Saturday, October 31, 2009

Dog Carts

If you wonder why this lovely face, it is because of my husband. Actually, I think this is a picture Goldie took, but it is the very face I'm sure I was making when my husband mentioned how a dog backpack is one thing, but even better would be a dog cart.

And no, I wouldn't need to worry about our kids falling out of the dog cart (because that was ONE of my issues with a dog cart). It wouldn't be for them to ride in. It would be to cart their wares – the wares they would be selling – that would be pulled by their dog and his cart (that last sentence was a chiasm for you literary geniuses).

He's a big dog, so I guess he would need to pull big things like watermelons or giant Hubbards maybe.

Mike saw a little cart as well. Perfect, he thought, for a dog pulled spice cart. I think I was making that same face as above while I envisioned our kids going around the neighborhood shouting, “Spices! Spices for sale! Get your Cumin! Get your Cloves! Spices for sale!”

Of course, anyone can see that Thor is just too much of a dog for spices. It just isn't a good match. Maybe Mike's sister's dog Nacho could get away with pulling a spice cart. He seems small and . . . spicy?
Hmm. Maybe too spicy. (Nacho? Are you in there?? Thor! Did you eat Nacho? Bad dog! Open your mouth!!)Anyway, it's a good thing I love my husband so ridiculously because one of these days I will be found curled in a small ball – shivering – eyes glazed but twitching occasionally. I won't be able to respond to any questions. I won't really say anything at all. Only, occasionally, I might mutter something like, “spice cart,” or “pack goats,” or “beehives,” or “chickens,” or “apple press,” maybe even, “sheep herding.” And that will be the end of the Nancy we all once knew and loved.

Ah well, at least Mike will be able to love me all the more. He can put a little shirt on me that says, “My Little Nut Case,” or, he can wear one that says, “I'm with Crazy,” and take me along to his dog cart conventions.

If only I'd seen the warning signs when we were dating. They tell you to talk about finances, religion, kids, etc., but they always forget to mention the ever so important, “inclination towards homesteading.”

Oh, who am I trying to kid. Even if I had known, I still would have married him with out batting an I (wait, I might have batted an “I” – I'm not sure . . . I meant to say without batting an EYE), and he knows it. Darn him.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Good Mom, Reading, and a Dog Backpack

Maybe I am not quite the dream mom I made myself out to be when I wrote of making Goldie practice her reading daily:Goldie: Mom! Mom? Mom? What is this word?
Me: Hmm?

Goldie: See -- this word. I don't know what it says.
Me: Mm-hmm.
Goldie: Mom!! Look! This word! What does it say?
Me: Oh! Wha? Yah, 'follow' that says 'follow.'

But sometimes I am not so much a dream mom as I am a dreaming mom . . . as in sleepy sleepy sleeping mom.

Speaking of reading though, here are some Daisy reading pics I thought were cute. She looks like she is so puzzled by the mystery of this "A to Z Mysteries" book.

And, nothing to do with reading is this:Things like this are how Mike tries to convince me that life would be impossible without a dog. He may cause us all kinds of inconvenience and trouble. He may jump on our kids -- scaring them senseless. He may leave unpleasant messes about the yard, but who else could carry our snacks and water bottles on a small hike? WHO? I ask you. Who else possibly could? Where would we be with no dog?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Long Post on my Recent Thoughts

I have been thinking about this little earthly life of ours so much lately. I can't seem to shake these thoughts. Not that I am trying to shake them. I think they have been good for me. I just mean that naturally my own little mind shuffles off whatever thoughts are there in favor of some other newer thoughts, but my mind has been here, with these thoughts, daily for some time.

A neighbor behind our cul-de-sac died of cancer about two weeks ago. I didn't really know her. I'd met her once at a neighborhood party. She was wearing a cute flowy skirt and a floppy sunhat. She had brought her four somewhat wild kids because she said she wanted to tire them out so they'd go to bed better for her that night (her husband was out of town). I didn't learn her name, only that she had a girl starting Kindergarten like Goldie and then three younger than that (one set of twins). I saw her at Wal-Mart another time. She didn't see me, but I noticed and related to her because we both had our shopping cart full of kids. Then, apparently, she found out she had some insanely spread cancer and was gone with in a month or so.

