Days 2017

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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Little Elves

Here are some fun Christmas pics. Cooper with his new (used--a huge box of them on ebay for seven bucks) rescue heroes. You would think he might be making a face because he figured out that they were used. Nope. He was ticked at me because the first present he opened was a package of socks...inside an empty box of his favorite granola bars. He kept asking, "bars?!" until I went and got him one so the Christmas joy could continue. Boston was tickled to finally get an indestructible Playskool flashlight that would not fall into the category of the little rule I remind him of almost every day. "That's a tool, not a toy!"
Leslie got some more Littlest Pet Shop stuff, a phase I think she is just about done with, but that is what she asked for, along with books and art stuff. And then there is me, finally in 3rd trimester mode, modeling some baby clothes that my sister Darcy got for baby Grape. (She's a little excited...she only has boys.) Thanks, Darcy Doodle! I'm also wearing what Mark calls my fluffy duck suit. I love when the comfort thing overrides the fashion thing and nobody calls you on it because you are too big to fit into anything cool, anyway.
The other pictures are of cousin Jaxon who is only a few weeks younger than Cooper. My brother Jake and his wife Rachel came to stay with us before we left to Montana for Christmas. It was really fun to see the boys play together for the first time, and a little surreal for me because Jaxon looks an awful lot like Jake did at that age, but with brown eyes. It's like having your brother be the same age as your kids.
It was really good to just take off (other than the 22 hours total, going through "Helena" and back, in the car) and be able to lay around all week with Mom and Brooke to do most of the cooking and dishes, etc. My kids hardly needed a referee at all with so much to keep them busy. Mom and Dad even babysat while Mark took me on my Christmas gift of choice, to finally go see the Twilight movie I've been wanting to see with him. I thoroughly enjoyed it and really got a bang out of Mark's reaction to the whole thing of what all the hubbub has been about among all us crazy women. I asked him afterward if he: a. liked it fine, b. was indifferent, c. hated its guts. He said he liked it fine and even brought up some observations a few days later. Since I am not one of those obsessed fans, I laughed pretty hard and told him that I was going to clue in the rest of the world on this blog. Here is what he noticed.
Why Mark is Better than Edward the Vampire
1. Edward is kind of rude and bossy.
2. Edward looks a little, well, gay at times.
3. Mark would never wear make-up. Especially white make-up with lipstick.
4. Mark didn't look like he was going to throw up the first time he met HIS true love.
What Mark Totally Appreciates about Edward the Vampire
1. Edward has a pretty broad definition of "vegetarian". Only eat animals.

Tune in next time for our January Book of Mormon scripure song. (With all that time trying to not go insane in the car, you knew I would have one ready!) December's 2 Nephi 25:26 was a huge hit and Boston requests to sing it all the time. I'm excited.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Baby-neezer Scrooge

This is a warning and an apology to those of you out there who usually receive a Christmas card from us. Usually, my first activity of the holiday season is to sit down and write a somewhat witty and very braggy Christmas letter to go with a nice family picture of ours. Then I spend several joyful hours stuffing between 40-50 envelopes and anticipating a possible return letter from any of our recipients. This year, the whole belly-up-to-the-table, filling out addresses routine just sounds horrid and tiring. (It doesn't help that we've nearly wasted a week of December with our family taking turns going through the stomach flu...) I asked Mark if he thought it would be okay if I just plead pregnancy and skip the Christmas cards this year. He heartily agreed (mostly because he hates it when I nag him for a week to hunt down the addresses of his friends or family I can't find.) Maybe we'll make up for it by sending out birth announcements this time around. (Well...if someone volunteers to make them for me. Miranda? Elsje? Michelle?)
Anyway, another problem was that it's not very likely that I was going to like any family picture this year, creeping up on 3rd trimester and all. We had a couple of ridiculous afternoons where we tried to get pictures of the kids being cute together and decided that we just needed Uncle Duke to come and make faces for them because Mom and Dad weren't cuttin' it. So if you are wondering what the kids look like, here's one shot we sort of liked...although it hasn't been trimmed the way we would have done it. And Boston's got a weird smile, but oh well. Atleast you can see the holes in Leslie's jeans from playing rowdy with the boys on the carpet and the gaps in her teeth.
And the Christmas letter? Well, I feel like I've already cued everyone in on all the cute stuff with this blog, anyway, and it's no fun to write a rerun.
This is turning out to be a nice Christmas though. I get to be involved in some music stuff with the Relief Society Christmas brunch and the ward choir. Mark had a very fun work Christmas party at Texas Roadhouse, where the country-fried steak I ordered was as big as the platter it was on. (Dad says beef is good for pregnant women.) All of the kids, Cooper included, can chime in when singing Angels we have Heard on High. I managed to pull off a double batch of my Grandma's Christmas rasberry bars and eat them before we all lost our appetite with the flu. Now that I'm feeling better I'm having trouble deciding what to make next! I've got Baby Grape's quilt top done and up on my new quilt frame. And Mark is having a very busy, exciting month for work to finish off the year strong after a lot of slowness and adjusting to all the new processing rules and mortgage regulations that the banks have changed this year. (So no one out there worry that we aren't sending a Christmas letter because Mark has changed careers to be a trucker or something...he still loves his job.)
This is starting to get as bad as the usual letter.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Monday, December 1, 2008

The Flood Starts Here: Christmas 2008

Yesterday I sat in a class at church where the teacher distributed copies of Pres. Benson's talk from 1988 (one I actually do remember hearing, twenty years ago in October) , entitled "Flooding the Earth with the Book of Mormon". I don't think I've gone over it for a long time, but I was very impressed this time for some reason. The end is kind of sad. Pres. Benson compares himself to Moses who never got to see the promised land. He, age 90 when he gave this talk, said he knew he wouldn't live to see the Book of Mormon flood the earth or for the Lord to lift his condemnation from the saints for receiving it lightly (D&C 84:54-58). Twenty years later, I am pretty confident that this condemnation has not yet been lifted. Yikes!
He also asks this of us.
"I challenge all of us to prayerfully consider steps that we can personally take to bring this new witness for Christ more fully into our own lives and into a world that so desperately needs it."
He had several suggestions on how we could do this, for example, he asked all businessmen who had the opportunity to place copies of the Book of Mormon in their reception areas. (I caught Mark on this one...). He also mentions the "age of electronic media" as a tool. And this was back in 1988! I think he may have meant this talk for some of us in future years. The part that really stuck with me, though, was this.
"I have a vision of thousands of missionaries going into the mission field with hundreds of passages memorized from the Book of Mormon so that they might feed the needs of a spiritually famished world."
Um, do any of you know of a single missionary who went out into the field with HUNDREDS of scriptures from the Book of Mormon memorized? Maybe 25? I don't think this prophecy has been anywhere near fulfilled yet, but I am a mom of two little boys. I have the power in me to accomplish this seemingly impossible task. (At least for two missionaries.)
So, this Christmas, we are having a kickoff of a family goal to memorize one scripture from the Book of Mormon every month. If we do this, Boston will know 100 by the time he is 12. (Sorry Mom. I know the Christmas tradition is to teach the kids "Fear not, for behold" every year, I know you are completely heartbroken.) And now you say, how can a three year old possibly retain something like that until he turns 19 and then for the rest of his life? There's a little trick a friend that moved in from Washington brought our class when we were in seminary together. All you have to do is attach the scripture to a familiar tune and it will be in that un-erasable part of your brain forever. (It's a good thing, because the regular part of my brain that used to be able to memorize things is completely shot.) Does anyone have access to the scripture mastery scriptures that have already been set to hymns, used by some seminary instructors? I only know four of them but would LOVE to have a complete list. I don't want to re-invent the wheel or anything.
Anyway, I think I had a little help this morning when I was trying to figure out our first one because I picked the right song right away. I thought this was extra appropriate for Christmastime, and the true meaning of the season. I'll try to type it out here transposed with the meter of the hymn if anyone else cares to join us while we learn it. Good luck!

