Thursday, February 28, 2013

Interview With Matthew (Age 4)

Happy Birthday to my four-year-old, Matthew!

What I've learned is that getting an interview with Matthew is infinitely harder than his brother. On several of these, it was as though I was throwing him into a torture chamber and pulling his teeth out one by one by one. We persevered and the finished product is some semblance of a snapshot into the life of my four-year-old.

1. What is your favorite T.V. show? Ninja Turtles. And I like Scooby-Doo. And Power Rangers.

2. What did you have for breakfast? I ate sandwich and chips and carrots and that's all the things I had. (This is most definitely what he had for lunch. I don't feed my kids chips for breakfast. Usually.)

3. What is your middle name? Matthew David Doozleberry (First, he didn't actually say Doozleberry but his last name has been changed to protect us from murderous stalkers and kidnappers. Second, the first time he answered with Matthew David John Doozleberry--John being his brother's middle name. Then he quickly repeated it without the "John." It's funny, because he does have two middle names but we never use the second one and I don't think he even knows it exists. I wonder if this will one day cause him to have a complete identity crisis. I mean, if I suddenly learned that my name was actually Lori Elizabeth Elvira, I'd have issues. Note to self: Tell Matthew he has two middle names before it's too late.)

4. Favorite Food? Taco and I like chips. (Okay.)

5. What food do you dislike? Nothing. (This is pretty much true. He doesn't like avocado. That's honestly the only thing I can think of off the top of my head that he doesn't like. The kid is a human trash compacter. He'll eat anything. Except the aforementioned avocado.)

6. What is your favorite color? Blue.

7. Favorite lunch? I like to eat sandwiches.

8. What is your favorite thing to do? Play some toys.

9. If you could anywhere in the world on vacation, where would you go? In an airplane to California.

10. Favorite sport? Soccer game.

11. When is your birthday? In February.

12. Are you a morning person or a night person? A night person. (This is SO true. Matthew will babble to himself long into the night but he only wants to get up on his terms. If you try waking him before he's ready to get up, be ready. He is one mighty grump.)

13. Pets? I have a kitty cat. And I have Beck.

14. Any new and exciting news you'd like to share with us? I'd like to share my Ninja Turtles. (I'm gonna go with, "I don't understand the question." But I am glad he likes to share.)

15. What do you want to be when you grow up? I like to be a dad. And a Power Ranger. (Ahh...the first one is so sweet. And, might I request a little girl? Pretty please? The second one--oh dear.) 

16. What is your favorite candy? Um. Gum. (Today is actually the first day of his whole entire life that he's chewed gum. It must have made a big impression.)

17. Where is the farthest you've ever been from home? Legoland. (Hawaii would actually be the correct answer. But, well, Legoland made a big impression. Apparently even bigger than Hawaii. Coulda saved some serious money, is what I'm saying.)

18. What is your favorite book? The Bible. (He actually ran into the other room and returned carrying his Bible. It was pretty adorable.)

19. What are you most proud of? I'm proud that I scored four medals in soccer. (Medals, goals, what's the difference?)

20. What is your favorite movie? I like Tad! (Letter Factory)

21. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken. The egg. The chicken. (It was all very confusing.)

And, for fun, I asked him the same questions that James Lipton asks at the end of Inside the Actor's Studio.

1. What is your favorite word? Matthew (I'm so glad he likes his name.)
2. What is your least favorite word? Dang it.
3. What turns you on? (I rephrased with, "What do you like?") I like clapping hands and singing.
4. What turns you off? (I rephrased with, "What don't you like?") I don't like Barbies.
5. What sound or noise do you love? I like music
6. What sound or noise do you hate? I don't like this one, "RRRAAAWWW!" (I wish you could have seen the actions that accompanied this sound.)
7. What is your favorite curse word? (I asked him what his favorite bad word is.) Knucklehead.
8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? I want to fix toys.
9. What profession would you not like to do? I don't want to wash the cannon. (Somehow I don't think this is something he needs to worry about being forced to do.)
10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? (I omitted the "If Heaven exists" part) I want Him to say, "Thank you, you did awesome." (Ahhh.)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

That's My Son

I assume that parents raise each child differently, according to his or her personality, needs, likes and dislikes. I assume that growing up isn't the same for the children and that each child, in turn, gives the parent a completely different experience. I assume this is true for all families, not just my own.

