Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fall On Me

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This is the time of year when I truly come alive.

It doesn't matter what I have on my plate, be it a little or a lot. The gorgeous crisp air infiltrates my blood and I succumb to the literary bliss of Autumn. Which means, the cool air and the colors greatly inspire my creativity. And so, my home is full of the smells of the glue gun, and treats baking, and the sound of me crafting up a mad cloud of projects which usually only get half finished, and lie around my craft room for a year, when the next burst of autumnal air re-invigorates me. But the projects I actually finish fill me with pride and accomplishment, and I know that it doesn't matter if some projects are left undone, because that euphoric feeling is oh so worth it!

And did I mention Pumpkin Spice?!

"Don't you love New York in the Fall? It makes me want to buy school supplies. I would send you a bouquet of newly-sharpened pencils if I knew your name and address. On the other hand, this not knowing has its charms." ~ You've Got Mail.

And speaking of school supplies and fall (perfect segue, right?), school has begun!

Faye is in morning kindergarten and loves every single morsel of it. She wakes up each morning with a smile, stretches, and bounces out of bed with an explosive "Is today a school day?" She rushes to gather her so important backpack which is always empty, because what would a kindergartner have to take to school? But it makes her feel grown up and deliriously happy. She quickly gets her uniform on, or at least the parts of it she can find. Somehow, inexplicably, the majority of her school pants got lost. I don't understand it. I have searched through my room, Beth's room, Keith's room, the laundry room, and as much of Faye's room as I could get through. It is a mess again. Which it always seems to be, but what are you going to do? She is a creative enthusiastic child with a flair for the dramatic. I just have to keep trying to teach her to keep her room clean. But when she declares adamantly "I like it this way! I hate it when my room is clean!" I just have to sigh. I quite remember saying the same thing as a teenager, and meaning it and fervently believing it. I could never find my things when my room was clean, but when it was a mess, it was organized chaos. I knew exactly where everything was, but it drove my mother batty to see my room in such a state. The hope is that I learned, so maybe she will, too. But I digress. Faye excitedly gets ready as much as she is able each morning without me having to encourage her, aside from the occasional reminder/nag to quit dilly-dallying, we have a time constraint!

Keith, on the other hand, is very reluctant to get up each morning. Oh, he will get up just fine. It is the getting dressed, eating breakfast, gathering his school things, brushing his teeth, etc. that takes forever. He drags his feet, and each morning he comes to me with a new reason as to why he can't go to school that day.
"My legs hurt too much."
"When I sit criss-cross applesauce my legs pinch and it hurts. I don't want to do that!"
"I don't feel well."
"We don't have school today."
"Fridays are optional school attendance days."
The poor boy doesn't stand a chance. I told him I would email his teacher about his hurting legs. The boy is having growing pains, and I swear he grew 6 inches in one night! He came up the next morning and looked like a giant. I couldn't believe my eyes! I know that complaint is legit. And so I reason with him each morning about why school is important, and why he needs to go, and it is the law that he goes to school, so there is just no getting around it, until he has graduated university with at least a bachelors. Then he can stop going to school. And the crushed look on his face kills me, every time. I am half laughing, half crying with him. It is so hard to have to do something you absolutely abhor every single day. Especially with him being as bright as he is, he gets bored a lot in class. But his teacher is wonderful and is working with him, trying to give him more challenging things. I love the kids' school!

And then there is Beth. My sweet little ray of sunshine. Never before have I met a child to rival her joy and happiness. From the moment she wakes up in the morning, to the time I lay her curly little head on her pillow at night, she is full of smiles. I especially love how she tells me when it is nap time. She will go into her room and find her binki. She will put it in her mouth, and then come to find me, and with slurred binki speak, she will tell me "Night night, Mommy. Go night night." I love that when I pick her up in the mornings, she always says "Sleep good. Good dreams," very matter of factly. And then she will tell me "Poopoo in potty." Which means she has a wet diaper, and she does not, in fact, want to go to the potty, she just wants to run around the house bare bummed. That is her trademark move.

We are beginning to fall into a sweet pattern, now that school is in. As much as my spontaneous nature will let us, anyway. Beth and I straighten up whichever room I think needs straightening at the moment, and then we will read, and work on her ABC's or her colors. The girl is brilliant. She recognizes letters and some of their sounds. She is learning her colors, but is very mischievous in the process. I bought some skittles and was having her sort them. Once they were all sorted, I asked her to find a red one. She quickly found it, and I told her she could eat it. I then asked her to find a green skittle for me to eat. Her hand hovered over the skittle groups, circling as she contemplated which was green. After a moment of circling, her hand hesitating over the green, she pulled back, folded her arms and declared, "No!" I laughed, of course. I probably shouldn't encourage the defiance, but it was so cute and funny! I asked her to find a green one for her to eat, and she said okay. Her hand again did the vulture circle dance before diving down to pluck up a green skittle and pop it into her mouth, with a big sticky grin.

