Saturday, June 29, 2013

The One With the Bloody Fingertip

We took a trip to the urgent care yesterday, Matthew and I. It started out innocently enough. I asked him to throw away a can. I'd left a tiny part of the lid attached and, somehow, he managed to slice his finger on it. Blood poured out. It dripped on the floor. It filled paper towel after paper towel. It would not stop.

We were waiting for an A/C repair man who was supposed to have been to the house two hours before but hadn't showed up yet. I continued to apply pressure, called Troy, told him I thought I needed him to come home, made sandwiches with one hand, and got Matthew ready to go. Troy got home just a few minutes before the repair guy appeared. He wrapped Matthew's finger up tightly and I put my son in the car, instructing him to keep his hand over a bowl so that he didn't bleed all over the new (to us) van. One day, not too many years from now, he'll be on a couch somewhere, citing this moment.

"That's when I knew I was doomed, doctor. That's when I knew my mother had real issues that she was going to pass on to me. She cared more about the interior of a seven-year-old vehicle than she cared about me."

I'd seen enough of the cut to know it needed stitches.

Except when I got there, the doctor told me that the fingertip is the most painful place to stitch. He said that, though it did need stitches, the fingertips are also quick to heal and he'd prefer not to traumatize my son. He said it would alter his fingerprint but that it didn't matter because he's only four and doesn't have a record.

I interjected, "Oh, little do you know." And realistically, well, the kid has plenty of motive he just lacks opportunity. If one could be arrested on sheer dramatic emotion alone, he'd have a record more robust than the day is long.

The doctor also mentioned that he couldn't go in the water for at least eight days but that, with stitches, it would be ten. Our trip to Tahoe commences in one week. He bandaged it up and gave me instructions to change the dressing once a day for at least a week and then to keep a band-aid on it while it continues to heal.

He's four years old and mad as a hornet that he has to wear a bulky bandage on his finger. I can't even imagine what would have happened if we'd had to hold him down and stitch the sucker. Someone would have ended up with a black eye, of this I'm sure. And it wouldn't have been Matthew.

Last night, at our church softball game, he got the dressing filthy--despite my many instructions about STAYING AWAY FROM THE DIRT--and we had to change it prematurely. As soon as we took the bandage off, it started to bleed again. It wasn't bleeding as badly as it had earlier in the day so I got a better look. That cut is deep.

I'm certainly glad that we didn't have to traumatize him with stitches to the fingertip but I'm beginning to wonder just how long it's going to take this thing to heal. And just how mad my son is going to be every time we put yet another bulky bandage on it.

"I want this thing off now, okay?" he says as though it's not up for debate.

"No. You need to keep it on. Your finger has to get all better."

"Um. But it's all better now so I'm going to take it off," he replies.

And I worry (somewhat desperately) what the teenage years with this boy will be like.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

How Mercy Looks From Here

I'm completely unashamed about my deep and enduring love for Amy Grant. It's a devotion that has continued for somewhere around 23 years. I'm only sad that I can't claim to have followed her since her first album--but it's not exactly my fault that I wasn't born until 1981.

I found out that she would be performing at the fair just two days before my birthday and I immediately texted my friend, another Grant lover, and asked her if she wanted to go. She said yes, I bought tickets, and we're set to see her in a few months. I think it will be the fourth time I'll have seen her perform live.

I stumbled upon her new song, Don't Try So Hard, just a few weeks before I spoke at a conference about the pursuit of perfection. The album wasn't even released yet. I was instantly in love with the song and I played part of it at the conference.

Last weekend, I went to our local Christian book store and I used a gift card to purchase the album. I only knew Don't Try So Hard and I really hate to buy an entire CD for one song. But, with Amy Grant, it's a risk I'm willing to take.

I pretty much love all the tracks. The only problem with it is that the songs all make me want to cry. A lot of them are slow, ballad-type, songs. Her voice--which I once heard described as fine wine that only gets better with age--is beautiful, the arrangements and instruments blend together just right and I want to weep. Music does that to me. I'm oddly unemotional when someone might be watching me. I'm not one of those women who cries at everything--even if sobbing would be right and appropriate. It's as though I'm dead inside. But give me music with the right combination of voices and instruments and I'm crying like a baby.

Anyway.

On the album, I discovered this...


And I am now in a deep, committed relationship with a song.

I love the blending of the voices.

I love the guitars. And the drums.

I love the line, "Every breath taking me closer."

I love the line, "Eternity's on the other side."

I love the line, "Singing praises up to a king. 'Cause he died for a crowd deep as it is wide."

I'm just one of the vast expanse of people that my Savior died for. But He would have done it for one.

Luke 15:4-7 "Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn't he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.' I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent."

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Thank You, God

I read them a Bible story. Matthew was snuggled up next to me and Garrett had already climbed up into his bed. I finished the story and Matthew hopped onto his bed. I asked him to pray. It was a pretty standard Matthew prayer. Thank you for the day. Thank for you for mommy and daddy and Garrett and Beck and Ollie. Thank you for my monkey. Amen. You know the type.

I made the ascent to the top bunk, crawled in to bed next to Garrett, grabbed the book I've been reading to them--something about a dragon that eats tangerine peels that I think is mind numbing but which they find fascinating--and asked Garrett to pray. When he was finished, I heard the voice from the bottom bunk speak up, frantic.

"Oh! Wait! I forgot something." Then, without waiting for anyone to respond, he launched back into his prayer. His voice, suddenly calm and sweet. "Dear Jesus, also thank you for letting me be adopted. Amen."

It was spontaneous. We hadn't been discussing adoption or his birth family. He hadn't asked me to tell him the story of when he was born or about the fact that Garrett was in my tummy but he was in my heart. It was just rather out of the blue. And matter-of-fact. And sincere.

Garrett caught my eye. We shared an understanding smile, the kind that says, "Wow, that was a pretty special prayer right there."