Four years ago, I sat in a doctor's office for hours waiting with Matthew's mother, her sister and brother-in-law, and my husband. I wanted to reach out my hand and rest it on the rounded abdomen that held him tight. I wanted to meet him and know him and love him but he belonged to someone else. Someone's who's belly I didn't know well enough to touch. She knew him. She knew his wiggles and his sleep patterns and his hiccups. I knew only the idea of him--wrapped in a love so foreign I couldn't understand when it spoke. There was a blue and white stuffed puppy his brother had chosen for Valentine's Day, sitting in his bed two states away. There were bottles and diapers and a baby swing. There were tiny baby clothes washed and waiting for the boy I would call, "Son."

I loved him. The way I love Italy even though I've never been there.

I wanted to surgically transplant him into my own body, as though his mother was giving me a kidney, because I wanted to feel him there, where his brother had been. I wanted to have--if only for a moment--his legs shoved against my rib cage, his head pushed into my pelvis, his very life dependent on my own. "But he is hers," I would think to myself as though the moment he was pulled from her, he would suddenly be mine.

But he wasn't.

And it's maybe taken me all this time to realize that.

It wasn't a firework explosion of instant attachment like it was when his brother was born. Where else would Garrett have gone? He'd been my son for nine months already. As much as a child can belong to a parent-- which, if we're honest is never really very much at all--he belonged to us. Matthew was placed in my arms only after we'd been made aware that there was a war waged on his life. Birth mother against birth father with a tiny baby caught in the crosshairs of a piece pursuing checkmate.

I loved him purely and honestly--not the way I love Italy--but it was always with the knowledge that we might lose him to one who's blood pulses through my son.

And when the battle was over, I loved him purely and honestly but always with the knowledge that he might grow up and choose one who's blood pulses through him.

But sometime, when I wasn't looking, I realized that I love him purely and honestly and that my blood pulses through him. It doesn't match. I take no part in his creation. But I cultivate his God-given passions. I kiss his boo-boos and I celebrate his victories. I keep him alive with care and I keep him sustained with discipline and hugs and two enthusiastic thumbs up.

He is different from his brother.

So different.

He is moody and emotional and neither his father nor I can adequately figure out what to do with his temper. We don't know if it's hereditary or simply the luck of the draw but in these first four years he has kept us on our knees, asking for wisdom in parenting a personality so unlike our own. And I have wondered, as these days and weeks and months have passed, if a moment would come when I didn't subconsciously feel like I share him.

Don't get me wrong. I do not spend my day dwelling on the fact that Matthew has four parents. It rarely enters my mind at all, really. But I think, down deep in my soul, I have felt the need to send his birth parents telepathic messages when Matthew has victories--as though it is only because of their DNA that the victory was achieved.

Until last night.

Either the clouds parted and sun poured down and I had a major break through or a shell cracked and allowed me to see that the break through happened long ago and I've been too ignorant to realize it.

Matthew has wanted to play sports for a long time. First, we told him he had to be three since few sports begin before that. He was going to play fall t-ball but we were having so many issues with his attitude leading up to preschool that we told him he would have to prove to us that he could be good at school before he would be allowed to play a sport. He's done very well at school and we registered him for indoor soccer. He was thrilled. Then, a week before his first game, he started telling us he didn't want to play. He wasn't big enough. Why would we make him play soccer? WHY? WHY? WHY? So, needless to say, we thought his first game would be a disaster with him sitting in the middle of the court, refusing to play and crying his everloving head off. But Saturday came and he did great. He had an incredible attitude, was nice to the other kids, and wore a smile the entire time. His team lost a lot to nothing. Not that they keep score.

Last night he had another game. Garrett had a wrestling practice at the exact same time so Troy took Garrett to wrestling and I took Matthew to his game. He started off on the sideline. For half a quarter he sat on my lap and I explained that he needed to try to get the ball in the net. I showed him which net. I said, "When you get in, go kick it in that net for me."

Well, Matthew got his turn.

He sprinted past the other kids.

He gave the ball a good kick.

It flew into the net.

