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

-- Robert Frost

Friday, January 31, 2014

factual friday: where has all the blogging gone

It's 9am.

I run six inches of water in the main-level master bathtub.

In the kitchen, I find the littlest girl left moments before quietly eating a plate of eggs, now sitting in the middle of the table stirring a milky omelet cocktail.

Stripped down and into the tub, I turn to the open closet for a diaper.

Seconds only and the entire rack of towels now lay steeped in the the tub.

Amazing how much water a stack of towels can absorb. Six inches, at the least.

She stands on the edge all pink and pudgy and wet. Lifting her down, I fish for the remaining dry towel and wrap her, then turn to wring water from the soaked set.

Hoping to avoid drippage, I rush them around the corner to the open and waiting washer.

The pattering of feet behind me tells me that "pink and pudgy and wet" is off again and I'd best be quick.

Not quick enough before the contents of a bottle of Soft Scrub is being used to finger paint a leather chair.

Thank heavens for leather.

Thank heavens for bleach-less cleanser.

Hoping leather can withstand the Scrub long enough for a diaper, I grab and nail the squirmer down to slap that sucker on.

About that chair ...

"Mom" Eliza breaks into my concentration as I wipe away with rags, "Can we do a craft?"

"We sure can," I say rushing to add these rags to those towels already in the wash.

Little feet have beaten us to the punch.

The craft cabinet contents lay scattered across the kitchen floor.

We shove it all back inside the doors. No rhyme, no reason, just cram it in so the kitchen's not a land mine.

The small diapered person blankly observes our efforts, hands behind her back.

Minds on our task and seemingly unnoticed, she reveals an uncapped marker. Laughingly quick as lightening, she brandishes it like a sword running down the hall while wounding the wall every second swipe.

The last sword stroke is mesmerizing and stops her long enough to turn it into a genuine spider.

Imprisoning the weapon born hand, I see self inflicted stripes of ink across her bare midriff.

The offending marker hits the trash can and we kneel in the closet and rummage for clothes.

She skitters as my search allows time to hide behind a nearby towel hanging.

I'm game for a peek-a-boo moment but she pulls the towel down with a squeal of surprise before I can even commence the search.

There's purple goop around her mouth and I mentally kick myself for not having checked the other hand for a glue stick gone chap stick.

The glue-chapstick joins it's marker-sword friend in the trash, and I scrub at her lips as the little girl writhes.

Feet on the floor once again, I bend to hang the towel, but she's gone lickety split.

She's already in the kitchen using two retired slices of breakfast french toast from the garbage as "rags" to clean the floor.

My arms swoop her up, sticky and all and I perch her on the edge of the sink.

"Drink!!!" she says with a giant tooth gapped smile.

I'm stunned speechless as weeks of work turning screaming confusion into words of want have just actualized before my very eyes.

I reach for her cup on the countertop aside and she claps and bobs.

"Yank yew," her eyes squint tight as that gappy grin expresses words of appreciation we've tried to pry from those lips time and again.

My eyes sweep to the kitchen clock above her head.

9:17 am on a January Thursday.

A moment in time to neither forget nor to miss.

And we laugh and we clap in a ring-a-round-the-rosy, for the accomplishing promise of a day. No better time to be present.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

building a family, one wholesome activity at a time

I've come to absolutely love four day weekends. Just off a winter break, there are a couple between now and spring break.

Once, we ran crazy every afternoon of our lives. I'd spend an afternoon writing out a divide and conquer list. I'd call up Newel at work to see which stops he could make on his way home while I was making others and then we'd rush through homework, whatever we could find for dinner, and fall in bed exhausted.

I can recall one Saturday in particular. We'd all rushed through a breakfast. I'd hurried one child off to orchestra, dropped another at a swim team practice, run to a grab that one from orchestra to hit a play rehearsal, stepped into a competitive basketball game for five minutes .... said hello to Newel and waved at the player .. before heading off to do the rounds of pick-ups.

In a family our size, we were doing the impossible.

That night Newel put a stop to all of that craziness and suggested we cut everything for family centered activities we could work at and have fun with together.

Man o' man, did I have many a sleepless night worrying over my children not "doing" anything.

I'll say ... and I don't say this often ... he was right. ;)

The result after all these years?

We've loved family dinner.

Our grades are better.

The mom isn't crazy.

And the extracurricular activity fund centers around amazing memory building wholesome recreational activities ... for the entire family.

"Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of  
faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and 
wholesome recreational activities."
 --- The Family: A proclamation to the world.

I wholeheartedly believe that. Traditions are what bring a family together. This is ours.

Monday, January 13, 2014

little stuff

Over that Christmas hump, I start looking for spring.

I know. It's not even close. 

So, I tackled spring cleaning like it just might be.

That's where I've been. Running my carpet cleaner in hopes of just one bucket of semi-less--murky water to dump. No chance. Weeding kids clothes. Bagging donations.

Newel helped me clean out some computer files. Which cause a whole lotta consternation, frustration, and hair pulling. I'll give him credit. He was pretty darn patient where I was not.

Christian came home more relaxed than I've seen him in a long time, from his final board of review to Eagle Scout. More on that to come.

Then this happened.

And my relaxation vanished just a bit ;)

He's proving to be pretty good. And man o' man, can I get anything out of that boy just for a chance to drive me somewhere. Saturday, I got an entire clean barn and not a word of complaint.

