Wednesday, December 16, 2009

A Place

Tomorrow is my daughter's birthday. She would have been 13. There is a space between the two boys I see, at times, as they walk, where she might have fit perfectly. There is a place next to me, when I sit with Maren on my lap and Chelsea's hands are on my shoulders, where she might have leaned into my side, just us girls. Her father's hand would reach at just about his chest, maybe, to smooth her hair as she hugged his middle.


We miss you, Kate Afton. I'm sorry we couldn't go to your grave.
But that's not where you are, anyway.


Saturday, December 12, 2009

Thank You, Stanek's

When I hear Vince Guaraldi's O Tanenbaum (#30 on my Christmas playlist on the right), I am caught in a small time warp. Okay, the time warp is getting more significant as the years go by, but it happens. Scents, sights, feelings surround me and I am 7, 10, 12. 15.
Every Thanksgiving my family would drive to Spokane, WA for a feast with my Dad's family. When my grandma worked at the Ridpath Hotel, we would dress up and go downtown to dine at the long tables set especially for us, and I would eat the waldorf salad. Yes, I would. Then we'd go back to my grandma's house on the south hill for pie and games and football and fun with our cousins. Before leaving downtown, though, we would walk, without much fear, to look at the window displays at Nordstrom's and other stores going all out for Christmas. There was usually snow, which we seldom had in the Seattle area, or in SW WA where we lived later, so to me, Christmas started there, after Thanksgiving dinner, in downtown Spokane.
The next day, Grandma, Grandpa, Mom and Dad would take us to Stanek's Floral. This is where O Tanenbaum comes in.
Outside the entry to this long, unassuming 60's style building were rows and rows of wreaths and fresh trees and red bows and yard decorations. The smell said, "Let us pull our cedar branches around you and you will be loved." Okay, they didn't say that, but I was 7 and that is how I felt. The jingle of the bell on the door meant Grandpa was holding it open for us and going inside was magic. Carols played boldly. Scents of pine and popcorn filled my nose. Past the poinsettias, which never held my attention, past the coolers of arrangements and the front counter, were trees.
Tree after tree after tree, elevated, decorated, each with its own theme, buckets of corresponding ornaments under its boughs. Flocked, firs, cedars, pines, white, spinning, thin, tall, small. Royal jeweled bangles with gold ribbons, sugared candies you knew were fake but somehow you were still tempted, manger themes with straw and birds and sheep and shepherds, musical instruments and scrolls of sheet music, woodland themes, toy themes, pink and white lace Victorian themes, Nutcracker, sports. I am remembering twenty, thirty trees, but I was 10, so maybe it seemed bigger than it was. My dad would scoop us out a paper bag of free popcorn and we would study, shop, to pick out the one ornament we wanted to get for the pixie name we had drawn.
Pixies were my family's Secret Santa tradition. All season long, we did secret acts, deeds, left mysterious notes and treats for the person's name we had drawn. A marshmallow snowman made with toothpicks and whole cloves left on a plate on a freshly made bed. A chocolate kiss in your socks. A shined mirror and a note stuck to it. A homemade nose-warmer for chilly walks to the mailbox.
And an ornament on Christmas morning.
You had to be secretive about buying it. It was good to have four adults around. My brother gave me a white glazed porcelain stocking I had admired out loud.
I still get all warm inside when I unwrap the tissue and hang it on the tree. I feel gratitude, not for things.
For my family. And Staneck's.
And I feel a little sad.
Because I went back to Stanek's with my oldest child when she was a year old. I wanted her eyes to light up and hear her little exclamations.
It had new owners... who watched me like a hawk, as if I were some stranger off the street, as I looked at the six trees they had up. There was no popcorn, and they kept asking me if they could help me. They no longer carried the graceful Fontanini nativity figures I had pored over as a girl. Finally, I shook my head, hoisted my little girl higher on my hip, and left. It was a sad drive home.
But I hear Guaraldi's O Tanenbaum. And it all comes back.