To the tune of, "Oh Come All Ye Faithful".
Scripture: 2 Nephi 25:26

Oh Come, all ye Faith-ful. Joy-ful and Tri-um-phant.
__ We talk of Christ, we re-joice in Christ, we preach

Oh come, ye, oh co-ome ye to Be-eth-le-hem.
of Christ,we-e pro-phe-cy of Christ, and we write

Come and be-hold Him. Born the King of a-an-gels.
A-ccord-ing to our Pro-o- phe-e- ci-ee-ees.

Oh come, let us a-dore Him. Oh come, let us a-dore Him.
That our chil-dren may know to what so-ource they may look for

Oh come, let us a-dore Hi- im, Chri- ist, the Lord!
A re- mis-sion of their sins. Second NephiTwenty-fiveTwen- ty- six!

If this isn't helpful, call me and I'll sing it for you. Ah, I found a website that has someone singing the scripture mastery verses, but I haven't listened yet to see if they are the same ones I already knew. Any others?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Someone to Hold my Hand

Does anyone else feel lately like they almost need someone to hold their hand while they watch the national news? Everything just seems so desperate and gloomy! Maybe it's partially the pregnancy thing (I always hate those scriptures about how horrible things are going to be someday for the women in travail and those that give suck...) and partially that my husband is self employed, but I have definitely had my panicky what-if moments lately. Mark has been so good--always the optimist in our relationship--and makes me so glad that I don't have to face life and parenthood alone. He's also good at pointing out how good the Lord has been to us in our marriage when I tend to forget and focus on the insecurity of the moment. He wrote me a nice note today and shared this quote--coming from a man who lived through ninety some years of insecurity.
"When good men and good women face challenges with optimism, things always work out! Despite how difficult circumstances may look at the moment, those who have faith and move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out." --Gordon B. Hinckley

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Leslie's Big Day

I was quite nervous this morning. It was our Ultrasound. First of all, I wanted a girl, secondly, I've had a birth defect child before, and that makes a clean ultrasound seem like something I may not get again.
Well, the upper lip was very much intact, and so was everything else on our very photogenic child. I tried to stick one of her close-ups on here, but the ultrasound was in some weird format this blog couldn't read. So instead, Grape sends pink daisies to you all.
We were so excited to hear that we get to have another girl that we stopped by a floral shop on the way home and picked up Leslie's first flowers--the note read, "To Leslie, love, your sister." Then Mark delivered them to her at her school. He was surprised I wanted her to get the news at school. "Don't you want to be there when she finds out?" I told him no way did I want to bawl in front of her whole class, and this way is sweeter and she'll remember it for the rest of her life, anyway. She's been waiting almost eight years for a sister.
Maybe she would have been okay with the other kind of news, though. Last night, trying to prepare her a little, I said, "Leslie, tomorrow is either going to be a really really good day or a just so-so day. (I didn't want to say "if we have a boy" out loud and jinx myself...) If it's just a so-so kind of day, I'll make you a big pot of ham and potato chowder for dinner to help you feel better." She jumped up and down and seemed quite content with that possible trade-off, so I think she would have coped just fine. At this point Mark yelled in the background, "And if it's a girl, we're having broccoli!!" I guess that incident sounds a little Jacob and Esau, doesn't it? Oh well. I think she trusted all along that she was going to get a sister. Tonight I couldn't think of anything else I wanted to make, so she still got her bowl of pottage and, of course, we had to serve it with broccoli to keep Mark an honest man.
Leslie is really growing up fast, so I'm glad she's getting this sister soon. She's been such an easy child that when she does have her little spats with me I'm generally surprised. It's such a contradiction that she acts so grown up most of the time and then the seven year old slips in. Last night I could have sworn that my pregnant hormones were rubbing off on her when she threw a crying fit because one of the eyes on a caterpillar she had drawn in colored pencil was bigger than the other one and she didn't want to have to erase it and "ruin it". I sent her to room to cool off and just laughed. I'll have to keep the picture and show it to her when she throws a fit over something nonsensical as a teenager.
She has become a master at talking our ears off as soon as she gets home from school, and it cracks me up because when she gets really going a blue streak. She is so full of the seven year old energy as well that she is usually bouncing or doing somersaults on the couch before she gets done "summarizing" (there's a word we need to teach her!) the game she and her friends played at recess. It is so strange to contrast this pictures of the twirly, swirly girl with some of the talks she has been wanting to have lately. Let's see. Two weeks ago one of her take-home books explained the big bang theory, of all things. She came to me after the first page and said, "Mom, this doesn't make any sense, this part about how there was no such thing as time or space." Smart girl. So we talked about how time has always existed, and so has Heavenly Father and our spirits, but sometimes it is just measured differently. Then we talked about how scientists don't understand everything and sometimes the things they think they know are actually not true, but also that we know that the Lord uses wonderful knowledge--even science-- to accomplish his miracles, it's just sometimes the kind we don't know about yet. Somehow I thought we might have that OTHER talk before this one. She also has been interested in the election and last week wanted to know what I don't like about democrats. Hmm. I have a political science minor but they didn't really teach us how to explain that stuff to smart little seven year olds. Yes, the word abortion came up--a new one for her--and she was sufficiently horrified (especially since her mama is pregnant).
Then Sunday she asked me how come so many parents die when they have new babies. "Huh?" was my response. "You know. How come so many people have to adopt new babies and not older kids? Isn't it because the babies' parents both died as soon as it was born? That seems weird." Oh. So then we had the unwed mothers talk. At least now she isn't worried that Mark and I have mortality issues come March.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Today we took a little field trip to the big Bingham Copper Mine--the only man-made landmark you can see from outer space. (The pictures are a little skeewumpus but atleast I got them all loaded. Hooray for me! Anyone have any picture loading tips? It always takes me YEARS to get them on this stinking site and I don't know how everyone else does it so easily... is my camera just dumb or is it really me?) It was a little breezy but very cool and interesting. Leslie remarked on the drive up that it was very "remote" (one of her spelling words, but don't be too impressed. Earlier in the week she thanked us for helping cure her bloody nose by rubbing "gaseline" on it.) The boys loved seeing all the big equipment. Their load trucks are as big as houses and you can see the tires they use--8 of them per truck. I'd never been, Mark hadn't been since he was a kid, and mostly we just felt like getting out of the house before it gets too cold.
The rest of the week was full of fun fall activities. Our ward had a big halloween party Monday and that was fun--some year we will go through their annual haunted maze by the lake when we aren't carrying kids. I guess I don't have pictures of Mark and I but I was a 70's mom with a big blonde 'fro, a scarf and a corduroy jacket. My friend wore exactly the same wig, so we got our pictures taken in disco pose and I had "Stayin' Alive" stuck in my head all night. Mark wore a white garbage sack with a sign that said, "White Trash", and his friend wore exactly the same thing, but with a cool hat. So I guess we weren't very original this year. Cooper was going to wear the tiger suit this year but when Boston saw it, he remembered it from last year and threw a fit, insisting it was his. So I let them switch costumes (although Boston was kind of high-waters). Cooper didn't mind at all. He loved the fireman hat. Leslie saved my bacon by enthusiastically agreeing to be a pink flamingo once again, as soon as she realized her costume still fit. She had been that when she was four, but the costume was huge on her at the time. (Plus, as she reminded me, she did do a report on flamingos last year and she had never worn that costume to school before.) I say she saved my bacon because she thought she wanted to be a dead bride, and I was going to have to make her a tattered white dress and veil. (sigh...goodbye princess stage) So all in all, I was pretty proud of myself because we spent all of two dollars on costumes this year--for Leslie's pink tights-- and reused or borrowed the rest.
The night before Halloween we carved pumpkins. It is always hilarious because we make the kids yank out the guts themselves. This was Boston's first time and he thought it was kind of gross (egged on by Mark's expression in that shot of them) until he realized that Leslie ALSO thought it was gross and he had a prime pesky brother opportunity. Lots of waving orange guts in the face at that point. Cooper learned the word "yuck" really well that night. He just sat nice in his high chair with his pumpkin I had already drawn a kitty on and scribbled it up with washable markers.
Halloween went well. We ate homemade pizza by candlelight and had our Halloween sounds CD blaring out the window to the front porch. I took Cooper trick or treating for a few houses on our street, but he mostly just wanted to run around and not follow the kids, so we came home and did dishes and handed out treats instead. And really, Cooper's not into much candy yet--just a few licks of a dum dum and he's good. Mark finished up the rounds--lucky for us because it downpoured on them. I was excited for them to come home because I had prepared a Martha Stewart-worthy tray of my friend Lorena's fabulous carmel apple cider in cute mugs, topped with whip cream and everything. So we peeled off wet clothes and sat everyone at the table to sip our gorgeous holiday drinks and giggle together. Do you think that is what really happened? Ah, no, but I guess it serves me right for going overboard and made me laugh, anyway. I passed out the drinks while the kids were dumping their candy on the table. Guess what they found? Someone had given them Capri Suns (grrr) and, of course, out of all their candy, that is what they wanted first, heck with mom's decadence. Cooper wouldn't touch his either because I made him have a lid on his and that made him mad. I burned my tongue on mine, but it was very, very good. Thanks Lorena! Next time I'll make it for myself when I'm up late. So all the kids' drinks went down the sink, we turned off the porch lights and tucked our cute little monsters in for the night.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Adventures of a Red Hot Mama...vol. 2

