Friday, August 28, 2009

A Watched Pot Never Boils

Or maybe they do, but it is the opposite of that saying that is striking my mind with such force at present. The fact that an unwatched pot still does boil (my son Jesse being that pot). . . regardless of your mindfulness . . . is the miracle just now.

Jesse has just begun to crawl. He's even pulled himself to standing several times this past week. It all happened so quickly. Unlike my other children, there was no pulling and dragging and army crawling. He just got up on all fours and rocked and rocked for a few days and then -- of a sudden -- Mike was calling to me that Jesse had just crawled. It is so heartbreakingly cute to me. As I said, my others began with dragging and pulling. They had mastered the rights and then lefts that were needed to propel ones self long before getting up in the traditional crawl, and while I've heard of this other method -- I'd never seen it until now.

Abe asked me awhile back why it is that we don't have to think about moving our legs to walk, etc. if they are controlled by our brains. Watching Jesse has made me think that it isn't always with out thought and effort. Look at this little video. This was just last Saturday. His funny little shuffle is really only the first twelve seconds. Now, nearly a week later, he is far more adept and has begun taking himself wherever fancy leads him. But the first few days, watching the complete awkwardness of trying to move four different limbs in sync with one another for the first time -- right leg, left arm; then left leg, right arm -- was one of the saddest cutest things I've ever witnessed. He looks like a small wild animal -- injured and hopelessly trying to continue before falling prey to some more quick and savvy creature.

About the pot business. It isn't that I don't watch my little Jesse. It is just that Abe and Daisy were indeed very "watched pots" -- I waited and coaxed every roll and scoot and eventual step out of them. I was so aware of the fact that I had little babies developing right in my hands, and somehow, I think I felt that it was this very awareness that allowed each milestone to be reached. Surely they would never have rolled or sat or ever stood had I not been there -- watching.

And now, with baby number five, things are very different. That isn't to say he isn't just as loved or just as oohed and ahhed over, but life is just so . . . full. Jesse is there, banging on toys as I read Harry Potter to the older kids. He is drenching my shirt in spit up as I try to clean up dinner. He is reaching from his car seat to yank Goldie's hair -- causing her to scream -- as I drive kids to school. He is just there and a part of us, but who knew that he would crawl and stand and do all of those things just by being here -- a part of things. Somehow I always fear that it can't occur. That these later little ones can't develop with out me sitting there staring them in the face. And yet . . . they do. In fact, those unwached pots boil faster than you can believe!

Friday, August 21, 2009

Kids to Sleep and Unexpressed Thoughts

It's late and the kids just went to bed.

They aren't really sleeping yet -- Goldie is presently yelling to tell me how she doesn't really know what happened but she is "just so tired" (perhaps sleep would be a good option?) and now she is asking for a lullaby.


OK, I'm back. I don't sing worth jack (is that a saying or did I make up something that makes no sense?), and I doubt it will be much longer before they are of age to realize my lullabies are crummy, so I figure I best sing to them while they are still requesting.

Abe used to love me to make up lullabies for him, but he no longer requests them and would probably think it was silly if I did sing him one. He does still like for me to draw a few vegetables on his back for him to guess though, so that is something.

Anyway, Abe is quiet -- though I know he is reading. I know because I have to make a very serious point that he can't read if I want him straight to sleep. Otherwise, it is guaranteed that he is reading.

Now it seems Goldie is going to be quiet herself.

Jesse is yelling, "yah yah yah" in such a way that I can tell he is bouncing a bit in his crib. He has recently learned to get himself into sit up position, so he often does when he is supposed to be sleeping. Then, with his great new view of the room (and of Abe reading), he bounces and yells. He'll go to sleep though. I like that he is at that stage.

Daisy is quiet. Maybe reading. Maybe passed out cold -- which she can do surprisingly quickly.

