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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Book blog

no, I am not updating this blog today. I haven't actually decided what I am going to do with this blog. I might go back to monthly emails to friends and family who want to receive them, simply because I was blogging constantly in my head, like I was living through my blog and making my life appear how I wanted to in my blog. Plus, I think I am smashingly funny, of course, and I try to make myself as funny as possible in my blog.


Anyway, I am going to continue blogging about books. I have a new post up on

please recommend this blog to anyone who loves to read or who wants to love to read. I have to read so many books right now for my master's degree, it is a wonderful thing to be able to recommend the best of what I read to anyone interested!

talk to you all soon, I hope!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Bear Den

So we just went on the best family vacation ever—to Bear Den Campground and Tweetsie Mountain Railroad. I have sometimes heard Tweetsie Mountain Railroad derided for being lame and childish, but we think it is awesome. The best place ever for young kids. There's a giant train, a magic show, song and dance shows, a clogging show (and who sees clogging shows nowadays!), tons of rides, a petting zoo, a place to mine for gems (which we never do because it is too ridiculously expensive).

Our kids love it! Even Mary, who this time, for the first time, claimed she was too big to dance in the Porter and Hopper Show, but did it anyway.

At Bear Den we stay in the smallest little cabin ever, but it has a kitchen and a bathroom, and Sam cooks a lot despite the fact that he cannot stand straight up in the kitchen. The best part of the cabin is the screened in porch. I sat out there late at night and wrote (and occasionally listened to some of the RVers get in loud and obnoxious fights; there is an RV culture which can be great and not so great). But for the most part it was beautiful. And cool! So much cooler than the sauna we live in right now. Plus, there were way fewer mosquitoes.

The second day we were there proved to be our one day of trauma. We set out for a family hike, having realized just minutes before that we didn't bring our hiking backpack (which was probably too small anyway) and so we would have to carry Flanny or go very, very slow.

To our surprise, Calvin, Mary and Lucy bolted ahead (this was a surprise because Calvin and Mary hate to hike and complained the whole way to the trailhead). After a few minutes, I decided I'd better catch up to them. The trail is a good one, but there are branches to different sites, and they are not well-marked. Shaemus wanted to come with me, which slowed me down quite a bit. Sam was left behind to walk with Flanny. (Apparently, Flannery preferred to do her own hiking and not be carried, but she was fascinated by everything she saw and wanted to examine everything for minutes at a time: roots, bugs, dirt, leaves. Sam said progress was very, very slow.)

Eventually, the three oldest did stop and wait for Shaemus and me to catch up. Then the five of us progressed together. It was very, very fun, but when we got to the waterfall, I got a little nervous. Everything was slippery, and there were rocks that looked unstable everywhere. Calvin already had his shoes off, and Shaemus was taking his off, so when the girls said they wanted to go back, I waved them on and focused on preventing the boys from breaking any ankles by barking directions and stabilizing them when they started to fall.

After a few minutes of this, I remembered all those unmarked paths and began to doubt that Mary and Lucy could find there way back without help. I had seen them go down the wrong road on the campground several times, even though they traveled it many, many times before.

I hurried the boys out of the water, and tried to help them squish into their shoes. Then I tried to urge them up a very, very steep trail, a ridiculously steep trail that Shaemus had to crawl up part of the way. (I'd forgotten that they slid down these trails on their bottoms for the most part.)

Shaemus was wearing out, and our progress was slow, slow, slow. I grew more and more anxious as we went on: no Mary, no Lucy, no Sam, no Flannery. I tried to listen to the spirit at this moment, and it was telling me not to panic, so I didn't completely panic, and say, try to pick Shaemus and Calvin up (one in each arm) and run full speed down the trail which would have ended in a heart attack and broken bones and possibly death.
But I was definitely worried.
By the time we got to the campground, I told Calvin to run ahead and check the cabin to see if the girls were there.
Thank goodness, they were, although they'd only gotten there minutes before, because they HAD taken a wrong path, and at some point decided they better try another way. A miracle.