I read the book, snuggled with Garrett for a few minutes, and then climbed down to cuddle with Matthew. I pulled him into my body and said, "I'm so glad God gave you to me." I kissed his head and breathed his life and his shea butter smell into my nose.

"And I'm glad God gave me a brother!" he shouted.

I laughed. "Yeah, I'm glad God gave you a brother, too."

These are the moments I look forward to. This is living.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Reynaldo Strikes Again

I have three days left with Reynaldo. So what I'm saying is that Friday afternoon can't come fast enough.

Last Friday, I sat in a different place so I could get away from him. I was working on my Bible study and he climbed the stairs to where I was, smacked his hand down on my book, and said, "Hey! You look like one of my teachers."

His mother was down below me. I couldn't see her. I had a short conversation with him and he went on his way. Not five minutes later, he was back. He ran down the length of the bleachers, stopped when he got to me, stuck his face up to mine and screamed. Then he ran on.

Down one flight of stairs. Up the other flight. Run. Stop. Scream in my face. Repeat. At one point, I saw a man sitting on the bleachers down on the lower level. He was staring up at the scene. I was sure that he was counting his lucky stars that he hadn't decided to sit where I did. I began to reach up and plug my ears when the lad went darting by.

So, with my ears plugged, Reynaldo decided to try a different tactic.

He walked backward from one end of the bleachers to the other. In the process, he ran straight into me. I almost yelled at him to KNOCK IT THE HECK OFF RIGHT NOW! RIGHT NOW! But I caught the eye of the man on the lower bleachers and decided not to come all the way out of my Jesus. Jesus loves the little children. All the children of the world. Even Reynaldo.

When the lesson--which is only a half hour but, with Reynaldo, feels like a day--was almost over, I gathered the boys stuff and walked down the stairs to meet them. I leaned against the wall. Reynaldo followed me and joined his mother. Then his little brother climbed out of the pool and Reynaldo shut his finger in the gate and the brother howled and the mother yelled. "WALK OVER TO YOUR FATHER!" she commanded. "GO STRAIGHT TO YOUR DAD, NOW!"

And Reynaldo walked directly over to the man on the bleachers.

The same man who had been watching his son the entire time that he screamed in my face, ran over me backward, and slammed his hand down on my study.

Sure, I could say something. I could explain to these people that their son is beyond out of control. But I've now witnessed both parents--fully aware of how obnoxious their son behaves--not doing anything to stop him. So I really don't think it would help.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

First Track Meet

It was just about a year ago when our oldest son started begging us to let him run with a local track and field club. It started in June and the minimum age was six, so he missed it by a month. All year he continued to ask when he could join the running club. We always have busy summers filled with camping trips and lazy days at the pool so we kept brushing him off.

He persisted with his desire. That, coupled with the fact that one of our highest priorities is making sure that our kids are getting regular exercise and participating in rec level sports, led us to agree to the track club even though Garrett will miss the last two meets. 

He's been practicing with the team for several weeks. At the first practice, they divided them into sprinters and distance runners, based on the preference of the kids. The sprint group was huge. The distance group was tiny. Our six-year-old just trekked around and around the track over and over again. When he finished that practice, we told him he could be in the sprint group if he wanted to. "No," he said. "My Uncle Jon runs long races."

Of course he also told us that he hates running and didn't want to go back. We told him that he needed to finish up the session--which, for him, was only about a five week commitment. 

We went to his first meet on Thursday night. I've been waiting for them to post the official results so that I could post his official times but it still isn't up. When we got there, we showed him the list of events and asked him what he wanted to do. One of the events that he chose was the 1600m. 

So few kids chose this event that they ran all the age groups together. My son took off at lightning speed, chasing down the teenagers in front of him. You can kind of see it in this video. He's the 
tiny one in the green shirt. 
video
He came around the first 400 in an unofficial 1:56. I looked down at the stopwatch on the cell phone and knew that his father was going to be peeling him up off the track by lap three. There was no earthly way my rather untrained six-year-old could maintain that pace. Cardiac arrest had to be in his future.

He kept running.

He passed in front of me, finishing the next lap in about 2 minutes.

By the time he completed the third lap, he looked like he was going to die. His cheeks were bright red. He was exhausted. I cheered him on, told him he was doing great, and yelled for him to finish hard. I looked at the clock, he was right at 6 minutes.

And then he finished. 

Hard.

I clicked the stopwatch for an unofficial time of 7:59. His first race ever. A pretty good time for a little guy.

He was dead tired. He was gasping and choking and almost in tears. But he'd finished strong. He did have another race which didn't have the best results after running almost a mile in under eight minutes. 

Since they haven't posted the results yet, I went to some of the results from last year's meets. In the 8 and under division, that time would have earned him third place at one of the meets. And if he wants to keep running, he's still got another two summers in this division.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Reynaldo From Swimming Lessons

The Rock Star and The Little Buddy are in swimming lessons right now. As it turns out, they are both the only ones in their classes which means that I paid the group lesson rate and my kids are getting private lessons. Which means HOORAY FOR US!

On the first day of this session, a mom walked in with her twin boys. (I actually just wrote two twin boys. You know, as opposed to three twin boys.) She was nice enough. She instantly started talking to Matthew and asking him if he'd be in class with her twins. We determined that he's actually one class above her boys but that, had her older son not just broken his arm, he'd be in Matthew's class. We chatted. She was friendly. Her older son wasn't with her.

On another day, Troy joined us and she had her broken armed child in tow. Troy and I were having a conversation and the boy kept joining in. He seemed a little old to be behaving the way he was but I didn't give it much thought.

Yesterday, I was sitting on the bench, watching my kids swim, when the woman walked in with her older son again. I folded my legs up so that she could get past me. She turned her back to me to shimmy down the row and ran her butt across my knee. Oh my goodness, I thought to myself. She's going to think I did that with my hand. "Oh I'm sorry," I said aloud. We'd had a few conversations so I was surprised when she didn't say anything.

