Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Soren: September 2014

Dear Soren,

This is always such a daunting task for me. Trying to capture the whole essence of a child's life over a vast period of months seems almost impossible, especially when my precariously maintained notes are lost and I have to recreate the nuances of your character from memory.

So that it gets done, though, I'm just going to write the things that come to mind, in no particular order and in no particular format. Just remember: your childhood is better-documented than most, so I'm expecting you to be grateful no matter what. 

Thing #1: You'd taken to using the word "ain't" recently. I suspect your usage is ironic, but I can't tell for sure. 

Thing #2: Daddy woke up on a Sunday morning in May and stumbled into the kitchen to wish me a happy Mother's Day. Your eyes grew wide and you ran off to your bedroom, where I could see you standing in the center of the room, looking around frantically and exclaiming to yourself, "It's Mother's Day already and I haven't done a thing!  What am I going to do?" (You ended up making me a Lego heart sculpture, Well played, my child. Well played.) 

Thing #3: You are a marketing professional's dream. You LOVE and BELIEVE everything you see in television commercials. Over dinner, you'll casually ask, "How much are we paying for car insurance? Because you can save 15% or more with Geico." One day you spent a significant amount of time describing to me an amazing new invention called "Snackeez" that you had just learned about. "You can have a snack and a drink in one cup!" you explained. And then added, "After people know about it, Snackeez will be a big hit." 

Thing #4: You're a second grader now! All summer I had some anxiety about your going back to school (concerns about the factory-style educational system squashing your spirit, confidence, and creativity), but so far, so good. You have an amazing teacher, Mrs. Miekle, who makes learning fun and interesting. You even sang me tidbits from a few of the songs you've learned in her class, which I loved, because I can't often elicit music from you. 

Thing #5: One afternoon I noticed that you were wearing baggy red pants and a bleach-stained black shirt. You looked pretty homeless and I was like, "Soren, please tell me you didn't wear that to school today." "I did!" you said cheerfully. "And guess what? It was picture day!" Then you burst out laughing. "Guess I'll have to hide my pictures under the bed to scare away monsters!" (The latter statement was inspired by a favorite fictional character, Junie B. Jones.) 

Thing #6: You are my favorite reading buddy. I love reading chapter books with you and am always so delighted by your responses to stories. We've recently read Henry Huggins, by Beverly Cleary, Soup, by Robert Newton Peck, and Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, and innumerable Junie B. Jones books (Barbara Park). With Grandma Hanson you have read Sideways Stories from Wayside School and Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Thing #7: You often use the phrase, "I know, right?" I just think it's so cute. 

Thing #8: Out of the blue one day, you started talking about how a single, simple decision can shape an entire future. You were intrigued by the notion of creating a variety of alternate futures by making small changes in the present. 

Thing #9: One afternoon you spent about 45 minutes riding around with Grandpa on his lawn mower. Afterward you told me, "It's kind of boring to do that, but I don't want Grandpa to get lonely." 

Thing #10: On a sunny Saturday you expended some serious effort toward achieving your dream of flying. First you tried jumping off furniture and stairs. Then you started strapping on plastic bags to create some air resistance. You finally attempted to utilize the power of positive thinking, chanting, "I know I can! I know I can! I know I can!" throughout your various attempts. Later that evening you made up a song about flying that you sang to yourself while picking up for the night. 

Things#11: When I came home from work one day (only to scoop up Liam and leave again for a t-ball game), Briar had shown you how to make cardboard eggs out of an egg carton. While Liam and I were gone, Briar filled your eggs with candy and you had an Easter egg hunt. 

Thing #12:  I'll be innocently minding my own business when all fifty pounds of your enthusiastic self are suddenly and unexpectedly flung at my body. I'll be struggling to catch my breath while you shout,  "OH! I JUST LOVE YOU!" I'll laugh and nod and hug you back as you ask, "You know how you just get 'that feeling' sometimes?" 

