Friday, July 22, 2016

Eve Alone

What to do when there's only one child at home?

It's been weird. And quiet. And clean. And boring.

I miss my monkeys. The boys fly in this morning, and I can't wait to squeeze them and hear all about their adventures.

I had school prep to do this week, but Eve and I had a few adventures together. We did her school shopping (post coming later), and we ate lunch out a few times.

She took my phone a few times and wandered the house taking pictures.

 And we got a crazy idea to head up to the cabin for a night or two.

Eve snagged my phone on the drive up.
She has two new movie addictions this summer--High School Musical 2 and Ella Enchanted. Here's a shot of Prince Char as we drove up.
And she took at least two dozen variations of this picture. Why, I don't know.
Eve loves to play Tenzi.

And we spent much of the evening out on these stumps rolling dice and laughing.
It is so beautiful up there. I know I'm crazy about the mountains, but I love this piece of heaven.
We saw this guy wandering through our property as we played dice.
And the next morning on my walk, I saw his brother--five by five in his summer velvet. This guy was a little hostile and territorial, and I was glad when he moved out of the road and let me pass.
It was a beautiful morning. So quiet and peaceful and cool.
Lily gave Eve permission to sleep in her bed while she was gone, and Eve took full advantage of the privilege--even using Lily's coveted "soft blanky" and "cozy pillow."
Good thing for Eve that Annie lives with us, or she would have been painfully lonely. The little girls played and swam and dressed up and fought and watched High School Musical 2.

As the baby of a big family, Eve doesn't know what it's like to be alone so much, and she didn't love it. I don't know who will give her brothers bigger hugs at the airport today--her or me.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wild Hair

Sometimes I get these wild ideas that sound exciting and exhilarating in my head. I run with these schemes and burst in full force, then halfway through think, "What on earth am I doing?"

I did just that this last weekend. I packed the three little kids in the suburban and we were off on a very quick adventure north.

I was gone from home for 61 hours. That's it. Of those 61 hours . . .
26.5 of those hours were spent driving. I was the lone driver. It was not unpleasant. Eve made a cave for herself in her spot.
Hyrum got cozy on his side of the car, and Micah disappeared into the back seat, sleeping like a teenager most of the way to Idaho.
16.5 of those hours were spent sleeping. I was exhausted, and I rested.

The remaining precious 18 hours were spent visiting people I love. Eve and Mom looked through Mom's box collection, sharing stories where each came from and why each was special.
Kids watched "Monsters University" with Grandpa, picked apricots from the tree, and brushed the horses.
We also had a picnic Saturday afternoon at a park--in the most glorious 82-degree weather I've experienced in a long time.
Both of my sisters brought their kids, and we played games, ate, and visited for the evening.



The kids had boat races in the ditch and laughed and splashed (and Hyrum fell in. Someone always falls in.)

Micah passed off his horsemanship merit badge with Dad.
Then before it was bright but still very early, I kissed Hyrum goodbye and the other kids and I headed south to Utah where we dropped Micah off with Brad's mom for the week. My kids have each spent a week alone with their grandparents, and I love the opportunity for them to have alone time with people who love them.

I've been taking sunset pictures this year, but my favorite time of day, by far, is sunrise. "Alone" in the car as the kids slept, I watched the sun rise over my beloved southern Idaho.
I've lived in Arizona longer than anywhere else, and I love my adopted state, but my heart always leaps as I drive through the bean and potato fields and cross the Perrine bridge over the basalt rift in the earth with the Snake River below.

Eve threw up in the car (in a bag, thankfully) before we arrived in Salt Lake, and she was pretty miserable the rest of the way home.
She mostly slept. Every gas station I would turn in a Redbox movie and pick another for her to watch while I listened to Hamilton by Ron Chernow on my iPad.
Eve has been an only child this whole week. Lily left for girls' camp early Monday morning and the boys will fly home tomorrow. She's unaccustomed to the solitude and while she's pretty independent, I can tell she misses her sibs.

I can't wait to have all of them back together tomorrow--I've even missed the fighting. A little bit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Not What You Might Think

9x13 dishes work harder than most dishes in my house. But this is one wasn't used for dinner prep.
That's my iPad in there.

