Thursday, March 24, 2016

Routine Living Duties, Flosses, and Daisy

No matter how tidy the house is when I go to bed, it seems to rise in the mornings bleary eyed, messy haired, and overall just as disheveled as the rest of us. Perhaps Jesse has woken in the night with trouble breathing, and, in an effort to find his correct inhaler in the darkness, we’ve fumbled through a pile of medications -- leaving them mostly strewn across the counter. Someone has had a bad dream and made their way to the loveseat in our room – tossing aside throws and pillows, and leaving blankies and stuffed animals in their wake. Mike has gotten up with the early-departing Jr High kids (bless his heart). Bags of cold cereal, peanut butter, jelly, a half-closed bag of bread, a sticky knife, and an open set of scriptures all spread about the counter mark their morning’s routine. Mike himself, following their 6:50 am departure, has tossed aside more pillows and collapsed for a few brief minutes on the family room couch. Fresh crumbs are on the floor. Coat closets are open. Miscellaneous cupboards are ajar. And it all seems like, perhaps, the house has never spent a few hours in rest and quiet at all.

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I live these same cyclic routines over and over. The exact same needs and tasks. Repeated. Often they seem tiresome and a bit meaningless. And yet . . . when I look back (or even forward) I see that my tasks have morphed and changed. My current well-worn routines aren’t quite the same as the ones from two years ago or ten years ago. And they aren’t the exact same as the ones I will have in five or fifteen years more. And somehow that awareness – of their current place and their inevitable change – allows a sudden and quiet little spark of meaning to light up in these daily happenings. It wraps itself around them and infuses these humdrum cycles of mess and readying and comings and going with a little glow of . . . “This isn’t glorious and big, but it is living. It’s caring for and raising”.

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Mind you, I don’t have it in me to lend too much beauty to muddy floors, mildewed showers, and finger-printed windows. But the routines: the daily needs that ask to be taken care of again and again? There’s . . . something there. Something about figuring how to get so many little people readied for (and into) bed each night. Something about so many little blonde heads of hair needing brushed every single morning. Something about needing to put away that open jar of peanut butter next to that open set of scriptures. Something about putting the pillows that an exhausted Mike threw off the couch back on the couch. I don’t know quite what that something is, but . . . I will mull on it further. :)

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In the meantime. This little conversation:

Anders: Mom, could flosses kill you?
Me: Floss?
Anders (looking unsure if I've understood): Flosses.
Mike: Like floss you put in your teeth?
Anders: Uhhh . . .
Me: I don't think floss could kill you.
Anders: No. These kinds of flosses. (He holds up a small plastic sloth.) Can they kill you?

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And this:

Daisy. One can hardly discuss her at all, I fear, lest they put others off with all their gushings and braggings. But, it’s hardly fair to leave her out all together simply because she doesn’t mistake sloths for flosses and no longer confuses y’s and l’s. (And hasn’t even repeated her three-year-old assertion of: “Mom, you’re the best. But Dad’s way WAY bester than you.”.)

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Instead, she goes about crafting and creating, sewing and singing, baking and reading. And, in the midst of all this pleasant activity, competes in State History Bees and gets invitations to state math competitions at BYU for being one of the top mathematicians in her school.

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And, when it doesn’t occur to me to buy into all the extra fun of any given holiday, Daisy just . . . buys into it herself. St. Patrick’s Day for example: I made sure everyone had at least some smidgen of green on their clothing, then I dusted off my hands with a satisfied, “There. That holiday’s done.” But before I knew what was what, the little kids were grabbing me by the hand and eagerly shouting for me to come see the leprechaun trap Daisy had helped them make. And before too much longer it had magically been filled with a charming leprechaun note and a treat. (Though it was Goldie who deserves the credit for waking up early to make green eggs for everyone in the family.)

But, for all of that, Daisy’s certainly not perfect. In fact, most every time she claims she absolutely can not find something that she desperately needs, I ask her if she has looked directly in front of her . . . because that is usually where it is. Whether she’s staring forlornly into a “thoroughly searched” cupboard or in the depths of a dug through drawer, it is almost always right in plain sight. Heaven knows how we tolerate that!

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Monday, March 14, 2016

Antelope Island

Mike planned an early March camping trip this year.


One might consider plans of that nature fairly ill advised and perhaps a bit brash (after all, even if one could with certainty count on March going out like a lamb, the 11th is unquestionably closer to the “coming in like a lion” portion of the month).

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Why, this very day (just two days post campout) has raged, and stormed, and ranted against spring with not only wind and snow, but furious bouts of hail!

