Thursday, September 30, 2010

finally. . .

Our girls feel like they are the most unfortunate girls in the world. 

To be quite honest, I must concur.  Each time I look at my children, I am overwhelmed at what a sad, pitiful existence they endure each and every day.  Tears to my eyes. . .tears to my eyes.

I suppose a parent should feel some satisfaction when their children feel that their lives are so overwhelmingly bleak.   Perhaps it means we are doing our jobs?  I remember thinking the same thing about my life as a child, and now I look back on my upbringing as being quite happy. 

I'm counting on the reverse psychology method.

Anywho.  One such reason for the girls to feel out of sorts about life in general is the simple fact that until two weeks ago, they had never been to Lagoon.

"Never, ever, ever!" 

Just in case you don't feel sorry for them yet, let me help them plead their cause. . .

According to their statistics, they are the only girls who have never been to Lagoon.  In fact, they are the only children (boy or girl) who had yet to experience the thrill. 

In the whole entire state.

Are you weeping yet?

After many, many sad lamentations about their meager circumstances, Courtney and I were forced to extend a hand of humanity.  (Only to ward off an investigation by the CPS, of course).

Here is the deal.  As part of this past summer's Child Labor Summer Camp, they were given the opportunity to earn "Daddy Bucks", which they could save for a family trip to the above Amusement Park.  Once they earned $100, we would give them a day off and buy them a ticket for a day of fun, fun, fun.   

Basically, we slave worked 'em to Lagoon.

We wore their fingers to the bone all through June and July, and as August came to a close, they had made it to $100.  By the skin of their teeth, that is.

But, a deal is a deal.  And so it was that we packed a lunch and loaded up the oldest three (what?  I sure didn't get a hundred buck's worth of work out of Miss Claire!), and headed toward our grand adventure.  

Other than the fact that we happened to pick the busiest day of the year (turns out that just about one hundred gigantic corporations slave-worked their employees to Lagoon too), we had a fabulous day.

If my memory serves me correctly, I recall that the girls were too chicken to ride about 75% of the rides (they get that from their Dad).  They are always a little bit hesitant about the "tummy rides", but usually ended up loving everything they dared try.  Kate was the one who was raring to try just about anything. . . up until it was time to climb into the ride, that is.  Maybe I should have pushed a little harder, but there is just something about shoving my sobbing eight year old into the roller coaster seats. . .I just couldn't do it.  (Again, just trying to avoid an investigation.)

We talked them into riding the Tidal Wave (I think that's what it's called).  It was pretty exciting at first, but after a few swings back and forth, Emmy wasn't so sure.

The Kiddie-land rides were a little more her speed.

The Twentieth Century swings were the definite favorites.  I think we went on that ride no less than 10 times.  I have to admit it was worth the price of the tickets to watch the girls experience the sensation of flying.  Complete joy!  I wish I could have captured their faces as they soared through the air.  It was so much fun to watch.

We had a blast on the Rattlesnake Rapids ride.  We were completely soaked by the end, but we laughed and laughed.  Even better?  We got to walk around for the rest of the day looking like we'd wet our pants. 

When all was said and done, we had a great time.  Even though we didn't experience a huge variety of rides, we spent a full day having fun and didn't leave until dark.  You could say we got our money's worth. 

And the girls? 

We're just hoping that this day at Lagoon will be the one little bright spot in an otherwise dismal existence. 

If we're lucky, it will at least be enough to get them through the next few months of pain and agony.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

farm girls

This past summer, we five became genuine, bonified farm girls.

Well for one day each week, at least.

We volunteered at the American West Heritage Center, where we worked on the 1917 farm site.  Each Wednesday, we got dressed up in our vintage 1917 clothing, loaded up in our 2008 carriage, and headed to the farm.

As you might expect, the girls loved it.

The girls spent their days doing chores.  Funny how working is so much more fun when you are all dressed up.  A lot like play, actually.  In fact, if you can imagine the very best day of dress-up and pretend?  That is what the girls found at the farm.
They loved doing the laundry and milking the cow.

There were kittens to be tamed, chickens to feed, eggs to gather.
Butter to be churned, and friends to be played with.

Running under the trees, playing in the creek, and exploring in the barn were some of the favorite adventures.  On a lucky day, the girls might find a feather from one of the peacocks (the white ones were the most coveted.)

