pull over and go into the transportation building.  I go in, need my passport in the car, go in again, sign my life away.  We're on our way again.  Another toll booth.  Just take a ticket which I can handle.  Another toll booth.  Talk to attendant, pull over and go into building, up stairs, sign my life away.  Back to regular roads.  We are getting closer!  Drive around.  GPS betraying me by telling me to go the wrong way on a one-way street.  Street we live on about three feet wide.  Parking down the hill.  Bringing the luggage in several trips up the hill.  Half expecting Matthew and Charles to be there before us since our trip took longer than we expected, but no.  Leaving the kids while I find food since I am afraid of stores closing early, but now quite afraid of round abouts so just walking and walking and walking.  Find a store, make sure I can use my credit card, buy only what I can carry, walking, walking, walking home.  Boys still not there and starting to worry.  Did they need their passports?  Do they know the address?  I tell Ella to start some pasta since it is now dinnertime and I will go look for the menfolk.  First I go to the train station closest to our house.  No one speaks English, but I communicate that I am looking for my husband and son.  Well, guess what -- there is a local train strike.  Lovely.  So I wait to see if they come on a bus, but no.  I then find another train station, but when my GPS friend tells me I have arrived at my destination I can't see any building at all and figure she is wrong.  The line of cars behind me as well as the complete darkness also helps me make the decision to not investigate too closely.  I then decide to drive to the Toulon train station.  That takes longer than I think it should, so instead of parking there I just drive slowly along the front looking closely at everyone standing outside.  No sign of them, but I figure that I have been gone so long they are probably at the house by now.  I drive home, find a parking space far, far away and approach the house hoping Matthew and Charles are there and everyone has saved me some dinner.  Open the door and no boys and it turns out that the stove doesn't turn on.  The girls eat some bread and I begin to despair.  We have a phone, but I don't know the number.  We have computers, but I can't get the internet to work.  I have no idea if the boys even ever left the airport.  I try to call my parents, but realize later I was using the wrong country code.  I need to get the little kids to bed, but don't want to unpack or anything just in case I need to accompany the body bags to the U.S. in the next few days.  I think about going to the police, calling the airport, etc. and I keep hearing them tell me, "Il est mort."  I pray and pray, wander around outside thinking they might know the street, but not the house number, make a little sign for the door and despair some more.  We make up beds, put babies to sleep, sit on the couch in a discouraged stupor.  How will I sleep not knowing where they are?  I should have gone back to the airport, we should have found out the phone number to our house before we left the U.S., I should have given them their passports, I shouldn't have been more stressed about the GPS working than finding out what our plans were before the bus ran me down.  I started to plan what I would do in the morning when I heard a noise at the door and in they walked after 10 p.m.   I was crying in relief -- I had never been so happy to see anyone!  And they were hungry and tired.  Their journey from house to house had taken 52 hours.  But as I pointed out, it is still much better than John Adams' trek, right?   I may or may not relate their story.  I have been writing too long already.

So as I sit here on Thursday morning wearing the same clothes in which I left my house on Monday, let us look on the bright side:  We are all together safe and sound; worrying pays off since nothing I actually worried about happening happened; and after surviving the journey in the wilderness it must follow that there is only promised land ahead.  (crossing fingers)

it's the toilet's fault, as usual

(Why did we decide to do this?)  You can't quote me if I put it in parentheses and write really small.  I will start at the beginning of this tale that is, unfortunately, worth telling.  Monday morning was understandably crazy as we did some last minute cleaning, packing, running errands, etc.  We got to the bus stop with plenty of time, but then began to be dismayed as we saw the line (unorganized crowd) forming.  The bus arrived, but there was not enough room for everyone (oh my!  oh my!  breathe...).  The bus driver took everyone that was going to Midway and then called another bus to drive directly to O'Hare.  How nice, much better.  At the airport, one of our bags was a little bit overweight (too much to eat for Christmas), but the kind employee didn't charge us.  She even commented that we seemed to have packed light for such an extended trip.  Security was what I imagined it would be with every carry-on opened, reprimands for this and that, and trying to get everyone packed up again (yes, we used our children as mules).  Phin had just fallen asleep so that was sad when his one short nap of the day was cut short by folding up the stroller, etc.  The plane was very full and we ended up having to put our carry on bags in the first class berths since ours were all full.  Other passengers were going to far flung places like Africa and India and I smugly considered how much shorter our trip would be than theirs.  Then we sat and sat because there was some sort of problem with the lavatories.  That was fine by me.  I was in no way excited about crossing the Atlantic with no loo.  The trip was uneventful with baby only crying a bit when I tried to get him to sleep.  I never could get very comfortable, but I think everyone else slept a bit.  Because of the toilet difficulties we arrived late to Brussels and barely, barely, barely missed our connection to Nice (I am pretty sure that I saw it depart).  They met us at the gate with cheerful smiles and the news that rather than arriving in Nice at 11:30 a.m. we would now be waiting in Brussels until noon, flying to Madrid, waiting two more hours, then flying to Nice arriving at 6 p.m.  Okay.  The worst part of the Brussels airport was that we had to go through security again.  We tried to be smarter about it, but there simply wasn't a better way to do things.  Then another long walk and wait, another chasing Phin through terminals.  A smaller plane, but now everything in Spanish.  The stewardess being pretty buggy and asking me if I am pregnant.  Listen, I have five kids and the youngest is only one.  I am wearing comfy clothes.  Just leave me alone. Sleeping through that flight, chasing Phin around pillars in Madrid, plane 40 minutes late.  An even smaller plane with boarding out on the rainy tarmac.  It was stormy so an extremely bumpy take-off.  Lucy was crying, a few others were nauseated, but baby was delighted!  He would laugh with each dip of the plane and would applaud for a particularly splendid dive.  Finally to Nice.  Actually united with our luggage and went to find our rental car.  Scouring the airport, calling from the information booth -- no one.  They had left for the day.  It wasn't that late!  We talked to Renault head office who felt bad about everything, but said it wasn't their fault we were late.  Then a very kind British Airways employee calling American airlines (since they weren't in Nice) for us.  He explained everything with his lovely French accent, "It is your obliga-tion.  This family is so very tired." And they agreed to pay for our hotel.  We walked to the hotel with some luggage carts, but after losing everything twice in the middle of the road and children barely avoiding accidents, we then just started carrying everything in spurts.  A funny little hotel and sleeeeeeeep.  We had by then been traveling for about 30 hours.  The next morning we were awakened by an excited cleaning lady asking what time we were leaving, 10:00.  Matthew didn't understand and I was still sleeping, but eventually I told her we were leaving at 9:00.  She said okay and left.  Then Matthew informed me that it was already 9:20.  So funny.  Stay tuned for Wednesday.

