Sunday, December 10, 2006

What I Needed This Christmas

I have been waiting for inspiration to strike so I can write this December blog, but at this inspirational time of year, I find my mind is a bit over-inspired, and my body is constantly on the move. Today, however, I have a minute. I have emailed my family and sent out some recent photos of Jacob's Christmas play. We have been to church, fed the missionaries and the dishes are washing. The Christmas cards are addressed and waiting for the copies of the family letter, also finished today. We usually send a picture, but we just haven't gotten to it yet(by the way, check out the antlers growing out of Braeden's head). I think I may forego the plates of cookies I usually make... chewy ginger, minty candy canes, snickerdoodles, and frosted sugar cookies, but now that I see their names in front of me, how can I possibly? We will see. I have sewing to do, gift projects to finish. This year we are having an "old-fashioned" Christmas, keeping gifts simple. It is amazing how much more we think of what we really want to give when the budget is thin. It is far less stressful than being pulled a thousand different directions in the toy section. As I hum along to the carols playing all day, or steal a moment to sit and stare at the memory-inducing decorations and lights on our tree, I am subdued by thoughts of the goings on in the world: the wars and soldiers, families apart, natural disasters, world leaders in contention and struggle, deceit, the decay of morality...why our house in Washington hasn't sold yet, and what would I be getting Brandon for Christmas if it had. But, I was fortunate to view the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on Sunday morning last week, singing a carol I had not heard before, called "Nowell, Nowell, Nowell". The singers were joyous, exuberant, shouting in jubilation for the tiny baby born in Bethlehem who would save the world, even to the point of getting after the shepherds, asking, and I am paraphrasing, "How can you just stand there? You should be leaping and dancing and shouting for joy, sharing the news! This baby brings HOPE to us!" I am not often moved to tears, but I was. Because I have these weighty matters on my mind, because I wished I could give a bigger gift to my husband, and because this song reached out to those worries and plinked them like a piano wire (we had our piano tuned and the tuner told me there were about 2 tons of torque on those wires) and I realized that this joy, this is all we need, this hope. They say the heavens shouted, and I think we, all of us here, were part of that, and that is what I felt during that noisy, beautiful song... I remembered.
A merry, joyful, hopeful Christmas to you all.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006


Ouch! My arm hurts. Maren and I got a flu shot today. I went first and she was very brave for her turn. Now we both have had a candy of our choice (hers: gummy, mine: chocolate), some hot cocoa, and hold our arms to our sides very gingerly. I didn't even think to have it in my right arm (I am left-handed). Oh, well. I hope it helps. I am babysitting a very cute little 7 month old, and his mom works for the health dept., so, we got shots. A few notes on Maren...
The other night as I was tucking the girls in, Chelsea, 14 tomorrow, lamented over some braces that were digging into her cheeks. "Ow! I need some wax... and some..." She was then interrupted by a sharp slap on her arm by Maren, 4. Now, Maren never hits, so we were surprised. "Maren! Why did you hit Chelsea?!" Maren, eyes wide open, replied matter-of-factly, "She said she needed some whaps!" Giggles and tickles ensued. Also, we had some big left-over pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies I had made for our Halloween party, so I put them out with what was left of the frosting and some candy to decorate. After she had her cookie frosted, Brandon observed her putting some gummy worms around the edge of the pumpkin. He asked, "What are you doing there?" She said she was making a frame for the face. She then placed 2 candycorns, standing up 3-D style, for eyes. He thought that was cute and left her to finish. She came into the living room and announced she had finished her cookie. He asked, "You ate it all gone?" She said, "No, come see it." So he went to look. There were about 30 candycorns, all standing up, crammed onto the pumpkin. "Its the face!" Tongue-in-cheek, he told her it was great and left her to eat it. He went in later after she had finished and saw her cookie, all the canycorns swept off neatly to the side, and the frosting licked clean off down the middle. Classic Maren.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

