Saturday, December 27, 2008

Wo is Us? Wo are We?

There's some serious sadness going on in our house right now, let me tell you. We were supposed to go to Washington to spend the week between Christmas and New Year's with my sister and her family. (Don't tell any of the other cousins, but these are kind of the favorites.) We packed carefully, even filling the cooler with sandwiches and drinks, carrots and grapes. We had a bag of croutons to keep Dad happy driving many hours, and then the storm hit. We live in the mountains, and we expect snow in the winter. But this wasn't about snow. This was ice, wind, gusty drifts, and major yuckiness.

And a closed freeway.

The one to use between here and there.

Oh, the sadness. Whining, moaning, crying, grumbling, sniffling, slumping, and that was before I told the kids.

We watched every weather and traffic camera across each state beween our house and theirs. Each one said said, "You'd probably be idiots to make this drive." Except the ones on the closed freeway. They just shook their heads and laughed at us.

So we did what any normal family would do. We took the kids who were wallowing less deeply and went snowshoeing. Then we all drowned our sorrows in "Bedtime Stories" and buttered popcorn. We even snuck our stocking candy into the theater - a crime I am generally opposed to. It didn't take. Everyone laughed at the movie, but we were all pretty boneless as we slouched out of the theater.

And now I have a week of sad kids and an antsy husband on my hands. And I'm usually the one who can't wait for days together. I love the holidays from school. Any excuse for a vacation day is a good excuse for me.

But this time we're all so depressed.


Monday, December 22, 2008


My girls just answered the door (a neighbor bringing Christmas goodies) and hauled in a small box.

"Mom, it's for you."

Funny. I didn't order anything lately. All my Amazon purchases arrived weeks ago.

"Here. It's really heavy. You carry it."

It had a postmark. From Salt Lake City. Specifically, from Deseret Book. Now I KNOW I didn't order this. And it is heavy, for a 12-inch cube. It has grandma tape on it, the kind with threads running through the tape so nobody can sneak a peek at your stuff. I fingered the tape as my oldest glanced at the side.

Where it said the words "Bright" and "Blue" and "Miracle."

Naturally there were no scissors to be found in the kitchen, so she tossed me some nail clippers with the file/cleaner thingie pulled out. I sliced open the box and pulled out the first copies of MY VERY OWN BOOK.

Let's just take a second to let that all sink in.

I'll wait till you're ready.

(seriously, I'm just sitting here at the computer, feeling a little giddy, but mostly just GLAD, and waiting for you to gasp with delight, or at least nod your head in agreeability)

Here are my first reactions:

The books are cold.
And small.
And paperback.
And pretty.
And mine.


Wow, huh? I mean, big, big wow.

I'm anticipating that you are all thrilled with me, so thanks.

Bright Blue Miracle, by Becca Wilhite. How fun is that?

And wow. Big Wow.

An Angel in Hip Waders

It snowed more than a foot in Heber today. That's plenty of snow, people. And I get to shovel it. Because I'm the wife that wants my husband to come home, dreading the long, long driveway only to discover that, by some miracle, he can actually move from the street into the garage.

So I go out. I start pushing. And hauling. And sweating.


And then, maybe just a little swearing.

Then more pushing and tossing. After about a half hour, I'd carved a pair of skinny, crooked paths from the garage into the street, and cleaned the walkway. I was just looking from the street back to the distant end of the driveway, tears of despair threatening, when what to my wondering eyes should appear but a Polaris quad pulling into my neighbor's driveway.

"Hey, how nice of the snowplow guy to block you in like that," called the ridiculously cheerful man in the quad. I laughed and waved, and he hollered, "Give me a minute to clear these guys out, and I'll come finish your job."

I almost cried. Really. My back was aching, and I had at least twice more to do than I'd managed so far. So I really started to put my guts into it. I shoveled and chucked snow in every direction. (Not really. I'm pretty careful. The driveway gets frightfully skinny throughout the winter if I'm not. So I pushed snow carefully where it belonged.) He finished up the Mortensens' drive and actually asked if it was okay with me if he pushed all the snow into the yard. Was he kidding? The kids would love a huge wall of snow to hike/jump/tunnel around. So in the time it took me to clear the garage floor under Scott's car, he pushed huge amounts of snow from the long driveway to the basketball standard. He worked so fast, I had very little time to think. I asked his name, and he told me Clayne. A friend of Cody's, apparently, but not one I'd ever seen in the neighborhood before. I thanked him as sincerely as I could and wished him a merry Christmas. Maybe he was one of Santa's elves. Maybe he was a Christmas Spirit, ala Mr. Dickens, like the Ghost of Driveways Present. Or maybe he was an angel sent straight from God. An angel in hip waders and a cowboy mustache.

