Thursday, December 27, 2012

I Rather Love This Lot

This boy of ours isn’t exactly small, but, apparently he is . . . small enough. Small enough to fit nearly his entire body into our guinea pig cage. Jesse alerted me to Anders’ contortionist like shenanigans. As disturbed as I was by the sight, I imagine my alarm was no worse than Jumpy’s – whose only possible sanctuary (a green, plastic, igloo-shaped home) had been thrown out by the incoming giant.

I love every single thing about this sturdy and compact little child. I sometimes think a 20-year pregnancy wouldn’t be too much to ask for a reward like him. I suppose that is a strange thing to think, but, there aren’t really any logical and normal ways to think at all about how very much I love and adore that boy. Logic and “reasonable” can’t really contain it.

And speaking of little folks who make me want to pass out because it is sometimes altogether too much to love people so . . . big . . ly (bigly? Yes. Bigly. I realize that is not a word. Perhaps I might have tried something like “tremendously”?). Anyway, speaking of:

It snowed approximately three-hundred feet here yesterday. I’m only estimating, of course, but I think it was about that. Yes, 300 feet. Maybe 400. You can imagine what shoveling must have been like (once we’d tunneled out of our house), so I was rather pleased to have it all taken care of by Abe.

Really, it did snow non-stop the entire day. It was awfully nice to have nowhere we had to be. Around noon Abe and Daisy went out and shoveled together (with a little help from Penny). Abe went out and did it all over again at about 5:00 pm. Then this morning he spent THREE hours shoveling. THREE HOURS!

Now, before you all start calling me a terrible slave-driving mother, I ought to let you know that I only actually asked for shovelers the first time (when Penny and Daisy lent their hands). Abe shoveled the other two times all of his own accord. In fact, I called out to him multiple times to come in and call it good, but he pressed on – spending the bulk of this morning’s shoveling clearing the enormous pile left across the bottom of the driveway by the snowplow.  Bless his heart. I bought him a candy-bar later to thank him. That’s something I suppose . . . for hours of freezingly miserable labor.

It seems for all my life I have been trying to figure how to keep little ones occupied and content while I either mow or shovel. I can’t get over how lovely it is to have that burden no longer solely my own.

Wait. I need to add here that I do have a very able and hard working husband – one who is more than happy to shovel or mow when he is here. But because he is so very often not here – when shoveling or mowing really need doing, it has loomed over me these many home-owning years.

There. Enough of that. Only . . . I can’t help but notice that I just talked about loving my kids to practically bursting and all of that . . . but only pictured five of the six. Oh dear. I assure you I am just as tied up inside and in love at the thought of Jesse (pictured here with cousin Miles and aunt Shannon). But he had no interest in going out in the snow today. “It’s too cold,” he told me, and went back to setting up a small toy catapult.

All the time I wonder about him – about who this little boy of mine will be when he is all grown up and has been able to follow his own pursuits with out mom telling him he can no longer scour the garage for tools, or dad telling him that taking that item apart will break it for good. It is literally almost giving me physical pain trying to keep pulling words out of myself to somehow express all of this. It really is too much. I better stop. I know you all understand what I mean and how impossible it is to say anyway.

Only . . . Jesse. Jesse with his scrappy little skin-and-bones body, Jesse telling me, “Mom, I don’t only love you a little bit!”, Jesse begging to take Mike’s new haircutting kit to bed.

Nothing must ever ever happen to this boy of mine. It simply could not be borne. Having all these little tiny moments that are so my Jesse with out being able to see the end? Too too horrible. I love him.

I love them all.

Those little stinkers.


The End.

Christmas –- Come and Gone

Well, Christmas has come and gone, and heaven knows where I’ve been.

I suppose bustling about doing Christmassy things. . . . Though what those things might have been, specifically, escapes me.

As I mentally rewind through December, I can, with effort, push the pause button and catch an occasional concrete glimpse of something -- Daisy singing in her school’s choir concert; me piling “art supplies” – a last gift still needing crossed off  – into a cart, or making a list of grocery items for the different dishes that wanted bringing to various family parties. I can see our kids and their cousins looking in little windows at Christmas Village, and our Christmas tree poking out of the truck bed as we drove it home; but it takes work to see those details. Mostly I just see a whirring of red and green, lights, wrapping paper, decorations and six little faces; and know that it was predominantly happy but feel a little guilty for not having each and every detail of it set firmly and lastingly in my mind . . . or, even here, on my blog.

