Abe bought a new bike as well as a new bike rack. Well, that’s not totally true. We paid for half of the bike and bought the hitch for his car (so there was something to hook the new rack to). He has been super excited about it – faithfully washing his bike after practices, explaining various components to me, and eagerly talking about the difference it has made in the ease of his rides. Still, it was a bit painful for him. He’s always been incredibly frugal. He had collected several hundred dollars from mowing the past few summers. So to suddenly fork that all over along with the entirety of his first several checks from his first official job (begun this summer) and go from a man of means to . . . penniless was a bit sad. But, it doesn’t take much to boost his spirits. In fact he recently told me that blue socks and Ritz crackers make him about as happy as anything. I bought him some of those shortly thereafter so, between those and the bike, his spirits should be in pretty good shape – even if his wallet isn’t.
Daisy has been driving with her learner’s permit for several months now and, just this week, started driver’s ed at the high school. Everyone (myself included) has grand dreams of how wonderful it will be when she has her official license next year. Abe has been most helpful as a new driver. He runs errands for Mike and I regularly, takes himself and Goldie to violin, and can now drive to his bike practices (which are often far off); but he doesn’t love driving people places, and, while ever the dutiful and willing son, errands are one of his least favorite things to do. But Daisy is certain she will constantly be carting her siblings off on adventures (though mostly those adventures involve Michael’s and Target) and willingly driving anywhere.
Some neighbors of ours hired Abe to take care of their enormous yard while they were on a three-week trip this summer. It was a big job: sprinklers needing turned off and on at various times, animals needing fed and walked etc., and Abe was gone for a week himself and had to train Daisy to take over for him; but they seemed to really enjoy the job. And I really enjoyed that they told us to please collect all the ripening raspberries and blackberries we could while they were away. I sent Daisy, Goldie and Penny down often to pick –- occasionally with their younger siblings in tow; and we enjoyed some great raspberry shakes and even a pretty marvelous blackberry pie thanks to Goldie.
Jesse has made so many amazing things out of primarily just cardboard this summer. Robot arms with moving fingers, toy guns that fire more pieces of cardboard, computers & printers (which didn’t actually work but were lovely models), a solar oven (which at least sped up the melting of cheese on his tortillas), and a hundred other small things. He is forever raiding our recycling for old diaper boxes or cereal boxes. (And I am forever hollering at him to clean up scissors and string and bits of paper and tape.) He’s also managed to find a few old things to take apart (which has ever been his favorite hobby) – a broken electric pencil sharpener, and old nebulizer, etc. And he opened a “rust removal” business. Oddly enough, he hasn’t been bombarded with customers, but he has used his dremel on several jobs thanks to his grandma and an uncle.
Summer, who was quite difficult last year at this time, is mostly just as pleasant of a little child as one could wish for. She often contents herself with playing happily with small figures (princesses, ponies, etc.) and has the charming habit of singing out whatever they are doing. The more involved she becomes with her play, the louder her singing becomes. She’s usually rather oblivious to the rest of us when her singing/toy play is at its loudest, but becomes quickly upset if we comment on it (thereby making her aware that we have noticed), so we mostly just look at each other and nod and smile over how cute it is. The other day she was playing with some toys in my room and began singing. Then she paused, looked at me, and said, “Mom, I’m going to sing louder now so go out.”
Mike took the older kids on a camping trip with some of his siblings and their families in the Uintahs this weekend. I imagine it will be a few years yet before I am ready to camp with our whole crew (one baby and camping is tricky, but three baby/toddlers just seems . . . unthinkable), but I certainly did my part to ready them! Mike was out of town the entire week for work and arrived home just in time to load up and leave, so we did all we could to have everything ready to go. Though, now that I think about it, Abe and Goldie did most of the work. I packed little campers. And made lists, and directed people. But Goldie gathered cooking supplies, etc. from around here. And Abe not only went and picked up all the camping groceries, but firewood from his grandparents, and rounded up all the sleeping bags, tents, etc from the garage. In the meantime, I stayed here and awed over how much easier keeping the house clean becomes when you drop from nine kids to three. Of course I did have to empty the dishwasher and take the garbage out myself as none of the older kids were here to do it. . . .
My sister Shannon was in town from Texas a few weeks ago. As usual, we planned, among other get-togethers, an evening with just my sisters and mom. We drove to Logan to meet up with my sister Megan (from Idaho) and went to the temple and then out to eat. The temple is a place of such reverence, but my goodness it is hard to keep quiet and properly somber with all of us together! But, despite our not utterly perfect behavior, we were just showered with love from all around. From each other, from the temple workers who just seemed extra full of adoration and wonder over the good fortune of all of us sisters being there together, and we even felt a fair amount of love from family who have passed away.
(Though perhaps we need to work a bit harder on our boisterousness when we are together. At the restaurant afterwards, the waitress began telling us all about the best margaritas and, when we told her we didn’t drink, she looked a bit stunned and said half apologetically and half unbelievingly, “I’d pegged you as vodka drinkers for sure.” There’s just so much to say and to catch up on and to laugh about when we are finally all together again!)