Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Of Bonnets, Notes, and Thanksgivings Past and Present

Remember that one time? When I put Summer in a bonnet . . .
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and sent her skipping through the woods to grandmother’s house with a basket of goodies?
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Look at her. She’s definitely skipping. And just about to pause her bright little journey long enough to do some flower picking. Old wolfy. He doesn’t stand a chance. She’s going to charm his socks off.

Also, this totally fridge-worthy note from one of my children to another (I was only given permission to post this if names were not included):
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I just can’t get over the awesomeness of an apology . . . that nobody knows you’ve made.

Speaking of notes. This. Left from Abe informing me that he had left to scouts while I was at the grocery store with the other kids – and letting me know what he’d done while I was away.
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Psh. Well. Did you even bother to do the dishes, son?

Terrible child.

Also, here we are having our annual feast-before-the-feast feast.
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I’m calling it annual. I think I’m even going to call it traditional. Yes. Our traditional “Feast Before the Feast” feast. I like throwing all those “feasts” in one sentence, and, we have, in fact, done this two years running. Maybe three. So . . . traditional and annual enough. A pre-Thanksgiving feast with just our little family. (Though, if I want this “feast” to be taken seriously, it is probably time to break out the china and put the food items in nicer dishes than the pans they were cooked in.)

For some reason, as I cleaned up the above meal, my mind drifted to thoughts of one of my favorite Thanksgivings: I was 20 -- thousands of miles from any family -- nearing the end of my nearly-four-month study abroad experience in Israel. Strange that a very homebody and easily-subject-to-homesickness girl could have one of her very favorite holiday experiences -- so far from family; but . . . we had recently finished our study of the Old Testament and moved onto a study of the New Testament. In doing so, we left our “home” in Jerusalem to spend three weeks at a little kibbutz on the shores of the Sea of Galilee.

We were in Galilee.

Studying the life of our Savior.

Did you read that correctly? I was in Galilee studying the life of my Savior!

And, we would be returning to our beloved families in a few short weeks – just in time for Christmas.

And, the people I was with -- these people who had been complete strangers at the start of this experience -- were now the same people I had walked, countless times, in and out of Damascus gate with. They were the people I had traversed the walls of The Old City with; stuck small prayers in The Wailing Wall with; and crept reverently, heads draped, through the early-morning, ultra-orthodox streats of Mea She’arim with to buy a loaf of shabbat bread. They were the ones I’d sung hymns at The Garden Tomb with; and slung stones with in the Valley of Elah.

And here we were – gathered excitedly -- clasping our hands, cheering and clapping over our hosts’ proud attempt to give us a proper American holiday. (Complete with backwards hanging flags and sparklers poking out of such severely undercooked turkeys -- bless our hosts’ good intentions -- that half of our group spent the next day throwing up. Hahah.) Truly though. That evening was one of those rare times of utter and complete, contented happiness.

And . . . well . . . that’s it. Rather abrupt of me, I know. Still, that is all for now. So . . . Happy Thanksgiving! Later skaters!
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Friday, November 14, 2014

Season’s First Snowfall

Tuesday afternoon I managed to sneak away for a short run. The weather was chill. The sky a bit dull. Still, it was pleasant enough. As I approached the water-barrel fountain where I always pause, I noticed a small yellow-bellied bird perched and drinking. He was such a bright little sight amidst all the now bare trees and gray air that I wanted him to stay – stay and share the fountain with me; but, by instinct, the moment he saw me, he flitted off to a nearby tree branch. Once there, however, he paused – watching and hesitant – as if he too was curious about me (despite the warnings his mother must surely have given him concerning my kind). He studied me a minute longer, but seemed to be fighting against a strong pull calling him elsewhere. Eventually the call became greater than his curiosity and off he went.

A mile further down the road I came across an entire field full of crows. (How did I not just take the opportunity to use “murder of crows” there? What an opportunity lost!) They were bustling and busy. Planning and serious. Unlike my little yellow-bellied friend, they had neither the time nor the interest to notice me.

What all of this “call to be elsewhere” and “serious planning” was about became evident by the next morning when freezing temperatures and blustery winds sailed in – followed only a day later by the season’s first snowfall.

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(Although, I suppose, the weekly news forecast might have played it’s part in giving me that “change is in the air” feeling. . . .)

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It was mostly magic – as first snowfalls always must be. And, for most of the day, I did quite well with constant demands to open doors and let kids out, and open doors and let kids right back in, and take off boots and mop up the floor, and put boots back on, and finagle fingers into each slot in their gloves and mittens – over and over. But, in the end, Anders was pretty much heading out pantless – with rainboots, a t-shirt, and mittens; and then crying . . . when I eventually put a stop to it all.