Monday, December 28, 2009

today is the day

The day has finally arrived and the future is pregnant with possibilities.  Except that rather than feeling hopeful I have been walking around the last few weeks feeling as if I am falling off of a precipice complete with stomach in throat.  That feeling can be thrilling at first, but I have long since passed the excitement phase and have reached full blown panic.  On a roller coaster, one can release this kind of tension by screaming, but I can't very well go around screaming all the time because that would be weird.  I am worried about really being ready when it is time to go.  I am worried about forgetting something important (like passports).  I am worried about getting to the airport on time because of snow covered roads and the bus being off schedule.  I am worried about not really having a ticket because it was all electronic and there is nothing official in hand and we were somehow scammed.  I am worried about checking in because even though we have weighed and reweighed everything, we still might be reprimanded for the sheer volume.  I am worried that getting through security will be a Nightmare (note the capital N) because Matthew has his equipment scattered throughout everyone's carry-on bags and they are going to wonder what all those wires are and want to take everything out and we are going to have to take our shoes off and baby out of the stroller and he is going to run away and someone is going to steal our computers and why did someone have to try to blow up a plane this week of all weeks?  I am worried about waiting to get on the plane and then boarding and having everyone look at us and all of our kids with displeasure.  I am worried about being on a plane for nine hours and no one sleeping and the things I packed to do on the plane being interesting for about five minutes and baby screaming by 1:00 a.m. when he hasn't been sleeping.  I am worried about getting up to get a drink and just falling from the sky (that has been a recurring image as I try to go to sleep every  night -- no plane crash, just me).  I am worried about arriving in Belgium and going through customs and making our connecting flight.  I am worried about getting to France and not speaking French and people being rude to us (gasp!).  I am worried about the logistics of picking up our car.  I am worried that all of our luggage won't fit in our car and we won't be able to figure out what to do in our sleep deprived state.  I am worried that we are going to get lost which isn't fun when one is cranky.  I am worried that it will be gray, rainy, and dark the whole time we are there.  I am worried about living in less than half the space we are used to and doing home school in a pleasant way whilst also being quiet enough for Matthew to work.  I am worried about people not getting along (i.e. me being irritated, C teasing, E being impatient, L talking too much, I crying too much, P being too needy and not having a crib or a high chair or any other restraining devices).  I am worried about shopping and cooking and finding a good park.  I am worried that since I haven't planned every little detail of our trip that we will waste time and not get everything out of our trip that we could.  I am worried that since I haven't planned every little detail of our trip that we will try to do too much and get worn out and not get everything out of our trip that we could.  I am worried about one of us getting really sick or hurt while we are there which would just be so inconvenient.  I am worried about eating too much bread and chocolate and gaining weight (that is on top of the seven pounds that I have gained in the last few weeks just trying to keep the hysteria monsters at bay, which works for a moment, but soon the stomach is creeping up the esophagus).  I am worried that Phin has left an open banana behind a couch somewhere and the girl living here is going to be disgusted.  And I am sure there are many more things that I haven't even considered.  In short ~~ AAAAAAAAAAAGH!  I think that I need to throw up and then hope that my next step isn't in to midair.

I will see you all on the other side!

Friday, December 25, 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

holiday spirit

On Friday I had to walk at the mall by myself.  Joy was nice enough to join me on the phone.  The stores have been opening early so it was pretty crowded by the time I was leaving.  Do you know what this means?  My parking space was a fairly hot commodity.  So hot, in fact, that a man was willing to wait for me to unbuckle baby, put him in his car seat, fold up my stroller, get everything stashed, etc.  I know!  I tried to hurry.  Unfortunately, I had to exit the parking lot in the same direction he was in so he had to wait until I was all the way out and then out of NOWHERE a car zoomed into my space from behind me.  The man that had been waiting (for quite some time) started honking at him, but the new car did not care one whit!  I felt so bad and wished that I could have accommodated the patient waiter a bit more by, I don't know, ramming into the other guy, for example.  As I was exiting the parking lot, I saw them involved in a heated exchange, but the new guy didn't move.  Wouldn't you totally not park there if you saw that someone had been waiting?  And then if you hadn't noticed, but someone tried to alert you to that fact, wouldn't you just let them park there?   Aaaah, the Christmas Cheese, I mean Season.  While we were in Japan, we would always try to figure out what the topic of our church meetings were.  One Sunday a man, talking in very rapid Japanese, kept repeating the same phrase "kurisumasu chizu" was what I heard.  I turned to Matthew and said, "I think the first word is Christmas and the second word is either cheese or map."  It wouldn't have surprised me if there was some Japanese christmas cheese tradition that I had never heard of, after all the entire country has been convinced by KFC that everyone eats fried chicken on Christmas Eve whilst waiting for Santa.  Or perhaps it was a story about finding something using a map.  I didn't know.  Finally, 20 minutes later we realized he had been saying Christmas season the whole time, but now I always think Christmas Cheese.  Probably had to be there.

No I am not packed.  In case you were wondering.  Everyone seems to have been wondering.  For the past six weeks.  Let's see where we are next week at this time.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

why can't we be friends?

My baby changed.  On Monday.  He learned how to say no.  He has been shaking his head for months when he didn't want something, but that whole action has a comical aspect as your head wobbles back and forth and one becomes slightly dizzy, so it wasn't personality altering.  But the actual word?  Quite transformative as it turns out.  Ask him almost any question and he says, "Nah" in a growly, clipped way with a little scowl on his face, his shoulders bunching up combatively.  He is a pleasant little fellow for the most part, so when that word passes his lips his whole demeanor changes into someone quite different.  Of course, we all think it's adorable when his mouth stays in a little "O" for emphasis, but we are trying to not let him know that we think it's cute.  He needs no encouragement for it is no, no, no day and night.  Even when he wakes up his first word is no when I go to fetch him, but then he realizes that that isn't what he really wants and reaches out for me to get him.

I suspect that this new independent streak stems from my attempts at weaning him.  It was getting so that I couldn't walk past a chair, much less sit down, without him starting to grab me suggestively.  Church was becoming a farce because we couldn't possibly sit there for that long without wanting to nurse and any other food or drink offering was often thrown a couple of rows away.  At home, he would routinely bring me a boppy and a magazine in an encouraging and hopeful kind of way.  I didn't want to stop breastfeeding completely, but he would never just sit on my lap in a more non-committal way.  So a couple of weeks ago I was determined to nurse him once in the morning, once after his nap, and once before bed.  He was mad at first, but adjusted really well and now doesn't even ask except at the appropriate times.  He calls it nuh, nuh which sounds eerily similar to that other word he has lately mastered.

He is also accomplishing positive goals like blinking really fast, barking, lubba-dubbing with his tongue, pointing to Christmas lights, and wearing cowboy boots.

By the way, "feels like -18˚" isn't going over very well in my unheated room here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

counting down

We got out our Christmas decorations last night finally.  Everyone in my house that is over 12 years old is being rather scrooge-y about it all in my opinion.  They think that since we are leaving we should pretend that Christmas isn't happening.  We are not leaving until after Christmas people!  It was frustrating because lights weren't working, trees were tilting, and people were yelling (that couldn't have possibly been the sweet mommy spreading holiday cheer...).  We are definitely paring down this season, but it is still nice to have some of it up.  I got an advent calendar from Garnet Hill on clearance last year (I am so very grateful for wonderful sales ~~ they make me happy).  I found a very nice idea on another blog of putting in scriptures leading up to the birth of Christ on Christmas day so I am eager to fill mine up.  Like I always say, better three days late than never!

