"Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to let you in."

-- Robert Frost

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

We're into Christmas

"You'll never guess what I found today!!" comes the excited voice of my husband through the phone as he's headed home from work.

No, he's right ... I'll never guess. A missing coat? Something the kids took and hid?? Money forgotten in his pocket ???

"Snowman donuts!"

Ah, that's it ... this is the guy that allowed me a glimpse of that ten year old boy of yesteryear when I brought home ghost-shaped donuts one night in October. Love that man's youthful anticipation.

Tis the season and so for family night, it was tree trimming time cuz Dad came home with holiday the treats.

Ummm ... there was also a Muppet Christmas sing-along going on at the same time.

Afterward, Janie asked if she could share with us some songs learned in school music class. We all nestled in for what we expected to be Christmas carols but were stunned to silence by a riveting performance of "We Will Rock You" by Queen that brought tears to our eyes ... literally.

Until, Eliza insisted on her turn.

As my father would say, "We're into Christmas!"

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanks for the memories

I know I'm going to beat the Thanksgiving horse to death here, but ...

We skipped town for the holiday and it was a fantastic way to go.

Suit cases packed, ski gear loaded, we took a short jaunt to the Colorado Rockies.

I've decided there is no better way to take the pressure off of a holiday like a ski vacation. A rental house with all the trimmings, board games, sleds, only a suitcase worth of stuff to keep neat and tidy ... I'm in love.

The first day, Eliza and I grocery shopped for T-din, read magazines, edited photos on the computer, finished up our Christmas card, took a great nap, and soaked in the falling snow flakes watching a movie together, all while the other's spent the day wearing themselves out on the slopes.

Thanksgiving day -- repeat, only this time with Aunt Cheryl who joined. The kids were thrilled to see her. Eliza and I started the cooking whilst watching snatches of the Macy's Parade (a tradition for me cuz it's never complete without those Rockettes!) Followed by roll making, Christmas music, and decorating the table with whatever was handy. My skiers returned earlier than expected due to some unplanned mountain sickness but dinner perked them up pretty quickly. It was lovely.

Poor Aunt Cheryl's not used to chasing five kids around a mountain and lucky for me, she agreed to stay with Eliza on Friday to give me a turn skiing with my kids.

They've all had ski school lessons along the way. But once we were up there together, I realized it was the first time I'd ever actually seen any of them ski. I couldn't believe how good they had gotten and I sure loved being together and having fun as a family. Next year, when Eliza's got some stability in those legs, I hope we'll all be there.

This one thinks every hill is a race

I love watching everyone follow our dad like ducks in a row -- except "those who think it's a race". I like to bring up the rear so I don't get run down. Annie's not pictured. She's beside me as my ski partner. She and I like to keep things a little more leisure and she doesn't mind that I say "oops, sorry" so much as I am not a fantastic skier.

As the sun set over the hill, I couldn't help but wonder what these two had conversed about on the lift all day long.

And every day ended the same way.

With me donning a swim suit and bare-footing it across the snow covered deck with this one, who just couldn't stand being on the sidelines apart from the others a moment longer.

Today, my house is full of laundry but my head is full of memories, and for that I am thankful.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


Definition: A statement declaring knowledge regarding gratitude. As opposed to "testimony" being a statement of knowledge. And here's mine given in proper honor of Thanksgiving.

For a brief moment, I was really thankful that I didn't have to go out in the yard and shoot me one of these to cook. Seriously.

I'm grateful for parents who were harder on us than most, who were intuitive, and who were praying constantly for their children. I always kind of slide an inch or two toward safety away from those who say they are grateful for their trials (just in case I might get caught in the vortex of their next one merely by sitting too close). BUT ... I had my own trials and my mother was there, over seeing and never letting me pull a fast one. Those experiences with her, me trying to pull the wool, her pretending to be stupid so I'd slip and be found out and dealt with -- if I hadn't had trials and she hadn't been led by the spirit in my behalf, things would be so much different. And now, I look at it all as the best training ground for what my own children need from me, whether they like it or not. I'm thankful for my mother -- and my father, too.

Couldn't possibly be more grateful for a good husband. Nay, the best husband. He takes care of us. He works hard. He's strong in so many ways. I'll not sicken you before your T-Din by continuing but to me, he is the root of all my gratitude. I'm thankful for him.

Great kids. I love these guys. Sure, there are times I've observed other's children and wondered why mine had to come with that extra dose of somethin' special (like the other night out at dinner with my husband where this cute family was across the restaurant from us and the kids all sat nice and were well behaved and I thought they must have been drugged or something cuz mine don't do that). Still -- they are the excitement of our lives around here. I'm grateful that they are strong willed people because they are going to need it, whether I appreciate it now or not. I'm thankful to be their mother.