Penny is still shouting. I just called up, "Go to bed, Penny!" and she now keeps calling, "How come? How come, Mom?" It is rare that she falls asleep with out a fair amount of singing, calling and other silliness, but, like Jesse, she eventually calls it quits on her own, so I don't need to do anything other than call up an occasional, "Quiet, Pen," when she gets too loud.

I feel like typing something and yet I have nothing really to type. A little bit I want to type something clever or funny, but mostly I want to type something real and thoughtful. I think it is just night and dark and the house feels empty with no Mike here and the kids all in bed, and whatever feelings are stirring in me want to express themselves in letters that form words right in front of my eyes. They need to form thoughts too though and no thoughts are coming other than the sounds I've just mentioned from my kids. There is something in there though -- something in my mind that wants to get out and be put down -- recorded. And yet . . . it continues to elude me.

Oh, but now this. Husband is at the door. Home from work at 9:02 pm. Now that he is here these lonely thoughts wanting to get out have fled. I am off. Goodnight.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Interview with Nancy/Camping

Well, Nancy, we are excited to be here interviewing you today!

Thank you. I must say though, I feel embarrassed to be receiving all of the attention. After all, I'm not even famous.

Oh pshaw. Fame is overrated, and besides, here, in the world of your own blog who else could be more famous?

Well . . . Mike maybe? I mean I've written some good stuff about him. Or maybe one of the kids?

That was actually a rhetorical question. None of them are available for interviews at present so we're stuck with you.
Well . . . I don't like the word, "stuck" . . .

Let's just move on to the interview shall we?

Oh, yes, by all means.
Alright, so we understand you recently had quite a fiasco camping. Is that so?
Well, there were some fiasco parts to be certain. Mainly driving to five spots and finding them all full and driving back home while it rained on our stuff at about midnight. Putting kids to bed and saying we'd try again tomorrow. Then there was a bit of fiasconess from Jesse who didn't want to sleep at all the first night, but the next night he slept quite cozily right in our big sleeping bag with me and that was snugly because he won't generally sleep in my arms these days.
So, what were the non fiasco parts?
Oh yes, those. Well, there was the part where Abe (with a little help from Daisy) put up his own tent, and the part where Penny would whisper so happily to me as I snuggled her down in her own sleeping bag by us, and the part where Mike made us popcorn the old fashioned way in a big pot, and the part where Penny sang happily for a long while as I drove her on the 4-wheeler, and a lot of other parts where I was happy there was no tv or computer or wii, but just my little family out in the natural world.

Well, that's all good and well. Sounds like quite an adventure. Tell us, is it worth all of the craziness to make a trip like that work?
Hmmm. Good question. It definitely seems worth it once all of the laundry is done and the kids are washed of campfire smell and the camping stuff is put away. Until then, I wonder, but after that I don't because then we are just left with some good memories and even the bad ones seem like . . . a good story maybe.
You spoke of Abe setting up his own tent. Tell us more.
Well, we actually have the best tent in the world. It is big and easy to set up. You can stand in it and fit a pak-n-play in it and probably our whole family could sleep in it with out much trouble, but we also brought a little dome tent along, and Abe and Daisy set that one up with not so much as a bit of help. Then, the two of them slept in it! I thought they'd be too nervous, but they were thrilled. I made Mike lift it and put it next to our big one though. I also made him chain Thor (our dog) up right next to their tent at night. It was kind of fun to hear them giggling away in there at night.
Well, what fun. Unfortunately our time is up and we'll have to cut the interview a bit short.
Oh! I see. Well, yes, I suppose we must . . . somehow I was under the impression I'd be talking about more than just camping. I don't know. Talking about me more . . . you know . . . just because you were interviewing me . . .

Well, I'm sure that is something we all would have loved, unfortunately, as I mentioned, our time is up, but it was certainly entertaining speaking with you today and we'll have you back again soon.
Don't you mean I might have you back? I just mean, since this is my blog, I'll be here anyway, right?