That's What I Learned In My School...Boom Boom

Sometimes we have long days. Sometimes my husband and I lose some of our intellect. We might, for example, excuse ourselves to use the "potty", instead of the bathroom, or offer to get another adult, a "nosewipe" instead of a tissue. The other day, we had several things going on in the evening and had a rushed dinner. Brandon had mentioned that he had eaten some greasy pizza for lunch at the school and with our busy evening, had developed a bit of heartburn. His words were, "Ohh, its burning the top of my air blower!". I paused and replied with a half smile, "So, is that somewhere between your chin chopper and bread basket?". He grinned sheepishly, opened the medicine cabinet, and murmered something about "dickey dickey doo". Some of you may be scratching your topnotchers, so here are the lyrics to an old nursery song Brandon apparently learned as a boy, and I picked up while working at a daycare center when we were just married. I couldn't remember some of the words, so I searched until I found this site. A nice lady has compiled a hundred songs or more from our childhood. What a nice google down memory lane! Boom Boom!

My Hand on my Head

My hand on my head, what have I here?

This is my topnotcher, my Mama dear.

Topnotcher, topnotcher, dickey dickey doo,

That’s what I learned in my school, boom boom.

My hand on my brow, what have I here?

This is my sweat boxer, my mama dear.

Sweat boxer, topnotcher, dickey dickey doo,

That’s what I learned in my school.

Boom! Boom!

Eye ... eyeblinker, sweatboxer (forehead), topnotcher (head) ...

Nose ... smell sniffer.(or hornblower)

Mustache ... soup strainer ...

Mouth ... food grinder ...

Chin ... chin chopper ...

Neck ... voice boxer...

Chest ... air blower ....

Stomach ... bread basket ...

Behind .... lap sitter ...

Thigh .. thighslapper ..

Knee ... knee knocker ...

Shin ... shinsplinter

Foot ... foot stomper ...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

An Autumn Winter Wonderland

(You know the tune)

When it snows
In October,
I can't believe
That its October!
Its not even Halloween,
The grass is still green,
Its an Autumn Winter Wonderland.
When it snows
In December,
That's O.K.
'Cause its December!
October's for leaves
And colors on trees,
But its an Autumn Winter Wonderland.
In the yard, the kids,
They built a snowman.
They scrambled for a scarf and matching hat.
We hadn't even unpacked winter coats, yet.
Not even our vampire, ghost, and bat!
In the front, we are landscaping,
So the work, Brandon's escaping.
We can't dig the ground
With snow all around,
Its an Autumn Winter Wonderland!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


I have chosen a "profession" for which I have received some scrutiny, some praise, and some flabbergastment. When I was small, my Mom would tell me, "Honey, you can be anything you want. You could be a nurse, or even a doctor. You could go to dental school." I would listen as I sat on the counter, and watch her stir the sweet, thickening jam made from our trip to the U-Pick strawberry patch the previous day. I would think about that as I watched her rinse the fresh, still-warm-from-the-sun tomatoes, squash, and peppers from our garden, and throw together a delicious dinner without a cookbook. She would encourage me to get as much education as possible, to find a career. She would then load us all up in the VW camper bus and take us to the lake for the day, picnic and floaties in tow, or a neighborhood fair, or Pike's Place market. She taught me how to scrub a bathroom and dust the house before I could jump rope, and she organized chore charts to keep the house, and us, running smoothly. She took care of us when we were sick and always seemed to know the remedy, and when to take us to the Dr.'s office. "You could do so much. You are so smart!", she would declare, as she and I made visits to women in our church, sharing uplifting messages and plates of cookies. I watched her mow the lawn with a determined look on her face, heard the clinking of dishes being washed and put away as I fell asleep at night, helped her make beds in the morning. "You can be anything you want to be...don't settle for less." Sometimes there would be a longing in her voice, on a particularly hectic day; those days when things do not go so well, and we doubt ourselves. But I remember the serenity on her face as she watched us baboons run about, just watching in amazement and gratification. Or, her satisfaction of a clean house as she plopped down to read a magazine, or write a letter. Her independence in exploring her corner of the world and opening our eyes to it. Her pride in our accomplishments. Teaching, always teaching. I knew what I wanted to be. How thankful I am to be a house-wife, a stay-at-home-Mom, a handy-woman, a comforter, a coach, an explorer, a gardener, a chef, a nurturer, an organizer, a dancer, a singer, a disciplinarian, a scriptorian, a teacher... a student of life. I have a college education, and when the kids are gone, I will probably go back to school, see what else I can do. I have travelled. I have had a business. I have worked HARD and have met with discouragement, even despair. But nothing, NO OTHER EXPERIENCE, could make me feel more accomplished, more well-rounded, more needed, more in-tune with life and its meanings, more loved, than running my home, raising my kids, making my spot of Earth find its potential. What a challenge... and I love a challenge! Thanks, Mom, for teaching me to be anything I want. Thanks, Brandon, my love, for helping me to be.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Happiness is a Warm Basement

