Thursday, May 28, 2009

Daisy -- Awards, etc.

The other day after school, Daisy came running full speed down the sidewalk to our waiting car. She was holding a certificate of some sort, wearing a medal, and smiling as if she were about to burst having to hold in her news clear til she made it to me.

She'd gotten an award along with several other students for "Scholarship" in front of the whole first grade. She told me how when they started to read the names she had crossed her fingers and thought, "Please say my name. Please say my name," and right then they did.

I had to give Abe a bit of a scolding look. He had arrived at the car a few moments later and was mumbling something about how it was no big deal. He'd gotten one in front of the 2nd grade for academics or scholarlyness or some such as well. But he has received several awards already this year and I didn't want him downplaying Daisy's when she was clearly so excited about it.

I wished I had been there when she received the award. Daisy has this smile that is half shy but filled with joy and pride when she gets recognized for something in front of others. It alternates between pursing itself nervously over her teeth and then breaking back into a tremendous grin, and her eyes are lit up all the while. I don't know exactly what it is about that smile, but I knew it would have been on her face when she was handed this award in front of everybody. I've seen it multiple times and every time it causes some emotion to swell in me that makes me feel like crying.

And . . . speaking of Daisy. Here is a picture of a chore chart I made them do today. I don't have a set method or chart for making my kids work. Some things they do every day (like empty the dishwasher), some days I make them lists to check off, most often it is just, "We can go to the store when the puzzles are all cleaned up," or "You can watch your show when the laundry is put away." Today I happened to make a little list of stuff they had to do. They each had to check off their initial next to the job as it was finished. This just makes me laugh because it is so very typical of who would and wouldn't be eagerly scratching off their initials.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No Blogging??/Marriage

I can't blog anymore -- which makes me think of that darned raven crying, "Nevermore! Nevermore!" What was he nevermoring about, anyway? Never mind, the point is: me -- not blogging. It is all the fault of War and Peace. I planned to read it casually so as not to have its 1200 pages of very tiny print interfere with real life. Alas, I am unable to be leisurely. It is maybe like buying a bag of little Twix bars and planning to eat them slowly over a month's time. I don't have that type of control. It has been occupying my every spare minute. Anyway, I am 800 pages in and because I am so caught up in my book, and have no interest in my blog, it suddenly seems to me that all the world must be caught up in something that likewise renders my blog of zero interest to them.

However, Tolstoy occasionally departs from the story and his very human -- amazingly human characters to philosophize about such things as why Napoleon made such and such a decision, or why historians were all wrong about the cause of this or that victory; and I must admit, those pages I am only ever reading through to get back to Pierre or Natasha, prince Andrei or Nikolai, or even Marya and the old prince. And since a spell of those pages are upon me I decided I would spend today's nap time (you know, the time my kids nap) catching up on blogging. Now there should be enough new posts that no one will notice my absentee status for the remaining 400 pages.

So, moving right along, I thought I'd discuss how very difficult it is being married -- particularly when one member of the marriage arrangement discovers something seemingly minor about the other member that causes them to question just who on earth they have married and if they ever even knew them at all!

For example, when sister Shannon found out that her Jason didn't like horses. He hated horses! What on earth was she to make of that? People don't hate horses. Luckily he likes them now, and he would have actually liked them much sooner if he'd been sitting in my backyard one day with my sister Megan and I while we chatted and watched our kids play. Our very mellow horse Honey was in the pasture trying to mind her own business, and our half grown Australian Shepherd (that is a dog, not a half sized shepherd man from Australia in our employ) was barking about Honey's heels annoyingly. All of the sudden, so quickly that if only one of us had seen it we wouldn't have believed it to have happened, Honey decided she'd had enough and grabbing Bud (the dog) with her giant horse mouth, tossed him a good ten feet. Both Megan and I just stared for a minute, then looked at each other dumbfounded wondering if we had both just seen that, and then we burst into laughter (justified only by the fact that the dog was unharmed -- or at least only his pride was harmed -- and because Honey seemed to be giving him just what he deserved. . . . We just didn't really know that horses could do that). Here is an artist's depiction of the event (I don't know what artist -- probably a famous one though).