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And yet, as is typically the case, Mike proved himself to be wiser than the lot of us as the weather was as warm as one could possibly ask of an early March weekend around here (and kept everyone from dealing with the gnats and mosquitos that plague campers later in the season).

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I only came for the campfire portion of the night (then returned home with the three little ones), but the kids loved it. They roasted hotdogs and marshmallows and something called “woofums”. They set up tents, started fires, climbed rocks, and went on a long bike ride. They visited with their grandparents (who also came for the evening), talked grandpa into a story before he left, ate the rare treat that is grandma’s dried pears (they are heavenly), saw a rabbit or two, and even counted 20 plus buffalo. (Oh all right, “bison” then, but I greatly prefer to call them buffalo. Incorrect as it may be.  In fact, the only time I find any real use for the term “bison” is when asking our kids what the dad buffalo said to the little boy buffalo as he sent him off to school: “Bi, son”. And even there you can see I’ve just allowed them to be used all interchangeably.)

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The amount of work that goes into something like this is just . . . utterly ridiculous. But, after awhile, you sort of accept that there is no real logic that could justify almost any adventure with kids if weighed properly against the accompanying before and after work. And when you realize that, you can more freely, shrug, sigh a bit at the pile of sleeping bags and tents still sitting on your kitchen table, and toss logic aside – allowing the utterly ridiculous -- because how else do your kids get to see buffalo (stop it – I already told you: I know) while stiff from a night of tent sleeping, covered with a layer of dirt, and with the night-before’s marshmallows stuck to their fingertips?

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There isn’t any other way.

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And thank goodness for Mike planning these things because . . . left to myself . . . I’m afraid I might . . . accidentally . . . side with logic a bit too frequently. And then where would we be? I’d have had five less loads of smoky laundry to deal with, but there would have been no sitting around dinner on Sunday reminiscing about everyone’s favorite part of the campout. (Gayle, I think someone – maybe Anders? – did actually say, “Grandma’s pears”.)

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(And good heavens! Do notice what is happening here! Other than the few moments when the truck headlights were still on, I was getting pictures with no flash, in the dead of night, with just a lantern and low fire for light!!! They are grainy to be sure. And learning to use a flash should maybe happen someday. But that’s beside the point. The point is: they were possible! It’s the first time I’ve really put my camera’s ISO capabilities to the test. Bless my camera’s little heart. It didn’t disappoint.)

The end.

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Sunday, March 13, 2016

Catching Up . . . Kind Of

We’ve spent a fairly good portion of our married years living within a very short distance of Mike’s parents. A happy thing for many reasons, but one thing I know our kids will fondly remember even years from now is their grandpa showing up at the door on his way home from somewhere or other with some little food surprise for us. A crate of oranges. A packet of mini cereal boxes. A gallon of chocolate milk. Corn on the cob from a roadside stand. A big box of factory-reject ice cream sandwiches. (Oh those are a hit you can be sure: a Fat Boy missing a top, an ice cream bar with not one but TWO popsicle sticks coming out of it. It’s the stuff of kids’ dreams.)

The other night Mike and Daisy stopped over at Mike’s parents’ for a minute. They were sent home with a big bag of salted peanuts. It’s just like that little barrel of meal. No matter how many we eat, the bag never gets any smaller – which is good because I shall never tire of Anders saying, “Mom, could you hatch me a peanut?” They are kind of like . . . chicks coming out of eggs, I suppose. (???) Or maybe they aren’t, but it’s rather darling all the same.

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My little Goldie girl loves so much to be involved in things. And she just . . . finds these things and involves herself (like joining the ward choir)! It’s such a . . . I don’t know how to explain this . . . a relief? So satisfying? It has something to do with having a lot of kids and really not being able to involve them in a million things (for both our sanity and our finances), but then discovering I’m not shortchanging them so much as I might fear because they actually find things to pursue on their own.

Of late (and in relation to the pictures below):

All of her own accord (for three years running) she’s written stories to perform at her school’s story-telling festival (she typically won’t even let me see her story until the performance). This year she placed second at her school and so was able to go and perform with national story-tellers at the Egyptian Theater.

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She applied to be a peer leader at her school and, as part of her duties, helps in school assemblies. Most recently she was a mouse during an assembly. As is typical of her, she went off and created a little costume for herself with nary a bit of instruction from me. Also, she recently decided to make a cake for the cake-decorating contest at her school on Dr. Suess Day. Again: all baked and frosted and decorated with her hand-crafted little Truffula Trees with none of my involvement.

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What else to tell around here. Hmm. . . . Abe continues to practice driving (and filled the gas tank for the first time recently). Our chickens are laying eggs again. Summer seems to use me and Daisy interchangeably for her mom needs. And . . . more things needing posts of their own.

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