Shortly after Beth and I finish with whatever form of school we are working on, Faye will get home, and we will have lunch. After lunch, Beth happily snuggles down in her crib with her binki in her mouth, her little hand tugging on her ear, Thomas Kitty in the crook of one arm, and her baby of the hour tightly squeezed in a choke hold. She often will tuck her knees beneath her which by default pokes her bum up into the air and makes me giggle as I am leaving her room. And then begins Mommy-Faye time. Which I have really been stinking up lately.

Because we are down to one car, I get up early to take Jeffrey to work. He likes to leave around 5:20. And I don't complain, because quite frankly, I love the early mornings. I love the quiet time I get to myself. I have had some really good cleaning sessions, and have been able to get a whole lot done. It also helps me to be able to get breakfast ready, school lunch made, and the kids to school on time, all while having showered before any of this begins. It is amazing! I love it so much, and when we eventually find that car that we and it were made for each other, I will probably continue to have these early morning sessions because there is nothing quite like opening all the windows to let in that bewitching morning scent, and being able to watch the sky slowly change from the deep black of night to the promising lavender of a newly awakening day. Because of that, it has really messed up my afternoons.

Faye time is supposed to begin as soon as Beth goes down for her nap. However, lately, I have been taking a bit of a lie down when Beth does. Because of the whole getting up so early thing, and the foolish decision to go to bed so late, that I usually make.  I hope to learn from this natural consequence and go to bed earlier, but let's be frank here. I really have been cherishing this alone time that going to bed late gives me. And the getting up early also gives lovely alone time. Who knew I would like to be alone so much?! But if I don't get this figured out, I won't ever have Faye time, so I will just work on that next week. Or the rest of this week. We are supposed to read together, and then just do something together. Because she feels so much like a middle child, neglected and ignored, I really try to spend this time with her, cherishing her and loving her. I hope it works.

And then Keith gets home from school. We have an afternoon snack, and then Keith starts on his homework. He reads for 20 minutes, and then we do some spelling and a bit of math. I coerce the kids into doing their chores, and then they are free to wreak havoc on the yard and 'hood.

All of that, though, is my plan. I have yet to see it be realized, due to my lovely afternoon shut-eye. I've got the day down clear up until Faye gets home from school. And then the sleepy bug hits. I've never been good in the afternoons in the first place, but these late nights/early mornings are really doing a number on me.

Happily, it is September, and nothing can get me down! Not even un-realized dreams. Because the breath of the most beautiful month whispers its vigor and optimism into my very soul.

By all the lovely tokens
September days are here,
With Summer's best of weather
And Autumn's best of cheer.
~ Helen Hunt Jackson                                      

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fairy Forest and The Great Day of Miracles!

What a weekend! Sheesh.

Friday Adrienne, Chantel and I decided we needed to have a last hurrah before school starts this coming Wednesday. After a bit of deliberating, we decided on going to the hidden Fairy forest. I had discovered it on Pinterest, and was determined to go this summer. Since this was our last chance, we decided to head up there. We all made our contributions and headed out. Faye had built a beautiful fairy house out of a black plastic planter box. Sadly, we accidentally left it home.

We got together and decided to carpool. The girls rode with Chantel, the boys with me.

It was a looooong and beautiful drive. We went through a few tiny towns which confirmed my desire to live in a small town in the mountains. Wouldn't that be absolutely dreamy? And then we drove some more. And some more. All the way to the "pull out by mile marker 17." Yep, those were the official directions on how to get there.

If you are interested in discovering this pocket of wonder, it was surprisingly easy to find.

  1. Head to Kamas and get on the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway.
  2. Look for mile marker 17. There is a pullout right there which is convenient for parking.
  3. Follow the path through the forest.
  4. There is a black top you will cross (which is part of a campground. I didn't realize it was a campground at first, you have to really pay attention, or just head on through and pretend it is all part of the magic.)
  5. And then the rocks. So many little "boulders" that are fun to help toddlers walk across without you toppling over on top of them as they lose their balance over and over while laughing the whole time. These rocks are from a dry creek bed that you have to cross to get to the enchanted land of Fairies.
  6. After crossing the creek bed, walk on up the hill. Climb over a log, take about 5-10 more steps then head down to your right. You will see the entrance to the Fairy Forest.
The girls were in heaven! 

The boys said they didn't like it, but I think they really did. Or at least they had a blast exploring the woods.

At one point, Faye had to find a quiet place in the bushes to relieve herself. When she came back to join us, she grinned her cute freckled grin and beckoned me to whisper in my ear. 

"I just peed on some fire ants!" she said triumphantly. What a funny little girl! I tousled the hair on top of her head, and scooted her back towards her friends where she proudly whispered to all the little girls her accomplishment. I love how proud of herself she was!

Because of travel time and appointments, we were only able to spend an hour in the forest, which was sad for us, but what can you do? We piled back in the vehicles and headed out. 