Technicalities. Technicalities. Well, thanks again, Nancy. Until next time.
Uhhh. Alright . . . until then . . . I guess. I'll just leave these last few pictures here then . . . if you don't mind.

Fair enough. Goodbye!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Brave Girl and Lunarglides

This afternoon Goldie was perched atop one of the coolers we have out for camping when she took a little tumble. I know a good mom would be nothing but love and concern, but since I am a medium mom, I was hugging her with a little bit of an, "Uugghh . . . why oh why were you standing on the cooler?" Even though I should know, because why wouldn't a kid stand on a cooler really? Anyway, I don't think she was hurt very badly, but it has been a hectic day and perhaps she was feeling a bit overly emotional because the crying continued for a verrrry long time. And even when the crying was done, there was plenty of whimpering and moaning to be had.

At one point, wanting to assure her that it was going to be fine, I had her open and close her wounded hand for me a few times and then squeeze it tight into a fist. "See," I said, "that is a great sign. If it was broken then you wouldn't be able to do that because it would hurt too much. So that means it is fine and will feel better in a few more minutes."

"But I don't know if it hurt bad when I did that (opened and closed it for me) . . . maybe it did." Goldie sniffled, holding her hand like a limp little paw.

"Oh no," I insisted, "if it was broken that would have been so painful you would have screamed."

At that moment Jesse chimed in with an ear piercing (though not unhappy) scream himself.

"See," I said, "like that. Since that didn't happen, we can be sure it just got a little jammed and it will be just fine."

"Well," Goldie said in a state of nearly new sobs, "what if it did get broken and I'm just a really brave girl?"

And, on another note: I might be a little bit in love with my new shoes (Kelly pointed out that it could just be a strong sense of middle school pride that draws me to them so -- as our middle school colors were blue and yellow). My Nike Lunarglides maybe don't really deserve all the praise for how I am feeling. They may just be one part of a number of things that are hopefully colliding and fates that are hopefully aligning to make my ankle well. Maybe. There have been prayers (thank you), and I took that full week off. Then, the following week my ankle still felt the same so I resigned myself to just making it that way to the marathon. Then, this week, it started to feel better; and today, when I nervously tried these shoes for the first time (nervously because I wasn't positive if they were the right fit), I seriously was only a tiny bit aware of my ankle being off at all as I ran! Perhaps the prayers, maybe the rest, maybe my tendon just finally started healing even with the continued running . . . or maybe the shoes. Maybe maybe maybe it will actually be fine for the marathon! Maybe! I hope!

Now, please leave me alone, blog, I have camping with the birthday boy to prepare for (I'm only typing this to put that preparation off because packing two adults and five small kids for camping isn't much different than doing a full scale move).

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

F is for Far Away Friends. . . . And some other stuff that starts with other letters . . .

Summer has brought with it some fun visits with old and not so old, but far away friends. (By old I mean friends I've had for a long time . . . not that they are aged . . . though compared to their ages when we first met, I guess they have aged a great deal . . . as have I).

Jessica and Liz are my two oldest best friends. Somehow they both ended up in Vegas. Liz is back now and we did get to hang out for a day, but sadly I forgot to get any pictures. Jessica came up to visit with her daughter Ana around the 4th of July. Here we are.
And here we still are after Abe has snapped one million photos and still won't give me the camera. Speaking of Abe, he told me that I "sound like a teenager" when I talk to Jessica.
I also drove the kids up to Preston, ID one day so that we could see our friends the Madsens who were down from WA visiting their family there. My kids love Alexa's kids.And just this past weekend, my WA friend Marzee and her husband stopped to visit us (they were here for a family wedding). It is so fun to have friends from all different phases (and places) from my life. I've never been good with a Christmas card and my kids make long phone conversations difficult, so I am glad for all the modern things that make keeping in touch easier (email, blogs, etc).