Mark recently joined facebook at the urging of his business partner to keep contact with some of his business relationships, etc., but mostly he has been having fun discovering all these people he knew from high school. Someone commented that he had a pretty wife, so THANKS to whichever friend (I'm sure it was a girl or he wouldn't have told me) helped me feel not quite so pregnant yesterday. So that's how I came up with the title today. I just wanted to write about some of our routine. You know, the typical things we go through almost every day. Let's see. I toss and turn all night with a sore out-of-whack pregnant neck (too bad my brother-in-law the chiropracter, or "choirpracter" as my father Archie Bunker calls him, is up on the beach in Oregon.) Then at about 6:30 in the pitch black dark Boston sneaks into our room and pokes at poor Mark (this is the BEST trick ever, ladies! Have the dad sleep closest to the door!). Mark puts him back in bed and climbs in with him since he can sleep anywhere. I smile, roll over, and go back to sleep. At 7:15 I hear a happy stream of old world Russian with a hint of Samoan and Hutu float in from Cooper's room. He is standing up in his crib and excited to see me. The first thing he does is grab his BYU fleece, holds it out to me, and announces, "Banket." I scoop them both up, change him, and try to sneak past the creaky hallway and down the stairs before he can wake Boston up. Cooper is still streaming foreign language, but for some reason this doesn't register as a wakeup call, so we're in the clear.
Then we head down to the basement where I turn on all the lights for him to play and wrap myself in my BYU fleece, then scoot myself up to the game table where all my scripture study stuff has been waiting. This usually takes about half an hour since I also write my thoughts in my journal and throw an occasional tennis ball back to Cooper. This morning was 3 Ne 23 where Jesus asks the people why they haven't written the prophecies of Samuel the Lamanite. He asks them if they came true with this question, "Was it not so?" It struck me that this is a great question for us to use when pondering spiritual matters. Was it not so? Is it not so? I would think that these questions give a great opportunity for the Holy Ghost to confirm truth to us.
When I get my thoughts all out on paper I scoop up Cooper and huff and puff my way back up two flights of stairs because he already needs another diaper change. Leslie is getting dressed and complaining about how she doesn't think her clock is right and that we are out of rubber bands. Boston is still snoring away. Mark is tying his tie and smirks at me for getting stuck with the dirty diaper.
Breakfast is cold cereal, except for Cooper, who only eats oatmeal or a solid breakfast like waffles, which he is not getting this morning. Leslie is eating too slowly because she is watching a Boomerang episode of Pound Puppies. I hurry her along and instruct her to tie her shoes in the mudroom where she can't see the TV. It's a miracle! The whole tying thing mysteriously only takes her 45 seconds instead of 5 minutes. All this happens while I debate whether or not to pour milk on my cereal yet. (You moms know what I'm talking about. As soon as the milk is poured, everyone suddenly needs your help.) Unfortunately we were out of granola and yogurt, which is the best mom breakfast ever because it maintains texture for atleast, oh, two hours or so. I sign off Leslie's homework and kiss her out the door.
The TV goes off and Boston is a little disgruntled because he only just came downstairs and missed the whole show. So I let him listen to an audio tap of The Jungle Book while he finishes his breakfast. Cooper and I dance around the kitchen and clap to "Bare Necessities" while I clean up. I make some more phone calls to finallly cement my VT appointment, then I herd the two remaining rugrats back upstairs to get dressed.
That part was uneventful today, but they are getting to the point where they like to play long as they each have an identical toy and are noncombatant with that toy. For example, they like to hide behind the clothes in my closet, and today Cooper found an empty plastic hanger to play with. Boston wanted it and therefore, swiped it. Cooper screamed. I gave it back and hauled Boston off to the closet to get one for him. I find him a great one. "Mom, that one is green! I want a blue one like Coopy." Tough. We take the green one back to Coopy as a peace offering. Coopy doesn't want the green one either. They both scream. I roll my eyes, drop the green one on the floor, and haul Boston back to the closet where we finally find a blue hanger. When we emerge, Cooper is playing with both hangars. "Mom, I want two hangers, tooooo!" I grit my teeth and think of the wisdom of Bill Cosby who said, "Parents don't care about JUSTICE! They just want QUIET!!" I find Boston another hanger. Both kids giggle for about 30 seconds until the hangers become weapons. At this point I push the difference of their developmental status and suggest to Boston that he go fishing with his hangers off of his bed and try to hook toys. (Cooper can't compete in this yet since he doesn't know what fishing is anyway.) He is elated with this idea and Cooper and I dont' see him again until I finish putting clothes away. So, basically the morning is spent refereeing as I get ready and finish laundry and ironing, with story breaks for when the tension is just two much.
Ah, 11:30 at last. We all go downstairs for some table time. Cooper gets strapped into his high chair with some paper and crayons where Boston can't bug him. Boston is up at the table with his paint set and Lightning McQueen coloring book. I turn on a mix CD that includes "Takin' Care of Business", "My Boyfriend's Back", and "Natural Woman"(mostly because I love it when Boston sings along to that one) while I boil the Mac N Cheese and fix myself a turkey sandwich. When it's done Boston loves it and Cooper decides that although he loved it last time, this time it is worse than pigs' feet and he'd rather fling it with his toddler spoon. Luckily, this child loves peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with milk. (Neither of my other two would have touched such an easy to make meal at this age, so even though he wouldn't eat the mac n cheese, I coo to him about what a good baby he is.)
When Boston is half done, Cooper is up to his elbows in jelly, and I, mid-chew, have finally turned the page on my book club book that I need to finish by tomorrow, the phone rings. It's Leslie. She is sitting in the office at school and needs me to bring her some new clothes right away because the sprinklers accidentally came on at recess and she is soaked. I hesitate as I look at the jelly monster sitting across from me and tell her we will be there as soon as we can.
After the clothes delivery is visiting teaching, then Cooper's nap. Naptime has been kind of funny lately because Cooper always gets a story read to him first. Boston wants to hear the story, too, but if he is in the room Cooper is mad at him and won't settle down when I put him in his crib. (Plus Boston often gets his own story read to him as soon as Cooper is asleep.)So I tell Boston to go play about eight times during the story, on average. Today he obeyed a little better. He crouched down outside the bedroom door, kind of behind the rocker so Cooper couldn't see him, and just listened to the story. This would have worked great except every other picture he came barrelling in, "WAIT! I want to see the kitty! I want to see the sheep!" (Even though he has heard this story hundreds of times and wouldn't have chosen it for himself in a million years.) Poor kid. It was just too cute, and Cooper didn't seem to mind today. He went to sleep just fine, and I emerged from the bedroom wanting to spend some time with Boston and Dr. Seuss. But by then, Boston remembered that he gets to watch cartoons for a while when Coopy goes to sleep, so on with Little Bear, off with Mom.
But that is what gave me a chance to write this! Can you just even wait to see what tomorrow is like? Huh, can ya?