Monday, November 30, 2009

move it

Last day of November and Happy 40th birthday to my old man!  I have enjoyed thinking about all of the many things for which I have to be thankful and I could on and on indefinitely.  One final one for now, however.  I am so grateful for a healthy body that can do so many things.  I have been trying to do yoga every day and it just feels so amazingly good!  I love it when they say things like,  "Honor the part of you that knows no doubt."  Okay!  This morning we went for a brisk walk on the beautiful trail nearby and then came home and started raking.  I love to get exercise while actually accomplishing something useful.  Whenever I am running on the treadmill, or some other activity in which I am getting nowhere fast, I can just feel my pioneer mothers looking over my shoulder snickering and wondering why I'm not simply keeping fit by whacking the carpets and chasing after the hens.  It is silly I'll admit.  Actually raking wasn't so much exercise as much as an exercise in futility once the wind sprang up and started swirling all of my piles every which way.

:: dancing on the cistern

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

ma famille

I am tremendously grateful for my family.  I have the most wonderful parents and only wish that my kids could have as nice of parents as I do!  I have heard from some reliable sources that they had mellowed by the time I came along, so one more thing to chalk up on my gratitude list.  Lucky me!  They have given me so much ~~ love, music, humor, experiences, knowledge, curiosity, faith, self-worth....  I also love coming from such a big family.   I enjoy being the ninth child (number 9?  number 9?), the baby girl, having three wonderful sisters, and six brothers (!) which I love to point out when people talk about being teased ~~ I think I beat you.  Whenever I hear stories of people who are going solo through life (sad to be all alone in the world...) it is something I can hardly fathom and I am thankful that I only have to imagine it.

I am sure that it was insane having that many people around, but I don't remember it being that chaotic.  I was more than likely immune to it, but I still think that my mom pulls off big family gatherings with aplomb ~~ and there is even usually enough mashed potatoes.  I dedicate this song to my family in remembrance of Sunday dinners and in particular to my little brother {and his wife}.  I love all of you!

Monday, November 23, 2009

put in my place

 I love Sundays because the time feels somehow different and the afternoons are quiet and long.   I am so thankful for church!  Every week it is a little crazy to get there and there is often some regret about my behavior as I urge the children to get ready in time for 8:00 choir practice without dad who has been gone since 6:30.  I am sure that I seem quite surly before the meetings begin, and perhaps still in the middle as I wrestle with baby and shush chatty girls, but then there is always something that pulls me back and really speaks to me.  Often during one of the talks I will feel chastened, but that is lightened by hope that I can and will try to do better.  Last week there was a talk about how important our families are and that home is a place where we should feel safe.  Yes.  And then there was a talk about how if we don't have our ultimate goal in mind and a way to get there, it is very easy to get off track.  She gave an example of an airplane flying to Hawaii.  If the plane starts flying just a few degrees off course, then it would end up in the middle of the ocean and probably run out of fuel.  Hmmm.  It makes one think.  Yesterday there was a talk about pride.  He started by saying that often we don't feel like we are too proud because we don't have excessive amounts of money.  When they mention costly apparel and ornaments I feel quite smug because I'm not the Queen of England and shop at Goodwill for heaven's sake.  Certainly this is not directed at me. But even that self-satisfied and complacent attitude are symptoms of pride, the pride of someone from the bottom looking up.  He quoted Ezra T. Benson:

[Pride] is manifest in so many ways, such as faultfinding, gossiping, backbiting, murmuring, living beyond our means, envying, coveting, withholding gratitude and praise that might lift another, and being unforgiving and jealous. 

And I start squirming....  but it is a good discomfort, an impetus to start planning and plotting to overcome my weaknesses and become more focused on what is important.  I was telling Matthew that if I really did think that we were going to die on our trip I would probably be living my life differently ~~ dropping the unessential, serving, and loving.  So I must not really think that we will go down in a fiery crash.  I just keep talking about it so that it won't happen since nothing I actually intend to do works out anyway.  My evil plan.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Today is garbage pick-up day and I am infinitely and inexhaustibly thankful that we have such a luxury!  I read this horrible book, don't ever read it, I won't even tell you the name so that you can't and won't, and it was set in New York City and it was the end of the world and the garbage stopped being picked up.  Gasp!  How horrible would that be?  Well, the rats liked it, did I tell you I didn't like that book?  I try really hard to not produce very much garbage.  We recycle what we can, try to eat fresh foods that didn't come in plastic and cardboard, use cloth diapers, cloth napkins, cloth cloths (instead of paper towels), buy bigger packaging instead of lots of little things, give things to people we know or Goodwill, reuse what we can, etc.  I am always amazed (judgmental) at my neighbors when I see how much garbage they accumulate in one week and most of them have only two or three people living in their houses.  However!  For the garbage that we do have, I am always so grateful that I can drag the smelly bag out to the street and say farewell to it.  Living in Illinois I don't even feel too terribly bad about the landfill since there seems to be plenty of land to fill.  I am also glad that they come to take our leaves away, although a big fall bonfire might be nice.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

lunch, laddie, la garde

I am so thankful that I get to have lunch with my husband almost every single day.  In the morning I am too cranky and in the evening he is too tired, so lunchtime seems to be the best time for civil conversations.  Our lunches are lovely and we get to spend them with the other person I am so thankful for ~~ my toddler.  Intermittently throughout the day I will yell, "Matthew!"  As he jumps, he will shout, "What?!"  With great earnestness I will say, "Look. at. that. BABY!"  And then we turn and watch enraptured as he pours water all over his food, babbles incoherently, throws large objects down the stairs, puts yogurt in his hair, pulls the cat's tail... all the while looking utterly adorable with an impish grin on his face.  Matthew will ask questions he would not normally ask, like: "Does he take lessons in cuteness?"  We are quite smitten.

He even sleeps charmingly with his little arms under his head.

Have no fear, I do not love him more than my other children.  I think all of my children are unparalleled examples of perfection, bien sur, but one year olds.... Ooh, la, la, la, la, la, la.  Très darling.

After my last post there were some questions, so to clear things up:  We are wintering in the south of France.  I just love saying that because when will I ever get to say that again?  Um, never!  We will be staying in La Garde, which is a small suburb of Toulon.  We are leaving in about six weeks.  Aaaagh!  I keep getting worried about our plans and using our time there to the absolute utmost, but then stop and realize that since we will probably go down in a fiery crash over the Atlantic, I should probably just take it easy and not get so worked up about it all.

