Friday, October 8, 2021

Scrambled Thoughts

1. Did I tell you we named the parts of our yard? 

It's a real thing now - with signage and everything! 
Now, let's talk about drilling holes into that cinder block fence back there. Actually... let's not talk about it because I'm still recovering.

2. Let's talk about how lovely it is to have hanging lights along that cinder block fence instead.

Because it is quite lovely. Especially when you can enjoy them with some of your very best friends in the whole world. Doug and Becky were with Joseph in St. George for his senior trip when one night they had a harebrained idea to drive four hours round trip just to jump into our hot tub and visit for a few hours. We love the Larsons!

3. Another type of fun is when you cram 74 people back there.

I love a full backyard to the deepest parts of my heart. The youth needed a place for their summer party and we all ended up here. All I had to do was tidy the yard and turn on the waterfalls, another leader brought boxes and boxes of ice cream sandwiches, and we were good to go. Easiest activity ever.

4. And while we're on the subject of the backyard...

This is me, enjoying it. Truly enjoying it. One of the most frustrating pairings of my life is the deep pleasure I feel being in lovely spaces, but the incompetence I feel creating lovely spaces. Designing and homemaking do not come easily for me. I spend a myriad of hours thinking and analyzing before I make a move toward any improvements at all, and by the time I do finally get around to making some improvements my mind is frankly sick with worry that I'm making a mistake, and everyone is tired of hearing about it. And I do make plenty of mistakes. This house has not been a love project for me. Every single step of making this house into my home has been stressful and fraught with obstacles and disappointments... but it's working. And I'm starting to see some fruits of my labors. 
So slowly.
I'm starting to feel more at home here.

5. We're the Birthday Babes

I didn't choose the title, and I don't particularly like it, but it is alliterate, and I like that, so I suppose that's satisfying in a somewhat special sense. We assemble for the annual advent of another voyage around the sun to fan the festive flames of friendship by frolicking forth with a festive theme. The theme this time was Dora, Dora, Dora the Explorer.

We went OVER the mountain,
INTO the Luxor,
THROUGH the escape room,
to the happy, happy donut shop! 
Where we each left with some sort of GI problem and spent the night up and sick. Thanks donut shop. 🤢

6. Timothy has a friend in high places

So high that this friend invited Timothy to an amusement park for his birthday celebration.

And rented a hummer limo in which to take him.

7. I'd say my pool boy is cuter than yours, but that might sound rude.

So instead I'll just keep it to myself and continue watching out my window every time he shows up. It's a good thing I watch him so intently, too, or I might have missed this gem of a moment when he allllllllllllmost fell straight in.

He pulled himself up from that fallen perch with the strength of a hundred lions 😆

8. Teenage boys are hard on things.

Good thing a trampoline is just a 'thing'... but still. This is the SECOND trampoline those four destroyed in under a month. The metal frame is completely folded.

9. We end with my favorite two little girls:

I really am so glad that someone (all four children) talked us into getting a dog. ❤️

Hike to the Wild Grapevines

Did you know that there are wild grapevines growing in the desert?

Well, there are. And when we heard about it, we all jumped into the car to investigate. At first the trail didn't look too promising. 

Lots of rock, lots of sand, lots of desert, lots of sage

But we kept walking and walking and walking, through the sage, through the rock, through the sun... 

...and then, there! Around the bend! GREEN! The actual color of green that looks like green. We don't get much of that here as most of our green has so much brown in it that it almost doesn't feel green at all. 

I can't believe I didn't get a picture of just the landscape, but you can see the vibrant color of it in the background of these pictures:

Grapevines. Who knew?

The trails through the grapevines were narrow, and plentiful, and while it was only a small area, it felt like a true oasis.

A short continuation led us to these reeds that grew along a small stream. Zoomed out like this it doesn't look all that impressive, but it felt impressive to my thirsty eyes.

Just like the reeds in this picture, sometimes the pockets of peace feel small in a largely barren landscape, but if you angle your lens in just the right way and focus on that peace, you can still create some beautiful moments.

Carson wasn't thrilled when I asked him to pick up Maisy for a photo, but he scooped her up without complaint. I only knew he didn't want to because of subtle body language and that super fake smile. 

I learned after the shot that it was because Maisy's paws were wet and he didn't want to get dirty...Which made a whole lotta sense to me and which I keep remembering every time I see that wet spot on his shorts up there. It makes me feel all sorts of things for this oldest son of mine. He is an obedient soul, still learning how to express his own desires and wishes, sure, but I predict that his obedience will take him far in life. I remember the first time I noticed that obedience in him... he was crawling-on-the-floor years old, making his way to an electrical outlet. From the couch I said, "Carson, no..." fully expecting to have to put down my work and go physically redirect him, but instead he stopped and craned his neck back over his shoulder to look at me to make sure he got the message right. "No, Carson," I said again, pointing to the outlet. And he turned and crawled another way. 