The girls sometimes helped with the big jobs, such as pitching hay and tromping it in the hay wagon after it was cut by the team of horses.  Often,  reporters gathered around taking pictures of the goings on, which landed Ryenne on the front page of the newspaper.  Famous farm girls, even!

Each morning, water had to be hauled, and porches swept.  Soon the farmhouse was filled with busy women, cooking the dinner meal on the wood stove.  Before we left for home, we gathered at the farm table under the trees for yummy hot food and fresh vegetables from the garden.

One day as we left, Ryenne told me, "I love the farm!  I feel like I really live here. . .like this is my house and these are my real jobs.  Sometimes I just like to pretend that it really is."

Me too.

There's just something magical about being stepping back in time.  Something that makes life seem a bit less complicated.  I loved watching the girls run across the lawn in their dresses, aprons, and boots.  Braids in their hair and smiles on their faces.  Each day was an adventure.  Birds to chase and stories of days gone past.  Feathers and pretty pebbles to tuck into apron pockets, awaiting another day's discovery.

So many things grow at the farm. 

Cows, chickens, horses.  Lambs.  Herbs are planted and  raspberries plucked off the vine.  Old fashioned flowers brighten the fence lines.  Seeds are scattered and memories planted.  Childhood is sown.  Imaginations are nourished.

The farm is a really good place to grow little girls.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

leidertards and tutus

This is Claire.

This is how Claire looks almost every day.

At home.

At music class.

At the doctor.

And the ward party.

She calls this outfit her "ballet".
Lest she get tired of this outfit, she has a few other options, which she refers to as leidertards and tutus.  On a good day, she even wears two tutus.  We like to be thorough.

Claire spends her days dancing, singing, and watching ballet.  She can almost always talk someone into
"dancing with me", and has the girls roped into teaching her their moves.  After all, who can refuse these little legs?

Ryenne said yesterday that she is over 99 percent sure that Claire will grow up to be a professional ballerina.

We have the leidertard.  We have the tutu. 

So I'm pretty sure Ryenne is right. 

The rest is in the bag.

Monday, September 20, 2010

a wise choice

(You need not remind me how my prom dress looks like we are getting married.  And yes, I realize my sleeves are bigger than my head.)

The other night we were eating dinner when the conversation shifted to Prom. 

One of the girls asked Courtney if he had ever been to Prom, to which he answered that yes, he had.  Two times, in fact.

Of course, the next question was, "Did you go with Mom both times?"

Before he could answer, Ryenne did for him.  "No, only once,  He went with another girl, too."

Gasps all around!  Dad went on a date with another girl?

Quickly, Kate intervened. 

"That was when he didn't have much sense."

And then to her Dad she offered these words of approval, "You were wise to choose Mom."

In the face of Kate's wisdom, we were thankfully reminded of the happiness we share.

And all because Courtney chose to abandon an early life of sin.

Friday, September 17, 2010

way cooler than a yellow bus

On Labor Day the girls were spending a few hours at  Grandma's house, but what to their wondrous eyes did appear?

Bop and his Harley.

It's hard to believe, but that night was the first ride they had been on with Bop all summer (except that it was kind of already fall.)

Even Claire rode (we start 'em out early), and was muy impressed. 

"Claire like Harley-Harley," she repeated for days.

My girls were so inspired by their ride with Bop that they decided it would be very, very cool if he would take them to school on his bike.  As you might imagine, the next morning, they called him very early to arrange their pick up.  As it was very, very chilly, Bop declined and promised to take them on Friday, providing it was a little bit warmer.

So. . . .Friday morning, Ryenne called Bop first thing.

"Good morning, Bop!  Do you remember what day it is?"

Ryenne also requested that he bring a helmet for her that, preferably, did not look like an "army helmet".  (Fashion over function, always!  That's my Ryenne.)

So, Bop and the girls rode off into the morning, backpacks in tow. 

Later that afternoon, when I picked them up from school (in a much less flashy manner, I'm afraid), I asked them how the ride to school went.

"Fun!  But Cold!  And then Bop went the wrong way and we had to ride around all the buses!"

But the most important part? 

"Tons" of kids saw them arrive. 