There is a moment in The Blind Side when Sandra Bullock (as Leigh Anne Tuohy) says, to a particularly obnoxious rival parent, "Yo, deliverance. You see number 74? Well, that's my son." Matthew is playing peewee soccer. The parents aren't annoying and the skill set is nearly nonexistent. But in that moment, when the ball sailed into the net, when the parents all cheered, when my son turned around and tried to act nonchalant but couldn't stop his face from twisting into a smile, well, I don't think I will be more proud of that kid if he one day plays on the winning Superbowl team. He ran toward me with his thumbs up and I threw my two up in the air. I couldn't wipe the stupid (AND HUGE) grin from my face. I couldn't swallow the lump of pride in my throat.

He scored again.

And again.

He sat out for another half quarter, all the while howling, "I NEED TO GET BACK IN THERE!"

He did and he scored once more for good measure.

His team lost six or seven to four. But those four goals belonged to my son. (And, actually, the other team can thank him for one of theirs.)

"He's seriously good," people whispered. "He's got skills," they said. "Who's kid is that?"

That's my son.

He'll be four tomorrow. He's not playing on the World Cup team any time soon. But it was a victorious day for him. When we climbed into the car to go pick up his brother, I told him how very proud I was. "Because I got the ball in the net!" he declared.

"No, Matthew," I said firmly. "I don't care if you get the ball in the net or not. I am so very proud of you because you had a great attitude. But, yes, you did great getting the ball in the net four times."

Truth be told, while obviously his attitude is the most important thing to me, it was the fact that he scored four goals. Because, in those goals, I couldn't contain my pride. In those goals it wasn't because his birth parents DNA came together in such a way that Matthew can score at age not quite four. In those goals was a smiling boy who falls asleep across the hall, who practices his letters with me, who sings and dances and calls me mommy. In those goals was my son.

I couldn't reach my hand across the chair four years ago and touch my son through his mother--but I can spin him around now because he's mine. I can hold him tight. I can whisper, "I love you."

And I do.

Every chance I get.

Monday, February 25, 2013


One day a week.

On average, since the beginning of this month, I've been working one day a week.

One fourth grade class. One second grade class. Two days of kindergarten.

So far.

I work on Troy's day off. I call home during lunch because I find it hard to go eight hours without hearing how my son's school day was.

Today I took a kindergarten class to an assembly with tarantulas, monitor lizards, an alligator, tortoises, and pythons more than double my size. I spent most of my time trying to get a particularly challenging little girl to sit on her pockets, face forward, stop talking, stop taking off her shoes, sit still, STOP THAT NOW! But when I wasn't doing all of that, I absorbed information that I came home and spewed to my boys over tortellini, salad and breadsticks. During the entire assembly, I wanted my own kindergartner there to see it. "Garrett would love this!" I kept thinking. I have to admit, getting paid to learn about snakes is pretty cool.

What's not cool is seven pages of lesson plans for two three hour sessions of kindergarten. I have a college degree. I ran my own high school drama class. (I ASKED ANOTHER TEACHER, even!). And, still, I could not decipher an alarmingly large percentage of what this teacher wanted me to do.

"They get these if they complete their assignments, ask a show and tell question that matches the apron get the quiz right." That is a direct quote. Verbatim. I still have no idea what it meant.

It was a little bit frustrating. Mostly because I'm all about CONTROL and PERFECTION and GETTING IT ALL JUST RIGHT. It drives me crazy when I don't know how to match the apron to the right quiz. Or whatever. Still, I got paid to go to an assembly, read a book in my best yak voice, and stamp papers. So, I've had worse jobs, is what I'm saying.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Take Down

I have no clue how the scoring works in wrestling. I understand it, in theory, but I always have to wait until the match is over to find out who won.

Last year, Garrett wrestled during a month long session. He came away with no victories. Each time, I waited until the very end to find out that he'd lost again.
He spent a lot of time on his back. If he was winning, his chivalry took over and he seemed to let the other kid score a few for fun. Then he'd lose.

He just started wrestling again.

His first tournament was last Thursday.

He had two matches.

And he won them both.

"That was FUN!" he declared.

It was fun for me too. Except, like I said, I had no idea if he was winning or not until it was over.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


What I'm Teaching: A women's Sunday school class (soon to end) on Philippians, A women's Bible study where we're doing Matt Chandler's The Explicit Gospel, and the occasional classroom full of children who seem thrilled with the idea of trying to torment the substitute.