Monday, October 20, 2008

The Child's Glove: A Modern Mystery

I'm realizing that pregnancy has made me quite lax in my online activities. I'd really rather be curled up under a blanket with a book while Cooper is asleep. But my kids are just too darn cute to keep to myself. Today is the last day of Leslie's 5 day school break. We've done pretty well for her, I think. Friday night Mark's friend Aaron brought his kids over and they set up their tent in the backyard. Leslie had been begging Mark all summer to camp with her in the backyard, and Mark is way more likely to do something like that if friends are involved (sharing the misery...). So I happily gazed out on two quiet tents in my backyard late that night as I finished up watching my Alfred Hitchcock movie, all by myself, checked on Cooper, and went to sleep in a soft warm bed. I did make the menfolk some fancy breakfast burritos the next morning as payment for their "good dad sacrifice". Saturday was nice outside so we slaved away on the backyard all morning, cleaning out the garden, bringing in toys, and scrubbing the sprinkler calcium deposits off my basement windows. Then we rewarded our hard-working family by feeding the kids sandwiches and taking ourselves to the JCW drive-thru before heading to the park to play. I know, we're cheapos, but we shared a few French fries with them and they didn't mind a bit.
Today is Grandma Day day. She treated me and the kids to a trip to the Living Planet Aquarium this morning and then whisked Boston and Leslie off to her house for lunch and playtime. Boston liked it but the timing may not have been the best since he woke up with a shark nightmare yesterday. Then again, maybe it was a good reality check because their sharks are really small and not frightening. Leslie only pet the sting rays in the open water about 20 times, and Cooper refused to sit nice in the stroller because he was having too much fun running up and down a wooden boat ramp they had in the Salt Lake exhibit. I now want a pet octopus, but I got a little cross-eyed looking through all that curved glass at the fish.
Most of the time though, our entertainment is not that elaborate. Mark and I laughed 'til we cried last night when Boston found a stray child's work glove. The fingers were quite narrow and he could not, for the life of him, get each of his fingers in its assigned slot. Why do they make gloves for little kids anyway? They never work! Mark even tried helping him for about 10 minutes. The funniest part was that he THOUGHT all of the fingers on the glove were occupied because they stood up stiff. We'd ask him how old he was and he'd hold up an empty and two fingers, after looking at it for a minute. He's a smart one, alright.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Popcorn and Potatoes

We've been enjoying the crispy cold weather. Mark woke up at 6 this morning, freezing, and covered all the kids with extra blankets. I was already too hot and didn't need one, thanks Grape! We get to find out if Grape is female or that other sex on November 12, hooray! Mark and the boys are downstairs watching football, of course, and Leslie is watching the old Katherine Hepburn version of Little Women. She saw that it was on TV and insisted that we tape it because she just finished reading the Illustrated Classics version. Good for her. (I hope she can understand what they are saying...those black and whites have pretty fast dialogue for a seven year old.) Boston heard us discussing whether or not she could watch it and he came up to me, big blue eyes and all, "Mommy? Can we please watch Little Man?"
I had two beautiful mornings with the boys this week. They were both cranky and wanted to go outside, so I would go with them, trying to enjoy the last of our warm days. Monday I got out the shovel and the wheelbarrow and we dug up our potatoes. It was so fun--the boys were so excited and even Cooper was trying to crawl into the garden box to get the bright red Easter eggs that were hiding in the dirt. We got two big sackfuls. What an easy crop! I picked a few of the pumpkins as well, but they made the wheelbarrow a little to heavy to push up the hill. While I was taking the pumpkins, one by one, to my porch, of course the boys tipped over the wheelbarrow. They had just as much fun picking up all the pretty potatoes off the grass, though.
A few days later (after watching an old movie, "Drums Along the Mohawk" and seeing the bundles of drying corn hanging from the walls of the cabin) the boys and I harvested about half of the popcorn. You're supposed to let it dry on the stalk, and only about half of them were dry. Boston loves husking corn and so the two of us sat in the grass in the sunshine and peeled back the husks (he was so careful not to rip them off!) and tied them into two big bundles. Now they are so pretty, hanging in my pantry to finish drying. Then we are supposed to be able to rub the kernels off and pop them. Here are some pictures of my lovely fall activities.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Little Reunion

This was a really fun, busy week, all revolving around Saturday's activities for the womenfolk. Some of our friends from Texas, the Ernstroms, who used to be our neighbors, came and stayed with us a few days. It was great to let the kids entertain each other while we talked, shopped, lounged around and ate. Then Friday some of our other friends, also old neighbors, the Knudsens, came to spend the night as well, so we were the big party house, pizza, homemade donuts and all. Everybody kept apologizing for creating work for the limping pregnant woman, but really, the kids were great and everybody worked hard, letting me pretty much boss them around. It felt like old times that we got to stay up and play board games or watch movies when the kids all finally conked out.
Saturday was our big day. Erica, Miranda, Michelle and I, along with several of our other friends, are part of an unofficial quilt guild--the Loch Lomond Quilters. Our unofficial group leader was hosting a quilt show for us in her backyard and so we all helped and displayed our beautimus creations. (Our husbands were troopers for taking the kids pretty much all day...) It was beautiful weather and so fun to catch up with so many old friends while we strolled around and sat around in the shade eating all the goodies from the treats table. Miranda and I got to be the not-so-serious judges and had a blast passing out awards to the ones we liked the best, although now I'm starting to feel bad that we couldn't think up more awards because there were so many beautiful quilts. It was hard to decide!
Then Erica had to leave, but the rest of us also got to attend the Relief Society broadcast together. It was SO good and whaddayaknow, Pres. Uchtdorf talked about two things that will bring us joy: creation and compassion. Michelle leaned over and said, "I'm gonna tell Jeff that Pres. Uchtdorf told us to quilt!" My friends, with all their service, had been doing both all weekend, and when we stood to sing the intermediate hymn I was startled to tears to hear their strong voices harmonizing with mine. I had forgotten what that was like. Thank you, ladies.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Michelangelo Strikes Again