For some reason that had such a huge impact on me. I kept thinking of her little kids and how their mom was gone -- how they were sad, miserable, and she was gone -- she couldn't comfort them. I remember reading something President Kimball said about his mother's death. He had been five at the time. He described the utter misery and loneliness he felt and he said how even eighty years later he couldn't think back on that day with out crying. And now I am crying again because while I don't fear death for me, the thought of not being there to comfort my kids is one of the most painful thoughts I can imagine.

Beyond thinking of her husband and kids, I kept thinking of what it must have been like driving to the hospital (where she spent the last two weeks of her life). I pictured our neighborhood and driving along the side of our mountains towards the hospital -- the drive I've made mostly when I was about to give birth. I kept wondering what she was thinking as she made that last trip to the hospital. Was she thinking that it was the last time seeing her front door? The last time seeing her street?

I remember my last few nights in Jerusalem (after having lived there for nearly four months) trying to take everything in -- trying to somehow capture the view from our bedroom balcony, the streets on the way to The Old City, the chapel in the Jerusalem Center. I just wanted to somehow breath it in -- somehow make it a permanent and complete part of my memory. I couldn't, but I desperately wanted too. How I tried to cling to every minuscule image as we drove away from the city to the airport. I had the same feelings when I left WA. I remember running to the block behind ours to get my kids (my neighbor had been watching them while I packed the last things in the car). As we walked back, I felt overwhelmed by the thought that I wouldn't be walking around that corner and past that park again -- that even if I could clearly remember it, it wouldn't be mine -- part of my momentary existence anymore. And then I kept thinking of my neighbor -- I kept thinking of knowing I would be leaving this life and of how I would be trying to take everything in. I kept thinking how it would be the same thing - I'd try, but I'd know I was leaving it -- that it wouldn't be part of my daily life anymore.

I know, I know. It would be a total fallacy of thought to assume that this earth life is as good as it gets. And, I know, even, that somehow, things will be made up to us -- that the things we leave behind down here, the losses we seem to have, will be made up; but as I thought about these things, I kept feeling like the poor little boy in The Littlest Angel -- with his crooked little halo. All he wanted was one thing -- he just wanted the little box he kept hidden -- the one with things like a butterfly's wing and other small tiny treasures from his life down here.

As I decorated for Halloween with my kids the following day, I couldn't couldn't get rid of the thought that my neighbor wouldn't get to put up Halloween decorations with her kids this year -- or ever again. She wouldn't see the leaves on our mountains change to full fall colors. She wouldn't be taking her kids trick-or-treating, or picking her little girl up from Kindergarten like I pick Goldie up everyday. Who will pick her little girl up from Kindergarten? Who will sit with her after school and remind her to do at least two pages of her homework packet so it will be ready to turn in on Friday? She won't get to make sure her kids have all had their baths and have matching clothes on and their hair done.

I really do have faith in our Father's eternal plans. I know that my neighbor can see the end from the beginning now and knows that all our tears will be dried and no blessing will be lost. I believe it with all of my heart. I have even thought, in the past, about what would happen if I died. The thought has been painful, but I have even thought things like, "What if I knew that would happen before I came here? What if Mike did remarry and as much as the thought is painful now, what if I truly would owe this girl for loving my children -- and if she did truly love them, and comforted them -- I would thank her forever. What if it was all part of the plan? What if I knew her and loved her and worried about leaving, but had felt peace because she had agreed she would help take over with them? And now, with my little earthly perspective I kick against the idea." I am sure that when the life of my neighbor's husband and kids come to an end, it won't have seemed so awfully long with out their mother and they will all understand why.

At the same time, my thoughts kept going back to loving this world -- loving this life. I keep wondering, "How does that get made up? How does not getting to raise your own children get made up to you?" I just feel like ever since, I have been saying to myself -- partly to Heavenly Father, "I know that really this isn't our home -- that the place we left is where we were most 'at home' and happy. I know that when I get there, I might even think, 'Why did I want to stay on earth? This is so much better!' but I do want to stay. I want to stay so badly! Is that wrong of me? It can't be all wrong -- our Father did give us a beautiful world -- maybe not as beautiful as where we came from, but every time I look out my window and see our mountains, the red-leafed trees in my backyard, the sunset -- I think how this is beautiful. This is a gift, and we can love it and want to keep it for as long as possible can't we?"