Monday, November 16, 2009


Today, I am so thankful that these have all arrived.  One for each child.  The parents' passports have yet to be received, but who needs us anyway?  At least the kids can all go now!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

music and worth

Tonight I went and sang at an assisted living place with about six other women from church.  It was so fun.  I just love to sing!  I was having to not look around at the people and/or think about the words I was singing because I was afraid I was going to start tearing up (snot running down her nose!), I get so emotional sometimes.  "For the beauty of the earth ♪♫ ... Yes, it is beautiful, and the skies are, too.  Oh, yes, and the love surrounding me.  (weep, weep, weep)

Yesterday I was even worse.  I picked up Ella from school and started the usual cross-questioning and torturous interrogation that comprises our usual journey home.  "Anything of note happen today?"  "Well, actually yes..."  She then proceeds to tell me that when she was in the bathroom before school started a girl went into the stall next to her, vomited a couple of times, and then started repeating "I hate myself, I hate myself" over and over.  That is SO sad!   Ella said that later she went up to her and asked if she was okay and the girl smiled and said fine.  Um, no, she is not fine!  I hurried in from the car and started cleaning something in the house and Ella looked at me and asked, "Are you crying?"  I then started sobbing and talking to Ella about how sometimes I've felt bad about myself and she probably does sometimes, too, but we know we are not alone and we have so much support.  I told her that she should go to school tomorrow and give that girl a Book of Mormon and tell her that God loves her and that we love her.  "Um, Mom?  I barely had the courage to ask her if she was okay.  She might beat me up." Alright, fine.  Matthew then came upstairs to see what was wrong because he thought that Ella and I were fighting.   "No, but there is a girl at the high school who hates herself!  Isn't that sad?"  I looked back at two people with their eyes wide, nodding their heads as they slowly backed away.... I know that this is not an isolated case which makes it even more tragic.  I was talking with a friend who made a very good point.  On the one hand, some of these kids might do well getting dropped off in the middle of the Sudan to see that just maybe their life isn't so bad.  True.  On the other hand, the world is so incredibly cruel and these emotions are real!  I feel like telling the devil and his minions to back off.  Stop telling everyone that they're not good enough and that they're worthless.  Stop tantalizing with the unrealistic and unattainable.  Stop desensitizing the horror and numbing reception to the things that are really important.  I am angry and I want to do something about it.

About gratitude ~~  I am a so thankful for music.  It always reaches down and touches me where I need it.  And I am grateful that I do know that I am worth something and that my children know that, too.  Let's go tell all those other kids now.

:: another pic of Ella on Halloween

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

veterans day

I am so grateful for people who are willing to serve our country in the armed forces. I think they are so brave. I can't think of anything more terrifying. But I wish, wish, wish that we didn't even have veterans. Just retired military who led quiet, peaceful careers ~~ nothing more exciting than helping out with natural disasters and things of that sort. After 9-11 and there was first talk of going to Afghanistan I was so upset. I thought about going down to the corner and picketing for peace. I wondered why we couldn't just find those responsible and make them pay for their actions instead of getting entire countries involved ~~ people who have already suffered so much from political oppression. I mean, after the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, do they really need us over there wreaking havoc, too? Oh, it makes me feel sick. I think about the mommies. How could you raise kids in that environment? Back to complete the circle, I am grateful for those who are willing, so grateful for freedom to think, say, and do, so grateful for peace... just wish we could all give it a chance.

I read Man's Search for Meaning last month. It was so good. And so sad! I got so much out of it, but mostly that most of the nuisances in my life are merely that ~~ nuisances. I can handle them and need to do so with a much more cheerful heart. I have love, I have safety, I have faith.

This morning I looked at the clock and it was 11:11. Groovy. Then I realized that today is 11/11. Groovier. How is it that every time I take something out of the freezer there is less room?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Today I am thankful for water. Oh, have I already mentioned that? Well, I have a fear of being thirsty and plus I just think it is great so I am saying it again ~~ hooray for water! I am grateful to live where there is plenty of luscious, delectable, clean, flowing water. I think the desert is beautiful, but I feel a little less uneasy in a place where is rains a bit. As I also mentioned before, water also scares me and I am for some reason more worried about flying over the ocean than I am over land. I even tried to find out the normal route from N. America to Europe and saw that it tries to stick close to an airport, heureusement.

This year the kids wanted to donate some money to a charity for Christmas (and any extra money they find the rest of the year). My husband has a problem with pseudo-charities who pretend they are noble, but really take donations to pay their own salaries. He found this one that is helping people in Africa have access to clean water and all of the money goes to actually digging wells, fancy that. They are very excited! Watch this great video that tells more about it (accompanied by one of my all time faves).

Monday, November 9, 2009

halloween, warm november, jeans that fit

I am so thankful for my beautiful children. Sometimes I cannot get over how extraordinary they all are. I have had my suspicions that perhaps Heavenly Father may have known that I couldn't handle any real troublemakers which in a way makes me feel ... I don't know. I just know that I am grateful for them every day and every night, high and low, and there and back.

Here are some pictures of them from Halloween that I never posted.


:: Queen Elizabeth and Dorothy

::Queen E and D again


None of Charles since he wouldn't dress up this year. Sad. Maybe he will be mature enough next year to realize that dressing up is fun, fun, fun!

I am thankful for two more things. First, the amazing weather we had this weekend!!!! Oh my goodness, September and October were much too chilly so it was beyond wonderful to have this little reprieve. It was 68˚, my favorite temperature. Aaaah. Today it is a little cooler, but still lovely as can be for a November afternoon.

The next thing is that I am incredibly grateful that I found some jeans that fit. What a trial! I certainly don't want to wear Mom jeans, bien sur! But I also don't like really low rise since I am a mom and have a mom tummy to prove it and I hate the whole hiking up my pants or showing off my rolls dilemma. Well, last week while I was walking at the mall since it was SO cold, I saw that there was a super one day sale at the Limited and I walked in and found them ~~ the perfect jeans for me. Regularly $69.50, got them for $14. What a coup!

Friday, November 6, 2009

looking serious

These are our recent passport photo attempts. We ended up going to Walgreen's after two weeks of trying. Sometimes the professionals really do know better. But you've got to admit they're pretty cute!

bed fellows

Wow November whatever already! Crazy. My sister is posting things she's thankful for on Facebook so I thought I would do that here and hope that it will get me writing some more.

Last night as I fell into bed way too late, I was very thankful for my bed. I love it so much. It has just the right ratio of give and take. I will miss it while I am gone. Along the same vein, I am so very very very grateful that my baby is now semi-sleeping through the night. He still thinks he should wake up around 4 a.m. and I usually hold him off until 5 or so, but this is so much better than the kind of dozing all night long thing we had going. I had so much wanted to try the co-sleeping regimen, but it just didn't work for us. NO ONE was getting enough sleep.

I am also so thankful for the friends and family that I have. There are so many reasons why this is true, but one that comes to mind is the response to my last post of not using shampoo. Normal people would react in a more horrified manner, but not my chums. Some already knew about this, others express interest and a willingness to try it out themselves. I love that! It is hard to explain, but it seems to be a wonderful example of our commonality and general kindred spirit-ness.

Friday, October 30, 2009

no more poo

No baby is not potty-trained -- no SHAM-poo. I have decided to try something different because I have long been bothered by the chemicals used in shampoo, but also, with so many people in the house, cannot really afford to buy the crazy expensive organic varieties. What to do? Then a friend mentioned that she was using baking soda and I thought that sounded splendid. You mix 1 T. baking soda with 1 c. of water then pour a little, rub, rub, rub, pour more, rub, rub, rub, rub some more, then rinse and voila! Your hair is super clean! To offset the baking soda, you then do a vinegar rinse which I very unscientifically mixed in a spray bottle. My hair feels so soft, clean, and not dry at all. I have seen that you can add oils to your hair to make it smell good, add moisture, etc. It is sad that I don't have amazing hair to begin with because I am sure that if I tell people to just look at me to be convinced of this practical method they would think, "Hmmm. I guess I could try that if I wanted straight, flat, thin, insubstantial locks with no volume." Someone completely unbiased in any way told me that my hair did look very shiny. You all should try it for yourselves.