Thing #13: Every night before bed I used to give you 7 hugs and 7 kisses (one for each year of your age). You've decided that kisses are gross, so now we always do 14 hugs. I have to make sure that you're paying attention while we're hugging, however, or else you'll claim that the hugs never happened (I honestly think you don't remember) and request 14 more. At the end, it is our ritual for you to steal a few extra hugs while I tickle you and declare you to be a "stinker." 

Thing #14: Your friend Aidaneh was over visiting one day when my phone alarm went off to remind me to take my daily anti-depressant. "Why do you have to take medicine?" she asked with concern. "Oh, it helps me keep from getting too sad," I told her, and you added, "And it keeps her from getting cry-y and angry!" (I suspect you were hearkening back to a time last winter when I tried to wean myself off my med, with undesirable results.)

Thing #15: Homework. I hate homework. I don't think you should be doing it at your age (though this is an opinion I keep to myself when you're around). You are also not a big fan. And so every evening we sit down ploddingly to tackle your pages of math and spelling and reading. One night you did two problems and then started to get distracted.
"Hey Soren!" I said. "Do this math problem." I pointed at a problem on the page.
You looked at it for a second. Then, cheerfully, you said "No." 
And we both cracked up. 

Thing #16: When it's not you who has afflicted suffering on your brother, you usually respond to his crying with a burst of empathetic tears/wailing of your own. 

Thing #17: If I were an old man, I would say that you could "talk the hind leg off a mule." 

Thing #18: Once you said this: "This bathroom smells like something that would come out of a dead ferret." I had to applaud the metaphor. 

Thing #19: You love to make me laugh and will engage in all kinds of strange slapstick antics to elicit laughter from me. 

Thing #20: You are your Grandma Hanson's boy. While Liam is always excited to join Grandpa while he runs errands and does whatever other things he does, you're always contented to stay with Grandma. 

And those are all the Things I can think of, though I'm sure there's much more that I'm forgetting.

Child, I love you. I love watching you grow and unfold into the person that you are. You are a delightful human being, and I'm so grateful that I have been invited along for this crazy ride called your life. I dearly hope that you know that I will always be here for you, through all the ups and downs and detours and fender-benders and smooth riding and roll-overs and scenic routes and pit stops. 


(^^^^^^^ Just hugs. No kisses.) 

Love, Mommy

You couldn't even make a normal face for your first-day-of-school picture. I attempted to give you a Justin Bieber-style hairdo.

Another lost tooth. No, I'm not sure what's going on with your hair.

Milking a "cow" at the fair. 

Lounging on your bed with your collection of one gazillion stuffed animals.

Just the gazillion. 

Wrapped up in a burrito with your newly acquired giant bear, looking (literally) insanely happy. 

Wednesday, August 06, 2014


Talking to my mom on the phone on the way to Rexburg.

The look on my co-worker Max's face as he rhapsodized about the virtues of Mission Impossible III.

Picking up the boys from Collette's house: Soren had built an enormous fort out of blankets, pillows, stools, and sleeping pads. He had also constructed a multi-roomed cabin out of Lincoln Logs.

Abe got to spend some time with his friend, Jerry, tonight.

For dinner tonight I laid out ingredients for burritos on the table. We blessed the food and then I hopped up to cut up some pineapple to go with it. The boys had been eating for a few minutes when Soren looked up and said, with the sweetest look on his face, "Mommy, when are you going to come eat? You cooked us all this beautiful food and you haven't even been able to enjoy it!"

Collette stopped by briefly this evening. As she stood on the stairway near the half-wall at the top, the boys jumped up and down on the couch and talked to her animatedly. When she left, Liam turned to me, face aglow, and said, "I just wuv dat man!"

The chilluns played happily together for most of the evening.

They made a potion out of Ajax, Scentsy wax, toothpaste, and water, in a wine glass. Soren spent some serious time enthusiastically describing to me how the potion would turn you into a bloody skeleton with a brain and shiny, slippery guts.

Story time. Curious George, OliviaQuick as a Cricket, two bananas, and three chapters of Wonder.