Ever heard the song, "Some Days Are Diamonds, Some Days Are Stones"?

Me neither.

But my mother-in-law sings that line from the song often when you're having one of those "stones" kind of days. That phrase ran through my head a dozen times yesterday.

First it was small things--left my phone home and couldn't find the store I needed (I know--First World problem.) Eve was whiny and bored. Really small things.

Then it got a little worse. While at the school dropping stuff off in my classroom, I opened a package from our new textbook's publisher. Inside was not the text I was expecting. Or the text that I ordered. A quick email confirmed that the 35 textbooks I have coming are in fact not the correct text and I don't think the new texts will be here before school starts. Pretty big problem.

Then it got really bad. Eve begged me to watch her swim. With school starting three weeks from today (EEEEK!), I knew I needed to keep working on my lectures, so I hauled my iPad and notes to the pool. I've done this more times than I can count this summer, and I didn't think twice about it when I sat in a chair closer to the pool than normal. Less than five minutes later, I realized I needed my laptop as well, so I hurried into the house, grabbed my computer and sat back on the chair. When the cushion moved just a bit as I sank into it, my iPad flipped head over heels and splashed in the pool as I watched helplessly from a foot away.

I jumped in quickly, fully clothed, screaming, "NOOOO!" loud enough that Tucker came rushing out of his house to make sure there was no great loss of life. I had been right in the middle of a project that's taken me hours to complete, and the presentations I'd created had not been uploaded to the cloud yet.

Yeah.

It sucks.

Last night I wallowed in self-pity a bit before trying to evaluate exactly how bad things are. If the text doesn't come--I can work around that. If the iPad doesn't work--I can use Brad's and redo the seven presentations I've already completed.

I'm gonna throw that stone in the rock polisher today and make the best of it. It won't ever be a diamond, but it's one I have to add to my collection, so I better shine it up.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Teeny Miracles

Lists. Check marks. Sublists. More check marks. That pretty much describes my days.
And I'm always in a hurry. I think I've been like that even as a small child--walking early, talking early, and always getting up early so I can get more done each day.

After rushing through Safeway as I checked off my family's food list for our Fourth of July at the cabin, I hurried out of the store. In my haste, I hit the door jamb crooked with the broken wheel of the cart, and that was just the shock needed for a case of soda to fall off the bottom of the cart, spraying everything in its path--including me. Annoyed at the delay, I returned to the store where a clerk quickly removed the dripping box. I rushed back down the aisles, grabbed another case, and almost ran to the car.

Where I could not find my keys.

I looked through my purse twice. Checked my pockets. Looked to see if I'd left them in the suburban.

They were gone.

Nothing frustrates me faster than unexpected delays. Nothing. My kids know that when a delay comes up, Mom's temper flares. I've worked on controlling it better over the last few years (and I've seen some improvement), but I still have a long way to go.

At times like this, my brain jumps from thought to thought with little rational processing involved. "I'm going to have to retrace my steps through the ENTIRE store to find those." "I have no idea how long this will delay our departure." "Is Brad in court? Can he get me his spare key?" "I wonder how much it costs to replace the fob and key of that car--can't be cheap."

All of these thoughts in less time than it took me to walk back into the store from the 114-degree parking lot (where I'd left my overflowing and soda-spewed cart full of perishables) and ask the courtesy clerk if someone had turned in some keys in the last few minutes. I knew what the answer would be, but it didn't hurt to ask.

When she responded with the predictable "no," I headed back out to the parking lot, estimating how far behind schedule this delay would make us. I uttered a quick prayer in my heart, "Heavenly Father, I know I ask a lot of dumb stuff, but I need to find these keys. It doesn't have big eternal significance, but it really matters to me. Help me know where in this huge store I should look."

And that's when I thought, "Look through the bags in the cart."

What?

"Look through the bags in the cart first."

Ok.

I returned to the parking lot where my vegetables were wilting in the asphalt's radiating heat, grabbed a new cart from the corral next to my car, and began moving bags from my original cart to the new one.

It only took two bags.

In the second bag under the hot dog buns were my keys. They must have fallen out of my purse during the soda escapade.

Like most of us, I often don't see God's hand working in my life, helping with little things and smoothing out the annoying bumps in my path. Even I could see it this time.