Ibby stayed home from school today. Her teacher had announced yesterday that there would be a substitute and Ibby decided that she just could not handle that kind of stress and could she please not go. Matthew asked her if she would be willing to rake all day if she stayed home and she opened her eyes very wide and nodded her head earnestly. Well, that did it. We are pushovers and she is having a free day. I thought it would be nice for her to entertain baby all day, but there is something wrong with him so he is camped on my lap. I hate it when you have no idea what the problem is. He just keeps crying and fussing, not sleeping or eating well. He doesn't have a fever. I am bewildered and baffled. Perhaps it is simply that he is taking the no poo thing seriously.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

bento flashback

Do you ever feel like you aren't doing as much as you should be doing? My (lovely, adorable) friend posted this photo on facebook:(It is from this blog) and I thought it was so cute and wished once again that I possessed the wherewithal to do things like this for my kids. These same feelings surface every time I open up Family Fun magazine (for which, much to my chagrin and dismay, I have a four year subscription ~~ I had just woken from a nap, was pregnant, and didn't have the strength to refuse the completely annoying salesman, long story!) and see all of the endearing things they have created that would be found utterly delightful by any child and never be forgotten as they think back on their childhood and remember their dear, hardworking, fun-loving, sweet little mother. This photo also brings up traumatic memories of making bento lunches for my kids in Japan, but that is also another long story. The bottom line is that sometimes I feel bad about myself.

But then! I go somewhere like... well, almost anywhere in my town -- the grocery store, the post office, the bank, the library -- and my tune changes. For example, I went to the high school the other day for a parent/teacher conference and overheard a mother talking to her freshman daughter. She was being so mean, and just wouldn't stop talking, and her daughter just kept looking down, and I thought to myself that someday that daughter is going to hate her mother, leave home, and never look back and that mom is going to wonder why. And I hear people talking meanly and belittling their children in public ALL the time. It makes me so mad! And I want to pull them aside and have them take a step back and look, really look at their kids. "Can you see them? They are sweet, and trying to do their best, and are looking to you for help, not abuse and the chip, chip, chipping away I can see right before my eyes." So I try to remind myself to do the same. And I am sorry that it is at the expense of the poor children, but it does make me feel a little better about myself. My kids will probably survive without all of the bells and whistles as long as I remember what the priorities are: build up, let them know all the things that are right about them, feed them healthy food, provide a haven, encourage their faith, and give them lots of hugs. (And don't forget all of that laundry I have been doing, doing, doing).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

emergency 911

For years and years I have admired sumptuous window treatments in magazines and at people's homes, but I never wanted to spend the money in a rental (because who knew what size windows you'd have later and lasting 20+ years is a must) and then when we bought this house I was faced with a "design dilemma" as they say.

You see how the one window is directly above a radiator, which I have now concluded is sufficiently far away and not hot enough to be a fire hazard, and the other window is pushed up to the corner so I still can't decide if I should put one or two panels on that one or not. You can see in the picture below that we have had lace panels that came with the house that fit inside the windows, but 1. they are not lavish and flowy, and 2. they are cream. I don't like cream. My whole house is cream. I don't look good in that color and it makes me uneasy.

I finally took them down because I had had enough, and didn't mind the spare look, but now with winter that seems cold and also it gets dark too early and I don't want peepers peeping in my window (one of my personal favorite pastimes on late winter afternoons before people draw their drapes). About two years ago I had bought some long, inexpensive, lace panels at Ikea intending to chop them up for the basement (I also bought these blue velvet drapes to put over closets in the basement, which I realize now would be mortifying for them being so fancy and all), but then last week on a whim decided to try them in my windows upstairs and I loved how it looked!

Isn't that white light filtering through the window dreamy? It improves the whole room. The problem was that I had already chopped up some of the panels so I only had two left. I quickly went to the Ikea website and much to my chagrin I saw that they no long carried that curtain! My heart sank. I then checked ebay where people were already inconsiderately gouging prices. I looked around some more and saw that other stores were selling similar items for $70 a panel. I googled the name of the curtain and through some back door discovered that they still had some in stock at the Ikea in Bolingbrook. This called for action! I very spontaneously decided I had to drive the two hours, worrying the whole time that they wouldn't really be there, but they were and aren't you all glad? I think they look splendid and I have 12 panels to spare. Whew.

I also had a sugar-free candy emergency and discovered that if you spend enough at the Russell Stover website, you can get free shipping. It was a trying week to be sure.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

keep trying

A few weeks ago during scripture study, we came upon this wonderful advice: Do four things every day and you will be happy: pray, read scriptures, do service for someone, and try to pick one thing to improve in yourself. I haven't incorporated this into my daily routine yet, but I want to and that is a start.
If you are a mother and want to cry go here.

This morning in the wee wee hours I couldn't sleep and my back hurt. I wandered around my house for a bit, but it was a little chilly so I stacked up some pillows and kind of reclined in my bed. After a couple of hours I had fallen back to sleep. I was wakened by the sweet, funny, hyper
sounds of my girls picking out their clothes for the day. Baby heard it, too so I asked Lulu to get him for me because my back hurt. She came in my room and said that maybe my back hurt because it wasn't used to all those pillows. I tried to explain they were the remedy not the cause, oh never mind.

Friday, October 9, 2009

rainy days and thursdays

Yesterday it rained and rained. From sunup until sundown it just kept coming, and do you want to know why? Because Ibby had a field trip planned and boy oh boy was she excited. She had been talking about for weeks. "The field trip is on Thursday. Is that tomorrow?" No, not this Thursday, it is in like four Thursdays. Ach! Can we wait that long? They were going to go on a hay ride and pick pumpkins, feed baby cows from a bottle and see how cheese is made. A six year old girls dream... She woke up this morning and put on about fifty layers of clothes so that she wouldn't get too cold, but it was cancelled. She came home and I thought she would be all depressed, but instead she enthusiastically explained that they would go to the farm on the 23rd and would I please tell her when it was the night before that day so that she could put on her very most special undershirt again for that? Okay! That girl exudes exuberance. I need a little bit to rub off on me.

It was also raining because there was a funeral. Maybe it wasn't raining in Utah, but raining all day here seemed appropriate for my mood. My best friend's mother died. Long ago Kristin and I figured out that we were born 1 month, 6 days, 1 hour, and 3 minutes apart. We don't remember meeting each other for the first time we were just always friends. And her mom was like a mom to me. I was always at their house across the street and not once was I made to feel not welcome.