Except we were stopped by traffic. 

Cars were parked on the road, and we joined suit. The boys climbed out and began playing in the woods next to us. The girls were watching Frozen and Big Hero Six in Chantel's van and were perfectly content to stay there and keep watching. I stayed with the babies and Adrienne and Chantel walked up to find out what the hold up was.

And then we saw life flight fly in.

Apparently a teenager had been riding a 4-wheeler, had lost control and crashed into some rocks on the side of the road. When they put him on the gurney he was kicking and screaming, so we know that he wasn't paralyzed at least. 

We waited for an hour and a half because after he was flown to the hospital, we had to wait for an investigation to be made by the police before they would let any traffic through.

The whole time waiting, I kept thinking how beautiful it was up there, and how blessed we were with that lovely breeze. I was surprised at how much it didn't bother me to be waiting. Of course we were in the mountains, and mountains always make me happy.

We were going to do a Back to School Movie Night on Adrienne's garage door, but we were too tired by the time we got home and so decided to postpone until next Friday. Especially because Saturday was going to be a very busy day.

Just how busy, I had no idea!

I woke up feeling lazy and tired. I straightened up my room a little, reminded Jeffrey that he was going to be in charge of the kids the whole day, and got ready to go. As I was walking out the door, I asked Jeffrey which vehicle he wanted me to take. I was going to a Sisters Conference with the sister missionaries from my mission. Our mission president was going to speak, and I was so excited! He told me to take his car, but be careful with it because it didn't have much pep anymore. 

I got into his car and headed out, thinking "he really wasn't joking, this car has lost a lot of its strength!" I also internally groaned a bit. The car doesn't have air conditioner and the thermometer said it was 98* outside. Not my idea of a good time to be driving said car, but I didn't care, I was going to go to the temple with my former companions who I love dearly, and President and his wife were going to go through the session with us!

I prayed half the way there that the car would make it, and that I would make it in time, and that it would be a spiritually filling experience. And then I called a friend I hadn't spoken with in a long time, just to get my mind off worrying. We talked for a little bit, but then I noticed the car seemed to be going a lot slower. I decided to get off the phone with her and to pray some more, and to pay special attention to how the car was acting.

It was decelerating. On the freeway. When I got down to 50mph I put my hazards on. No matter how much gas I gave it, the car continued to coast and slow down. It wasn't overheating, there were no warning lights showing in the car, no check engine, or anything. It just wasn't going anymore. I was able to pull off on the 9000 South exit which had a large dirt and weed patch next to the off-ramp, so my car was out of the way and in no danger of being hit.

The temple session started at 2. It was 1:45.

I called Jeffrey to let him know what was happening and to see what he wanted me to do. I hadn't been parked for more than two minutes when an officer pulled up to see what the trouble was. I explained what the car was doing, and he asked where I was headed. I told him, and he offered to take me to the temple and I could come back for the car later. I discussed this option with Jeffrey, and we decided I may as well go, since I was so close, and he wouldn't be able to get to me for a while anyway.

And so the kind officer drove me to the temple in his gloriously air conditioned car. Today I talked to a police officer who attends my ward. When I told him this part of my day yesterday, he was very surprised. He said that officers are not allowed to give people rides in their cars, unless it is downtown to the station to be booked. His family can't even ride in his squad car. And yet with no hesitation, this officer had offered me a ride, exactly when I needed it, breaking all sorts of rules in the process! While driving there, I was able to call my insurance company and I tried to set up towing. Except they said I would have to be with the car for it to be towed. And it would take 60-90 minutes for someone to show up. I decided to put the order on hold and to just go through the temple. I was deeply saddened by the reality that it was past 2 which meant I had missed going through the session with my president and former companions, but I was there, and it would be just as good to go through anyway, on my own.

I walked into the temple and saw my friend Lisa, Adrienne's sister! She had come to the fairy forest with us the day before. It was wonderful seeing a friendly face in such a time of need. She offered to help me after the session. I gave her a big hug and said I would talk to her later, as we would most likely be in the same session.

I got ready, and walked into the chapel to wait for the next session, and as I walked in, I saw my companions and President and Sister Lee sitting on the front bench. They beckoned me over. They had saved me a seat! I gave them all hugs, asked how they were still there, and they told me they had just had a hunch they needed to wait for the next session.

I broke down then and there. I couldn't keep it in anymore. I had seen so many miracles all ready to get me to the temple safely, and this final one was just too much. There is no doubt in my mind that the Lord loves us and cares about the things we care about. He guides people to come into our lives at just the right time. It was so evident in that moment, that the gratitude shook my body and poured out of my eyes in the form of tears. And my dear sweet friends put their arms around me while I cried with thanksgiving. What a miracle it was!

I was able to attend the temple session with some of my wonderful mission family!