Thanks Bop for giving us the "cool factor"!   It's nice to have a sweet ride, if only for a day.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

just regular old happy me

I've been thinking lately (I know, that gives cause to worry).
Have you ever thought about how many fun people there are?  Women, especially.  Every where I have been, every place I look I find so many good women.  I think of old high school friends, college roommates, neighbors.  Even strangers.  I feel that is one of the very best things to come from this whole blogging craze.  I'm not one to spend hours and hours wandering over the Internet, but I've come across a few lives that I like to follow. I see the best in womanhood- goodness, creativity, humor, and courage.  I am often amazed and I love what I see. 

However, sometimes I am so inspired that I find myself thinking "My, wouldn't it be fun to be like that?"

For instance, I'd love to be one of those earthy gals who wear and eat only organic.  They run their own little family farms, raise good wholesome food, gather eggs, and such.  Then they make yogurt and butter, and sew and . . .well, you know.  Doesn't that sound like a very nice way to live life?  It does to me.

But then I remember me.  The me who shudders whenever I think about the lamb we own (which, may I remind you, doesn't even live at our house.)  The me who is lucky enough to get the toilets cleaned once a month, let alone gather eggs each day.  The very one who (eek, don't yell) brings my groceries home in plastic bags and doesn't eat much organic at all and can't really afford to think about wearing it. 

That's when reality brings my "green" dreams to a screeching halt. 

But I still think it's cool.

I think it is so fun to see moms who take such good care of themselves and who find fun, happy clothes to wear in cute ways.  The ones who look super-put-together, but don't look like they tried too hard.  I find it exciting to see someone who looks very up to date but doesn't look trendy. (I've never been much of one for trendy.)  I see moms who look this cute, and I think "Maybe I ought to try harder".

And then I remember me.

The me who isn't much of a shopper.  Who finds comfort an absolute necessity.  The very one whose go-to fashion staples are a pair of jeans, a plain colored t-shirt, and flip-flops (the comfy kind, of course).  I'm the one who watches What Not To Wear and has more than one epiphany.  I would hope I'm not the worst of subjects, but I'm definitely not a fashion icon.  Just a plain Jane, I am. 

But still.  I sure think it's fun to see someone who is good at putting it all together.

Clothes are one thing, but what about hair? 

I have a hankering to get a really cute short haircut.  I've seen a few lately that are oh! so cute.  Each time I see someone sporting a cute short cut I think how fun it would be to pull it off.  In fact, just the other day I mentioned this to Courtney.  He asked me why, and I replied that for one, I think it is so darn cute.  And two?  Well, you don't need much of a brain to see that it would be a piece of cake to get ready in the morning. 

Do you know what he said? 

"Soooo. . .is that because a ponytail is so hard?"

I laughed.  A few years ago, I might have tried to be offended (because isn't that what girls do?). 

I knew, and I knew he knew.  That's what made it so funny.  It doesn't matter if my hair is two inches long or twenty.

I'm probably not going to do it.

So this morning as I was doing my hair for the first time in about two weeks (I was tempted to send him a picture!), I thought about all of those cute, creative, pulled together girls.  And then I thought about me.  Plain Jane, regular 'ol me.  And I just may have thought that someday I ought to try to be one of them.  But when I was remembering my little exchange with Courtney, I thought of what he said after I admitted he was right.  I almost always pull my hair back anyway.  He looked at me and said something that I knew was completely genuine. 

"I like it."

What he meant is he likes me.  The real, pony-tailed me.

I reminisced about this and smiled.

Sure, making my own yogurt would be fancy and fun (who knows?  Someday I might give it a whirl.)   So too would sewing all of our clothes or having a sassy new look.

But really?

This is me.  Right here, right now.  A good husband, four sweet girls, and a slightly neurotic dog.  Nothing fancy, not too much out of the ordinary.

But happy still the same.

I wrote it the other day, and I'll write it again.  "There are many ways to do the right thing".

Every day I see good women, going about their business and doing it the very best they can.  Like me, they are using their unique combination of talents and experiences to create their very own neck of the woods.  If we do it right, I think we can make quite a team.  We can inspire and encourage.  Find the humor in ourselves and those around us.  Help each other find our very own happy. 

Right here, right now.  Wherever we find ourselves.

After all, This Is A Time To Be Happy.

Even if we're wearing a ponytail.

Friday, September 10, 2010

darn it, moab

The other morning Claire and I were running errands when she saw a truck that she mistakenly thought was her Daddy's. 

"Daddy's truck!," she exclaimed.