She always sang "Hel-lo Ma-ry" to me when I walked in the door.
And she let us do science experiments in her kitchen.
And she cared about the environment before it was trendy.
And she would take me along to the health food store and buy us honey candy.
And she never used chemicals in her shampoo, detergent, etc.
And she made crazy healthy dinners that always tasted good (and was happy to set an extra place).
And they drank real milk.
And she slept in on the weekends.
And they had a tulip table and chairs that we loved to spin in with a Nelson lamp above. Cool.
And they didn't mind us staying up until all hours at that table working on homework and other time consuming projects.
And she had a lovely garden (it's the one I picture whenever someone asks me how my garden is growing...)
And every Christmas we made stained glass cookies and gingerbread houses.
And her tree always looked perfect with nesting birds and a village around the base.
And we would sing along to Amahl and the Night Visitors.
And her dad was Lorin Wheelwright and we would go to his and Ila's house to gather around the piano singing Star Bright.
And she made amazing Christmas cards with photos and poems.
And she taught me piano for over 10 years.
And she always had Smarties.
And they had two pianos so we could play four person duets.
And she had us compose music every year and I even one a prize!
And she helped me love to sing always pulling things out for Kristin and I to work on together.
And she hosted doll tea parties with little boxes of chocolates.
And they always invited us to SLC to attend the symphony and concerts at Temple Square.
And they gave out Bit o' Honey every Halloween.
And she bought Kristin a make-up set that kept us quite occupied for years.
And she cheerfully took care of her mother-in-law.
And she was always learning new things.
And she couldn't wait to read us some interesting article out of the newspaper.
And they took us camping to Lake Powell and Capitol Reef.
And on a lot of other trips.
And she would tell us shocking things like how they had once slept naked on the rocks
And she knew the names of all the plants.
And she knew the sounds of all the birds.
And she loved sunsets.
And she never said a mean thing about anybody ~~ or was even negative about anything.
And she had the most amazing vibrant laugh. Ever.
And she shared it liberally.
And she was named Sylvia.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


About five years ago I met a woman at the neighborhood park. She had a daughter between the ages of my two girls and was pregnant with another one. I asked her her name and found out that she taught Art where my husband teaches. A few months later I saw her at our street 4th of July party with her new baby. I oohed and aahed, asked the baby's name, etc. Later I found out that someone in our ward was her student and did some work at her house so the next time I saw her at a University gallery opening I chatted with her about that. I took Music Together classes with her two daughters, romping around the room with them, singing their names every week, meeting her mother, and chatting frequently. As our kids have started school I see her at school carnivals and family reading nights. I noticed while I was pregnant that she was, too and lo and behold about a week before I had my baby (already a week late), while I was spending a lot of time hitting the pavement, I ran into another neighbor who said that she had had her baby ~~ a boy, named Finn. What? I had never actually known someone named that and here we are with Phin being the only boy name we like and someone who lives a block away naming her baby that. I ran home and told Matthew that we had to scour the baby name books again. Now why would I be so upset? Well, I guess that sort of thing bothers me anyway, but it was especially irksome because this woman NEVER knows who I am! I know almost everything about her that a casual acquaintance could know about a person ~~ her kids names and ages, where she grew up, what kind of car she drives, where she lived before she moved here ~~ and all I ever get is a blank stare. I find this slightly intimidating and I just didn't want to seem like I was copying her, but then again I didn't think she needed to have so much influence on my life so obviously we went with the name we liked in the first place. Anyhow, I decided that I was going to stop humiliating myself and pretend that I didn't know her either. When the babies were about three months old we all sat at the same table eating dinner at a gallery opening. She didn't even bat an eye. A few weeks after that I saw her at the elementary school, then a few different times at Target ~~ I don't even run into my close friends that often! Well, finally I had had enough denying my true self ~~ I LIKE to say hello to people I know ~~ and I started talking to her again when I saw her. I would comment on how big her baby was and what a cutie. I saw her at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago and asked the girls by name what they were buying. And yesterday I saw her as we were dropping off clothes at the local children's consignment store. It is very popular so you have to go before it opens to get in. So there we were standing in line for about 15 minutes. I couldn't not say something, could I? First I said a cheery hello and asked her what she was knitting. Then I asked where her baby was (with a sitter). I moved on to whether she has tenure (she does) and what teachers her kids have at school. Finally I could tell that she had no idea who I am. Doesn't it bother her a little that an apparent stranger knows her kids names and everything about her? I guess not. I told her that I live on the next street over. "Oh, you do? Do you know so and so? They just moved in two weeks ago." You know someone who moved here two weeks ago and you can't remember someone with whom you have had 50,000 encounters? Who are these people? I am going to have to go over and get lessons on how to be more remarkable. Next I inserted that our kids go to same school, ride the same the bus, we took music classes together, and that my husband teaches at the same university. In her department. "Oh, he does? What is his name?" Finally she notices my baby and asks how old he is. She doesn't ask his name because she really isn't that interested. As we are leaving I tell her good luck with the sweater she's knitting and I can already see the familiar glaze forming over her eyes. Hello! It's me. We were talking outside two minutes ago?

It would be kind of funny if this was isolated, but there are actually other people in my neighborhood who require unlimited introductions. What I want to know is, why can't people remember meeting me? Is it because I stay home with my kids? Do I have too many kids? Do I weigh too much? Have the wrong color hair? Dress the wrong way? Is it my name? {Random tangent: The other day I was returning something to the store. "What is your last name?" "Smith." "First name?" "Mary." He makes some wisecrack and I suddenly thought, I hate my name. I have had it! Perhaps hating my name has made me hate myself and that is why I never accomplish anything. When I hear about someone named Mary Smith I think of someone boring, mousy, pale, and nondescript. Mary Smith is an anonymous nobody. Okay, back to my other rant.} So it is all kind of funny. I guess I could start playing around and tell her something different every time like she has Alzheimer's or amnesia.

(Take us out Nat!) That's why darling it's incredible how someone so completely forgettable...

Monday, September 28, 2009

a positive point of view

This morning as I walked down the stairs I stepped on something. I bent down to see what it was and saw that it was a chess piece and there were many more strewn around the front hallway. I started to mutter about how the baby is always throwing things down the stairs (dirty laundry circumspectly squeezed through the narrow slats one by one, library books hurled over the railing with abandon, or super balls rolled from the top ~~ bounce, bounce, bounce). My Lulu looked at me with a smile and said, "Good thing he can't throw them down the stairs anymore." "Why is that?" I asked, eagerly awaiting the secret. "Because they are all down stairs already." Hmmm. Very interesting perspective. I guess that is true. Am I not supposed to pick them up and take them back to the chess table on the landing? What does this statement mean for my life? Baby has also started throwing everything in the garbage can. I can only find one leather sandal and one tennis shoe of his. I assume they have gone the way of all the earth. Another time I didn't even know my shoes were missing, but then found them carefully placed on all of the other rubbish in the kitchen. I also regularly hear him gleefully running from my room to the bathroom (pitter, pitter, patter) and then find earrings and bracelets in the bottom of the garbage can (better than the toilet). Am I supposed to move everything so he can't get it? Am I not supposed to care about losing material possessions? Am I supposed to leave everything scattered all over the floor because then at least it won't be scattered on the floor again? I don't know. I haven't quite discovered the parable from which I will learn something amazing and life-changing. Please feel free to tell me your ideas.

Baby is now painstakingly pulling tissues out of the box one by one, diligently tearing them into tiny pieces, and then recklessly throwing them into the wind. The cost of a little morning blog writing. Well, at least when he's done he won't be able to do it anymore (?).