(Including the two oldest not pictured)

Health and strength in so many ways. I've recently visited with several folks who are challenged in this area. What hard struggles and I'm so sorry. Without health and strength, this life is a much different place. I'm grateful that I get to enjoy it completely and that my children are happy, well balanced, full bodied individuals. I'm thankful to run after them day after day.

And so thankful every day to know where I came from and where I'm hoping to go. Being part of a heavenly family comes with a lot of expectations and a lot of unimaginable blessings. I'm grateful to know what I know and to feel what I feel and to never have to wonder about who I am or what I am a part of here on Earth. To be a daughter of God is the greatest of all.

Happy Thanksgiving -- I'm off to cook that turkey I didn't have to hunt and kill. Hope yours is full of many thanks and memories.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Christian's 12

This post has been long in coming as we've had a whirlwind week with this guy and I wanted to put it all together in one.

We did our usual stuff on Christian's actual birthday, November 13th. Cake, presents, and doing our best to make him feel special. His uncles were here so I can't imagine who wouldn't feel special with those two around.

I reflected on the day he was born. Waiting at the hospital with one of my closest girlfriends while my husband took an unplanned flight from California where he was working with a client. She and I had such a good time and I've said with every birth, that nothing could beat that one. It was light hearted, it was comical, she was a fun companion, then my husband arrived all stressed and took over for the hard part at the end after which they handed me a baby all covered in red hair. The entire experience was memorable and I say, everyone should take a girlfriend to the hospital for the "waiting until it gets hard and I turn ugly" part.

Reasons why Christian is amazing:

1) He's funny. Even when I'm totally irritated at him -- he's still funny.

2) I love to watch the girls at church fight to sit near him. It should worry me at such a young age, but it really just assures me that they like him so because they know what kind of guy he is.

3) He's so active and imaginative. He's always had to be going. Even as a newborn, he was one baby who could not hold still.

4) I've loved watching him and Celia create a junior high bond. There are secrets there that they share.

5) He can't keep a secret to save his life. I love this because it keeps me in the "know" of what is going on with everyone else.

6) He loves fun. Probably more than anyone.

7) He likes to talk. I like to talk. Together we talk.

8) He's so good with Grant. I remember him praying and praying for a little brother. Ever since he got one, he's treated him like his most prized possession.

9) His heart is tender. Toward anyone and anything.

10) He knows who he is and what he stands for -- even when he does something wrong.

Twelve is a big birthday in our church. It means some special things. Newel accompanied him and Celia to the temple for his first experience. He came home glowing with details and so did Celia, as it was exciting to go with her younger brother for his first time.

Grandparents came from Arizona for his priesthood ordination during church on Sunday. Christian seemed nervous but watching him with all those other boys who had gone before and seeing the excitement on his face that he was finally out of my primary was golden (I'm not sure he was glad to actually leave primary as much as he was glad to be out from under my constant watchful stare). He looked like a young man who felt that he had arrived.

Christian and I have spent our "before bedtime routine" for the last couple of weeks, reading this together:

It's a book I'd recommend to all LDS youth. He and I had such great conversations. Last night, Grandpa was able to give Christian his. Some might think it early but boy, do our youth ever need all the guidance they can get these days and Christian is just so unaffected by life's hard knocks as of yet. He was ready.

I was so touched by all of the promises of the man he can become. It's made me look so much more deeply at the spirit of my son. I probably needed to hear all of it just as much as he did. I love him so and couldn't be more happy that he "chose us as his parents". Thank you for that, Grandpa.

Today, my heart is really full for my red haired baby who I sent back out into the world this morning after such a weekend. He's only mine for a little while. And today, I just see a young man who will be leaving my nest all too soon. I love you, Christian.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Just startin' the Christmas wish list

I used to seriously question the humanity behind those kiddie leashes. Then I got a child who no matter which eye I always stuck on him, was gone in an instant and constantly lost. No, I didn't run out and get one, but I could finally see why another mother would.

A friend of mine watches the most adorable (and well behaved, I might add) little boy. He wears one of these:

I don't mean to make light of those who need one of these for extreme circumstances. However, I've got me a boy who positively cannot sit still to get his homework done leaving me wonder ... where has this product been all my life and can I get one in a size 12 for youth? One in an adult women's medium might be appreciated some days, too. What the heck ... how 'bout a family pack for Christmas! And can I get them in Sunday attire? Because that would certainly make a difference in our church going experience.