But Sam and Flannery were missing and so was the van. Cell phones weren't working too hot, but I managed to call Sam and shout his name, and he managed to guess that we were all back at the cabin waiting for him.

When he arrived, he looked very, very tired. Unbeknownst to any of us, he had hiked most of the way, carrying Flannery eventually because he grew tired of root examination, and had shouted out and called our names again and again and again.

We didn't hear him of course, because who hears loud screams in the middle of the wilderness. We don't, obviously, so then he thought we'd gone the wrong way, and he ran down the trail carrying Flannery like a football (I'm imagining this part and possibly exaggerating, but it makes for a funny picture), and got in the van and drove to where he thought the other main trail came out. Then he hiked (again carrying Flannery like a football, or maybe on his hip; okay, probably on his hip) up the other trail a ways, searching for us, shouting our names, and generally getting completely freaked out. Until I called.

It never occurred to him that I might have been separated from Mary and Lucy. He was panicking and he thought we were all together. (I need not point out that this was a little depressing; he obviously has very little faith in my navigational skills to be panicking quite so much that his wife and four children had been hiking by themselves for an hour or so).

Anyway, that was our adventure. Along with Flannery trying to crawl out of the little kids rides while they were moving. That was a little scary, watching the boats float by in the water and watching your daughter standing up and trying to stick a leg out of the boat. Luckily, the boat was going slow enough, I could just jog along side and stuff her back in, which didn't make the ride attendant very happy, but better me than him.


Okay-----I can't find the camera, but I will go on a hunt. As soon as I get the kids down. And clean up the sugar and salt that is all over the kitchen floor from their taste testing party.

Very soon!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Stop! Stop growing up now!

Shaemus had a birthday on Friday. He turned four. I love that boy so much. He has been obsessed with his birthday and what he is getting for his birthday for a month. He is now obsessed with what he is getting for his next birthday. The last time he told me, "All I want for my next birthday is a box. A box with a truck and tools and crayons and a pirate ship and a pineapple vest (?). That's all I want."

I do not want him to grow up.

I do not want Flannery to stop being the sweetest little two year old who can't wait to say sorry after she hits me. And then say, "Your welcome."

I do not want Calvin to stop wanting to snuggle or have me read books to him in bed. And then scratch his bottom and pretend to wipe it on me. (Don't worry. I ALWAYS make him wash his hands after that. And then I make him go back and use soap.)

I do not want Lucy to stop laughing hysterically at the silliest things. She was really mad today about something and she said, "Sop it Staemus!" which made her stop being mad (for a few minutes) and made the rest of us laugh because her eyes got huge, and her face went long and she looked like a cartoon character.

The other day, Lucy was explaining about how she wore her Alice and Wonderland dress her Nanna made for her to school for Culture Day. She told everyone she was a Mormon and she was wearing a pioneer dress, because that was part of her culture (though whether or not Pioneers wore bright blue dresses like that is questionable).

Mary started to cry. "You have no fear, Lucy! You aren't embarrassed about anything."

And I was right with Mary. I would never have done that in elementary school. I would never do that now. Lucy is more courageous than I am.

And Mary. I don't want her to grow up and be embarrassed to snuggle with me in public. (Okay, she's a little embarrassed now. And she is even more embarrassed of being affectionate with Sam for some reason we can't figure out, but she still does it. And at home, she can't get enough hugs and kisses.)

I don't want my kids to grow up. It's not that I don't look forward to them being teenagers and having lives of their own. But it will be over. I don't remember a lot about Mary's babyhood, and less about Lucy's. Poor Calvin is a total blank until he is at least three. Shaemus, I remember more of, I don't know why, and of course, I remember Flannery's. But that is now. And I don't scrapbook. At all.

All I have to say is, they better have movies of earth up in heaven. I will want to watch them much more often than say, Star Wars.

And I have to have at least one more child. Because I need to name a son Shroder or a daughter Saffron. I must.

Although, thank goodness I write books. I get to name people all the time.