Friday, September 25, 2009

last night some velcro changed my life

My name is Mary and I have plaster walls. It has been an insufferable burden for the last six years to not really be able to affix anything to them. Initially after moving in I excitedly pounded some nails in the hallway to hang up a large mirror that I like to have near my front door, but the subsequent crack up to the ceiling considerably dampened my hammering eagerness. Nevertheless, I pressed forward to adorn other rooms. I tried to ignore the sound of crumbling plaster behind the wall, more cracks, and larger than life nail holes, but eventually I was cowed. The daunting plaster had won and my bare walls stood as testament to their victory. I thought that the story ended there, but oh no, dear readers! A few weeks ago my savvy sister-in-law Stacie told me about the latest in wall hanging coolness ~~ velcro fasteners! There is a sticky side for the frame (or ANYTHING in the world that you want to put on your wall ~~ she even has an artistically aged baking pan stuck on her kitchen wall which would've been wretchedly complicated to attach any other way) with velcro on the other side and then another identical strip. The two strips then hold on tightly to each other (Ooh, I never can say goodbye... don't wanna let you go) and voila! Things are actually on. your. wall. It is true. And it has changed my life.

Here is a project I have been planning for years. I won't lie to you, I was scared. I was scared of putting things in the wrong places and my wall being riddled with punctures (I certainly wasn't going to actually plan ahead and plot out where to put things, that would not be honoring my true authentic self). But the velcro set me free and I just stuck things on there without any rhyme or reason ~~ grab a frame and thwack! on the wall and so on and so on. If I don't like it tomorrow I can just pull it off and no one (not even the cursed plaster) will be the wiser. Bliss, elation, and complete rapture!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Personal Touch

This morning I was off and running early and needed to make some phone calls. Normally I keep a small phone book in the car, but at some point in our hauling history it had been removed. I tried to remember the phone number of the pediatrician's office, but got a wrong number, and since I was driving right by I decided to just stop in and talk with them in person. Oh my goodness. Baby is way behind on vaccines ~~ like he has had one round ~~ so I thought that maybe I should get on that. The doctor told me that I could just come in without a regular appointment. Okay so I am standing there in the office talking to a real person with me standing there holding my baby and she was totally rude. "It is flu season. A lot of people are getting shots. You couldn't possibly get shots today." Me, "Could I talk to a nurse? Like I could if I was calling?" "No, they are too busy. What you need to do is call on the morning of the day that you want the shots." I looked at her incredulously and thought that it is the morning of the day I want the shots and did I mention that I am standing right here? I hadn't brought my phone inside the office so I considered asking her if there was a phone that I could use to call her office that I was standing in, but I am not that confrontational. Instead, I went out to the parking lot, finally remembered the number, called the office I was parked in front of, and they told me I could come in this afternoon. Like I said, oh my goodness.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Some Photos of our Summer Adventures

We hit Mesa Verde on the way home ~~ totally worth the detour! Notice Ella and Charlie's puffy cheeks from getting wisdom teeth out in CA. No pictures of that ~~ too busy watching movies with them.
::everyone had fun
::these were doorways not windows
::Charles carried baby the whole way
::crawling out from under a rock
::the requisite holding up the cliff shot

more summer

We went to the Nauvoo pageant and saw our friends the Stouts, Ramsays, and Tharps. So fun!
::dancing the Highland fling

A fun stop at the Mormon Trail Museum in Florence, Nebraska. What a nice museum!
::rolling down hills

::The temple

::a rest stop somewhere on I-80 ~~ our favorite!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Paint Chips

Our house needs painting. Ugh. Yes, I do live in the Money Pit, thank you very much for asking. We are not going to paint it this year, but we decided to paint the garage and since I have wanted it to match the house I have had to decide what color I wanted the house. I have long been considering going with a different color than white, but with our very overbearing, as it were, red roof, our options are a bit more limited. Plus I would like to choose something that would add rather than detract from our historical neighborhood. Mostly, I don't want to be the house that causes passerby to shake their heads and mutter, "Oh dear. How unfortunate." At first, I wanted to be bold with a pale gray or light, light, blue (oh, that doesn't count as bold?), but after doing one coat of light blue on the garage (not very pretty-making, actually quite taste-missing) it looks like white is the color our house wants to be. Forever.

Next we finally decided to paint the shelves in Charlie's room. They easily win the prize for being the ugliest thing in our house (now that the basement bathroom is finished) and were the thing that I was going to fix first when we moved in six years ago. So to pick a color ~~ the utter and complete agony of it all! I cannot believe how I can turn something that should be a fun activity into something so stress inducing. I take it all into my gut and work and rework how it will look and what will be best. I don't like to paint so I have to do it right the first time. Who knows when I will get up the gumption to fix a mistake? So there is quite a lot of pressure there. Once again I think I should go for something strong. Black, or a deep green, steel gray perhaps... and once again we went with white and it looks fabulous. I like white. I will just accept it.

Pictures late-ah!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Change the World

I am a total slacker blogger. I have been a slacker everything lately. The big problem here is that I am not exactly sure what I have been doing. On our epic continental journey, we heard a great talk by John Bytheway called "Turn off the T.V. and Get a Life." He talked about how much we can accomplish if we make better choices. I don't have a t.v. problem, but I definitely waste time. It is kind of depressing. Perhaps I should go into the corner over there and mull it over for a bit...

An hour later I have discovered that I spend quite a significant amount of time staring into space. I think much too much about my house ~~ and more specifically curtains, paint colors, and carpets which would be fine I suppose if I acted on my decisions and my house looked wonderful, but more often than not, I just move on to the next obsession having done nothing at all. The bottom line is that I should plan my time better. To accomplish this I decided to write down all of the thoughts that drift aimlessly through my brain; the continuous reverie, the incessant woolgathering. I found myself a piece of paper and (where is it?) a pen ~~ no small task. I sat down with anticipation and ... nothing. I couldn't even think of anything that keeps me up at night. I made a short grocery list while I still had my hands on an actual writing tool and then promptly misplaced the note. Oh well, I did, however, come up with a theme for the school year. I even made a little sign which says, "Change the World ~~ don't let the world change you." I know that my kids can float along absorbing all of the insanity that is out there, or they can try to find their true selves and really accomplish things. I will try to be a better example. Maybe when I am getting more sleep. That's it! The first thing on my list will be sleep.

Last night Ella came in while I was enjoying a soak in our soaker tub and asked if she could practice her speech for school. She told me to give her any pointers I had along the way. She seemed quite nervous ~~ fidgeting and playing with her hair so I gave her the old standard advice. "If you get nervous, just imagine that your audience is naked." We both started laughing so hard (it was terribly late mind you) because, well, you know.

In other news, Matthew came up with a couple of more things for my irritating list. The Normal police department (don't they have better things to do than hide behind trees and give people tickets for coasting down hills going 35 mph?), and when people pronounce Ensign wrong, people who should know better (it used to say in the front of the magazine that "it is not pronounced en-sun," but I guess they have just decided to let it go; very christian of them, but I'm just not there yet. A point for me for not shouting out a correction while I am teaching RS, yea me!)