I was shocked! My sweet McKenzie would have increased her speed towards the outlet had she caught wind of the fact that I might be coming to stop her! (Let's be clear, she has a million strengths, too.) But Carson listened, then obeyed. And he's been making that choice ever since. Even in as something as small as a request to "pick up Maisy and let me get a picture of you two!" 

Anyway, that's just a tangent in a post about wild grapevines. 😂

The Sometimes Mom

My kids know me well. For Mother's Day this year they created a scripture scavenger hunt because "she really likes scriptures, and she really likes scavenger hunts." They're right on both accounts. Each piece of paper held a scripture reference which, when looked up, led me to a specific place in the home where another reference was waiting for me. Brilliant.

I don't really remember what was waiting for me at the end of the scavenger hunt which, honestly, makes me happy because, hooray for enjoying the journey more than the destination. The destination might have been that cheesecake up there... I do love cheesecake.

And I also love her:

It felt a little weird to not have a baby or toddler around for Mother's Day this year. It's the first time in seventeen years. Eliza's a beautiful preschooler now and with every little milestone she reaches I realize again that a significantly important and beautiful phase of my own life is ending. If I think too hard about all the things I'll miss about it I can start feeling sad before my next blink, but if I look into those faces I can see that it really is a beautiful thing. Watching my babies grow to toddlers to preschoolers to little kids to big kids to tweens to teens to big teens is maybe the most fulfilling thing in my life.

Next to him:

He's pretty fulfilling, too. Which is a good thing because I'm starting to come to terms with the whole Kids Grow up and Leave concept. Whenever he wraps his arm around my shoulders, he always squeezes me closer. Our lives are a lot about our children right now, but that squeeze... that's about us.

We played out on the sports court and ate our cheesecake under the warm sun. I wanted to grab a picture of all of us looking at the camera, and I laugh every time I see this picture because Carson was the only one who didn't get the memo for 'serious faces'.

Happy faces are better anyway.

And here is pictured probably the most sincere Mother's Day note I've ever received:

Dear mom,
I love that you, sometimes, you spend time with us and you let us do fun Friday and you read to us (sometimes). And you sometimes drive us places on Saturday. These are all reasons I love you.

He nailed me.

And I'm not even sad about it. Because he's so right. The truth is that sometimes I run away from my kids and hide in the bathroom with chocolate. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I shame, sometimes I yell, and sometimes I ignore.

But sometimes? Sometimes I get it all right.

And sometimes seems to be enough.

Sunday, September 19, 2021

Juarez visit

You know those visitors who come into your home and slide so easily into your way of life that it feels like they were meant to stay forever? That's how I feel about my sister and her family.

They could stay forever. I think Eliza agrees because then she'd have a playmate to do all the things little girls should have a playmate to do.

Like covering bodies in chalk and jumping on trampolines and... not sharing.

Thank goodness chalk is not just for little girls. Timothy was all in, too, and drew a self portrait with remarkable likeness.

Of course, whenever anyone comes to visit us under the summer desert sun, we can’t spend much time on the trampoline for fear of melting right through the surface. So we seek out water, and getting out on our boat is our favorite way to do that.

Michelle and Jake really are so cute.

As is that spunky toddler on the tube. I love her like my own.

The handsome captain.

And precious little Lexi!

Both girls have a thing about a too-bright sky, and both of us moms have a thing about toddlers in sunglasses. So it works out well.

We always stay until the sun goes deep below the mountains.

When we’re not in the water or playing outside on the trampoline, we’ll chat, or watch a movie, or play a game. One evening these three played an epic game of Secret Hitler.

They had us all so fooled that it made me question my parenting skills that two of my dear, beautiful children could lie so convincingly.

One afternoon, Michelle and I were sitting on the front porch attempting conversation. But being mothers of small children, we were mostly having interruptions sprinkled with conversation. This particular encounter took Eliza a full minute and a half of sputtering before getting to her final point, which was: that she forgot.

But that’s why I love having the Juarez family around. They are talented in the art of rolling with the punches, and that makes it fun to simply ‘do life’ with them around. 

To end the evenings, we love to jump in the pool or hot tub. It's easier to have grown-up conversations like that. The colors in this photo make me laugh every time. Brian and Jake look like oompa loompas swimming in kool-aid.

Please come back, Juarezes!

