Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Working Together

I was in charge of the family  Christmas party this year.  I'm happy to be able to say that in the past tense!  It's not that I don't like Christmas (I do), and it's not that I don't like to plan things (I do), and it's not that I don't like my family (I really, really do!).  It's just that it was a lot of work and I was on my feet all day yesterday and today I'm quite happy to hang out on the couch and recover.  Poor couch.  You missed me, didn't you?

We got home late from the party and didn't unload the vehicles, but went straight to bed.  Or as straight-ish to bed as we can, which isn't actually very straight, so I'm all the more tired.  Of course, my dad had an early - morning doctor's appointment I had to take him to today, but the vehicle was still full.  Who schedules these appointments so early, anyway??  Oh right, I do.  Gotta quit that.
And we still had boxes of table decorations and games and rolls of tape and a hot glue gun and bins of stuffed animals and soiled tablecloths and kid chairs and I don't know what else was back there but it wasn't safe. The vehicle had to be cleaned out before I could go.

I knew it would take me quite a while to haul all... that... into the house on my own.  But the older boys were asleep and it would take even longer to wake them.  I tried it anyway.  "Boys!"  I flipped on their bedroom light.  "I need to take Opa to the doctor but the vehicle is still full.  I need to leave in 10 minutes - could you help me unload it, please?"  

Not expecting any response,  I put my coat on and shoveled down the sidewalk.  The first boy was out before I finished clearing a clear path my dad wouldn't slip on.  Granted,  he didn't have a coat or even shoes on, but I was so grateful he came.

In just a few minutes,  I had all three of my big boys hauling boxes into the house.  What would have been a time-consuming,  arduous chore for me turned into a few quick loads for each of us, and then we were done.

I drove away on- schedule, leaving bare footprints in the driveway but bringing gratitude in my heart.  See what wonderful things our family can do together that would be harder to do alone?

Thanks, boys.  Yore mama loves you!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Sharing Christ's Light

As we pause this Christmas Eve to remember the birth of a baby in a stable, we want to extend warmest wishes to you and your family.  I wish we would light a candle from the happiness in our hearts and hand it to you, to help you light your part of the world.

Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Yule Log

David came home and said he needed to do some extra credit for his French class.  I gladly let him use the kitchen for his cooking project, and he whipped up this yule log.  It's a pretty impressive chocolate jelly roll cake with a whipped cream filling and thick chocolatey frosting.  He pulled leaves from the holly bush out front to dress it up and presented it under a silver cake cover.  

Well done, and 
joyeux Noël!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Football Road Trip

I'm not sure how it all started, but my dad got it in his head that he needed to go to a football game.  The man hasn't been in a stadium attending a football game since... oh... I was in college and worked at the stadium and got him free tickets.  That's been a while.  But this year, he needed to go to a game.  It was a challenge, because the regular season games were over.  No worries.  My brothers jumped on the idea of a family road trip and we all went!  I'm still a little gobsmacked that it even happened.  The last time me and my brothers were on a road trip together was when we were headed to Disneyland in 1987 in a borrowed RV which gracefully broke down in the middle of  an LA freeway.  During rush hour.  What great memories!

We hope to have a little bit less adventure on this trip, so we took a more reliable minivan.  And shoehorned me and all of my very tall brothers in it.  We were... cozy.
We ended up making some fun new memories.  It wouldn't have happened without a dream, some quick decision-making, four good-natured sisters-in-law, and my loving husband.  We couldn't have gone without them keeping the home fires burning. 
And hey, maybe we'll do it again sometime.  In another 23 years, maybe?

Monday, December 21, 2015

Mission Monday

So this week I get to see my missionary boys!  No, this Mama is not excited at all.  And that's a lie.

One will be skyping  Christmas morning, and the other on Christmas night.  Somehow I'm thinking Christmas will be a longer day than usual, but I'll take it!  I love that on the very day we celebrate Christ's birth, we can visit with two missionaries who are devoting their lives right now to serving Christ in the best ways they know.