I just keep thinking about every moment with my kids and how I get to be here -- living that moment with them. I keep thinking how I don't want to go anywhere. How, if possible, I really really want to stay here. I really want to be allowed to see my kids reach adulthood. I want to see them in happy marriages with sound and strong testimonies of the things I know will bring them joy. I want to be with Mike. I want to keep experiencing our struggles together. I want to keep feeling his arms around me. I want to keep having my head in the crook of his arm at night right where I can hear his living heart beating and beating. I even want to keep taking care of my home. I want to be the one to eventually get everything organized in it. I want to be around to get all my photos in a photo album. I want to read more books. I want to see my kids with their own babies. I want to keep going out running. I want to keep seeing Fall leaves. I am excited for the next phase of our existence. I am so excited to remember all of our existence before this and to see what is next for us, but I love this now. I want this for a long while yet.

Do you remember the story of Hezekiah in the Bible? He was a good and decent king, but the time had come for him to die. He was sick and the Lord sent the prophet Isaiah to tell him it was time for him to die -- to tell him to put his house in order, etc. But Hezekiah plead with the Lord that he could stay, and the Lord said, "OK." He really did. He said, alright, if you want to be here longer -- in this rough and messy earth life, I'll allow it. And he extended his life 15 years.

I know this life is the main testing/trial part of our existence. I also know that in the eternal scheme this life will seem like a tiny puny dot. We have been around for who knows how many millenia and we will continue learning and growing and doing. Still, small as this little dot of time is, it will be such a significant dot. It is the time we have been preparing for. A small moment in eternity that will decide so much. It makes me think that we will think on it often -- that we will want to remember things like our front door and the trees in our backyard and the view from our kitchen windows -- even if they weren't perfect. Even if our yard was constantly in need of weeding:). It makes me feel like I want to be allowed to experience as much of it as I can. Especially as much as I can with Mike and my kids. I know they will be with me eternally, but I want so much to be here for their now. I want to make sure their nails are trimmed and their homework is done. I want to watch them open their Christmas presents and talk to them in their beds at night when they are scared and can't sleep. The other day Daisy finally figured out how to ride her bike. Mike had been helping her and she called me out to watch once she'd gotten it. It was evening and cool and just like you picture fall. I was cheering and clapping for her (and wondering if it was too loud and disturbing the neighbors, but wanting to make sure she could hear). As she braved a turn in the cul-de-sac, it struck me again that right through that street was a family where the mom wouldn't get to stand on the sidewalk cheering for her daughter on a bike. Maybe she will see. Maybe she will be watching, but I just want to be able to keep being right here -- right next to them -- experiencing all of this.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Stories by Goldie

Last week I decided to start having Goldie read 15 minutes a day to me. In WA, where Abe and Daisy went to kindergarten, their only homework was a weekly reading chart. They were supposed to read 15 mins. a day, then practice writing by filling out who they read to, what they read, and for how long.

Anyway, it seemed like being forced to follow through on having them read that young got them to be proficient readers quite quickly.
The homework packets Goldie gets here focus more on letter writing, etc., but I really liked having Abe and Daisy do the reading, so I decided to have Goldie do it too (though it was much easier to do when it had to be turned in to their teacher).
Yesterday I was just being silly and made these two THRILLING (and nail biting and edge of your seat) stories to add to her reading.
In turn, she composed her own stories about Bob and Ben.As you can see, she could use a little work on spacing between words, and I was very nervous when she excitedly told me to read her stories (for fear I would read them all wrong), but we made our way through them. To spare you the same difficulty, I will translate.
Bob's Bottle

Bob lost his bottle.

Bob looks for his (here she was sure she had written bottle)

Bob finds his bottle.

Oh how she thought she was funny for writing about a bottle, but just wait til you get to the punch line on her next story -- a clear parody of my previous bus story.

Ben's Bus (with a missing "s" and an unexplained "G" in the middle)

Ben goes on the bus.

The bus goes too fast.

Ben says, "Stop."

The bus says, "No."

