Sunday, December 18, 2016

You know me.  I have an "unsocial, taciturn disposition, unwilling to speak unless [I] expect to amaze the whole room."  Hence the silence lately!  Christmas really sucks when you're grieving.

But today I have a bar of Ghirardelli Cherry Tango by my side, a hot bean bag at my feet, and some happy feelings in my heart.  Most importantly, I have a missionary brother in Texas whose Christmas will be brighter when he sees what my goofy kids are up to.  This one's for you, Taylor!

Thanksgiving at Our House

 "I am so too old for the kid table."

 There goes my happy vein.  These people always bring it out.  

Christmas Tree "Hunting" with the Cuzzy Wuzzies

Days for Girls
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A really lame picture for what turned out to be my favorite Relief Society event of the year: a Days for Girls fundraiser and sewing party.  If you don't know about Days for Girls, check out this video.  Hands down the best nonprofit I've ever seen.  And my ward is the absolute best.  We had the best turnout and the most generous donations the DFG representative had ever seen.  I love Relief Society!

Letters to Santa

And I saved the best for last: letters to Santa.  As you may see, there are  few who keep up the tradition in favor of better presents, and there is one in particular who didn't bother with formalities much.  But they all make me smile.  

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful for Him

"All things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator."

A week ago today, I heard the voice of God.

Rest eternal grant them,
Lord our God,
we pray to thee:
and light perpetual forever shine on them

It came to me in a concert hall, during a dress rehearsal for my chamber group.  Dancers, singers, orchestra, and soloists, had all prepared for weeks and months, and as I found, lifetimes for this night.  I hoped that it would be enough, hoped that the music would be done justice.

The orchestra was good!  My heart went out in gratitude to them for the countless hours of preparation they invested to master their instruments. The amount of time and talent and God-given goodness sitting in those chairs blew me away.  

Lord Jesus Christ, thou that rulest in majesty,
O free the souls of they faithful departed
out of the lion's jaw...
Grant them, Lord, 
Grant them deliverance from death unto life,
We pray thee, as of old thou has promised to our fathers

The vocal soloists were masterful, tender, fervent, and sweetly floated their voices fifty feet to the ceiling on their own power.  My heart soared with those voices in the praise of Him who made them.

Light perpetual shine upon them, shine upon them, Lord, we pray.
With all thy saints in endless glory, for thy tender mercy's sake

My favorite piece of the work, "Sanctus," features a violin obbligato of such tender sweetness, words completely fail.  Give it a listen:

I was overjoyed that the violinist did it absolute justice.  How could I be so lucky, to be sitting in a room with so much beauty, all devoted to the Master of the universe?  It was as if He was there in the harmony, there in the dance, there in the perfect sweetness of the violin and the voice.  It was as if He was showing me His greatness through all this beauty.  

Heaven and earth are full, 
Full of thy glory, O Lord.  
Hosanna in the highest!

Hosanna, indeed!  The God of creation has endowed this earth more beauty than can be seen, more loveliness than can be heard or felt.  He is in the taste of a perfect mango.  He is in the joy of a happy marriage.  He is in the great bodies of knowledge to be found in libraries all over the world.  He is in the majestic power of waves breaking on the shore.  He is in the works of masters like Gabriel Faure, and he is in the work of the musicians who work to bring it to life.

I am grateful for who He is.  I am grateful for what He has done for me.  I am grateful I can see and hear him when I'm looking and listening.  Not only is he the Great Creator, but he loves me enough to make himself known to me.  

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Bedtime Battleground

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You might say my house resembles a battleground all day.  There is deafening noise.  There are piles of rubble and debris everywhere.  There are blood-curdling screams.  There are projectiles.  There are strange smells.  There are displaced persons on occasion.  Sometimes there is even violence.

Here the forces of order and wisdom battle the forces of confusion and anarchy.  Here I am a lone soldier striving to overcome the noise and disorder of a large family.

The first skirmish of the day sees me fighting to get four kids out the door with lunches in hand-- without letting them completely destroy the house.  Sometimes we start with a clean house, most of the time not, and sometimes I win this first battle.  Either way it's only the beginning, because people come and go all day, gleefully scattering personal possessions like Tinkerbell flinging pixie dust.

I do that early cleanup, the after-lunch cleanup, and an after-dinner cleanup if I'm on my A game.  In between times, I nag, cajole, remind, plead, and threaten my kids in order to get them to clean up.  I dream of the peace and quiet and cleanliness that will come once my darlings are all packed off to bed.  I fight valiantly through dinner, through dishes, through stories and sometimes even through baths.  I get sooooo close.

And here is where I typically fall apart, because lately I have been fleeing the battleground as the kids get ready for bed.  I barricade myself in my bedroom with a good book and smuggled brownies while TJ sings the two youngest to sleep.  After about a half hour of haranguing the oldest four to go to bed, he, too retreats, knocking pitifully until I'm sure it's him and that he's alone so I can unlock the door and let him in.   We cower in there together, shouting bribery and threats from the room to get our older kids to pipe down and go to sleep.  They pretend to be contrite for about two seconds before the raucous victory party continues.  We pass out at some point and hopefully they are kind and don't wake us up.  And in the morning?  Big surprise!  The house I fought so hard to get clean before bedtime was reclaimed by the enemy while I slept.