Afterwards I got a ride, and we went to eat Indian food. The day was just getting better and better, I tell you. Indian is my favorite! We were able to converse and catch up, and one of my sweet friends I hadn't seen in nearly 10 years! It was absolutely wonderful. Another former companion drove me over to where my car was parked and I called the insurance company again. I intended to leave the door unlocked with the key in the ignition so a tow company could come pick it up, and I would't have to be there. I wouldn't have to miss the rest of the conference with the speakers. As I spoke with the insurance people, they told me our coverage would only pay for the car to be towed 12 miles. I was about 50 miles or so from home. I again put the order on hold and called my parents to see if they could tow my car behind their truck.

My parents are wonderful. They always come and rescue me when I need them to. They were in Brigham City, so it would be a while before they could get out to help me, but they were on their way home anyway and would be there as soon as they could. Which was perfect for me, as I was able to go back to the conference and be spiritually fed even more!

President and Sister Lee both spoke a little, and then turned it into a question/answer session. I was able to learn a lot from both of them. And then they had to go. We hugged, and they left, and then Diana's aunt (whose name I can't remember for the life of me) spoke. She is a CES (Church Education System) teacher, and was simply wonderful! I hung on her every word, drinking it in, as she has such a unique perspective. She shared some advice that really resonated with me. She said that whatever your trials are, you need to first remove the emotion and look at it objectively. Then, identify the truth of the situation. Once you have done that, you can put the emotion back in, and every time, the problem will not appear as daunting or overwhelming, and the emotion you will be feeling is faith and peace. Did I ever need to hear that last night! Just as she was getting to the juicy part of her talk, the culminating point, my parents showed up and I had to leave. I was sorry to leave, but so grateful for my parents coming to rescue me!

I squished into their truck with them and directed them to the location of my car. Another small miracle, I had found a spot to leave my car that made it possible for my dad to pull in in front of the car, back up, and we could easily push the car onto the trailer. 

We thought.

After several tries and the tires just not getting over the ridge and into the tire grooves, two men appeared out of nowhere. They came from opposite directions but got there about the same time. One had parked behind us and got out to help, the other, we could't see where he had come from! They were able to help us get the car up on the trailer and then the one who had parked behind us left while the one who seemed to have just appeared there helped us secure the tires and secure the car onto the trailer so we could go. Another car drove up and parked behind us which was wonderful as it helped us be able to see better in the darkness. I wish there was some way to thank all of the people who had helped us! Once the car was secure, we headed off.

Except something wasn't as secure as we had hoped it to be, and as we drove towards the on-ramp, I could see orange sparks coming from beneath the car. Which meant we had to pull into a parking lot and assess the situation.

Somehow the car had come loose, and then had gone over the front of the trailer and was resting on the barrier tire that was there for exactly that reason. My car was stuck.

I finally decided to call the tow company. We couldn't see any other way to get the car off the trailer.

Pat from Quick Tow Towing came, and when he saw the situation of my car on the trailer, the look on his face didn't inspire much confidence. We talked about different scenarios for saving my car, but he basically told us that anything he did, I would have to sign a waiver saying I wouldn't sue them and I understood there could be a ridiculous amount of damage to my car. He said anything he did would take the bumper right off the car. And so we hemmed and hawed a little, and stalled a lot, looking at the hopelessness of the situation. And then Pat received some inspiration. He suggested I get into the car and put the emergency breaks on to lock the back wheels, and then step on the break as hard as I could to stop the front wheels from spinning while my dad pulled his truck forward slowly. Meanwhile, he would push the tail end of his trailer beneath my car and with my car attached to his truck, my dad pulling from the front, me not letting the wheels spin, and him holding it from behind and underneath, we could maybe somehow jump the car off the front of the trailer and back into the tire ruts. Since it was a 50/50 chance of success, I decided we might as well try it. If it succeeded, it would be yet another miracle to add to the day, and if it failed, it would't do any more damage than what he would have to do to get it off any other way.

And so, with pleading in my heart that it would work, we began the experiment.

And it worked! Exactly like he had hoped it would! The car suffered no additional damage other than some slight scratching on the door from the tire of the trailer it was high-tailed on.

Again, Pat was wonderful! He was so helpful and kind. We got everything figured out on transportation and then, at 12:30 am, we headed home.

And now, I am so emotionally exhausted. Yesterday was full of the most incredible highs, and the deepest lows I have ever gone through in one day. I am so tired and know that we have a few more trials to come because of the car. But when I remove the emotion and evaluate the truth of the situation, I am comforted. Things will somehow work themselves out. Jeffrey needs the van for work, of course. And I can't drop him off because of where he works, but I need the van for car pool for school on Wednesday. We are not sure what we are going to do at this moment, but I know it will somehow be resolved, because as I so plainly witnessed yesterday, God cares about us. He cares about the things that we care about. He is deeply involved in our lives, even if we don't always recognize it. One way or another, this worry about transportation that weighs on my mind will be resolved. And yes, I know it is very much a first world problem, only having one vehicle. I understand that. But we will be guided through this, as we are with everything, because that is the truth of the situation. God loves us and wants us to be happy and to succeed! This much I know.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Reading Hangover

I'd say it was a relatively successful weekend. I finished 3 books, and that always makes me immensely pleased with myself. But as much as I love doing it, I don't think my body thanks me for it anymore. Once upon a time, I had no problem with reading all night, but apparently that is no longer the case.

