St. Patrick's Day Run 2014

This was our FIFTH year doing the St. Patty's day race.  I can't believe it.  (It was race #5 for Cameron and #3 for Eli.  I don't know why I didn't make it #1 for Mim... I guess I'm gender biased.)  But I'm NOT! Because I cheered super loud when the first three finishers were all girls! I was so impressed.  I've never seen that happen before.  They smoked the boys. 


 Eli (in the back)

 Accepting their awards...

This year Richard and I decided to let the boys run on their own, without either of us along with them.  Eli was really nervous about that, and we tried to psyche him up the whole way to the race by reminding him that he had done this race before and he knew the route and he was going to be just fine.  When Richard and I both heard that they had changed the route we looked at each other in a bit of a panic.  Don't they know they can't do that to OUR son!?!  

But we explained the change, crossed our fingers and hoped for the best.  He put on a brave face and off they went.  I think having them run on their own actually helped them run faster.  Cameron took first place in his age group and Eli took second place in his.  To his advantage, Eli's age group was six and under, and he will be seven in a few weeks. (There I go qualifying his win...)  But he was so proud and we were so proud too.  Seeing Cameron succeed is fun, but he can be a little excessive with his celebration.  Seeing Eli succeed is profoundly satisfying, because he is so subtle and meek.  

Remarkable People

Twice a month I do visits to members of the ward or neighborhood as part of my church service.  Each time a different woman comes with me, another member of the ward who volunteers. Last night it was a woman name Alena. She is a somewhat recent convert to the church.  She was born and raised in Baku, Azerbaijan.  When she was 29, she and her six year old daughter drew green cards and moved to L.A.  For two hours as we chatted with the women we visited I heard her stories.  She is hilarious, artistic, and really positive.  I kept thinking how delightful she was and how much I was enjoying spending my time with her.  

It must be something about the prospect of moving across an ocean that is making me feel hyper-sentimental, but lately I've just been so grateful to be surrounded by remarkable people.   We live in a culture of name-dropping.  As if having a connection to someone who is well-known or famous earns us credit/value/recognition just for knowing them.  Sometimes we drop names of people who don't even have good character, as if their fame alone, and our connection to it, is worth merit.  I was thinking about this recently, and how I have a lot of remarkable people in my life that have never been in a movie or on a magazine cover.  And why should I be more grateful to cross paths with Justin Bieber than with my next door neighbor who has personally done or arranged more acts of service for me than I can keep track of?

Last night when the topic of the conflict in Ukraine came up Alena mentioned how she avoids watching the news because that was her life twenty years ago.  Soldiers in her streets, banging on her door, shooting guns in her town.  A friend of mine always likes to say "there isn't a person you wouldn't love if you could hear their story."  

During another visit someone mentioned that Alena played the piano beautifully and I told her I would love to hear her sometime.  When I dropped her off she invited me in for homemade banana bread and some piano entertainment.  I couldn't resist. 

She played for probably 15 minutes.  She never stopped.  She didn't use a single sheet of music.  I couldn't tell when one song ended and a new one began until the melody of the new song became familiar.  She played the Beatles, Edelweiss, America the Beautiful, Disney movie soundtracks, hymns and pop songs.  

The whole experience reminded me of another experience I had a few years ago where I found friendship in an unlikely place.  (I just had lunch with Virg this week, in fact.)  And last night as I drove home and thought about moving away from these remarkable people I remembered the words to that song.  Make new friends, but keep the old...

Anyway- both of these experiences, both of these women, the way I feel when I am with them, reminded me of a quote from a book I'm reading. (Again.)  

"It is as if God's... gladness multiplies through a progeny that will share in His own capacity for joyful activity and love-filled relationships...God's desire is to enlarge the sphere of human joy, and we discover the marvelous truth that our joy is His joy."  
(Terryl & Fiona Givens.) 

Even if the extent of my love-filled relationships is sometimes just an evening, my heart feels so grateful for a God who arranges them and feels joy in them as well.  

Big News

I started this blog in 2006. Seven years ago! That was way before blogging was cool. Wasn't it? 

Anyway- the big news isn't that big to the few people who read this blog, but I'm putting it here for posterity. (And for you Brookie!)

Richard is taking a position with his firm in London. Yep! Hail to the Queen! We will be moving this summer when the kids get out of school, and we will live across that giant pond for two years.  I am really excited.  I am thrilled actually.  I know the next few months will be stressful, and I know that making such a big change will be difficult and exhausting.  I also know myself well enough to know that I am going to get hopelessly homesick sometimes.  

In the meantime- my goal is get the blog caught up.  (Haven't I been promising that forever?) 


Fall Extracurriculars

Miriam is my most cooperative model.  She is always willing to strike a pose.  I have so much fun with season changes, and although I don't claim to have any great handle on fashion, I really like putting together outifts, with her added input of course.  I'm obviously biased, but she seems to me to have a perfect balance of style and personal preference, while still being practical and functional.  Once in awhile she comes up with something a little wild- but it's fun to let her go with it.  

