Saturday, August 29, 2015

My Summer Epiphany

Somewhere in the middle of my summer, I stumbled upon this piece - 

Once there was a man who filmed his vacation.
He went flying down the river in his boat
with his video camera to his eye, making
a moving picture of the moving river
upon which his sleek boat moved swiftly
toward the end of his vacation.  He showed
his vacation to his camera, which pictures it,
preserving it forever: the river, the trees,
the sky, the light, the bow of his rushing boat
behind which he stood with his camera
preserving his vacation even as he was having it
so that after he had had it he would still
have it.  It would be there.  With a flick
of a switch, there it would be.  But he
would not be in it.  He would never be in it.

-The Vacation, Wendell Berry-

I was laughing by the end of the poem, and by the end of the day I realized I'd sadly stumbled across myself.  

There were too many moments this past summer where my efforts to record my family's present history got in the way of me fully engaging with my children.  It became more of an irritant and at times a massive interruption.  I wasn't able to enjoy the moment.  

Hence my epiphany.

This is the last summer we'll record our weekly summer activities.  Field trips, hikes, science projects - none of that will stop.  Those have become our faithful building blocks.  But I'm not going to capture everything and I'll be posting much less.  A post summer recap will suit us better.   

I want more time on my deck chairs visiting with my kids.  And more floor time with Bubbs and his tummy.  I want to cook guilt-free with my two oldest boys and not bemoan the fact that I didn't capture it on film.    
So yeah... I'm going to hang out with these goof balls more.

Time well spent.  

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Summer 2015, Week 10 Final Week!

#1 - Field Trip - BYU

BYU's Museum of Art wisely replaced (I hope permanently) the terra-cotta statue that used to reside in the entryway with this illuminating, rainbow piece made up of thousands of strands of string.  Every step, every view around the lobby is brilliantly diffused in color, constantly changing and moving.  I hope it stays...

#2 - Hike - Mom got tired.  We went to the Thanksgiving Point Museums instead.

#3 - Science Project  - Ice Cube Lift

#4 - Art Project  - Egg Geodes

These were pretty dang cool because I originally thought there was no way my little kids were going to be able to crack open the top of an egg, empty it and clean it without destroying the fragile shell.  Not only did Pretty Girl do it flawlessly - Bubbs was the same!!

As an added bonus, this experiment fueled my oldest boys imagination for the upcoming science fair.  Don't be surprised if salt is involved in some wild way...

#5 - And Then We Did a Little of This 

Pretty Girl started Activity Days!  She has amazing leaders and a darling bunch of girls surrounding her.  She's thrilled.  Mom's thrilled.  The next 4 years are going to be awesome.  

And we had a few tea parties...

And finally - there was a lot of biking action!

Sunday, August 23, 2015


Today we're retiring this little number...

Size 4.  It's been 8 years since I bought it at a Target in Stamford, Connecticut.  I still remember the day - with two little boys at my feet and my arms weighed down with my baby girl.  This shirt provided some much needed comic relief.       

All my children have worn it.

And the phrase has acutely represented every little body inside it. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Rider of Days

Patty's new album isn't due until end of September.  But they leaked one song early as an appetizer.

Naturally, I'm sold.

How could I not be?  She sings about being a "rider" - with all the lovely, subtle allegories to life's journey.  I'm especially crazy about the last verse and the line -"I dream of you always, hill after hill".  Not surprisingly, the melody is euphoric if you happen to be on a road bike. 

See you in October, Patty.  I'll be the tall one again. 


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Summer 2015, Week 9

#1 - Field Trip - Serving Time Cafe & Bowling

I've been wanting to take the kids to this cafe for a while.  It's cheap, delicious food and it's run by women incarcerated in the Utah State Prison.  My favorite comment came from Our Sweetie as we were leaving, - "Mom, those women were so nice!  I don't know why any of them are in prison."  The whole episode really messed with his moral absolute compass.  

#2 - Hike - Potato Hill

#3 - Science Project  - Solar Night Lights

Super super easy!  What I loved most was the moment the kids realized the solar kits were too big for the heads of the jars.  So we had to throw out several ideas on how to increase the radius of the solar kits.  We ended up increasing the girth with ropes of string.  Worked perfectly!  The kids love them.  

#4 - Art Project  - Homemade Play Dough

#5 - And Then We Did a Little of This -

Our Big Guy is getting ready for his first mtn bike race (a dedicated post on his team is coming soon).  In preparation for this 200+ person event, he and I volunteered Friday evening to help set up the 5 mile course. 