I was on the very edge of the bench with my purse right next to me. The rest of the eight foot bench was empty. She sat about ten inches away from my purse. Her son followed her in and sat right next to her and half on top of my purse. I don't have a very big space bubble so it takes a lot to violate it. But it was feeling very close to popping.

I had my Nook on my lap. (This might seem like a weird detail but I assure you that it will come into play later in the story.)

The woman folded up a towel, put it on the railing in front of us and laid her head on it. Her son instantly began to nag her.

"Walk over there with me!" he demanded.

"No."

"Please walk over there with me!"

"No. Reynaldo*. Leave me alone."

"But I need you to walk over there."

"Go by yourself. You're eight!"

"Mom. Please. Walk with me," he whined.

"REYNALDO! NO! I TOLD YOU! I DO NOT FEEL WELL. I NEED TO STAY RIGHT HERE. RIGHT NEXT TO THE BATHROOM BECAUSE I AM SICK!"

At that point, I really contemplated picking up all of our stuff and moving to somewhere the germs weren't but Matthew looks at me for validation after every single exercise and I didn't want him to wonder where I'd gone. I tried to shift my face in the other direction without being too obvious.

After a ten second pause, Reynaldo started up again, "I really want to go over there." He pointed.

"THEN GO OVER THERE! I DON'T CARE. I SAID I DIDN'T CARE. GO OVER THERE. BUT GET OUT OF MY FACE BECAUSE I REALLY MIGHT NEED THAT BATHROOM!"

Yes, I was sitting next to her, but believe me when I say that the entire complex could hear her. I began wondering why you'd bring your kids to swimming lessons if you felt that sick.

The nagging and subsequent screaming went on for several more minutes. It was so ridiculous that I started to wonder if it was really happening or if I was Ally McBeal-ing the entire scenario. I could feel myself starting to laugh because it was so unreal. A grown woman--who up until this point had seemed completely sane to me--was engaging in an elementary aged fight with her child. There was no discipline, no correction of any kind. Just a continued shouting match. My lips began to quiver. My nostrils flared as I tried not to giggle. I needed a distraction.

I picked up my Nook, turned it on, and pulled up Angry Birds. Surely firing poultry at walls would keep me from laughing. The moment my screen lit up with those birds, the boy turned his attention toward me.

"Oh! Cool!" he shouted into my ear. Then he picked up my purse (oh yes, he did), moved it to the other side of him (pressed, now, up against his ailing mother), and sat half on my lap. It's true that I'm prone to exaggeration but let me assure you that this is not one of those times. "Oh hey, don't move that," I said but with no actual follow through because, well, it had already been moved and he was in my lap so I wasn't entirely sure what to do. I reached over him, picked up my purse, and put it on the ground. As I did this, I turned my body away from him and his mom in an attempt to breath clean air and regain my bubble. My legs were mostly hanging off the side of the bench and I had, literally, about five inches of wood for my butt. I could not scoot away from this kid without falling off. I turned the Nook away from him to try to give the social suggestion that DUDE YOU HAVE EFFECTIVELY PENETRATED MY SPACE BUBBLE.

His mother, still only ten inches away from me, with her head turned in our direction, said nothing. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that she didn't feel well. You're thinking that I should have had compassion. I know. I know all of this but her eight year old was on top of a TOTAL STRANGER and she didn't seem to care at all. And it's not like she was in a coma or something--she'd been perfectly capable of arguing with her child only moments before.

So, unsure of what, on earth, to do, I began playing Angry Birds. "Let me help you!" he yelled.

"That's okay," I said loudly because I was trying to let this mom know that I was uncomfortable. She said nothing. He stuck out his hand and started launching my birds. I tried to physically move his hand off my Nook.

"No! Hey. Let me show you!" he said, impatiently.

"I'm going to go ahead and do it," I said. Still nothing from his mother. I launched the bird and failed. It's really no surprise since I had a random eight year old sitting on my lap.

"Like I said, let me show you!" he spouted rudely and proceeded to try to take the Nook. I basically wrestled it back out of his hands. Then I did something I'm not terribly proud of. It probably definitely falls into the category of lying.

I faked a phone call.

I dropped the Nook into my purse, said hello into my phone and walked out the door. In the entry way, I proceeded to pretend to talk into my phone (theatre degree, you certainly come in handy sometimes) for a couple of minutes. When I went back in, Reynaldo had become interested in the drinking fountain.

I didn't get the Nook back out.

After a few minutes he approached his mom, "How do you feel?"

"A little better," she said. That's a relief--maybe you can discipline your kid now.

"Are you going to throw up?" he asked.

"Not right now." A bonus for everyone.

"Will you walk over there with me?"

"REYNALDO! I AM NOT GOING OVER THERE! GIVE ME A BREAK! COME ON."

Not long after this, another mom walked through the door. Her daughter is in the session after ours. She was pushing a stroller. Reynaldo jumped up and held the door for her (so, he has some redeeming qualities). "What a gentleman you are! Thank you!" the woman told him. He smiled.

She began walking over to the place of Paradise. Mecca. The location Reynaldo had been dying to get to for a half hour. THE SET OF BLEACHERS. "Hey!" he yelled after her. "Can I go with you?" She either didn't hear him or didn't think his question was directed at her because she kept walking.

"Yes! Go!" his mom said enthusiastically. "Go with her!"

This is not happening, I thought. And I began to feel the smile of absurdity forming at the corners of my mouth again. Sure enough, he trotted across the pool deck after her. She sat down on the edge of the bleachers. He sat right smack dab next to her. Right up against her torso. There was no room for her daughter. The woman looked back at our bench, confused. Reynaldo began to talk her ear off. She pulled her little girl on to her lap. Reynaldo stuck his head into her stroller and touched her baby. He talked more. I couldn't hear their conversation but it only took a couple of minutes before she stood up, pushed her stroller back across the deck and out into the entry way.

Still, his mother never said a word.