It shall ever be a mystery to me why it is that I can find so much to write about when there is nothing particular going on but can barely manage one flitting little post when life is full of significance and happenings that should be placed securely in our family’s safety deposit box of memories.

Perhaps it is because life’s little day-to-day happenings aren’t expecting a big to-do. They are only pleasantly surprised and grateful when, caught unawares, they are suddenly showered with a bit of attention. But Christmas? Holidays? Birthdays? One can’t just take a stab at properly covering the happenings of those honored guests, can they? Unlike their run-of-the-mill, day-to-day cousins, it is expected that they should be put down with meaning and beauty, and, sometimes, it is all a bit too much pressure.

But, more likely, it is simply that I have a little more time when life is less full of adventure – a few more moments to load and review pictures, a few more moments to think about what exactly there is to make of any day’s goings-on.

In the midst of some of life’s best and biggest moments, I often can do no more than try to absorb as much as I can while I listen and watch and participate. But, during those moments, while I might not have time to capture each event, it feels like I am very much soaking up happiness and goodness and living  – soft kissable baby skin, music, a husband I want to be with, and laughing kids. It feels too like I am pouring things into my kids, perhaps not each perfect moment printed on their minds, but, hopefully, they are having their bodies filled up with happiness and family. Hopefully they are stockpiling goodness and love.

In any case, we aren’t done yet. Plenty more ahead.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I’m not a big numbers person, but . . .


on 12-12-12??

Come on! That’s serious business!

So serious that people were carrying out all kinds of crazy plans today: having babies, making babies (oops, sorry . . . but . . . probably), marrying, jumping out of airplanes, getting their ears pierced (eh, that one was a bit of a miss).

They were doing these big things in hopes that good luck and good fortune came -- hand in hand -- with any activities that happened to be bundled in with this once-in-a-lifetime triplet of numbers.

And while for us, today was actually a quadruplet of numbers (and almost a sextuplet -- I spent a good hour and a half pushing our boy into this world; had I completed the task a mere nine minutes sooner, Abe would have been born at 12:12) our good fortune didn’t come with something that happened today. We certainly celebrated our fortune today, but it came with what happened 12 whole years ago.

It came when Mike and I -- young and poor, new to marriage and new to life on our own -- left our tiny one bedroom apartment (the papers and books Mike had been studying for his final the next day left strewn across the floor; me bundled up tight in Mike’s Paraguayan poncho) to make our way – all nerves and pain, fear and excitement -- to the hospital where we would welcome our first small, helpless, freshly created, real live human into the world at large, and, more importantly, into our own tiny sphere – our little realm of love and life and knowing. Heaven knows how we dare to do something so tremendous. So big.

But we did dare, and he did come. And that tiny little parcel -- with the square mouth wide open and screaming and the shaky arms that terrified him if not kept tightly wrapped -- was absolutely, purely and perfectly, a bundle of good luck and good fortune.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Reindeer and Labradors

Saturday we walked across the street to our city park to catch a glimpse of “Santa’s Reindeer”.

Abe and I both tried to stay home and happily be party-poopers (I’ve admitted often to being perfectly content partyless), but Mike seemed to think it was the type of activity we ought to all be a part of. You know – Christmas and family and reindeer – all happily together.

So, all eight of us made our way over, inviting our neighbors as we went (who hadn’t lived here long enough yet to know that Santa’s reindeer enjoy spending their time away from the North Pole in a small cage outside our city offices).

And the deer did turn out alright I suppose;

though I tend to imagine them in my mind much taller and much more . . . intimidating and impressive. And I’m not sure what Penny made of them. Is this a face that speaks disappointment? Concern? Is it, perhaps, the beginning scene of a Free Willy type movie with a Christmas twist? Free Blitzen? Is that what she is about? Freeing Blitzen?

But, in the end, it wouldn’t have mattered how the reindeer turned out because, as we walked back home, we spotted a dog driving a car. And THAT was a huge enough hit with the family that it could have made up for any number of other failures or disappointments.