The boys both tried to climb into my bed at bedtime, so I pretended to be a monster to fight them off. Soren laughed and laughed. "I love you so much, Mommy!"

The house is moderately clean tonight! I even washed the dishes. Because I'm hard core like that.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Brothers, May 2014

Captain Underpants and his faithful companion, who mysteriously disappears whenever the Red Power Ranger is around.

Wearing one boot and one mama shoe each.

With Gigantor the Snowman.  

They decided they wanted to sleep together on the top bunk (Soren's bed).  It didn't last very long before Soren was all, "Mo-om!  Will you get Liam out of here?  He's too wiggly!" 


Making a Valentine's Day tablecloth with sponge stamps.

Playing with their new dart guns.  

Being all adorable in sunglasses.

Posing in their new church clothes before church.  Liam insists on hanging his tie outside of his vest.  Makes sense to me.

Overheard at the lunch table:  "When we're done eating, let's go fight!"

Drama.  So much drama.  An example, messaged to me by their father:

Liam did not want Soren, so Soren raged about that for a while and I had to separate them and tell Soren that Liam is not his toy, etc. Soren raged in his room, then tried to come out and play Legos with Liam, and Liam didn't want him still, so Soren broke the plan Liam had built.  And then Liam was pouting in the corner with his back to Soren, saying mean things, and Soren broke down into tears.  "I'm so, so sorry, Liam," and after a while Liam relented and hugged him, patting him.  It was cute.  So now they are playing together.
Liam will often insist on giving Soren a hug before he goes for school and they'll say "I love you" to each other.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Liam Update May 2014

Oh William, William, William James.

You are such a joy.  Your sweet little self existing in its adorable, precious way makes my whole heart happy. So happy.  Jam-filling-bursting-out-of-the-doughnut happy.

Some highlights from the past several months:

*You and I had been snoozing together on the couch this morning when you hopped off the couch, pointed out the window, and said, "Mommy!  Wake up!  The sun is coming up!  Then sun is coming up!" Then you pointed to the opposite side of the house.  "And the moon is going down!"

*You have this really irritating habit of asking for food and then not eating it.  One afternoon, at your behest, I had made you a sandwich, which you then refused to eat.  When you asked me for something else to eat, I told you to the eat your sandwich.  You started whining and I did one of those frustrated growl things that Mommies do sometimes.  "No!"  I said.  So what did you do?  You wrapped your arms around me, looked up with your gigantic blue eyes, and said, "I sawwy I angry you, Mommy.  I sawwy."

*A few weeks ago you contracted strep throat.  It hit you hard and you were pretty sick for several days.  All you wanted was "Cudder Bear" (Color Bear), your blankie, medicine, sleep, and lots of cuddling.  But the whole time you were so sweet and so grateful.  "Thank you for getting me my blanket, Mommy," you would croak out weakly.  "And for my pillow.  And thank you for kissing me on the nose.  You so cute.  And sweet.  I wuv you.  I wuv you so much."

*I was sitting with you in Primary one week when you realized that there was another kid in Primary named Liam.  This was a thrilling revelation.  The Other Liam was standing up at the front of the room holding up a sign as part of the lesson and you were all, "Hey!  Hey!  That's my brudder!  That's Liam!  Hey Liam!  I Liam too!  One Liam, two Liams!  Hi, Brudder!  Hey!  Hey!"  Though the Other Liam did not share your excitement and was mostly trying to avoid eye contact, you were undeterred.  When he returned to sit with his class, you followed him there.  "We're brudders!  We're both Liam!  Hey!  Look!  Two Liams!"

*You can write your own name!  It's the cutest thing!  Though for a while you were convinced that your name was spelled L-I-Q-M.  No amount of reasoning (at least from me) could persuade you otherwise.

*You love story time.  But it is apparently unthinkable to read stories without also eating "nanas."  Under great duress you might be persuaded to eat apples while I read to you, but if nanas are available, nanas will be consumed.