I like how Ben put it in his letter today:

But now we'll just go to Malagasy Morsel time. It's Jesoa Kristy. Guess what that means. It means Jesus Christ. I'm sure that was a hard one. And that's what Christmas is all about. I love it.But I just kind of had a cool story from yesterday that I wanted to share with y'all. We got home from church and were watching Mormon Messages on Elder Snell's USB while we were making our delicious spaghetti. And there was this one video that had a little clip of Jesus walking with his disciples and I just thought to myself, "What I would give to get to walk with Him and learn from Him every day." And as soon as I thought that, the next thought came into my head, "That's exactly what you're doing right now." I get to do his work and I get to learn from Him from the scriptures every day and we all get to do that! I love it so much! That just made my day.
So I'd like to wish you all a fantastic Christmas and don't forget to do some things that our Savior would have you do to let you come unto Him while you're all celebrating Christmas.

And as always, you can see the South African blog here and the Madagascar blog here.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Happy Birthday!

Happy birthday to my family!  This crazy, wonderful train ride officially started 23 years ago, with these two babies:

I look a lot different now.  My dad took this picture the day before Jay went into brain surgery.  Jay was joking that it would be his obituary shot, but it wasn't.  We were in my folks' backyard, in front of their apple tree.  Those little green apples remind me of my boys, so young then, but growing up quickly.

To celebrate our family birthday, we had spaghetti on china, with sparkling grape juice poured ever so carefully into crystal goblets.  It's a tradition to eat something regular on fancy dishes, because our family is a bunch of regular, common, everyday and nothing impressive things, made special by our enduring family ties.

Happy birthday to us, and many more.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Love Her. Period.

This little cutie has some good friends in our neighborhood.   She loves nothing more than skipping off to play with one - or a bunch! - of them.  Unfortunately,  one of them is moving this week.  It's a travesty, to be sure.  We went shopping to our swanky neighborhood dollar store to get some little gifts for her.  And since we were there, we needed to get presents for the other friends, too.  If you give a girl a gift, you know...

She is a girly girl, and loves to wear fluffy skirts and twirly dresses.  She is drawn to sparkly hairbows and anything pink.  Her brothers worry that she will be a princess, but I don't.  I was an only girl in the middle of a bunch of brothers, too.  I'm having a good time helping her grow up.  This is her favorite skirt, which I think pairs very nicely with the tomboy bruises on her shins.

She had to write a love to to her friend, with her very best handwriting and lots of crossing out of misspelled words.  She loves to write and draw.  As she looked at the card, she exclaimed, "Oh I love periods.  They are so fun!"   

What a cute girl.  I'll bet she'll never say that again.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015


Trent got home from work late, and walked in while the twins were finishing up a bowl of tortilla chips.  Amidst cries of "Daddy's home!", he got clobbered by four little arms and two little boys who love their daddy fiercely and hug him tightly.  When he let them go, they returned to their chips.  Guiltily, they looked at the nearly- empty bowl and back at Trent.

After only a slight hesitation, they grabbed the last big chips in unison and offered the bowl of crumbs to their beloved father.  From their loving expressions, it was clear that the salty crumbs were the most delicious, but Freddie and Georgie were willing to part with them.

It was a tender moment with a side order of funny.  That's how we live in this family.

Friday, December 11, 2015


This week, we had some pretty hefty winds.  I saw a picture that someone had taken of the middle of the winds.  The current next to the ground was heading left, and the higher current is going right.  The clouds in the middle are being blown by both currents.

I am amazed at how beautiful this is.  The contrasting currents pull the clouds in opposite directions,  making graceful curves and swirls.  It couldn't be prettier if it had been sculpted.