Ah, brotherly love. You'll remember a few weeks ago I posted pictures of Cooper plastered in Vicks. Well, Boston did it again, this time in that thick Eucerin lotion that comes in a tub. I was just in the next room and smiling that they were playing so quietly together and laughing at each other that I didn't suspect. (Until Boston started yelling, "Yucky! Ha hahaha.") I rubbed most of it off with a towel and threw him in the tub. Of course, Boston had to climb in the tub, too. (He just strips himself and hops in. Oh well.) Then, while I was getting Cooper dressed, Boston emptied half a bottle of Leslie's shampoo into the water. What a hurricane he is. They are starting to play so well together, though. The next picture is Cooper, running (that's why the picture is so bad) giving his older brother a ride on the Beep Beep. I swear that thing probably has 5,000 miles on it. The last picture you can see that I am starting to celebrate the season of the harvest. This was the first year I grew sunflowers and this head was so enormous it drooped down about two feet. I finally decided to pick it and let it dry out in the house because I was worried it was going to break. I read that I'm supposed to hang them upside down to dry in a mesh bag to catch the seeds, then soak the seeds in salt water and bake them. I actually hate sunflower seeds but I love the way the flowers look and Mark loves them, so I figured I should learn how to do it.
This week has been a learning experience. For Mark. He's been picking up the slack for me while I recover from surgery. I'm supposed to put my foot up alot and not stand on it very long, so I haven't been doing the routine clean-up-as-you-go-along type of stuff. He comes home from work and the house is completely trashed, with bits of torn toilet paper floating around between the cracks because Cooper keeps getting into the stash in the pantry. Plus the counters are stacked with dishes and the floor has not been swept. It's actually quite gratifying to be a bum for awhile, just to realize how much you actually mean to the family. Too bad I'm starting to feel better.
So, the surgery was to remove a bone spur and some troublesome scar tissue from beneath the nail of my big right toe. I injured it pretty bad in highschool when (clumsy me, of course) I was trying to yank open a metal locker drawer that wouldn't to get my shoes out after a swimming party. It flew out and landed on my bare, wet toe. Blood and gore, etc., and it has never been right since then. I had it checked out five years ago when it was giving me alot of pain and the podiatrist found out that it had actually been broken and that a bone spur had developed in the nail bed, making the nail ugly, unhealthy and not very well attached to my toe. He suggested surgery at the time but that freaked me out and I declined. Well, I barely tapped it with a vaccuum cleaner attachment a couple weeks ago and thought I was going to die of pain. So, after limping around for a week I went back to the doc and he said, "Let's do it." Luckily they still had my old x rays. He had to do it in the operating room instead of his office because he was going to be grinding down bone tissue.
This actually made for an interesting predicament. A little dinky surgery on a pregnant woman in a highly regulated and kind of scary place. I lived it up. First of all, since I am pregnant, he didn't want to put me under. Fine with me! I was awake for my wisdom teeth removal and that was no big deal. No paycheck for the anesthesiologist, na na. Plus, since I was only going to have a local, pain-numbing shot, the doc said to just ignore the nurse that called the day before to schedule me and instruct me not to eat or drink anything for however many hours. So I ate a nice big breakfast. I had no idea the nurses would be so ticked at me, but they were. I'm sure they thought I was going to lose it all over the operating room. It was actually pretty hilarious. I should have faked them out. Since they have so many rules I had to dress in the gown and the shower cap and everything. For a little pedicure. Then, after much protestation from me, they still had to give me an IV. "Just in case", they smiled. I guess they thought I was going to go into shock or something. They strapped me to the table and had to check the baby's heartbeat before we could start. That was actually kind of cool (although unnecessary) because they did it at the same time as the doctor was giving the shots, so I had something to distract me. I said, "Hand me my library book, please." They were shocked, but finally did something I asked, and the surgery was over after only about a chapter. They said they weren't used to people being awake in there.
Anyway, I think I'm recovering and will shortly be able to not have a plastic baggy over my foot when I'm in the shower.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Lessons from a Rich Vampire, a Singing Postmaster, and a Bald Old Frenchman

I like to read fiction. It is a pleasure and an escape for me and I think it helps me be a better person in general to picture other people and their circumstances. Sometimes after I finish a book, some of the ideas will stick in my head for awhile and I feel like I'm seeing life through a different window for a while, noticing new things. Sometimes one gets stuck in my head like a song might, where you like the song but wish it would go away because you are sick of the broken record. (I've read Gone with the Wind three times and each time it takes me about three weeks to "get over it"). Well, in honor of my alma mater, I gave in to the hype and finished off the Twilight Series (by BYU author, Stephanie Meyer). Her books are highly absorbing, suspenseful and very romantic, and very long (yeah, yeah I read 700 pages in less than 24 hours and still played with my kids). The first two were good for me especially because I read them while Cooper was in the hospital and it was nice for a distraction. The one I just finished had some really interesting themes (especially coming from a Mormon perspective) about immortality and eternal love. That part I very much enjoyed. I do have to caution myself a little though, because the characters in her books are so very perfect in every way and I shouldn't feel bad or sad if I'm not like a fairy tale. (Well, in this case, a vampire tale, where both hero and heroine are immortal, indestructible, richer than England, sappier than Romeo and Juliet, beautiful beyond belief, kind, and somehow never have any demands on their time. Now that's fiction!) Now that it has been a few days since I finished, I've been thinking about real life love, and how, although not always novel-perfect, it can be pretty darn close.
Here's just one comparison taken from Edward, the rich "tame", Bruce-Waynish vampire. He is worried sick that his lovey is going to die before the wedding and her pending immortality. So he buys her this extravagant Saudi Arabian car that is bomb proof, bullet proof, tank proof, fire proof... you get the picture. After I finished reading that I thought, wow. I love Mark but I just don't feel that worried and concerned about him all the time. What's wrong with me? Then sitting in the adult session of Stake Conference with him last night I finally got it. We've been married for eternity, just like a fairytale, and if there was something that WAS going to threaten his worthiness or his ability to return to where we really want to go, I WOULD risk life and limb and do anything in my power to protect him. Likewise for my children. (So then I felt better.) Then, my eyes were open a little and I looked around. I was surrounded by many extremely beautiful people. Seriously! Novel worthy! Also some pretty ordinary, but happy looking people. But you know what really stuck out? They were at the adult session, without their kids, and almost every last couple I knew just looked so thrilled to be together. Our beautiful friends in front of us were whispering and passing notes. He's in the bishopric and they never get to sit together. My visiting teaching partner, mother of six, was there with her husband who is always out of town, and they had the whole row to themselves with their arms around each other, listening and smiling. An elderly wife to the left of us was playing with the back of her husband's neck and smiling up at him like a bride. Mark, concerned for my comfort already after three months only of pregnancy, asked me if I wanted him to get me a soft seat. I'm telling you, romance is alive and well and very real if you just look around a little.
I was telling Mark some of my observations after the meeting and I remembered that his Grandparents would have fit the bill perfectly. They were so close that they even intentionally dressed alike (back when men could find a polyester suit of any color). He was the postmaster in Fillmore Utah and also a much requested performer at every community gathering for his voice and collection of humorous songs. I never got to meet him but I much enjoyed reading his memoirs. I think he was probably alot like Mark. (His nickname among his quorum brethren was, sarcastically, "Lawbreaker", because he was such a straight arrow.) He served as a sealer in the Manti temple for years and wrote that he loved serving with his wife Melva because every time he saw her in her white dress, she just was so incredibly beautiful and looked like an angel to him. Glasses, gray hair, wrinkles and all. (I added that last part, not him. She probably was extremely beautiful. I never got to meet her, either.)
Let me just close this lengthy letter about love with one of my favorite memories from when we went to France, where they really know about that kind of stuff, I guess. We got to have Sunday dinner with the Merciers, a lovely older couple who knew Mark on his mission. The husband, Michel, was serving as branch president when we visited. They live in Normandy in a cottage near the coast. (Sister Mercier's cooking was fabulous and the memory is distracting this pregnant woman for a moment...) While we were finishing up and showing some pictures we had brought of Mark's life since the mission, he had some grandfatherly advice for us. His eyes brimmed over with tears. "Marry-ahge. [translate hear, marriage] Eet ees ze BEST sing een life."

