Sunday, April 24, 2016

Journal Post


Daisy, who cannot abide Abe being more than a year older than her for long, insisted on turning 14 last week. She and I spent a good portion of the day driving about in non-stop rain and making our drippy way through one puddle-filled parking lot after another to visit stores like Ross, TJ Max, Costco and Target in search of the perfect bedspread for her new room. (After spending most of memory sharing a room with two and then three other sisters, she is near bursting with excitement over the impending completion of her very own room in our basement.)

Upon finding a bedspread (all covered in blues and swirls and flowers), we shoved it in the backseat, I commanded her to forget she’d ever seen it, and we stopped to get lunch at Arby’s and at Wal Mart for a carton of her requested Blue Bunny ice cream to go with her cake that evening.

In the late afternoon she went to the temple with two of her close friends. Then we ate Chinese food, opened presents, and enjoyed the birthday cake Goldie made for her. (While this might seem a loss to some of you, it is a cause for great celebration to me that I never ever make a birthday cake these days. Birthdays are packed enough as is [and we have ten a year around here]. I’m only too thrilled that the girls have taken over birthday-cake-making duty.)


I should feel some sort of shock over how she could possibly be 14, but, for whatever reason, I always assume my girls are older than they are. Certainly Goldie can’t still be waiting to turn 12. And how can Penny be only 8? Surely she’s already finished up 8, lived out 9 and is sitting at 10? And Daisy? Everyone in the family has been thinking of her as 14 for months, so we were all happy to welcome her officially to the age . . .  we all thought she was.



Last week I pulled into the parking lot of our local high school, slung my camera over my shoulder, and began walking up the steep sidewalk to the track where Abe was about to run his first race in his first Jr. high track meet. He’d shown no interest in 7th or 8th grade, but found a little spark of it resting in him this year and has started out with running hurdles and doing the high jump.


It didn’t occur to me, when I leapt my own last hurdle, and handed off my last relay baton at the state track meet my senior year of high school, that I was not only doing those things for the last time, but that I wouldn’t attend another track meet for 21 years! (What???? 21 years? Have I really not been to a single track meet since? Well. I have no idea how that happened.) Still, it only took slamming that car door and walking towards that track last week to have surface the EXACT SAME crazy mixture of excitement and anxiety, racing pulse and churning stomach that accompanied each of my own meets all those years ago.


I don’t mean to pooh-pooh any of the kids’ other concerts, recitals, basketball or baseball games, but I loved being at a track meet again! I think I’ve been waiting, without even knowing it, 21 long years for one of my kids to start running track.


And I hope the other kids catch the bug by watching Abe because, from here on out, I’m forcing every last one of them to be track stars. (OK, I won’t force, but having a child in track is such a fun thing for me!)



Jesse’s allergy issues have been on such extreme overdrive lately as to have caused some fairly serious complications – including an ulcer on the cornea in his right eye. This week alone we went to four doctor appointments due to the gravity of the situation.


There is so much . . . I don’t know . . . so much constant worry and stress that accompanies chronic things like this. The most obvious: worry over your child and their well being. But a thousand other facets as well. We are always walking a tightrope – trying to find the balance between keeping him healthy; and allowing him a happy, normal childhood (for example – he would be much better off if he didn’t go camping with us and stayed inside with windows shut most of the year – but that’s not the childhood we want for him). There are the feelings of doubt and inadequacy. The stress of knowing medications have side effects (especially when the alternative to medications – things like: not breathing, or eyes so irritated that you rub the cornea off -- aren’t really alternatives at all). There is the weighing of the pros and cons of various extreme ideas that might or might not help. There is the responding to countless well-intended suggestions as well as the undeniable element of feeling occasionally judged by those who don’t know his whole situation, or what things we are already doing, or why we have or haven’t done the various things they are sure they would do if they were us.

I hope and pray that he will outgrow many of these things – that we will look back on his childhood in wonder over how he used to live with such non-stop trouble. In the mean time we keep working to solve and improve and get past – while finding some acceptance of things as they are.

