Tuesday, December 30, 2008

booklist 2008

{New books I remember reading this year ~ I've re-read plenty of others; they shan't be on this list}

The Invention of Hugo Cabret {Brian Selznick}
Lots of fun.

The Ladies of Grace Adieu {Suzanna Clark}
Very fine, indeed.

The Nine ~ Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court {Jeffery Toobin}
Quite interesting.

Farewell Summer {Ray Bradbury}

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane {Kate DiCamillo}
One million stars. I cry at the end, every time.

The Age of Turbulence {Alan Greenspan}
I know his name is mud with some people these days, but Mr. Greenspan is an interesting character. Although the policy section is rather wonky, the autobiography is nice.

Tiger Rising {Kate DiCamillo}
This is a nice little work.

Out of the Dust {Karen Hesse}
Beautiful and heartbreaking. A lovely way to tell a story.

The Blizzard Voices {Ted Kooser}
Even more beautiful and heartbreaking, because it's true.

The Soloist {Steve Lopez}
A really fascinating true story. Read the book before you see the movie.

Janine is French {Lloyd Alexander}

Listening is an Act of Love {Dave Isay}
Moving essays (some more than others).

The Goose Girl {Shannon Hale}
Enjoyable, if a little predictable.

Breaking Dawn {Stephenie Meyer}

Nickle and Dimed ~ On (Not) Getting by in America {Barbara Ehrenreich}

Fablehaven III {Brandon Mull}
Not Harry Potter, but Brandon's stories are compelling and entertaining.

Three Cups of Tea {Greg Mortenson}
Inspiring. Hello, U.S. Government, are you reading this?

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society {Mary Ann Shaffer}
So absolutely enjoyable.

Suite Francaise {Irene Nemirovsky}
Intense. Fascinating.

The Tales of Beedle the Bard {J.K. Rowling}
Nice little stories.

The Last Lecture {Randy Pausch}

Friday, December 26, 2008

it's over


This has been an especially intense and unorganized Christmas season. One with a lot of vomiting. The whole month of December (and November, too, actually) has been crazy. It has given little time to appreciate the holiday. So I thought I might do so in retrospect. Here are a few things I enjoyed this year, now having had a little time to think about it:

No. 1: I bought a few extra Christmas decorations this year of which I am immensely fond. Even though they sent me over my Christmas budget. But this is a happy list, so we won't focus on that part, will we? (Besides, a lot of things sent me over budget.)

No. 2: I went up to Salt Lake City for an afternoon to see my sisters who live up there. It was enjoyable. I ate some truffles and admired their apartments. (And about had a heart attack thinking that my daughter had locked a bathroom door that could not be opened from the outside. But apparently the key to my sister's deadbolt works for both the deadbolt and the bathroom. Convenient.) Then I gave my Dad a ride home from work so he wouldn't have to ride the bus. What a nice sister and daughter I am.

No. 3: We have received a jolly amount of snow. A veritable white, white Christmas. Ben shoveled together a snow fort for the kids, and they are in heaven.

No. 4: Reading a Christmas themed story book (almost) each night of December. I think I got the idea from Chris, who perhaps has done this in past years? I wrapped up all our books in cute and inexpensive wrapping paper and the kids took turns unwrapping a book to read each night. It was a huge hit.

No. 5: My parents have instituted two nights of family Christmas caroling: on Christmas Eve and on the Sunday evening before Christmas. My children made it through the Sunday night sing-along and participated in our dramatic version of "We Three Kings" where all the verses are sung and each king given a different voice (british accent, nasal, and deep bass). While character has slid over the years into more of caricature, it's all good fun. Unfortunately we missed the rousing tunes of Jingle Bells and The Chipmunk Song, which I imagine were part of the Christmas Eve repertoire, but the kids wanted to get home before that got started.

Christmas was an adventure. I will perhaps chronicle it tomorrow. After I have a long nap.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

the nativity

- by Rembrandt

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart. — Luke 2:1-19

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

holly jolly

My oldest has thrown-up twice this morning. On Sunday it was my youngest. These things don't usually just hit half the family so I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. And tomorrow, Christmas Eve! Last year we got hit on New Year's day. I guess we have some sort of holiday curse or something.

I've done an inventory of what I have for everybody. How can that pile of stuff be simultaneously too little and too much at the same time? I have a bunch of things to return, two-thirds of the needed receipts, and a list of things to pick up. I need to go grocery shopping. The roads are icy.

This is not a humbug post, I'm just tired. I think I got a decent amount of sleep last night. But I've come to the conclusion that in order to feel really rested, I need to wake up on my own terms and not by a panicked voice yelling "DAD!!!!"* followed by the sound of retching.

(*I know, I know. It was nice that she called for her father. And he got up immediately. He's good that way. But still. Tired.)

Monday, December 22, 2008

the weather outside is frightful!

We have no fireplace, sadly. But it is snowing and snowing. I'm cleaning. I'm making my lists and checking them twice. And then some more. At this point who's been naughty and nice is sort of a big blur. But my baby is sick and so I am going to snuggle her while I watch Sleeping Beauty.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Because google analytics says the number of people who come to visit me is down 10%. Since when? I don't know. Maybe since yesterday. But thanks to all those of you who do stop by. (Is that sentence grammatically correct? I wonder, doubtfully.)

Also, on a side note: Michael Bolton should not sing Christmas Songs. I'm sorry, but the passion he employs for "When a Man love a Woman" should not be used when singing "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas."

It's just wrong.

Monday, December 15, 2008

he knows if you've been good or bad...

"If you're bad, you get a black rock for Christmas," Ella said.

She was sitting at the dinner table at my parents' house last night and informing some of my siblings of the consequences of the season. Coal, for some reason, has emerged as a topic of discussion around here. My children are quite curious about it.

"But that's okay," she continued in her typical philosophical vein. "If I get a black rock, I'll just put it in my rock collection."

Madeleine chimed in. "And if I get a black rock, I'll just give it to Ella for her rock collection!"

There's always a silver lining.

Friday, December 12, 2008

christmas might come early

Gabby is hosting a lovely 12 days of Christmas Giveaway right now. Oh, there are some lovely things that you might want ~ for yourself or to give away! Head on over to Design Mom!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

I'm dreaming..

Our last winter in New York we did not get any snow. The Fall leaves arrived in spectacular fashion and lingered through November and then became the drab and dreary Very End of Fall that never ended.

December came and went, uninspired though cold. Then January showed up. It sort of snowed once, but it didn't stick. Then February came. And we got one more round of "let's pretend this is snow" and then Spring came. And it probably rained enough to flood the Bronx River Parkway. That said, it doesn't take much to flood the BRP. In any case, it was disappointing.

We have yet to have a good snowfall here this year. We got some nice snow in October, and then it warmed up and was absolutely pleasant. I didn't complain. And then it got gray and dull. And now it's freezing cold. FREEZING! But there is no snow on the ground. And, need I say it? It is disappointing. In my quest for over-flowing holiday spirit, I've found that snow always helps.

My youngest is really tired and grumpy from: her cold? teething? a stomach bug? not sleeping through the night? I lay awake at 2 a.m. waiting to see if she will whimper her way back to sleep. And she usually does. But I am still awake for it.