Another example would be when I found out that Mike didn't like fireworks. Who was this man I had married, lived and borne children with? I refused to believe anyone could dislike fireworks until the following night when our firework happy neighbor nearly blew up the entire neighborhood by accidentally setting off several thousand dollars worth of fireworks at once. "Oh," I said to Mike, "Now I see."

But now it is Mike who has been so rudely startled from his marital bliss and it all happened by me saying, "Snicker doodles? I don't like snicker doodles! What kind of a Sunday night treat is that?" Apparently this was quite a shock and perhaps insulted his fondest and truest childhood memories because he told me cruelly, "You wouldn't know a happy cookie if it slapped you in the face." At which point I covered his mouth and told him not to say anything further or he might say something we'd both regret. It isn't my fault though. Rare is the treat that I can truly love with out a chocolaty component. Pumpkin squares and strawberry shortcake maybe. I even told him I didn't mind sugar cookies with frosting -- upon which he suggested I "de-snicker" a snicker doodle or two. I wasn't buying that. So, grumbling and mumbling something about fools mocking and later mourning, he retired himself to the kitchen where he and the girls proceeded to make snicker doodles (and even a few snicker snakes), but I don't think he looks at me quite the same anymore.

It is tough this business of love and marriage. I hardly know how we do it. It is a good thing Mike has supported me in War and Peace, or who knows where we would be! (He has looked up various bits of history online for me when I have been confused about something they discuss in the book, and he even bought me a happy little LDS fiction the other day at a garage sale because he figured that after War and Peace I'd need some "fluff" reading. I love Mike).

A Cool Picture

I don't know what exactly it is about it, but I love this picture of Goldie. The kids were already bathed and in their pj's when Mike suggested we go for a walk in the foothills above our house for Family Night. I just love this little fairy girl flitting about the foothills in her little white nightgown, blue Puma's and striped socks. I love how out of place it all seems.

Memorial Day

Yesterday we went to the cemetery with my mom and dad. We were joined by my brother Aaron and his oldest son William (who happened to be in town), as well as my sister Shannon's family, and my niece Ashley with her husband and baby. I love this tradition, and I think it is why cemeteries always seem like happy peaceful places (as opposed to spooky) to me. The traditions are a little different depending on whose graves we are visiting. When we go to my dad's parents, he always tells the story of when my grandpa died -- how even though he'd been in a coma for several days, he gripped my dad's hand so hard it was almost painful when my dad talked to him about how much he knew they both loved each other, and how when he did die, all the family in the room, tears in their eyes, rose and gave him a standing ovation (my grandpa had been head of the theater department at the local college). My dad also likes to clear away the grass and clean their gravestones. This time the kids reverently helped. Before we leave my dad's parent's, my dad always says a prayer then, kneeling, presses his hands along the raised letters of their names. This time, because it is a special favorite of the kids, he also told of how my grandpa and his brothers were struck by lightning. The horses they were with died and the boys were knocked unconscious and temporarily paralyzed, but managed to survive. My grandpa always clearly remembered the image of the lighting streaking away in the distance and his step-mother rushing out towards them with her skirts billowing and hair blowing in the wind as he struggled up the hill towards their home.My mom has a few more ancestors in the cemetery and she is the geneologist, so when we visit her side, she shows us pictures and tells lots of stories. My great great grandpa Thomas Wallace had a plenty rough life. His mother, who was English, was disowned when she married a Scottish sailor. She moved to Scotland where they had a number of children. One day her husband (who was known to be a drinker) left to find work and simply never returned. She used the little money they had to get back to England -- much of the journey with her little ones on foot. When she got to her old village -- hoping to plead with her family that they not let her children starve, she found that they had moved and no one knew a thing about what had become of them. By this point she and the baby were nearly dead, and did die, three days later of pneumonia -- leaving her other children completely helpless. How they grew up is another story, but eventually Thomas joined the church and came to Utah where he had 11 children -- nine of whom died. After losing so many children, Thomas was a bit of an overprotective father. My mother always tells the story of the time he wouldn't let his daughter Lizzie go on a hayride so she climbed out her window and down the huge oak next to it to go. When she returned, Thomas was sitting in her room waiting. He didn't say a word, but early the next morning she woke to the sound of her father out chopping down the Oak tree. We all know and love that family story. Here my mom is in story telling mode and showing pictures to the kids.Here are a few more pictures from the evening. Including one of Abe at the traveling Vietnam War Memorial. It gets set up at different places around the country and happened to be here yesterday. It is half the size of the original but contains all of the names. We weren't able to stay as long to look as I would have liked because Penny was throwing a tantrum and we didn't want to destroy the reverence of the place. It did make me sad though. Just to think of that many young men -- sons, maybe fathers -- just gone. Mike and I watched a documentary last night about the many graves and cemeteries of American soldiers in Europe, and Mike told me about some war in Paraguay where 2/3rds of the young men were killed. How do civilizations survive the death of that many men? It seems like it would throw things out of balance permanently.I really do love this tradition, and I had such a pleasant evening.