I thought about checking into his details, maybe finding a way to repay him for his efforts, but I really rather like the thought that I will never know this guy's human details. Let him remain my mysterious knight in a shining 4-wheeler, spreading cheer and snow through the neighborhoods of Heber.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

It's Christmas Program Time

They still call it that, here. The Second Grade Christmas Program. Forty minutes of singing-and-swinging delight. Even costumes, for heaven's sake. Scott worked at home this morning so he could go witness Ellie's glorious performance (among the crowd). Did I mention that I've already seen it twice this year, not to mention the times I saw it in 2003 and 2005? Well I have. And it's just fine. Lovely, even. Because I had a tiny epiphany this morning. Here, I'll share it with you.

Nobody really goes to these programs to watch the program.

We go so our Ellies and our Jordans and our Kelseys and our Tanners see us watching them. Our Sams and our Evans and our Ashleys and our Haydens get all kinds of kicks out of our presence. The love to see us watching. And they learn to believe that they are worth our time, even the time we usually spend doing other (productive) things.

(Or taking a nap.)

We go and sit on the edge of our frozen folding chair, making eye contact and waving covertly so our sweeties will remember that once we were there. It may never be written on anyone's tombstone "Here lies my Mother. She came to all seventeen performances of the Third Grade Musical Revue."

But it will be written in someone's heart.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Out with the Tooth

Disclaimer: Yes, I do recognize that I have other children. However, they spend all day in school, and only this smallest person is home with me through all these hours of every day.

So Matthew pulled out his very own first loose tooth last night. When he told me, about two weeks ago, that his tooth was loose, I thought, "I wonder who punched him in the face." His big sisters didn't lose teeth this young. In fact, Ellie's first didn't come out till the night before first grade. (Trauma=memory. She was sure she'd be the only first grader in the history of Elementary School with all her original teeth.) But every day since, he's asked, "Remember that I have a loose tooth? Remember my tooth?" Yeah, pal. I remember.

I remember the day that tooth came in, amidst copious drool. I remember the huge eyes, staring at me adoringly from above those cheeks -- those cheeks that beg fir nibbles. I remember your first steps at Disneyland, heavily assisted by us, many months before you were ready to actually walk on your own. I remember Bearnard, the only thing you really wanted for Christmas when you were three. His squishy arms covered in orangey-brown faux fur wrap you up in bed at night. I remember how you loved to walk to the mailbox with me to find kid-movies. I remember how it feels to have you sitting on my lap and reaching up behind your head to touch my face, or hug around my neck, all without disturbing the story-reading mojo.

I remember.

And I hope I'll always remember.

Monday, December 15, 2008

5 years ago right now...

Okay, don't worry. I am absolutely not going to get into dirty details over this. But five years ago right now I was working on having my fourth baby. As far as I know, my last baby.

Okay, maybe a couple of dirty details.

I had a CNM (that's a Certified Nurse Midwife) helping me have this baby. This I recommend. She was incredibly helpful, in the way that wise, understanding women who have been on both ends of the bed (if you know what I mean) can be. It's like having the best L&D nurse, who stays from the beginning to the end.

It hurt. A lot. It was the fastest and most intense of my deliveries. No epidural. (Go, Me!) and very little moaning. I love to give the impression of control (whether I have it or not).

And a boy baby.

I'd waited long for that. I love my girls, each of them. They are peaches, every one. And as much as I love and adore them, there is simply something different about The Boy. Maybe it's because I prayed him here. I did that. I told God, "I am very happy to do this again, provided this time you furnish a boy." He complied. And I'm still so glad.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I'm too tired for that

Today didn't have a red-letter beginning. Ellie and I occasionally butt heads about the morning routine, and today was, for some reason, especially difficult. I could try to convince you (and myself) that I gave all that "validating parenting" crap a shot, but who would I be kidding? I lost it and shouted. Which made me feel tired, right there at the start of my day. Which led to a little more shouting. Which of course led to everything getting worse, as I knew it would. (But the act of shouting did make me feel better for just a minute.)

When we both calmed down, I sought her out and we had a little talk. Mostly me. But she nodded a lot. We (I) decided we should have a new buzzword realting to actions and decisions. Here it is:

"I'm too _____ for that."

Then we practiced.

Me: If someone was teasing a kid in your class, and you thought about joining in, what could you tell yourself?

Her: I'm too kind for that.

Me: If you felt a temper fit coming on, what would you tell yourself?

Her: I'm too old for that.

Me: If someone offered you a cigarette, what could you say?

Her: I'm too smart for that.

Me: If you were having bad thoughts about yourself, what should you remind you?

Her: I'm too fabulous for that.

(Okay, that last one didn't get said, but it should have. I'll be sure to tell her when she gets home from school in about six more hours, and then she can practice it.)