H is for Hair Cut

Goldie awoke Monday morning with a determination to have her hair cut. I am not sure if it is because she saw some pics of my sister's kids with recent cuts or just because she decided it was something that must be done, but she begged and pleaded and could hardly stand that we couldn't til the next day. I was sad to have it cut simply because I am a wimp and feel like crying any time anything changes suddenly with my kids (habits, routines, or appearance), but it does suit her and she looks very cute. Plus, I was afraid she'd be sad when it actually happened, but she seems to think it is the best thing that ever happened to her and she checks with me every few hours to make sure it hasn't grown longer too quickly.
M is for Mike
Tomorrow is Mike's birthday. Today on my run I was thinking about him and remembering when I had called him down at BYU to suggest we go to lunch (even though we'd broken up several months before). I couldn't find his number and was nervous to call his parents so I had to call his friend to ask for it (which was a bit awkward since it was this same friend's younger brother that I was on a date with when I met Mike). I'm always writing things I like about Mike on here, but here is one extra little thing. I really love Mike's voice. I even wrote a poem of sorts about it once and I don't really write poetry anymore (it wasn't flowery or anything -- just something). I love to just listen to him read or tell me about something. It's just kind of deep and rhythmic and sounds like . . . hmmm . . . not country like hick-ish, but country like . . . I don't know . . . living in the country. Happy birthday Mike. Because I love you so much, I am letting us try camping with all of our kids for your birthday!

D is for Daisy and B is for Baby Boys

Here is a cute picture of Daisy.
And here is a picture of Jesse with Israel, his first cousin once removed (just so you know I know how to figure those things). They get to hang out when Ashley lets me go running. Israel is scooting better than Jesse, so today we put them a ways apart and yelled, "Run, Jesse! Run!!" as Israel scooted towards him. Look at them. They think they are so cool now that they can sit up and not just flap around on their backs.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My Not-So-Typical Growing Up Years

My growing up was not typical. It was my normal, so it never struck me as odd. Even when we'd laugh or talk about all the craziness that was always a part of my household, it was still simply my life -- my normal.

And, certainly some things were typical (or at least what should be typical -- in a good world). I played with siblings and neighbors, we went on family vacations (mostly to Bear Lake -- though I have vivid memories of a trip to Yellowstone and one to California), I was fed and clothed and cared for (though, perhaps I ran about the neighborhood a little more barefoot and ragga muffin looking than some of my friends' parents would have allowed), and most of all, I was loved -- there was never any doubt of that. I knew my parents somehow had me as a top priority and would drop anything on a second's notice if I needed.

It has only been recently, as I've grown accustomed to having a home and family all my own and realized how I like order and routine, that the uniqueness of my growing up years has really struck me as . . . well . . . just that -- unique. With that realization, the remarkableness of my parent's relaxed, open and flexible nature has truly begun to awe me.

First off, I grew up with ten other siblings in the house. One younger and nine of them older. True, with seven siblings who eventually served 1 1/2 to 2 year missions for our church, someone (pretty much from the time I was born) was always on a mission; and it wasn't long before the older siblings were getting married. This didn't necessarily decrease the number of individuals in our home, however, because during the rest of my growing up years and far beyond the time that I married, some married sibling or other (along with whatever children they'd collected by that time) lived in the "Grandfather Thatcher" apartment in our basement (in fact, Mike and I lived there with our own kids for several months). First it was Mark and then Tony. Soon Amy and then Tony again. My older siblings often seemed more like very close uncles and their kids like my younger siblings. I loved growing up with all of these little nieces and nephews in my home clamoring for my attention.

That alone made for quite a bustling household. I should also add that for some reason our house was one of the houses where friends congregated. I'm not sure why. There certainly weren't fun treats around to draw them in (in fact, we often lament growing up on powdered milk and laugh about my mom saying, "There's plenty of bread and butter," anytime we whined of wanting something to eat).

Perhaps it was the open and relaxed nature of a house full of so many people coming and going. Perhaps it was the spirit of the place, or, most likely, it was the fact that with so many siblings each bringing their own friends, it made for a nice socializing place where there was always bound to be something afoot. This might be proven by the fact that my own best friends know and are friends with many of my siblings' friends.

