Friday, September 12, 2014

The Loin, the Word, and the Water Heater

No, that is not a typo in the title. Three random stories linked together--thanks C.S. Lewis.

The Loin

Hyrum ran to me, excitement in his sparkly eyes.
"I can't believe you bought that! Are we going to EAT it?"

I may have been as confused as you are. Eat what?

"The lion leg in the fridge! Is it a REAL lion leg? I told Eve that we had a real lion leg in the fridge, and she didn't believe me."
I've been trying to teach him that spelling is extremely important in life. One example of many.

The Word

Kesa asked me two questions earlier this week: 
What are Ben's favorite books? My second son is a senior this year and loves to read and reads everything he can get his hands on. Do you or Ben have any suggestions?

Does Ben have suggestions? Do cows attract flies?

Ben is primarily a fantasy/sci fi guy and has recently been devouring anything written by Brandon Sanderson. He writes epic novels (some over 1000 pages) and series and stand-alone stories. A few of his books aren't quite as complicated, and Ben has shared these with Micah (Steelheart comes to mind), and Micah loves them, too. He's quite prolific, and if he hasn't been introduced to Sanderson yet, his books would be a good choice.

Ben will also read any book that appears in the house that he's never read before. I've even caught him with new picture books (have you read The Day the Crayons Quit? It's fantastic.) or Hyrum's Star Wars chapter books on occasion.

I recommended Unbroken, by Louis Zamperini, and he loved that book, as did I. I recommend it to everyone I know above the age of 12. It is an amazing true story of one man's triumph over great adversity in his life, his successes and failures, and reads like a page-turning novel.

A couple other series that he recommended were: I Am Number Four series by Pittacius Lore, Leven Thumps, David Eddings' Belgariad and Mallorean series, and Michael Scott's Alchemist series (this series is more along the lines of Leven Thumps, written for younger teens, but still well worth the read).

Tucker, if you're reading this, any other suggestions? Or anyone else out there? Keeping high school boys in books has always been a challenge around here.

Do you have any advice for the mom of a missionary since you have been through it before? My son has been gone almost a month and I am still feeling a little lost yet soooo happy for him. But sad for me and because it is over--not the mission, he just left, but the little boy I raised is gone forever it seems.

Ben is down to 26 days until he leaves, and that "I'm losing my boy" feeling is beginning to creep back up on me. I can think of no parallel experience in life to that of being a missionary mom. Hugging your child as they disappear into the belly of an airport, knowing that you will only speak to them once every six months for the next two years (or 18 months if it's a daughter), can't be explained, and until you've been there, you can't understand. Kesa was right when she said you feel lost yet so happy for them and sad for yourself. I think what makes it so hard is the finality of it all. When a child leaves for college, you help fluff their nest and buy their books and stock their fridge, they come home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and over the course of two years, you gradually accustom yourself to the notion that they are independent adults. Still hard, but when a missionary leaves, you don't have any transition to the adult stage.

My advice is to let yourself be sad. I used to sit on Tucker's bed and allow myself to miss him. I found a few of his unwashed shirts in the bottom of the laundry, and (this is going to sound so weird) I kept one of them in my closet (not a stinky smelly one, just a worn one) and I would remember how he smelled and almost how it felt to hug him. The dirty shirt eventually lost its Tucker smell, and by that time, I was ready to wash it.

That being said, don't wallow in the sadness. I know some moms that are paralyzed with grief for the first few months (even longer), and that doesn't help anybody. Make a scrapbook, count down the days they've been gone, bond with other missionary moms (I found a few of T's companions' moms online, and we swapped letters and stories--that was fun).

Enough of that. It's making me sad already, knowing how hard it will be so say goodbye to my Benny Jam.

Moving on.

The Water Heater

It's been a week around the Sanatorium.

Yeah, the basement flooded. That sucked. So many people in the valley lost power, lost their vehicles, or sustained $1000s in damage that I felt pretty lucky that all we need to do is dry out and replace one room of carpet pad.

The basement was nothing compared to this:
Really? Clean drying dishes on the kitchen counter are worse than a flooded basement? It's not the dishes, but what they represent in my life.

Today is Friday. Right after dinner on Wednesday, Brad discovered a sizable puddle in our garage. After consulting with a buddy who's a plumber, we found out that we were going to be the proud parents of a brand new 120-gallon water heater. Problem is, water had to be shut off from the broken one and we needed to wait until Thursday night for a new one.

Think of all the things you do that require hot water after dinner each night.

Kids hadn't been bathed. Dishes hadn't been washed. Stinky kitchen rags and towels hadn't been laundered.

Kids were an easy solution--an Arizona bath. Dunk 'em in the pool for 30 minutes, and they're in a state I call "nearly clean."

Dishes were an easy solution--load the dishwasher, and whatever wouldn't fit inside, I washed by hand. It was only a few, and the rest could wait one day to be washed.

Stinky laundry wasn't an easy solution--those just had to wait, and the smell had to be removed to outside.

Thursday morning arrived, and Brad and Ben thought they could take cold showers, but the valves on our showers don't work unless both the cold AND hot water are working. As for me, I showered at a friend's.

Dishes were getting deeper, laundry was getting stinkier--and so were my kiddos.

Unfortunately, here is a picture from this morning:
That light makes our home look like a glowing bit of heaven, doesn't it? Look closer. There's a broken water heater in the driveway, along with an empty box. And a puddle of water coming from a hose not attached to a spigot.

Any guesses?

They installed the new water heater last night. After trips for parts and a dozen mosquito bites, they turned the valves and began filling the tank.

And it leaked.

The brand new water heater leaked.

So. No running loads of dishes. No baths for kids. No laundry. No cold or hot showers.

No hot water for the second day.

I honestly didn't mind washing all of the dishes by hand (some still wait in the dishwasher, I must admit)--what I did mind was heating four cups of water at a time in the microwave to dump into my sink so I could actually clean the dishes.

I do mind not being able to shower. I do mind washing my face in cold water. And the stench from the smelly kitchen laundry is beginning to permeate the house--even from outside. A candle is working overtime to mask that smell.

Brad said that they are bringing a second brand new 120-gallon water heater at 9:30 this morning.

I can wait that long for a shower.


  1. My shower and my laundry room are not being used...feel free to head on over. Should I mention we have the tankless hot water system, it never runs out of hot water and if it leaks it is OUTSIDE!!

  2. I LOVED this post! I did not love that it all happened to you, but it was so real and raw and reminded me that bad things are not punishment or karma - they just randomly happen. And they make good stories after they're over. What I did love was Hyrum and the lion leg. Because I just love Hyrum stories. We were a bit jealous of your rain (not your flooding, just the rain) as we're dry as an old bone here. Zach is starting to interview and had a phone one with Banner Hospital. Next to California it's the next best thing. I'd be so happy to have the kids that close. Sounds like you're surviving and doing well, floods and leaks considered. I love reading about your life!

  3. Do you have any laundromats near you?

  4. Most washing machines and dishwashers heat their own water, since you only hook them up to the cold water tap. No need for stinky towels and dirty dishes! Also, it might be easier to heat your water in an electric tea kettle, instead of in the microwave (more and hotter water in one go). Just some suggestions and tips ;)

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  6. This was such a cute post!!! And yay for hot water!

  7. I wrote my missionaries every day….not so much for them as for me.

    It helped me immeasurably because I communicated with them regularly.


  8. UGGGGHHHH!!!!! whenever things go wrong my stepmom always says "there's always the water heater." she reminds me that just when you think you're ahead the water heater will break, but you pick yourself up, and you move on. i always hate when she says it, but i just can't stop thinking about her saying it as i'm reading thing.