What I'm Researching/Writing: A breakout session called Pursuit of Perfection (for an April conference) which looks at our natural tendencies to compare ourselves to everyone around us and deem ourselves failures because we haven't lived up to the standards and expectations of friends, family members, church members and others. I'm exploring what a godly pursuit of perfection is vs a humanistic approach. God's giving me plenty of opportunity for growth here. Just yesterday I felt like a complete failure as a mom and as a pastor's wife. 

What I'm Raising: A six-year-old and an almost four-year-old. Boys. They wield swords and pummel each other. I don't understand these tiny man creatures. They are so tough and foreign. Until they meet you after school crying because they lost their hand stamp being a chatterbox.

What I'm Cleaning: Very little. The house is kind of a wreck.

What I'm Rooting For: My oldest child to win at least one wrestling match this session. Last year, my sweet, chivalrous, cherub didn't have much fight in him. Still, he wanted to wrestle again. We'll see how it goes. Also, for my youngest to actually play soccer, which starts on Saturday, instead of getting nervous and refusing. It's a coin flip.

What I'm Eating: Gardetto's snack mix. On account of all the yum.

What I'm Contemplating: The fact that my golden retriever, the one who has been with us for all but three months of our marriage, is nine-and-a-half years old. And I don't think we have a lot of years left with him. These Utah winters have not been kind to him.

What I'm Dreaming of: June.

What's Crazy: An enormous percentage of my married friends of childbearing age are gestating wee ones as we speak. An alarming percentage, actually. It's a "there's something in the water" kind of situation.

What I'm Thankful For: The freckles that dust my oldest's nose. The chubby, kissable, cheeks of my youngest. A husband who loves me, gets me, and always, always supports me.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013


Today, I worked.

When I got home from work, my oldest child decided it would be nice to make me hot chocolate. (Forget the fact that if I drink hot chocolate after about 2:00 pm, I toss and turn, waiting for the small amount of caffeine to get out of my system. Caffeine and I are not best friends. That's why I order almost everything decaf. It was, for the record, nearing 5:00 pm.)

I was upstairs so I didn't know that this was going on.

I didn't know that Matthew decided to help.

Garrett brought me a bowl with a straw sticking out of it. For some reason, this bowl was wrapped in a dish cloth. A previously white, almost brand new, dish cloth. I think it goes without saying that the cloth had dipped into the bowl and turned, well, coffee colored.

"Mommy," he said. "We made you hot chocolate."

I took the bowl. Aside from the fact that the bowl was very cold, I instantly noticed the assaulting smell of COFFEE! WAY TOO MUCH COFFEE. "Oh! Thank you. That was so nice!" I took a sip and nearly died from lethal doses of WAY TOO MUCH COFFEE. I used my theatre degree (Method acting. In the zone. My character loves herself some WAY TOO MUCH COFFEE!) and I smiled. "Yum!"

Except, suddenly, my senses were being scrambled. Taste upon taste slid down my tongue and into the pit of my stomach.

I quickly walked out my bedroom door. The kitchen is visible from the top of our stairs. On the counter sat the following ingredients:

1. Powdered cappuccino.
2. An empty single serving of Starbucks coffee (oh the waste! oh the humanity!)
3. Powdered hot chocolate.
4. Orange juice
5. Prune juice.
6. Chocolate syrup
7. Caramel syrup
8. Regular syrup
9. Mustard
10. Soy sauce

"Is there mustard in this? And soy sauce?" I questioned because, clearly, that's the only place he'd gone wrong.

"Those were Matt's idea."

"Garrett, honey, I appreciate that you were trying to be nice but, would you want to drink this?"

"We both tried it before we brought it to you," he answered.


"No, it tasted like A LOT of coffee. And I don't like coffee," he responded.

Oh, sure. It tasted like coffee. If, by "tasted like coffee" he meant "tasted like swallowing the leftover grounds and then licking the machine clean and chasing all of that with a prune juice, mustard, soy sauce cocktail."

And then I totally lost my cool because I was standing in a puddle of syrup. Syrup was dripping from my counters. A stream of Nasty Concoction was creeping down the front of the trash can. (He'd tell me later, "It was too strong and I only swallowed a little bit. Then I had to spit the rest in the trash can." Yet, apparently, it was deemed good enough for Mom.) Soy sauce was everywhere. Honestly, I think those boys spent no less than several dollars making me THE WORLD'S NASTIEST DRINK. OF EVER. AND OF ALL TIME.The mess was, in a word, astounding.