*You are a beamer.  Whether you're excited about an accomplishment or begging for something, your little face shines like a star.

*You can bust some dance serious moves.  While beaming like a star.

*You love to "play" the piano.  I'm thinking about starting you on the Suzuki method.  I can see that bringing you joy.

*One afternoon, you were drawing with chalk in the driveway.  I had glanced out my bedroom window to check on you and noticed, with some mild concern, that two tough-looking "bigger boys" (maybe first graders) had stopped on their bikes and were talking to you.  I couldn't hear what was said, but after a moment, you jumped up and ran to the garage.  A minute later you emerged with the pink-and-purple Big Wheel that you like to scoot yourself around on, and the three of you rode off.  It made me think of someone with a beach cruiser and a bell riding off with a couple of Harley guys.

*One night we were writing and sending off thank you notes when you took it into your head to write a "letter to Lisa (pronounced 'Isa')."  "Who is Lisa?" I asked.  "Isa's my girl," you replied matter-of-factly.  You wrote her a letter and made sure to personally place it in the mailbox, even though that meant traversing across the slushy driveway in socked feet.  I would like to meet this Lisa, inspirer of such devotion.

*On a particularly sunny day during February or March, you decided that you need to wear your "Party Flops" to the grocery store.  Party Flops and a coat.  That's style.

*Your favorite place in the world right now is a bunch of dirt hills in a half-finished housing development not far from our home.  You refer to them as "the mountains" and love to play there.

*One night at dinnertime you were being really whiny.  Finally I got impatient and snapped, "Liam!  Stop it.  Stop whining.  You're driving me crazy."  Then I got distracted doing whatever I was doing.  A while later I realized I hadn't seen you in a while.  "Where's Liam?" I asked Soren.  He shrugged.   I finally found you squeezed into a tiny space between the couch and the end table, knees pulled up to your chest, head down.  "Oh honey!" I said, realizing that I had hurt your feelings.  You immediately burst into tears.  "Is your fault!" you wailed. We had a long cuddle session.  Little pootums.  

*One morning you were wandering around wrapped up in a yellow towel.  You walked into the front room, smiled at me, and then threw it off.  "Tah dah!" you said.  I couldn't help but laugh.  Delighted with my reaction, eyes full of mirth, you described the comedic scene that had just played out. "I had a towel...and then I went naked!" you said, laughing.

I love you-- fiercely and forever.  



P.S. For those of you intrepid enough to make it this far into this lengthy post, I present to you these Bonus Features:

A Story, by Liam (transcribed by Mommy) 

A big brother took my bike, and my tooth fell off.  His name is Boe-er.  He's a big guy.  And he killed my teeth.  He punched my eyes and my mouth.  And he killed a monster and he punched me in the water and he killed me a lot and a lot.  And he killed and hurt my tooth and my eyes and my ears this morning-- both ears.  Like that.  He hurt me!

This morning he hurt my teeth.  Five teeth fell off.

I killed him.

And then a monster killed ME.  He punched me in the face again and again and again!  Like that!  And he hurt me in the face.  And it was like, "Bam Bam Bam Bam Bam" and it hurt me a lot and it was like, "Boom Boom Boom Boom Boom" and it hurt me a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot and a lot.  Like that!

And he put a bomb on me.  Yeah, he did that.  And the bomb went "boom!"  And he got me with a shoot gun and it hurt my pants.

And he put milk on a wand and I got the wand and I got bigger, bigger, bigger hair and then the pencil turned into a snake!  And I poked him in the butt with a pencil!  And then he poked me and hurt me!

Disclaimer: Liam watches most of his television at Grandma's house.  Just sayin'.  

Quick Notes about Liam's health and development

-First, he got his tonsils out almost two weeks ago.  He's had some ups, he's had some downs.  Mostly he's had a lot of stomach pain and has been throwing up a lot of phlegm.  Not sure what to make of that.  Makes me so sad. 