I would like to take this time to confess that my oldest has mad mountain biking skills.  Mad.  I'm an avid road cyclist who does about 50 miles/week.  This was 5 measly miles.  FIVE.  I crashed, slipped, banged, screamed... while our Big Guy sailed to the lead.  Effortlessly.  Sailed.  

The race next Saturday is 2x through this 5 mile course.  

My son is amazing.  

We also attended Sundance's production of the Wizard of Oz.  My kids loved it! And we planted 2 new peach trees and a few rhubarb plants.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Sister Johnson

When I was around five, my mom's cancer went down hill.  It was her third year post diagnosis and even though they knew she was doomed from the beginning, she'd been able to pursue a fairly normal lifestyle for a while.  Those were the good years.

That all came to a terrible halt during 1st grade.

My father had to make some decisions - how to support his bed-ridden wife, how to raise two toddlers and how to grow his infant ophthalmology practice.  All on his own.  In the end, my mom was put in the care of her parents (my grandparents) serving as Mission Presidents in the Los Angeles LDS Mission.  My dad went to work.  

And my brother and I got Sister Johnson. 

Sister Johnson was a godsend.  A saint who brought warmth, food and stability to my shattering world.  She was a tough-loving woman who cherished my brother while keeping strides with my Type A attitude.  I don't remember what I rebelled against, but I remember getting mad and yelling more than a few times.  

Her cooking was stellar - except when she decided to experiment with nuts or peanut butter or some obscure vegetable like tomatoes.  Then it was awful.  But otherwise it was heaven.  Lots of lard, butter and oil.  Ironic in a way because Sister Johnson was a one-snack-policy-after-school kind of woman (something I despised).  But I was young, insanely active and blissfully unaware.

Her french toast fried in oil still makes my mouth water.

Game shows took on a whole new meaning with Sister Johnson.  She introduced me to The Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy because she'd watch them while folding laundry.  One year my Dad took a trip and Sister Johnson stayed over for the weekend.  I stayed up late with her, watching late night game shows while putting together a complex 1000-piece puzzle on a card table - I loved it!

If she had one fault (aside from her experimental cooking) it was that she couldn't do hair. 

Specifically... my hair.  

The one and only time she styled my hair was for my fourth-grade photos, and my dad was horrified with the results.  After that, Sister Johnson only worried about brushing my hair.  Not styled or braided or put up in cute bows.  Just brushed.  And most days I was lucky if it was clean.  I didn't have a clue (still don't) how to handle curly hair - a fact that many mean-spirited girls made obvious as I grew older.  It wasn't until my second nanny (Sandy) came along that things began to turn around.  Sandy is another story for another blog post.

As I got older, and especially after my grandparents got home from their mission, Sister Johnson's time with us grew less frequent.  And the year my Dad finished building our new home was the year Sister Johnson declared her time with us had come to an end.  I was 11 by then - my brother 8.  We had long reached the point of getting ourselves up and ready for school without assistance.  A nanny would only be needed for late afternoons.

I let Sister Johnson slip away from my life with all the naive ignorance of a child who doesn't understand the permanency of each passing year.  I adored her and thought her resiliency in my day-to-day routine would never diminish.  Why didn't I make more of an effort to stay in touch with her?

When my brother and I attended her funeral in 2003, I thought I had cornered the market on my personal insight into Sister Johnson's rare and wonderful qualities.  Turns out, of course, I was wrong.  Her life influenced hundreds of people for good.  Her immediate and extended family.  Children (now adults) from all corners of the country.  Her warmth was clearly a building block in so many lives.  

I'm so grateful mine was one of them.     

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Summer 2015, Week 8

#1 - Field Trip - Downtown SLC, Beehive House

#2 - Hike - The "Y" 

We did it!!!  We DID IT!!!  Even Bubbs made it - and that was no easy hike.  Steep hills and lots of switchbacks.  

"Remember," I told the kids.  "The harder the hike, the more prestigious the university." 

They all have significant bragging rights now...

I love this picture of Pretty Girl.  Fashion at 5,000+ elevation.  The visor, the stylish sun glasses,
camelbak, fleece jacket - complete with the low ponytails.  She means business.

#3 - Science Project  - ran out of time...

#4 - Art Project  - Marble Craft (This was fascinating because we used nail polish as the medium - which brought all sorts of interesting elements to the finished product.  Not everyone was happy with how their tiles turned out.)

#5 - And Then We Did a Little of This - The England's were in town!  Pretty Girl and I adore their girls and their mom.  Plus I got to hold this absolute joy for a few hours.  

And our anniversary!!  Greg and I had a blissful kids-free evening walking around Temple Square - looking at the darling wedding couples posing for pictures.

Greg - "They all look so young!"

Me - "But so were we."

Greg - "Yeah, but we knew what we were doing.  These couples don't have a clue."