Sunday, January 31, 2010

Underestimating the Storm

Yesterday, the girls and I were stuck on the highway for four and a half the snow storm. We traveled 80 miles (40 one way, then gave up on reaching our destination, and came back). Snow. Blech! Bad Drivers. Double-blech! No idea how to drive in the snow. Me.

Could have been worse, though. My husband took Truman in the truck. They reached the destination. And they didn't make it home until after 10pm--12 hours after they left home.

We gave them a hero's welcome: cheers, hugs, hot chocolate, and a plate of hot food.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Prayer for my Children

Last night as I lay in bed I found myself thinking about my children, as I often do. I wondered if I'd done enough for them, worried about their individual struggles, and hoped that if nothing else, they felt loved.

I marveled at how different each child is - even though they're the product of the same gene pool and the same parenting. And I was overwhelmed with the feeling that their individuality is a reflection of something beyond their DNA - it is a reflection of their souls.

So there in the dark, I offered a prayer for each of their precious souls:

To my oldest. May you feel that you are loved for much more than your accomplishments. May you know that inside, you shine. And that no matter what mistakes, or hard times you experience along the way, you are good.

To my second. May you have the courage to remain meek. Don't stop your homesick tears or hide your tender heart.

To my third. May you feel acceptance. May you keep your optimism even when others discourage you.

To my fourth. May you find the sunshine instead of the gloom. May you embrace your position in our family and find joy in being a brother.

To my last. May you always be adored. And if the world proves rough, may you laugh your way through each day, as you do now.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

So, I'm really not a fan of "Build A Bear" stores. In the past, each time we've walked by one in the mall, I consciously speed up or steer my kids to the far side of the corridor in an effort to avoid it. But, my kids must have a stuffed animal honing beacon, because inevitably each time we walk by I am suddenly attacked with requests: "Oh! Can we go there?," "Look how cute!" or the especially guilt-inducing comment, "My friend, so and so, had a birthday party there!"

I guess I'm against the cost. Just one more way to waste money.

However, yesterday I did what I promised I'd never do. I crossed the build-a-bear threshold with my three oldest girls. Their 4-H bunny club sponsored an activity there. 30 young kids, each with a stuffed animal to make all their own. Oh the squeals. Oh the joy. Oh the price tag (good thing the event was substantially subsidized by the club!)

Actually, it was fun. I dressed and undressed Leasie's stuffed bunny at least a dozen times. She wanted to try each outfit on her bunny before deciding which to purchase. And it was good watching my kids dig out their own saved money to supplement the stuffed animal accessories.

So even though I'm not a fan, my kids are. And, I confess, I did enjoy watching how happy they were playing with their new stuffed rabbits in the car on the way home. And yes, I even kissed Madi's rabbit goodnight when I tucked her in bed.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another Winter Blue

I picked my way down the trail with a stuttered jogging step. Frozen footsteps peppered the snow; they looked like handprints in cement, left by strangers, their running pace made solid until the temperature rises. I felt the grid pattern of each shoe gone before me. My breath came out in cottony puffs, and I pulled my hat down to cover my earlobes and jaw bone.

Then a flash of blue across the path, bright against the winter whites and browns. A blue jay, I thought. But then a flash of sunrise orange. And I stopped to look. A blue bird sat on a bare branch, it's tiny body not heavy enough to disturb the branch's outward reach. A vision of spring visiting the hush of winter.

And I was glad I had come out in the cold, if only to see this blue.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Winter Blues

With all my checklists, burning lists, and good intentions, this first week of January was a doozy. I began each day with such high expectations. I made my bed every morning. I read my scriptures before checking facebook. I cooked a piping hot breakfast for the kids and sent them off to school with a Donna Reed cheerful smile. Then I got down on the floor with Charlotte, making block towers and doing puzzles. As soon as she went down for her morning nap, I diligently went to work cleaning the house and trying to write.