And I feel loved.

Friday, December 11, 2009

He Knows If You've Been Bad Or Good...

The morning of Maren's performance at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center I suggested to her that she clean her room when we got home. She looked around and had to agree. C-L-U-T-T-E-R.

So we had a Mommy-Daughter day at the BBHC (I highly recommend this), she danced, we strolled and explored and had our free cookies and lemonade, AND, she saw Santa. This was huge, because 1) the line was SHORT, and 2) we were allowed to take our OWN pictures, and 3) neither of us could remember her sitting with Santa aside from the church parties.

 And he was a good one.

 Maren told me why.

"What was Santa telling you?"

Eyes big, she said, "He told me to clean my ROOM." Shaking her head, "He MUST be real."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Fun Gift Ideas

My friend, Angela, from way back in Klamath Falls (both of us have moved a couple of times since) has a great new website through Artfire called Forget Me Notes. She creates memory boxes, cards, and beautiful kits for giving or getting!
The fun part of this, for me, is that I was the "friend" she mentions on her site who introduced her to paper-crafting when I was a demonstrator for Stampin' Up!. Angela had convinced herself she was not creative AT ALL, but kept coming to the parties for support and social fun. Finally our friend, Gnene, gave her a gift certificate for her birthday, so she HAD to buy something and get down with her hiding creative self. It was so fun to see her grow!
By the time I was moving, and ready to pass my business to someone else, Angela was an established paper-crafter and gladly took over my business.
So please, check out Angela's site and browse around. You may find something perfect for gift-giving!

Wedding Memory Box

Our Girl Memory Box pieces

Card Pack

Friday, December 04, 2009

Oh, She's Good.

Yesterday I was picking up clutter, the after-school dump, and paused to look over the stockings, admiring.

Then, something caught my eye.

And I read this.

Read and learn, kids. The little toot.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Sinking In

I am blogging it! The Orchard was accepted for publication by Covenant Communications today! I am so excited and wondering what to do between now and Spring/Summer 2011, but I am sure I will find a way to fill the time. My kids jumped up and down and my B grinned and giggled and my mom and sis and dad yelled through the phone and my friends said we must do something to celebrate!
So, now I am going to make loaves of cranberry orange bread for the RS luncheon tomorrow and bounce up and down a little bit more and think about how great this feels and enjoy the proud little smile from my B.
SO great. So amazingly unreal and great.

happily making a pie

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


I wasn't going to post anymore until after the holiday, but yesterday, my B showed up with these, a peck on the cheek, and then quickly left to go work out.


Chelsea grabbed the camera. Honest, not even posing. Flowers do this to me.
Chelsea kept asking if her dad was in big trouble or if he lost his job or something.

Still smiling.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

True To My Word

The next few days I will be making pie fillings and cranberry sauce and pie crusts and assembling the stuffing. Heavenly aromas will fill the house and my apron will be covered with flour and sugar. I posted before that the Christmas tree is going up early this year. That goes for this blog, as well. After I am done here, the family is going to be mobilized into decorating.
They have no idea.
(wicked laugh)

Friday, November 20, 2009

Most People Prefer Ketchup

L: Todd, Matt, & Bobbi   R: Jamie, Me, & B  not pictured: Doug

Another fun night at Trapper Creek Lodge. What was so funny? B's woman scream at the deer on the side of the road, the piece of lettuce completely covering my tooth, Bobbi repeatedly defending Matt's non-existent drinking problem, the lint "mole" on B's neck (can't...look...away), Matt's ummm, sleeping bag, Todd's 3-egg creme brulee, Jamie defending Todd's non-existent tennis problem, Doug's cotton joke I got 3 minutes later, just after Jamie got it, and Erica, our SO great waitress and my sister-in-law who fought the urge to get after me about helping her clean up.
Thanks, guys! We will do it again!

