Thursday, July 28, 2011


When I was doing all my weeping and crying over missing Mike and being home with just the two littlest kids awhile back, I never did mention where on earth Mike and the older three had disappeared to.

Daisy's camera and Yellowstone 297 copyDaisy's camera and Yellowstone 300

Mike took them off to Yellowstone! How’s that for a fun adventure?

Daisy's camera and Yellowstone 326

I feel a little party pooperish that I didn’t come along, but in my defense, I am sure I would have had this been a big family trip we’d been planning. As it was, it was all kind of sudden. Mike has a friend who takes a yearly canoeing expedition/fishing trip of sorts up through Yellowstone. He always invites Mike to join the group and Mike never has, but this year he decided it might be a fun thing he and Abe could do together. So, for months, that was the plan – a wild adventure the two of them were heading off on. And somehow, the entire time I thought they were going to the Uintahs instead of Yellowstone.

yellowstone 091

However, as the trip grew closer – in fact, it was only two days away, Mike and I started to have second thoughts about how much fun it would be for Abe. We were certain he could handle the rigors of the trip fine, but there would be no other kids going, and the majority of each day the group spends doing nothing but fishing. Still, he’d been looking forward to the adventure for some time and Mike didn’t want to back out so last minute, so he decided to accompany the group to the lower lake only (where they camp the first night before setting off on the canoeing) and then remain camping there – with the freedom to head off to various sights like Old Faithful, etc. At that point we decided to have the girls come along as they also love a good camping trip.

Daisy's camera and Yellowstone 309At that point I should have probably joined in, but it was going to be such a long trip and just helping get Mike and the older three ready to go – with out adding in diapers, pak-n-plays, etc. seemed about all I could manage.

In the end, I think it was a good choice. They came home with about 100 mosquito bites each – which I think might have been more troubling for Penny and Jesse. Also, they were able to go see the sites, stay up late, etc. with no worries about anybody needing naps or wandering off if unwatched, etc.

Daisy's camera and Yellowstone 298Daisy's camera and Yellowstone 348yellowstone 136

Mike brought me home a box of Frosted Flakes they had purchased at a store up there and said, “This was the worst part of the whole trip.” I looked closely at the box to discover a price tag reading $8.29. Apparently he’d sent them into the store with a ten dollar bill and was horrified when they came out with one small box of cereal, a dollar and some change. I suppose though that if that was “the worst part of the trip”, even considering the mosquitos, then it must have turned out pretty darn good.

My first and only trip to Yellowstone was with my dad when I was just between their ages, and I still have many clear memories from the trip, so it makes me happy that they got to go with their dad and create some similarly happy memories.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Devotions of a Painter

My aunt Penny sent me a little poem in the mail today called, “Devotions of a Painter”. My favorite line was the following:

I am an elderly man in a straw hat
Who has set himself the task of praising God
For all this welter by setting out my paints
And getting as much truth as can be managed
Onto a small flat canvas.

I’m no painter (though at one point in about sixth grade I had such aspirations), but that line did cause me to think, oddly enough, of this blog, and why I keep it. It is my way of looking at all the “welter” – all this jumbling mass of things coming and going in my life – and scraping out of it the most precious parts. The parts that are there but might not always be seen with all the goings on surrounding them. The parts that become evident when a painter puts them down on his canvas.

I’ve been thinking so much about “moments” lately. Probably all of you have seen the recent Moments that Matter Most clip. If not, I’ll put it at the end of this post for any who want to watch it. I love the quotes in it:

“Moments are the molecules that make up eternity” – Elder Neal A. Maxwell

“It is not so much the major events as the small day-to-day decisions that map the course of our living.” – President Gordon B. Hinckley

It is just so obviously true, isn’t it? We all have big moments in our lives and those are often referred to as our “defining moments” and I don’t know. Maybe they are. But really our lives are mostly lived out and composed of millions of normal moments – good and bad that make up our every days. And we can choose, not just how to handle them, but which to focus on – which moments we want to be the ones that matter.