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

My Little Pretties

The other day I took a little quiz on facebook and then sent it to my oldest girl. One of the questions was: Do you have any pet peeves? I answered that I had too many to count. Ella answered, "My only pet peeve is people who have pet peeves ~~ stop complaining!" She is so right. I complain about way too many things. I have pet peeves about people using the same names for their kids as I do (just kidding ~~ I am totally over it Stacey ~~ it was just the shock of it all!), spelling errors in books, people who complain about how people do their callings at church (hey, would you like to do everything?), open cupboards, someone saying they will come work on my house, but then don't come, people I don't even know bossing me around by waving me through an intersection (no, you go, it's your turn, let's just follow the rules of the road, okay?), how most places only have diet drinks with caffeine in them ~~ hmm, maybe that is it. I can only think of one more and it needs some introduction. There seems to be road construction going on all over our town. I wondered how there could possibly be enough workers to be maintaining all of these construction sites, but have since decided that there is really only one crew who just wanders around closing random roads at any given time. So! Main Street has been scraped down before being repaved and I get to cross Main Street several times a day. It is 1 inch, maybe 2 inches, lower than the cross streets. Do you have the visual? My absolute most favorite thing is to be behind a huge SUV, the kind made for crazy off-road stunts, the gas-hogging, gotta have my truck, smoke-belching, beast and have it cross Main Street going 1.mile.per.hour. Oh my gracious! It is a little tiny bump people! I bet you could go 3 mph. That way we could all make it through before the light turns red again. There you have it. It's going to give me an ulcer.

Pet peeve is such an interesting notion. The idea that you are taking your irritations and treating them like a little pet. Picking them up to stroke, coddle, and coo in their ears, "There, there, my pretty. I will feed you and nurture you so that you can grow from a mere annoyance and nuisance into full-fledged torment." Ooh, horrible. I need to take my daughter's advice to stop complaining and just relax. Yeah right, it's probably not going to happen. It would be nice, though.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


Here is one of the tub.

The Reluctant Plumber

Well, here it is. The moment we have all been waiting for ~~ the new bathroom is finally finished! Hip, hip, hooray! We thought that it would never really happen, but here it is a mere 10 months after we started our project and we are the proud owners of 2 full baths. I know it is a little lavish with 7 people in the house, but that is just the kind of extravagant people we are. There were times when we had to practically beg our plumber to come and let us pay him money, but he was nice and just happens to be a victim of what we affectionately call the Bloomington work ethic.



A little bit of an improvement I suppose.

It isn't quite finished (like a door for under the sink) and we still haven't had a soak in our ofuro, but we are looking forward to it. Can you tell that the tub is 36 inches deep from the pictures? I might have to take another shot sometime. And can you see the little black beaded accent tile that was the most expensive tile in the room? It might as well have been pearls. The little sconces by the sink are from a local old house salvage store and are the same age as our house. My favorite parts are the floor and the black toilet seat. Now I just have to find a shower curtain and you know what? There are a lot of very unappealing choices out there. I have to ask, as I have more than once in my life, why do so many people make so many ugly things when there is so much beauty all around? I did find the perfect shower curtain yesterday at the Urban Outfitters website, but then when I went to buy it a few hours later it was out of stock. It figures. Perfection just ain't my thang.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Badge of Honor

Yesterday was a first for me. Actually yesterday was literally the 1st, and so was a first for everyone, but that happens every single month so it wouldn't be an especially noteworthy topic for a blog post. I guess it could be if one were clever enough, but I won't pretend to be that talented and will now return to why it was a first for me. I sewed scouting badges onto Charles' shirt for the first time in his now long 5 year scouting career. I know! It is the little things that make one proud. I am not quite sure why I haven't done it in the past, but I was told in no uncertain terms a little over a week ago that he was required to show up at scouts with flying colors last night. I tried to explain to the person that his empty scout shirt, bereft of insignia of any sort, was like an outward manifestation of what a lame mom I am. I didn't know if I was quite ready to give that up, so of course, there is me screeching into the parking lot of the scout store 10 minutes before it closes and 1 hour and 10 minutes before he needs to be uniformed at his scout meeting. I come home and we scramble to find the scout shirt, search through drawers for any merit badges he has received, then we scramble to find the now missing bag with all of the badges I just bought. Baby! Then I sit down to start sewing the patches down and have to call my mom for some advice. She is sweet and wishes that she could be there to help me. I have to get off the phone because I have just sewn a huge pucker in his sleeve and have to unpick it (you think he might be embarrassed to have an empty shirt, try seeing it after I get a hold of it), get the council badge, the fleur de lis thing, the troop numbers (why are they all separate?) sideways and slowly marching down his shirt, the lone merit badge we could find on the sash, and put the little ribbons on shoulder buckles. Whew! Did he look more neglected before or not? It is hard to tell. I thought that perhaps I would feel better about myself after accomplishing this little task, but his shirt is still a badge of dishonor for me as a mother. At least I don't have to wear it.

Friday, August 28, 2009

seventeen years

Seventeen years ago today, Matthew and I got married. How could this be? I don't feel that much older than 17 now, but of course I must be. I look back and feel like we hardly knew each other then and know that it was God's hand that brought us together. I always am fascinated by how two people meet, but so easily could have never met, and then decide to never be apart again. The longer we are together the better suited I think we become.

There is one thing that is an irritation to me, but upon reflection (and the viewpoint of my good friend, Berta) it is that very trait that I think makes us infinitely compatible. Sometimes I wish that my husband were more "take charge", if you will. There is something in me that wants to step back and not be responsible for so many things, but I realize that Matthew is merely being very, very nice and no one can say that he isn't one of the most amiable guys you could ever meet.  And I wouldn't be happy with someone who didn't let me do any ole' thing I wanted to. He doesn't care if I want to: cut my hair, dig up the back lawn to plant a garden, have a home birth, take an art class, make strange meals, home school my kids, train to be a Bradley teacher, gain 50 pounds, have more kids, not have more kids, paint the bedroom, buy a 36" inch deep tub, talk about baby names even when I'm not pregnant, stay up late, rant, rearrange the furniture, go to Kmart 12 times in one week when they are having double coupons, not make dinner, watch Pride and Prejudice, be obsessed with things, not stick things out, go on some crazy diet, bring furniture home I found on the side of the road, buy fabric I never use, buy lots of other things I don't need, laugh too hard, start a blog, go to Ikea, worry, visit museums, try another crazy diet, go hours out of our way to visit National Parks, not eat meat, buy all of my clothes at Goodwill, get a new pet, cry about a fictional character in a book, etc.  He just says, "Okay."  Admittedly, more hesitantly at times than others, but mostly he is very supportive of anything I want to do.  What a marvel.

And he is so good.  He wakes up early and spends an hour reading scriptures, meditating, and planning his day.  He makes all kinds of goals and is very good at having dreams for the future. This is one way in which we are so different.  What a great example he is to me of self-mastery and discipline.  I can't plan ahead very far seeing as how I am always pretty sure in the back of my mind that we won't be alive in 5 years.  Why plan?  He is always pointing out that we are a good parenting team and that our kids will be well-rounded coming from two such opposite people.   Also, M is very smart.  I love his reasonable and thought out opinions on music, religion, politics, etc. and we enjoy many energetic exchanges on a wide variety of topics.

Thank you for being a great companion, a wonderful father, and mostly for not only letting me, but helping me, be the best ME possible.
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