But somewhere between lunch and dinner, between loading kids up into a cold van to run errands and gritting my teeth (gathering my courage) to take a run out in the subfreezing temperature, I got a bad case of the winter blues.

By Thursday I felt beaten. I tried wearing my new bright coral colored shirt to ward off those creeping blues, but it didn't work. They came anyway. And I went to bed discouraged and afraid of the morning.

No lessons learned. Just blue.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Almost Tears

Last semester, a student in Madi's class quoted verses from Macbeth sending the kids into hysterics and sparking Madi's interest. Over the last couple months she's asked about Shakespeare, and I've relayed the stories with as much enthusiasm as I could conjure. We watched clips from the modern adaptation of Romeo and Juliet (I just love the first-sight scene through the fish tank). We even started dropping Shakespeare quotes in our conversations, with sly, knowing smiles.

Then one afternoon I found Madi pouring over my huge Shakespeare anthology. It covered her entire lap- the book is easily as large and as heavy as an unabridged Oxford English dictionary. But it wasn't the physical weight that stumped her, it was the language. Try as hard as she could, the words, foreign in pattern and imagery, were just out of her reach.

So when I happened upon this book while perusing for Christmas presents, I immediately clicked "Add to Shopping Cart." It is a retelling of twelve Shakespeare plays, in story-form, and the author has tried to maintain as much of the Shakespeare "feel" as possible. It arrived a few days later. I flipped through it, quite satisfied. Wrapped it. And left it amongst the presents under the Christmas tree. Almost forgotten.

On Christmas morning, Madi opened the book without any fanfare. She had already opened her "big" presents, and the book was almost an afterthought. But when she removed the wrapping and saw what it was, everything stopped. She gasped. She gaped. She stared. And in an unexpected swell of emotion, she looked up at me, her eyes brimming with tears.

Now, none of those tears actually materialized. They never touched her cheeks. We shared a hurried hug and later, after all the gifts were opened, we found a quiet spot and turned to chapter one of Hamlet. We read outloud together until the ghost of Hamlet's father appeared.

Almost-tears over Shakespeare?
Is this indeed my daughter?
How could I be so lucky?

Sunday, January 3, 2010

5 Birthdays, 1 Baptism, and a Funeral

5 Birthdays
In the last three weeks, I've celebrated five birthdays. Leasie turned 8 and the twins turned 6. My "baby" sister, who was visiting from Utah and can still easily pass for a teenager, turned a whopping 30. And my dear friend, Molly Kay, joined me in the proud ranks of mid-thirties (errr...make that late twenties).

1 Baptism
Three days after Christmas, my little Leasie was baptized. In the Mormon church, we wait to be baptized until eight years old, when we are old enough to be accountable for our decisions.

She was so beautiful, dressed all in white, wearing a dress sewn by my Mom. Having the baptism so close to Christmas made it even more special and poignant. I thought of the beauty of white--the white snow still packed in solid heaps on the ground, the white dress Leasie wore, the white color of Christmas time--all signifying purity, newness, and perfect Christlike love.

I cried happy tears.

1 Funeral
The very next day I played the piano, accompanying a violin solo, at a funeral. The funeral was for a woman who died much too young from cancer. She left behind children, a husband, and many friends.

I cried sad tears.

These events, so concentrated over the last three weeks, have made me hyper-aware of the passage of time. I feel like I've been on fast-forward racing from one occasion to the next. My wrinkles seem to have multiplied. Time rolls forward like a huge rock tumbling down a mountain side, gaining momentum. And no matter how much I try to breathe in each event and savor each moment, they seem to slip by so quickly. And I'm left mourning their passing.

And yet. All the events, in varying respects, are new beginnings. Where one year ends, another begins. Where innocence ends, the chance to choose and be accountable for our choices begins. And even when a life ends, there is, in a way, a new beginning -- for the soul gone to heaven and for those of us left behind.

My hope for this year is that I recognize these moments, monumental and small, that come and go so quickly, and as they go whizzing by, that I can grab hold, ride with them, and see each one as a beginning. Not an end.