Quote of the morning:
Jacob said, while chewing his huge bite of breakfast, "Mom, we need to get more honey so I have something to put on my egg sandwich besides cinnamon-sugar."

Maren was at a loss for words, her spoonful of cereal paused halfway to her mouth.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I play competitive volleyball at the rec center. My teammates are Bobbi, Kim, Sue, Lisa, Stacy, and Michelle. We laugh way too much, but we win. Most of the time.
Bobbi has a killer serve. Kim is team clown and kills herself for the ball. Sue guides us along and reinforces our bump set spike delivery. Lisa is our slammer and net intimidation. Stacy is consistent and level-headed and skilled. Michelle is our hot-headed competitor, don't mess. And there's me. I love the net. I have to get over my power issues (I hit hard and consistently in practice, but I pull up in games, and stick to my reliable underhand serve), but I love to play with my team.
We talk to each other, we poke fun at each other, we goof off for each other, and we focus for each other. We cheer each other on. (Hmm, maybe I should make my kids play volleyball together.)

A few weeks ago I watched a little college volleyball and my B walked in.
"Hey, hon, look, we're on TV."
"You are?" He stops and looks at the screen.
"See, there's me going up for the block, and, oh, Kim dives for the tip and gets it up, here comes Lisa... Slam. See? It's us."
He laughs and shakes his head and starts to turn away.
"No, wait! Bobbi is serving, watch." The girl tosses the ball up high ten feet from the line, runs and jumps five feet in the air, slamming it over and down to the other team. "See? She's good, huh?"
"Yup." He laughs and moves along.
"You should come watch us play. We look a lot different in real life."

Well, we do. We won both games last night, and tournament starts next week.
Go Moss Ortho!

Monday, November 09, 2009

A Very Fortunate Event

Happy Seventeen, Chelsea-poo! I didn't see this day coming so soon. Thank you for filling the place in my heart I didn't know was there. You complete me (fingers tracing the shape of a heart). Love your buns.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

A Series of Unfortunate Events

It has been the oddest week. Just over a week, I guess. Just a series of not-so-great events and challenges, mixed with a reinforcement of how blessed I feel. Maybe one is because of the other. Not sure. Things aren't related. The difficult things, though, all came on so consecutively... I have begun to wonder... What is coming? Have you experienced this? A series of small trials occur, and then BAM, something significant happens, whether good or bad, and you think back and say, "Ohhh, that's why I had all that struggle."
1- I had to critique a dear friend's book and I'm still waiting for the backlash. It was a childrens book. Children are scathingly honest and she asked me to tell her what mine thought. Ugh. Why are my children so outspoken? They didn't get it from me. I wish I hadn't given her the notes.
2- I was patronized and critiqued myself, as a person, a member of the RS presidency, and Bishop's wife, by a person I was just beginning to know and like, who barely knows me at all.
3- My friend was injured likewise.
4- A neighbor I have seen once before visited me early Monday morning (still in my workout clothes, yuck) and verbally assaulted me (I was alone) and my family over the behavior of our dog, who we have been worrying about and trying to train... she loves to bark... so much that after much progress this summer, she decided to ignore the shock collar and burned a sore on her throat. We bring her in at night and when the temp. drops, but we have been talking, sadly, about letting her go, unsure what to do other than make her a full-time house-dog. She's big and sheds like a... a really sheddy dog. Then Mr. Miserable came over and tore into me, and then the kids, and then me again, leaving me in a pile of quivering, kicked, mess of tears and failure. His hatred was so strong I had to wonder if there was more to this than the dog. Like, maybe our kids were using his yard for a toilet, or our teenage daughter is continually driving up the sidewalk and over his lawn, or we're having loud, wild parties every night and the police keep showing up, and we just don't remember, which would explain why B is always so tired, the parties on top of running a high school and filling his duties as Bishop of our church ward. Maybe the man hates sunflowers, which lined our corner fence across the street from his house. Maybe he is a miserable old man who finds anything wrong with anybody and berates them because he was one of the first houses in the neighborhood and feels it is his duty, and maybe we're not the first ones. This last part is true, as we found out from his neighbor on the other side, who then told us he wasn't bothered a bit by our dog... never noticed she was different from any of the other dozen dogs in the neighborhood. But still, it took me a few days to recover from the abusive tirade. Still feeling it, actually. It helped that Brandon's friends (and mine) at work all offered to go over there and lay into him, egg his house, burn profanities in his lawn with gasoline, flip him off every time they drove by, and a myriad of other testosterone-backed hi-jinks that would not have helped at all, but it sure felt great to be championed. Thanks, guys. And thanks, Jim, for the super shocker hi-voltage whack-your-sweet-dog-into-another-dimension shock collar. It actually seems to be working. I think we'll still try to find a place for her... maybe. And B, thanks for going over there and telling him never to talk to me again.  And you never said 'I told you so' about wanting a dog. Not once. Love you.
5- This last one is small. Actually, I'm not even going to mention it. Just stressed over the book club, wanting it to work out. Okay, I mentioned it.