With the tired and grumpy comes an intense desire to be held by mom almost constantly. Although this doesn't stop her from being grumpy. She's just grumpy in my arms. It makes me sad, because her nature is so cheerful and happy. I should probably take her to the doctor to see if she has an ear infection or something but I am so sick of the doctor I'm holding out to see if she will just get better on her own. (please, please, please!)

Her nap is at noon. And although she will go down earlier, she won't sleep as long then, and so I am here waiting, waiting, for the minutes to tick away to twelve o'clock. My arms are tired and weary. But I have given in the past few days and put her down early, and it wasn't quite worth it. I have a little over an hour to go.

They say a winter storm is coming. Just a few more days and there should be snow. And then more snow. And one morning I'll awake, rested, to a calm silence, suddenly aware that I wasn't called for in the middle of the night, and the world covered with a blanket of soft, peaceful white.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008


I wrote a few days ago that I was looking for the holiday spirit. Later that day, in an attempt to be proactive (seeking rather than waiting for some comfort and joy to throw itself in my lap) I brought my Christmas boxes in from the garage, pulled out the Christmas CDs and put them on, and rummaged through the decorations with my kids to get the show on the road. We didn't get the tree until the end of the week, but I put up what decorations I could, and there was some holiday enjoyment in the process.

I opened up a large plastic container containing our Nativity set secured in bubble wrap and old newspaper. Ella helped unwrap and then handed the figurines to me. A wiseman, another wiseman, another wiseman. A shepherd, some sheep, a shepherd. Mary with the Baby Jesus. I placed them all carefully. The camel here. The wisemen there.

As I took the donkey, I thought about this humble beast. Blessed donkey; thank you, I thought, for carrying that tired, pregnant woman. I don't know how comfortable a ride it would have been, but having born four children I am sure it was better than walking all that way. I put the donkey near the front.

And after the donkey, Joseph. It was then that the sweet Spirit of Christmas swept over me. I felt it as I stood still, real and powerful.

Humble Joseph. Blessed man. Humble donkey. Humble Mary, servant of the Most High, surely not entirely aware of all she had been asked to do, but willing to do it anyway. To bear a child in a lowly stable. And what child! The King of kings sleeping in a manger. I placed the lambs carefully; a symbol of Him.

The collective humility overwhelmed me.

And then, it comforted me.

Monday, December 8, 2008

on the first day of Christmas

A partridge? Really? In a pear tree. Where is this pear tree? Did it come with a large orchard on extensive grounds and a rather large house? Or is it just a lone, small tree placed in a bucket or something. It's intriguing, I'll give you that.

Or maybe I just needed something to write about.

Painting by Chrissandra Neustaedter

Friday, December 5, 2008

double sick!

Apparently in the adolescent world of cool, gnarly, awesome and radical words the newest to come along is sick. Yes. Sick. It just blows the mind with the sort of mis-communication possible. For example:

Me: That movie Twilight about a human girl in love with a vampire is really sick.
Some Youth: It is totally sick! I'm going to see it again this weekend!

At our house, we are sick. Really, sick. I mean, I think we're pretty cool (gnarly, awesome, radical), too. But along with the nasty, hacking cough, and fountain of sniffles that we brought home from Thanksgiving, there is also a stomach bug going around. The last two nights we have had instances of vomiting. The first night I thought it was merely a cough-induced kind of thing but last night it passed onto the second victim, and he wasn't coughing, just casually sleeping.

I think it's a little unfair to be hit with two bummer family illnesses at the same time. It's pretty sick.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

a parent's commentary on some Christmas Lists.

M's list:

- a Wii with a Wii game {discussed by the parents: not this year}
- some dolls (the word "some" replacing the word "a") {we have a lot of dolls already...}
- map of the world {do-able}
- a doll house {no, we don't have the space}
- a board game {possibly}
- some books for kids {yes}
- a cat {no}
- a card game {we'll see}
- a coloring book {sure. why not?}

E's list:

- a Wii game (initially just a Wii, until her older sister pointed out that there would already be a Wii according to her list, and so they could use another game instead) {see above}
- some tractor toys {hmmmm, really?}
- some dolls {see above}
- a kitty {see above}
- toys. just toys. whatever toys. {sure. whatever toys are probably available}
- a wind-up rocket {what???}
- pretty, fake flowers {again, what??? also: oxymoron?}
- a Barbie set {No.}
- a little bit Ponies {we have a lot of ponies.}

Monday, December 1, 2008

looking for some spirit

Remember that old high school cheer "We've got spirit, yes we do! We've got spirit how 'bout you?"

This cheer worked best during basketball season because the bleachers are closer together and the fans on either side could easily participate in egging each other on. It would inevitably degenerate into "We've got more, check the score!" But we know that kind of logic is false. Else, why have the Cubs so long been denied the World Series? Winning a sports event has nothing to do with fan spirit. Bad luck, maybe. But that's a topic for another post.

We got back into town yesterday late afternoon after roading it through the desert. I am not a fan of the Nevada landscape. They have one nice plateau. Arizona is nicer. The red rock of Southern Utah is really quite lovely. The long stretch between Southern Utah and Middle Utah is rather bleh. (But not as bleh as NV. Just sayin'. It's not that all of Nevada is completely ugly. It has it's own charm. The palm trees help with that. And they have nice parks.)

Anyway, we survived the drive, and survived four very tired kids with colds who were alternately completely unhappy at the thought of leaving grandma's house and completely unhappy at not immediately being home Right Now! I left the house spotless. Seriously. I mopped all the floors in our house (Ben helped) before taking off for Thanksgiving. It was utter paradise to return home to a clean house. Although now I'm exhibiting signs of paranoia. I'm worried that now that the cleanliness is not going to last and that's disappointing to me.

In any case, I'm looking for my holiday spirit. This is not unusual for me when Thanksgiving is bam! right before December. I like a week to ease into things; that's just how I am. But here it is December, I'm just returned from palm trees and yikes! where's my holiday spirit? I'm sure it's lurking in boxes and a CD case full of music dedicated to the yuletide spirit. But right now what I really need is a long, hot bath, some Sudafed, and a nap. I'm thinking I can get two of the three, (no rest for the weary) and that makes me feel a little cheerful right there. We've got spirit? Maybe after I make it to the grocery store to buy some holiday spices.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

bubble bath

The black handle of a small mirror slipped from his hand and crashed onto the hard tile floor. He looked up expectantly, shards of glass now surrounding him. His mother looked over from the computer table where she sat. "Sorry, my dear boy! It's a rough go being only two and a half, but you've just signed yourself up for seven years of horrid luck! Well, carry on!"

Having bubbles on hand do wonders at getting a small boy into the bath. Not so much for the sake of the bath, because he likes those. No, it's more for the opportunity of getting him out of his diaper, well used after a night's sleep, and into another one. Hooray for the bubble bath!

He did break a mirror this morning as well. I'm not British, though, so the above paragraph really has nothing to do with my life, except for the small boy and the broken mirror. But I'm hoping the bubble bath neutralizes the bad luck. I'm pretty sure it will. It wasn't a bad break. Easy to clean up and all.

Although his sister was quite disappointed, as the mirror was hers. The cure for such disappointment? Yes, I think it must be: bubble bath.

Monday, November 24, 2008

chairs on tables

The past weekend had its ups and downs.