And. Oh wait. Is it 11:30? Oh dear. Well, “and” nothing then. I was determined to go to bed nice and early tonight. I kind of thought I was because I am, in fact, in bed, but, accidentally, instead of sleeping, I have been typing about flying reindeer and driving dogs. Darn. I hate when I trick myself. Plus, I just remembered that maybe there already really has been a Free Willy Christmas type movie. Prancer? Does that sound familiar to anyone? Of course there was probably no dog driving a get-a-away car for the reindeer in that one. Hmm. Well. Enough of this nonsense then. Off to bed with all of you. And all of me.


Wait. Is that one word? Goodnight? Good night? . . . Good . . . riddance? Oh good grief.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

And Just Like That

Fall and Pumpkins and Thanksgiving “Grateful Trees” were down,IMG_1730_edited-1

And Winter and Christmas and snow was put up.

At least it felt that sudden. One day we were enjoying a cool autumn-day Thanksgiving, and the next we were up in the mountains where, unlike the unseasonably warm temperatures at home, there was snow and the type of wind that hurts cheeks and makes eyes water.

We did have a perfect Thanksgiving. It was one of those events that everyone wanted to go a certain way – that really DID go that way. It was held in Mike’s uncle’s barn on the old family land with many of the aunts, uncles and cousins from Mike’s side of the family. There was shooting and kickball, 4-wheeler rides, bottle-feeding of baby cows, ridiculous amounts of tasty food and more.

Such as . . .  a treasure hunt:

Which might normally have only semi interested Jesse, but, when involving walkie-talkies, absorbed him wholly.

There was a turkey piñata!

And jeep safari tours of the old land.

The above pictures were some of my favorites from the day. Mike’s uncles Jodie and Denny along with Mike’s dad and aunt Leisa had all headed off, unbeknownst to me, on the tour. Mike came and grabbed me – leaving our kids loosely in the care of others – and had me hop on a 4-wheeler with him to go track them down for a few pictures. Mike’s uncle Jodie had little interest in stopping to pose, but Mike simply flew us over fields and along short-cuts to come zipping out in front of or to the side of them – where I would quickly snap a few pictures before they’d driven too far beyond us again. I felt like the paparazzi and found myself laughing and clinging to Mike and my camera quite heartily. Very fun and happy.

There is much I could write about the aunts involved in this production. My thoughts have been with Mike’s aunt Leisa particularly of late (who we have had the ridiculously good fortune of living close to the past few years), but my feelings aren’t sorted and ready to express well enough yet. I have thought often, lately, how life sometimes surprises you by those it gives you to love and connect with the very most. I keep wanting to type more, but no. It will need to wait ‘til I feel I can express it properly and with the justice it deserves.

But! As I said, we are on to winter and Christmas now. Not a day goes by with out the kids dancing to festive versions of “I Saw Three Ships” and “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen”, lights and nativities are up (and I have said “to heck” with matching and consistency this year – putting both white and colored lights all willy-nilly about the house). The older three kids have their mini trees glowing happily in their rooms while they sleep, and poor dear Jesse, who came along after we gave individual trees to the kids, was found rummaging about in the box of Christmas things the other day until he happily created this for himself:

He seemed oblivious to the fact that it was 1/3rd the size of his siblings (and severely lacking in other décor). Sweet little fella.

Anyway, welcome Christmas – bring your cheer.

Friday, November 16, 2012


My mom has always been a bit of a devil’s advocate. It came, she claims, from her father who, I think, rather enjoyed the challenge of a good argument. She tells me that it didn’t matter that he may have agreed wholeheartedly with her stance, he would question and test -- suggesting ever different angles and possibilities -- until she either saw a new side to things – one she hadn’t considered might have merit -- or, was able to  leave with a stronger conviction that her view was truly sound.

My mom has kept up this tradition with her kids. I can clearly hear her voice saying, “Nan, what about this . . . ?” or “Well. Maybe. Maybe not. What if . . .”  and while, at times, I may have groaned – just wanting her to blithely agree with me, it has taught me not to feel immediately threatened by differing views; not to worry that they will shake my convictions or weaken my resolves, but to understand that, at times, there might actually be a different angle that makes sense, there might be some good that might come from something that seems all bad; or even, through a bit of testing, helped me discover an even greater devotion to my own way of thinking.

I am certainly not always great at looking at other sides; at trying to appreciate how someone might see things differently. There are some convictions that I hold so dear or that are so much a part of me, that I simply close off when any counter argument arises – finding it difficult to even muster a little understanding of a differing perspective.

