Friday, August 29, 2008

the wheel keeps on turning

When my life gets too busy and I am struggling to keep up with things, I feel like my life is a merry-go-round, the old kind that took several kids to get it going. The faster you ran and the harder you pushed, the better the ride would be, providing you could run long enough and fast enough to make the leap and land on top of the wheel.

I've come to recognize this feeling and trust that it means I need to let a few things go. As soon as I do, I am able to make the leap and the ride is fine again. But for the past few weeks, I have felt like I am just getting started. I push and push and try to run, but the weight of the wheel is too much; I have no momentum.

I know I just have to keep pushing, taking one step at a time. With each push I will feel a little stronger, the momentum will build and soon I will be ready to leap again, but right now it seems so much nicer to just lay down on the wheel and stare up at the sky...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

think, think, hope.

What you can't see in these photos of Abby and Max is that they are trying to slingshot a splat ball through a triangle shaped window of a giant tee-pee frame. Thus the looks of intense concentration (Max) and dubious hope (Abby).

*Giant tee-pee paid for and provided by Uncle Linds. Thanks!!!

*We ultimately held a contest to see who could launch the ball the farthest. Even without any practice, Dave was the king.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

kidney karz with a "k" and a "z"

As a rule, I try to avoid doing business with any company that deliberately misspells a word in its name. Businesses like "Kountry Kitchen" kind of make sense, as I can see they may be going for visual alliteration, although I've never actually heard of such a thing. But I have never understood the logic behind misspelling both words (Kountry Korner) or changing an s to a z (Kidney Karz) for no reason at all. Nevertheless, we had an old Volvo we needed to get rid of and decided to donate it to Kidney Karz last week. We chose this organization mostly because kidney disease seems to run in my family, but I was so impressed with their service. We were able to sign up online, fill out all the necessary forms and two business days later our Volvo was towed away without any trouble at all on our part. Quick, easy, painless and now we have donated 83 cents per dollar to a worthy cause and our driveway is open wide for skateboarding again. The moral of the story? Never judge a business by a misspelled word!

Monday, August 25, 2008

holy facebook!

I think I was the only one in the world not using Facebook before tonight. I had someone send me an invite this morning and thought, "okay, I have a few minutes." The next thing I knew, I had 17 friends and 25 emails in my inbox. It seems like a great way to stay connected to people, so I am excited to try it out. If you are reading this and you haven't joined yet, maybe you should give it a try. It kind of reminds me of being at a party, but without the fattening food and the stress of trying to smile all the time.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

waves of sadness

Another problem with losing someone you love is that waves of sadness come crashing down at random moments in time and, regardless of how long they last, all that registers in your heart and mind is an overwhelming sense of loss. To some this may seem like a negative thing to say, but for me it is a sign that although the person is gone for now, he never will be forgotten.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

first day of school photos

A picture really is worth a thousand words. But, to be fair, Max got the "mean" teacher this year.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

parlez vous french horn

Abby went to her 2nd day of Junior High today and came home with a french horn. I encouraged her to try it based on an NPR piece I heard that made it sound like if you mastered the french horn, you could probably own the world. She is bright and talented and has always shown a strong interest in owning the world, so it seemed like a good fit.

As soon as I got home she pulled it out of the case and by the time we sat down to dinner we had found a series of 23 tutorials on playing the french horn, learned how to control the pitch by the angle of the hand in the bell and Abby was experienced at emptying spit valves. We also knew how to play the notes F, G and A, although the actual playing of said notes requires a subtle variation in the embouchure which may take more than one night to nail down. Even for Abby.

I already suggested to Max that he go find his headphones and Dave quickly left the house to mow the lawn.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

mixed messages

My sister brought ice cream for Abby's birthday a few weeks ago and we just remembered it was in our freezer. The flavor is malted vanilla (think the inside of a whopper) and it is a gourmet brand, so I decided to go the extra mile and make some home-made chocolate sauce to go with. The recipes I had all called for evaporated milk or sweetened condensed milk, both of which I ran out of back on December 24th, so I decided to see what Allrecipes could offer. With two little words in one search I came up with exactly the recipe I need. Ironically, this was posted just below the recipe:

1 Rule of a flat stomach: Cut down 37 lbs of stomach fat in 3 months by follwing this 1 rule.

I'm not going to pay any money to find out what the "1 rule" is; I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with eating chocolate sauce.