You matter. I see you. I love you.

God is aware of us. Some days it may seem otherwise, but on this day, I knew. He knew I was sweating in the Safeway parking lot with a cart full of food for my family to enjoy together in the mountains. And while I could have called Brad or tromped through the entire store again or really lost my cool or . . .

Yeah. God is good. And He loves us.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Modified MCC

Lily and Micah didn't do MCC's Musical Theatre Workshop this summer, but the two little kids did.
Eve comes alive on the stage. From such a shy little tiny girl, I'm happy to see her confidence grow.
Hyrum is a good sport about it all. He's not naturally coordinated or a good dance, but he always tries and listens.
His favorite was the all boy song and he took it very seriously. He did tell me that this was his last time participating, and the only thing that kept him going every day was that he could read his book while he waited.
Theatre is probably not his thing, but I was grateful for his positive attitude and trying something different.


And offstage, their attitudes flipped. Hyrum was willing to take pictures . . .
. . . while Evie was suddenly camera shy and grumpy.

Love these monkeys, and I'm glad we live in a place where they have such positive summer activities for my kiddos.


Monday, July 11, 2016

Joy

Summer--just a few things I want to remember from this summer.

Micah turned 12 in June, and for a few years, all he's wanted to do on his birthday was go to the Mesa temple to do baptisms. (For more information, click here.) He and Lily spent one morning together, and after the temple, they headed to IHOP for a celebratory breakfast.
Eve cracks me up.
As I left to pick Hyrum up from dive one morning, she was perched on top of the piano, reading a book--like this was a normal place to casually read. She's always loved to write me small notes and bring me flowers, but her latest sweet service has been filling a cup with ice, cracking open a diet Pepsi, and surprising me with it as I slave away at the computer on school preparations. Her little blond head peeks around the corner with her hands behind her back, and then she carefully brings the filled cup in front of her. No matter the time of day, I happily drink it down (I've tried explaining to her that I really don't care for soda for breakfast, but how can I tell that little monkey no?)

No pictures from our day (my phone overheated while we were there--only AZ people recognize this symbol on their phones) . . .
. . . but we took the four kids to Sunsplash on Saturday. While it was busier than I've ever seen it before, we had a great time together with our kids. It may have been my favorite day activity ever with them. I wish I could pinpoint the reason why, but it was a great day with just the right amount of sun with no sunburn and time together.

Brad's cousin and his family are passing through AZ this weekend, and we spent some quality time together, watching home movies and playing games.
Nothing brings me so much joy as my family. I love being surrounded by them and spending time with them and laughing together and making memories.

Nothing better than family.

Nothing.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Lives


My mind reeled as Brad and I crawled to bed, and my "almost addiction" checking the newsfeed on my phone was the culprit. The Facebook video of a motorist's death in Minnesota had disappeared, and in its place? Dallas. Snipers. Police officers.

More death.

More violence. More protest. More hate. More death.

More senseless, purposeless, vengeful, spiteful death.

And more questions.

From the election vitriol to senseless deaths of all types, hate somehow dictates what splashes first in our newsfeeds.

I don't profess to live the most diverse life in the world. To call it honestly, my circle is pretty white, pretty LDS, pretty conservative, and pretty middle class. But included in the circle of those I love--people of different colors, people of different religions, people of different lifestyle choices. Neighbors who are black. Family members who wear the blue uniform. Friends who are gay. People I love fiercely.

It's not the color of your skin or the color of your hair or the color of your uniform. It's the status of your soul. It's not black lives that matter. It's not white lives that matter. It's not blue lives, gay lives, straight lives, homeless lives, military lives, civilian lives or unborn lives.

Lives matter.

Life matters.

Period.

And the only solution to hate that I know is love--not a love of the choices people make that may be different from our own but a love of the soul inside the shroud of skin. That's what God does.

God didn't make us all the same, but He does love us all the same. The black ones. The blue ones. The white ones. The gay ones. The peaceful ones. And the violent ones.

These words of Dr. Martin Luther King have been circulating today: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

The words of Christ also came to me: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27)

I don't present any answers. I know hearts are heavy and hearts are hurting.

May God give us all a bit more understanding, and may all those who are hurting find peace.