For me, right now, so many of those moments are filled with my little family members. Whether it is Mike teasing me that I am hiding my Dove ice-cream bars from him, and me insisting they are being hidden not from him, who is welcome to them, but from our small children who can’t fully appreciate a Dove ice-cream bar; to Jesse giving our hens horrid nightmares by calling, “Goodnight chickens! Goodnight chicken nuggets!” as I bring him in for bed; or running outside frantically shouting, “Dad?! Dad! Where are you?” when he sees our sprinklers come on because he assumes that means Mike is out working on them (as many of our sprinklers needed fixing this summer); to Daisy getting Penny down for a nap for me just like a tiny little mother; to Penny telling me various people – real and fictional – that she is “going to marry” all the time; to Abe and I joking about the gulf that exists between us because he doesn’t appreciate salad and ranch dressing like I do; to Goldie making goodbyes a small nightmare because she can’t ever quite bare to part and must say goodbye one hundred times and make sure hundreds of blown kisses are caught and no wave from the window is missed before I  can ever make it out of the driveway to run a quick errand.

Those are my moments. I’ve heard people complain about the unreal worlds of blogs and facebook, etc. -- complain that they give people unrealistic views of life to compare to because everyone is recording trips and perfectly planned birthday parties and surprise presents from spouses. And I agree that we need to be very careful not to get blue or think somebody else has a life a million times better than our own, because people have trials, and there are also all the tiny moments of less joy in every day. In mine, kids are often asked hundreds of times to get dressed, everybody cries when I brush their hair, bedtime with three girls in one room is never as simple as “goodnight,” mess is constant, whining inevitable.

But when I think of little moments making up my existence, what I want to focus on, what I want to paint on my canvas, what I want to make absolutely sure I am grateful for and don’t forget -- or don’t simply miss because they are often seemingly insignificant -- are the tiny perfect parts of my day. The small bits of wonderfulness I get to experience at this stage of life raising kids and being here with them. And that is my purpose in recording so much of it. It is to force myself to see these things amidst all the waves and winds blowing about distracting me. It is to make sure I recognize and take joy in what I get to be living every single day . . . right now.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dear Mike,

Remember that time when you brought the starving and freezing kitten home? The one you’d found abandoned on your dad’s farm? I love you for being someone who couldn’t bare to let a little wild kitten freeze. Only, I didn’t act very much like I loved you that night, did I? As I recall while you tried to persuade it to have a little milk and to warm its frozen little body by the fire, I was pettily complaining and grumpy and angry because I’d always said I didn’t want indoor pets and you had your outdoor pets, and clearly this was your way of spiting me and showing me my feelings didn’t matter. Never mind that you tried to tell me you didn’t intend for us to keep it necessarily, you just couldn’t very well leave it out there to die. And never mind that I wouldn’t have truly wanted you to do that. I still went to bed grumpy and with out talking to you – something I had never done in our marriage before.

Do you remember how, to appease your cold and unreasonable wife, you put it in our car port in a little crate with blankets and with food nearby before leaving for work the next morning – only to have the wild and terrified thing bolt into the snowy hills – never to return -- likely placing itself back in the reaches of the same sad little death you had just rescued it from?

I remember. I felt horribly guilty and sick inside. Of course I hadn’t actually wanted any harm to come to the little creature. Plus, now I knew that my cover was blown – that you now saw me for what I was – not the fun, positive girl you thought you’d married, but a mean, irrational woman. One who was heartless to boot. I knew you were mad at me and wouldn’t be calling me at lunch time like you always did. Who knew when you’d EVER want ANYTHING to do with me again. I knew I was the one who needed to apologize but somehow was feeling far too proud to do it.

Only, instead of treating me like I undoubtedly deserved, remember what you did? You sent me flowers in the middle of the day with a simple note telling me you loved me (and kindly not mentioning anything about the helpless kitten I’d just doomed). I still feel badly about that poor kitten. But, I will never forget getting those flowers and calling you crying because I hadn’t realized that I had a husband who wasn’t just in love with the “perfect” girl he’d thought he was marrying, but also the very imperfect girl that he’d actually married.


I am missing you quite a lot tonight in our quiet house. It is only the third night here with out you, which should be no big deal as we have spent weeks and weeks apart in our marriage, but never have I been completely unable to access you. Always I’ve gotten to end my day with hearing your voice – getting a recap of your day and being able to tell you the small details I’ve saved up all day to share with you. The things that would mean very little to anyone else but you because they are the simple goings on of our small family.

I came across this little picture last night:

It made me smile and laugh. It was taken a few months ago after we’d taken the kids on a little family walk for family night and then let them have microwave dinners. I’m sure I hadn’t been big on having a “Kid Cuisine” but I don’t recall exactly how I ended up getting a special meal of chicken and corn made by you instead. . . . Or how I could be lucky enough to have you so romantically spell out “I love you” in corn.