-Second, he has some digestive issues that we're working on fixing.  Not going to do too many deets here, since he might be all embarrassed about it later in life, but it's good to know there's something we can do to help that.

-Third, our family doc thinks that he might have mild cerebral palsy.  I would never in a million years have considered a diagnosis like that, but now that I've learned a little more about CP, it does seem to fit.  This is actually good news, because it's not a degenerative disorder-- and it can totally be helped with physical, occupational, and speech/language therapy.  We're going to be hitting those hard over the next year or two.

-Fourth, I've decided to send Liam to a private community preschool next year instead of Kindergarten. His developmental preschool teacher and speech therapist thought I should put him in Kindergarten, but I just didn't find any peace in that option. My Mommy senses say that he is absolutely not ready for Kindergarten, though he is progressing in that direction, and I believe another year of preschool-type stuff will make a world of difference for him.    It's scary to veer off the path prescribed by the professionals, but I'm doing it.  So there.

Playing with the Nerf dart gun given to him by Auntie Karen and Uncle Seth.

This is a superhero pose.  All super heroes wear black socks on their arms, don't you know?

The superhero flexes his muscles.

This was such an easy cake-- and pretty adorable, if I must say so myself. 

Liam's birthday celebration.

Blowing out five candles.


"Party flops" at the grocery store.

Trying on a hat and purse at the thrift store. 

Sleeping in the hospital after his mean old tonsillectomy.

In recovery after the tonsillectomy.

Fully recovered from tonsillectomy and ready to fight evil. 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Soren Update May 2014

One night Soren and I were talking about ghosts and spirits-- and about how sometimes the spirits of people who have died can visit people who are still alive.  "I would be pretty scared if that happened," said Soren.  Then he thought for a moment.  "Unless it was you.  If it was you I would probably hug you and it would be so great...because I bet I would have been missing you a lot."

 "It would be so hard to be apart, wouldn't it?"  I agreed. 

Then Soren teared up.  "Just thinking about it makes my heart die!" he cried.  He climbed onto my lap.  We snuggled for a moment and then he whispered, "I love you."

Soren's little brain whirls at about a million miles a minute.  Last night from his bed, he kept asking me things like, "What caused the Big Bang?" and  "Is there anything older than God?"  He'll randomly say things like, "Six plus three equals nine, but it's interesting to me that there are three letters in six and five letters in three, and that equals eight.  So it's pretty close!  Isn't that cool, Mom?"

One day he was contemplating variations on the old notion of raining cats and dogs.  "What if," he pondered aloud, "it rained chainsaws?"  He thought about that for a while and added, "What if it rained the biggest chainsaws in the world?"  He pondered aloud for quite some time on the possible havoc such a storm would wreak. 

One night while I was away at choir practice, Daddy and Soren and Liam decided to all sleep in the recliner together.  The three of them snuggled in under a blankie.  Liam fell asleep almost immediately.  Soren, on the other hand, wiggled.  And turned.  And twisted.  And readjusted.  Finally he said, "Daddy?  I can't sleep without the fan."  So he climbed off,  retrieved the fan from his room, plugged it in for some white noise, and climbed back aboard.  He wiggled some more.  And turned.  And twisted.  And readjusted.  He finally realized it just wasn't going to happen.  It was just way too different from the quiet and solitude of his own bed.  "I'm sorry, Daddy," he said.  "I'm going to have to go sleep in my own bed."  And he padded off to his bed.

One day I overheard Soren point a weapon at one of Liam's Lego structures and say, "I obliterate you!  I obliterate you!  I obliterate you!"

One thing I love about reading chapter books with Soren is that the increased complexity of the plots and characters make him think and asked questions, particularly about the moral choices of the characters.  He pays attention to how they behave frequently comments on the good and bad that they do.  He was simply horrified at the antics of Roald Dahl's Twits.

Soren was telling me and Abe about a girl in his class.  "She's kind of a company girl," he remarked.  We were intrigued.  "What's a 'company girl'?" asked Abe. "Oh, you know, one of those girls that spends all her time with lots of other girls.  Like in a circle.  A company girl."