Today was one of those days I just couldn't get comfortable in my own skin, no matter what I did.

Which is one of the worst feelings in the world, I can tell you.

In case you are wondering, the riveting books that kept me awake all weekend were:

They are all good books, and I love that I was able to get them out of my system, but the problem is, we went to the DI on Friday and came home with a lot more books. Which is where I got those ones in the first place. When I finished reading The Story Girl, I was lamenting the fact that I am out of books to read, and Jeffrey said he wanted to go to the DI and get me some more books. Some times when we go it is a veritable treasure trove, and sometimes we come up blank.

This time, though? I was like a kind in a candy store. I had such a wonderful time perusing the books, and Jeffrey was so good and patient with me while I went row by row, shelf by shelf, gleaning all the good finds, Jeffrey stood by, quietly waiting, reading his book while I dizzily searched. 

I found a book on Greek drama, philosophy and literature which is in incredible shape and more than 100 years old. I'm a giddy goat! I found a book written by Garrison Keillore about growing up in Lake Woebegone, Beloved by Toni Morrison, Mysteries by Agatha Christie, the greatest mystery writer in the history of ever, a book by Steinbeck, and a whole slew more that I can't remember off the top of my head, 
This is from my last haul. I didn't take a picture of this time.
But, like I said, it made today unbearably miserable. Crazy restless legs that somehow traveled up into my arms and torso as well. Beth cuddled with me and kept me in fairly good spirits while I worked on Insurance things all morning. By mid afternoon, Beth was down for her nap, and Keith and Faye were with me when I suddenly lost it. I needed to be alone, sprawled out, as soon as possible. I was not happy until I was. 

Incredibly uncomfortable.

Restless legs are the worst!

Jeffrey and I decided we would put the kids to bed at 7, and then go to bed ourselves. Keith and Faye, however, were not keen on this idea. The fact is, though, they had been staying up way too late and quite frankly are just as tired as we are.

After the kids were tucked in, Jeffrey was cutting his hair and Faye got up after being tucked in by both Jeffrey and myself. When we sent her back to bed, she of course, had to get up again, because that is what she does.

She went to the bathroom and was sent back to bed.
She needed a drink, and when she was sent back to bed, she was not happy. 

She shouted, "I hate it when you make your child feel like a disappointed bum!" and then she went out, closing the door behind her. The door then re-opened, and was closed again with a slam before she went to bed for the night. 

What a funny girl. I love her guts!

Here is hoping that tomorrow will be a much better and so much more productive day.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ice Cream Apology

** This post was written in the beginning of July but lost in my draft section. I just found it today.**

Last night before going to bed I decided to open all the windows. It was a cool night, and I figured the breeze would be nice.

Nice was an understatement!

As I finished washing the dishes, the refreshing summer night air lazily curled in through my windows and wrapped around and past me, sniffing in the corners of my house, mixing with the scent of the fresh baked bread I had just pulled from the oven. It reminded me of autumn, and made me so happy to be standing in my kitchen cleaning up the mess of a successful domestic day.

As I have mentioned before, there is something in the autumnal air which awakens the romantic in me. I reflected on the day as the air continued to blanket me in its intoxicating spell, and I realized something. I really love this life of mine, but I get too caught up in things that don't matter.

I remembered watching Faye ride her bike home from getting the mail. I loved watching her in her pink plaid dress on that bicycle, as her hair and the dress streamed behind her, the mail clutched between her teeth, and the radiance burning like a beacon from her eyes. She was happy. It is summer, she is a child, and life is spectacular for her.

Keith and Faye have been living outside with the next door neighbor for the past few days, and that makes me so happy. Keith is such a homebody and would be a hermit if I let him. He would get rickets and never leave his legos or books or video games if I didn't have an adamant say in the matter. So the fact that he is choosing, of his own volition to go out and play absolutely makes me mad with joy.

I love that my kids have dirty feet and sunburns. I love that they are beginning to have sun bleached hair and popsicle faces, because they are living up to my expectations of what summer should be like for a child.

Yesterday I had lots of sweet moments. Beth and I cuddled for a while on the couch, reading nursery rhymes, her bare bum curled up in my lap.

Her diaper had been giving her a rash and she was done with it. We snuggled, her soft hair tickling my nose and her hand kept tugging on her ear, which is Beth speak for "I'm tired."