And the point? I should be saying these things to myself everyday, too.

Should I sleep in front of the fire instead of writing my story? No, I'm too talented for that.

Do I fear giving a talk/lesson/lecture? I'm too funny for that.

Will I shout at my sweet little kids? I'm too gentle for that.

Can I say no to watching a friend's kid? I'm too gracious for that.

Will I tremble at the sight of empty fridge and cupboards? Heck no. I'm too resourceful for that.

Should I eat that entire bag full of dried mangoes before the girls get home from school? Um, maybe, because it's fruit.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Christmas is Looming

I live in the Rocky Mountains, so by all accounts I should be digging out feet of snow by now. Not so much. I can still see the lawn. It did snow today, but not greatly at my house. I am not complaining about the lack of snow. I do not ski, and I can wait to go snowshoeing until February. But the snowless state is helping me forget that Christmas is, in fact, a mere seventeen days away.

Matthew has a birthday next week, so I get a regular "I will be five in ____ days" reminders, but that hasn't really helped me kick it into gear, giftwise.

Until today.

Here's the plan: This year, everyone gets the following -- something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. Done. DONE!

Did I mention DONE?

When my world changes and I have more of a budget for things like Shameless Consumerism, I can still stick to this list. Because I want new flooring on the main level, and I need a vacation, and I can wear a great deal of clothing if I try (not to even mention things that sparkle), and I don't believe I can ever have enough to read. So it's a good idea, I think.

Merry Christmas.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Hooray for You (not so much for Me)

I just finished reading a manuscript for a friend. It was good. Really good, like I feel attached to the characters and want them to live happily ever after on the living room couch reading stories and eating pizza. With my fine and dazzling proofreading skills, I can help my friend polish her story and ready it for submission. I, however, do not have anything ready for submission. Instead I have the following:

1. A story-ish group of words (not enough of which to make a book)
2. A great voice - a really adorable leading lady
3. A male lead that I would be in love with, were I in any position to love imaginary college freshmen
4. A promising beginning
5. A manuscript that is growing brittle from not being handled (this is metaphorical, I assure you - it's all in the computer)
6. A mounting sense of guilt, see above
7. A lack of "what is this story about" answers
8. A growing dread that I may be a person who will write meatless, fluffy romance novels
9. A pathological (as in non-rational) fear of working hard to finish this book
10. A facebook account, reason enough to put off anything constructive

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Burning Down The House

It's not like I have a cooking disaster every day. Or even weekly. Or monthly. Considering how much of my life is spent working in the kitchen, I'd say that I have a fairly good track record. Maybe like an A-. Or B+, at least at the moment.

Here's how it went down. I have a half-batch of cream cheese frosting in the fridge. That won't always be true. So I figured I'd use it. I have this cookie recipe (total girl cookies, Scott won't touch them) called melt-aways, which are butter heavy and frosted with cream-cheese frosting. So I whipped up a batch, but the dough was way crumbly -- not even clinging together enough to make a ball. So I added some more butter, and it whipped up all gorgeous. I rolled out 72 tiny tea-cookie balls and baked at 350 for 10 minutes. Then I looked.

Oh, my.

Not so much "cookies" going on here. More like a sideless pan of white dough swimming in butter.

Remember the "sideless" part? Yeah. So there's butter rolling off the pan, and dough sliding off to join it, and my oven is starting to stink like burnt sugar and a great deal of butter.

So I pull the pan out, switch off the oven, and hit the Clean cycle. If you have never done this, you may not realize that it was a large mistake. Within three minutes, I had my kid and his buddy staring in wonder at the flames leaping inside the locked oven.



And now there's the stink. Burnt sugar and scorched oil was nothing compared to this disaster. So now I've sent the boys outside to breathe clean air, opened all the windows, turned off the heater (see? I was thinking a little) and hidden in the office, where the strategic corners have left the air slightly less toxic.

Yeah, We all need a day like this to remember that we are not, in fact, in every way fabulous. (I just don't think I need these days quite so often.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

What am I afraid of?

Shall we make a list? Alphabetical? Realistic to ridiculous? Fears I'm likely to confront today? Well, maybe just that last. I have put it off far too long. It's time to read the draft. I fear this because I already know that A) it's too short B) it has no plot and C) I should have been into it for the last 15 days or so, and if I had been, we'd be that much farther out of this hole.

However, on the plus side, A) Scott read it and laughed aloud. If you don't think this is a big deal, you don't know the following: Scott does not read, especially not YA romantic comedy. B) Jana has read it and is reading it again in order to make helpful and devastating comments. C) lack of plot can be overcome much more easily than, say, lack of fantastic voice. Which is covered, if I do say so myself.

So I should really stop this, and get on to that.