I explained that I couldn't drink it. I told them that there are ingredients that don't go together and thirty spoonfuls of powdered cappuccino, soy sauce, and prune juice are some of them. To name a few. Others might include MUSTARD and ORANGE JUICE. Not to mention that even if I'd been able to suck it down, I would have been awake until a week from Friday. Between the caffeine and the prune juice I may as well have moved into my bathroom for the next week.

But I did tell them that we'll have a special cooking time soon. It will be a time where I teach my little chefs about ingredients and proportions and the fact that God did not intend soy sauce for coffee.

In the meantime, it's 11:47 and I'm still awake. Because, you know what, that single sip of ATTEMPTED MURDER had enough caffeine to keep me up until 2:00 am.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Out Cold

Matthew passes out.

He's done it four times.

The first time, he was still tiny. As he toddled around the room, he tripped and fell. It wasn't a bad fall but he's always been prone to the dramatic. He stood, mouth agape, flailing his arms, silent crying. I scooped him into my arms and told him to breathe. I blew into his face to try to shock him into taking a breath. He went limp in my arms. I panicked for three seconds before he took a deep breath and gasped air back into his lungs. Then he made a tiny sound, like a kitten, and looked at me with bewildered eyes.

My friend's son used to do this and, long before Matthew ever did it, she'd told me about how the doctor said it was really nothing to worry about. Once a kid passes out, their lungs involuntarily function. It's all part of God's great design. Otherwise, I don't know, maybe we'd all die the very first time we fell asleep.

He did it again, several months later.

Then, last summer, when my mother-in-law was visiting, we took a hike together. Matthew was running, tripped, fell over, and cut his nose on a sharp rock in the path. It was a surface wound but he "air" cried again until he passed out. Seconds later he was back.

The first three times were a result of pain. He doesn't always pass out when he gets hurt, of course, but these three times, he did.

Last night, after our life group at church, Matthew was playing in the sanctuary and I was standing in the foyer. We were about to leave so, in a playful voice, I yelled, "Hey Matthew, we're leaving. Bye bye," and I waved. He turned, dashed toward me, his mouth wide open, clearly trying to suck in air and, by sheer volume alone, let me have it. "Honey! I was just teasing!" I called out. He reached me, threw his arms around my legs, and stood there, with his mouth hanging open. "Wait for it," I told those around me, expecting an ear piercing wail. Immediately after I said that, he threw his body backward and hit his head on the ground. I instantly gathered him into my arms.

It happened so fast. Some people think he was in the act of passing out already and that's why he fell back and hit his head. Others think he didn't pass out until he was in my arms. I can't honestly remember. I know that he was limp in my arms. I also know that he didn't hit his head that hard. This time, though, he was out for more than two or three seconds. I'd say it was more like seven. I know because I don't panic anymore during the first few and I was starting to feel that anxiety rise up in my chest. Troy came to my side just as Matthew took a breath and opened his eyes.

That was the first time it's happened as a result of something other than pain. We monitored him last night. He said his head didn't hurt. His tummy wasn't upset. His pupils were fine. So with my medical training theatre degree I ruled out a concussion. He went to bed. He woke up. All's well that ends well.

Except I finally googled this ridiculous phenomenon and, apparently, it's called a Breath-Holding Spell (BHS). It can be genetic and it happens equally to boys and girls. There's nothing they really do for it and, supposedly, they outgrow it by age five. I should be thankful because many kids do this multiple times a week whereas my child has done it four times in as many years. Still, it's frightening.

So, yeah. Matthew passes out.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Summer Camp

My son has been begging to go to surf camp ever since he took a private lesson in Hawaii last summer. He's also been growing his hair out since September because he is under the impression that all surfers have long(ish) hair. For this reason, he looks like a ragamuffin. This state of disheveled appearance is not lost on us.