By the end of the day, though, I was tired and worn out. I was ready for bed. Keith and Faye were both tracking mud through the house. I didn't need to and really shouldn't have, but I my patience was worn and I shouted at them to get their dirty feet into the bathroom and get them cleaned. Keith hung his head, and said quietly that I didn't need to yell, and his quiet voice cut me to the center better than anything else could have. I repented right then and there. While they were washing, I pulled out two bowls and some ice cream. I found the book we are reading (The BFG, in case you are wondering,) and went back to my bread making. When they timidly came through the kitchen again, I winked at Keith, nodded to the bowls of ice cream, and began speaking in the Giant's voice, "Would you like some ice cream, little chiddler? It's much better to eat than human beans. Especially little dirty ones." Keith laughed and climbed up to the counter. Faye for some inexplicable reason didn't want the ice cream, and she just played with dolls in her room room, until she heard me reading The BFG to Keith. That is when she came out. We read, and then we had some tea and read scriptures, and then after family prayer, I tucked them in bed. Jeffrey had long been asleep by this time, apparently.

And so, as I remembered all those sweet moments while drinking in the heady night air, I realized that the sweetness far outweighs the chaos although it is so much easier to focus on the mud tracked across the floor, or the tantrums thrown at bedtime, or anything else. The tiredness sometimes comes in and makes me forget how much I love those little ones and how much they put me in stitches every single day. The funny little things! And so, I made a resolution. I decided that when I get overwhelmed and when the darkness begins to creep in, I am going to put myself in time out. I am going to simply step aside and do what I should have been doing from the beginning. I am going to ask for help to see through this muddled mess of motherhood enough to be able to actually see the beauty. Because it is lovely and breathtaking and miraculous, every single skinned knee and tantrum and fight for freedom. Because they are unique, and I am their mother, and they are mine. Mine! For such a short little while in their lives, I am their world, and I have such a unique and sacred responsibility and wonderful privilege to get to teach them and love them and help them discover and navigate this confusing and tumultuous life. And my goodness, I really do love it.

But can I just say, thank heavens for time out? I mean for me. If I couldn't put myself in time out for 5 minutes every day to regroup and collect myself sometimes, I am not sure I would still be the sane person I think I am.

July Adventures and Yum!

Good gracious, life certainly runs full throttle, doesn't it? We have been having so much fun this summer, I barely have time to stop and breathe, let alone blog!

The month of July was crazy busy with siblings coming in to town and the adventures we had with them. We spent a weekend all together in a cabin in the mountains of Wyoming, and it was blissful, loud, rambunctious, and everything else you would expect with all the original 7 of us plus families, minus my little sister and her family. It was glorious, and doesn't happen nearly often enough. I look forward to next year when we all get together again.

Train Museum

Dinosaur Park

Beth turned 2!

Airplane Museum
Cabin in the Mountains

Keith and Hunter at church. The best of friends, and the cutest thing ever!
But the busyness is not over yet. My sweet nephew will be receiving his mission call any day, and his sister is preparing for her wedding next month. Which means, busy busy! But family busyness doesn't ever seem all that hampering, instead it is wonderful, and we really are never together often enough. Time seems to develop super sonic speed when we all get together.

School starts in less than two weeks. Can you believe it? I can't! Where has this summer gone?! But really, I kept forgetting that August even existed during July. I remember constantly thinking that as soon as July ended I would be able to put up my Fall decorations, and enjoy the sweet calming breezes from the mountains which bring cool air and relaxation with them. I kept thinking school was starting the beginning of September, and that we were oh so close to the month of canning, and reading beneath the trampoline, and the brilliant blue September sky that I love oh so much!

Darn August!


At any rate, things are trucking along quite swiftly. Keith commented to me today that the days are going by so fast! I think he is in shock that school is starting so soon. He is excited to have Faye at school with him, though. I love what a sweet big brother he is! Faye can hardly contain her excitement, but she has always worn her emotions on the outside whereas Keith has always been very stoic and quiet about his thoughts and emotions.

I made some strawberry jam last month, the big girl way! None of that freezer jam for us! Not because I don't like freezer jam. I do. I just don't have room in my tiny-above-the-fridge-freezer for many jars of jam. But I was so proud of myself as I listened to that glorious popping sound, indicating the jars were sealing. I added a touch of vanilla to my jam, and it is delicious! There is a slight whisper of the vanilla, and it really adds to the whole flavor. Yum!

I will be making raspberry jam next week, and I am excited for that. It is a good thing, too, because the strawberry jam is nearly all gone! I made 12 pints, and I think we have 4 left. That will never last us this winter! I really need to find some more, and can those while the kids are asleep, and then hide the jars in the fruit room while they are at school so that we can actually have some last us through the winter.

I am very excited that it is nearly time to go to the U-Pick farm and get a couple bushels of tomatoes for canning. I love having canned tomatoes in my fruit room all through the winter. I make my Grandma Jacobson's tomato soup when it is exceptionally cold outsider, and it warms you up, inside and outside. And it makes oh so much! Which I don't mind at all, because that means I can freeze half of it, and pull it out in a week or two, and there is a ready made dinner, right there!