Penny just turned two. I love my little Pen. She has perfectly square little teeth, and her smiles cause her eyes to squint nearly shut (just like my brother Rob's eyes when he smiles). Time goes so quickly and she and Jesse were born so close, that I keep getting confused in my mind and having trouble remembering if something involving a baby was just last week with Jesse, or a year and a half ago with Penny. All she wants to do lately is catch things. The kids catch bugs, but she wants to catch birds, horses, cows and even airplanes. "I wanna catch it, Mom!" She'll say so hopefully. Today I told her the cow she wanted to catch was maybe too big to catch. She then simply wanted to "hold it." And only reluctantly agreed that maybe petting it would suffice. There is something about this stage that makes me look at her more than any of my other kids and think, "Who are you? You aren't my little baby anymore, and you aren't yet one of the big kids that I know so well. Yet here you are. Your own little person with your own story and life to live, and how is it that you are mine when I can see so clearly that you are someone all your own?"

Monday, May 11, 2009

Four Boys

Here are some pics Ashley took yesterday of the four boys that were born with-in four months of each other in my family.

Both Abe and Jesse were born into the family at the same time as a slew of boys and one girl. The only difference is that with Abe, it was all my siblings having kids with me. With Jesse, only one sister and then three nieces were the ones having kids (my niece Amber had a little girl during this same four months. I guess that is what happens when you are at the end of eleven siblings. Craziness.

Anyway, in order: My Jesse, Ashley's Israel, Kristen's Lewis, and Shannon's Miles.

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Hodgepodge? Right after I typed that title, I wondered about the origins of that word -- hodgepodge, so I typed it in google. I didn't find exactly what I was looking for. I did, however, come across one definition that I liked. It said hodgepodge was a soup full of various ingredients. And I quote, "Often this soup is a token of poverty, when a food is prepared from whatever ingredients are available." Such it is with this post, my friends. Such it is with this post.

I have felt very little desire to post of late. And have very little post worthy material to offer. Still, in a humble attempt to feed my faithful visitors something, I have pulled from the nearly bare shelves of my mind all the scanty ingredients I have to make a bland but, at least, varied soup. Disclaimer: while I plan to discuss soup at some point during this post, there will never actually be any real soup for anyone to taste, not even a soup recipe. All references to soup in this paragraph were strictly metaphorical.

Alright. let's hodgepodge our way to a post.

1. Fireplace. I love that Penny occasionally yells, "Fireplace, Mom! I saw a fireplace!" when, in fact, she just saw and heard a police car rushing by. Fireplace? You ask. It makes sense though. Police car -- sort of like a fire truck -- sort of like a . . . fireplace. In general Penny is so much more pleasant these days than she has been for the past few months. She had some pretty serious ear infections for awhile and was often to be found telling us angrily, "I'm MEAN!" But lately she has even occasionally taken to saying, "Yah, Mom, I'm happy!"