Oh how her eyes lit up and how she clapped and laughed at her sillyness when I read her final line.

And, may I just say, that each time I have taught another of my children to read I have been freshly annoyed and frustrated with the English language. Seriously, are there no rules? Well, there are rules. We teach them all the rules and then don't follow a one of them. I took some German long ago, and I quickly discovered that even if you didn't understand the language, once you knew a few sounds, you could read it passably because things were spelled how they were said. But we have so so many words that just don't fit our own rules.

Learn the short "a" and then you get the word "tall."

Learn that an "e" at the end makes the previous vowel long and then you get, "come."

Learn that the first vowel is said when two are together and then you get all the names that end in "ie" like Goldie.

I know they learn quickly, but the first while of really having my kids read it seems I am constantly saying, "I know this looks like you should say it that way, but it is just spelled kind of funny, you actually say . . ." And the sad thing is, the way they first write things often does make more sense (like Goldie writing "says" -- SEZ).

Well, enough of that nonsense. Weren't those cute Goldie stories though!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mystery of the Measuring Cups

Here are two smart things I have done lately. Just little things. Little smart things.

One: While washing the dishes I noticed that the water was getting too hot. I also had the disposal going. So, I reached over and turned the disposal off. A few minutes later, when my hands were nearly at scalded level, I realized that turning the disposal off had, apparently, not been the answer to getting the water cooler.

Two: I got a new list of girls to visit teach the other day. I looked at the list and thought, "Hey! I share a birthday with one of these sisters!" Then I looked closer and realized -- "No, that is my name that birth date is next too. I share a birthday with myself. Fascinating."

And, here is something that has nothing at all to do with my own mental state. It is a MYSTERY (I wanted to write those letters all wiggly and mysterious, but all I could do was capitalize them). I am writing this mystery because I wonder if it only happens in my home (and in my mom's home because I baked plenty there and encountered the same issue). Somehow, 1/4th cup measuring cups always disappear and EXTRA 1/3rd cups replace them. Really. I have only ever purchased one set of measuring cups so far in our marriage. ONE set. Yet somehow I have THREE 1/3rd cup measuring cups. THREE! And the thing is, I never want a third cup. I don't know why, but I am only ever needing the hard to find 1/4th cup. Does this happen anywhere else? The only good thing about it is that when a recipe calls for a 1/3rd cup I always feel like, "Ahhh, that should be nooo problem little recipe!"

Perhaps some of you are actually missing your 1/3rd cups. My mom would always talk about the mysterious black hole around our house -- the hole that just swallowed things like one shoe out of a pair or a camera or keys. But, the hole didn't only take away, it gave. Just as one thing would go missing, another thing would appear -- a thing that belonged, seemingly, to no one.

And occasionally, when the hole was in a teasing mood, it would return something long long after it was needed. Years later you might say, "So THERE is that missing pair of glasses! How did they end up here in plain site years after they went missing and I bought new ones?"

Maybe these black holes are connected and my 1/4th cups are showing up in someone else's kitchen while other folks' 1/3rd cups keep zipping over to my kitchen?

Who knows. Like I said -- it is a mystery.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Strollers and an Orange Mystery

My son does not like strollers.

Did you hear me? He doesn't like STROLLERS!

He doesn't like sitting in strollers; he doesn't like walking in strollers; he doesn't like RUNNING in strollers; and, as far as I know, he doesn't like LOOKING at strollers.

Babies like strollers. They like outside. They like to be OUTSIDE in STROLLERS! It's their favorite thing.

I keep telling Jesse this.

He doesn't understand.

In other news:

I was reading my book last night and wondering why it was covered in orange stuff.

Orange stuff on the inside cover. Orange stuff on the edges of the pages. Orange smears here and there on pages.

Well, I wasn't wondering like, "How on earth could orange stuff get on my book . . . my NEW book?!" That would be a ridiculous thing for a mother of five children under nine to wonder.

I was wondering more like, "What is this orange stuff? Cheetos? Or . . . gritty markers . . . maybe? Or . . . ? And when did this happen? It was clean when I was last reading."

Then I had a flash back.

