Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A final thought...

While we were in Salt Lake City 
we visited the temple visitor's center there.  In a beautiful central room
surrounded by a mural of the universe stands an amazing
sculpture of Jesus Christ. 
When we came up the ramp to see it, the girls got very excited. 
Tessa asked, "Mama, can we touch it?"

I knew that she wouldn't be allowed to, but I just didn't have the heart
to be the one to tell her.  "Why don't you ask that man over there" I said,
pointing to the older gentleman with a name tag on that stood nearby. 
I guess I sort of expected her not to do it, because I was surprised
when she marched right up to him and asked,
"Can we touch it?"

"You sure can!"  he said sweetly.

The girls hurried over to the sculpture and each in turn stretched a small hand up 
to the only part of the sculpture they could reach; the foot,
 more specifically, the big toe on the right foot.

Then, to my surprise, both of the boys also reached out to touch
the foot of the Savior.
It was tender to watch, and it reminded me of another time
when children were let to come to the feet of the Lord.

But when Jesus saw it, he ...said unto them,
Suffer the little children to come unto me,
and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.

 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive
 the kingdom of God as a little a child, he shall not enter therein.

 And he took them up in his arms,
put his hands upon them, and blessed them."
                                                                     ~Mark 10, 14-16

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Road Trip: The Final (Epic) Post

If it were only that simple.

(Jonah toddles through Idaho State Penitentiary)

Guy saw that sign and said "The person who made that doesn't have children." 
It's so true. 
You really can't control your kids.  They will do what they will do. 

But one thing we found on our trip was how much they could be influenced for good or not, by things around them.  With hours in the car and no a la'carte media at their disposal, the kids began to play games with each other and listen to stories read aloud or on CD.  We found that our dreaded fears of death and mayhem in the back seat had been unnecessary. 

Or we thought they had.   

From time to time we would stay at a place that had T.V. or Internet or an Xbox, and amazingly, as soon as we would get in the van after they had been indulging in several hours of "the junk", the kids were at each other's throats.  They fought and teased and were impatient and rude. 
I'm not kidding you, that stuff is of the devil.

I guess our trip taught me a few things besides the fact that Sponge Bob is evil.  I learned that I could be away from people I love for a very long time and upon seeing them, feel like we had never parted.  I had reconfirmed to me the importance of family, both immediate and extended. 

Aunt Mada and Aunt June... Guy's mother's sister and my mother's sister... what do they have in common besides living in The Great Potato State, the ability to throw down a fabulous spread and to grandma the heck out of kids?  They are magically connected to each other by the very fact that the DNA that made each of them is also in my children.

And so begins our final leg of the Family Road Trip.  This will be a booty-long ol' post, but that is more for my sake than for yours.  I frankly don't expect anyone out there to actually read this to it's belated ending, except maybe Rebekah, who says she always does.  So, without further adieu...

From Idaho to Utah!
First stop, Thanksgiving Point and the Dinosaur Museum!

Then off to my Alma Mater, BYU to show the kids around.  We visited the art museum with Guy's very funny nephew Jack and his friend Brian, and what to my wondering eyes...? 
My favorite painting of Jesus Christ, no, not a copy, but the 100 year old original!
 (By Carl Heinrich Bloch)
Oh, my goodness, I stood there and wept. 
I did.
The kids all made fun of me.
The security guard kindly waited until after we took this picture before telling us...
no photos allowed!
Oh, well!  I got mine!

From favorite painting to favorite song, we happened into the Wilkinson Center for ice cream and there was a guy playing Claire de Lune on the piano.  Oh, to be 5 years old again and not care what anyone would think if I danced around in my ladybug shoes!

It is a simple door on a non-descript building, but it was where I spent most of my time my last year at BYU as I did my final show for the Bachelor of Fine Arts program.  I thought my heart would hurt from going through that door, because the last time I had walked through it I had believed I was heading off into a successful career as a fine artist.

But quite the opposite happened.  While I do make art, it is not really my "career", but my heart didn't hurt at all as we walked around my old stomping ground.  I was so excited to show the studios to my kids, and they began to see me in a whole new way as they saw the foundry, kilns, and large power tools I used to use here.  By the end of our day at BYU, all four of the bigger kids, even Ethan, had in some way indicated that they wanted to go there someday for college. 
Who knows, maybe one day one of them will load that same kiln.

Sometimes we just had to get out of the van and play!

We got to visit my sister Julie in Herriman which was so wonderful.  I am still waiting for the recipe to her fresh fruit salsa.  Then "a moment" in our family history occured ... Cousin Jess, now a mother twice over and my parents' oldest grandchild, holds little Jonah, the youngest cousin of the clan.
We met up with my former missionary companion and her kidlets at the Church History Museum.  At one point when we were sitting amidst our combined 10 children I whispered in her ear
"Look at all the people we made."

Is he G.Q. or what?