I am down in our basement, listening to the footsteps and voices above me, and it reminds me of Grandma and Grandpa A.'s house...basement sounds always will. The hide-a-bed was down there, pulled out and tucked in with 5 or so blankets. Shell and I would snuggle in and listen to the adults' muffled voices, punctuated with laughter, and guess who was walking from room to room, following the creaking floors. Grandma would come down and start a load of laundry and we would fall asleep to the rhythm of the washing machine swish. Now, my kids are cleaning up the dishes after dinner, singing, laughing, teasing, yelling to each other (or at each other), and generally being happy while they work. These sounds, I like. They evoke feelings of coziness.
Speaking of cozy, we had a cold front come through and had to turn the heat on. Fall is now in the air, and it is 7:30 and getting dark. I am ready! I am anxious to pull out the sweaters and Maren's winter clothes and fill the front closet with coats! Jacob went out back, briefly, in his shorts and t-shirt he threw on after church, and proclaimed as he came back in, "We need a firepit!" I happened to agree and we will look into that. We went to Braeden's first football game last Thursday and snuggled and cheered. Knowing the weather was turning, I got to painting our front door tomato red (a project I had been wanting to do) before it got too cold to paint. I think the shutters (black) may have to wait. We will see. There is plenty to do inside, as we have a full basement to finish. I will be busy all winter long. This weekend I tackled the boys' room, the only finished room in the basement. They love being down here, but their room is all pink, from the previous owner. The trim, ceiling, closet, everything, pale, Pepto-Bismal PINK. I think they must have set a paint bomb in there and run. SO, I have been promising them I would remedy it. I spent most of Saturday painting the closet and trim white. Two coats. Maren helped with a little sponge brush and painted "MAREN DJGNRISOSHN" on the wall, which she translated to "MAREN CAN COME IN". Obviously, she loves the basement, too. Her room will be next door when it is finished. She just came by with an empty plastic bowl and a clean paint brush, "painting" the house. I must have made an impression. Well, we aren't done yet, as those pink walls and Maren's grafitti will need to become a pale gray blue. I love having plenty to do, and time to do it! Something about Fall..the Ants and the Grasshopper... getting ready and storing up, there is a busy-ness and purpose, an urgency that thrills me. A goal to be cozy as the winter hastens. There is so much coldness in the world, of all kinds. The least I can do is provide a haven, a warm, safe respite for my family. And a blue bedroom for my boys.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sunlight Basin

On Labor Day we took a day trip to Sunlight Basin, about 40 miles NW of Cody. These pictures are taken from Dead Indian Summit, a viewpoint and historical marker. These pictures don't even compare to the breathtaking expanse of this area. It has the most diverse altitude changes I have seen in one area, and when you think you are at the bottom, you look over and see a deep, snakey crevace carved though the valley, and when you think you are at the top, you see a higher towering shadow of a mountain emerge around the corner. It is emerald green in the early summer. The significance is this:
The Nez Perce lived in this area, and as the army came to round them up, they used the gorges, valleys and creeks to backtrack and circle, so that the army could not track them. They made their way up and out of the basin by this road we are on, and at this summit, had to leave behind a dying member if the tribe. When the army reached him, they killed him. In the picture with the gold grasses in the foreground, you can see the main thoroughfare of the basin in the top right corner. We drove through there. Millions of buffalo, along with elk, deer and antelope, migrated through here every year. This was the place of Buffalo Bill Cody's last big game hunt, with the Prince of Monaco. In the picture with the fenceposts in the foreground, there is a huge table butte, and Maren insisted that one day we go there to have a picnic.
The thing that struck me most about this place, was that it was so well hidden and remote, yet teeming with life and sustenance. I would imagine that any people who called this home would be very proud of it, and very heartbroken to ever leave it. There are several ranches and cabins, a ranger station, and campgrounds there, and the fishing is incredible. It is a special place and we will make a trip to see it in all seasons.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Recover Post