Soren made it a point to give a Valentine to a kid who's never been very nice to him.

Soren cannot stand to lose.  He just. can't. stand. it.  We tried to teach the boys how to play "Old Maid," but he ended up quitting when things didn't go his way.  The next day I found the Old Maid crumpled up under the chair he'd been sitting by.   

One day, out of the blue, Soren told me that it wasn't what people seemed like that was important-- it was what was in their hearts that really mattered.  He expounded on that for quite a while.

My boy learned how to ride a bike without training wheels!  At last and hallelujah!  He had to do it in such a way that he never, ever crashed or got hurt, so, as you might imagine, it took some time.  But now that he can ride, boy does he.  He spends as much time on his bike as he possibly can. He and I even rode our bikes together to Auntie Clee's house-- a distance of about three miles.  Not bad for a new rider.

For Liam's birthday, we bought a couple of plastic dinosaurs for Soren to give his brother.  I gave them to Soren to wrap.  He wandered off with them and returned a while later with notes taped to each dinosaur.  The triceratops's note said, "I love you, Liam."  The note on the Tyrannosaurus Rex read, "Soren's and Liam's."

Soren has SUCH a good heart.  He has a strong desire to do good and to be kind.  Sometimes his wild emotions and inability to focus on/remember to do stuff make for some frustrating times, but his good heart just melts me.  Every time I look at him, my own heart just bursts with love. 

He's a super-awesome, adorable child and I'm so glad I get to be his mama. 

Bonus Feature!

Jokes, by Soren:

Why did the towel fall off the towel rack?  
Because towels fall down just randomly!

Why did the faucet turn itself on?  
Because someone turned it on and didn't notice it!

Why did the baby drink soda?
Because his mom didn't make milk; she made soda!

Why did the car drive on the zebra?  
Because the person that was driving the car liked zebras' meat, so he cut off all their fur so he could get the meat.

Why did the two-year-old fall in the toilet?  
Because he wasn't looking where he was going!

Why did the house flood?
Because there's a river near the house!

Why did the Ramen noodle fall out of the pan? 
 Because it wanted to make a story!

Why did....?

Why did the fox go to the metal?
Because bugs to to the light, so bigger things go to metal!

Why did the fish go by the whale?
Because I'm going to write a story about it!
Soren after his first grade concert.  He was kind of in his own little world throughout the entire thing, but he does occasionally sing me the songs he learned over the year. Don't you just want to pick him up and squeeze him?  

Soren on his 7th birthday, solemnly posing next to his birthday tree.

I don't remember what this was all about, exactly.  I think the boys were posing as superheroes, maybe. 

. . . and this is what Soren looks like when he's eating cottage cheese.

A snowman with a captain crunch face.

...and he's got it! 

We found a pair of conjoined twin strawberries that TOTALLY freaked Soren out.  He asked me to tell the reporters.  I posted it on Facebook instead, and for the rest of the day he kept an eye out for the news media to show up at our door.

The boys and I were lucky enough to spend a few hours with my Uncle John, Aunt Annette, and some of their kiddos when they passed through Idaho on their way home to Washington after a visit with relatives in Utah. 

Soren posing with a few of my cute cousins. 

Cute Soren thing hanging outside his classroom.  I ate lunch with him at school a few times this year.  First grade lunchtime is pretty adorable. 

Posing as a princess with his cousins on Calysta's 15th birthday. 

My cute mama made me a bunny cake for my birthday (a long-standing tradition) but brought candy over so Soren could decorate it. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Today's Happies

Have I ever told you about Happies and Sads?  If I have, I'm sorry, but like a crazy old lady, I'm going to tell you again.

My bestie/college roomie Holly taught me about them.  It was something her mother used to do with her when she was a child.  The concept is pretty simple.  Before bed, you take an inventory of your day, remember the good things and the bad things, and talk about them.  Holly and I would do Happies and Sads sometimes in college, lying in parallel twin beds in the quiet dark of our dorm room, talking about the things that had been good and bad about our days.