The doors of the Salt Lake Temple

I think one of my favorite moments on our trip was when we visited with Uncle Max.  His eyes, fogged with age and dementia, tried to follow the conversations in the room, but it was too hard for him.  Then he turned to me and said, "You painted that picture of me with my big fish!".  How had he remembered?  For the next hour I listened as he told me stories and showed me his hand tied flies.  He showed me his favorites; the ones that caught the biggest fish, the ones that were so hard to make that men used to come from 3 counties to buy them from him.  It got late and we had to leave, and said so several times, but each time he simply held up another fly and said, "And THIS one..."

I don't imagine I'll ever get to see Uncle Max again, and if I do, he probably won't remember me.

We visited Guy's "little" brother Greg (above) and family, and Jonah thought his cousin Sylvia, 2 months older than him, was his own personal dolly.  We also got to spend some wonderful time with Guy's sweet Aunt Penny and super fun cousin Katie.  I guess I was having so much fun I forgot to even take a picture of them! 
Oops!  I guess we have to go back!

Our good friends, Marty and Sarah, opened their home to us for the entire week, and we thrilled at being there with them.  I was so moved by their loving example of gentle but firm parenting.  They are so consistent with family prayer and scripture study, and I must say that it rubbed off in some small degree.  Since we have been home we are trying much harder to gather our family each night to pray and read the scriptures together.  Sarah also taught me the fine art of Extreme Couponing!  I have already saved $101.  So cool.

Now, when I started this "blogety thingy" I swore that I would never,
not ever,
post a picture of one of my kids with food gobbed all over their face.

I guess I lied.

'Cuz oh, my gosh, I think he is so cute.  And it was, after all, his birthday.  I can't NOT post about his birthday, right? (oh, don't worry, there is more to come.  This picture was only taken halfway through his cake carnage!)

One last trip to the skate park before we say goodbye...

then back on the road.
The boy who could walk on water.

The Great Salt Lake. 
We told the kids not to get wet.  In ten minutes they were all in up to their thighs. 
They ended up riding all the way to Winnemucca, Nevada  in their skivies.
Is it legal to cross state lines in your underwear?

Well, thanks, all three of you, for hanging in there till the bitter end. 
It was a long, long trip, or, as Guy put it, "Five days too long". 
He said that 6 days before we went home. 

It is good to be home. 
Oh, wait.  School has started. 
Can I go back? 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Soap Commercial

We interrupt
your regularly scheduled Road Trip
to bring you this
partially consumed bar
of delicious soap,
 courtesy of Jonah Ryder.

Good thing it was Trader Joe's
all natural Honey Oatmeal bar!

More Road Trip: Visiting Mom's Grave

My eyes were still swollen due to my woeful departure from Jackie when, despite bumper to bumper L.A.-style traffic in Blackfoot (I know!  What's up with that?  Blackfoot?? Was there like, a cheese curds sale at the Krogger or something?) we finally pulled into Rexburg on the heals of a summer storm.  We gathered up my Aunt June who led the way to the tiny town of Tetonia, 45 minutes to the North.  I had not been here in ten years, not since my mother's burial.

When Mom got her diagnosis of terminal lung cancer, she decided that she wanted to be buried in the itty bitty rural cemetery in the shadow of The Grand Tetons where her grandfather was buried.  
It was only 3 weeks until she got her wish.  

As we drove toward Tetonia, a rainbow appeared on the horizon just above the road, and stayed there the entire way to the cemetery.  I pulled onto a little gravel road and drove up the hill until I felt that I might be near her grave.  As we got out of the car, the wind whipped and the cold, grey day betrayed mid-summer, and was surprisingly like the cold November day when we had left her there.  The first headstone that I laid eyes on was that of a Nielsen, my mother's family.  And there, beside it, was my mother's.  I surprised myself as I burst into tears at the sight of her name there on the ground, and stranger still, my father's name beside hers, his birth date with no death date. 

"Well, I guess I won't see her grave again till you plant me up there beside her." 
Dad had said before I left.  "Take a posy up there for me."

I sent the kids off to gather wildflowers on the hillside while I chatted with Mom.  I told her I missed her and that she had left way too soon.  I need my mom, I told her.  Her grand kids need her, too.  But it is what it is, I sighed, knowing of course, that her spirit was not there.   

Then I realized that though her spirit was gone, there was more there than just a stone with her name on it.  That though her spirit was far away, her body was right there.  The body that had birthed me, and loved me, and tended to me, the one that I remember hugging in all it's plushness, the one that made bread for me and wrote me letters every week on my mission, and held the phone that called me nearly every day.
Right there...sort of.

And then I heaved in a great breath and sobbed.  I was sad to leave her there again on another blustery, grey day.  I was sad she had left before we had a chance to say some things.  I was just... sad.  Guy came up and wrapped his arms around me.  The kids gathered with their flowers and we made a posy with them.  The mood shifted as my men-folk cleared out the weeds and trimmed up the grass around Mom's headstone with Ethan's pocket knives (yes, knives.  It's a boy thing).  The kids got squirrel-y and a little naughty (have you ever seen a pink satin ghost in a graveyard?).  I thought I would feel Mom there, but I didn't.

Guy put his arm across my shoulders and began to dance a jig on mom's grave.  
I joined him.  Mom would have loved that, and in my heart I could hear her laughing.

The Pink Ghost of Tetonia

More Idaho? How'd ya know?!