*Not his real name.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I Heart Kindergarten

I really love kindergartners. Maybe it's because my kid is one. Maybe next year I'll think kindergartners are nothing but a bunch of snot-nosed brats and that first graders are sweet buttercups of the earth. But the more I substitute in my son's class--and the afternoon class that follows him--the more I adore them.

I see them in four tiers. There are the kids I really love, the kids that I like just fine, the kids I sometimes struggle with and the kids that drive me right up to the edge of my own sanity. Thankfully, out of 41 students, only a handful of them fall into that last category. Yesterday, one of them, the one who is probably my least favorite of all because he cries and gets into some kind of catastrophic fight at least once every time I sub, told me twice that he loves me.

And, honestly, even when I'm not particularly fond of a kid, if he tells me he loves me, I'm apt to start thinking more positively about him.

This is not my advice to dating teenagers, however. In that case, use some discernment.

But, really. I *heart* kindergartners. It's maybe possible that I missed my calling in life which was actually to play with five-year-olds all day. To listen to their laughter, to read them stories in funny voices and listen to them giggle in all the right places, to sing songs and wait, patiently, as they tell a three minute story that has nothing to do with anything and could have been told in twenty seconds.

This might be bliss.

But bliss would require a degree that I have basically no transferable course work for which is altogether ridiculous because THEATRE. Theatre is what enabled me to read stories in funny voices. And I've been told by more than just one or two kids that I'm the best story reader...OF EVER. I'm not bragging on myself here, folks, I'm just making the statement that a degree in theatre should totally get me hired as a kindergarten teacher.

Although, sadly, I do not think the district would agree.

Which is probably for the best because, like I said, next year I might think kindergartners are just a bunch of germ infested little pests.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Seven Things

Random Facts

1. If I ate eggs and potatoes at 1:00 pm every day, I could live off of one meal a day. I'd get scurvy but I'd probably still live.

2. I'm substituting in Garrett's classroom tomorrow. His teacher pulled me aside when I was picking him up today to show me the "holster art project" that I'm doing with them because Cowboy Day is coming up. Does it seem strange to make holsters given the fact that kids are being suspended for biting their sandwiches into the shape of a gun? Is it just me? I wonder what they are going to put into said holster. Skittles?

3. It's the middle of June and our days are long. The other night, at nearly 10 pm, the sky wasn't black yet, just a deep, dark blue. The sun is up again before anyone else wants to be.

4. Today was the perfect pool weather. So, we packed up our stuff and went to the pool. My kids are both really good swimmers. This just proves that if you expose a kid to water enough and give him the proper training, anyone can learn to swim. One of mine comes from a gene pool which is half fish and half giant sinking calves of a former wrestler. One of mine comes from a gene pool of two parents who do not know how to swim at all. Yet they both glub around the pool like they were born with gills.

5. My friend and I are working on a special song for church. This is way out of my comfort zone. I mean, like, you can't even see the comfort zone from where I'm standing. When we practice it, I start sweating and there isn't even anyone in the chairs to hear me. I take solace in the fact that I was actually cast in a musical in college. I sang By My Side and Learn Your Lessons Well and I didn't get booed off the stage. Perhaps recalling this when we actually sing the song at church will be of some comfort to me.

6. I know about a million pregnant women right now. And that's only about a 999,950 person exaggeration. Seriously. The earth is about to explode with babies.

7. Today Matthew said, "Are we taking the Santa Fe?" I said no. "Hooray! We get to drive in the big, giant car!" Yes. He's liking the van too. But I have a hard time buckling him in to the seat in the van and he can't reach the buckle by himself. So in my attempt to get him secured, I actually fell over. It kind of hurt. I proceeded to simply lie there like a slug. It was my only defense. We all thought it was gut busting hilarious.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Jennifer Garner Is My Alias

In my past, I never really Aliased. (I totally thought I was making that word up but then my spell checker didn't flag it at all. Hold please. Okay I'm back. Dictionary.com doesn't recognize it. Aliased: to have, at one point in time, taken on an alias? I don't know. What I mean by it is that I've never watched and, therefore, been hooked on the television series Alias.) It started in 2001 when I was at the very height of my collegiate career. I watched Friends once a week, nearly without fail, and that was about it.

I do remember watching several episodes of what must have been season four when we lived in our home in southern California. I think it was summer and I was catching reruns because I was completely bored with any network shows that might have been airing in the middle of July. I recall that it was intriguing but, not knowing any of the back story, I was moderately confused.

It's becoming somewhat of a tradition in our home to add the Internet streaming Netflix (the one that costs less than 10 dollars a month) when our favorite shows go on hiatus. We don't watch a lot of TV and I've contemplated getting rid of our cable on several occasions. The trouble is, we love ourselves some sports. As far as sitcoms and dramas go, we only watch a few shows. Still, when those go on break for the summer, we like to have something to watch when we're cuddled on the couch together--or, as it actually is, as far apart as humanly possible with fans blowing on both of us.

This is how we watched all the seasons of 24.

It's now how we're watching Alias.

Obsessively, on my part. Except, the trouble is that my laptop processes videos at the speed of a terminally ill snail and Troy's has been randomly shutting down in the middle of an episode. So now we watch Alias on my Nook. In our bed. In the dark. With headphones on because Garrett swung Troy's mini speaker by the cord and the speaker decided that was enough of that and kicked the bucket.

All of this to say that I want to be Sydney Bristow when I grow up. Or maybe I want to be Jennifer Garner playing Sydney Bristow when I grow up. I'm not actually sure. Do I want to be a double agent for the CIA or do I want to be an actress playing a double agent for the CIA? I think the answer is fairly obvious. Although pastor's wife/substitute teacher/mother by day would be a pretty good cover. The other night I attempted to convince my six-year-old that I work for Central Intelligence. He narrowed his eyes, "Are you serious?" he asked. "Have you ever killed anyone?" I quickly realized that his biggest dream come true would probably be to have a mother who kick boxed people to unconsciousness and so I told him I was just kidding.