I love you so much. I love you enough to spell it out not just in corn kernels, but maybe even in entire COBS of corn! That’s a lot of corn to eat though. Maybe chocolate covered cinnamon bears would express it as well? It was a very lucky day when I agreed to have a college pal set me up with her cousin . . . and even luckier that you happened to go along as her date . . . but luckiest of all that you felt fine about calling the girl who hadn’t even been your date the next day.



Thursday, July 14, 2011

Penny Pearl


I’ve been having a lot of extra time with this little four year old of mine this week. Mike and the oldest three are all away for a few days and it has been so fun to have my Penny here being the oldest. She comes in and snuggles by me in the morning; and colors pictures for me of things like me with a giant tummy with a baby in it, and weather charts – with rain, snow and, oddly, a person sleeping in a bed depicted (apparently the three weather options are: rain, snow, and night time); she tries on the many outfits we brought upstairs from a box of Daisy’s and Goldie’s old things and asks me several times a day which new shoes she ought to wear at the moment.


I was worried it would feel far too quiet and lonely with just me and my two littlest at home for so long, but while I have been missing Mike and the older three, I have also really been enjoying this chance to focus on my two little ones and do things geared more directly towards them.


Monday, July 11, 2011

The Grouchy Maker and Other Toys


I thought I was being so clever when I found this fun “toy” for Jesse to play with. He quite loved it . . . AND he was VACUUMING as he went. Could anything be more ingenious?

Well, yes, some things could be . . . like things that your toddler wouldn’t soon discover he can open up and empty all over the floor. After several piles of dirt and crumbs were left dumped on the carpet (and it is always full of stuff because I grab it ten times a day to zip up cereal and cracker crumbs, and grass and dirt dragged in by little feet), I explained to him how we empty it in the garbage. He mostly tries to do that now. . . . Mostly.

Also, he’s quite fond of this little device:


He loves to sharpen up a bag of colored pencils. Which is a lovely job to have done. Only, sometimes it overheats and stops working and makes him real mad. And other times (well, every time) he pulls out the little drawer of collected pencil shavings and dumps them where ever it suits his fancy.

Today he found a new thing to love. It is our SnackMaster sandwich maker. He’s carted it around all day opening and shutting it and telling me sandwiches are done and ready for the eating. He was quite upset when I wouldn’t let him take it to bed tonight, and even though I’ve told him it is a sandwich maker, he keeps getting confused and calling it a “grouchy maker”. I suppose its one of those things you never really think to consider before it happens, but when it DOES happen – when you have a little messy headed blonde boy shouting that he needs his grouchy maker -- well, it makes you love him an awful lot.

Running, Ants, and Blog Books

I’ve been enjoying having my oldest boy home with me so much this summer. He’s a great pal and I like having him here. I had told my kids earlier that I’d pay them a dollar for every mile they ran over the summer. We drove a little half mile stretch straight up the hill from our house and marked it at “the second tree past the canal road trail head”. It is so hot by the time everyone gets up and going that it doesn’t usually happen, but finding little notes like these left quietly by my bedroom door every now and then at 6:30 in the morning from Abe has made me quite happy.


It makes him seem so old and independent to be waking and deciding to head out on a little run. However, this note – with its nonchalant informative tone – made me less happy than the others.


Why oh why am I always battling ants? Am I the only one? I fear I am. No matter how old or new the home, no matter how crumb free the floor, ants seem to haunt my existence every single summer!

But, that P.S. reminded me of something. Doesn’t it stand for post script? Yes, I believe it does. Only, when I was young, I thought it stood for “private secret”. I didn’t arrive at this by myself. I was told by some friend who seemed confident and well informed. Private secret. Weird how everyone would add a very special “private secret” at the end of many a letter. Why couldn’t it ever be in the body? It seems we’d all be rushing straight to the end for the real dirt. And what about the times when there was a P.P.S.? A private PRIVATE secret? Now that is something to be excited about reading. Only, so often these private secrets seemed quite mundane.

Anyway, moving on. Despite the bad news about ants, something came that very same day to make me quite happy. It was this:


That’s right! Another blog book! It is so fun having this stuff right here in a book! That is my third completed! And I’m almost all caught up now!


So, that is the end of this post I guess.

P.S. HAH! You wish. I have no private secrets. Or do I? . . . (No, really, I don’t. At least I don’t think. I just wanted to sound mysterious.)



Things are growing and blooming in my yard!!


