Monday, December 10, 2018

Here and There (Or Neither)

It will give you a small glimpse into my mental state, perhaps, to know that somewhere around 4:30 am Friday night/Saturday morning it occurred to me that I would rename my blog. It would now be: They only throw up at night. And other stories.

I was quite confident about it. Several hours in to what would prove a miserable night for Mette (and an at least equally miserable night for me) it struck me as dreadfully clever, quite catchy, and a wonderfully literal and metaphorical summing up of the entire motherhood experience.

(Likely it seemed less wholly true to Daisy [who was tending when another incident occurred in the middle of the following day]. But it certainly seemed true enough again for me Saturday night and into Sunday morning. Sigh.)

After a decent night of sleep last night however . . . I can see that perhaps the title was not quite so inspired as it felt in those moments.

In other news, I have just sent Summer to put Mette for her nap. (???)

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Although she is doing her very best to be both gentle and stern all at once, and to properly assert all the authority her extra nearly-13 months on Mette might allow her, the endeavor is mostly, from what I can hear, failing miserably (as I suppose I knew it would); but putting Mette to bed is nearly always an ordeal, and I thought, at the very least, sending Summer to try her hand at the job would buy me a few minutes to try and clean some of the waxy “window crayons” off of several windows in our house (a job that takes roughly one billion paper towels, an entire bottle of Windex, and . . . most of your will to live). (See windows in the background of the picture later in this post where Goldie is lighting Jesse’s birthday candles.)

Those window crayons are very much like the child-sized toy bus and scooter on the floor of our kitchen closet. I can’t bring myself to get rid of them. But I also . . . have never once had any of my kids get them out without my shouting, within seconds, for them to put the awful things back at once!

Jesse Frank had a birthday yesterday. He is now ten years old. And, if you do your math, you will be shocked to discover that living that long again will put him at age 20. (But its probably best not to do your math in these instances. It doesn’t matter how clearly you put it down on paper, or how many calculators you have handy, figures that add to such ridiculous sums will never make proper sense.)

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He was living in a state of equal parts excitement and dread for days leading up to his tenth. And no reassurance from me could shift the balance solely to “excited” for long. A birthday is a glorious thing after all, but, there is the chance it won’t be a good day. And who can face that after all the build up? 

“Why wouldn’t it be good?” I questioned.

Well. Ignorance.

He and Anders might fight. Someone might be mean to him. The little girls might break his presents; why, they might simply crowd around too much – infringing on his present-playing enjoyment! 

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But, it turned out to be a very happy day with very little that went amiss. True he still had to go to church (which struck him as a slight loss), but the bishop, who generally gives birthday kids one treat, gave him TWO (it was the bishop’s birthday as well it turned out – a situation that called for such extravagance); we had caramel topping for his ice cream; Mike read the Hobbit to him (which he loves far more than I would have guessed – sometimes I just look over and see him smiling delightedly to himself as Mike reads); and, he managed to trick us into letting him stay up until 10:30 to work on his new Star Wars Lego ship.

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And now, in just two more days, Abe will up and have a birthday as well! 18 years for him. I added the figures once about this happening too. They never did add up, so I’m not sure how we’ve gotten here. There must have been some odd equation that I didn’t consider in my calculations (the quadratic formula? V=lwh?).

In any case. Off I go. (But not before telling you that Mette is, at this point, not in bed at all. She has come upstairs, thrown several rolls -- that were meant for dinner – out to the chickens, received a giant pile of dry-roasted peanuts from Summer, and is now sitting on the floor across from me – drinking out of a water bottle and asking me to cut an apple for her. But that’s the glass-is-half-empty way of looking at things. The half-full way of seeing this? Well, at least she isn’t throwing up.)

Wait. Don’t go yet! Here is my dearest, little Hansie boy. Oh I adore this person. (And how he closes his eyes at you if you try to sing to him because he doesn’t know how else to respond to such a thing as being sung to.) We all were in love with his hair that stuck ten feet up into the air. We never made any attempts to tame it. But, alas, it eventually got a bit too out of control and had to be cut. He screamed as if death himself were upon him. And so Mike buzzed it as fast as he possibly could – while I lost all feeling in my arms restraining the little fellow from flight. (Also, never buy your kids Lucky Charms . . . because no matter how many promises they make, they will only eat the marshmallows. And also, never buy them Fruity Pebbles because. Well. Just don’t. Unless you like sweeping. Then, by all means.)

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Thursday, November 29, 2018

Thanksgiving Weekend

We haven’t properly established a Thanksgiving that is always any one particular thing. Some things are consistent of course. The older girls like to help the kids make gumdrop turkeys. And the three of them have started doing pies with me – while we officially break out the Christmas music -- the night before Thanksgiving. And it’s Mike’s favorite holiday. He loves getting the newspaper that day, turning on the parade and the dog show, and letting me get out for a run (where I inevitably see groups playing football at every park I pass – no matter how cold it is).