But, I must admit, as much as I wish his reality was different, I can not deny that these struggles have already shaped him and molded him into a little seven year old with wisdom and maturity about trials that could not have come from simply being told these things – without having lived them. He often talks with me about trials and why we have them. Recently he told me he’d been praying about his eyes and asked Heavenly Father to heal them unless this was a trial he needed to have. After several of our doctor appointments last week, he explained to me that Heavenly Father doesn’t always just fix things for us because if we didn’t have to work to solve problems and figure things out, we wouldn’t learn and grow. He sees small areas where the Lord’s hand and help have been evident in guiding us. A deep part of his seven year old belief system revolves around the fact that whether we are released from something immediately or not, our Savior can always help us to, as he says, “handle it”. He hasn’t just been told these things. He’s lived them and knows them.

I need to record these things better so that, someday, hopefully from a healthy and non-troubled place, he will be able to marvel on his youth and the lessons the Lord helped him to learn through his struggles that prepared him for his life.

Dear boy. Who he is, his curiosity and way of seeing the world, while at times exhausting, has been an amazing experience for me and expanded my definitions and expectations for all sorts of things. (And seeing a picture of him without red swollen eyes for the first time in months makes me want to cry with happiness!)



Anders has been trying to decide what he wants to be when he grows up. Sort of. After going to the pediatric ophthalmologist this week, Jesse said he thought it would be cool to be an eye doctor. Anders nabbed onto that idea as well and informed us today: “When I grow up, I want to be half eye doctor and half duck.”

“I thought you wanted to be a caterpillar when you grow up,” Abe commented (referring to an earlier conversation).

“I do,” Anders said. “I’m going to be half caterpiller too.”



Mette is rarely grumpy. She’s just . . . pleasant. The other day, after handing the tumpy, little dear to me, Mike said, “She’s basically just a lump with a smile. That we carry around.”



Yesterday Abe was working on a sonnet for his English class. “You know what my sonnet is going to be about, Mom?” he said with a bit of a proud little twinkle in his eye. “A privateer who’s forced to walk the plank.”

A little later he said something about needing to find the words, in just two remaining lines, to complete the privateer’s sad end. Goldie and I were a bit shocked. “What?” we exclaimed. “Sad end? He’s not going to be rescued?”

“No,” Abe said solemnly. “It’s going to be one of those poems that’s deep and reflective because a pirate dies.”

While he then did have to backtrack and rephrase (because a privateer is not a pirate), we had a good laugh over “one of those poems” where “a pirate dies”. Ah yes. One of those.


And . . . a few last pictures.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Spring Break 2016

Well, our little spring break has come and gone. And . . . I can’t say that we did anything particularly vacation-like or adventurous at all. The time just dashed past us and we could do little more than reach a desperate hand after it and cry a feeble, “But wait! Wait up! We still need to . . .” before it was beyond our reach.


In fact, I can scarcely recall what we did with our week! I know someone made cupcakes once. And there were various errands run. I recall a lot of trampoline jumping and a few friends coming and going.


At some point we finished The Wolves of Willoughby Chase (it occurred to me recently that my mom had read it to us as children and I had yet to do the same for my own kids). Various children went off on bike rides (destination bound and not). There were some sibling fights. And some making amends. Goldie took her younger siblings to the park. Abe played a lot of RISK with his cousins (and then his sisters).

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Summer, as is typical of her these days, wandered about all the live-long day in our backyard. And spent about 60 percent of her days sobbing and melting in despair and anger onto the ground over things like . . . being given the wrong cup, or wanting a cookie that we didn’t have.


Luckily she spends the other 40 percent of her days being utterly charming. Singing little songs, saying darling little things, making adorable tiny demands.

She has us throwing our hands up in exasperation and then swooning in adoration off and on all day long. (We particularly like how she asks for something, and then, when we say the word again – to make sure we understood what she was asking – she happily responds, “OK!” as if it were our idea and we were indeed offering her what she just asked for.)


We had some doctor appointments. Abe and Daisy to the orthodontist. Me to the eye doctor (I think I could write an entire post on the slightly unearthly experience of eye dilation – which doesn’t mean I should, of course, it’s just . . . that I . . . could). And, most notably, Mette met with her specialist down at Primary Children’s Hospital to check on her little hips. She’s worn her brace a good 15 hours a day for the past three months and we were eager to see if it had allowed her hips to develop more perfectly. It appears it did. It’s a great relief and blessing. Though I must admit to a bit of wimpish disappointment that the doctor said it wouldn’t hurt to have her keep sleeping in the brace until she grows out of it. Wouldn’t hurt? Sigh. It’s one thing to strap your child into a bulky brace night after night, nap after nap, when it is for a great good. But to do it when . . . it wouldn’t hurt? It sucks the patient “this is all for the best” component right out of it! (But keeps a sprinkling of guilt should you not.)