No thanks to them:IMG_7308_edited-1

Or, to be honest, HIM:IMG_8107_edited-1IMG_8102_edited-1

If he isn’t breaking the doors off our grill when outside, he is opening the egg gathering doors on our chicken coop and leaving them open so that chickens can squeeze out and enjoy their freedom around our yard (their freedom including pecking anything that grows – or even doesn’t). Still, it is kind of cute when he comes running with an egg he’s gathered. Or, at least it is cute when he brings it to me rather than throwing it on the deck. Rascal. (Do people use that word? Either way, he’s a cute little rascal.)

But, on to things that are blooming:


It makes me so happy. I know I’ve said it before, but it is true.


I’ll admit, most of our yard remains rather bare, and much of it is covered with the dead grass clippings that Mike has spread out around our flower beds to keep weeds down (he does this after mowing). It is also true that I don’t really know what I’m doing and will never truly commit to putting things in when they should be put in, or using fertilizer enough to make a difference, or trying to convert my soil to something better than the rock hard stuff that I must break into with a pick to plant my annuals (with a quick prayer and best wishes to them). It is also true that I somehow seem to end up with a bunch of things that don’t get going until August so I have a fairly late blooming yard.

All the same, blooming things are spectacular. Seeing them anywhere makes me happy, but in my own yard? Extra happy.


Oh yah, remember how we all grew up being told by other kids (who were told by some other kids) about how daddy long legs are the most poisonous spider ever . . . only their mouth is too small to actually bite you. Who started this? How does every kid know to pass it on? It sounds highly suspect . . . then again, I paused from leaning into these leaves to get the picture I wanted to avoid the little guy . . . just in case he was the one daddy long leg out there to have developed  a large mouth.


As you all know, my zinnias generally make me the happiest, but they haven’t yet achieved the full heights of their glory. In the meantime, these hollyhocks might be what I am the very most excited about:


They only started blooming this week. We used to see them on the hillsides at Bear Lake when we were little, and when we did,  my mom would always tell us about making hollyhock dolls when she was young. Last spring, in a burst of sentimentality, I bought a little packet of seeds and gave them a go. They were still no bigger than an inch in diameter (and very low to the ground) when I transplanted them outside. I couldn’t see any hollyhockness about them. And, I never did. By August, the leaves looked like beginning squash plants and that was that.

I was out running one day and saw an elderly lady weeding in a lovely patch of hollyhocks. I paused and complimented her on them and told her about my failed attempt at growing them. “Oh,” she said, “they’ll be lovely next year. They’re biennials and they never bloom their first year.” While I was happy to hear that, perhaps, I hadn’t failed; “next year” seemed a ridiculously long time to wait. It turns out to have been a lucky thing I had never bothered to learn about them being biennials though. If I had, I likely would have failed to plant them (not having the patience to wait for them to finally bloom) and I would have missed out on this spectacularness!

They are literally about seven feet tall. Had I known what they would become, I would have spaced them much farther apart than I did. Every morning an entire new stock seems to have bloomed up and down its length with a bright new color of flowers. They are amazing.


Anyway, I suppose that’s enough of that. Someday, maybe, when I don’t have so many little ones needing my attention, I might take this gardening business quite seriously!

Mary Had a Little Lamp


Have any of you read this book? I am quite fond of any books written and illustrated or simply just illustrated by Bob Staake. I like his kooky little drawings so much. In fact, Mike knew this well enough that he actually gave me both of these Staake books for Christmas a year or two ago:IMG_7944

But, back to Mary and her little lamp. I couldn’t help but think of this book the other day when Goldie purchased the thing she was most wanting to spend her birthday money from Grandma Gayle on:IMG_7930_edited-1IMG_7925_edited-1That’s right. A little bendy armed desk lamp – in red. It wasn’t an impulse buy. Oh no. She’d seen it and, apparently, longed for it – with out my even knowing. Then birthday rolled around – and with it a little cash, and immediately, she needed to go buy the lamp at Wal-Mart . . . only when we got to Wal-Mart, Daisy informed Goldie that she was pretty certain the lamp Goldie had admired was a Target lamp. Sure enough, the only similar lamps at Wal-Mart were pink and green (and two dollars MORE!). So, off to Target. The only information she could give me as to its specific whereabouts in the store was this, “It was by the isle where Daisy’s eyes were watering so much.” Luckily, that was clue enough. I know Daisy and her sensitive little nose well enough to know that nothing drives her more crazy in a store than the isle of cleaning supplies. I didn’t know what a lamp would be doing there, but we headed that way and, sure enough, little red bending desk lamps for $9.99 just as Goldie had said. Who knew this was what she’d want very most for her birthday? Thanks Grandma Gayle!

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