But some years we join my mom – with whichever siblings happen to also be joining her that year; and some years we join Mike’s family -- with whatever siblings happen to be joining them that year; and, in recent years, we’ve even done some Thanksgivings on our own (which, we really quite enjoy!). So, the details change a bit from year to year.

This year my mom flew to Texas to be with my sister Shannon’s and my brother Aaron’s families. And we joined Mike’s family.

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Mike’s mom had reserved a church gym – which turned out to be great for the kids -- as they had plenty of room to run about, play games (even a few rounds of Lightning were played once tables were moved a bit), and even use Legos! (Mike’s brother brought an entire kiddy pool full of Legos. I don’t know how he managed to carry it to his car, but Jesse in particular was in heaven!)

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We brought the pies we’d made the night before (to join with the pies others had brought) as well as mashed potatoes and gravy. (And here we must mention that Goldie peeled and cut ALL of the potatoes! And we probably did over 20 lbs. She made the gravy too!)

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And then . . . I snuck back home a bit early, turned on Christmas music, and cleaned the house. (Perhaps not the most Thanksgivingy thing to do. But we’d decided earlier to leave for Bear Lake Thanksgiving night. And the kids had packed that morning, but I can’t bear to leave on a vacation . . . knowing I will have a messy house to come home to. And, there is nothing so nice as cleaning a house . . . when nobody is there messing it up at the same time. So I cleaned up, Mike and the kids returned home, and off we went.)

Here was an email I sent to Mike’s family that summed up our weekend:

Shortly after the party, we loaded up the van and came to our cabin. The kids are currently out trying to sled (even though we brought no snow pants and even though the snow isn’t truly deep enough for any real sledding). Anders has remained inside however and has been talking to me for the last twenty minutes straight about the marvel of how it occurred to him to build a yeti out of Legos when initially he’d only intended to draw a yeti (and when he was actually rather tired and wasn’t sure he had the energy to carry out any yeti plans).

Yesterday we drove to “the big city” (Montpelier)— certain that with it being Black Friday it would be a happening scene. “Happening” turned out to be a craft fair, Family Dollar, and a stop at the one small pizza place in town. Not even the Butch Cassidy museum was open. (Though the kids loved imagining the faithful officer who, the sign told us, borrowed a bicycle and pedaled with all of his might after Butch and his men — who easily outdistanced him.)


Anyway, love you all,
Nancy

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And love to you all, blog readers! Farewell. For now.

A Bit of the Scoop Around Here

After a day of rain (that might have been a serious snow storm had it just been a few degrees cooler), we woke this morning to a clear enough day that I immediately noticed all the new snow on Ben Lomond’s peak. But, within a half hour or so, Ben Lomond had disappeared. A thick fog fell onto our town. (“It’s clouds that fell from the sky.” That’s what I tell the kids.)

We rarely get a good, heavy fog around here, and there is something mysterious and mystical about one that I love. As I drove the boys to school (Penny had gone early for choir), we kept pointing out all the things . . . that we couldn’t point out, I guess. We could no longer see the usual stop sign (and empty field across from it) when we turned south out of our cul-de-sac. The round-about closer to the school was completely missing. And houses were mere mirages – ghostly buildings to the sides of us. I told the boys about the time in Kindergarten when I’d set out to school (I must have had afternoon Kindergarten, as there were no older siblings walking with me) in a thick fog. I made it to the end of our street and turned to head up to the school, but . . . it wasn’t there. I pressed bravely on – staring forward into the mist, faithfully believing that in just a few more steps, surely it would appear. But with each step – and still no sign of the usually-looming school -- my bravery grew less and my pace more hesitant until, all at once, terror seized me and, with no more space for logic in my five-year-old mind, I turned and fled back home to my mom.

Anyway. This morning. Fog. Yes. But there have been all sorts of other things going on around here!

After hours spent assembling his application portfolio, Abe was selected as the Math Sterling Scholar from his large high school. He also completed his Eagle Project (none too soon – as he turns 18 in a matter of weeks) and has begun requesting letters of recommendation, etc. for upcoming college application deadlines. He is already so inundated with homework and studying from all of his AP classes, that both Mike and I really were feeling that something was going to have to give. And we told him as much. (You don’t have to do an eagle project. You don’t need to apply for sterling scholar.) But somehow he continued to plow his way through.

There was an interview as part of the Sterling Scholar application process. In it, the applicants were given 30 minutes and a complex math problem to solve. Abe was the only one of the students to solve it. However, he re-created the problem for Daisy later – and she too blithely solved it in the given time-frame. Speaking of Daisy, she recently got herself hired for her dream job: an elementary school janitor. Haha. Oh all right. Not her dream job. And, at present, she is only technically hired as a substitute, but it should actually be pretty ideal. It’s all high schoolers (besides the head janitor), both she and Abe have friends doing it, it’s incredibly close to home (she’ll be wandering the halls of her old elementary stomping grounds), it pays quite a bit more than minimum wage, and there are no weekends or late nights -- just filling in from 3:30 to 6:30 for those who request her to cover their shifts. (And it will please Mike [who feels a teenager, no matter how busy, ought to begin earning a little income].)