Ben kindly bought me a massage. It was rather lovely. Massages are really nice things. When I got back he asked me how it was. It was good, I replied. Because it was good. But not great? he asked. And, well, no. It wasn't great. The masseuse did a decent job, but the room was a tad chilly and it's hard to relax your muscles when you're a little cold. And then Ben said he had a better masseuse for a better price and I thought he was joking, but it turns out he's not. Ben is very resourceful that way. But really, the next paid massage in our family should be for Ben and not for me, because he could use it. Although if you insisted, I wouldn't say no...

Of course the massage was some what compromised by the tension my body imbibed by watching the BYU / Utah game Saturday night. It was a little sad, and our quarterback, to whom I am distantly related, had a bad night. No really. A BAD NIGHT. Oh well. I am not one of those fans to disown their team for the occasional disappointing performance. Actually I have stuck by my team through many bad and questionable seasons, and this season was not one of them. We have done a pretty dang good job. And if you are one of those "fans" who don't actually support our team except when they are perfect in every way, don't come over to my house. I might punch you in the face, because I am rather tired of you.

On Saturday I also came up with a 5 point cleaning plan so that I can come home from our Thanksgiving trip to Las Vegas to a sparkling house. I mean, December starts a week from today!!!! That means Christmas and decorations, and so I am going to be a crazy mean cleaning machine. Well, I might actually not have the energy for that, but I am going to try. Because. Well, you know why. Especially if you run a household around the holidays. What are the 5 points? Well, I can't really say. The Cleaning Plan just sounded more official that way.

And all of our chairs now have semi-permanent residence on top of our table or countertop so that Camille, the mountaineer, can not scale them up to the roof top. Because she would if she could.

Friday, November 21, 2008

1 day 7 hours 26 minutes & 35 seconds until kickoff {!}

I really kind of like this.

But you do know this picture is for laughs, right? Kind of a tongue in cheek sort of chuckle.

Right? {click on it if you want a better look...}

Some around here call it The Holy War, a moniker I am uncomfortable with, but the national media have picked up on it and so the name sticks. It's always the last game of the regular season schedule. It's a rivalry of the most intense kind. The kind of game that has me yelling at the t.v. and standing up on the couch with my arms in the air. Oh, wait. That's me at all the games. But especially this game.

Oh my.

This year we play the game away from home....which, given past results, is not necessarily a bad thing: both teams know how to go into the other's house and school them.

So while that photoshopped image is all in good fun, you do know that I definitely bleed blue.

Oh, yes. I do.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

scary toilets

She had a nightmare the other night. Something about toilets. I can't be sure exactly what it was, but for now she is afraid to flush. She's not exactly thrilled about going into the bathroom either, but at five she realizes the necessity. Fortunately for all of us the first baby step we have taken towards potty-training her younger brother is letting him experience the joy of flushing! Woohoo! So he takes care of that part.

See, everything just works out, doesn't it.

Monday, November 17, 2008

eclectic planitary musings on a monday morning

Do you ever wonder what exactly happened to bring these celestial spheres together?

So bizarre.

Seriously, the earth is pretty dang small compared to Jupiter and Saturn. And Neptune and Uranus, what sort of status do they have? I bet they have their own club or something. You have to be a nice shade of blue, maybe.

So there's Jupiter, glaring at everybody with his big red eye. Jupiter always seemed like a scary planet to me. And then I learned that he was supposed to be a star, like the sun, and didn't have quite enough oomph to get there, and since then I've always felt a little sad for him. But grateful, because if he had made it, I wouldn't be here. I don't deal well with the heat. But Jupiter is nice for the Greek tragedy that every solar system needs.

And how about Saturn. Fancy! That's what I say. There's always someone in the bunch who always looks good, and that's Saturn. Very elegant, for a planet. Maybe like Jane Fairfax, I don't know. And I feel bad for Mercury, burning hot on one side and freezing cold on the other. Hard life.

Of course, Pluto is the one who really has it tough. Being demoted from planetary status and all. Except one day that status may return, with other like beings that will be promoted to planet status as well.

After writing down these musings I can see that somewhere I have developed quite a sense of planetary sympathy. Who knows why? These things happen and then there they are. That's pretty much all I can make of it.

TGIM? ~ or, ignore this. it's not cheerful.

Last week was a pretty crappy week. It was full of the normal life-pounding stress that accompanies us each week, along with spousal disappointments and disappointings (both sides contributing), pre-holiday navigations, high strung children, a baby with a newly found love of climbing dangerously to the tip of whatever is available whenever I turned around, all with a round of colds for everyone! cheers! I found myself really ticked off a few times over the course of the week and in tears a few times as well - both influenced by hormones I'm sure, but still: very unusal for me. It was a week where my strengths were seeming like weaknesses, and my weaknesses were worse. In short, it sucked.

Yesterday, I left church in tears, which sounds more dramatic than it was. Because my two little babes with colds couldn't go to nursery I had planned to take them home after the main meeting anyway. What I had hoped for, what I absolutely needed after the crazy and chaos of the week, was to be able to sit in Sacrament Meeting and just Be for a few minutes. I needed a chance to spiritually collect myself as I hadn't managed to do it all week between being angry, tired and yelling at my children (funny how that takes the good feelings just right out of your heart). Sigh. It was not to be.

My sweet daughter acted up immediately. I took her into the foyer. We were immediately followed by her brother and his blankie and his desire to run as fast as he could up and down the halls of the church. They were loud. They were noisy. They were incredibly disruptive. It was perfectly emblematic of the entire week: I was completely incapable of doing what I knew I needed and wanted to be doing. It was absolutely beyond me, just like the solutions to everything else that were weighing on me. I was overwhelmed and exhausted. And so I left crying. Which was good, because I needed the release.

Sunday did improve itself. I'm really hoping that the rest of this week follows suit.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

this kid is funny

My son comes tearing into the family room, running past the couch and onto the rug where he throws himself to the ground.

"I just ringing round the rosies" he says with his emergent matter-o -fact two year-old language.

I love that kid. He cracks me up.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

what if...

"What if I was eating these smores and my face got all messy and the King of England was here?" my oldest queried.

And honestly, I had no answer to that.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

really , no time for nostalgia

This was a birthday that lasted a l l d a y l o n g... and by the end you could tell.

It started with preschool in the morning, with the requisite birthday treats, followed by house cleaning, followed by a trip to the store for party supplies (with Oliver screaming his head off the entire time), followed by party prep and more house cleaning (where, mercifully, both Camille and Oliver fell asleep on the way home from the store, and therefore were willing to nap for a long time), followed by party (!), followed by dinner chosen by the birthday girl, and then solidly rejected, in fact, by the very same birthday girl when it came time to eat, followed by the family party, followed by ice cream and cake with Nana, Grandpa, and some uncles and an aunt. It was a lot. Probably too much. But Five is a Big Deal. I can especially tell that by the state of utter disarray my house is in. But the cake (a collaboration between Ben and myself: he bakes it, I decorate it) turned out nicely and that always makes me happy, even if the house is a mess in the end.

the birthday girl at her party

the cake, top view

the cake, side view

family party ~ showing off the art set

Monday, November 10, 2008

mad dash

Birthday party here in about 2.5 hours for my newly minted 5 year old. Am I ready? Hahahahahahhahahahahahaaaaaa! Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! I'll let you know how it goes. Later.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

silent as a giraffe? except they have mouths

Yesterday while working on a puzzle: "Mom, how does Hello Kitty talk? Maybe with her nose?"

a nap is a good idea

They're reporting that after a trip to the gym, President-Elect Barack Obama went back to work today to try and figure out how he's going to run the country. And really, I'm all for hard work and all, but in this day and age, with campaigns that last years and years, it seems to me that the day after a national election should be a national day of sleep. Who's with me on this?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

I voted

And I even gently challenged the lady at the polling place who said I needed to show a photo I.D. in order to vote. (I didn't. And neither would anybody else in line, so I saved them the hassle.) My! I feel so politically active this morning!