Snacks on the counter.  Shoes on the floor.  Cushions scattered all over the living room.  Backpacks, papers, journals, pencils, clothing, hairbrushes, toothbrushes, towels!!!  How is it possible to do so much damage in less than an hour?

I blame myself for being such a coward.

But recently I realized that some of my younger siblings still do bedtime the old-fashioned way.  You know, the parents tell the kids to go to bed, and the kids go to bed?  I have faint memories of when my kids were smaller and less intimidating.  Glorious memories of driving the enemy out of my territory.  I remember when every night I proudly retained the battleground of my living room.

And so I have taken courage, and with the promise of self-respect lighting my way, I tell my older kids that they are welcome to stay awake for an extra half hour after family prayers--if they would like to quietly read their scriptures in the living room.  During this time I fight the urge to flee to the security and peace of my room, and instead enforce peace or drive out the unpeaceful.  Too much noise and they're off to bed, shoes and clothing and books in tow.  Somehow, under my watchful eye, they just don't have the courage to produce new mounds of detritus.

Victory is sweet.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

What Does TJ have in Common with Roald Dahl?

Both extremely gifted, both kinda dark but hilarious, and most of all--both insane.  This is what Sunday nights around our house sound like.  

Fall Break

TJ and I thought about taking the kids camping this weekend, but then we figured we could do all the fun stuff and skip the sleeping on the ground bit.

Here are the kids in front of a massive Ponderosa Pine, which is TJ's favorite tree.  TJ taught us all about the different species of pine on our hike.  It's fun having a scoutmaster in the family!
(Can you see Paul?)

We came to the point of the hike most people would designate the "end."  Then TJ and the kids hopped the barricade and followed the stream into the side of the mountain.  

Isaiah and I stayed behind and took pictures.  "Be normal," I kept telling him.  
In vain, in vain.

Later, at the lake, when I told Isaiah I couldn't do anything about his cold hands, Eliza saved the day by tying him up in his sweatshirt.  It looked so cozy I had it done to me, as well!

Naomi learned rock skipping from a pro.

And of course we took time to frolic in the leaves.

Hands down, my favorite part of the trip was listening to these goofballs jam on the way home.  This little riff they made up all on their own.  I love how Isaiah didn't have to be told to beat box it.  After they got the ball rolling, TJ spent about a half hour teaching them "The Lion Sleeps Tonight" by rote.  Good thing, too, because otherwise he would have fallen asleep like me and we'd have crashed!


Summer Catch-Up

This blog has been such a drag lately, nothing but depression this and trials that! 
Here is the other 90% of my life, which I think you'll agree, is pretty awesome.

We had so many awesome friends and family come to support TJ in his play this summer!  Kiersten helped the kids make this candy lei for TJ when she was here.  And Jonathan, well, he was here as well.

The Tooth Fairy in our house is such a slacker.

Ezra held an EPIC garage sale for his Eagle Scout fundraiser this summer.  He raised enough money in the first two hours, and then he raised money for others in the troop.

Lots and lots of money!

We're going to need a big ugly stick for this girl.

Isaiah has been doing home school for two years, but since he's only five, he started kindergarten this year at the Montessori school.  This is him on his first day of school.  True to form, he has never looked back.  He is taking DMA by storm!

This is why Paul is my favorite child.

This summer GG Andersen moved back to St. George, as well as Terry and Laurie, TJ's parents.  We are so glad to have them close to us!

Paul turned 7 this summer, and we celebrated with this awesome cake Grandma Dick made.

Paul also lost his first tooth!  Finally!

We had a visit from Nikki and her fam.  Little Kimball had my girls wrapped around his little finger right away.

A family night with the extended fam.  This picture I love, so, so much.  Because the blurriness gives you a clear picture of what Paul and Weston are like when they get together.

Kendall fulfilling his avuncular duties.

Palmer's 2nd Birthday!

Our enrichment night this fall was a Cafe Rio dinner with the Young Women.
Go Fourth!

 Ezra's Eagle Project is putting in one hole of a disc golf course in our park.  Here he is with his helpers, some of whom I think may have been there for the lemonade.

My kids have the best take ever on the presidential debates.  
Here's Naomi's:

(it reads "I will burn you," "spider" and "I hate you Trump.")

And Eliza's takes the cake:

I changed my mind.  Isaiah's my favorite.

The boys begged for weeks to go to the Rosenbruch Wildlife Museum.  They were such fantastic little learners!  They listened to the docent tour as attentively as the adults around them.  They are pretty much the next set of Wild Kratt brothers.

We almost got eaten by a bear while we were there.

My next-door neighbor took two gold and one silver in the Huntsman Games this summer.  
She's the coolest.  

I finally used my feminine charms to get TJ to dump his old wallet, which he bought in high school. I have been begging for years for him to retire it, but it's been hard because he really likes the way this one has been smashed flat and molded to the shape of his rear end.  But  it has more holes than pockets.  Time to say goodbye!

As you can see he's really excited about the shiny new replacement.