Sometimes I feel like I am pulled in different directions.  10 different directions, to be exact.  Every child has needs.  The house has needs.  My husband has needs.  My church calling has needs.  My kitchen has needs.  Oh, and I need things too - how can I take care of everything?  And all at the same time?

I often feel stretched thin and buffeted about.  But maybe, from a different perspective, it makes lovely swirls and loops.  Maybe God is making beauty out of my chaos after all.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Date Night

We had a hot date.  At least, I was hoping it would be hot because I have been so cold.  It was his turn to plan, but it was late and I was tired and cold and didn't want to do anything but curl up on the couch with a big blanket.

So he bundled me up and took me to the bookstore.  We browsed a bit and then sat.  It was delightful to be out together.

How lucky am I to have this wonderful man in my life!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I Need a Nap

I am so tired.  So really, really tired.  That is a big reason why my writing has faltered over the past several months.  My health has been failing.  Failing.  I pause over that word.  It sounds so dreadful and dead-full.  I'm not dead, and I won't be for a long, long time.  I'm too stubborn to go ,I've too much work still to do, and God's not done with me yet.

But as I think of the word "failing," it works for me.  I often fail.  And I often get back up again.  Sometimes it takes me a while to get back on my feet, and sometimes I'm quicker.  But there should be no shame in failing - only in the refusal to try again. 

So yes, my health was failing.  My body was not functioning properly.  There is no shame in that.  I'm working on making better- and different - health choices, and am under the care of a few good health providers, so I'm getting better.  Slowly, but surely, I am healing.  But it all makes me so tired.

To my credit, nearly all the Christmas shopping is done.  I just have to pick up the gifts for my man and we're there.  I've started wrapping.  The tree is up and has lights on.  Maybe we'll even put some ornaments on one day.  Maybe.  The lights are up on the front of the house.  I successfully navigated two Holiday parties without falling apart.  We've gone to one Christmas concert (David's choir was absolutely angelic.  I don't usually expect that from a junior high chorus, but they sang straight to my heart this year.), and we'll hit another one tonight (Eddie's beginning band concert.  Should be fun.).  My kids are well fed and happy for the most part.  I finished the laundry.  My house is passably clean.  Everyone made it to school on time this morning.

And now, I shall go take a nap.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Mission Monday

We got our Christmas packages off a few weeks ago.  I'm afraid they aren't as interesting as they could have been.  I'm not a very good package-maker.  I can think of lots of fun things to put in a package AFTER I've sent it, but before...?  I draw a blank.  Besides, we don't have long until these boys come home, and I don't want to take up their luggage space with useless trinkets.

Not long until they come home?  Yes, it is true.  Only three months for the one, and six months for the other.  The one who comes home sooner, I think might like to come home even sooner.  Having a cute girl waiting anxiously for your return will do that to a guy.  Ironically enough, the missionary who comes home later is wanting to extend his mission and come home even later.  Why couldn't we have reversed these two, and the sooner would come home later and the later would come home sooner - and they would come home in the middle, at the same time!  Then I would jump on a plane and fly to Africa and pick them both up and have a lovely little vacation and time with my boys.

...dreaming...  but not reality.

Here's the real scoop on Madagascar.  And South Africa.  I'm just glad they are happy and doing well.  May the Lord continue to bless them and keep them safe!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

In Search of a Good Marker

I love to write.  I have love to write - composing words - most of my life.  I'm not that great at it, but it doesn't matter.  I'm probably like that one kid at the dance who is blissfully unaware of how truly bad he is at dancing, but just closes his eyes and flails about to his version of the music and loves every moment.  

I'm trying to get back into writing, but I'm out of the habit so I just don't think about it most days.  Need to find ways to make it a new habit.

Even more happy for me than writing, though, is WRITING, making shapes with a pen.  I love to make a message beautiful.  Being the daughter of a printer, I was into fonts before fonts were a thing, and I begged my dad to give me his old font books.  I would pore over them for hours, like a Christmas catalog, highlighting my favorite ones.  Then I would spend all my junior high spare moments in writing the name of my latest crush.  Not with my name, mind you.  Just his name, over and over in every typeface imaginable.  