We're having a little election party here tonight. You know, streamers, balloons, food, NBC, CNN, and NPR! So now I need to go and clean my house. And as for you...

Get out there and vote!

Happy Election Day!

Monday, November 3, 2008

bewildered but productive

I love the time change in the fall. I get up the same time my body has been getting up for the past 6+ months, but I have an ENTIRE EXTRA HOUR on my hands to be productive! And I was. And so were the kids. More or less.

I always have a few moments of "wait- what time is is???? though, when double checking clocks that haven't been changed with clocks that have been changed . When I dropped Ella off at preschool this morning I had to think through the time on the dashboard and the NPR show playing on the radio, almost convinced I was an hour late. But I wasn't. And so that was good.

Of course, right now Camille is getting good and ready to take her nap, but I'm going to need to keep her up until after preschool. Which will mean nap time is an hour later than normal. This could be tricky. And one of the downsides to changing the time around.

Also, when it gets to be the late afternoon and I realize Ben won't be home for another hour, that will be a downside, too. A bummer, one could say. Hmmm.

That extra hour in the morning feeling must be worth a lot to me, I guess.

a president by any other name

* This is from something I wrote this a little over four years ago, after President Ronald Reagan died, and a few months before the 2004 election. It seemed appropriate to post it today. If you haven't already (and of course you have, right?) do your homework tonight, and tomorrow - Go Vote!
In 1980 I was five years old. That fall I started kindergarten. Ronald Reagan was elected president. Along the main hallway of my elementary school there is a line of presidential portraits. On my first day of school, there was Jimmy Carter, situated at the end of the celebrated line. We would walk past him on the way to the library.

A few months into the school year the picture at the end of the line was different. I remember feeling satisfied that President Reagan had decided to grace the wall of our school. I felt I liked him better than Carter. But what did I know? I was five. I knew that there was a President of the United States, but I didn’t really know who he was, until it was Ronald Reagan.

Election night 1984, now nine years old, I have a distinct memory of sitting alone on the couch in the living room. The T.V. was turned to the election coverage. My parents were out, my brother and sisters asleep. But I was there, fascinated as I watched the states slowly turning red across the U.S. map. In the end, way past my bedtime, there were 49 red states, and one blue.

Victory. I was interested in politics.

Ronald Reagan died last Saturday. Several memorials are going on throughout the country this week. Friday is a National Day of Mourning and the Congressional Republican Leadership have suspended their regular business in order to spent the rest of the week eulogizing the man who, according to the experts on the radio, revitalized the Republican party and changed the face of American politics. I heard that yesterday no Democrats had participated. How partisan of them. I did wonder at taking the entire week off.

I am an independent, no capitals. I get a kick out of the signs around my town encouraging citizens to “vote the person, not the party.” Which I agree with, except that the party has something to do with things.

I am still thinking over my presidential vote. It's something certainly worth thinking over. But however things go, and however I vote in this upcoming election, I have to thank Mr. Reagan. He sparked my interest. I haven’t been as involved as maybe I should be, but I have been involved and I am interested.

Goodnight, Ronald. It’s been good knowing you.

Friday, October 31, 2008

a confession

I'm not all that fond of Halloween. I'm just not.

Other interests and concerns, such as saving time and money, tend to overshadow the requirements of gathering together costumes and gigantic bags of sucrose for various events. I don't relish the idea of sending my kids out to ask for candy from neighbors, while I have to hand out candy to other kids who come a-calling around here.

At my daughter's preschool today they are, of course, having a Halloween party. Where you could bring treats. Just a suggestion! *smile, smile* Ack!

Just what we need! MORE SUGAR FOR THE DAY! Honestly, could the teacher just please hand out ONE treat to each child, say Happy Halloween and send them home without the makings of a sugar induced coma?

I sent Halloween pencils, instead.

Also, I just don't get that big of a kick out of the whole spooky whatever. Or as my kids would say: smooky. Which makes me like Halloween a little bit, because when something is smooky, how can you not smile just a little bit about that?

Our smooky pumpkins from last year.
Okay, I do like the pumpkin part of Halloween.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

I'd rather be a hammer than a nail

A special notice by the National Weather Service for my area:



Tuesday, October 28, 2008


A source of random knowledge: a few of my computer bookmarks, for your enjoyment.

I hesitate to expound on what in the world this list possibly says about me. So I won't expound, I'll just suggest to you that it must be something rather profound. Have a good day.

Monday, October 27, 2008

it's true

Cashews are pretty dang good.

To eat, that is.

They may be good for other things, too.

I just don't know what they would be.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

or, as Dori would say, just keep swimming

There are a number of goals I've put in place to improve some of the familial aspects around here. September was relatively successful. Not everything slid into place, but a lot of it did. The improvements added in October have been unimpressive, however. I find myself marking off the days in anticipation of the end of the month. Why?

Maybe because October has been a catch-up month, as opposed to a brave new frontier kind of month. Everybody needs catch-up months, however. We need a moment to catch our breath, gather our senses and prepare to set off again.

This doesn't mean that the month of October has been some sort of spa visit, where I've gone in to relax. It just means the pace has slowed a little bit because of all the runny noses I've stopped to wipe in between trying to implement a new job program with the kids. In fact, some times the alluring spa visit is just a trap, inviting us to hibernate, when really what we need to do is just keep going.

Life can give you all sorts of reasons to give up, change course. Yes, sometimes the pace slows. That, however, is not an excuse to stop. It just means it'll be time to walk a little faster at the next bend in the road, after we catch our breath. Which will be easier as soon as these colds go away.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Sometimes I feel like I'm living in one. But this Saturday we decided to go an actual zoo. It was a lot of fun.

Friday, October 17, 2008


The word "help" apparently appears in 52 of my posts, although none of them have the distinction of being titled help! Which, of course, automatically brings to mind the song by the Beatles {help! I need somebody. help! not just anybody} with lyrics that are all too true.

It's fall break. Bleh.

Sure, fall break is fun in principle, but it messes with my schedule. And it means my first-grader has more time to hang around the house being ornery and mean to everyone who crosses her path {as first graders are wont to do} which makes her younger siblings retaliate in kind {as siblings are wont to do} and then the mom, who has a cold and is already tired, feels completely over the top and realizes that the best thing to do is to clean the toilets. Because they could use a good cleaning. Really, they could. Also, she might yell too much.

Better to stick with the toilets.

And I could use some instruction on how to deal with early-morning sibling rivalry. And unruly children prone to exaggerated crying jags carefully calculated in their appearance as well as unrealistic expectations. Also, what to do with a mother's unrealistic expectations. Because apparently I have a few.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

my little girl

She's a funny little girl, currently obsessed with shoes. Right now it's her brother's sneakers. Sometimes it's a pair of flip flops, but while she is a rather agile 17 month old, those flips take a tad bit more walking-coordination than her generic-version crocs require. She loves to grab her sister's sparkly pink tennis shoes, and though they are at least double the size of her feet, the straps that zigzag back and forth keep them on relatively well, at least good for a trip down the hall and back.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

pretend that this morning I blogged something really funny.