And perhaps one day, I will be able to create a world of my own (not just in books) and come up with its name, which will probably be the best part of the whole thing.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


First of all, thanks for the advice on the eczema. Isn't my arm attractive! Try to ignore the hair, and you can see all the red bubbles and sores. My pediatrician brother-in-law sent in a prescription for derma smooth, a steroid filled oil. I wasn't too excited about the steroid thing, but it's been five days and the bumps are receding. The itching isn't going away, but my arms are looking better. Thank you so much Adam! Last night, in the middle of the night when my right hand was on FIRE! I got some ice out of the freezer and slept with it on my hand and I discovered that helps too.

I do need to figure out why my body is doing this if possible, but I think it is because I've never had an allergy, and it is just my turn. I also think it is because my hips are getting better. Yes, my SMUPH (stupid messed-up pregnancy hips) are finally, finally getting better. I can sleep on my stomach again, and I can stand for minutes at a time without my back and pelvis hurting. My hips aren't popping so much, and overall, everything feels better. And its because of jogging! I can hardly believe it. As soon as I started running, things started getting better and better and better until they hardly hurt anymore. (I was exercising before—pilates, aerobics, walking, but it is the running that is working! So I'd better start to love it!)

Of course, one night this past week, my hips were a little sore, and I noticed that on that night, my eczema wasn't bothering me so much. I guess we can only focus on one pain at a time.

So, blessings! I never thought my hips would ever get better. This means future children are a possibility! This means I might not have to have hip replacement surgery which one doctor assured me I would.

I'll take the eczema. Apparently, you can't cure it, but you can control it. Which means I'm finally going to have to pay attention to my skin.

(I have this fear of lotion. I've always been worried my body would get addicted to needing moisturizer, and then I'd be camping somewhere and not have any moisturizer and be in agony. Because I camp so much, you see. It's very logical.)

We are getting more and more anxious to move closer to family, though. If you know of any job openings in Wyoming or Montana (Anywhere in the mountain west where life is slow and cheap, let us know. The problem is, Sam works in affordable housing, and affordable housing usually isn't an issue in those areas. Or those states, actually.) Our goal is to move by 2012.

One more sad note: Mary has a good friend who lives across the street from us. We've just become aware that her divorced mother is sleeping with someone in their home on a regular basis. She just does it when her daughter is staying with her dad, but Sam and I have talked and talked and talked about it, and just decided we don't feel comfortable sending Mary over to a home where that is happening on a regular basis. Also, her older fifteen-year old sister has an eighteen-year old boyfriend that Mary's friend is obsessed with, which makes us uncomfortable too. Fourth grade is too young to be obsessed with boyfriends.

So how does Mary do it? How does she say, "We can play over here, but I can't play at your house because your mom sleeps with people?"

I hate this! Why do people have to do that? Why don't more women have more respect for themselves! This mom shows the lack of respect she has for herself in the way she dresses and acts around men, and it drives me crazy, because she is an intelligent, beautiful person who doesn't need to show off her body to find happiness. Or men, I hope.

But this is life. And I guess this is what the scriptures call, "Fearing your neighbor" because I've never understood what that meant until now.

I am becoming less and less excited about Middle School looming in the future.

Hope you all have a wonderful Sabbath!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Okay, I feel bad taking up a mother's day post on this, but I have to. And I would have taken pictures of it but our camera battery was out. You should probably be glad about this. It is disgusting.

And it is called eczema.

It is awful. It is some weird skin allergy—little bumps filled with itchy clear fluid.

See what happened was this: I have been dreading summer. I don't like summers here. I love winter here (except I would like some snow), I love spring here, I love fall here. I do not—I repeat—like summer here.

One--it is too hot.
Two--it is too humid.
Three--there are too many mosquitoes.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I complain about mosquitoes here. But when you are on a nice mother's day walk, and they are floating around your arm and your face and your hands the entire time, no matter what you are doing, and you can't seem to get away from them, and they are swarming you like black striped devils, waiting to stab your skin and drink your precious blood...well. It's not fun.