"No sweetheart, Daddy and his truck are in Moab," I corrected.

"Daddy?  Mulab?," she asked in her cute little voice.

"Yes, Daddy's in Moab."

And then came the part that made me laugh right out loud. 

"Daaaarn it.  Darn it, Daddy.  Darn it, Mulab."

I agree wholeheartedly, Claire.

Darn it Mulab.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

growing pains

Every now and again, Kate will wake up from an otherwise peaceful slumber, crying from pain.

My Kate is no sissy, so I know it really hurts.  She cries out, pleading for relief and wondering why it has to hurt so bad.  I hold her close, rub her legs, sing soothing songs, and try my best to comfort her.  I'm so sorry you are hurting, I whisper, but I'm right here and before long the pain will go away.  Soon you'll be able to rest again. 

Watching her breaks my heart.  However, I've learned that the hurt will run it's course, eventually loosening it's hold.  Once it does, her little body will relax almost immediately and she'll quickly drift back to sleep.  Almost like it never even happened.

Growing pains, they tell me.

Lately I've had a few of my own.  Not the physical kind, but the emotional/spiritual growing pains.  And you know what? 

It hurt.  It hurt a lot.

Sometimes we look at each other and think everyone else has it really good.  What I am learning is that we can't always see the inside, and trials and struggles don't always have a face.  That life which seems so perfectly sculpted is not immune from the personal, and I believe sacred lessons that can only be learned in the way Heavenly Father has planned for each of us. 

This lesson of mine?  It came on like a ton of bricks, and settled there to stay for a while.  Can I tell you I tried?  I tried really hard to do everything I could, anything I thought might help.  But it didn't seem  to go away like I wished.

I have to admit that I wondered where He was.

I never doubted He was there.  Not once.  I just thought maybe I wasn't connecting. 

So I continued.  Praying.  Pleading.  Wondering why it had to hurt so bad and what I needed to learn.

You know what?  Almost as soon as my hurt had come, it went away.  In what seemed like an instant, I felt a breath of fresh air.  A reprieve.

It's funny how growth works.  It wasn't until the pain went away that I could feel Him.  There the whole time, I believe, but trusting me to feel my way around.  Knowing that the sadness would eventually loosen it's grip, I'd find my way, and that I'd be stronger because of it.

He was there the whole time.

Once I could see things a little more clearly, I had a lot to think about.  Most often, I find myself coming back to one thing.


To anyone looking in, I had nothing to complain about.  Even I know that.  But I was struggling, and knowing that I didn't really have a good reason didn't make it any easier.  In fact, it almost made it worse.  This experience made me wonder how many women around me might be feeling the same way.  Isn't it funny how we've trained ourselves to put our best face forward?  I think we are afraid to show that we are real.  As if it would mean we've failed. 

I read an essay the other day titled The Other Mothers.  I immediately related as I read this mother's explanation of how she tended to compare herself to the "other mothers".   I even chuckled out loud when she wrote of comforting herself by carefully taking inventory of the foibles of the "'other' other mothers", the ones she felt she easily out-mothered.

We all do it, don't we.  And why?

When as mothers and women, we all struggle in our striving?  All trying to do our very best but knowing we often fall painfully short.

We all have our fair share of growing pains.  Some may be visible, others quietly tucked away. 

I'd like to be done with the comparing and get a little better at the nurturing.  Spending my energy supporting and lifting.  Soothing those who need it and staying close until the pain is gone.  Whispering, reminding that He really is there, and promise that sometime soon we're going to come through this just fine, perhaps a little bit stronger. 

I love this story quoted in Margorie Hinckley's book Glimpses,
"Some years ago I had a friend who decided at the age of fifty that she was going to learn to play the piano.  She courageously started out with Thompson's Book 1.  Each morning she went to the church at seven o'clock. . .After about a year they asked her to play a special number for one of the Relief Society lessons.  She said she didn't feel ready, to give her another three months.  The three months passed, and she consented to play a special number that she had memorized.  This was her first public appearance on the piano.  She started out beautifully.  It went well for about three measures, then she lost it.  Everything went blank.  Her music teacher, who was present, said, "Don't be ruffled, Merle.  Just start over."  She started over and made it all the way through without a single mistake.
We have never loved Merle like we loved her that morning.  Perhaps it was because she faltered a little in the beginning and we were all pulling for her, saying to ourselves, "Come on Merle, you can do it." . . .As it was, she faltered a little, and we loved her all the more.  That experience has given me great comfort.  I figure if I fall a little short of what is expected of me, perhaps my sisters in the gospel will be compassionate and love me for trying.
It was Lucy Mack Smith who said, "Let us all help one another, that we may sit down together in heaven."
Isn't that wonderful?  To think that when we falter, someone will be pulling for us, loving us all the more.  Saying to themselves (and maybe more importantly between themselves), "Come on, you can do it,"  Or perhaps, "Don't be ruffled. . .just start over." 