Boston's birthday

Boston had a great birthday. We went on a family adventure to the zoo. It was Boston and Cooper's first time because Mark hates the zoo. When I ask him why, he says it's because it's hot and stinky and sweaty pushing a heavy stroller around. Well, Boston's birthday was perfect. The weather was fabulous and NO ONE was there, I suppose because it was the day after Labor Day and everyone had gone the day before. Mark even enjoyed himself. We went with Grandma Frances and Leslie especially loved that because she had someone to run her nonstop chatter to. Boston and Cooper were just mesmerized and Cooper was trying to make all the animal sounds. Here are some pictures of my garden, the zoo, and Boston's birthday. He got some underwear, a toy snake, some matchbox cars, the book Gallup, his own coloring book, and a pirate ship. The pirate ship has been a big hit and he vigilantly "protects" it from Cooper.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

That time of year again...

I guess it's time to drag myself back to the computer. You may notice my less frequent postings because I seem to be doing a lot of laying around while Cooper is napping (my usual computer time)...I just don't feel the urge to accomplish pretty much anything. Finish a novel or a chocolate bar or both, maybe. My poor house. Lucky for it, yesterday we hosted a big BBQ for Mark's breakfast meeting group, so I had a little shove to get everything tidied up. Plus whenever Mark wants to have company he is very motivated to help with the cleaning, so I don't mind one bit. Other than the drowsiness and the aversion to meal planning (are you kidding me? actually EAT those yellow squash in the garden that I thought sounded so good when I planted them this spring...) I have been feeling just fine.
Leslie got off to a happy start with second grade and likes her teacher very much. I miss the slave labor and the female companionship, but it probably has been a good thing for me to be forced to sit and play with the boys to keep them happy, and now we are off to a pretty good routine. My biggest dilemma was trying to figure out how to take a shower after a morning workout without Leslie around to babysit boys for me. I can't leave them alone together. I can't have Cooper in the bathroom with me at all because I have a walk-in shower and he does just walk right in. It used to not be so bad because he would just crawl around my ankles and get his bath at the same time, but now that he walks he slips and falls. I can't let Cooper play in the dry jet tub unless I wrap a towel around the faucets so he doesn't turn the water on, but then Boston wanders in, removes the towel, and does the job for him. So I finally decided to try letting the boys bathe together in my jet tub while I shower (I can see them because, with a walk-in, it is an open shower). I thought, "This is brilliant! They love it, it solves my problem, and it gets two jobs done at once!" But as soon as I congratulated myself, Boston climbed up onto the ledge seat like he was playing king of the mountain or something and cannonballed into the tub, right on top of Cooper, splashing my entire bathroom in the process. So we're back to square one. Good thing (I guess) that most days I'm too tired for a morning workout anyway.
We are back to Mark's busiest season. Work comes in faster, he plays softball for two hours every Wednesday night, and of course, football season started today. We've worked out a pretty good system for the football watching thing. He is allowed to go and watch any of the games at whoever's house (we don't have the right channel) as long as he takes one of the boys with him. Hence, Mark and Boston are gone to play with their friends Brent and little Charlie, and I am here with a happily un-bullied Cooper, with my chance to sit at the computer. Go Big Blue!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Meet Grape.

I wanted to just have the picture and let everyone figure out the news, but I figured that would generate too many questions. I'm somewhere around 9-10 weeks (and have been saving this picture to post until I had been to the doc). I am actually a week further along than I thought, so that's nice. My due date is March 26. I haven't yet checked how close that is to Easter. I feel pretty good with not much concern of feeling any worse--I've had pretty easy pregnancies thus far. This one has made me very sleepy and not very ambitious to accomplish anything yet. Today the boys were playing peekaboo with my long dining room curtains and pulled one down. I took one look at it, thought, "I'll have to climb up on a chair and lift up my arms for a slightly extended period of time. Too can wait for Mark to get home." So I draped it over a chair and left it. After this post, while Cooper is sleeping, I'm going to plug Boston into the electronic babysitter and meet up with my pillow. Sometimes having a couch potato child is a good thing. Other than that and the fact that my lower back has somehow gone on strike, I feel pretty good. It's my fourth and I think I'm starting to show already, despite all the exercising I've done this summer, but my doctor says the womb is now about the size of a grapefruit, so now I don't feel too bad. Grapefruits can be pretty big. Speaking of grapes, when we first found out we didn't tell anyone in the family except Boston and Cooper, figuring they wouldn't be tempted to spill it. I asked Boston what we should name the baby in my tummy if it was a girl. Without hesitation, he answered, Grape. We thought that was pretty funny since the baby was probably about the size of one at the time.
Now that Grape has had her front page news, I wanted to add one of the boys' misadventures. They were being good and quiet upstairs the other day and I smelled this strange but medicinally comforting smell wafting down the stairwell. I went up to investigate and found Boston aka Picasso redoing his brother's face. In Vicks. I don't think it stung his eyes to bad because he didn't cry and they didn't really water, so I guess he's okay.
We were watching this blurb on Michael Phelps last night. It had computer imaging that was analyzing his body type, trying to explain why he is such a good swimmer. ex. He has an extremely long torso, flat backside and short legs with double jointed knees. (They said it, not me.) I thought, poor guy. He probably feels like horseflesh. They I thought, my dad the rancher always refers to me as his "heavy" when I am pregnant and his milk cow after the baby comes. So here is how I think that computer program would have analyzed this body.
1. Wide hips--great for birthing, bad for blue jeans.
2. Long hair--beneficial for child sitting ON one of those wide hips when needing an extra grip while battling the centrifugal force of riding around a corner at top speed, chasing down other child who has just made off with an open bottle of chocolate syrup.
3. Overarched brow--an advantage when questioning a child's misbehavior during church. It sends a warning signal completely silently.
4. Extraordinary lung capacity and highly resonant vocal chords--for when questioning a child's misbehavior not during church, but three doors down. Also works well for when trying to communicate with mate over three babbling children and a ringing phone and a beeping oven timer.
5. Pursed and whetted lips--these provide a backup whistle for getting the attention of any and all children subject to selective listening.
6. Long, elegant, highly dexterous fingers--useful when accompanying singing family on the piano or in a less harmonious mood, flicking troublesome child in the forehead.
7. Extended lap length--provides extra roomy seating for child wanting to "help" me run the sewing machine or just have a story read to them. Unfortunately, this one is temporary and disappears with every pending child.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Days go To-the-Sun and through Helena and Back

We had a lovely trip home to Montana to see my folks and play. The wildflowers were raging, and everything was surprisingly green, especially compared to last year's
near-Sodom-and-Gomorrah forest fire pea soup smoke that canceled most of the fun plans. We played plenty hard this summer. Boston and Leslie spent every spare minute outside chasing down the cats or shooting their marshmallow guns my mom made with them, and Cooper loved getting to play with the new host of toys, some left behind by his little cousin Jaxon, who we just missed seeing by a few days. It was so great to have a change of pace--I think the kids watched a total of an hour and a half of TV in five days--that's really saying something. Our first full day we were there we went to the Montana state fair. Let me ask you--what other Grandma would purchase HERSELF a free-ride bracelet just so she could hang out with Leslie all afternoon. I had no idea my mom was such a wild woman, I guess because whenever we went to the fair growing up, she was on baby holding detail. I couldn't believe some of the rides they went on while Mark and I were off with my dad and the boys, looking at model train exhibits, quilt, car, tractor, taxidermy, and art displays and petting all the animals. We did get Boston to go on one ride (he's kind of a chicken about that kind of thing still...) but it turned out rather badly. They were on these nice little race cars that went around a track. He went with Leslie but was totally freaked out by the jerky way they went around the corners, so he howled through the whole thing. Oh well, that saved us more than a few bucks.
The second day we went to the lake to try out my Dad's big new boat. Of course, he'd been fretting for days that the wind would blow and ruin our trip (The weather is culpable for everything that goes wrong in my parents' life and always has been. That's what it means to be a farmer I guess. I hope in the next life he has a little more say over what the clouds brew up. Maybe he could be an assistant grand rainmaker and thunder thrower.) As expected, the lake was white-capping and my folks were so disappointed. I, however, was taking a deep sigh of relief gazing around at a huge lake with only one other boat on the whole of it, after feeling so claustrophobic during any outdoor activity on the crowded Wasatch front. We couldn't land the boat at the beach because it would get knocked too badly against the rocks, so we all loaded in and ate our picnic lunch and swam in a calm pocket behind the dam. I love boats and we had a great time. Here's poor Coopy in his girly life jacket eating Oreos in the bottom of the boat while the rest of us are having a water fight.
PS. While we were out playing some hairy hippies from Connecticut who apparently didn't understand the solemn law of privacy during outdoor activity in Montana came and parked their truck within three feet of ours on OUR beach. After WE had even chased the cows away and set up chairs and stuff. And they had miles and miles of beach to choose from. They must have heard me say how nice it was not to feel crowded. I just had to laugh.