I've really always liked Jennifer Garner a great deal as an actress. Then there's this hilarious video where she's just, well, keepin' it so real that how can you not love her?

But Jennifer Garner as Sydney Bristow? It's just...well...amazing. Like, if Sydney and Jack Bauer got together and had children, those kids would actually take over and rule the world. Before anyone even had a clue that it was happening. She speaks her mind and is not afraid of conflict, she throws punches, she wears power tank tops. She's like my very own character foil. Practically opposite in every way.

So now I sit in my bed, watching the tiny Nook screen and holding my husband's hand and I think about taking up kickboxing and applying for a job with the CIA.

Until they hire me though, I just contemplate the fact that I know Jennifer Garner and I would be absolute fast friends if given the opportunity. Because sometimes I forget what day it is too.

Friday, June 14, 2013

The One Where I Don't Tell My Kid About Polygamy

Sometime during this past week, we got an advertisement in the mail or with our newspaper or something. It was for This Is The Place Heritage Park. The park is designed to show visitors what it would be like to take a step back into the Utah frontier. They have historic houses, blacksmiths, petting zoos, and activities for kids to enjoy. Apparently it would typically cost me close to $40 to take my entire family there. That, coupled with the fact that we don't generally talk much about Utah history with our kids, has kept me away.

But, the advertisement explained that today the park would be free admission and free ice cream. Double bonus! For free, I figured I could just steer my emerging reader away from any of the signs that mentioned Samuel such in such living in this historic house with his two wives and their eleven children. It's just that I don't really want to explain polygamy to my six-year-old, is all. In any case, This Is The Place is said to be the exact place that Brigham Young declared, "We'll stay here forever in this valley." (Or whatever it is he actually said.) Personally, if I'd just climbed over the Wasatch range, only to find another mountain range off in the distance, I'd have declared this the place as well. But then I'd have spent one freezing winter here and decided that, surely, weather was warmer just over those Oquirrhs. And, by golly, I'd have been right.

I decided that what with all the FREE! I should probably take my kids up there today and see what it was all about. I called my friend and asked if she wanted to join us with her two sons who happen to my sons' bestest friends in the whole wide world of ever. I was super thrilled because I said, "We can pick you up." For the first time in this whole having kids experience, I could pick up another mom and her two kids and fit everyone in my vehicle. Vanna White is working out quite well for us, it would seem.

So we went.

And Matthew and his best buddy learned how to wash clothes.
And all the boys plowed a field, tried walking on stilts, worked with wool, watched a blacksmith work, saw a man making jerky, sat in a teepee, walked through historic houses and rode the ponies.


I'm fairly certain that my boys ended up on horses named Chip and Dale.

My friend and I wondered how, exactly, those pioneer women managed to make their own clothes, feed their families, work their land, and have nine children. There just isn't enough time in the day. Then again, they didn't have Facebook. They also didn't feel the need to maintain a blog.

We toured a school house and Garrett practiced using his very own slate. He made sure to behave so that he didn't have to wear the dunce cap in the front of the school. I learned that there is, in fact, a language of Deseret. Five and a half years and I never knew that.

We had a great time. My wild boy loved learning how to be a pioneer. Matthew loved his pony ride. I loved having everyone in one vehicle on the drive there and back.

And I managed to steer my kid away from all the mention of plural wives. Which is always the indicator of a good day.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Crouch & Tennyson

The Rock Star still says vitafin instead of vitamin. And you'd be completely kidding yourself if you thought I had any intention of ever telling him how it's really said. I figure that, one day, he'll get it as a spelling word and that will be the end of that. He has always had a huge vocabulary and, while his peer group appears to be catching up, he still surprises me with a giant word here and there. Rarely does he surprise me by using the wrong word.

Tonight, he opened a very early birthday present from my parents. They bought him a spring wetsuit to take to surf camp. I'd taken him with me to try them on and a size eight was way too big. I couldn't find any 6's to see if that would do the trick. My parents bought him a 6 and had it shipped to our house but we needed him to try it on in the event that it didn't fit and needed to be returned.

He opened it (was ecstatic) and immediately put it on. It fits much better than the 8 and Troy and I were commenting that he had room to grow in both the shoulder and the crotch area. The Rock Star called my parents to thank them. I don't know if my mom asked how it fit or if Garrett just volunteered the information but, suddenly, he said, "There's room in my crouch."

I folded in half laughing as he repeated, "There's plenty of room in my crouch!" Then, seeing me laughing and knowing that something was up, he pulled the phone away from his face and said, "Mommy, what's my crouch?"

Later, when I took the phone from him to talk to my mom, she said that she had tears rolling down her face during the whole exchange. Oh man. That kid is hilarious.

*********************************************
My favorite Matthewism right now involves shoes.

I always refer to sneaker style shoes as tennis shoes. I don't really know why. Growing up we called them tennis shoes or teneez. Because, somehow shortening them to just tennis morphed into teneez. In any case, that's what I call them. I never say sneakers. I say tennis shoes--although it comes out more like ten-ih-shoes.

As Matthew gets older, he gets more articulate. I always thought he was saying tennis shoes but, the truth of the matter is, he calls his shoes tennysons.

"Go get your shoes on," I'll say.

"Should I wear my fwip fwops or my tennysons?" he'll ask.

It's adorable. Yes, this is definitely the kid of a literature lover. I'm half tempted to start referring to his shoes as Lord Alfred just for fun.

"Go put on your Lord Alfreds," I'll say.

"Do you mean my Tennysons?" he'll ask.

And my day will be made. It's the little things in life.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Our Long Day

So last night I said that yesterday was a loooong day.

We've been talking about getting a new to us (but definitely not new to the world) vehicle. We were thinking that maybe by the fall we'd have enough saved to get something that would work. Troy's been driving around my grandparents old Chevy Cavalier for years. It's worked well but we just can't keep the air conditioning working. Each summer for three summers now, we've dumped money into the A/C just to have it work for five minutes and then turn into a hot box of horrendous heat. I used to think he was being dramatic. Then I drove it around.