"Heeheeheehee, hahahahahahahaaaa! Haaaa, ha, ha, ha,ha! Whew!"


Monday, October 13, 2008


I have the dreaded Fall cold. But I also have a large jug of pink grapefruit juice (100%, mind you - none of that cocktail 8.2 % juice stuff for me) and I'm downing it and hoping that all of the vitamin C will have me on my feet again in no time. Well, okay, I'm on my feet anyway, just not as enthusiastically as usual. Off to do some laundry! Happy Monday!

Saturday, October 11, 2008


He brought his clothes to me - a shirt and his pants. When I insisted on changing his diaper he wasn't happy.

I wrestled him down, changed the diaper and went to help him put on his selection of clothing, at which point he started dancing around and screaming like a wild man because he wanted me to put his pajama pants back on.

I was, of course, utterly baffled. What in the world...? Hadn't he brought the pants to me to put on? Wasn't it his idea to get dressed?

But so what?

He's two.

And there he was, ready to melt down to a puddle of inconsolable tears and screams.

So I put the pj bottoms back on.

He promptly took them off. And then I understood.

He wanted to do that part. "Owiver do that part," he repeated to himself as he took one leg out and then the other.

I helped him put his jeans on, and all was well. Until the next toddler misunderstanding.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

expending unecessary energy

Remember a couple years back when the U.S. Congress thought it would be a brilliant move to extend Daylight Savings time by two months? It was supposed to save some energy and all that. Whatever. I'm here to tell you that while I do appreciate a little more light at the end of the day, I would gladly, gladly, give it up for an extra hour of sleep in the morning. Because Daylight Savings Time is not conserving any of my energy at the moment.

I am counting the days to the beginning of November, and not just because all of this election stuff will be over.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

a few things I love

a hot cup of cocoa

fall leaves

misty mountains in the morning


a comfortable jacket, suitable for around the house wearing

a warm bath

a good book

Oh, October. What a lovely month.

Monday, October 6, 2008

when all other lights go out

Then, as he stood, darkness about him and a blackness of despair and anger in his heart, it seemed to him that he saw a light: a light in his mind, almost unbearably bright at first, as a sun-ray to the eyes of one long hidden in a windowless pit. Then the light became colour: green, gold, silver, white.

Far off, as in a little picture drawn by elven-fingers, he saw the Lady Galadriel standing on the grass in Lórien, and gifts were in her hands.
And you, Ring-bearer, he heard her say, remote but clear, for you I have prepared this.

"Master, master!" cried Sam, and life and urgency came back into his voice. "The Lady’s gift! The star-glass!"

"The star-glass?" muttered Frodo, as one answering out of sleep, hardly comprehending. "Why yes! Why had I forgotten it?
A light when all other lights go out! And now indeed light alone can help us."
* * * * *
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. ~ John 8:12

It was dark. It was the middle of the night. As occasionally happens, I was awakened to a half-consciousness by things that had been on my mind. They floated in and out of my awareness while I half-prayed, half-slept, or half-tried-to-sleep. I was worrying about people I love so much it hurts. It's hard to know whether or not things become more clear in this semi-dreamlike state, or if they become more muddled and exaggerated. Tossing and turning, I leaned over to check the time. Early morning. Not too much more time for sleep but some, if only I could manage it.

And then these two passages came to my mind, and though, as with Frodo, there is still a difficult road ahead, they offered hope, and I finally fell asleep.

Friday, October 3, 2008

a true story ~ or, why we continue to rent

Once upon a time there was a house. It was for sale. It had been for sale for a very long time because it had been trashed by renters and their dogs. But the house had good bones and lots of potential, despite the fact the someone had tried to squeeze a large jetted tub into the normal-but-smallish pretending-to-be master bathroom, perhaps thinking that jets in the tub would somehow over compensate for the fact there there was very little room to use the toilet. They were wrong, but whatever. The bathtub could be removed.

The house went up for short sale. And an offer was made. And then the house, victim of those bundled mortgages that got shipped out of state and off to Georgia, went to auction, despite the offer. And then a Private Investigator, yes, a P.I. , was hired to track down the guy who actually owned the house and when he was finally found he knew nothing about the offer. There had been an offer on his house for three months and his real estate agent had told him absolutely nothing about it, because, it seems, she was incompetent. Which is all too bad, because it was his credit rating on the the line.

But alas, bureaucracy made sure that there was no way to stop the house from going into foreclosure, and then the mortgage was sold to the infamous Fannie Mae, who was subsequently rescued by the government. The house was then white-washed to give the impression that it had been fixed up. But the overly-large tub was still hogging all the space in the upstairs bath, and the cosmetic problems were still there, they were just white now. And some of the closet doors had been- wait for it- painted closed by the brilliant handy men who had, ahem, "repaired the house."

And then the government finally listed the house at an optimistic 90 thousand dollars {yes, ninety- not nine} more than the original offer. This is what worries me about the bailout and the good ol' U S of A buying up bad mortgages.

Because, I'm sorry, but white paint can only do so much.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

picture this

A light pink floral skirt.
A dark pink dotted-stripe shirt. The dots are multi-colored.
Navy blue "soccer socks" (meaning, they go up to the knee).
Brown Mary Jane shoes.

Before I could get my camera the door bell rang and she was out the door, backpack on, ponytail swinging back and forth.

Sometimes I have to bite my tongue to let this Force of Personality and her unfettered creativeness head out on it's own without my advice and discretion. And then I remember that the world will take care of that far too soon as it is.

And that this would be a better place if we all felt comfortable in floral prints with navy blue knee socks. Figuratively speaking.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

this morning's grocery list

Ginger Ale
Apple Juice
Laundry detergent
Club Crackers

Care to have a guess at how things are going at our house?

Monday, September 29, 2008

this could end up being a story...

I've always enjoyed my history classes. Lately I've been feeling the urge to pull out some history books, dust them off, and read up on things like, oh -I don't know, maybe the Great Depression.

It's not often I get the feeling that I am living history in the very moment. The first Gulf War, 9/11, maybe the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Putin taking over Russia to bring back the glory for the Mother Land. Okay, check that. Apparently I live through historical moments too often.

Still, usually it feels like just the everyday blah blah that will be summed up in one paragraph in a eighth grade U.S. History class text book, because my life hasn't been impacted so substantially that things are radically different. These last few weeks, however, I think might get us an entire chapter or more, depending on what happens: Major Financial Crisis amid Presidential Election! Where's FDR when you need him? {Blast those term limits!}

Occasionally I wonder what a depression looks like in this day and age, what with all the social media that keeps us connected and our dependence on the infrastructure and the way society has changed in the last 100 years. Academic minds want to know!

Also I'm thinking about buying a generator. And some extra chocolate to stash around the house.

Because it's the good stuff that goes first.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

blue fire and golden sunbursts

Ella: What do you people want from me?

I get a huge kick out of this photo.

Maybe because I watched as it was taken, watched my girl totally pull that attitude out of her pocket with no prompting except for the camera in front of her face.

All of my kids have a kind of light about them and each one is different and indicative of their personalities. This little girl's light is an intense blue fire glowing fiercely and tightly inside of her. She is intense; life is intense; and there are days where she goes through with furrowed brow, and that nuclear blue fire.

