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

-- Robert Frost

Thursday, February 28, 2013

hours of life i'll never get back

I survived the usual morning rush and surveyed the damage while making a mental accounting of all things possible in the day ahead.

A book case to paint.
Curtains to sew.
A closet to organize.
Some laundry to do.

I put on exercise clothes for a morning treadmill run and lay a tired baby back in her bed.

The brief seconds on the floor to tie running shoes were momentarily too long and a girl with game in hand, was upon me.

We played. The early morning waned. The doorbell rang. There was a giggly race to retrieve a package delivery. Our disturbance unsettled the baby and the needed nap was gone.

Begging for snacks. Requests for some coloring. A doll house pulled out. Some pretend play and juggling of a tired baby amidst our invention of "Dr. Linford, Can You Please Remove This Pig From My Face??" The hilarity wore on.

"Mom, let's make a grilled cheese." so together we did and picnic-ed on the floor. The crumbs fell. The lunch dishes topped those of breakfast.

It's time for an afternoon rest, says the baby's newest actions. Then, maybe, I'll squeeze in that run.

We laid on my bed with library books high and the girl suggested we wrap like a "taco".
I read and I read and the wiggly baby under one arm stopped moving as the gentle breath under the other arm, slowed to deep and even.

The handful of nocturnal feedings coupled with the early morning whirlwind triple header out the door to school, catches up with me and I'm powerless to my fading eyelids.

Just a minute.

Then I'll try to move.

I opened my eyes and lay still, trying to clear the fog of my brain. On my side, the baby curls inward to me, all squishy and soft like she's always belonged right in that spot. A velvety toddler hand drapes over from behind, limp and heavy as the little girl to my back presses her face into my shoulder.

The slanted sun across the bedroom told me it was late.

I could slip away now but we're on the precipice and the slightest motion will wake the magic of this moment.

Stillness continued.

If I had super powers, I could will that latest parenting book just out of reach to my hand and at least, multitask my trapped position.

If I had a clone, I could whip up some cookies for that hungry teenage boy about to re-enter.

Instead I lay there enclosed in the soft, light breath of infantile sandwich.

The front door opened and slammed and the calls for mom stirred the enchantment. It's clear, the shelf ... the curtains .. the closet ... the laundry ... the parenting book ... the cookies ... will remain untouched today. A wash. I didn't do anything. A day I'll never get back.

The evening raged on with dinner, after school activity pickups, homework, referee-ing, repremanding, frustration, apologies, cleanup and chores, bedtime kisses and tuck ins. Babies asleep, I stood in the dimmed light and removed the unused  exercise clothing. Tomorrow. I guess.

Warmly pj'd, I heard a soft voice behind me and turned to see the little girl. She grabbed my legs and held on tight. "Why aren't you in bed?" I ask and run my fingers through that curly hair.

"Mom," her face beamed up at me in the dark, "It was the best day ever. You are my best friend ever."

And I didn't even do anything. A day I'll never get back.

What did you do today that you will never get back?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

child abuses

When Newel used to travel a lot way back when, he'd always come home to find I'd done something drastic to my hair.

It's what I used to do when things got too quiet and there was no one to stop me.

Now I just halfway paint a wall.

He's been gone for what seems like forever .. though not really ... and I already cut my hair ... so I found some other victims.

I only got a picture of one of the heads I cut but ... for my first attempt at layering? I was fist pumping the air. Then did a little dance over how you can learn anything on YouTube. Then held really still and pondered that scary thought for just a second.

I didn't cut this head but I tortured it just the same.

I'm loving those thighs right now. They are serious business.

I ran out of cinnamon and did what people do and went to the store and bought more. I needed to use it. Couldn't find it. Swore I'd bought some. Went back to my cabinet looking for it again the next day. Discovered two unopened shakers. Questioned why I had bought two.

I thought I was loosing my mind.

Found this on my Ipad at random one morning.

Apparently it's been fun with the babysitter during my recent trips.

Here's one Sunday morning, one cute baby, one great helper and some sort of background argument between father and son over how to style hair long overdue for a cut.

Sometimes, it's just too much ;)

Monday, February 25, 2013

photo shoot with these guys

One of the most incredible families I know ...  and my first large group experience.

I kept looking at them thinking this is a lot of people ... then shocked myself to the reality that they are only one more than my own group of people.