It was a sweaty experience.

We're also taking our big, hairy golden retriever plus all of our camping gear to Tahoe in July. If we wanted to get a van (read: If I wanted to get a van because my husband very much wants a truck), it would make sense to get it before dumping more money into the Cavalier's A/C and, maybe, before loading our Santa Fe down with all manner of canine and Coleman.

We decided to look around and see what we could see.

We researched.

We asked around.

I watched vans pulling into the school parking lot and surveyed the drivers. Did she look happy? Did she look like she was going to kick her car in the tire? Did that vehicle bring her joy?

We searched the Internet.

Forever.

On Friday we took a friend--who knows about cars--with us to look at several options.

On Saturday we took a different friend--who knows about cars--with us to look at other options.

On Saturday night, when I'd just about had it with vehicles and all of them had started to look the same in my mind, Troy went out alone.

He found a 2006 Kia Sedona. We'd been looking mostly at the Sienna or the Odyssey but had realized, sometime on Saturday, that we could get a somewhat trashed (my standard, maybe not the world's) Toyota or Honda for the same price that we could get a mostly not trashed at all Kia. So he found this Sedona and he test drove it and he had our friend come check it out and our friend's wife (who is also our friend) was there too and she liked it a lot. Then I was sad that I had not yet seen it.

It was at a Hyundai dealer.

We went yesterday morning so that I could see it.

We had our kids.

We got there at 8:00.

We got home at 2:30.

(Swimming lessons were at 4:05)

(My music rehearsal was at 5:30 and Troy's softball game was at 6:00 so the boys came with me to the rehearsal.)

So. Yes. It was a loooong day.

But we got our van.

At the price we wanted. (Well, I mean, FREE, is the price I wanted but we did okay.)

And we didn't finance it. Although, at one point, the salesman was trying to explain to Troy that if we financed it we could save money somehow or something or other. That's when I got irritated and basically yelled, "We're not going to finance. End of discussion!" Or something like that. Because, frankly, Dave Ramsey was sitting on my shoulder lecturing away. 

So now we're sort of broke.

But not completely broke, which is good.

The kids were reallyreallyreallyreallyreallyreally good. When we were finished, my mom said, "You owe them Happy Meals." Funny thing was, they'd just finished eating their Happy Meals. I guess great minds give birth to great minds and then they think alike.

On the way home, Garrett said, "Can we call it Vanny?"

I looked at Troy and said, "How 'bout we call it Vanna White?" (That poor man.)

It was a productive day.

But it sure was loooong. We've been driving the Santa Fe for eight years. Here's to hoping we get another five out of her and at least eight out of Vanna. Because I really hate car shopping.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Bedtime

Today was a looooong day.

(But more on that in another post.)

My boys were really well behaved during this very looooong day.

So tonight, as I laid with Garrett before he fell asleep, I hugged him tight and said, "Thank you for being so good today. I think I'll keep you."

"You'll keep me?" he questioned.

"Yep," I replied. "At least until you turn thirteen." Then I paused. "Will you be nice still when you're thirteen?"

He nodded. Affirmative. And I plan to site this very conversation when he goes against what he's told me. "Will you get stinky armpits?" I asked him.

"Oh yeah! Here, smell this!" He stuck his pit in my face. "I've been working on it already!"

"You've been working on getting stinky pits?" I asked, somewhat mock appalled and somewhat actually appalled.

"Yep!" he smiled.

Wow.

The funniest thing Matthew said today occurred just before bedtime. I told them to clean up the playroom so that they could get ready for bed.

Matthew moaned, "We have to go to bed again?"

Uh. Yes. It's pretty standard for most nights.

Or, you know, all of them.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

JAY!

Garrett had an appointment for kindergarten testing yesterday. The appointment was at 9:45 and, as the result of a swimming lesson registration blunder, I found myself running out the door like a crazy woman at precisely 9:39. It takes me about four minutes to get to his school. At exactly 9:43, he went tearing across the parking lot with a giant stuffed turtle, spun on his heels, yelled, "Whoops!" and came running back to the car with the animal. Of course I'd already locked it so I twisted the key in the lock again, threw open the door, tossed the turtle in, and we both took off across the parking lot. We stopped in front of his classroom with approximately no seconds to spare.

I found his teacher having a discussion with another teacher which included her saying, "Sayonara," and the other teacher saying, "Maybe you can sub," and her saying, "I don't want to sub," and, "It is what it is."

Naturally, my mind jumped directly to the thought that she was leaving the school. Truth be told, I immediately diagnosed her with a case of pregnant and not returning for the next school year. And here's the thing, until that very moment, I didn't know that I love her.

Do you know that scene in Clueless where Cher is walking in front of the fountain and suddenly the music swells and she declares, "I love Josh!" but up until that very moment, she didn't know it? It was like that. Except not really at all like that because I don't actually have a crush on Garrett's kindergarten teacher. But I was suddenly tingly all over and, honestly, kind of mad. I mean, good for her for being pregnant and good for her for wanting to stay home with the baby. Everyone knows that's the decision I would make--have made. BUT SHE'S MY FAVORITE TEACHER TO SUB FOR! And, what dawned on me yesterday was how desperate I am for Matthew to have her in a year.

This was a weird realization because Garrett's teacher and I are nothing alike. NOTHING. She (appears to be): quiet, reserved, introverted. The keep to oneself type. I: loud, demonstrative, extroverted. The let's invite everyone we know type. It's very difficult for me to know what to do or say or how to act around very quiet people. I tend to talk and talk and talk in an attempt to fill the acute awkwardness. We usually end up with a giant pile of my own word vomit and me singing R.E.M.'s Losing My Religion in my head. "Oh no I've said too much..."

So for a few months, Garrett's teacher intimidated me more than anyone has intimidated me in a good, long while. Her, with her quiet, business like personality. Me, with all the word upchuck. It was weird and uncomfortable. Then I started to substitute teach for her and she writes the absolute best, most concise sub plans. And then a kid took his pants off in class. And we laughed. And everything started to change.