I dare you to try it this winter. Your cold summer dreaming insides and tastebuds will thank me for it.

Grandma Jacobson's Homemade Tomato Soup

2 quarts home canned tomatoes
1 garlic clove
1/4th an onion
2 1/2 teaspoons chicken flavor bouillon
1-2 quarts of milk
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
basil, oregano, pepper to taste

There really is no exactness to this recipe. You flavor it to taste, desired thickness, and the amount you want. It can easily be halved. This amount easily serves 10 people, or 5 people on two seperate nights. :)

Place the tomatoes, garlic, onion, basil, oregano, and bullion in a blender on high. While the blender is running (for a few minutes) melt the butter in a heavy bottomed pan on medium-high. I use the pan I am going to eventually put the soup in. Add the flour and mix, making a nice roux. This may need more or less flour. Again, there is no exactness to this. You want a thick paste (almost too thick) consistency. While stirring, allow the roux to cook for a few minutes, until brown but not burned. If you don't like to chew your soup, or you don't like tomato seeds you can place a sieve over your roux pan and pour the tomato mixture into the roux to strain out all the seeds. I usually skip that step and just dump the whole thing in. It takes far too long to get the seeds out, I think. Quickly stir the tomatoes into the roux, making sure to eliminate any lumps. Continue to stir until the soup is smooth, heated, and on the brink of boiling. Add the milk (watching the thickness. That is how much milk you know to add, completely based on your desired thickness), stirring constantly. Heat again, stirring constantly, but be sure not to let it boil. Boiling will curdle the milk. Serve hot and delicious. Season with pepper and fresh basil to taste. Eat with grilled cheese sandwiches on the side.

What? You want a recipe for the world's best grilled cheese sandwiches, too?! Well, lucky for you, I have that as well.

The Ultimate Grilled Cheese Sandwich
3oz of cream cheese
3/4 cup of Mayo
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder (or you can use a fresh clove, which I personally prefer. It adds so much to the flaovr!
1/8 teaspon Lawry's seaoned salt

In a mixing bowl beat the cream cheese and mayo until smooth. I just use a spoon, but you can use a hand mixer if you so desire. Stir in the cheeses, garlic, and seasoned salt. Once that is all mixed into a delicious mess of yumminess, get out your bread and butter one side of each slice. Spread the cheese mixture on the un-buttered side and place sandwich together, puttered side out. Put the sandwiches on a hot griddle and cook until golden brown. Dip these gooey cheesy sandwiches in the homemade tomato soup, and delight in the knowledge that you will never have to go back to Campbell's or the boring grilled cheese sandwiches again!

You are welcome!

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Sneeze Storm

It seems there is a whole lot of rain this summer.

Which I think is absolutely brilliant! And it comes on, all of a sudden, like a sneeze. The sky will be slightly cloudy, I will check the forecast and it will say there isn't a hint of rain for weeks. I will pack up the kids for some outing or other, and all of a sudden, just as we arrive, it is there, the slight tickling in the nose of Mother Nature to indicate a sneeze/storm. We ignore the few sprinkles, thinking they will be here and gone in a blink, when we are obviously and clearly mistaken.

A few weeks ago exactly that happened. The sky, she was moody, with a few comfortable grey clouds drooping over the mountains, like a well worn sweatshirt. The cold breeze that was blowing was a relief from the heat, and we decided a trip to the park could not be better than to go on that particular day.

We were a bit late leaving, because Faye had decided to throw light bulbs and watch them burst. My friend had given me some gorgeous outdoor lights that I had strung up on my banister. Beth discovered that she could unscrew them, and throw them down the stairs, whereon they made a lovely bursting sound as they shattered. Faye was jealous and decided that she wanted to try it, so that morning had been unscrewing light bulbs and throwing them on the driveway. When I asked her why, she said it was because she wanted to know what it would feel like to be Beth. Sigh. That girl is always thinking, and it often gets her into trouble! So that day her consequence was to have to stay by my side, just like Beth does, and to follow the rules that Beth has to follow.

She wasn't happy.

After brushing the broken glass to the side where it wouldn't be stepped on or run over, we piled into the van and left to meet up with Adrienne and her kids. As usual. They had been waiting for us and playing at the park for a good half hour before we got there, thanks to the broken glass debacle. SO! The kids and I got to the park, they burst from the van like water from a broken dam, and the children swarmed Adrienne and me. Meanwhile, it was sprinkling on our heads.

We decided we wanted to walk the trail behind the pond, and so all headed in that direction. As we got beneath the trees, the sneeze storm that none of the forecasts could predict came in full force. Huge raindrops were dumping on us, and while the kids complained, Adrienne and I laughed and reminisced about our individual childhoods and the joy and excitement of playing in the rain. None of this namby-pamby whining our kids were doing. We played in the rain and we liked it when we were kids. This generation has gone soft, etc. As we reached the portion of the trail with no overhead covering, we had to make a decision. Would we continue onward, braving the deluge, or would we listen to the whining of our children and turn back.