Today was finally the day that I could get him all registered for his coveted camp. Except that we registered him for a camp at the end of July into early August and that means that he absolutely must get D track next year. And since our school doesn't retrack until mid spring, I'm just going to have to sit around and wait. And stress. And bite my fingernails down to next to nothing. Because if he doesn't get D track, I will be pulling him out of first grade after he's been there for two days. Yep. He'll go to school for two days and then I'll be like, "Forget this. We're going to San Diego. Goodbye, first grade, see you in a week."

So let's all raise our glasses of sparkling cider (or whatever you're drinking) to the hope that he gets the track we want.

While registering him for this camp, I had to sign away the life of my first born. That's not even an exaggeration. I know you think it is because I may be prone to overdramatic hyperbole but I'm not kidding. There was one particular section where I promised that I understand that they will not be held responsible in the event of my son's accidental drowning.

So, apparently, I'm going to drop my newly seven-year-old off at camp, give him a kiss goodbye, and then worry for the next four and a half hours that he is accidentally drowning right that very minute.

On the flip side, I just secured a spot at a camp run by Christians with devotions and prayer and FIVE DAYS OF SURFING! The thought of an accidental drowning pales in comparison to the smile on my kid's face.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Battle(of the sexes)ship

During our (warm!) trip to sunny (warm!) southern California, the boys and I stopped by to visit with my grandparents. Garrett wanted to play his favorite game ever of all time, Battleship. My dad's parents are in their 70's so there is really no telling when they purchased this particular version. I'm guessing, by the way these guys are dressed, that this is the game my father used to play in the 1960's. 

Look how clean cut they were. Look at those paneled yellow walls. Ahhh, it was a better, simpler time. 

I like that the son got all dressed up in his collared shirt and his sweater to play a rousing game of bombing the opposing Navy with his father.

Now I'm not going to sit around and argue the points for or against feminism. It means something different in Christian circles than it means in collegiate literature circles. There is feminism with a "radical" in front of it and bras burning up all over the place and there is feminism with a "sure I can sell that product as well as a man so hire me already" in front of it. In its simple definition, a feminist is someone who advocates for the social, political, legal, and economic rights of women to be equal to those of men.

These women coulda used a feminist, is all I'm saying.

No doubt, the dad, William Charles Smith (he goes by Bill) came home to dinner on the table, filled his belly full and then challenged William Jr. (aka Billy) to a competitive round of Battleship. He worked a long day at the office so its understandable that he'd like to kick back and relax for a little while. But what was Billy's excuse? A long day at school? What about Suzie (that's the sister) didn't she also have to go to school? Why does Suzie have to do the dishes but Billy doesn't? Although, to be fair, maybe Suzie really enjoyed doing the dishes--look at that wide smile she's sporting. And look at the mom. Peggy is so proud of Billy for hitting his dad's ship. She also might be proud of her remarkable sink full of incredible bubbles. What kind of dish soap is that woman using? And do they still make it?

Why couldn't they all clean up the kitchen and then enjoy some family time together? Is it because Battleship is only a two person game? In that case, couldn't Peg and Suzie have sat down with their knitting? Or a good book, even.

Maybe this immediately caught my attention because, while I do almost all of our cooking, my husband does almost all of our dishes. Maybe it's because of how far we've come in fifty years. Really, it's not even the fact that this is a snapshot into the life of a family in the 1960's. It's the fact that it was so normal for the women to be doing "women's work" that it made the cover of a box selling a game.

Did little girls everywhere get the not-so-subtle hint that game playing and war were for men while housework was for them? Couldn't the picture have simply omitted the top right corner allowing everyone to suspend their disbelief and think that Peggy and Suzie were actually at the mall together?

But, more importantly, what season is it? Why are Bill and Billy wearing sweaters and long sleeves while Peggy's in a summer dress and Suzie is sporting a tank top?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Tales From 4th Grade

Today, while I taught 4th graders about the Chinese New Year during a substitute job, we talked about what year the students were born in. Some were born in the year of the horse, others in the year of the ram. After we established what sign each of them are, they wanted to know what mine is. I told them that I was born in 1981 and that makes me a rooster. I didn't explain that this is often referred to as the year of the cock. For obvious reasons. Especially since I'd already had one kid say to another, "Why'd you narc on me, Douche." In my mind, I crawled into the fetal position and sucked my thumb because of the WHAT? and the MY KID IS GOING TO BE A FOURTH GRADER IN FOUR YEARS AND HE'D BETTER NOT BE CALLING PEOPLE THAT BECAUSE OF ALL THE INAPPROPRIATE. Plus he was just born. Like, yesterday.


