Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Whole Apples. And Other Stuff.


Mike doesn’t believe in giving the kids whole apples. “They always waste them,” he says. And it’s true. They do. They do waste them.


It’s complicated though. They really love eating whole apples. Well, part of whole apples.


And none more than Summer – who flies into a complete and unreasonable rage any time anyone offers her a mere part of anything. A bite of your ice cream cone? A cut up slice of an apple? Outrageous. You should have seen when I tried to give her half of Anders’ piece of licorice this morning. It was thrown on the floor as she melted into a pool of furious misery over the slight. Eventually she composed herself and ate it, of course. Half a licorice is better than none. (Though not much better.)


In any case. Every once in awhile one feels disposed towards giving the wee little child an entire apple – to chew, and cart about the house, and even waste as she pleases.


Penny pointed out to me yesterday that my last recordings in our “funny things the kids have said” notebook were in 2014. Surely someone has said something funny since then? (I’m certain I’ve written things they’ve said on my blog since then, but that notebook is read and laughed over, and the sayings remembered and repeated, so I must get back on the job.) Anyway, as I pulled that out this afternoon to see what some of my last recordings were, my eyes landed on this:

“Anders always wants to eat apples whole rather than cut in pieces. I rarely let him because he wastes too much, but, whenever he asks for one and I start cutting it, he begins yelling, ‘FIX IT! FIX IT!’ And starts to cry.”

So, apparently this has been a bit of a thing in our family.


Ah well. I shall leave you with a bit from the last recorded pages in the notebook.

“We were in the car waiting to pick up Daisy from piano lessons the other day when the teacher’s very small dog wandered out onto the porch.

Almost-three-year-old Anders said, “That’s a cute dog, Mom.” Then confused, “Oh. Actually . . . I think it’s a cat.”

“You were right. It’s a dog,” I said. “It’s just kind of a small dog.”

“Yah,” agreed Anders, “and it’s called a cat.”

Later, when the dog had gone back in the house, Anders asked, “Where’s that cat dog?”


Cat dog. How humiliating for the little creature.

The end.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Journal Post

Early one morning last week, the electricians arrived. I took them to the basement -- showing them through the furnace room, a future bathroom, laundry room, bedroom and family room. I spoke with a falsely confident voice saying things like, “We want that light moved so it isn’t touching that pipe, and, of course, we’ll want it hard-wired in.” And, “Just one surface mount in here.” And, “The contractor thought we’d want a CO detector in here, but we worry that would just set us up for false alarms, so maybe just put them wherever it’s standard.” And even, “We’d like things all code – not any hidden junction boxes that we can’t access or anything.”

And they bought it. They discussed can lights and outlets with me like I had a firm understanding of what they were saying (or even what I’d been saying). They even double checked with me if they’d judged the placement of one light correctly. Of course I’d faked the whole thing. Mike had walked me through the night before – telling me what to point out to them. I’d stopped him mid way in and said I’d better get a paper and pen, but it appears I fooled them – and fooled them well because the job is now complete and, apparently, just as “we” wanted it!


I must work much harder to get pictures of Mike and my older kids. I really really enjoy just following people about, taking their pictures, occasionally forcing them to sit or stand here or there, all while they are mostly oblivious and unconcerned about it all. It gets much harder for me once they are old enough to feel aware and possibly even self conscious when I point my lens their way. I have never had any interest at all in shooting professionally. It just doesn’t appeal to me (and that might be one of the main reasons it doesn’t). Except . . . I think I would maybe love birth photography. It might possibly be the one time I could take pictures of adults while they were mostly oblivious to me. Plus. I mean come on. Birth! (Mind you, I have no plans of actually doing such a thing. It would be so unpredictable and require such open availability that I couldn’t possibly manage it while having my own kids at home. But someday I’d like to be behind the camera at a birth or two. Maybe for my own grandkids.)



Penny checked out Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words from the library awhile back. Have you heard of this book? It’s kind of fun. All sorts of crazy stuff explained using only the thousand most common words. Jesse has found it fascinating. (Though I must admit to sometimes feeling a bit frustrated by the thousand word limit. It sometimes takes a bit too much energy deciphering just what is being talked about. “Fire water? What is . . . fire . . . oh, does he mean gas? Is that gas he’s talking about?”)