There are times when I am likely a bit lazy and simply default to the opinions and views of those I admire and respect (my in-laws and siblings, my parents and Mike) with out necessarily thinking it through for myself.

Also, I admit that my nature is very much a peace-loving one. I shrink from confrontation and conflict, and perhaps too often stick to timidity when boldness might need calling upon.

I do admire my friends and family who aren’t afraid to resolutely slam fists on tables (so to speak) despite any backlash or unfavorable prevailing opinion.

And, for all I said about carefulness and kindness with others feelings, I will freely admit, that there are times when greater things are at stake – particularly when clear wrongs are taking place – when things must be said and done fiercely and quickly.

Still, I hold that, for most instances, the Savior’s injunction that we bless those that curse us, and pray for those who use us; that we love our neighbors as ourselves, stands. Even when they have views and opinions, beliefs or a moral compass vastly different from our own.

I once heard a quote that would sound extra spectacular if I could put it here word for word, along with whatever impressive person said it. Alas, I can’t find the exact source. Still, the concept is good and sound. The gist of it was that, when trying to illuminate others, we should always seek to shed light, not start fires.

That is what I was referring to yesterday. All the slinging of giant balls of fire – which will never gently show anyone anything good or right, but will only cause them to run. I feel certain that we may as well shout our views at a stone wall as expect someone to listen or give respect where none has been afforded to them.

So, enough of that business. It has been on my mind a lot of late though because, while I want my own children to stand firm and unwavering in their right and good beliefs, I also want them to have compassion and understanding; and, in truth, I would rather they be kind than be anything else. Isn’t there a scripture about that? Kindness covering a multitude of sins? Maybe I made it up, but I believe it all the same.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Aren’t We All the Same?

The frenzy associated with the recent elections has, at last, died down. There seems to be a bit more balance restored to the goings on reported on Facebook, a bit more calm, a bit less desperation and hysteria in the opinions that have been boldly and somewhat carelessly thrown about. But the aftermath has left me still a little out of breath. Tilted and dizzy. Unsure of things I thought (hoped) I knew about people. Never before have I experienced such loud and conflicting opinions shouted back and forth (if typed words can be shouted). Perhaps it is because, in no past election, have I been involved in social networks. In no past election have “friends” been able to, with such ease, spout their views at one another with out having to do so face to face.

More than once, over the past several months, I found myself blushing and ashamed over the manner in which someone expressed an opinion that I actually shared. Not because I didn’t agree with the viewpoint, but because I was embarrassed at how insensitively it was put forth -- how carelessly it demeaned anyone who might not agree. Likewise; more than once I found myself intaking my breath sharply, hackles raised, over an opinion, different than my own, voiced loudly and with no room for discussion or exception – no room for anyone who might disagree to be a decent or valid person.

The thing is, I have gone about my life (perhaps naively?) thinking that most of us, at our core were the same. Sure there were bad people. There were petty and mean and even horrifyingly evil people. But the rest of us? Most of us. Didn’t we all love our friends and families more than all else?  Didn’t we all want to be respected and liked and understood? Didn’t we all want to listen to Christmas music while laughing, reminiscing and drinking cocoa with loved ones? Didn’t we all want to stop and help the person with a flat tire (regardless of the political sticker in his rear window)? Didn’t we all like to wave at the crossing guard standing dutifully in the rain, keeping our kids safe on the streets near school; or pull a shopping cart out for the lady struggling with a kid in each arm? Didn’t we all want to tuck our kids safely in bed at night; and be the kind person who helps the kid who can’t find his mom at the grocery store; or let the man with only a gallon of milk cut in front of us in the checkout line? Didn’t we all like to share a laugh, even with a stranger, over something funny just witnessed? Didn’t we all want, in our hearts, to be kind and good and understanding and decent? Wouldn’t we all, given the chance, actually like each other?Tessa & GB wedding_185 troy
(photo credit goes to my awesome sister Amy who captured this moment of me and several of my sisters, nieces and nephew having a laugh following a family wedding)

And, if we did share all those things, didn’t they bind us more than our differing opinions and views, lifestyles and choices separated us? That might have been something I would have typed nicely as a rhetorical question before, but not now. Now I am really asking it. Of you. Of me. Do those things matter more? Do we even share those things after all?