So I said I was born in the year of the rooster. In 1981. At that point, a kid yelled out, "81! That's before the phone was invented!"

I'm 31, people. THIRTY ONE. It's not as though Alexander Graham Bell turned to his friends and said about me, "No, I don't know her. She was way before my time."

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Even Years Later

Confession: I can never remember the day my grandmother died.

I have to look back at my blog to figure it out. I find this particular post and it makes me cry. I think about my grandma's laugh. I'd hoped that I wouldn't forget her voice and, if I sit very still and concentrate very hard, I can still hear it. But her laugh, that sudden burst of mirth that seemed to begin in the depths of her soul before bubbling quickly out of her smile, is always, always present. I need only to think on it for a moment before I hear it so loud and so clear that she may as well be sitting right next to me.

I wonder if she knew how deeply she would be missed. I wish I could go back in time and hold her hand and say, "I will miss you more than I can say. I will think about you more often than I know."

The thing about my grandma is this. I was always made to feel like her favorite. I haven't asked my cousins but I think my brother probably feels like he was her favorite. I think the great mystery is that, maybe, we were all her favorite.

On this fifth anniversary of her death, I celebrate her life. I thank God that I still have three living grandparents and am blessed with the privilege of seeing them when we're in California.

Still...I miss her.

Still...I hear her laughing.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Fun in the Sun

Whew! We're back from San Diego. We had a whirlwind twelve days that began with an extensive tour of the Salt Lake International Airport. Our flight was delayed and we walked around and around while waiting for the ice to melt off the runways.

Then we celebrated my dad's awesome career at his retirement party. The Sunday after the party I had a bunch of people tell me that it was the best retirement party they'd ever been to. I have to agree. Although, in fairness, I haven't been to many retirement parties. Still, it was very fun and it was a great way to celebrate the incredible worker that my father has been for more than thirty years.

The weekend was spent visiting with friends and celebrating family birthdays. 

On Monday we met my friend and her daughter at the Wild Animal Park which is now, apparently, referred to as Safari Park but I (and just about everyone I know) refuse to call it that.

My friend's daughter had a bit of a meltdown just before we went on the tram so my parents decided to take the boys while my friend and I walked around with her daughter. It was during this time that we spotted this deer just off the path. Jenni and I then decided to see how close we could get to her. We became somewhat strangely obsessed with this deer considering the fact that there were lions and elephants and giraffes and tigers not far from us. 

Although, to be completely truthful, it was the only animal we saw that wasn't in a man made "habitat" so, technically, does that make it the only technical wild animal in the Wild Animal Park?

On Tuesday my mom and I went shopping and out to lunch while my boys played with their cousins, aunt and grandpa. My poor mother-in-law had caught the plague of death that had been circulating through the cousins and had to stay confined to the bedroom. Later that afternoon we watched my cousin, Holly, play in a water polo game. Their team crushed the other team and we got to watch Holly score a goal!

On Wednesday, I drove down to my grandparents' house and we hung out there for awhile before heading to Mission Bay for some Rubio's and play time with a fellow PLNU alum and her adorable son.

On Thursday my parents treated us to a day at Legoland. Let's just say that this was a colossally big hit with the boys.

We rode rides. We took large amounts of pictures with Legomen. We walked through the Lego cities they have. I may or may not have wanted to live inside of Lego New York.

Matthew ended up having a huge meltdown at Legoland a few hours in and this began his tailspin into difficult days. He had been an absolute angel for the first week we were there.

The remaining five days were a bit challenging. But part of it might have been the fact that by the weekend he'd caught whatever was circulating around my sister-in-law's house and he wasn't feeling well. Thank goodness for the flu shot because he didn't run the fever and Garrett, thus far, has not gotten sick.

On Friday my brother, the Sea World employee, treated us to a day at the park. No day at Sea World is complete without an interactive bat ray session. They are my oldest boy's favorite thing in all the world--maybe.

Since we'd been taken to the Wild Animal Park, Sea World and Legoland at no cost to us (oh! we are SO spoiled!) I decided to buy these for the boys with their lunch. 