Example is the best teacher, right?

Which is what settled that debate right then and there. Adrienne and I waltzed out into the rain that was coming down so hard it was difficult to see more than 10 feet in front of us. Faye skipped along with us, the babies clung tightly to our sides as they were being carried, and the boys hung back.

More rain came dumping down on us, by the bathtub full. We were completely drenched, like we had just emerged from the bottom of the pond with new legs and a song in our heart kind of drenched. Mermaid style. The babies began to shiver, but by now it was more a matter of pride than anything. We pushed forward, pushing the kids with us. Making them tough it out. Because we will not have wimpy kids, darn it! At least that was my attitude. Adrienne later told me she fell to the powers of peer pressure. Which was her way of just pinning the whole experience on me. At least I know I can be persuasive, though. Glass half full. It wasn't peer pressure, it was my mad reasoning and negotiating skills!

We eventually made it to the tunnel where there was no more rain, but the wind blowing through was another layer of redundant cold. Adrienne and I decided it would be best if I just went back and got the van, and we could all pile in there, go back to my house, get warm clothes on, and get cleaned up. Faye and I left her with the babies and the boys, and she and I re-entered that glorious thudding rain dance, matching our slow jog to the syncopated beat of the drip of leaves, or the tink on metal. We giggled about what an adventure it was, and what a great memory they would be creating. I hope it is a fond memory, though! She and I slipped and slid across the mud next to the pond, so careful that we didn't slip into it, or fall and get mud all over ourselves, although that would have just added another layer to their memories! Faye and I got back to the van, and drove over to the tunnel (which went under the road). I jumped out, hollered to the kids, they came running, and the rain magically stopped as they were climbing into the van.

And we came back to Moon Hollow. Since our kids are all the same ages/genders, we got everyone changed into clean dry clothes, made some popcorn and hot chocolate, and played for the rest of the afternoon.

I am so in love with these desert storms. So sudden, and gone equally as fast. I love being able to seize the moment and enjoy the gift of cool air in the middle of oppressive heat. I really hope there is a way I can share this love with my kids, that they will pick up on the carefree joy that accompanies and mirrors the spontaneity of nature, and continue on their own adventures.

Because if not, what use are these amazing storms, anyway?

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Honestly Faye

Saturday morning I had one of those moments where I just wanted to freeze time and live in that moment forever. Nothing spectacular was happening, it was just very normal. Jeffrey and I were in the kitchen making breakfast. I was at the stove with the potatoes and eggs while he was at the counter flipping hot cakes and bacon. Beth was sitting on a stool, trying to steal pancakes whenever she could, Keith and Faye were fighting/playing in the living room, and just to add a dash of confusion to the noise, we had NPR playing in the background. Because there is nothing like the slightly inappropriate humor of Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me to begin your Saturday off right. Except I usually listen to it when I am in the car and no children are around, and I learned very quickly it is not really child befitting. That aside, though, it was lovely!

Breakfast was a rare feast. And I say rare because the children usually don't have the patience to wait that long, nor do Jeffrey and I have the desire that early in the morning to whip out a four course meal. But in honor of Independence Day, I decided I needed to do something. I remembered my grandma's Bear Lake Souffle (aptly named, as that is where we usually spent our 4th of July mornings) which cannot be beat, and we had it every year. I want my children to have memories like that, so bacon, sausage, pancakes, potatoes, eggs, and pancakes we had, as well as fresh squeezed orange juice (from the can) and toast. But it was a happy day. Not completely Norman Rockwell-esque, but enough.

However, that is not what I want to remember. I want to remember the things that Faye has been doing, so that she can remember when she is older.

I want her to remember the time I was sitting in the living room a few weeks ago, working on Primary things, when I heard an odd noise coming from the carport. It sounded a bit like pounding metal, and I felt I had better investigate.

I walked outside and found Keith and our next door neighbor girl sitting on the grass, watching Faye. I put my finger to my lips, indicating they shouldn't alert her to my presence, and I followed the sound around the corner until I was in full view of her escapades.

We had not yet set up the trampoline, and she really is my little Tigger. Which is the reason we bought the trampoline. Because she needs to bounce. And bouncing she was. Like a graceful little joey on the roof of Jeffrey's car. Her skirt billowing up and about her like a jellyfish with each and every bounce, her face beaming with sheer delight whether from the sound or the feel I doubt I will ever know, but it was absolute bliss for her. I leaned against the corner of the house, watching the joy of each spring, the freedom of each bounce, until her leaps brought her around and her face crumpled from ecstasy into guilt when she caught sight of me.

"Oh! I didn't know you were standing there," she said, honestly.

And that is what I love about Faye. She is honest.

There were no made up excuses about why she was jumping on the roof of Jeffrey's car. There was no attempt to hide her guilt, just a simple and honest "I didn't know you were there."

That girl makes me laugh.

It's the little things.