There is a button above the window I am typing this in called "Recover post". I thought that was a good title for this entry. This is my "Recover Post". Six weeks after moving to Wyoming, we are now hooked up to the rest of the world via cable. We have television, computer, and phone. Cable, cable, cable. I am not sure why, but they were running a special and my husband said, "this is what we want", and my response was something like, "I don't give a hoo-haa, just get me the internet." I know, its very sad. I did not miss T.V. one dot. But we have moved from a bunch of people who mean a lot to me, and the internet allows me to feel a great deal closer to them. Not to mention I can now look up what kind of bedding Target has on sale.
The last few weeks have put my previous entry, and my rantings about hope, faith, and works, and my very sanity, to the test. I will take greater care in preaching on this site, as the powers that be apparently think I should practice what I preach. As we were buying and moving into the house we are now in, the sale of our previous home fell through, not softly or with apology, it fell with shattering, in-your-face, exploding bombardment. To put it in a few words, the buyers lied and lied and lied some more and it finally all came out in the underwriting, and they still want the earnest money. Somebody get me a dictionary, I want to look up the word 'earnest'. But, we have done what we could with what we have been given, and we are loving our new home, and our new realtor, who is showing our old house and being very positive. Who would have thought the need to ask, "Are they U.S. citizens?", when that offer arrived back in July? Guess what... we will be asking it now. Hooray for the western folk of Cody, WY and their hospitality, concern, and generosity. It was a huge support when the bottom fell out. We love this town! Check out the link to Cody Chamber of Commerce. It is great! Recover Post complete.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


I haven't posted in a while, but things are hoppin' here as we ready ourselves for a major life transition... we are moving. The funny thing is, we just did this a year ago and we thought we had hunkered down for a time. But, things compel us, and as Sir Frances Bacon said, "A wise man will make more opportunities than he finds." So, we sold the house, found another one and are preparing to make a leap from one well known, familiar state, to one, though often visited, not so well known or familiar. I think of this as exciting. To picture myself in 2 weeks, throwing myself (well, ok, shyly edging myself) into new territory, new faces, new voices, new venues of knowledge, understanding, humors, and backgrounds, and, as I am told, new vocabulary and pronounciation ('creek' will now be 'crik') fills me with anxiousness, good and bad. It is like waiting in line for the really big roller coaster for the first time, watching it and knowing it is going to be really good and really scary. Well, maybe that is a bit dramatic for a move from mellow Washington to laid-back Wyoming. But moving a family of 6, again, tends to lean toward the dramatic side. As I put Maren, 4, to bed the other night after a big packing day, she said goodnight, then her pointed finger flew up to the wall by her bed and she cried out, "Uh-!", then to another wall, "UH-!", then the other, "UH-! Where's my-?!" "Pictures?", I finished for her. She nodded, her big eyes fearful. I explained that we packed them so we could take them to our new house with us. Immediately her mouth opened into a huge, surprized smile and she let out a "Hooray!" Then she asked if we could take her walls with us. She suggested that we just get a big knife and cut them out. After smooching her for her cuteness I assured her that our new place will have walls. She was satisfied and went to sleep. Of course, I couldn't sleep for a long time after that, making mental "to do" lists and "what if" scenarios, picturing what still needed to be packed, and what my new yard will look like after I've had my way with it. So, I lose some sleep, I get some good inspiration, a little mental preparation, and renewed determination, then, I get some sleep. I like this quote:
Change has a considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better. ~King Whitney Jr.
I think you can be confident in your hope, while preparing in case things do get worse... I think that is a definition of Faith and Good Works. Believing in things not seen, but hoped for, and working to ensure the best possible outcome against all odds. Life is hard and changing. To fill our lives, our souls, with beautiful things, things that make us better... things we take with us, that is important. The walls, we have to leave. They are, after all, just walls.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Beautiful Things