It was just like in a movie where someone is trying to solve the mystery of their mysterious past (you know, when they can't remember their past and then they remember it in tiny tidbits here and there that eventually help them to solve the mystery of their . . . present? I guess).

I saw Penny sitting on the couch the previous night with a book.

Then it flashed to me saying, "Mike, look how cute. Penny is just sitting there reading my book -- even though it has no pictures! She seems totally interested in it!" (Interested in getting it orange, you are thinking).

Then, like in the movies, where the flashbacks don't all occur in the right order, I flashed back to earlier in the evening -- we were eating spaghetti for dinner.

Then I flashed to getting her out of her highchair . . . and removing her bib . . . and WHAT!!?? My flash was disrupted the minute I remembered. Like in slow motion I saw: setting -- her -- down -- with -- out -- washing -- her -- hands. NOOOO!!!

And then of course, it all made perfect sense. The mystery was solved, and I knew that there was no chance that hands that orange could have only gotten to my book, and I wondered where to start looking for more orange stains.

The end

Do you like how I broke things into so so many little paragraphs today? It was for effect -- special effect . . . or maybe affect. I can't remember.

The real end.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I have always felt a little gypped about missing out on Confession. Do you capitalize Confession? It feels like it should be capitalized. Anyway, it isn't so much the thought of having my sins absolved so tidily. It is more the poetic mournfulness elicited by the image of going into the little dark confessional and speaking penitently through the screen to some mysterious, wise, and unseen individual about such wrongs as yelling at your sister or sneaking a look at your Christmas presents before they were wrapped.

Luckily, I have come up with my own way of experiencing Confession! I will simply begin confessing on my blog. Since we can't see each other it is kind of like being on opposite sides of a screen. The mood is a little lacking since there are no stained glass windows or the dim light of candles, but it will have to do.

Here we go. First Confession (Oh my goodness . . . sorry . . . I know you were on the edge of your seats, but when I typed "First Confession," I recalled one of my favorite short stories of the same title! Here is a link if you want a fun little read -- later, of course, after you've finished MY fun read and are left wanting more: First Confession by Frank O'Connor).

Alright, really now. My first confession (it lost the capitalized oomph when I took so long to actually get to it):

Beyond my tendency to throw away papers and receipts that later prove to be absolutely indispensable, I wash things . . . lots of things . . . things that are not supposed to be washed -- cell phones, gum, crayons, the other crucial papers that I haven't already thrown away, wallets, toys, etc. The other day I pulled Mike's headphones out of the wash and thought, "Huh, well that is a new one." I discovered later, however, that it wasn't a "new one" at all when Mike, with a tone of far too little surprise (more a tone of mild interest and resignation), said, "You washed them again?" At least that means they must have survived the first time! And, I gave a whole new meaning to the term, "money laundering" when I managed to wash a large wad of cash Mike had just pulled from the bank.

There, confession complete. I would have preferred if I'd been able to bow my head in shame and shed a tear or two, but that would have made typing difficult.

Lest this seem too aimed at one particular religious practice, I will also add that I feel equally gypped by never getting to participate in the Relief Society "Good News Minute" (since I haven't been in Relief Society for years). I will be stealing my niece Ashley's idea of putting good news minutes on her blog -- just as soon as I think of a "good" good news minute. You know, something that will be equally uplifting and edifying to all -- just as every other thing I ever put on my blog is.

Friday, October 2, 2009


Hey little Misterkins. Why aren't you featured in more blog posts? You should be. All you are is cute and good.
You like to mostly mind your own business -- crawling about from here to there.
All you ever want is to climb the stairs. Even today, when you managed to crawl under the chairs I had blocking the stairs, and then climbed happily, until you decided to sit back and enjoy the view (which caused you to fall), you still would only sob in my arms for a few minutes before struggling out of my grasp and whimpering your way back to the stairs to show them you still loved them best.
When you were first born, your little ears were very thin and nearly pointed at the tips, so we were sure a mischievous elf had put you in the place of our real baby. Your ears have begun to curl over like human ears do, and your size doesn't suggest much elf blood, but every now and then you are still my little Elfykins.
Often you are just Jess-jess and to Abe you are Smess-smess.
Whatever you are, it is cute and good and chubby and perfect. I love you my almost ten month old little boy.
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