But it's been a strange string of events, among excellent reports at P/T conferences, championship football games (GO BRONCS), new opportunities for service in the community and church, found out what an awesome trumpet player Jacob is at his first concert ever, LOVE my ward family, LOVE that Braeden is happy in school and getting the challenges he needs, LOVE that Chelsea is having fun with real friends, LOVE Maren still loves dance, LOVE my B is working out again.

So, are these trials preparation? Or the cunning of the adversary, wanting to discourage us? Maybe I'm wrong this time, but I am working through these things, and wondering. Experience has made me both wary and hopeful. What is coming?

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Me Plus Turkey Day

I love Thanksgiving.
I love that it brings families together.
I love that we work for it.
I love the colors, the smells, the sounds.
What sounds?
Oven doors closing, talking in every room, football, greetings.

I love the food.

I love sunny November in Cody.
I love foggy November in Kennewick.
I love snowy November in Star Valley.
I love colorful November in Klamath Falls.
I love icy November in Spokane.
I love rainy November in Walla Walla.

I love that it issues in my other favorite holiday.
I don't care what B says, the tree is going up early this year.

I love Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween Fun

We had a great time at our church Halloween Party! It was fun to dress up and take part with our Ward family. That's Brandon, the Frog Prince. Believe it or not, somebody had that little toy frog in their car, and grabbed it. I guess the Prince looked a little lonely. Ribbit. Now, he's hoppy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

I'm An Aunt (again)!

Meet Derek James Sorensen.
Bec and Josh surprised us with this little guy.
Way to keep a secret. Congratulations! Love him already!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Mer-bear, finishing up her quick, pre-game dinner: "What did you just give to Abby?"
Me, coming in the back door: "Umm, a hotdog."
Mer-bear: "Did you tell her about the dog part?"

It took me a second.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thank you, Salvino D'Armate... Or Whoever

"Mom, I can see so awesome, now."
"Oh, good."

Jacob has been squinting for about a year. At his computer, at his books, at the TV. I finally took him to the eye doctor. His school tests had always come back borderline, with no recommendation for glasses, but the squinting was becoming really noticeable.
Turns out his left eye is 'short'. He's far-sighted. So he was fitted for glasses, and told it would be about ten days. 18 days later (I know because on the tenth day he asked if his glasses were ready, and then again every day after that) we picked up his new pair of OP glasses with blue wire frames.
Smiles. Smiles and smiles, grins all the way home.

"Whoa, I can see everything." He turned around in his chair at the dinner table, looking out the back slider doors. "I can see fingerprints!"

"That's great!" I said, as I pulled out the Windex from under the kitchen sink.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pretty Girls, Handsome Boys

Chelsea & Matt, Katelyn & Jack, Sheralyn & Levi, Jill & Andrew. Don't they clean up good?