Then there I was, sitting in a cold folding chair, thinking about how she couldn't leave. Sure, Garrett's going to go ahead and pass kindergarten and head off to first grade and, sure, we could change tracks or schools or any number of things before Matthew gets there in 14 months and, sure, there are other teachers in other schools for me to sub for BUT JUST NO. SHE CAN'T LEAVE BECAUSE, APPARENTLY, I LOVE HER TOO MUCH. She's structured and calm and everything Matthew needs in a teacher.

So I did what any normal person would do? I totally came right out and asked her. Which I never do because I feel like people will disclose the details of their lives when they want to. I don't usually nose around in some woman's business. So, when Garrett was done testing, he came out, grinned, and declared, "I'm reading at a J level!"

I smiled at him and said, somewhat blandly, "Great job. Can you go play on the playground for a minute?" Then I just came out and butted my head right into his teacher's business with a quick (and somewhat desperate), "Are you leaving?"

Turns out I read the situation so completely wrong it's ridiculous. She's not leaving. She's not pregnant. (Well, at least, I don't think she is. I didn't actually ask that question.) She's going to Korea for three weeks in the summer. The other teacher thought she should sub while she's there. And Sayonara makes a lot more sense given the context. So I confessed my undying love for her. Although I veiled it by saying, "Oh good! I really want Matthew to have you. And I really like subbing for you." Because everyone knows that's code for I love you.

We talked for awhile and then moved to the door. Then, and this is really the point of this entire story, she said, "I can't believe Garrett's reading at a J!" And that's when it dawned on me. For some reason, in my slightly panicked state, I had incorrectly believed that J came after G in the alphabet. See, Garrett's been reading G books for homework for the past several weeks. When he told me he was reading J, my mind just went one higher which was great but not GREAT! I mean, if he'd said that he was reading H books I would have been proud of him, of course, but not in a blown-away-wow-what-a-super-smarty-pants-kid-I-have kind of way.

"OH!" I exclaimed. "A J!" I turned and looked at Garrett, "YOU'RE READING AT A J? BUDDY THAT IS SO GREAT!" He smiled and nodded. I looked at his teacher, "I was so concerned that you were leaving, I didn't even realize what he said."

She smiled. "He skipped H and I."

Yeah. That. And also, I'm a horrible mother who, apparently, doesn't even hear her kid half the time.

But my kid is reading at a second grade level. (The kindergarten bench mark is a C.) And that's the whole point of this post. I probably could have said all that without allowing you a glimpse into my obsessive personality. Ah well. I'm just keepin' it real.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Endless

One. Two. Three. Four...

Twenty-seven. Twenty-eight. Twenty-nine. Thirty.

The sounds of summer are drifting on the breeze through my open window. A group of kids who live on the street behind me are seeking and hiding. Bright green leaves dance, sending shadows across my arm as they filter the sun. It sinks down, lower and lower over the Oquirrh Mountains. It is warm and, though not in the technical sense...

it is summer.

After kindergarten let out late this morning, two moms and I took our five sons (no daughters between us) to the pool. The breeze--the never ending, always enduring, wind that plagues our valley--prevented any real sense of perfection in the air. Teeth chattered, goose bumps puffed. Still, we just couldn't complain. They smiled and laughed and every care they might otherwise have vanished into this high desert air.

On our way to the pool at noon I saw three teenage girls walking down the street. They looked like they were in pajamas. I imagined their story. School's out for the summer (not for my year round elementary school son but for the older kids). Maybe they slept until eleven and woke up with a real and undeniable desire for a Slurpee. Nothing else matters. It's simply summer and sometimes a girl's gotta have a 7-11 run. In her jammies.

If I close my eyes, I can transport myself back to those endless days. School was out and summer stretched before me like a blank canvas. I knew September was coming but it was so far in my future all that mattered was the pool and the beach and the mall and the thick smell of sunscreen.

Some neighbor, somewhere, would wake me up with his lawn mower. If not that, then a pair of birds squabbling in the tree. The days were long and hot. The tan lines were bold. The friends were forever.

Summer.

It is my season.

Bright. Hot. Vibrant. Stretching before me with plans and dreams and sparkling smiles. I drink in the smell of sunscreen on my sons--intoxicated. Their warm skin kisses mine as we sit, side by side, sharing popsicles. We dance this tango of freedom from the icy tendrils of the harsh winter.

These are the days.

These are the days of the endless summer.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Rainbow

When I tell you that I had approximately 1,345,012 pictures stored on my computer and that I've only had this computer since September of 2011, I'm only being slightly hyperbolic.

I might be prone to exaggeration.

Anyway.

I've been going through my pictures and, you know, deleting the ones that aren't even in focus. Chucking the duplicates. Being pickier with what I keep. I'm down to somewhere around 843,921 photos now.

I came across this one from earlier in the year. It was taken on Garrett's camera so I'm guessing that either Troy or Garrett is holding the camera and doing a selfie. I'm pretty sure that I had nothing to do with it and, by the picture in the background, I know that it was taken in my bedroom. I also know that Matthew is in pajamas. So I'm hoping there wasn't some random person in my bedroom AT BEDTIME taking pictures of my family. Because. Just. Weird.


I like my family.

But what stood out to me about this picture, in particular, was the rainbow that God gave me in their eyes.



Troy's eyes are so light. They're, maybe, the lightest blue I've ever seen when it comes to irises. It's really no wonder that if he goes outside without sunglasses he ends up screaming, "Ah! MY EYES! MY EYES!" and squinting them shut like a kid with pink eye and an aversion to drops. (There might be some more hyperbole in that description of my husband. He is not actually a seven-year-old girl.)

Matthew's are at the other end of the spectrum. Once, when he needed to have his eyes dilated, we had to wait for an especially long time and use a specific kind of solution because his eyes are very nearly the same color as his pupils.