Now, if I could just create kitchen-table chairs with seat belts without getting thrown in jail, I would be genius.

Gimmicks that work

School Thanksgiving lunch ...

A -- Making parents walk through the book fair fundraiser to the lunch room. That's just irritatingly genius. Kind of like whoever dreamed up the candy at the grocery store checkout line.

B -- Charging $3.85 for the exact same tiny lunch my children ate for $2.50 ... and not even an extra scoop of cranberry sauce???

C -- School lunch still smells like old gym socks.

D -- If your going to serve half-inch thick slices of compressed turkey loaf and ban cutting utensils of all makes and models, there have got to be some expected spills ... I don't care how old you are. I'm just sayin'.

When my first was a kindergartner, I dutifully picked her up at the half day mark and there she stood with her lip poked out on the school sidewalk alone with her teacher. "Where's everybody else? I'm not late, am I?" I queried. "Their parents all came and took them to the school Thanksgiving lunch" the teacher answered. I had a toddler and a baby in the car so I took her home anyway, I mean, let's not start what we don't have to, right?

We're sack lunch takers and so the next year, I thought the same. Not my deal, we take our lunch, and I'm not buying in. Until "the only child without a parent" came home from school and I took the brunt of it all.

And so, each year, I fix my hair and put on my lipstick and head down for the lunch of all lunches.

I heard a woman next to me proclaim to one of the ladies on the lunch line, "It's just not Thanksgiving without school Thanksgiving lunch!" I stopped short all the thoughts in my head. See "A" through "D" above if you have doubts as to where I stood on all of this.

But ... in the spirit of Thanksgiving, though I think contriving an event that makes parents drop everything and run furthering entitlement issues else long faces abound ... I am glad not to have missed the smiles on theirs' as they entered from recess and found me waiting.

(Even though I prefer to show up out of the blue and not just because I'm expected to. Just sayin'.)

Eliza didn't care that the rolls smelled like gym socks. Isn't innocence nice?

Over dinner Janie started in about today being "the best day ever" because Mom came to lunch. There you go. Condemned for my negative thoughts.

Terrible picture below, but I just love seeing Grant and Aiden together. They crack me up. They're best buds and yes, ... they're both first graders.

Who knows ... maybe it's really not Thanksgiving without a school Thanksgiving lunch.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I'm still on a weekend high...

And I'm just coming out of it.

The primary program is off the checklist. It's always hard sitting on one side to know of the other side's perception. I think it was great. It was great for me anyway and I guess that's really all that matters. And it's great to have it done.

My two youngest brothers and their wives came to visit from Utah for the weekend. I didn't want to bombard them with camera shots from every angle so I've got nothing to show for the visit but the memories probably outweigh any photos I could have taken anyway.

A few thoughts:

1) I've been on my kids cases about grades as the recent trimester has come to a close. I won't say specifically which kids. I've expressed plenty of frustration over forgotten assignments and unpreparedness. I remember my mother doing the same with these two brothers. They were elementary as I was graduating. I remember her concern for them. They are now such fantastically well balanced, successfully educated adults. What strikes me is that for all of my worry, prayers, and promptings in regards to my own children, as long as I keep mothering them in a deliberate fashion, they are going to turn out to be well balanced, successfully educated adults too. If we saw the end from the beginning, we mothers probably wouldn't try as hard as we need to. I just have to do my part as she did and never let up or throw in the towel.

2) I watched my teens lay on the floor and soak in the adult conversation of two of the cutest boys (and their wives) that I know. The school environment isn't great, the bus isn't either. I hope I'm gearing everyone toward good responsible friends, but the fact is -- we all become a lot like the people we associate ourselves with. My kids hung on every word and I loved that. I loved looking at those two young men and hoping for my boys to be like them and my girls to find husbands of such great character. I really need to take more opportunities to put my children in the midst of family. It gives them something to aspire to, lets them know where they came from, and helps them gauge what is expected of them.

3) My sister in laws took my girls for a little shopping trip. I was pretty wiped out after managing 150 primary age children at church for our Saturday program practice and so I bowed out. Then I spent the entire time they were gone feeling guiltily neglectful. What kind of hostess sends her guests off with her female children in total abandonment? But on their return, my girls faces were positively radiant. I asked if my sister in laws had survived and apologized up front for any disagreements and fights there might have been along the way. They "claimed" there hadn't been any, that my girls had excitedly showed one another their wares and pooled their change to spend every last drop in remarkable companionship. Lies, I know it, but appreciated lies. And Celia glowed of stories later of feeling so grown up with her young aunts. Had I gone and done my usual micromanagement, the experience just wouldn't have been the same and it was definitely one they won't soon forget and probably just what they needed. I hope my girls learn to be like them.