The next day was Saturday and we took it easy playing at home, except that I dragged Mark and Leslie on a little educational field trip. My Dad used to lease some land that included a long, narrow hill, untouched by modern civilization, that is completely coated in tepee rings. (For those of you who don't know, tepee rings are these large groups of heavy rocks, arranged in circles to secure the tepees. When the Indians left, the rocks remained, many also piled in fire pits in the middle of where the tepees would have been.) He no longer leases that land, so we did a bit of hiking and mild trespassing...the owners of the coral and pasture and barbed wire fences we had to climb through are on a mission in Africa. (Ssshhh, don't tell, Mark couldn't help but try out their private professional baseball diamond while Leslie and I picked the stickers out of our socks when we were done. The ball and bat were just laying there.) It was beautiful on the top of the hill, with a spring below that probably watered their horses and a 360 degree view-for-miles so no one could sneak up on them, I guess. We were going to count how many rings we spotted, but we lost track. I'm guessing between 20 and 25. I gave Leslie a small mossy rock from one of them to take for show and tell. She was so cute about it. "Wow! A piece of real life all the way from Montana." Here are some pictures of Leslie in the middle of a ring, a shot of an entire ring that's kind of hard to see in a photo because the rings are so large and slightly buried or hiding in the grass. Also I have to include a fabulous shot, taken by me, of the view from this hill. That Paramount Pictures type mountain is called Haystack, and you can also see it from my parents house. The ridge-looking thing along the river is actually a pishkun--a buffalo jump where the hunters would chase them over the cliff to kill them because it was much easier and safer to the hunter. Easy pickins I guess.

Sunday was next, and it was all about getting to go to the old ward where everybody knows your name and knew your great-grandmother, and has an opinion about who your kids look like. So nice. Then, of course, we stuff ourselves with my mom's famous roast beef, potatoes and gravy feast and wallow around laughing or sleeping the rest of the day.

Monday was an extra special treat. Mom still had the day off work, so she and Dad offered to watch our kids THE ENTIRE DAY, (this means breakfast through dinner, folks) while Mark and I took a romantic day trip to Glacier National Park (only the most beautiful stretch of mountains in the entire world.) Mark had never been because every time we go up to Montana we are so sick of being in the car we can't stomach a full day of driving around. Well, without having to pander to the three little terrorists in the backseat, this actually sounded kind of fun and adventurous.
It was very clear and beautiful and Mark and I had fun in a little contest trying to take the best picture. The highlight of the trip was driving on the legendary Going-to-the-Sun highway that is actually carved into the side of the glacier-scraped ring of mountains, very close to the summit. The view is just incredible, with cascades of glacier runoff spraying you at every bend, and you get up there and can't believe the crazy crazy courage (and at least a few lives) it must have taken to build something so preposterously beautiful to take the people to the literal tops of the mountains. I had to make a comment to Mark about perhaps someday having the Lord's house in the tops of these mountains. He was speechless and just whistled "How Great Thou Art" out his open window.
When we finally got back that night we found out that the kids had been nearly perfect, so we are so glad we went. I guess Boston showed Grandpa just a little sass. When my Dad, in his blustery, loud, teasing voice, told Boss, "When I say no I MEAN NO!" Boston looked right back at him and answered, "When I say yes, I MEAN YES!" Dad didn't say who finally gave in on that argument. We left the next day and it was a long yucky ride, but it was so nice to get home. I so love my house. It still smells like fresh cut wood when no one has been around for a week to stink it up.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Lightning McQueen and a little Amusement for an Old Someday Woman

Here is a picture of the double-fat comforter I made for my sister Darcy's upcoming attraction. I machine quilted the characters so the back leaves a little to be desired. Maybe next time around will be better...I'm asking Mark for a quilt frame for my birthday. (Two months til the big 30. My mom had five children by then. If I got pregnant with twins by then, would that count? Don't hold your breath, Mom.) Here are also some cute summer antics of my children. Who knows what order these pics will load in. One is of Boston proudly eating some Korean sauteed Swiss Chard from our garden, because we told him it was like Popeye food. He ate it, flexed, and then started quoting to Leslie. "Olive, my love." What a card. Thank goodness for old reruns. Here is another shot of the boys on Thursday (vacuuming day) their very favorite. They are both in love with the vacuum and the broom and are always trying to make weapons or baseball bats out of the attachments. Boston even put the hard comb attachment in the tub with him this week to play with. Lovely. Here's a shot of Leslie on a day when she couldn't find any little girlfriends to play with. She got out the dressups out of cold storage and had a blast. Boston didn't know that it wasn't cool, but later I'm sure she will use this shot to torture him.
I heard one time that a girl should never ever throw away a love letter so that she can have something to laugh over in her old age. Since I'm creeping up on thirty, I had to pull out my small box of assorted "chocolates" (the Whitman's brand are just the right size for letters) from the hope chest, and they are quite old. I'm talking junior high vintage. That's what hope chests are for, isn't it? I had to show Mark and just glowed at his trying-not-to-be-jealous comments as he read through some of my adolescent drama,("Hah. He's just trying to sound smart." "Snort. 'Call me collect, I can afford it.' like he's rich or something", etc) since he had a veritable parade of girlfriends in high school and I had um, a library card. Then I promptly put the lid on the box and will save it for when we turn 60 and 62. By then maybe I'll slip a few copies of Mark's notes out of our wedding scrapbook and into the box, so he knows I like his the very best. I'm sure Boston and Cooper will have left me a few by then, too, and they are just as handsome.
ps.Oh, you should see some of the comments in his yearbooks. Zounds. He sang "When I Fall in Love" in a senior year concert and I think half the girls in his class wanted a private serenade...or his yearbook looks that way. Sorry ladies. I get to hear the shower variety whenever I want.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Poor Christopher.