But every once in a while this blue flame will blossom out, letting it's energy radiate and utterly surround her in a golden sphere as she laughs, runs, and lets everything go for just a minute. And I love it when that happens.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


This is what I'm reading right now. I've read it before. Many times. I don't know how many times I've actually read it, I just know it's a lot. That's something I do; I read the same book over and over again.

I like Holes because it's a good story with a lot of fun twists. Sometimes I feel like I can relate to the mundane activity of digging pit after endless pit while at the same time being in a totally new environment. That's what parenthood is all about.

Oh, I kid.

I mean, I have kids. So that's not entirely what being a parent is all about. It just feels like it some days.

But it's Fall. And this morning I turned on the heat just for a minute to get things warmed up for the first time in a long time. It's chilly enough in the mornings to enjoy the cup of cocoa. And to curl up with a good book, when you have a minute.

Even a book you've read before.

Monday, September 22, 2008

feed the birds

This morning for some reason the immortal words of George Banks {father to Jane & Michael} echoed through my head.

"And so the person that we need to mold the breed is a nanny who can give commands!"

Poor George Banks. He wasn't very delicate, was he?

Still, he got Mary Poppins to come and teach that a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. And his, ahem, "breed" got molded pretty well. I mean, they learned how to clean up the nursery with just a snap of the fingers.


I could use some of that sugar to help my medicine go down.

Excuse me. I'll be in the other room working on snapping my fingers.

Friday, September 19, 2008

snips and snails - the fine print

Did you know there is more to that nursery rhyme? It has something to do with the emergency room.

What are Little Boys Made of?

What are little boys made of?
Snips and snails and puppy dog tails!*
That's what little boys are made of!

*Little boys are also made with some gene or chemical which makes them prone to certain kinds of activities which due to the level of exuberance in which they engage any such activity will have a possible tendency to land them smack dab in the middle of your local ER. Have a nice day, and I'm sure we'll be seeing you again.

* * * * * *

So yesterday was my day off. Meaning, I have no preschool or dance lessons or church responsibilities to take care of. It's a day that I can hang around in my pajamas all morning long if I want. I can think about going up to my mom's to borrow her sander and then not actually do it.

What Thursday is not a day for is walking into a bedroom where your little boy is crying and making a mess of things with all of the blood gushing from his mouth. And yet, and yet, that is what happened to me.

We made it to the Emergency Room (I'll spare you the details of getting there- because it consists of lots of blood and a slightly panicked mother changing out of her pajamas) and by that time Oliver was pretty calm, holding his blanket, three little stuffed animals and requesting to watch "Nemo" swim around in the fish tank.

Do you think it's a law that there be fish tanks in medical facilities? Cause most of the ones I go to have them. And my kids really like them. If it's not the law, then it's a good idea.

Fortunately my neighbor had taken my girls until my sister could come over to watch them, so it was just me in the ER while they sedated my boy and stitched up his poor little mouth. Because of the anesthesia, they brought down a respiratory therapist and had oxygen at hand along with some sort of pump should he stop breathing. They hooked him up with various things to keep an eye on his oxygen level, his pulse, his blood pressure and his breathing.

I was only a little nervous. I mean, knocking the kid out was the best and easiest way to help him, but still.

I held him close to me and looked in his eyes. "Stay close to me." I said. Because you never know. "Okay" he said.

He split open his lower lip--an ugly sight. And then hit his upper gums and ruptured an artery that had to be tied off. His poor front teeth looked a little wonky and they were loose, but his gums should firm up and take care of that. Still. Lots of blood. Not pretty. The doctor came in and chatted about his grandkids and stitched while my son lay there cooperating and looked glazed over (which he was) and then they were done.

And then I sat in a darkened ER room with my little boy sleeping on his side for over an hour and a half. Every 15 minutes the blood pressure machine would send out its low buzz and take his blood pressure. I held his warm little hand, wiped the blood and saliva from the corner of his mouth, and waited, watching the little blips of his life on a monitor up above the bed. Finally he woke up, a little woozy but fairly cheerful considering the whole thing. "Mom" he said, smiling. "Teeth hurt."

And then we went home and watched The Incredibles and ate popsicles.

Thursday, September 18, 2008


We have a little animated version of The Velveteen Rabbit that my kids like to watch. It's not too shabby; Christopher Plummer narrates it. There is a silly side-story about wind-up toy soldiers who make it their mission to get the rabbit out of the nursery, but develop some affection for the plush toy so that in the end they attempt to rescue him from the garbage heap.

Growing up I had an absolutely lovely copy of this book, with beautiful illustrations. I read it over and over, not really understanding its significance.

Now, grown up and living in a world of plastic and botox and all sorts of attempts to stay young and beautiful forever, I see how truly important the parable taught to us by a dumpy stuffed animal is. The sheen of the veneer and mechanical operations of wind-up toys may make us ooh and aah; the latest fashions, the always put-together house, the perfect hostess. But if you really want to become real, that must fall away.

And then even more, becoming real requires a surrender of your whole self. It means getting pushed clear under the covers where you can hardly breath, even though what you really wanted to do was to look out at the stars. And no one can doubt that looking at stars is a wonderful and uplifting thing to do.

There is, undeniably, joy in the process. Being hauled along to picnic in the woods is exciting and wonderful, because you get to see new things! Suddenly someone wants you like never before, and this knowledge is exhilarating. And should you get shoved behind the bed, you may be forgotten at times, but always you will be found, because you are needed. There will be a grand celebration, and you will be hauled off again on more adventures.

The rub is this: Being available for this kind of love and joy is demanding.

You must allow your self to be bruised and bumped around as you love unconditionally. Occasionally you will be torn. You must let go of the keeping up of appearances. You will spend time in the dirt. You will scavenge up the mountain, out of breath and exhausted, too tired at times to cry out your sorrow.

Despite all this, I am not speaking of becoming slovenly, lazy and without regard for how one keeps one's self and one's surroundings. Nor do I speak of masochistically letting every little part of you out to the world in some pretense of honesty. This is because becoming real inherently carries with it a sense of dignity, despite the dirt.

The pursuit of dreams and goals aren't negated, but sometimes they may have to be tweaked a little bit, and some do have to be let go; it's so easy to be sidetracked by them. Becoming real is serious business. And the motivation for it is utterly the opposite of that of the wind-up toy, that may easily break down with too much pressure.

Yes, becoming real is serious business, and it can get as ugly as lying in a heap a garbage, preparing to become just a cinder, after all you've given. But as you lie there on the ground, contemplating all the good and the bad that has brought you to where you are, you shed a tear, a real tear. And then a flower blooms before you, and a fairy kisses you on the nose, and you find yourself able to things you never even imagined. Because you are real.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

oh, if only it were true.

Literally, A Web Log is a fun blog to keep tabs on, as it literally records the uses (correct & incorrect) of the word literally. Sometimes I wish descriptors of the Presidential campaign were literal. Yesterday one of the news headlines I came across said this:

McCain Calls Wall Street Reckless, Obama Hits McCain

Now that would really spice things up, wouldn't it?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

the blazing inferno of the ride home! help!

We're at that annoying time of year where it's quite chilly in the morning, but by the time afternoon rolls around the sun is radiating it's warmth rather effectively.