Last night Summer had another horrible night’s sleep – and I had another horrible night’s sleep; and, in the sleep-deprived chaos of getting baby happy and everyone off to school, I somehow failed to notice Jesse was wearing no shoes (though heaven knows how he failed to notice as he plodded down our snow-covered front lawn to our neighbor’s waiting car in only socks).

Now, however, Summer is napping and Anders has yet to awaken and I have turned on Peter Breinholt’s version of Gartan Mother’s Lullaby (which is so tied up with Christmas and nights of rocking my newborns that it makes me nearly weep for the goodness of life); and I am reminded that this is life: trouble and joy all side-by-side and often holding hands – first snow magic, sleep deprivation, kids forgetting shoes and crying in embarrassment that can’t properly be consoled because school bells will be ringing, beautiful music; but, at least right now -- while babies are sleeping and this song is playing -- that seems all right.

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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Fester, Lochinvar, 3 Months, and 10-Year-Old Wisdom

I told Mike recently how I'd read an article about . . . oh, I forget what you call it . . . but something like “Couples' Evaluation” I suppose. The author discussed how she and her spouse had weekly meetings together to gage how they were doing, discuss issues, resolve problems, etc. It sounded very wise. I suggested to Mike that, while everything seemed fine (to our primitive sensibilities), our marriage was actually probably floundering due to an absence of any such regular coming together and accessing. I told him how the author said that when frustrations came up, she didn't stew because she always knew they would be able to discuss it soon.

“Ah,” Mike said, understandingly, “and your concerns have to just sit and fester.”

“Yes,” I agreed sadly.

“In fact,” Mike went on in an ah-hah manner. “That's probably the reason for all your stomach problems! (I've been dealing with an ulcer) It's all that festering! There's probably a giant ball of 'fester' just sitting in your stomach.”

That smart alec. It's very difficult to sit and let things fester as they properly should . . . while being told there is a “giant ball of fester” in your stomach.

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Speaking of Mike: we met, as many of you know, on a blind date. I was not, however, his date. I was there as the date of one of his closest friend's brothers.

When Mike went home and expressed to his parents a desire to ask me out . . . complicated by circumstance; Mike's dad, bless his heart, told him “all's fair in love and war” then read him Sir Walter Scott's poem Lochinvar -- wherein Lochinvar steals his true love away (by scooping her up on his horse, naturally) during her own wedding feast.

Mike recently found an old, downloadable, comic-book version of the poem which we proceeded to make prints of. Here I was just sticking them up with painter's tape, but I think we'll stick them in clip-frames and call it good. I rarely hang anything, so it will be fun to have another something of meaning on the wall. (I say “another” because I’ve also hung the sketch of my dad's back that has a cool story all its own – which I will share someday, but, for now, we're on Lochinvar.)

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Also, can we give a three-month hurrah? Shout! Three months! Hurrah!

It's actually a week or so beyond three months, but I am always so . . . happy? relieved? when we make it here. Three months is still: “juggling life with a tiny baby in tow”, but, for me, it is also when my efforts to develop some level of “schedule” and “predictable” and “fall asleep happily on their own” finally begin to come to fruition. I live inside a whirlwind until that point. At three months, the whirlwind peters out to just . . . a gusty gail. Gusty gail feels pretty great.

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During a recent conversation with ten-year-old Goldie, I mentioned something Elder Richard G. Scott said in the October 2005 General Conference of our church: “You were taught and prepared for the circumstances you would personally encounter in mortality . . .”.

I teased with her and said, “That seems like a bit of a trick, doesn't it?! To train us for what we would deal with here and then . . . slam a veil down over our eyes!”

Goldie responded with her ten whopping years of wisdom (which, apparently, is a fair amount greater than my 37-years' worth), “Yah, but maybe the training made our spirits stronger.”

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It suddenly occurred to me that, if I had worked and prepared and trained for a marathon – put in all the countless hours of sprinting, distance running and maintenance runs – and then smacked my head hard enough to give myself temporary amnesia, I would very likely think I knew nothing about running a marathon – that I couldn't possibly run a marathon; but I'd be wrong. My muscles would remember. My lungs would remember. I would be able to run that marathon just as I'd hoped – even if it took me a while to trust my footing.

It reminds me of what Elder Koelliker said in the April 2012 Conference: “The blessing of humble prayer with real intent, allows the Holy Spirit to touch our hearts and help us to remember what we knew before we were born into this mortal experience.”

I worry probably more than is normal about doing and becoming what I wanted to do and become before I set out on this mortal journey. It is a great comfort to me to know that not only have I been trained for this, but that I have the Spirit to remind me and lead me to accomplish what I wanted to accomplish, become what I wanted to become, and do what I promised I would do.


Hallelujah for that.


And . . . again . . . hallelujah for three-month-old babies! ;)

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(Everyone around here thinks she’s genius for learning to such her lower lip in like that.)

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