2. Whisk. I've had this whisk since we were married. It has been rusty and broken for a good three years. Still, in my thriftyness, I couldn't consider the luxury of buying a new one. Finally, however, I relented, and do you know how much a similar new one cost me? $1.85. That's right. $1.85. Thank goodness I saved us such a bundle by being so frugal and careful all this time.

3. Hat. This is for you, Kristen and Ashley. I don't know how many of you are familiar with Jan Brett's children's books, but I love them. In one, a mitten gets stretched a ridiculous amount when a small creature, followed by ever bigger and bigger creatures, decides to crawl into the mitten to get out of the cold. This hat was knitted as a gift to one of my nieces' baby boys. Because it was only a tiny bit big on their newborns they passed it on to my slightly bigger Jesse. While it fit him fine, it was just roomy enough that I found myself putting it on Penny one day when I took her out in the jog stroller. Not long after, my nieces were laughing to see the same hat appear in some photos on Goldie's head. I told them it was just like the mittens and hats in the Jan Brett books. They laughed that they would soon be seeing it on my head. Well, girls, it fit with not even a bit of a struggle. I don't know that heads get a tremendous deal larger than my own, but if they do, this darling little cap should have no trouble fitting them all.

4. Husband. The other night Penny kept crying and crying in her bed that she wanted chips. It was bedtime though so I had sadly told her, "No honey, no chips. Go night-night." I then went to take a shower (as I'd been out for a late run). When I got out I asked Mike, "Has that Penny ever quieted down?"

"Yah," He replied, "I just had to give her some chips."

Also, I'm glad he has such faith in my abilities. Our yard is full full of dandelions (incidentally, my kids can never understand why I consider the lovely little things a weed). I was talking on the phone with Mike today and said, "Why don't we have Saturday be a yard day so you can spray all our dandelions."

He moaned about the five days worth of stuff he already is supposed to do on Saturday, so I said, "Or I could just spray them myself if you show me where the stuff is and how to use it."

"Oh," he said dismissively, "You'd probably just spray it all over your face." He is such a smart alec . . . and yet even as I retype that I begin to laugh all over again. . . . Mostly just picturing myself spraying it all over my face. (Goldie is sitting here by me playing a little game, and she just said, "Stop laughing, Mom.")

5. Books. I've been reading some young adult type of books lately. For example, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase; and Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh. And I really enjoy reading books like that because they generally are quite well written, with an enjoyable little story, but quick and easy to read. However, after the shame I had to face upon realizing a year or so ago that the War and Peace I read was a wimpy abridged version, I finally ordered the newest full translation. It has received rave reviews about the accuracy and true to Tolstoy styleness of it all, and I am ready to conquer it. I'll tell you when I finish. It might be awhile as I plan on taking a leisurely pace as well as reading Watership Down (a book my mom read to us when we were young) at the same time because it will be fun, but look at how thick it is! Also, look at that cover. Isn't it appealing? I don't know why, but it is just so lovely. Admit it, that pretty blue-green is totally making you want to read it.

6. Soup. Here is the soup. Lately I eat Bear Creek potato soup nearly every lunch, as well as most dinners when Mike isn't home. Who would think someone could be so hooked on some type of reconstituted soup? I don't know. I'm not even claiming anyone else would love it, but I do. The odd thing is, I'm sure it will pass. I have a tendency to always have one or two things that I love and eat daily for months or maybe even a year . . . and then, no more. Once it was boiled cheese ravioli for every lunch. I had a good year of making cupcakes every week. Key Lime pie, Tuna melts, Maddox Turkey Steaks, and many more have all had their turn.

7. Goldie. Yesterday Goldie told me, "I know God always guides me because I always sing Jesus songs, and I always say prayers, and I always give money to the poor (hmm?), and I am always loving and kind."

There. That was your fill of hodgepodge -- the kind of soup that leaves you full, but not necessarily craving more.
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