Yesterday when my daughter arrived home from school she burst into tears (not an uncommon occurrence these days) because the baby was taking a nap and she couldn't change into shorts and. (sob) she. (sniff) was. (sob, sob) so. (SOB!) HOT!!!!!!!! that she was about to DIE. (Or at least melt. down. Ha-ha, just a little parent humor).

Being the on-the-ball mother that I am, I was aware that today was going to be a little warmer in the afternoon, so this morning I instructed her not to wear pants. She chose a skirt. Cute. Pink. Not hot.

As she zipped up her little coat (that ends up in the backpack for the ride home) she said to me "I wish I had a leg jacket, cause that would be cool." Yes, it would. It would also look funny.

Maybe we just need to invest in a pair of leg warmers or something.

Monday, September 15, 2008

our macabre souls

So last Sunday evening after dinner, a few of my brothers and sisters and I pulled out Clue for a quick game of "whodunit?" Just as we were setting up, my six year-old wanders in, full of curiosity about the game, which really exposed us to the morbidity of the whole thing.

"Somebody got killed?"
Well, yeah. Mr. Body. The guy who owns the house.

"Who killed him?"
Well, one of us. Sort of. Like, Mr. Green. In the study. Because, you know.

For the sake of the game, my dear girl. This is all about the game!

"How do you kill someone with a (insert various weapon here; think: lead pipe/candlestick/rope, etc.)"
Well...that's not something we really want to dwell on. Ahem! And it's certainly not something we really want you dwelling on...

* * * * *

In the end, it was Mrs. White, actually, in the study. I believe she used the candlestick, which of course, is what any self-respecting housekeeper in the study would use.

Friday, September 12, 2008

the key to brushing a two year-old's teeth

...is that the first time, you have to bribe him with sugar. Yes, I know. Seems counter-productive. But it works. (I mean, after that you don't offer sugar, you just brush...and then do a quick mis-direction past the marshmallows. Hey, I was surprised it worked, too. But it did!)

(Also, it's not that he's never had his teeth brushed before ~ we've just hit that patchy "two year-old" period of life, you know what I mean.)

Happy Friday.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Vignettes From Late August

On a Tuesday morning I gather up my children with all their necessaries and drop them off with my mom. I stop a couple of times to pick up three sisters and my dad. Everyone slides into my car, sharing some French fries from Wendy's and a few laughs. We are driving up to a small town in Northern Utah with a lake, and across from the lake a little white house, and in that little white house, my grandmother dying of cancer.

It is the day that my dad and his siblings will talk to my grandmother one last time about "options" presented by the doctor regarding the sudden appearance of stage four ovarian cancer. After a week or so of culling information and emotions and trying to put everything in its place, it's time to decide. My grandmother, widowed more than forty years earlier, decides against treatment. If it's her time to go, she is willing to go.

I have spent days agonizing over the idea of seeing her go through chemotherapy. When my dad tells us, I feel a deep sense of relief.

She greets us from her large comfortable reclining chair in the living room. "It's not that I don't know you, because I do," she pauses for a split second and then points to those of us on the couch "Bethany, Kimberly, Allysha," naming us in deliberate fashion, "but I want you to tell your grandmother something fun you've been doing in your life." So we do.

Later that afternoon as I wander around her house looking at various notes and quotes placed almost everywhere, the calendars sent as thanks for donations to various causes, her own artwork in frames hung about the walls, I can hear my father reading to her from a book of his own poems. "That is really good." She tells him. And she's right.

She's tired and drifts in and out of sleep, reclining in her chair. We look through photo albums brimming with memories. We carry on a conversation around her. Occasionally she awakens with some witty comment. Energy may elude her, but she hasn't lost her sense of humor.

The air is clear and golden. It is Eden right before the Autumnal equinox. It is evening and my uncle and aunts have wheeled Grandmother to sit outside. My dad and my sisters and I cross the road to the lake where we walk along the dike, admiring the beauty of this small valley, enjoying the quiet of simple conversation, the contemplation of life and death, the concentric circles that travel outward from a small rock landing in the water of the lake.

After an entire day unfettered by real-life demands it is time to go. I kiss her cheek and then her forehead. She smiles and says "oh!" as if she is just a tad bit embarrassed by the deliberateness of my affections. I tell her goodbye.

* * * * * *

Friday morning just as the sun peaks up over the mountains and spills onto the lake, surrounded by her sisters and daughters, she slips away into eternity. She dies in the bedroom just off the living room where she was born eighty years before. My brother calls at 8:35 a.m. to tell me. I am surprised, even as I expect it; I know it as soon as I see the call is from him.

* * * * * *

Later that same day I am at my parent's house sitting at the kitchen table. My sister is on the phone with my dad. She has shuffled through a binder of his poetry and finding what he wanted, is slowly reading each line of a poem so he can write it down. My brother-in-law and I are talking quietly, when suddenly our conversation is pierced by the emotion in my sister's voice: she is repeating the poem back to my father. As she reads, words about my grandmother fall slowly around us. Bethany's voice breaks and my eyes fill with tears. She and I are the two daughters who have followed my father into word-smithy. "The trouble with being a poet, " I say to my brother-in-law "is that the poignancy of life is sometimes overwhelming."

* * * * * *

"Guess what, " Ella says to Madeleine, "guess who died today?"

It's afternoon. Madeleine freshly home from first grade looks up, and Ella tells her the news. I don't step in, don't stop her; it seems like the kind of thing that sisters should tell each other.

Madeleine bursts into tears. As I calm her, holding her, talking about how happy Grandmother is to have moved on, and telling her about the funeral, Ella, possessor of this knowledge for an entire day, has moved on past the emotion. Madeleine states in an important tone of voice that this will be her first funeral. Ella replies with great energy "It will be my first dead body!"

Ben and I try our hardest not to burst out laughing.

* * * * * *

Once again, the next Tuesday, I find myself childless and heading up to Brigham City for the viewing. Ben and the kids will follow in the morning to be there for the funeral. As my sister and I approach the doors to the mortuary we say the same thing in unison. "Funeral homes are interesting."

Later that night all eleven siblings from age 13 to 33 crash in my uncle's basement for a family sleep over before the next day's solemn assemblies. We roll out sleeping bags and play games for an hour, laughing and enjoying each other's company. Just as we are getting ready for bed, our mom comes down to tell us to be quiet and to go to sleep.

* * * * * *

It is late afternoon after the funeral. I wander into my grandmother's pantry, newly organized by an industrious aunt. I take a small glass bottle half-full of home-dried apples from the tree in her backyard. Once home, I put them in my closet. During the quiet moment of a day I sometimes go in and take the bottle down from the shelf. I turn the lid, and lift it open. I take out a slice of apple and place it in my mouth tasting its tart sweetness.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


When September 1st greeted us with torrents of rain pounding down outside the house, followed by a measure of hail, and cloudy, dark weather, you could say that maybe it wasn't exactly the way to spend a Labor Day. The lights in the house were still on at lunchtime. The temperature dropped 30 degrees over that weekend, and so when the clouds unexpectedly floated away that afternoon we were left with an utterly delicious blue sky, and delightfully crisp air; being outside was like taking a big bite from an apple just plucked from the tree. It was lovely.