Bravo for my darling little janitor! (She does also teach group piano lessons with her piano teacher on Mondays, so she can call herself a piano instructor if she prefers. :))

Photo Nov 14, 8 48 17 AMPhoto Nov 22, 5 36 37 AM(Oh! And that above picture of Abe with a trophy. He was on the Academic Olympiad team that his school sent off to a competition at Utah State a few weeks ago. Unfortunately his school didn’t place. But, out of the several hundred students there, he got an individual 3rd place trophy on the Language Arts test.)

Penny and I have been working on her 6th grade science fair project. I admit, we, perhaps, did an overly simple project. I just couldn’t bring myself to do anything requiring . . . much of anything. But . . . it’s the holidays! And . . . I have a lot of kids. So. Shrug. Oh! But you really should all be so lucky as to come to her upcoming choir Christmas performance. Never, in the history of elementary schools, has anyone created a more entertaining and magnificent choir! Truly! I am in awe of the women who, in only a few early mornings a week with the kids, manage to put it together and pull it off. It has become so well attended that you now have to reserve tickets and they’ve had to add shows! Rumor has it that people from other states come to watch so they can try to do something as miraculous with there own school choirs. It is just fun, and dazzling, and entertaining and one of my favorite things to attend in December!

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Goldie has been enjoying another NAL (National Academic League) season. She also tried out for the school play and will officially be “Munchkin Number Two” and “a member of the munchkin trio” (along with several other small rolls) in The Wizard of Oz! She also plans on running track. NAL will wind up soon. But then the play will start . . . and run right into track season . . . at the exact same time as we have our new baby. It’s all wonderful stuff. But it also means she misses the bus that usually brings her home after school, and I can’t wait ‘til next year: when she can participate to her heart’s content in all the extra-curricular activities she loves . . . at a school that is in close walking distance rather than . . . somewhat far driving distance. :)

And the younger kids? They have been full of their usual shenanigans. (Including this lovely, black eye Anders managed to procure at recess one day. [And I wish I could say, “But you should have seen the other guy!” Only . . . the “other guy” was a step on the playground.])

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As for me. Well. I’ve been a bit emotional this pregnancy. Though, in truth, I can’t safely blame it on pregnancy. There is so much happiness and joy in this big family and my life situation. I have an impossibly unfair amount of blessings in my life. (I could [and perhaps SHOULD] list large and small things for hours. [Though Mike and his constant goodness to me is certainly at the very top of that list.]) But also . . . this path I’ve taken, at least at this stage, is utterly and exhaustingly hard. It truly is. I cannot properly express how overwhelming things are. For my nearly three years with six kids, I felt . . . so on top of life. It was full and busy, but I could do it! And quite well! I was rather proud of myself and how suited I seemed to be to the big family life. But the transition from six to nine has taken me a million million miles from that stage of competency and confidence. And I cry, rant, and fail miserably at something nearly every day. BUT! I shared this quote from Elder Richard G. Scott with the YW I was teaching last Sunday (though I added all the bolding and underlining and the like):

I have learned a truth that has been repeated so frequently in my life that I have come to know it as an absolute law. . . . When we obey the commandments of the Lord and serve His children unselfishly, the natural consequence is power from God -- power to do more than we can do by ourselves. Our insights, our talents, our abilities are expanded because we receive strength and power from the Lord.

It goes hand-in-hand with these recent words from our prophet Russell M. Nelson: “I promise you that as you consistently give the Lord a generous portion of your time, He will multiply the remainder.” 

As I encouraged them to put the things of God before the other demands of their full lives, I was able to bear such a strong testimony to them of this principle because, of necessity, I have come to know it is true. It is how I survive from day to day. I live by this “absolute law”. I depend on it fiercely. I do the things He has asked me to do – and then I plead with Him to make possible the necessary things that I see absolutely no way of fitting in or doing. And somehow . . . the way does open up. Insights come. More time is somehow found (or I manage better than I should on far less sleep than I should). Or more is accomplished in a short span of time than should have been possible. My incredibly weak efforts – often given in tears and with strugglings -- are magnified. And I suppose that is one of the important lessons God has for me to learn in guiding me into a life that is full of a thousand more daily demands than I can ever possibly meet and a thousand more worries and problems than I can ever possibly solve. I have learned to rely on him in a way I never needed or thought to before. Like the children of Israel wandering through the wilderness, I absolutely depend on manna from heaven . . . every single day. And the fact that I usually only get a day at a time . . . keeps me relying on him all the more. I am grateful that He somehow managed to create a life for me where the full and beautiful things I have . . . are all intermingled with the intensity and difficulty necessary to have humbled me to the reliance on and trust in him . . . that, I imagine, are exactly what I came to morality to learn.

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