4) Neither of these two couples have children as of yet. Eliza, who is a girl in love with "daddies" whether in deed or not, spent her entire weekend cuddled in the lap of each successively. She'd back into one and curl right up, get down and back into another and then repeat. She was held to her hearts content. Each brother talked and talked about getting the chance to have "one of these". I even heard one wife's gentle reprimand that she needed to finish school first -- even though she, herself, really wanted to just go home and start their own family right away. I so appreciated that. Sometimes in the craziness of it all, I forget what it was like in the beginning. The hopes and dreams for the future. I wanted all of this. And yeah, it is turning out just as I dreamed. The shine of the newness can rub off in the day to day of things and it's a good reminder to see how I, myself, felt in the beginning by watching these young couples.

5) I pray for my children constantly. I know my mom spent more time on her knees for those two. And look at them now. Just start with their wives -- couldn't ask for better. And my brothers, themselves, are such remarkable guys. I adored watching them and was struck by how effective her prayers must have been. My children have lately been faced with some of the world's ugliest problems and all that my heart could tell me this weekend was to look at the effect of a mother's prayers. Time to raise the bar for myself because heaven knows, my children are going to need it.

A whirlwind trip for them, I know, but I'm so glad they came and I'm so glad they have grown to be the examples that they and their wives are for my children. Thanks for coming and sharing time with us. And thanks, Mom, for doing such a great job with those two.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Because I know it won't always be like this...

I don't really know how one child can possibly make such an explosion every time he eats. I expect it under a certain age but teenage hood? The trail of bread crumbs all over the house even though he's followed the rules to only eat in the kitchen, is jaw droppingly incredible.

If I want to vacuum, I have to start in the opposite direction from where I actually want to be and then fake the baby out in order to actually get the job done. Vacuuming is that exciting.

My sense of smell is seriously out of whack. You'd almost have to hit me in the face with a stinky diaper anymore. Six kids later, the cilia on the inside of my nose are just burned. However, I can easily tell the difference between a quick mouthwash mint and an actual tooth brushing mint. And ... I almost always suspect I smell stuff burning.

I don't freak out over poop in the tub any more. It's just a given. Surely that's what disinfectant wipes were made for. Everybody out, water down the drain, paper cups for scooping from tub to toilet, quick rinse, wipe down with wipes, refill, everybody back in. See? Whatever. Poop happens.

I have moments that I want to freeze and keep in my mind forever. I know there will be a time when I'll long for them yet not be able to remember as well as I'd like. Last night, was one of those. Homework was finished so the kids loaded into snow gear and headed out into the dark for some sledding. They put the baby in her suit too, and excitedly took her out for a spin. The house was warm from the fire burning in the fireplace and smelled of crock pot chili waiting for our dad to come home. All was suddenly silent in the house except for the distant sound of outside laughter. I sat on the edge of the kitchen table with my face pressed against the window for the longest time wishing to just hold this. Then I ran to get my camera and attempt to do so.

Not great (so pardon the blur) because I didn't want to over think it but rather soak it all in. Celia holding Eliza waiting their turn, Janie and Grant on the sled together, Christian teaching Annie to snowboard.

I just don't want to forget that it won't always be like this.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

No means yes and yes means no

I asked him, as I do almost weekly, "Don't you want another one??"

And he said, "Yes ... but they all have to grow up."

That's not exactly a flat no like all those other weeks when I asked and I loved him all the more for the gentle response.

Thanks for letting me down easy this time.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Rolling out the red carpet .. winter's here

Just like that ... move over fall, winter wants a turn.

Last year, Eliza was in a baby seat oblivious to most of the world. But boy, was last night exciting. For her, for the kids coming off the bus, for our dad coming home early to a fire in the fireplace and the smell of pumpkin bread in the oven. The first snowfall is pretty magical and one of our favorite times of the year. But ask me if I still feel that way in March.

Last night's beginnings

This morning, she was like a shnotty princess on a pony and I dreaded the coming of the bus and loss of free entertainment.

That "why did you stop us for a photo" blank stare was accompanied by "get a move on" grunts.

This is how he wanted to go to school. I don't know how I talked him into leaving the helmet and goggles behind.

Winter chores are only fun on the first snow. After that there's a whole lot of paper, rock, scissors to see who has to go. And I always love the free loaders waiting around the back of the coop.

A hot chocolate to warm up, surprisingly on time to the school bus, and the little one down for her first nap by 9. A perfect morning, I think.

Welcome winter. I'm sure you'll hang your hat and stay awhile.