I have been dreading summer more than ever this year.

So, I think my body had an allergic reaction to summer. The second it got really hot here, I got covered in red, itchy bumps: eczema. My arms are bright red and on fire. I look like I have some horrible rash that might be contagious. (It is not!) But it is all over my hands, and my neck, and it is starting on my face.

At night, I can't sleep because my arms are on fire. All I want to do is scratch, but when you scratch you make it worse.

I know this is partially mental. I know I have been dreading summer so much, my skin has just completely wigged out when it has finally arrived.


Does anyone have any ideas on how to combat it? Have any of you dealt with eczema on a large scale. Or a small scale? Or any scale at all?

I will leave you now, desperate to find some form of relief: ice packs. Cutting off my arms. Whatever works. (Just kidding. I shouldn't joke about that. Or maybe I should. My kids keep looking at my arms and going, "Gross, Mom. Ick. Am I going to get eczema? Look, look, is this eczema?" And it isn't.)

By the way, Sam has started Daddy Walks each morning. Monday through Friday he takes one child on a walk from 6:30am from 7:00am. Mary wanted to play basketball for her walk. Lucy wanted to learn how to ride a bike. (And yes, she is eight and still can't ride. But she is very, very afraid of any kind of pain. We are skeptical that it will EVER work.) Calvin wanted to search for bugs and talk about bugs. Shaemus wanted to play soccer. Flannery wanted to play with fire hydrants.

Daddy walks are awesome!

Happy Mother's Day!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

underestimating and overestimating

It is so easy to underestimate your kids.

Mary has been saying, "Whatever," a lot lately, and we decided it needed to stop. It just wasn't nice, and, even though I knew she was picking it up at school, it was becoming a habit. So Sam and I decided no one in our family could say "Whatever" anymore or "duh."

Well, the other day, Mary was tired. She had a rough viola lesson (hard time paying attention), and school was long, and she was hot and through for the day. She and I were driving home from her lesson alone when I said something to her and she said, "Whatever."
And then she started to cry.

"It's okay, Mary," I said. "I'm not going to punish you. [usually punishment is a chore around the house] I know you're just tired."

She cried harder. "That's not why I'm crying!" she sobbed. "I don't know why I said that! I don't want to say that. I really don't!" And she was so sincere. This took me completely by surprise. Whenever we'd talked about this before, she'd practically rolled her eyes, and I didn't think she cared much about the problem. Not enough for me, anyway. But here she was, caring very much and making me realize how truly sensitive and spiritual she is, even when she doesn't show it.

The other day, we were having family home evening, and we were talking about gratitude. I try not to turn FHE lessons into mini-lectures, but it was my turn for the lesson and I sort of started to go crazy. See the truth is, I was tired of my kids not taking care of their things. I was also tired of feeling guilty for not teaching them to take care of their things as well as I should. And I was too tired to try and start over and teach them, so I was guilt tripping them in the middle of an FHE lesson.
"For example," I began. "There are kids all over the world who don't have shoes. And you guys have tons and tons of shoes. And you lose them all the time! Don't you think it would be showing gratitude for your shoes if you would put them away in the closet when you got home? (A bit of a stretch. It would be showing obedience and gratitude to their parents perhaps, but to their shoes? I don't know.)

Calvin started to cry. Sam gave me a little look that said, you are going too heavy. The reason Calvin started to cry was that he always loses his shoes. Always. He is the man without shoes. He is the man who has had to come to church in two different crocs. (And they were on the wrong foot.) He is the man who sometimes has to wear a pair of crocs to school that are four sizes too big, because for some reason, those are the only shoes he never loses.

He knew I was talking to him. I was really talking to everyone, but mostly talking to him. And he felt so bad about it.

A serious case of underestimating my kids spiritual sensitivity.

And one case of overestimating.