We are ankle deep in legos right now. Everyone is addicted. It's what they do. It's what they live for.

Other than this...

Grant had a wax museum presentation at school. I'd love to say he worked hard on it. But, he got to a certain part of the report and then he accidentally delete the whole darn thing ... twice.

Then some really dedicated sisters swirled around him and whipped his deal back into shape, without even having to be asked.

And I couldn't help but let my frustration melt watching him show off his baby to his friends.

With the kids back to school, it's just us once again.

Some early morning hilarity.

And those bangs I don't know what to do about.

She's into drawing on everything she can get her hands on with any writing instrument she can grab.

And she's fast.

I really could eat these two.


Tuesday, January 7, 2014

a new year starts with day one ... even when it's jan 7th

... and a whole lotta random thoughts smooshed together, quite possibly not making any sense at all ...

Christian saunters into the kitchen from school yesterday asking what is for dinner. "Chicken enchilada soup." I say.

"I love chicken enchilada soup!" says he.

"I love working over a hot meal for someone who loves to eat so much." say I.

Who doesn't love validation for the life they're living?

Annie was silent. "How was the first day back?" I ask and she shrugs, quieter than the last couple of weeks. I put my arm around her.

We'd had such a great time vacationing together. She's lighter without school and social stresses.

In the mountains last week, she'd stayed by my side filling my ears with unsolicited words of encouragement and never ending chairlift conversation. I could feel from her how excited she was just to be with me because I was slowed down by inadequate ability encumbering my pace; relying on her to pick me up, dust me off and tell me I was doing fine.

More validation, not under appreciated.

The kids each begin pulling out homework from the first day back. The banter light. I marvel at the amount of room around the table now that the high chair has been moved down to the basement for the last time.

I know I've said that before. This time, the moving of it was a little less sorrowful. Besides the fight against a little girl who loves to stand, we fill the space. And these people sharing the last of the banana bread and dragging feet to do homework, fill the empty nooks and crannies of my heart.

Celia's stalling by engaging me in conversation over new year goals she's set.

Smart girl.

She knows she can stall me with good conversation.

"What are your goals, Mom?" Annie asks.

I mentally sigh. There's all the same stuff. Always wanted. Never accomplished. I'd like to be on time. I'd like to make more healthful meals. I'd love to be a more present mother. I'd love to be more spiritual ... more scheduled ... more fit.

"I'm pretty happy with myself from last year." I say, "I set out to be 2.5% more engaged in my conversations."

"Set your goals high, do you, Mom?" they laugh.

"Hey, don't knock it. I'm feeling accomplished where I rarely do! And I'll push myself this year.  I'm planning to be 2.7% more positive in my thinking!"

"Did you say 7% more positive?" asks Christian.

"I think she said 27% more ..." answers Celia.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa ... " I say laughing at their smartypantsness, "Let's not over extend my abilities here."

And so the evening wears on.

During the nighttime preparations for bed, I learn of the passing of a dear friend from just up the road. The final progression of her illness being so quick.

We'd talked on the phone a few weeks back.

Seems like minutes ago, we stood on her porch talking about children and watching mine gather apples from her tree.

Her husband gave Christian his first job this summer and they'd both treated him like the amazing grandparents they are to their own grandchildren.

Beautiful and vibrant and devoted, she slipped away yesterday, surrounded by her children.

I lay in bed, heavy hearted, thinking on all that she'd miss. What I would miss, under similar circumstances. How much her family would miss her. What would mine miss about me?

I awoke this morning feeling a need to live more deliberately ... to validate her life .. to lend more validation to mine.

And maybe, just maybe, that wish list up there will get covered in some way because I hugged more, and laughed more, and listened more, and sat more, and played more, and smiled often.

So, though I've turned into not much of a new year goal setter because a non-setter doesn't have to stare failure in the face,

Let 2014 be the year I live more deliberately in every way.

... or at least 2.7% worth.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

holiday closeout

We're back to school on Monday. A little fact I'm not entirely thrilled about. I've had them all to myself and loved every minute.

I'm ready for the great clean sweep of a new year. 

I'm not ready for time to march on.

This is the year I felt I sat at the top of the roller coaster's biggest drop. Discussing Christmas gift needs and wants with Newel, it hit me all that Celia would need next year to prepare for departure to college. I felt that terrifying drop in the pit of my stomach as I perched on the edge wishing not to go over after all.

Everyone just stop right here, why don't you?

The holiday season always feels like madness when your in it.

Looking back, I realize there was more to love than not.

And I'll hold on to every beautiful piece.

The magic of temple square lights.

The always anticipated tree decorating while Bing sings "I'll Be Home for Christmas".

Cookie baking with a dad who is an expert.

The waiting ...

And waiting ...

And waiting ...

And ... waiting ...

thank you NORAD for keeping us posted so well!

An excellent cooking assistant whose preparedness against disasters goes without saying  ;)

Simple pleasures of Christmas morning like pomegranate seeds by the spoonful.

Traditional visit to our local retirement home first thing Christmas day.

These ladies and gentlemen make us forget there are presents waiting at home under the tree. 

Time with them is like no other gift ... and they play a mean game of "Go fish".

And then the reveals ...

And sharing of well thought out gifts by "secret santa's".

Followed by aftermath delight.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and all that goes with it. May it be the best ever for you and yours.