Mark did a Family Home Evening lesson last night on what it means to be a pioneer. He had a sheet of paper with portraits of Christopher Columbus, Thomas Edison, Brigham Young and Neal Armstrong. (All were the first to accomplish something or go somewhere no one had gone before.) He asked our brilliant daughter to identify all the people and tell what she knew about each one. I had to help her with Neal Armstrong but with Thomas Edison, she said, "Oh yes, he invented the lightbulb, the phonograph, and a voting machine but no one wanted to buy it." (She has a book on him.) That's what made it so funny when she was completely stumped by everyone's favorite sailing explorer (well, there were a few large groups of people who weren't so happy with him, but you know what I mean...) Mark finally had her guess who it was. "Um, Brigham Young's mother?"
Then, when we laughed so hard, she was so embarrassed. She hates being wrong, but it was sure cute.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Three smoky bears at the beach

This week we had a great camping trip. This was our first time as a family since our disastrous trip when Boston was a nursing baby and I had to go to the emergency room with mastitis. (It was bound to be better than that!) It really went very smoothly. I was determined to go this year, even though the mom has to do a lion's share of work, because I think it's important for our kids to have good memories of doing fun things as a family. I especially wanted this for Leslie since she has to miss out on a lot of adventures because she has two teeny brothers who can't do much. It really was fun and I actually wasn't bothered by the extra work and hassle. Boston was just the perfect age for it--he had a great time throwing rocks in the creek and staying up late outside. Cooper did pretty well--we brought his pack n' play to pen him in a little and also his highchair. The only part he didn't like was having to go to sleep in the tent. He howled plenty and probably woke several other campers, but oh well. My other two stayed asleep, so it wasn't too bad.
We went with some of our friends that we don't see much since they moved to Logan to a campground in Huntsville, then played on the beach at the lake there the next day. The campground was secluded (just the way I need it to be to not complain about living in Utah...) by tall, tall grass and had shady trees and a stream nearby. It was perfect; even the foursome of woodpeckers living in the tree over the tent were kind of fun to wake up to.
Mark cooked us a fabulous Dutch oven breakfast and then we went over to Pineview Reservoir to swim and play on their long, sandy beach. It felt almost oceany, but without salt and sharks. Boston was kind of freaked out by the waves, but he had fun anyway, I think. Cooper loved being in the water and Leslie lounged on the floaty. My legs are still chalky white but my shoulders burned. Sigh. Here are some shots. My favorite moment of the whole trip was when the kids all climbed into Mark's vacated spot in our double sleeping bag when they woke up. (He was making breakfast.) They were all cuddly and giggly to be in the was nice to just love on them and have nowhere to go or nothing to get done.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

The Editorial that Might Have Been

I read an interesting article in Newsweek while sitting in a waiting room yesterday. I disagreed with it but when I went to leave a comment on their website, it only allowed a few lines of commentary. So here is the Editorial that Might Have Been. I encourage anyone who agrees with me to leave comments as well. The article is found at Does Having Children Make You Happy? | Newsweek Global Literacy |
The author of the article is trying to stir the pot by trying to answer this true or false type question. She cites lots of controversial statistics about how married people with children are less happy than singles or marrieds without children. She concludes that the statement "Having Children Makes You Happy" is false (even though she has children of her own.) Although I agree with her to a degree because nothing MAKES you happy if you are determined to be unhappy, the cultural idea behind this article is frightening. Pres. Monson said in his talk, "A Sanctuary from the World" (February 9, 2008, Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting: Building Up a Righteous Posterity), that "Messages surround us which contradict all that we hold dear--enticing us to turn from that which is 'virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy' and embrace the thinking which often prevails outside the gospel of Jesus Christ." This article is certainly one of those messages swirling around us.
A big problem is that the world does not often distinguish between pleasure and abiding joy, or realize that it is possible to have both, but not always at the same time. There was once a well-known couple who faced the decision whether or not to have children. Where would we be without them? "And they would have had no children, wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery, doing no good, for they knew no sin....Adam [and Eve] fell that men might be, and men are, that they might have joy" (2 Ne 2:23-25). Adam and Eve made a huge sacrifice as parents, as do each of us who choose to multiply and replenish the earth. Sacrifice is another word the world doesn't define very well. It means giving up something good for something better.
Another enormous part of having joy AND children comes with understanding the truth about life as a three-act play. This life is only the second act, where sometimes babies die or children become estranged, they cause us to change our plans and dreams, they cause us to work hard for little thanks or reward. I hope that your second act is going better than this, but face it, sometimes it is rather dismal. Don't forget, the third act is much, much better, and it goes on forever in happy families. The curtain never drops on that blissful stage.
A novel I am reading has a scene between the protagonist and a bereaved mother. The somewhat atheistic hero asks the mother if she would have children all over again, knowing they would be taken from her and she would have no one. She replies heroically, "I have someone to grieve for. Do you?" I think hell itself would be to be left "without root or branch" (Mal. 4:1).
I agree that the "swinging" single life or the life without children has many wonderful opportunities. I hope that single and childless people will be happy because they are also entitled to it. But I think they will find that something very essential is missing. "But when we have sampled much and have wandered far and have seen how fleeting and sometimes superficial a lot of the world is, our gratitude grows for the privilege of being part of something we can count on--home and family and the loyalty of loved ones...We learn that nothing can fully take the place of the blessed relationship of family life." (Thomas S. Monson, President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Feb. 9 2008).
Maybe the unhappiness found in so many families today is not evidence of a childless life being happier, but instead a sign that we as a society are failing to train, support, and give encouragement for those who are making the more selfless choice by living a family life. I would be hard-put to find a good mother role model in our current books, movies, magazines and pop culture. Perhaps "Elastigirl" from Pixar's The Incredibles. I absolutely love the scene where the Incredibles family is at the neighborhood barbecue and some careerist woman is whining about how she could never have children, she would have to give up her very important work. Elastigirl, who is living incognito, retired from such an unimportant career as saving the world, gives the woman a good tongue-lashing and really takes her apart. She stands up for motherhood as the most important work there is. What, you don't remember that part of the film? That's because it was cut from the movie and only made it onto the DVD extras in sketch form. I wonder why?
I am so grateful to belong to a church that provides the truth about parenthood and then gives the support and reassurance I need while making these sacrifices. M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said, "There are moments of great joy and incredible fulfillment, but there are also moments of a sense of inadequacy, monotony, and frustration. Mothers may feel they receive little or no appreciation for the choice they have made...As a church, we have enormous respect and gratitude to you mothers of young children. We want you to be happy and successful in your families and to have the validation and support you need and deserve" ("Daughters of God", Ensign, May 2008, Vol. 38, Number 5, p.109).
My heart goes out to all those parents who report being unhappy. The article discussed many possible reasons, (including stress from having both parents in the workplace, and I agree), but no solution to all this misery. Here is a lifesaver to all those sinking families, one that I rely on all the time when I feel I might drown in all this sacrifice and responsibility. Are you ready? "Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ" (The Family: A Proclamation to the World, released Sept. 23, 1995 by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints).
I need to watch myself a little more with the things I say about being a parent--to rejoice a little more and complain, even jokingly, a little less. If we could each do that perhaps those who are trying to validate their lifestyle will not tear down those of us who are working, loving, and yes, even triumphantly laughing in this greatest of causes.
--Jackie Day, "surprisingly" happy mother of three young children

Monday, July 7, 2008

Bucket-head Boston and Freedom Friday

On Thursday we kidnapped the kids out of their beds early and drove down to Provo for the Freedom Festival Hot Air Balloon launch at 6:30 AM. It was a pretty cool family adventure, plus, even with breakfast at McDonald's afterwards, Mark was still able to get in a full day's work. It was fun to feel the sun come up over the mountains. Leslie wasn't sure what to think about getting dragged out of bed (she stole Cooper's blankie and was trying to go back there I guess) but she still liked it.
You can see in this last picture Boston being off in lala land. We spotted him from the dining room and he was still doing this by the time we were out there with our camera. You can see the lack of briskly growing pumpkin plants around the sandbox. We had a little problem with some short guerrilla pulling out our sprinklers and using them as automatic weapons. So it just floods. Mark tried to fix it this weekend...we'll see how successful he was since he prefers chewing off his own foot to working with the sprinklers.
Potty training is going very well. Nuff said on that blankety blank subject.
The fourth of July was fun. We went to Mark's brother's house for a barbecue and the kids had a blast with their cousins, as usual. Then we came home to host our own neighborhood barbecue that evening. Lots of food, lots of kids, and only one bee sting. Oh, on the way home from Paul's house Boston blurted to us out of the blue, "It's Freedom Friday!" I was glad he picked that up because he kept thinking it was his birthday, what with the chocolate cake and the party and all.