More recently, when I was pondering ways to cultivate more gratitude in my life, I remembered Happies.  I realized it was a good solution to my problem of feeling that, in listing blessings, I had to keep naming the same blessings over and over again (home, food, family, friends, job, health, freedom, peace, etc.) -- or find a "silver lining" for things I didn't actually feel grateful for at all (WalMart, road trips with the children).  My Happies Journal has become a place for me to keep a record of the good things in my life for which I feel acutely, authentically grateful, because they have brought me real joy.  

I highly recommend the practice.

Anyway, I had a particularly good day today and I wanted to remember it-- and I wanted to share it with everyone out there, because really, it's a testament to the fact that there is goodness in the world.

These are my Happies for today...

Telling Abraham about how happy I felt when I went to the church last night and saw a couple of men from church playing flag football with a bunch of scouts.  ("I love that those boys have good male role models!") And how even happier I was when I went inside and found a gym full of teenagers and leaders square dancing while a live person called out the moves.  ("No one looked super happy about it...but it was still delightful.")  Abe told me that he'd read an article about how boys in the United States are struggling because many of them lack positive male role models.  Felt so grateful for the men in our life who are teaching my boys how to be good men-- their daddy, their grandpas, their uncles, the men at church, our friends.  So many.  

Picking up my car from the mechanic.  He undercharged me, as usual.  And then gave me a jump when my battery was dead.  And then smiled and waved as I drove off.  Nothing cuter than a tough guy mechanic standing in blue coveralls, smiling and waving at you.

Getting my hair cut.  Scott, who was wearing purple plaid shorts and a red polo shirt, taught me how to blow-dry my hair with a round brush and style it with a flat iron. He gave me a little side-hug when I left.  Love him so.

Finding a preschool for Liam next year.  I think it's going to be a good fit for him.

Editing for work.  I love the people who are writing articles for the new Adoption.com.  I am in awe of them, in awe of their stories.  Also, all of my co-workers.  Also awe-inspiring people.  Also, editing.  For money.  It's a beautiful job and it makes my heart feel humongous to think about it.

Getting more information about gymnastics for both the boys next year.  I think they'll love it!

The lady at Premier Therapy who answers the phone.  She is always so kind and helpful and personable.

Our neighbor friend, whose granddaughter plays with our boys all the time, took my kids (and her granddaughter, and another neighbor friend) to the park and fed them all peanut butter sandwiches. They ran around in the sun for an hour and a half while she gave her black poodles a summertime trim.

Watching two sweet women (mother and daughter) teach a bunch of 5-year-old kids how to play baseball.  It looked like something akin to herding cats.  Or managing employees.

The look on sheer joy on Liam's face when he rounded third and headed for home.

The smell of Soren's hair as he sat on my lap in the grass in the sunlight and laughed fondly with me at the basemen who ran from base to base and the batters who chased after the ball.

Going to buy the boys some treats at King's and discovering, at the register, that I had left my wallet at home.  So embarrassing. "We'll be back," I said, tugging a heartbroken Liam away from his gummy bears.  And that's when the man behind us in line said he would buy our treats for us. "I know what a pain it can be to come back," he said kindly, "especially with kids."  The cashier added our items to his purchase. Soren was in awe.  "That was so kind!" he said.  Positive male role model, I thought, and teared up a little.  

My parents showing up at our house tonight with a wheelbarrow, a truck bed full of manure, and a rototiller.  My mom drove home the car my papa had let us borrow while mine was in the shop; my daddy and husband fertilized and plowed the garden. My parents take such good care of us.  

Getting to visit with my neighbor friend Kacie for a few moments.  She showed me her latest home decorating endeavors.  Love that girl. And her home decorating.

Soren doing two chores tonight.  "Because you shouldn't have to do too much work, Mommy."


Today I feel so full.  So loved.  So cared for.  So overwhelmed with gratitude for the goodness of the people around me.

