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

-- Robert Frost

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Let's go back to Thanksgiving

I unplugged.

Really unplugged.

Gathered up, closed up shop, and headed an hour and a half up to Breckenridge, CO for five glorious, turkey filled days.

We lucked out getting a last minute deal on a house that sat with the ski lift right out the front door.  Independent kids came and went all day while I threw food at them.

They were in heaven.  I was in heaven.  Eliza wasn't in heaven being left behind at first but was easily distracted with games, books, naps, movies and one on one hot tub-ing with mom.

And I had time.

Miles and miles of un-distracted time.

For board games and reading and leisure meals and togetherness.

Why does getting away from all the "stuff" that clutters life always open my eyes to the more important "stuff" right under my nose? I don't know.  But it was the greatest way to celebrate gratitude.

And now that we're back .... there's a 5th grade wax museum and 2nd grade economics "store" to make for and a 6th grade musical/play with lines to learn and a Freshman dance class final to choreograph and a young women/young men's church talent show and a Relief Society dinner skit to perform in ... all this week.

And the Christmas boxes look like they threw up on top of the unpacked Thanksgiving vacation out in the living room and hall.

Certainly more "stuff" that I'm grateful that I get to do day in and day out.

But I can't help but feel it.

Let's go back, shall we?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving racketeering

I don't like racketeering.

Elementary school Thanksgiving lunch feels like racketeering.

The trick is to find a reason to get the parents in the door and then hit them broadside financially.  I understand.  I just can't say as I love it.

I pay twice the price for the adult lunch as the kids and get the same exact meal ... size, nutritional value, appeal and all.

I'm assaulted by the brimming school lobby book fair boasting 75% mark up.

I'm affronted with cries for spirit wear purchases and long faces that we're not sporting more t-shirts with falcons on them.

And I'm a heel if I'm the only parent not participating because I'm not highly skilled in slamming down pressed "turkey" in 20 minutes.

The only genuine thing I can see through all the racket is the thrill that I'm there.

And so on the thankful side of the whole Thanksgiving lunch experience:

I can't help but feel gratitude at the delight of a baby sister getting to eat "wunch" at "kool".
Gratitude for kids who are excited at the simplest of things, like a mom coming just to see them.
Gratitude that I already made a donation.
Gratitude for teachers and education.
And gratitude that today, I left my wallet at home.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Party like it's 1998

Sometimes I feel like Mom of the Year, cheer leading my kids into continually trying until they achieve something they really, REALLY want.

Then I realize that social services could just as easily show up and take them away.

Ever since Christian and I went here, he could talk of nothing other than taking the entire family for his birthday.

And I'm not really good with present stuff.

But fun togetherness experiences ... the stuff that life is made of?

Sign me up.

Climbing into our car to head for home, tired and muscle sore, Grant sighed in the darkness, "I want to close my eyes and remember today forever."

I think we all felt the same.

(Harry Potter ... here he comes!)

Monday, November 14, 2011

Christian's 13

I keep this picture of Christian on top of a shelf where I pass by it multiple times a day.  It's the only thing that keeps me from killing him sometimes.

He was born on a Friday the 13th.  Newel was out of town and I waited with a best girlfriend at the hospital trying not to give birth until he could make it.  All that red hair was a surprise.  We took him home and he never, for one second, could stop moving.  Never, ever, have I seen a more herky jerky newborn.

And he hasn't stopped since.

You'da thought those signs would have told me something.

I could strain my brain to write 13 things I love about Christian.

But ....

What I notice recently is that my heart does feel like bursting whenever he's around.  Because, he is becoming.

Becoming adorable.

Becoming witty.

Becoming nice.

Becoming aware.

Becoming fun.

Becoming tall.

Becoming hard working.

Becoming responsible.

Becoming pleasant.

Becoming gentle.

Becoming reasonable.

Becoming closer.

Becoming a young man.

What more could a mother ask for?
Happy birthday, Christian.  I couldn't be happier to have you come home to me each day.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Veteran's Day

The group of small children sit spellbound around the table, completely engrossed in the adventure being laid before them by the man that is their father.

He spins a tale of a soldier, attempting to snatch snippets of sleep in a monsoonal rain as drenched rats gnaw holes at the sleeping bag's toe, desperate for refuge deep within it's warmth.  The soldier kicks them away and shifts position, hoping the trenched moat surrounding the army issue tent, is deep enough to hold the night's down pour.

Later our hero is fleeing through the tropical underbrush, machete in hand as the zips of gun fire whiz past his head.  He hears each shot clearly, tearing through leaves and splintering trunks of the trees in the unfamiliar terrain.  As he leaps over vegetation fallen in decay, hacking at the jungle with his knife's sharp blade, he yells in desperation into the speaker of a hand held radio, "ALPHA, TANGO, CHARLIE!!"

... And the children sit in wide eyed silence ...