But, let's move on to who else lived at my house beyond that. When I was still quite young, my parent's heard of refugees coming to America. Apparently some families were so large that it was hard to accommodate them with out having to split them up. Having a large family herself, this made my mother heart sick, so what did she do? Well, she opened our already crowded home to TWO large refugee families. One Cambodian and one Laotian. They lived with us for months as they tried to find employment and housing, etc. I remember the gifts or fruit baskets they would bring to my parents each Christmas for years afterwards. There were also two single Vietnamese refugees. Vibol Tiem and Giang Hong. Giang (pronounced Yang) lived with us for I don't know how many years. He never learned to speak super English and would come and go quietly. He generally just slept happily in a sleeping bag in our basement family room. Having Giang there never seemed the least bit odd to any of us either. It just seemed a part of the normal daily course of things to see Giang quietly preparing himself a little Top Ramen and greeting us by name in his poor English.

We still aren't done. If ever anyone needed a place to stay, it was the open doors of my parent's home they came to. No one ever seemed to question whether or not it would be convenient or stressful for a friend to come live temporarily with us should the need arise (and somehow it often did). I honestly don't recall how several of the people came to live with us at all. There was my brother's friend Josh who lived with us for years (even after my brother was married and living far away), there was Kelly (my sister's best friend) who stayed just for a Summer while their new home was being finished. And then there was everything in between. I recall Mike Valear, Nancy Porter, Jason, Tami, and Chuck all staying for various lengths of time and for various reasons. I have probably forgotten some altogether (or simply neglected to mention those who only stayed for a week or so) but there they were -- just some of the daily background of my carefree little world. One particular Summer (shortly after my senior year of high school), two married siblings with kids were temporarily living with us as well as a family friend. It was so crowded that I didn't particularly have my own bed but just slept each night wherever my fancy took me -- on the deck, in the living room, in my dad's office. Oddly, that Summer is one of my fondest to look back on.

As I said, it is only now, that these living arrangements strike me as a-typical. What mostly amazes me is the generosity of my parents. Now that I have my own home and family, I can't imagine the stress it would place upon me to have even one extra soul living in my home. I would be tense about my routine being messed up, stressed about them feeling relaxed enough to eat when they wished, worried about making decent meals, worried about keeping order in my home. I would fret endlessly over the influence all these different friends might have on my children and worry about every possible situation, but my parent's must have just been blessed for their goodness because even the very oddest of friends that lived with us just seemed to add a merriment and little more shaking of heads in laughter to our household.

It is odd that I have hardly considered how much growing up in a home filled with so many varying needs, personalities and interests might have affected my own nature. I do know that I was painfully shy as a child. My dad used to worry a great deal over how I would cope with life out there in the real world, but I think those who know me now would find it difficult to believe that had ever been the case. Perhaps this large and wild home helped me (or maybe forced me) to overcome that tendency? I like to think that I can take different personalities -- and even eccentricities with a grain of salt and even enjoy them. I recall a co-worker at my first "real" job out of college conjecturing that I must have grown up with a lot of brothers because there was no other way to explain how I could joke and take teasing so naturally. If he only knew.

In any case, I am indeed grateful for the strange and enjoyable years of growing up as one of the many lucky ones to have lived under the loving roof of my amazing parents. I can hardly believe they were able to cope with it all, but I am exceedingly thankful for whatever experiences or insights it gave me as well as for the character traits it may have caused me to develop. But mostly, right now, I just feel happy about all of the interesting and fun memories it has provided for me. Thanks Mom and Dad for never saying, "That simply won't work," to all of the things so many (myself included) would have . . . I guess not least of all, for having a tenth child (and yes an eleventh because where would we be with out that one too?). What remarkable people and how many lives you have not simply influenced, but dug in with firm and practical resolve to truly help despite any inconvenience or difficulty.
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