Like a child hesitantly asking their parent if Santa exists (or, in my case, unicorns), I am afraid that I might not want the answer. Maybe we aren’t all equally good – or at least wanting to be. Maybe we don’t share those same basic things. Or maybe we do, but they aren’t enough.

We do all have beliefs – things that shape our very selves and our very ways of living – that we must stand for; that we can’t just set quietly aside if we are to be true to ourselves or if we are to ever change the world for the better. And maybe my Utopian-like ideal – where people matter more than ideas and opinions -- can’t exist because not all ideas, beliefs and opinions are decent. Maybe they aren’t all ones that we can, if not respect, then at least understand. Maybe some are just simply too wrong, too bad, too ridiculous or illogical. . . . And when we are sure our views are the right ones (which they very well may be)? Well, what then? Do people, do our relationships with them; how we treat them; how we make them feel still matter more? Can they still matter more?

It discourages me because while I do want to be able to share my opinions, to talk about my belief system; while I do want to better learn how to listen to others who feel and believe differently -- with my defenses kept tightly down; what I want, most of all, is to be living in a world where people -- individuals -- matter most. What I want is to have all those similarities between us matter more than our differences. What I want, in my perhaps unaffected way, is for love to be at the top of everyone’s pyramid of beliefs and the Golden Rule to be the thing that governs us. All of us.

It is a difficult thing to work out for a girl who wanted unicorns to be real. A girl who is perhaps dreaming up some impossible world full of good people who, while making different life choices, are all trying to be thoughtful and kind, but there it is: my question. And here I wait, hoping for my own “Dear Virginia” letter telling me that Santa, unicorns, and people who care more about each other than about being right still exist.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Some Things. And Some Other Things.

Perhaps I haven’t been fair, dear reader, in my portrayal of motherhood. Here I have gone and made it all angels with little glowing wings and little boys looking so cute in piles of mess that the very mess itself seems to have a bit of charm about it (and likely cleans itself up afterwards). I have made motherhood seem to be nothing but kids on tractors and kids with chickens and kids delighting in the season’s first snowfall.

And it is those things. Those things. And more.
But also, sometimes, it is other things. Sometimes it is standing in a very small and cramped bathroom, helping a child who, to be honest, is still rather inept at taking care of certain necessary duties that must be taken care of post-bathroom use. Sometimes it is standing in that space, not relishing the task at all, while the helpee whines most ungratefully, and all the while his sibling drives a medium-sized remote control car repeatedly forward and then reverse into your feet and ankles. Sometimes it is that. That and other things.

There. I am square again with my readers. My blog is legit – legitimized by my brutal honesty.

Oh alright. It wasn’t that brutal, but it was . . .  unpleasant? Unpleasant and slightly annoying. Also, as long as I am trying to keep it painfully real so nobody will dismiss me as a blogger of pure fluff, I will add that all that happy hullaballoo in the leaf pictures above? It didn’t last long. Abe got stung by a wasp when the girls buried him in leaves and nobody would set foot in the leaf pile again. How’s that for honesty.

Alright then.


Just balance all those things out before you, you know, move full steam ahead with any big “Let’s make billions of babies” plans.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


“Wait!” I thought to myself this morning. “So maybe Halloween is past, and maybe we didn’t get any pictures of the little angel Penny other than the one taken hurriedly on the porch before the ward party . . . so hurriedly that kids couldn’t even be bothered to get out from behind a tree branch, or asked to move a little out of a big shadow, because they had already seen neighbors leaving; and pausing on the porch at all was nearly too much to bear. There is no rule against putting a costume back on on November 3rd, is there?”

I didn’t think there was. And besides, it might just be us getting ready for Christmas, for all anybody knows -- what with her costume looking like something straight out of a Nativity. Penny wasn’t wholly willing. She wanted toast. With jam. And she wanted it that minute. Still, I managed to coax her quickly into her costume, and we rushed down the street for a few fast angel shots.

I loved the sunlight glowing through her little wings and halo. For a minute I could almost believe she really was a tiny visitor from heaven – treading carefully on this tangled and imperfect world.

Maybe that’s exactly what she is.

And speaking of this world. Hello boys. Boys and mess. Boys and cars. I can still picture them as angels. Just cute messy little angels with crooked halos and a bit of dirt smeared on their faces.

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