It brought to mind the words of my father, "It doesn't feel so big when you are in it."

And these guys, they make their world together seem small and intimate and friendly and fun and full of the joys of being together.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

factual friday

Last weekend was awesome and not just because we shared in a very special day for this niece who I kept picturing as a four year old with ribbons from my wedding gifts taped in her hair.

Though that was pretty great, too.

Mostly because I spent the entire weekend gnawing Newel's ear off in conversation over everything under the sun for four. straight. days. Seriously. We wandered, I yammered.

Visiting this ...

which is one of my favorite places on earth. 

Then heading down to our Alma mater where we relived every memory of our beginnings together ... as well as some before there was "us".

We stopped at the dormitory of my freshman year and I pointed out site after site of happenings in my first time away from home. Which window was mine. The sand pit I'd pretended to read books by as boys played "beach" volleyball. The paths I'd taken to campus. The spot where I'd ditched that date who'd decided to use a bush as a bathroom rather than complete the few necessary yards further. The creative invites that got out of hand to the girl's choice dances ....

Still visualizing my footsteps warm on the pavement, we decided to stop at the dorm cafeteria malt shop for old time's sake.

There'd been a remodel since those days but we weren't deterred. We entered what was now called the "Creamery" and moseyed for a milk shake like we'd once owned the place.

"Is this the Cosmo's Connection?" Newel asked the baby faced gal serving on the other side.

"Ummmm ... I don't know what that is .... ", she giggled nervously. "Maybe up at the Wilk ???" she offered with a shrug and glazed over sideways smile.

"Okay." Newel said with a wink in my direction, "How about a Raspberry Pie shake?"

"Ummmm ...." came the bubblegum sweetness once again, "I don't think I have those ingredients .... "

"How old are you?" Newel couldn't help but ask.

"Nineteen" she replied.

It was his turn to glaze. "Ummmm ... that was before you were born ... " he trailed off. In that moment, it was as if the gulf between today and that day parents set me and my suitcase on the outside curb, had swallowed me whole. 

This weekend he's off with best friends of those days and beyond, having the time of his life, I am certain. With a view like the one he sent up above there ... how could they not be soaking it all in? I love that they keep in touch and that they keep each other young.

And I find myself content with this girl ... this third wheel on my weekend get away ... because that sparkle in her eye is enough fountain of youth for me.

Even when a college co-ed half my age indirectly tells me differently. And that's a fact.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

fourteen days of love

Our fourteen days of Secret Service was such a hit. The masses have asked to do it again.

Keeping secrets was hard. Everyone started trying to guess. We had to get crafty by soliciting help in ghost writing notes and assisting in tasks so as not to get caught.

Eliza kept her note collection on the side of the fridge and boy, her Secret Agent was vigilant and amazing.


Early this morning we had the great reveal over a Valentine breakfast. We all guessed who had our names before the telling. Most everyone had it wrong and the surprise was fun.

As was the presentation of the little Valentine gifts they'd purchased for each other.

The perfect start to a perfect day celebrating the love within our family.

We've really enjoyed this month and there's so much more to write about leading up to this day. However, after getting these guys off to school and leaving notes of love with treats on the counter for their return home, my Valentine and I took a seven-ish hour road trip to Utah for the weekend.

I'm sure these guys are having fun tonight with our good friend who is staying with them.

And I'm certain Newel loved every minute of the drive listening to my constant yammering conversation over all things under the sun.

But I know ... among so many other things making this day pretty darn special ...  I mostly enjoyed our dinner tonight at one of our first date restaurants in our little college town as we relived memory upon memory of the road to where we are now.

A great way to end a great day.

I hope you and yours had a wonderful Valentine's Day.

Monday, February 11, 2013

standing room only

Last night, as Newel boarded a plane to some where, I slipped away leaving kids in charge, to a meeting held by our stake presidency.

The gist ...

A very familiar phrase to me, but going hungering after food for some of my thoughts, I came away feeling full.

At the beginning there were statistics. The stuff of parental nightmares. The bombardments our children face out in that sometimes scary teenage world. It was painful.

Then came solutions. Building relationships, righteous traditions, strength and self reliance ... all ideas built around the principles listed in that proclamation up there.

Quoted was the yearly theme for our youth, taken from a scripture that seriously ... you do not have to be a member of our faith to be inspired by the words.