Monday, August 18, 2008


My husband bought tickets for the whole family to go to Wilco tonight at Red Butte Gardens. It was a sold out show, we were all excited, but when it came time to go the tickets were lost. We couldn't get in with just a receipt, so we didn't get to go. Dave was sad, I was sad, the kids were sad, though technically I think the kids and I were mostly sad for Dave.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

a tinge of regret

Last night my husband and I caught the last half of "Legal Eagles" on t.v. This is one of my favorite 80's movies, but last night we were so distracted by the state of Debra Winger and Daryl Hannah's eyebrows that we found ourselves discussing the demise of the brow as if it were another horrible moment in history. In the end, Dave decided the demise was a direct result of the women's rights movement while I blamed Brooke Shields, but regardless of who caused it to happen, I'm sure every woman who survived the 80's looks back on her caterpillar brow with more than a tinge of regret.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

twelve is the scariest number

One time I had a guy stalking me. He was developmentally delayed and had decided I was his girlfriend, so he never caught on that I wasn't interested. My friends and family thought this was hilarious, especially when he asked my dad if he could take me to the Monsters of Rock concert. My brother thought it was so funny that one night he came home pretending to be the guy. He rang the doorbell and called out so convincingly that when he opened the door and walked in the house, I freaked out, screamed at him to "Get out!" and was on the verge of throwing a cast iron frying pan at him when I realized who he was.

Another time, a friend of mine took me into an old abandoned school to prove it wasn't scary. He showed me the gym, then walked me around a bit. On our way back through the gym, I noticed a body hanging from the basketball hoop. It turned out he had planned it all and the body was only newspaper stuffed into clothes, but I nearly wet my pants.

But the scariest thing I have ever experienced is watching my daughter turn 12. Last month she took over the bathroom, spent most of her birthday money on clothes and started shaving her legs. She is a good girl, smart and confident, but I may never feel more frightened than when I see boy after boy watching her walk, blissfully oblivious, beside me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

i wish it wasn't so

I looked out the window and what did I see?
Apricots rotting off the apricot tree.
August brought me such a nice surprise,
Apricots rotting right before my eyes.
I could take a bowl full and make some jam,
But I've already made jars and jars of jam.
I wish it wasn't so, but it seems to be.
Apricots rotting on the apricot tree.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

hope on the road

There is something incredibly hopeful about a pack of 8 year old boys in scout shirts riding their bikes down the middle of the road.

Monday, August 11, 2008

at the end of the day it all falls apart

At 6 o'clock this evening I wound up my work day planning to fix a quick dinner, spend quality time with my kids and then put on my new running shoes for a jog around the block. At 6:45 I sat down to eat and decided it was too hot to run outside but I would go to the gym. At 7 o'clock my kids had fled and I flopped down on the sofa. At 7:10 my husband talked about mowing the lawn and I envisioned myself in a healthy weeding workout. At 7:15 I thought about changing my clothes but it seemed like too much trouble. At 7:20 my daughter asked me to take her to the store. At 7:25 I knew my running shoes would not make it out of the box. I'll probably go buy some ice cream.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

thanks for the memories

By an odd twist of fate, I had the chance this weekend to see dozens of people from my past. I saw aunts and uncles, cousins and friends, old best friends, old boyfriends; some people I never thought I would see again. This was an amazing thing for me, not because people had changed, or because they had not, but because when I stood back and looked around, I saw little pieces of me. These are the people who shaped me. Through the experiences we have shared together, both good and bad, they have made me who I am. As a reasonably upstanding citizen, I am grateful for their influence and example. They have served me well and if I could go back in time, I wouldn't change a thing. Except for maybe my hair...

graveside remarks

Several people requested copies of the remarks I gave at my brother's graveside service. Here they are...

