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.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Halloween 2012

Who would guess that the peanut-allergy kid in the family, the one who lost interest in the ward trunk-or-treat after about eight cars, would still manage to come home with like 300 of these (and not much else)?IMG_1449Pay Days? I didn’t even know they existed anymore. They do though. And every single one in existence was pulled, by some unseen pull of peanut toward peanut-abstainee into Jesse’s bucket.

That’s not totally true. One ended up in Goldie’s bucket.IMG_1494_edited-1Which seemed only fitting since we recently discovered she is also allergic to peanuts. (I know, you would think a mother would know if her eight year old was allergic to peanuts . . . before she was eight, but I did suspect, it’s just that I don’t recall the last time she ate anything with peanut in it. She has avoided it like the plague for as long as I can remember. And if your child despises a substance and you think she might be allergic to it, you don’t really test it out. You just wait. You wait until they accidentally eat some at a large gathering and then swell up and hive up and then throw up repeatedly next to the food table. And then that’s how you know.)

But enough of this Pay Day Halloween business. I just had to laugh a little when I saw Jesse’s haul. I kept picturing that scene from the Charlie Brown Halloween special where everyone keeps announcing the treats they got and Charlie Brown has to keep saying, “I got a rock”. Only I pictured Jesse. And he was saying, “I got a Pay Day”.

Moving on. Goldie was Little Red Riding Hood at one point. And Snoopy at another. Abe was Charlie Brown at one point. And then someone with a faux-hawk and . . . stuff . . .  at another. His Charlie Browning never coincided with Goldie’s Snoopying. And Penny’s darling angel didn’t land on the day that we were actually taking more than three seconds to snap a picture. I don’t know how all these costumes come together, but I don’t begrudge them a second or third costume so long as they drag it out of the box of costumes rather than force me into getting more than one costume per child ready.
I do think Daisy’s witch turned out great. It was an old one of mine and much too long and large for her, but with the help of a bunch of safety pins and a strip of material tied around her waist to hide the extra bulk and pins, it turned out perfectly.

It will be a strange Halloween when wolf doesn’t make an appearance on one of my kids. Her angel was awfully cute though . . .

And someday, when Jesse is older, I know he will look back and say, “Mom, why did you make me be that monkey every single year of my life, even when it was several sizes too small?” So I am taking a moment now to tell him that he insisted on being monkey every single year despite all my encouragements towards other options . . . like, say . . . a nice wolf.

For Abe’s last year of trick-or-treating, he decided to go, pillow-case in hand, with a close friend (which explains his absence in the pre-trick-or-treat porch photo). And, as with all of our babies, Anders absolutely loved being put in that green monster costume with the velcro that scratches your neck.

Lastly, when Mike heard, early Halloween morning, that I was going in to help out with the party in Goldie’s class at school, and not wearing a costume, he seemed shocked at my part-pooperishness. . . . Which didn’t wholly seem fair. After all, I’d been partying my little heart out as I dug the innards out of six pumpkins for kids to jack-o-lantern up:

And decorated 5000 tables for the ward Halloween party, and costumed, and de-costumed, and re-costumed six kids for multiple Halloween events (all with no husband).

Still, I wasn’t about to sit there and hear that I was a stick-in-the-mud. So, with about ten minutes to spare before leaving to Goldie’s party, and with a quick call to my mom (who was coming out to babysit) for a scarf and some jewelry, I became a perfectly good gypsy. Or maybe pirate? Peasant? I don’t know, but surely Mike couldn’t accuse me of being no-fun now.

And that about does it for Halloween this year.

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