"Stand ye in holy places, and be not moved, 
until the day that the Lord come;"
D&C 87:8

The emphasis of this theme is so often placed on the "holy places". It was last night, being compared to the home and what our children come away with ingrained in their character by what we as parents, teach there.

This morning, as I drove kids to schools and buses, my thoughts dwelt on the word "Stand".

I stand in the kitchen three quarters of my day.
I've stood on the sidelines of kid's sporting and cultural events.
I some times stand to quiet fussy babies who think I should get a move on.
A hunting stand is a watch tower of sorts ... a random thought but no less poignant.

And as I drove up once again, to my yard, I thought of the stand of Ponderosa pine trees in which I live.

The National Forest Service says:

"A stand of trees is a contiguous area that 
contains a number of trees that are relatively homogeneous or have a common set of characteristics."

On the hill above our house, the prairie blows. Sometimes icy wind. Sometimes harshly. Sometimes just an annoyance as clothes whip and hair lashes faces. But almost always blows.

Down the hill, my home sits protected in a stand of trees. I can hear the wind. There are times it sounds like a distant train. For the most part, however, the winds are broken and the pines merely rustle. Those trees are tall and straight and deeply rooted in some pretty hard earth.

I thought on my efforts to help my home ... and my family within that home ... be a stand like that one. One where every member of my "stand" is strong and firmly rooted, creating a protection for the entire grouping, stable, upright, intact, and having a common set of righteous characteristics.

A stand is most effective with every member actively working together when and where possible.

The house still after the morning rush, I replayed the cute video clipping shown at the meeting's conclusion last night.

Last night, I sorta got the tie-in made. That as parents, it is our privilege to make this journey along with our children.

This morning, a little more clearly in the quiet, I felt the sacred privilege.

There are days I'd like to high five myself for doing good things. For .. completing a certain checklist, if you will.

  • Prayers .... check
  • Spiritual upliftment ... check
  • Gratitude ... check
  • Engaging conversations .... check
  • Affection ... check
  • Peace ... bonus
  • Unity ... double bonus

I can't help with seven kids, to close out most days merely wiping my brow and patting my own back for not messing 'em up and completing all that I know is right and good.

I read this from here this morning:

"Happiness within our family will most likely be achieved when it’s founded on the teachings of Jesus. That means being unselfish, honest, loyal, loving and a whole host of other virtues, not to mention a lot of effort. A loving and happy family doesn’t happen by accident.

Thinking back on our own family. There were times that were happy and times that weren’t. What were the happiest moments? Most likely they were when we felt loved. When our Dad cried because we were sick. When we saw our parents laugh and smile, and could see how much they loved each other. When my sister gave me a high five for scoring a goal, or vice versa. When I broke a window and my parents forgave me instead of yelling at me. When the car slid off the road during a blizzard and our family had to walk several miles for help. We held hands and sang to make the time go by faster. Our family pitched in to dig someone else out of the snow. My family suffered through my high school musical even though I was just a stagehand. Maybe our family prayed, sang songs, or attended church together. We can recreate those happy times today within our own family and marriage. If our family didn’t have many of those happy moments when we were young, then we want to make things different now."

I want more of that.

Let's face it. I'm pretty sure Newel won't cry if anyone around here is sick ... unless it's life threatening ... and then only maybe. And I'm nearly certain we are not the "holding hands and singing" type of family.

But today, I feel like that guy standing there frozen with the can of beans in his hand. Sometimes looking out at what I hope for this family.  Not quite emerging as far as I'd like for whatever reasons. Only just recognizing the endless potential to this sacred calling of motherhood.

There is so much more to all of this than doing good in survival mode. I know this. I have known this. But I have to act on it. Increase it. I want every moment of every day to be significant. I want to be the roots of this "stand". Deeper. Unshakable. Stable. Upright. Intact against the winds that threaten.

I want to be their holy place that does not move.

I want to grow standing in the privilege of being their mother.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

we're doing..

this .... 

Seven months. It's time.

Annie says it's a lot like twice baked potatoes.

Also that I shouldn't be wasteful by making a whole batch. Just one spoonful will do since it takes a whole hour of putting it in, cleaning it off the face and stuffing it back in a gain.

We resurrected this old friend.

And we love the way it and it's passenger fill a space in our hearts.