Sunday, August 22, 2021

Scrambled Thoughts

1. This is one loved puppy.

Part of me wonders whether or not we'll ever have another scrambled thoughts post without a bullet point devoted to her.

2. Digital Concerts are complicated.

On the one hand, let's be honest, it's amazing not to have to spend a whole evening putting on pants getting ready, rushing traveling to the concert, attending the concert, taking the family out for ice cream, traveling home, getting in bed late, etc. All we had to do was click on the TV, hook up the computer and push play. And once it was over, it was back to life in a second. It is also amazing to be able to send the link to all the family members who wanted to see it but who otherwise wouldn't have been able to.

On the other hand, most of my heart truly missed the excitement that comes along with all of those things up there. Halfway through their second song I even started choking back tears because of how sad it all felt. McKenzie and Carson had put hours into preparing for this concert, they were being directed by Ryan Murphy, the assistant director of the Tabernacle at Temple Square, they sounded so amazing, they were all dressed up and sparkling in their matching polo shirts (🤔), and their eyes were so proud. But at the end of each of their numbers there was an echoey silence in place of thunderous applause. And at the end of their performance, no one was waiting in the lobby to give them hugs and flowers. Covid has stolen so many moments. 

3. If you are looking for a good pediatric dentist, drop all of your other recommendations and go here. Right now. 

I've loved this dentist for my kids for years and years, and last visit solidified my loyalty to him and his staff forever. The dental hygienist picked up on Eliza's anxiety and she jumped in and took her in like a mother hen with a chick. At one point she even had Eliza be her assistant by holding the little mouth vacuum (uh... please tell me that's not what it's really called) to suction out McKenzie's mouth while the hygienist cleaned her teeth. Equally amazing was McKenzie, who tolerated a pre-schooler suctioning out her mouth.

4. Sometimes we wish we could just live at Nana and Poppy's house. 


Riley and Eliza are becoming friends, but it hasn't been fast. They are both a little possessive of their own opinions and spaces and ideas and... everything else. Miles helped facilitate a bit of a bond by playing the game 'Lock Miles Out of the House Over and Over and Over Again'. Riley and Eliza really had to work as a team on that one.

4b. But if you're not going to share your nerds, be prepared to hear about it for a long time.

Two months after this trip I got a text from my sister, Michelle: I want you to know that Eliza is in trouble around here. Last time you were in Midway she had a box of candy that Riley wanted. And Eliza didn't share. For some reason that is big news today. 

4c. The two main reasons we went to Nana and Poppy's:

To see my sister in a hilarious play called The Play Where Everything Goes Wrong (or something like that), and to count all the coins in a giant glass bottle that has been collecting pocket change for ... decades?

Okay, so that wasn't one of the real reasons, but we did it anyway. It took us four hours and, any guesses on the grand total?

$1043.48. That's one thousand forty-three dollars and forty-eight cents. And it's so incredibly heavy I'd love to watch a burglar come in and try to steal it.

5. Carson has music in his soul

A few months ago, 86-year-old Ethelyn Peterson walked into our home and offered to teach Carson to play the organ. This is maybe more shocking and impressive than you realize because, not only is Ethelyn Peterson 86-years-old, but she is also a highly disciplined, world renowned organist who does not teach just anybody. You have to be invited by her. She has heard Carson play the piano a few times and she can hear what I have always known. Carson has music in his soul.

He will start in August, after Ethelyn has fully recovered from her most recent heart procedure. She playfully and good-naturedly hopes aloud that she can get at least three good years of teaching into Carson before she finishes up life on this Earth.

6. Brunch with the ladies

I have ladies, guys. Changing the way I think about my life is liberating. I've decided to stop thinking that I don't have any friends around here and start thinking that I have lots of friends around here. It's working.

7. Chariots of Fire Sweep Through the Sky

Clouds are massive. 

8.  Oh, Covid. Thanks for forcing us to figure out how to throw a baby shower over zoom.

Since these pictures were taken, Brian and Cassie have had the most adorable little baby!

But before she could have him, we needed to celebrate.

Michelle was really the MVP of the event, planning, researching, figuring out how to connect all of us digitally when what we really all wanted was to be together in person. 

9. McKenzie's Not-a-Boyfriend is the Sweetest.

He put together a scavenger hunt for her to collect puzzle pieces which, when put together, asked her to prom.

And right as she finished putting the last of the pieces together, he showed up with a bouquet of flowers and a hug. They really are so cute together. But also they're not together, sooooooooo...

Recently she said about their connection, "... it's not just a friendship, but it's not really a relationship, it's a situationship."

Whatever. They're cute, and I love them both.