I once heard a good friend of mine say "There are many ways to do the right thing". 

I think the best thing we can do for eachother is let ourselves grow.  Give eachother the chance to do the right thing in our very own way.  To be real.

Faltering, because we know we will.  Starting over, because He made it possible. 

And loving eachother all the more.

guess who is a another older?

My, that is getting to be a lot of candles, Mister!
We love you more than ever! 

Love, your girls.

party at grammie's house

Since my Grandma Sally died (over seven years ago), we haven't ever taken the opportunity to have a family reunion.  Pathetic, eh?  After much pondering and lamenting, we decided to throw a casual get- together at our place, being that we live in my Grandma's house.  It's funny how you get all jittery about seeing people you haven't seen in a while.  It's family, for heaven's sake!  It had been so long that I just hoped someone would show up besides our little clan. 

And you know what?  It was so much fun!  I loved chatting with long lost cousins and meeting their significant others.  We had a blast reminiscing about old times and watching our kids climb the same trees we had played in as kids. 

In fact, it turned out to be so darn much fun I think we should make it a tradition. 

And next year, will you far away cousins come?  Pleeeeeease? 

We missed you.

back to school brunch

Toward the first of the summer the girls and I wrote our annual "Things We Want To Do This Summer" list.  Some things we got checked off, some we didn't.  At the top of the girls list was a 'Back to School Party'.  I am not too good at play dates or parties, so I guess they felt they had to be specific if they wanted something fun to happen. 

We decided on a brunch, and invited a few friends along with their moms to celebrate the arrival of a new school year.  I had to limit the numbers a little to make it feasible, and the girls had a hard time narrowing down their lists.  (I'm always a little bit of a bummer that way.)  They were so excited to deliver the invites and could hardly wait for the big day.  In fact, as the time approached for their guests to arrive, Kate and Emmy stood right out on the front lawn to see everyone come.  They were jumping up and down, absolutely giddy with excitement. 

We kept things simple and it ended up being a lot of fun.  We started with a quick game where the girls introduced themselves, their grade, and announced their new teacher.  The moms followed by telling who their teacher had been in that grade and sharing a fun story from that school year (some of us had to dig pretty deep!)  It was so fun to hear the mom's stories and good for me to be reminded that the growing pains we tend to experience each year are normal (and that we all survived)!   We ate and visited, ending the party with Moms giving the girls pedicures and manicures to get pretty for the big day. 

Primped, pretty, and pumped for the big day. 

 Happy back-to-school girls!

a stitch in time

Did I tell you that Ryenne has the coolest 4-H leaders? 
Coolest.  Ever.  (Hands down.)

Our club is called "A Stitch In Time", and I think it is nothing short of a miracle that we ended up involved with Robyn and Jan, the club leaders.  Besides being super talented, they are genuinely good people with a great outlook on life and what really matters.  (Along with the sewing expertise, they serve some fabulous parenting advice on the side.)

Toward the end of summer, the two of them organized a fashion show and an opportunity for the girls to model amazing clothing from the past century.  Jan has quite a collection of authentic clothing, shoes, and hats.  Check out some of these. . .

Seriously, who still has clothing like this? 

Along with giving the girls the opportunity to learn confidence and poise, it was fun to hear Jan's commentary about each decade and why certain styles developed.  A great little history lesson on fashion in the 20th century!

A few weeks later, Ryenne participated in the 4H fashion review.  She entered the Decorate Your Duds contest, for which she made some cute fabric flowers to use as accessories on her clothing or in her hair.  Following the fashion review, she entered them in the fair and received a State Fair ribbon. 
Thanks to Robyn and Jan for another great year of 4-H!  Kate is already looking forward to being able to participate next year.  We can't wait to see what the future holds!