So comes Fall with all of it's own rituals; the back to school shopping, the sudden ordered schedules that slide us into place, the weekend routine of yelling at incompetent (Pac-10, ahem) football referees. I am always happy when Fall makes its debut right at the start, foregoing the eternal August and those dog days of endless heat one must sometimes slog through. I am not a child of the summer. In my world, September is the first month of the year.

So then, happy new year.

Monday, September 8, 2008

welcome to 1st grade

"Mom," she says. "I know an opposite. Right and wrong. Like, I'm right and you're wrong!"

Friday, August 15, 2008

taking a break

Even apart from the Attack on Allysha's knees, life is a little hectic right now. I remember my mom saying that on Saturday nights she was always angry about something and it wasn't until years later that she realized it was a way to get her energy up so that she could get the house clean before Sunday. So, about a week ago when I started waking up a little ticked off at the world (mostly at inept doctors) I remembered this little story and said to myself "uh -oh". It's one thing to need to get psyched up for a Saturday night cleaning event; it's another when you need it to just get your day going. When I wrote up a draft post asking people getting married to kindly stop inviting me to their events because they were just too much for me, well...

My daughter starts 1st grade on Monday. My other daughter has developed a chest cold. My husband is finishing up a whirlwind of summer freelance projects and is getting ready to dive into a double dose of taking and teaching classes. My eighty year-old grandmother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer last week, which could be an entire post in and of its self.

I've been thinking through how I can better organize things, how I can make sure the most important things get done, how my family can be happy and sane through this process of life. Well, maybe sane is overrated and too much to ask and I don't mind a little crazy some of the time. But a lot of crazy, well, I need to hunker down here. Which brings me to blogging.

I need a little break. I can hardly bear to take one, but I need it. I'm afraid you won't come back to read me if I leave for a little while (all 10 of you- oh wait, that's my family ~ so maybe all 20 of you! ~ I don't want to sound too pretentious), but I need to. I'm already pushing it by staying up super-late to watch Michael Phelps and Nastia Lukin but the Summer Olympics come but every four years, and gold medal ceremonies are good cathartic releases and no one will fault you if a few tears slip down your cheeks. (Seriously, those Visa commercials can get to me...) And you don't mind that I'm choosing gold medals over a few blog posts, right? I'll stay up late a few more nights and then I'll get to bed earlier, and get some things organized around the house, get the fall routine going and then I'll be back to blogging. It won't be too long, actually. Just long enough.

See you in a few weeks.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

in which I decide to pursue a medical degree

So I was at the doctor's office today for the umpteenth time, with two doctors and a medical student thrown in for good measure; all three standing around trying to appropriately diagnose the confusing red sore spots that keep popping up on my legs and being somewhat painful. They said I was a mystery, and hey! that always makes a woman feel good, because being mysterious is fun!

Except not so much when it keeps you from being properly diagnosed! And full of antibiotics! And such.

The doctors think these mysterious painful spots may be an autoimmune reaction of some sort. Sort of my body fighting my body, maybe because I had such a violent attack of strep throat in June. The med student actually was just observing and so I don't know what he thinks of the whole kafuffle, but the other two doctors and I had some good fun conversations.

If that's the case (the whole autoimmune whatever whatever) I just need to take a lot, but not too much, ibuprofen and wait for it to go away. If it is a bacterial infection I need to let it get bad enough so that they can get a sample of the bacteria so that they can culture it and see what in the heck it is. Medicine is not the science you think it is folks. But it seems entertaining enough and has me considering a career as a family practitioner.

Monday, August 11, 2008

get your engines started

There's nothing quite like a pending visit from the mother-in-law to inspire the necessary motivation to get the house clean. As long as I don't expire in the process.

This is what I'm saying.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

nothing profound

It's Thursday night and I'm glad it's time for bed.

I went to a cousin's wedding and Ben put the kids to bed. It was really nice, but I like weddings better when I'm there with Ben.

I am the new owner of an old cruiser bicycle with new wheels and a basket and I'd like to paint it red.

I'm tired of stucco houses.

If a tree falls in the middle of a forest and no one is around to hear it...oh, yeah, I'm not doing profound.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Our rental lawn is gathering weeds. Because I don't own this place, sadly my investment in it is small. But still, I don't want it to look trashy so yesterday I did a little weeding. The kids came to help me, some pulling up more grass than weeds, but hey, whatever. It was a pleasant 15 minutes. Back inside awhile later for lunch my oldest asks me a question with happy anticipation on her face.

Her: Mom, can I have some money for weeding?
Me: Um, maybe.
Her: Okay. I want five dollars.

I'm afraid I laughed explaining that she would have to weed a lot more to merit five whole dollars. She was a little disappointed. Yes. If only getting money were so easy.

quote for the day

Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
- Theodore Roosevelt.

Monday, August 4, 2008

let's get this out of the way~breaking dawn review


{Really, if you're going to read the book, you'll probably want to read this AFTER you finish it. Or you can scroll down gently for my initial reaction and then read the rest later.}


I read it on Saturday.

My honest reaction?

I was disappointed.

On several levels.

Sure the ending was happy and good and hooray for Bella, beautiful eternal vampire with Edward, her beautiful eternal vampire, and their absolutely amazing life. I'm sure my 14 year-old sister will be thrilled to read about it. Especially their 'night life.' How gratifying for the both of them. That we could all be so lucky.

Here's the deal: Lei posted a short little note on her blog asking if we were annoyed at Bella. Yeah. A little. I can't tell you how relieved I was to get out of Bella's head and into Jacob's. That's where the story became bearable for me. I liked Jacob leaving the pack, I liked Seth. I was irritated at Edward being such a jerk. The Rosalie/Jacob bickering got old really fast.

Here's something though: After recently re-reading through sorcerer's stones and chocolate frogs, snakes and swords, potions, Quidditch, wands, and labyrinths with death at their center ~things quite fantastical, one must say ~ I picked up my copy of Eclipse just for fun, to read through the ending and remind myself what was going on up in Forks. You know what happened? The utter fluff of the Bella and Edward saga hit me in the face, except it was so soft and silly, it didn't do anything to me, except make me realize that Harry Potter had more substance to it than I previously thought, and that the Twilight series is more like eating cotton candy. Hey, I like cotton candy every once in awhile. But there's no way I could make a diet out of it.

In the beginning Stephenie Meyer did a good job at creating a compelling story and I was interested in the characters. I was curious about the resolution and that is what kept me reading. The Breaking Dawn story didn't feel that well executed compared to the earlier books nor was it very well written. I felt that especially in the second Bella section that I was reading S. Meyer writing about S. Meyer. I could feel the author behind the character and it was annoying.

The whole Jacob-Bella-Edward triangle turned square with the arrival of Renesemee was bizarre, and though I was glad that Bella didn't miss out on the important life experience of motherhood (seriously, I wanted her to choose Jacob, if only for that), it was just weird. Another thought that I had was that writing The Host had sent her to a weird place in writing Breaking Dawn. I don't know this for sure, and I haven't read The Host, so it's just a conjecture.

The ending was decent, because of course Alice came back. Duh. And I felt like I was reading the other books in the series, where it was fluff, but at least it was suspenseful, interesting fluff. And happily they overcame the Vulturi for now and Bella was meant to be a vampire, la, dee, dah, la, dee, dah, la, dee, dah.

My only question is this: If getting a vampire and a human together causes problems, what happens when a werewolf with a half-vampire/half-human fall for each other? Just kidding.

I don't really want to know.