Soren at the baseball diamond during Liam's first-ever T-Ball practice.
This looks like a boy who could use some positive male role models.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

We Almost Died in Twin Falls

It was a lovely, easy hike along the bottom of the beautiful Snake River canyon.  Not another human being in sight.  Abe and I walked along, happy, relaxed, talking and joking.

We passed a waterfall.  We admired the layers of geological time etched on the walls of the canyon. We held each other and watched the green waters of the river roll quietly by.  We quarreled about whether the song "Shenandoah" was about the river or the valley.  We passed under the famous Perrine Bridge.  There was a trail leading up to its base and we could see maintenance ladders lacing the framework.  We wondered if we could climb around on the ladders but, assuming that was probably strictly prohibited and enforced by heavy fines, decided to move onward.    

We figured the trail would lead us up out of the canyon eventually and we would be able to follow the paved canyon rim trail back to the parking lot.  After we'd passed under the bridge, we found ourselves in the spot where the Twin Falls BASE jumpers landed when they did their thing, so we assumed there would be an easy way for them to get back out.  But when the trail petered off and eventually became impassable, we were left scratching our heads about how we could quickly get ourselves out of the canyon.   We really didn't want to retrace our steps, spending two hours hiking on the same pathway we'd just traversed, so Abe pulled out his phone to see if he could find any information online about how the BASE jumpers got out of the canyon.  Finally he found a website with some information.  "This guy says that there are three ways to get out of here: hike back the way we came, take a boat across the river, or climb up a trail right under the bridge."

"There's a trail under the bridge leading out of the canyon?" I asked.  I hadn't seen one.

"Yeah," Abe said.  "I guess it's that trail that leads up to the bottom of the bridge, the one we were thinking about climbing up anyway."

So we walked back to the bridge and began climbing up the mountain.

It was a steep path of dirt and loose rocks leading up to a path of heavy boulders and cliff wall.  From where we were, I really couldn't see the part of a trail that would allow us to easily walk out of the canyon.

"This would make a great gospel analogy," I told Abe as we climbed up the path.

"Oh yeah?"

"Yeah," I said.  "Here we are, heading down a pathway that doesn't appear to lead out of the canyon at all.  We have to have faith in this guy who says that it is the way."

"I see," said Abraham.  "And we've got the testimonies of others who have passed this way before.  We trust in their words and we take a step forward into the darkness."  He hiked a little longer.  "I hate gospel analogies."

"Me too," I said.  "But my brain comes up with them all the time."

Abe laughed and we continued climbing up the path.

Finally the trail seemed to disappear, leaving us at the base of some large, heavy rocks.  It became clear we were going to have to do some bouldering.  I suddenly became keenly and dizzyingly aware of how high we had climbed.  "Oh well," I thought.  "We'll get past these big rocks and that will put us on the trail."  Abe climbed up first, to find a safe trail.  "It looks a little better up here," he told me.  So I followed, very carefully choosing each foot and hand hold.

When I reached Abraham and looked up, I groaned.  It did not look any better up there.  It looked equally steep and rocky.  But at this point it was nearly impossible to go back down, so we just kept climbing.  The climb went on forever, up a rock wall without a harness.  I silently, fervently asked God to get us out of here alive so we could go home to our babies.

In one particularly difficult section, someone had secured a knotted rope to a tree sticking out of the canyon wall.  Its presence reassured us that we were, indeed, on the trail that some idiot on the internet had failed to describe as being a potentially difficult trail to climb.  Abe gave me a hand up in the particularly rough spots and we both clung as tightly to the rocks as we could.    

Finally we reached the top.  "We're alive!"  I shouted.  "We are, indeed, alive," said Abe, looking pleased.  Then he smiled at me.  "Gee, honey," he said.  "Sorry I almost killed you on our tenth anniversary."

See the cliff under the left side of the bridge?  There is no trail on that thing.  It is a sheer rock wall that you will be forced to climb at the peril of your life.  The internet lies.  Do not put your faith in it.  


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