Anyway, the other day at dinner Jesse asked about lightning and what causes it. I deferred to Abe who explained it with a fair amount of hazy and uncertain wording. Upon finishing his explanation, Abe informed me that he was thinking of writing his own version of Thing Explainer. “Complicated Stuff in Vague Words”.

Funny. That Abe. I like his sense of humor so much. And, while we have all sorts of very very different strengths around this house, and I’m all for being aware of and celebrating the things beyond just the clearly “brag worthy”, let us pause and brag all the same for just a wee minute because I do also quite like that he comes home nearly every day with some new award or some tale of being harassed good-naturedly by his friends or teachers for doing so . . . well at everything. “I may as well just have Abe teach this,” his physics teacher will say. “After all, he’s smarter than I am.”  Last week, on top of being, “king of the world in honors math” (or something – I forget the royal title he was given for the month), he won “librarian’s choice award” for his bookmark design, and . . . some other award for the poem he had to write for English (which will now be published in their school’s literary magazine).


We spent President’s Day and Valentine’s weekend at the cabin with Mike’s sister and her family. Our oldest four (Penny for her first time) went with their three kids skiing one of the days. And weren’t the kids surprised when strangers at Bear Lake knew we’d be at the cabin and left doorbell ditched Valentine treats on our doorstep! (We must discuss sometime this tradition that I thought, growing up, was the whole of what Valentine’s Day was . . . only to discover, when I became a teenager, nobody else knew anything about. That hasn’t stopped me from carrying the tradition on with my own kids though. And someday they can be just as confused when none of their friends know what they are talking about when they mention doorbells rung and secret treats left on the porch all day.)


Wednesday, February 17, 2016

My Very Own Little Existence

It's Monday night. President's Day.  Late . . . ish. The kids are in bed. The coolers and suitcases from our weekend cabin trip are mostly put away (or, at least, set in spots where they can "wait 'til later"). The throw up that one child managed to keep in through nearly two hours of carsick driving (only to lose the minute we turned onto our street) has been taken care of (and the necessary baths given). And a load of vacation laundry is in the wash.

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I've just used a butter knife to roughly chop two chunks from the block of cheese in our fridge (to go along with a handful of Ritz crackers) and am sitting here at the computer ready for a little introspection.

Introspection that is necessary because lately I've found myself slipping down that path of comparison. That path of "Suddenly I am less than . . .". That path that goes something like, "If I just had that talent, if I were just at that weight, if I just had that hair. If I just had those adventures, that amount of freedom, or that opportunity. If I just had that influence, that ability, that order, or that amount of time. . . ."

And then? Then what? IF I did have then I'd be . . . ? Happy? Happier? Perfectly confident? More content? Better than? More loved? More admired? More approved of by my fellow men? More approved of by God?

I don't even know. I don't even know what all my "if I just"s would ever accomplish. When I look at those questions I see the utter nonsense of the comparing -- of the discontent and self-belittling thoughts. Because would I trade the things I have? Any of them for any of the things I'm coveting? No. And, as I stop and think on what those are, the things I have and the things I am, no again! Heaven's no! No trading my voice to the sea witch for a pair of legs.

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Which leaves me here with . . . myself. Me. As I am. Not as anyone else. My little talents as they are. My sense-of-humor. My insights. My knowledge (and even sometimes wisdom) gained from my very own years of living and experiencing and learning. My physical self. My opportunities and experiences and gifts and joys. My . . . little realm and circle of existence. My own unique trials and insecurities and challenges. And, if I stop the wallowing, even my every further and future possibility, potential and opportunity.

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And when I stop and look at it from outside for a minute. When I look at my Mike. The difficulties and joys of having a house full of eight children. When I consider what I've learned and how I've grown through my weaknesses and troubles. When I think of the bits of things I am able to do with my writing and my photography. When I think of the people I love. The circle of people I can rely on. When I think of those many specific souls I've made (or perhaps just rekindled) eternal connections with during my years here on earth. The places I've lived. When I think of the details of my existence and my very own unique life I realize it's all here. Everything I need to feel worth and value and satisfaction and joy. I'm reminded, gratefully, of one of my favorite thoughts from Elder Maxwell which is this:

"No one is placed exactly as we are in our opportune human orbits."