"It is amazing that such a beautiful thing starts with just a seed." ~anonymous

When did my daughter get so tall? We were looking in the full length mirror together and she said, "Uh, Mom... where do I come up to you?", indicating with her hand on her head. I looked, and almost didn't want to pull her over so our hips were side by side. OH MY GOSH. Both our eyes were as big as pies as we watched my level hand go from the top of her head to my BROWLINE. She grinned so wide and I felt like smashing her down a bit with my hand on top of her head. She giggled as I tried it. She had been gone for a few days at camp. Is that when it happened? From what I can gather, they fed her hotdogs, wrapped in pop-n-fresh dough, smoked over a tiny fire. If anything, she should have shrunk. Maybe it was fresh air and summer breezes, but whenever it happened, it did, and it isn't stopping yet, I am sure. I always knew there was a chance she would be taller than me when all was said and done. Her Dad is nearly 6'4", and her build carries that very motivated gene structure. Her nicknames have included 'Legs", 'Tall One', 'Colt'. As we looked at each other in the mirror, wondering, I sighed, "I am going to have a daughter taller than I am!" Her thoughtful reply was, "That's alright, Mom, I probably won't grow much more.", and we put our arms on one another's shoulders and smiled. The truth is, I don't mind at all that she will soon join my husband in calling me 'Shorty' (which I have always thought unfounded, being 5'7", and tall by my family's standards), but I do mind that the time is already upon us. I wish I had a dime for every time an older someone, watching me with my little babies and toddlers, said, "Cherish this goes by so fast." I would take all those dimes and buy some of that cherished time, more chubby arms around my legs, more hands reaching up to hold mine, more piggy-back rides, and snuggling into my lap, and bed time songs, and soft, warm cheeks to kiss just after a nap. Chelsea's arms and hands and snuggles and cheeks. It does go by in a blink, like a visit from a butterfly. I need to go find my chubby cheeked 4 year old, no mirrors allowed.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Just One Appreciated Freedom

We are taking a trip. As I check off the items on the packing lists I print out anytime we go anywhere, the butterflies in my stomach dance a little more. I have always loved traveling. I remember when I was just little, sitting up stretched towards the window, as far as my seatbelt would allow (my parents were a couple of those rare few in the 70's who insisted we wear seatbelts and used carseats) watching the scenery go by, searching for deer in the trees, bears lumbering, a glimpse of Bigfoot. I knew we would see rare snow on Snoqualmie Pass and we treated that section of the trip like a real treat, sometimes stopping to throw a snowball and take a picture. Seattle was wet and rainy, mossy, rarely snowy. Of course, it was beautiful. But rain, snow or shine, I did love to venture out on a road trip. I just always have. I sit and watch the world pass by, change from hill to plain, forest to desert, mountain to sea, sunrise to sunset, all while our own little bubble of life continues in much the same manner as it does at home, only on wheels. I like that we all have to get along in such a confined space. We have time to ourselves, reading, listening to headphones, looking out the window, and there are times of interaction, discussion, singing, laughter, arguing, games, and there are times to eat together, enjoy a treat, a simple meal on the move, or a picnic at a rest stop. Life goes on and hours go by and we find ourselves at the Oregon Coast! The Puget Sound! Crater Lake! San Francisco! The Grand Tetons! Colorado Springs! The Battle of Little Big Horn! Mt. Rushmore! Fredricksburg! The Smithsonian! Niagara Falls! "Hey, Kids! We're home!"