As the lone soldier's eyes desperately sweep the desolate interior of the ramshackle farmhouse, he looks pleadingly for anywhere to hide and await the rescue helicopters he's certain will come.  His ears strain for the sounds of foreign voices beyond the meager walls, beating brush and overturning the farm's abandoned yard in search of their easy prey.  He calculates the distanced in sound and it's equivalence to his inevitable capture.  His only hope, a closet before him and the slightest glimmer of a hiding place.

Catlike, he moves and silently slips into the waiting closet darkness.  He shifts to the small enclosure's darkest regions and flattens himself against the back wall, never daring the slightest breath.  He braces his footing solidly on the ground, readying for the oncoming assault and in so doing, his left mud-splattered boot scrapes an object emitting a low metallic thud.

Time freezes.  Could it be?  He allows himself to slide to a crouch and in the darkness feels the boxy container.  Allowing his eyes to adjust to the low lighting, he sees them.  The tell tale numbers of measurement, .. 30, 40, 50, ... 120, 130, 140 ... nothing more or less than a true bathroom scale!

The guttural utterances of foreign soldiers resonates within the outer room now.  But our hiding friendly breathes just a little slower at the dawning of salvation at his feet.

Chairs clatter, glass breaks and a scrape at the closet's door calls for quick decision.  And in an adrenaline filled moment, amid shouts, a flood of light from the flung open passage, guns clicked to fire .... our hero, ... our soldier ...

Jumps on the newfound bathroom scale to get a weigh.

For a moment, there's confusion in the anxious children's eyes.  And then laughter all around as the story's ending clarifies it's double meaning.

"Naw, Dad," insist cries all around, "Tell us what Vietnam was really like?!!"

But reflectively serious once again,  he ushers them off to bed with a shake of his head and a tight hug filled with hidden meaning.

The children are all grown with children of their own now and no longer naive enough to believe in fairy tales.  It's never been clear, the fact from the fiction, but there's clearly a chunk of life lived in a distant land.  And there are silhouettes. Of two eighteen year old children married in the wake of a military draft.  Of a hasty honeymooned departure.  Of a new father's congratulations on a baby born half a world away.  Of fears in the night and dreams recalling loved one's prayers. No glamour, no fantasy, just life's hard reality.

"Wow, Mom" says the next generation, "Grandaddy looks so young."

"He was, sweethearts.  He was.  Not much older than you.  They were babies sent to do a man's work." and the children rush off to the yard to play.  Their feet running fleetingly over the winter's frozen ground.

Ground that was bought.

Bought with a price.

By tales lacking storybook endings.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, to all who make us free.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Be your own

Be who you are and say what you feel,
 because those who mind don't matter
 and those who matter don't mind. 
 ~Dr. Seuss

She fits no mold and never will.

Janie's driven my teenage neighbor into crazed submission over horseback riding lessons.  It's been hard to establish a routine there and so now she's driving me crazy to drive my neighbor's mom crazy to drive her daughter crazy for lessons each week.

But if that's what it takes ...

And that smile says she couldn't care less about driving people crazy.

She's been wearing these on her fingers since she acquired them at the dentist six months ago.  Daily.  Do you think they drive her school teacher crazy?

I know they drive her piano teacher/mother crazy.

Do you think that concerns her?

Not really.

She's her own gal.

Who we wouldn't trade ... except on rare occasions.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Small treasures

When asked by my bigger kids, to drive them and their friends somewhere .... anywhere ... my heart jumps a little at the chance.

It's rare to be invited into their world.

And because I spend so much time and energy on the younger souls of my household, I do so treasure the opportunity to get a glimpse at the interactions and the friendships of my older children.

It tells me so much more about them.  

Even when I merely sit silently in the driver's seat and observe through a rear view mirror.

Friday's trip, though a little more subdued than the usual jaunt to and from a dance or party, was telling just the same.

A rare glimpse of life's precious treasure.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Going senile ... I mean ... developing patience

I'm a "Project Patience" work in progress.  There really isn't a day that goes by that I don't react badly to something, even a small thing, catch myself, and think, "When am I going to master this one quality!!".

"Probably never," myself almost always answers back.

Talking to oneself is a sign of senility, I'm sure.

But when I take a step back and look at a bigger picture, something like this:

Would, once, have sent me over the edge.


And now I know it'll be over all too quickly and I run for the camera understanding a little girl's magnetism.

Who of us doesn't laugh at the thought of ourselves boiling those first dropped pacifiers.  Panicking in the face of dirty floor crawling.  Crazily scouring entire bathrooms when only tubs had been defecated.

Nowadays ... I just want to know how many suckers from the Halloween candy bucket it's going to take to adequately distract while I attempt to clean something ... anything.

More senility.

Or more patience.

Either way, I'll take it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Fall break twice removed

Before the memory of fall break laziness seems just a dream, here's to spending a week of simply enjoying the last bits of beautiful weather and being us.

And thanks for the pedicure kids.  I know it takes a village.