So this was Lucy's first fast Sunday since being baptized. Mary had never really successfully fasted. And we'd never really made her. But today I was determined to be distracting and encouraging and do everything I could to help both of the girls have their first wonderful fast Sunday.
Mary did it! She did slip up once with a little drink of water and once with a bite of cereal, but she really skipped breakfast and lunch and really didn't complain (And she was in a great and helpful mood the rest of the day, I think as a result.)
Poor Lucy did it too. But poor Lucy got very, very sick. They pulled me out of relief society because her stomach was hurting. I gave her some water and a few pretzels we had after Flannery's attack-of-the-killer-pretzel-bag-show she puts on in Sacrament meeting. (No one ever wants to sit in our bench after we are through with it. And pretzels are the least messy thing I've found.)
On the way home from church, Lucy looked like she might die. She threw up all over the house. She curled up in a ball on the couch and slept away most of the evening.
Lucy will not be skipping two meals in a row like that for some time. We are going to have to try something different for her with fasting.

And below: some totally random pictures!
Best friends—and best WWF wrestlers. (It is WWF isn't it? Does that thing still exist?)
An early morning cello rehearsal with an audience and a blanket.
Baby birds in a nest in the corner of our porch. That gross stuff all around is poop, but still.

Flannery and her boyfriend. Isn't he the cutest little Old Man baby you've ever seen? And the best thing ever is that he generally says, "Baaah!"

Sunday, April 25, 2010


First of all, thanks for the running tips and commiseration. I tried running on my toes, and guess what! My calves didn't hurt. Not a speck. I even started running fast enough that I got a side ache. But then, when I got home, my hips hurt so badly I could hardly walk. Stupid Messed Up Pregnancy Hips, which I am now going to refer to as SMUPH. It will make me feel better, at least.
So I guess it's back to burning calves.

I have been thinking a lot about patience this week. Flannery exhibits a great deal of patience as she learns how to talk, and now she is being rewarded with a new phrase a day. (I wanna go potty [which I ignore completely because she just turned two and would be eaten by the toilet, not to mention her brothers and their less than careful toilet habits]; I want toast; I want to go go; Look mama, it's raining) She now prays and is so excited to be the one to say the prayers. The kids think it is so funny that whenever we prompt her: Heavenly Father, she says ebenly daddy.

Anyway, I know sometimes it seems like two year olds have no patience, but if you really think about their lives and all they are learning to do, they really do.

More than me anyway. I've been so desperate to get everything out of my program while I'm in it, that my patience with myself and all I need to learn sometimes wears thin. I want to work my tail off and be the greatest writer in the world right now!

But sometimes working my tail off is actually detrimental. Sometimes my brain shuts down. The spirit is telling me I need to do something else, or maybe the spirit is telling me I need to stop writing that scene and change directions, or maybe I just need to go make dinner, but I, with my lack of patience, always say: "No! I will push through this and keep writing. It doesn't matter that I've already written for three hours, I will write for one hour more. I will! And I will be great!"

And then what I write in that one hour is so bad I have to redo it all the next day, if I have the courage to push the delete button (which I'm getting good at).

Instead, I ought to focus on the progress I've made. And I have. I have learned so much. My writer's group here always tells me how much better each submission gets each month, so I ought to see I'm making good headway.

PATIENCE! There is time enough and to spare, and yet it feels like there is so little time for almost anything.

But conference was so good, and the talks on mothers and motherhood were so incredible, I'm seeing that role differently too. Teaching, teaching, teaching. I'm trying so hard to think of myself as a 24hour full-time teacher of my children. I'm trying so hard to not look around at the mess and get frustrated and bellow when I want their help cleaning up, instead of teaching them the concepts of work and responsibility and putting in your share (and patience).

You aren't supposed to use adverbs when you write (did you know that. Seriously.), (nor are you supposed to use parenthesese (especially when you can't spell it)), but I am going to throw out some adverbs here.

I gratefully acknowledge how wimpy and weak I am and how much I need patience. I think when I finally, finally, finally gain patience, I will be dead, but I'm going to try really, really, really hard while I'm here. And I'll have to be patient with that.