They didn't even eat half of them. So then I had to wrap them up in napkins and stuff them in the backpack because, at something like $3.50 each I wasn't about to toss them. Although, in the interest of full disclosure, it should be noted that, since I did not want to take the frosting in a backpack, I consumed almost all of it myself. Consequently, I am now avoiding the scale.

We had a lazy weekend and on Monday we went hiking, played with cousins for an hour, and then played around a nearby park. It was at the park that I decided my son is actually a modern day Huckleberry Finn. Straight into the pond he went, clothes and all. 

Weather was in the high 70s. So why on earth wouldn't he go swimming in a pond in February?

When we got back into town last night, we were walking outside and Matthew howled, "WHY IS MY HEAD SO COLD?"

"Because it's cold here," I replied.


"Yep," I answered.


"Because it is not warm in Utah in February."

But in San Diego it was warm and the boys were riding bikes, playing in the yard, soaking up the rays and making memories.

Monday, February 4, 2013


Just thought I'd give you an update of the happenings of Lori and the boys in San Diego.  This AM they went out on a hike with the grandparents.  The following is lifted from my mother in-law's facebook:

We took our two grandsons on a breakfast hike. As we were walking, a man was walking toward us with a brown dog. The boys ran up to pet him and he was just as excited to see them. The conversation went like this:

Me: Is he a Chocolate Lab?
Man: Yes, he's a Chocolate Lab.
Matthew: Hey, I'm chocolate!

Made the man's day and made all of us crack up. Gotta love that boy.

Because, hey, who doesn't love chocolate.*

*I for one think eating candy that does not have chocolate is pretty much a waste of calories. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Great Storm of 2013

So we've been getting a lot of snow the last few days.  I've done more snow shoveling in the past week than I probably did in the entire month of December.  While my wife and boys are playing in San Diego--visiting Sea World as I write this--I am experiencing an actual winter.

Needless to say, when the weather report indicated that on Tuesday Night and Wednesday it was supposed to snow for 18 hours straight I took notice.  I wanted to be prepared for whatever Mother Nature threw our way.  Certainly, I wanted those coming out for our Church's children's ministry to be safe.  Wednesday AM came and there was less snow than I had expected, and the sky was reasonably clear.  The weather report had changed.  It always does.  We'd probably be just as accurate predicting Utah winter weather if we drew for lots, or read tea leaves, or through darts at the wall . . .   Anyway, the storm was now supposed to blow in at 4 PM and last until 11 PM.  Of course our evening church activities would be right in the middle of this.

After calling up our ministry leaders we made an early call and decided to cancel this weeks events.  Better to be safe given the prognostication.  Deciding early made it easier to alert as many people as possible.  So we made our calls and when late afternoon rolled around, shut down the building to prepare for winter's fury. There we were, home in our warm little houses, show shovels, and snow blowers on the ready, waiting for the storm to hit.

And we waited, and waited . . .

And the snow never came.  I woke up Thursday morning to clear skies and a clean driveway.  It's sure a good thing we kept everyone home last night.  I hope the enjoyed the break.  It certainly wasn't needed, but hopefully it was appreciated by our faithful workers and leaders.

I saw a quote the other day that describes the situation:

As they say in ____, "If you don't like the weather in _____, wait 10 minutes and it'll change."
(Pretty much everyone who doesn't live in San Diego says that, so fill in the blank however you like.)

Which brings me point out that my wife and kids are in San Diego.  Enjoying the lack of real weather.  You can talk about Marine Layers and Santa Anas, but really, come on!  I live in real weather.  I grew up with real weather.  And San Diego, you do not have real weather--(but it is a nice place to live).  Real weather is rain months (note I said months not days) in the Northwest, it is summer heat in Arizona, icy temperatures in Northern Minnesota . . . true story, when one of my sisters was born in Brainerd, MN it was 47 degrees BELOW zero that day.

So while San Diego is nice eleven months out of the year, I am happy to experience variety in seasons.  I believe it makes us hardier and builds character . . .

 . . . at least that is what I keep telling myself every time I step out to shovel the driveway again.

Update: Today it was originally supposed to snow.  Instead temperatures climbed into the 40s.  You might think this is good thing but I'm trying my best to keep the snow cave in our back yard intact until my boys come home.  I'd check the weather report for the next few days, but I'm sure it would be wrong.