 For a couple days in a row there were MASSIVE rainstorms.  Maybe not by South American standards, but they were epic by Idaho standards.  The second evening I let the kids go out in their pajamas and splash their little hearts out.  This was at the end of the downpour, and there may have even been rainbows emerging.  What's not to love about storms?  (Oh- broken trees.  We had one of those.) 

Eli had his first chance at sports this fall.  There is a local sports league that is super low-key. It includes a 20-minute practice right before the game, and then a 40 minute game.  The practice/games are always on Saturdays and always in the same hour block of time.  It was perfect for him.  This soccer mom loves low-commitment. Having a bit of a tortoise reputation, along with a slight lazy streak, Richard and I were both pretty shocked about how much effort and energy Eli played with.  He took it seriously.  Despite the relaxed stance he is taking in this photo- he really did a good job at goalie.

 Miriam started pre-school this fall.  We are doing another co-op with five other girls and one boy.  Paige, Lila, Addie, Klara, Aubrey and Brock make up her classmates. Saying she loves it would be an understatement.  She is Miss Social and begs for play-dates every day after preschool.  She is the youngest in the group and I think doesn't quite have the alphabet skills of her peers, but she doesn't seem to mind.  

This year was Cameron's last year of flag football.  There were many parental discussions about whether or not to let him play tackle football next fall, he is small for his age and would have been up against kids twice his weight.  Fortunately London made that a moot point! 

This was his third year playing with the same group of boys, and their coaches Fred and Marcus (and Richard of course!) did a good job with them.  Cameron mostly played defense and it was always fun to see the satisfaction on his face when he would make a "tackle", AKA get a flag.  They went undefeated and were honestly an entertaining team to watch. And I don't mean that in a comical way, as it sometimes goes in kids sports.  They executed legit plays and I'll never forget Max for his interceptions and QB passes, and Grayson's awesome catch in their last game.  

 And Simon.  He just grew. And stole our hearts. 

 Playing on the "KidPad", which is my old iPhone that suffered death by cupcake. 

 My extracurricular activities this fall included Fly Management and physical therapy.  I hurt my knee during my Ragnar in late June but I didn't realize it because I took the month of July off from running and spent the month of August trying to figure out what happened.  The physical therapy seems to have worked, the side effect being that my PT told me I needed to branch out.  Less running and more of other sports.  So I try to hit a yoga class when I can.  I could write a whole post about yoga. Maybe I will...


Miriam had a field trip to the pumpkin patch that Simon tagged along on.  Ever since then, when we drive past the big red barn on Linder, both Miriam and Simon shout "MY FIELD TRIP!" 

Fall was exhausting for all of us. It's both exciting and demanding to get back into the routine of school and after-school activities.  Eli started doing recreational gymnastics with Miriam once a week after school.  And Cameron picked back up with scouts once a week too.  I also found a willing piano lesson teacher in the form of a high school girl in our ward who is very musically talented and conveniently lives within walking distance from our house, so Eli and Cameron do that once a week too.  Like sands in the hour glass, so are the days of our (crazy and busy) lives.  

Magnificent Motherhood

At the risk of being judged a bad mother by all who read this, I share the following heartbreaking story.


Getting Cameron and Eli off to school in the morning is the second most stressful time of the day. (The MOST stressful time of day is what we call the witching hour. The hour between dinner and bed when any patience I started the day with has long left me and instead of putting my children to bed I am putting the circus to bed. 87% of head wounds in this household happened during the witching hour.)

So when Miriam came to me yesterday morning in the chaos of gloves, signing school papers and packing lunches and told me she needed to go potty, I just told her to go.  I said it nicely, but lately she's been wanting me to do everything for her.  (I miss the defiant independence of the two year old! Did I just say that?)  I told her calmly that I couldn't take her to the bathroom and she would need to go herself.

As I zipped coats and hollered at Eli to hurry up, my battle with Miriam escalated.  The thing is, when I yell at the boys, I get what I want. I feel lousy afterward, but it's effective regardless.  It's not my best parenting, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  So I yelled at Miriam

"GO TO THE BATHROOM!!! Or we'll leave without you!" 

She shut down.  Not effective.  She burst into tears and yelled back at me.  Feeling all the stress and frustration of a tardy mother who is the carpool driver, I grabbed her, set her on my bed, herded the other stunned children into the van, locked the front door and drove away. 

About the time I picked up Carter I started to panic. Cameron and Eli, feeling the tension, were fighting in the back seat and Eli was crying about his lost beanie.  Can she unlock the deadbolt? Would she go outside by herself? Would someone see a three year old alone in the rain and call the police?  Surely I would be arrested for neglect! And that would be so unfair because I'm not a bad mother! I drove past our house on the way to the school and no sign of Miriam on the lawn. (Of course I couldn't stop, we were LATE and if the kids miss the bell then I have to sign them in at the office which means I have to get out of the car in my pajama pants and be seen by other much more responsible adults.)