Sunday, June 11, 2006


School is officially out for the Summer and our house is now an almost constant stream of energy looking for an outlet. Once again, I allow myself to be amazed at the first, "I'm bored!". Um, hello, you have been out of school one day! But, I remember the anticipation that came with that final bell... that expectation that NOW something exciting should happen. So, I try to be sympathetic with my kids and ask them to have patience for a couple more days, to relax and enjoy "doing nothing" for a bit, while I have a chance to get my bearings and catch up with the pace they set for me. As individuals, my children have different speeds of operation. One sleeps until 10 a.m., while another is up for cartoons at 6. One gets up early, makes the bed and gets dressed, the other gets up and will stay in jammies all day if allowed. But, thrown all together in a tangled, gangly, summer break mass, they become symbiotic. One gets up, they all get up... and hit the ground running. One is hungry, they all are hungry. One gets an owie, they all want to see the owie. One is crying, they all know why. One needs Mom, they all need Mom. This is what I call the "Mom-Magnet". Imagine a large magnet (the Mom) and 4 little bb's rolling along behind. The kitchen is cleaned up after a meal, 2 bb's are watching a movie, one is outside riding their bike and one is playing dolls in the bedroom. The Mom-magnet quietly heads upstairs to lie down and read a book. In less than 5 minutes the bb's are drawn from their activities, rolling along helplessly in search of the Mom, until the door is flung open and 2 bb's are on the bed (one bb is on the Mom's mid-section), one is sitting in the chair relating a recent Spongebob episode, word-for-word, and one is repeatedly flinging himself from the cedar trunk to the floor. The Mom-Magnet. I have tested it. Its real. It does not apply to Dads. Dad goes up to take a nap and 2 1/2 hours later comes out dewy-eyed and refreshed. So, you see, I need a chance to adapt, switch gears, remember that I am in charge and that this can be fun. I love this time of year. Now, where did I put that duct tape...?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

My Heart Beats to Bach

Braeden, my 10 year old, had his last piano recital of the season last Sunday. It was at the Christ Lutheran Church, which is a little more intimidating to perform in than his teacher's living room. But, she is in the middle of moving, so there we were. Braeden watched for his turn on the program, took a deep breath and walked the mile up to the piano with all eyes on him. He was playing "Bouree" by Johann Sebastian Bach and all of us sitting in our pew knew it by heart...had listened to it humming in our heads throughout the weeks, had dahdahdeedah-ed it as we washed dishes, mowed the lawn, brushed our teeth. Braeden loves this song, and loves his teacher. I saw his shoulders raise, lower, another breath. I took a breath, but didn't let it out. Wrists up, then he began. His fingers firmly, lightly bounced on the keys, hitting each note. His song danced through the church and my heart pounded with the rhythm. My smile got bigger with every beat and I knew he would be playing this song for weeks to come without a care, because he had nailed it when it was time to nail it. I glanced at my husband, Brandon, and I knew he was thinking the same thing, feeling it. Then, the song ended, and there was a pause. In that split second, Braeden turned to the congregation and flashed a big-eyed, coy grin, and applause and laughter broke. It was a quicker trip back to our pew, but all eyes smiled at him and I couldn't help but feel the few that met mine were saying, "That was something... that was potential being sought after."

Monday, June 05, 2006

Setting this blog up has taken forever and I am laughing at the title I have chosen, because I am pretty frustrated! But, being a "glass-half-full" person does not mean I am a "glass-completely-full-to-overflowing" person and I would suggest steering clear of those looneys. I admit, as a young person, I came closer to that scary description, sheltered and happy as my childhood was. But life has happened to me and I am very content to claim that I am a grounded, solidified "glass-half-full" Type B-perfectionist-personality. I am meant for my highly intelligent, witty "glass-half-empty" husband (he calls himself a "realist"). We balance each other out quite nicely. So, the blog is ready (I tell myself positively), and I invite you to read, comment, and, hopefully, my musings will add a couple of drops to your glass.
"Ahhh, now that is some quality H2O." ~Adam Sandler in "The Waterboy"