Garrett's are the middle of the rainbow. The change depending on what he's wearing, the weather, his mood. I have no idea really what makes them change but they've been known to look green, hazel, gray, light and brown. We have no earthly idea what the kid's going to put on his driver's license.

Really. Those eyes are rainbows. Looking at them is like looking at one of God's promises.

Or three of them.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

In Which I Behave Like Dream Lori

You know those dreams where you're charged with some sort of mundane task and, for the life of you, you simply cannot get it done? Like, you're just supposed to get out the front door but, for some reason, dream you is just standing there worrying about getting out the door and not actually doing anything to accomplish that action?

I totally had one of those two nights ago.

And then I lived it out yesterday.

Not like the dream, mind you. In the dream I woke up two hours late and both my kids had missed important things at school. I was frantically trying to get them out the door and to their respective activities as if I could somehow reverse time and if I just got them there late everything would be fine.

Thankfully that level of completely irrational thinking didn't really happen.

Today is our Women's Spring Tea at church. Yesterday, I left my house at 5:00 pm to help decorate the venue. On my way over, via phone call, I found out that one of our hostesses--who was actually doing two of the five tables and bringing a large portion of the food--was unable to make it because of a personal issue. We went into scramble mode and ended up with me and another team member deciding to hostess tables. I needed to run an errand and decided to just get mini muffins and finger sandwiches while I was out.

The errand was supposed to take roughly 20 minutes. 

Two and a half hours later, I finally made it back to the church.

Because nothing went my way and it was like God spoke down from the heavens, "Hang on, sister. This is going to be one huge test in patience!" For your information, I did not pass the exam. At one point I very nearly burst into frustrated tears. There also might have been a bad word muttered under the breath. I am a pastor's wife. I will neither confirm or deny.

I started out at Harmon's where I waited for approximately twelve minutes to ask if they had other bubble balloons because all they had out were for birthdays or baby showers. They did not have others. They also did not have mini muffins or small sandwiches.

I hopped into the car--headed for another Harmon's--and realized I was in desperate need of gas. This is where I made the horrible decision to go to Costco. I figured I could get the gas and the food in one stop, adding only a few minutes to my trip. It was this decision that really derailed the entire evening. Costco was a zoo. It took me about ten minutes to get gas. Then, I wandered the store for ten more thinking that, for sure, I'd seen mini muffins there before. The tray of pinwheel sandwiches was $29.99 and, while this was way too much for what I actually needed, I didn't care. I was getting something for my extra trip. I grabbed the pinwheels and walked to the front where I discovered that each line had approximately 411 people in it. I spun on my heels and put the sandwiches back.

I drove to the Harmon's by my house. On my way, I had another team member call someone else and ask if she could bring more sandwiches. She was able to and I felt my very first measure of success. They had the correct balloons but the line had a zillion people in it. I stood. And waited. And waited. When I got to the front of the line, the lady told me it would take her about ten minutes to get them ready for me. This seemed strange to me but my degree is in Theatre, not Balloon Filling so who am I to judge? She told me to browse the store for awhile. 

So I found mini muffins.

Then I went back. The woman behind the counter stared at me blankly. "I...had...the...balloons," I said, hoping to trigger a response.

"Oh. Yes. I've been waiting to ask you if you need them tied together or tied separately?" So right then I almost spontaneously combusted because of all the LET'S NOT SEND SOMEONE AWAY UNTIL WE KNOW THAT WE KNOW WHAT WE NEED TO KNOW, YOU KNOW?

But I didn't. I held my pieces together. Barely.

By the time I left second Harmon's with the balloons and the muffins I was feeling horrible for how long I'd been gone. I had absolutely not helped get the church set up in any way, shape or form. While in Harmon's, I'd talked to someone at the church who said they were all leaving and finishing up tomorrow. I'd completely missed everything which is bad form. Especially when you're the head of the team.

At this point I was less than five minutes from my house so I just decided to go home and get all the stuff I'd need to decorate my table. Also, I discovered that my dog is going deaf because I got right up to him, thinking he'd died, and had to yell his name before he ever knew I was there. Gathering my things looked a little something like this...

"I need a centerpiece." Turn frantically in all directions before scooping up what was already serving as the centerpiece for my own table. "I need a small gift for each person." Run upstairs and improvise with a bunch of votive candles I was planning on burning for my ownself but what the heck, there were eight of them. Well, actually, there were seven, but I had another one that looked enough like the others to pass as the weird cousin that no one likes to claim. I had seven tea cups and seven salad plates in the cupboard.

Not three days ago, Garrett broke the eighth tea cup. He was holding it in his hand and, quite suddenly, the cup just sort of fell off the handle. I was standing right there. We were both completely bewildered. As for the eighth salad plate, I have no idea what became of it. Thankfully, the set we have services twelve. We just keep a fourth of it in the garage because our dinner table seats six so we've never had a dinner party for twelve. I ran into the garage. I'd just cleaned out the garage THAT VERY DAY and had not remembered seeing my spare dishes. Where were they?

I'd been gone forever at this point. 

This was getting ridiculous. Thinking about all the RIDICULOUS made me go into some kind of shock where I couldn't think properly or move correctly and I realized that, HEY! This is JUST like my dream. I am having a total failure to respond.

Finally I found them.

I headed back to the church, threw everything on my table, lamented that it is, by far, the least exciting table, attached all the balloons, and headed to my husband's softball game. Two and a half hours had passed since I first left the church.

Not a whole lot was accomplished.

At one point I thought to myself, "This is just another dream. Right? I'm going to wake up and the hostess will still be hostessing and I'll be decorating the church and all will be well. WAKE UP! WAKE UP!" But, no such luck. It was really happening. Everything I tried to do took approximately twenty minutes longer than it was supposed to.

So I'm going to put the final period on this post, dress up in my tea attire, and head to the church. Probably all the balloons will have floated to the roof, all the food will have somehow spoiled, and all the tables will have inexplicably fallen over, shattering all the dishes. Because nothing would surprise me at this point.