After I dropped off the boys the atmosphere in the van was quiet and still.  Simon asked me

"Where's Meeyum?"
"She's at home."
"How come?"
"She didn't obey."
"She didn't obey?"
"That means she didn't listen to Mommy and do what I said."


Lost in my own thoughts I almost missed it, but I didn't. I heard it. Simon's tender little whisper in the seat behind me. And it rocked my very soul.

"Meeyum, we almost home. Meeyum, we almost home. Meeyum, we almost home."

In that moment it became abundantly clear that it was ME who was the crazy one.  From Simon's perspective it wasn't Miriam who was being totally unreasonable, it was ME. The adult.  No one was going to feel sorry for ME, it was Miriam who deserved the sympathy.  Of course she did.  She's three and I'm 31. 

When we got home I found Miriam right where I left her, only she was much calmer.  Her little shoulders rose and fell as she tried to resume normal breathing.  I pulled her on to my lap. 

"Miriam. I'm so sorry I yelled at you."  I had no more said her name before she broke down again. 

"You hurt my feelings Mommy."  She didn't say it to punish me. She didn't say it because she was angry.  She just said it matter-of-factly as if to explain why she was presently so upset. 


Richard was telling me last night about how he used to feel so good when he would hear other adults tell his parents what a good boy he was.  He recalled how his dad would say

"I'm just doing what I can to not screw him up."

Richard said he used to think that was a joke, but now as a parent who frequently fails, he (and I both) realized his dad was being absolutely genuine when he said it.  We talked about how we are so grateful for the Savior's grace that will protect our children from our shortcomings.  Because we really have great children and we really don't want to screw them up.

Halloween 2013

 So we have Eli on the left- a Storm trooper. He asked for weeks to be a storm trooper but I kept holding out that I could convince him to be a jedi again, like Cameron and Charlie.  But he was adamant.  So at the last minute my friend Kim came to the rescue with this perfect costume, it was exactly what Eli wanted. *Sigh of relief* Halloween wasn't ruined.  

Cameron as a Jedi for year two. This was a brilliant scheme concocted by Adri. "You tell Cameron that Charlie is going to be a Jedi again and I'll tell Charlie that Cameron is going to be a Jedi again."  It came off beautifully and it was one less child to outfit.  

Miriam as the lovely Snow White- with a handmade dress by Baca Hall.  Her fair skin was perfect although I was never able to successfully apply any red lipstick, like a red red rose.  The wig was a big hit though.  

And Simon, poor Simon, wearing a recycled storm trooper costume that had been rejected by Eli in years past for not being the "right" storm trooper costume.  (Hence my relief this year when the "right" one was discovered.) 

We had the pleasure of celebrating Halloween in Las Vegas/Henderson this year, which was a pleasure indeed!  Although the locals thought I was crazy in just long sleeves it was balmy for us Idahoans. People left their front doors open or even sat out on their porches and driveways to hand out candy.  It was quite festive and the kids had a grand ol' time trick-or-treating it up with their cousins.  

The only Halloween tragedy this year was that after the kids left their excess candy in their bags on the porch, and the Switch Witch came to exchange it for books, a criminal in the making stole Eli's Star Wars character encylopedia out of his bag.  Right off the front porch, in the wee hours of the morning.  It was a real let-down but the Switch Witch compensated him for his loss.  

Then...a few days later...there were these amazing brownies... made with chunks of confiscated Halloween candy...

Fallish Things

Trees get bigger.  Bigger trees=More leaves.  Leaves=FUN!

There is something seasonally delightful about raking leaves on a warm autumn day. And there were no shortage of warm days this fall.  But by the third or fourth day, delight is lost.  Even for the kids, who were made to be my labor force.  Stuffing leaves in bags is not a one-person job.  Fortunately I took these pictures on the first day of leaf raking.


I had extra motivation from Cameron and Eli though, because they wanted a leafless football field. They spent HOURS outside playing football this fall. I was so grateful for the warm weather, so grateful they enjoy being outside, so grateful they play together, etc. When we introduced ourselves to some new neighbors at church they said 
"Oh okay. You're the parents of the boys who are always playing football." Some other neighborhood friends and ward members will sometimes pull over as they drive past and say hello to the boys, or cheer them on.  


A friend of mine shared this article with me and I loved the analogy of the duck.  Above the surface the water is peaceful and serene.  The duck even looks composed and content.  But down in the water, under the surface, the duck is kicking her webbed feet with fervor to keep moving. 

I’ve long tried to keep my blog real, I’ve never wanted to use it as a tool to make everything above the surface look perfect and beautiful.  But this last year, I have been frantically kicking beneath the water.  In my efforts to stay afloat and keep my life in order, I haven’t had time or emotional energy for blogging.  I also felt like a blog post was hardly an accurate representation of my life beyond the laptop.  Well, with the exception of posts like this one.    

I hope to return to blogging- which might be a monumental task to catch up.  But thanks for reading, thanks for asking about the blog, and thanks for whatever role it is that you play in my slightly dysfunctional, majorly chaotic life.  I apologize if my relationship with you has suffered in the last year as I’ve been consumed by motherhood and self.