But, hush, I never said any of those complainy words. Her hips are fine. Praise be!

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Also . . . we did a lot of work. Abe in particular worked very hard – spending hours down in the basement spackling and sanding nail holes in the recently put-up baseboards, window and door casings. This past year Abe has truly learned to work (as we’ve begun entrusting him with bigger tasks and more serious duties). As a mother I, of course, waffle between feeling that teaching our kids to work hard and expecting them to accomplish necessary tasks as part of being in a family is a wise and good thing to do; and then fretting that they are too young and should be allowed to float about free and unencumbered. How do I know if hard work creates character or . . . resentment? I don’t know of course. We just stumble along and hope, uncertainly, that we are somehow giving them a good balance.

BUT! Along with the work and fairly ordinary doings of spring break, there was . . . THE PIGLET! Mr. Piggles.


Mike had wanted, for some time, to get a baby pig for the kids to take care of for a week. Being not overly fond of caring for animals myself, I’d insisted it would be too much work and that work would surely somehow end up falling to me. So Mike planned it over spring break when he knew the kids would be around all week for piglet duty. He just looked online for local piglets for sale then called the farmer asking if we could basically “rent” one of his piglets for the week. The farmer, somewhat surprisingly – to me, said he had just the pig. We paid him the full $85 initially and he promised to reimburse us $50 of that once we returned old Mr. Piggles.

For all my pooh-poohing of the idea, it was actually very fun. And much less work than a puppy! He was small enough to be held, and for it to be darling and unintimidating when he’d begin climbing up on the kids -- rooting about (as his nose seems to constantly need to do). He snuggled (and rooted) around in a pile of hay in our chicken run when we weren’t around, and explored about in our yard when we were. He came in at night and would fall asleep wrapped in a towel in Abe or Goldie’s arm – for all the world like a snorty, large-nosed, little, pink baby. And he slept in our dog crate. He tried to follow Tess around as if she might substitute as a mother, but, alas, she’d have none of it.

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A few other happenings:

At dinner one night, we were discussing the tradition in some places and times of your last name coming from your father’s first name. (You know, Abe would be: Abraham Michaelson. Etc.)

One of the older kids thought of the last name Robinson and said laughingly, “So, there are boys named . . . Robin?”

But then someone quickly thought of Robin Hood and I mentioned Robin from Batman.

“See,” Mike said, “Everyone named Robin is super cool.” He went on to name more by saying, “Christopher Robin . . .”

But he was cut short by Abe who snorted out a laugh and, with eyebrows raised and a mischievous smile said, “Yah. Whenever I think of Christopher Robin, I think, ‘That’s one cooooool dude!’”

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Also, yesterday Jesse and Penny were doing something they, apparently, didn’t want Anders to participate in. Mike must have talked to Jesse about it because we all heard Jesse call apologetically to Penny, “Sorry, Penny. Dad won’t let me not let Anders.” That’s a nice sounding sentence right there . . . won’t let me not let . . . .

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(That picture above of Abe with a chicken is kind of funny. One of our little hens had been missing for at least a week, when, upon arriving – without the rest of us -- early to church one Sunday morning, Abe discovered our chicken wandering around in front of the building – apparently in search of spiritual enlightenment. After some awkward dashing about in his suit, he was able to catch the old girl and return her home to us where we all cheered in disbelief.)

Lastly, Penny had a tooth pulled out over the break. Actually . . . kind of . . . snipped out (cringe). The tooth had been hanging in front of her new tooth for weeks and weeks. Maybe months. We’d wiggled and brushed it with ferocity, but it seemed to be firmly attached by one small thread and simply would not leave. While the process didn’t hurt her at all, there was much crying, thrashing about, and pleading to leave it as Mike iced the area and encouraged her to open her mouth. Once she finally allowed it, it was over in a second. But all the trauma before greatly worried Jesse who not only wandered about quietly offering prayer after prayer for her, but also wrote her a special note with a picture of an incredibly happy little tooth with words encouraging, “Go Penny!” He left it under her pillow with a dollar bill and a 50 cent piece (which is likely all the money he has in the whole world). (Also, dear Goldie took quite readily to the role of nurse – holding Penny’s hand, mopping her brow, keeping a wet cloth on her gums where they bled a bit afterwards.)

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Anywho, the end.

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