If you have ever heard the song about Henry and Liza and their broken bucket, you know it is long and tedious and quickly becomes tiresome. Grief is much the same way. When we lose someone we love, regardless of how close we have been to them, there is suddenly a hole in our lives. It may be a big hole if we live with them or work with them and see them every day; it may be a tiny hole if it is a distant relative or friend from the past, but there is always a hole.
The problem with the hole is that despite the amount of faith and hope we have, there is very little we can use to plug the hole. Like the bucket, we can think of things that may help temporarily, but inevitably it will come back to the fact that what we really need to plug the hole left by the person who died is the person himself.
Nevertheless, death is a part of life. It is part of our Heavenly Father’s plan. In order to learn and grow, we must experience all the joy and sadness that makes up our earthly lives. Without these experiences, we would never know the glory that will come from holding fast to the rod and enduring to the end.
Fortunately, we are not alone in our sorrow. We can take comfort in the same words spoken to a prophet long ago, “Peace be unto thy soul; thine adversity and afflictions shall be but a moment; and then, if thou endureth it well, God shall exalt thee on high…thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.”
There is no doubt in my mind that Phil endured his afflictions well. I know that as we stand here now, enduring our own afflictions, the warm hearts and friendly hands of all those who have loved him and gone on before have hailed him again and will stand by him and us until we are all reunited.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

i don't know dinner

I like to cook, I really do, but coming up with something for dinner every night is beyond me. On a good night, I think up something on my way home from work and once I've got a plan, making dinner is a snap. But typically I don't think about dinner until my kids have said they are hungry several dozen times and my guilt-siren is blaring. At this point I begin to ask the dreaded question, "What should we have for dinner?" Inevitably the answer is, "I don't know." So, at long last, I have written a recipe for "I don't know." It doesn't taste very good but the instructions are simple:

1. Open the fridge.
2. Stare absent-mindedly at the middle shelf.
3. Close the fridge and open the freezer.
4. Repeat step #2.
5. Close the freezer and open every cupboard and drawer in the kitchen.
6. Close most of the cupboards and drawers and reach for something you can snack on.
7. Eat enough that you are no longer hungry.
8. Pour your kids a bowl of cereal.
9. Vow to prepare a well-balanced meal the next night.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


During the years that I drove my old Volvo wagon, the radio never worked. As a result, whenever I drove my kids somewhere, we passed the time singing or talking. Last year I replaced my old wagon with a shiny new car complete with a radio, cd player, auxiliary plugs for our I pods and laptops. But old habits die hard and while driving Max to Science Camp last week, more often than not we found ourselves with the music off and the conversation on. Since it was an hour away (we spent nearly as much on gas as we did on the camp) we covered all kinds of subjects and one day we made up new lyrics to a song that kept us laughing through several long stop lights. We had a great time, but I didn't realize how valuable it was until this morning during a short 5 minute ride home from swim lessons. Max said, "I wish I was still going to Science Camp this week. The ride was a lot longer."

Monday, August 4, 2008

an ice-cold cup of unbridled enthusiasm

On the plane yesterday, I sat in front of a woman who spoke so loudly she woke me from my fitful, head-bobbing sleep and I was unsuccessful at drowning her out with my headphones. From what I could tell she had paid for her drink and true to my critical self, I found her irritating. But, with nowhere to go and nothing else to do, I gave myself up to eavesdropping. As I listened, I became more and more intrigued by her enthusiasm for things. Like restaurants. She loves restaurants. Loves them! LOVES them!!! And the London Times. She thinks it is a wonderful paper. Wonderful! WONDERFUL!!! She cheered out loud when she read that a professional sports star was negotiating a contract with her favorite team. Woo! Woo!! And she cheerfully pointed out that she works ten hours a day. Ten! TEN!!! She loves her job and wouldn't trade it, despite beginning each day with a 6:30 meeting that for some reason requires her to wear a hard hat. By the end of the flight, I liked this woman. Of course I wondered if I could order the same unbridled enthusiasm from the beverage cart lady, but I could tell it ran deeper than that. I have thought about her all day...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

there's a hole in the bucket

If you have ever heard the song about Henry and Liza and their broken bucket, you know it is long and tedious and becomes really annoying after the first couple of verses. This pretty much sums up grief too. When you lose someone you love, regardless of how close you have been to them, emotionally or geographically, there is suddenly a hole in your life. It may be a big hole if you live with them or work with them and see them everyday; it may be a tiny hole if it is a distant relative or friend of a friend, but there is always a hole. The problem with the hole is that despite the amount of faith and hope you have, there is very little you can use to plug the hole. Like the bucket, you can think of things that may help, but inevitably it will come back around to the fact that what you really need to plug the hole left by the person who died is the person himself.