I'm placed here. Right where I am. To experience and influence and learn in my own completely unique sphere. Just like all of you.

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I love when I remember that God is aware of the details of our existences and what we need to live and have in order to become who He knows (and we have mostly forgotten) we want to be. How about a bit more from my old pal Maxwell?

"Recall the new star that announced the birth at Bethlehem? It was in its precise orbit long before it so shone. We are likewise placed in human orbits to illuminate."


So. While I am sure this ugly battle with comparing or feeling "less than"  will need to be waged again and again in my life; at least for today, I've done a 180. I'm now marveling that my life isn't what anyone else's is -- that it is it's very own utterly unique thing, all for me. I think Jeffrey R. Holland's wife once gave a cool talk on all our lives being threads in a tapestry. Right now no more comparing. I'm weaving my own little stitches and tying my own little knots that I sometimes forget are combining with all of your own patterns and colors to make something pretty glorious.

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Friday, February 5, 2016

A Mouse, Summer, and the Temple

This morning, as I sat at the foot of my bed, feeding Mette and calling to various children to find their shoes and come get their hair done, a mouse dashed into my bedroom doorway. A mouse! He paused, whipping his head about frantically as if unsure where best to run; but his panic, however great it might have been – out in broad daylight in a house with a dog and people and no clear shelter nearby -- can have been no greater than my own! I felt so helpless: reduced to a state of frozen terror by a mammal no longer than my pinky finger! I don’t know that it was fear over what the mouse itself might do so much as fear because . . . what on earth was I to do?? What? I ask you! It wasn’t as if I could expect to pounce and actually catch it (pouncing is for cats, and Tigger; . . . and heaven forbid that my hands should touch it). And it wasn’t like a spider that might wait while I grabbed a jar. I found myself actually relieved when it scurried off towards the front room. Relieved, dear friends, that a mouse was in my house, but out of my field of sight. But really. It was a very up in the air sort of feeling. I was not keen on it at all. And now? I guess I just ask Mike to set some traps. (And not tell dear Goldie. She would not approve. Bless her.)

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Summer is just so fun right now. I really do love the learning how to talk phase so much. While the older kids are in school, she spends a good portion of her time yelling for, or at, Anders. If it isn’t “Annnnnders! Where are you?” It’s, instead, “ANDERS!” in a tone of much frustration or anger (even though what Anders may have done wrong in those situations is hard for me to ever place).

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A few weeks ago was the first time she “told” on one of her siblings. She ran into my room and in much agitation shouted, “JESSE! Mmblblmm Jesse!!”

“What’s the matter?” I asked. “Did Jesse make you mad?” I walked with her to the living room and said, “Jesse, how come Summer is so mad at you?”

“Oh,” he said. Shrugging. “Because I wouldn’t give her anymore of my crackers.”

It just made me laugh that it now occurred to this little human to go and tattle if a sibling wasn’t doing what she thought they should be.

Also, I heard her small voice coming from the front room recently repeating, “Need help. Need help.” I came and saw this. I suppose I shouldn’t have made her wait in her terrifying predicament for me to get me camera (first picture below), but . . .

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I went to the temple last night for the first time since Mette’s August arrival. It’s so freeing, after a new baby’s arrival, once I feel I can leave on occasion and know that others can get them to bed fine and the like. I would be untruthful if I said that every time I go to the temple I have some profound spiritual experience. Or even if I said, “most times”. And yet . . . always always, during or after, there is an increase in peace and perspective. And something must happen – even if it isn’t always fireworks and sudden insight – because I crave being there. My spirit seems to recognize more than my mortal self can, that things can be felt there and layers of veil can be lifted slightly because I long to go back right after I leave. And always . . . so many thoughts, so many wonderings, so many “Was that coincidence? Or a bigger hand involved?”

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Here is what I posted after attending last night:

Little, lone me stepped out of this place at 9:37 tonight and walked, with quick and shivering steps, to my empty, cold car. But I felt like, small as I was in this very big and dark world, I carried a tiny glowing speck of light with me. And in me. And, black as this night was, It seemed I could see a web weaved with the unmistakable dots of light from all of you connected to my life in any way. Thank you. Thank you for all those lights.

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Anywho, that’s all for now!

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