I haven't written much in the past few years, partly because I've been raising humans, and partly because the current fascination with fonts means that my handwritten scripts, once unique, are now just a messy, secondhand version of an easily accessible online font.  If it's not as good, I might as well do it more formally on a computer.

As a family, we have been studying a scripture every week or so.  I like to type out the scripture of the week and post it on the wall so we can read it and learn it.  Unfortunately, our printer is not playing nicely with the computer.  In fact, they are not on speaking terms at all.  So I had to pull out a marker and scribble a sign. It's been more fun than I thought it would be.  It's feeling good to get back into creating.  

Now I need to find a good marker that will work every time, not just some of the time.  And don't let the marker talk to the printer or neither of them will work.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Just Like Riding a Bike

I've been feeling like I needed to start writing again.  It's been a while, and I feel so rusty - like I've forgotten how.  Folks say it's like riding a bike...

I haven't ridden a bike for a while, either.  I used to bike often.  We would take our little family on a biking outing - me and Jay and three little boys on three little bikes.  Then we bought a bike trailer for the baby and Jay pulled it behind his bike.  He would go in the front and I would take the rear, making sure we didn't lose anyone.  At the time, we lived in a very small town, so the roads were safe.  When we moved to the Seattle area, the biking continued because there were so many beautiful bicyle trails.  Our favorite went along the banks of the Sammammish River and had frequent parks.  Jay would come home from dinner, announce that he wanted to go biking, and start rounding up the kids.  I'd take whatever I was making for dinner, attempt to fashion it into something we could take on a picnic (casserole portions wrapped in a tortilla sound good?), and off we'd go.

I like to bike with my kids.  I rode with them to school every morning, all the way through my pregnancy with Angel.  I loved the ability to get somewhere faster than my lumbering belly usually let me.  We got some pretty funny looks, my bike, my belly, and me.

Since then however, the cover on my bike seat rotted off.  My tires went flat.  I wasn't strong enough to haul three little kidlets in the trailer.  We didn't ride any more.

A couple of months ago, I thought I'd ride anyway.  It had been a while, but hey, it's just like riding a bike, right?  Running late to school helped me make my decision.  Angel was alread zipping up the street on her pink bicycle and the twins hopped on their little red bikes, and I didn't want to run alongside them again, so I pulled out David's bicycle.  The seat was good - the tires were pumped.  I threw my leg over the center bar and we were off.  The children were delighted that Mom - Mom of all people! - was riding a bike with them.  They don't know that I used to ride lots.  To them, it was novel and fun.  And we made it to school on time.

I rode home again, enjoying the... wind in my hair!  Say that like it was a shampoo commercial.

When I got home, I rode the bike up the neighbor's driveway close to the gate going into our backyard.  I swung my foot over the seat - and missed.  The front tire caught the edge of the grass, my foot caught on the seat, and bike and I went down in a most ungraceful slow-motion disaster.

I untangled my foot, rubbed my scraped palms together, and realized that if I tried to stand I would immediately be back on the ground.  So I sat there on the neighbor's driveway and gave thanks.  I was thankful that I didn't appear to be seriously hurt.  I was grateful that my knee was numb enough that it didn't hurt yet.  I was grateful that no one watched me fall.  I was grateful that my own front door was less than 50 painfully hobbling steps away.  I was grateful that I didn't wreck my son's bike because I'd never hear the end of that one!

After a few painful minutes, I slowly got up, put the bike in out bike rack, limped to the house and crawled back in bed.  I spent a week shuffling around the house and a month not doing anything which required kneeling.  I still have a tender lump at the base of my knee, but I'm all functional.

I'm so thankful for bodies that heal.  And hopefully, getting back into writing will be better than "just like riding a bike."