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

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Family Photos 2011

My friend Andrea (check out her website! she's amazing!) took these for us. There are a million more, but I'll try to spread them out over time so as to not exhaust you all with our cuteness.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Communication Breakdown

Soren is an interesting child to parent. Some days, I just put my head between my knees and cry. He is the most intense little human being you will ever meet. In the spirit of the genius behind Hyperbole and a Half, I have put together a little cartoon to represent an interaction I have with Soren on a fairly regular basis.

This is what I'll say:
But this must be what he hears me say:

Because this is how he reacts:

And I, perplexed by his reaction, respond like this:

But this is what he hears:

And it begins again.
This is why I am always tired.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

In Loving Memory

My Grandma, Mary Elizabeth Hanson, passed away early Friday morning. She was a great lady, vivacious, full of spunk and strong opinions, always feeding people, issuing orders. She lived a good, full life and will be missed by all of us (including her and Grandpa's 7 children, 36 grandchildren, and heaven only knows how many great grandchildren).

Following is a poem I wrote about Grandma several years ago.

Glimpses of my Grandma

her wild white hair tied sloppily in pigtails,
the loose strands waving like seaweed,
flinging herself--
with the passion of a lover,
and the volume of a fog horn--
at the feet of a man whom she loudly pronounces to be a "jackass"
(he didn't choose her granddaughter as Miss Carbon County)

lying, broken-hipped, in a puddle of oatmeal, dramatically
"Bring them in quietly!
No bells or whistles!
These accidents are getting monotonous!"

and later demanding,
through blind eagle-eyes, that
sit down at that old piano
and feed her the savory meat she craves--Bach and Rachmaninoff and Joplin or
anything musical, really--
as long as it was played now (and decently),

scanning sharp eyes over a premature great-grandson
in hospital intensive care
whose "plumbing" doesn't work quite right,
she laments:
"it's a shame--
he has such a beautiful penis!"

her home is a swallow's nest
of clutter held together by mismatched
bits of squabbling,
swatches of old newspaper articles she wrote herself,
mismatched silverware,
chipped dishes she pushes under our faces,
piled high with
burn bran balls and peach chutney
or hot dogs for breakfast.

she tosses verbal tomatoes
(red ripe ones--she is a writer)
at Grandpa, who flings them back
they snarl and growl at each other all the way to their bed
where they've slept side by side for almost seventy years.

Grandma laughs like an excited hen with a microphone,
pierces like a tack underfoot,
feels things with her belly,
lets them cut
like the electric knife she uses on her hard brown bread
that sparkles as each slice falls
into a pile of crumbs on her worn cutting board.

I love you , Grandma.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Out of the Ashes

So the paint cleaned up more easily than we initially thought it would. Phew! There are still handprints on the walls that will need to be painted over; the upholstery on my cedar chest will need to be replaced; Liam's clothes will never be the same.

But we mostly cleaned up.


Today I took the boys and some pumpkin chocolate chip cookies and went over to my friend Lara's house, where we made some awesome fall crafts. We had a lovely afternoon, chatting and crafting while our children watched waaaay too much TV. Lara even made us a picnic that we ate on a blanket in the back yard.

And now I have an adorable harvest display. It makes me feel like a real woman.

Aren't they fabulous?

(Thanks again, Lara!)

Friday, September 23, 2011

Soren Decorates

About twenty minutes ago, I received a phone call from Abraham. I am at work; he is at home with the boys. He told me to check my email. This is the email he sent me:

20 minutes of alone time. TWENTY FREAKING MINUTES, and I get THIS:

Soren told his daddy that he "wanted to make the house pretty."

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Falling Short

Some days I just feel so insufficient.

It seems that no matter how hard I try, there's always something I could do better.

I make sure the boys' teeth get brushed but often forget to brush their hair.

I bathe the kids every day but their clothes are usually wrinkly and a little too small.'

We have Family Home Evening faithfully but frequently skip church.

I try to cook nutritious meals but Soren's diet is still 90% processed foods.

I read to my children and take them for walks and sing them songs and don't let them watch too much TV but I must be missing something because Liam still doesn't talk and Soren refuses to ride his trike without me walking alongside him.

I clean constantly but the house is always cluttered and the decor is dismal. And the lawn. Oh, the shame of my life. How I hate that lawn and the fact that everyone else in the whole damn world seems to have the time and energy and money and know-how to make their lawn luscious, thick, and weed-free, with perfectly sculpted bushes and beautifully architectured flower beds.

I get along with people and have many wonderful relationships with co-workers and family and close friends but I still struggle with self-doubt, insecurity, and fear in developing new friendships.

I don't garden, I don't can. I don't write down stories that Soren dictates to me. I don't practice Spanish or memorize poetry. I don't hang cute crafts in my house and take flawless photographs of them to post on my blog. My home filing trays are piled more precariously than the Leaning Tower of Pisa with an unorganized assortment of preschool worksheets, possibly overdue bills, and unopened bank statements. My walls have three large patches of plaster that leer hideously at visitors from the walls. There is hard water build-up on my faucets. My kids whine. I need to replace the spark plugs in my car. My clothes are untrendy and old. My hair is flat and uncooperative. My heels are cracked. I haven't prayed consistently since '04. I don't serve enough.

There's so much I need to do-- and want to do-- and just not enough time or energy or money or willpower to do it with.

Yesterday Abe and I were in the craft store and I impulsively threw some Harvest decorations into the cart. "Honey," he said. "That's a little hard on the old budget, don't you think?"

"I just want to be like the other girls," I told him. Just like all those other girls who seem to have it all together, who craft and sew and have lovely well-groomed children who always obey and share without being prompted, those girls who wear perfectly coordinated outfits with their perfectly sculpted hairdos and perfectly applied makeup. The girls who get together to do Zumba while their children play, who know everyone in the community and feel perfectly at home whenever they go out. Who love the gospel and involve the Lord in their lives instead of being stubborn and doubtful and hard-hearted and moody.

I stood there in Michael's clutching my fall garland in one hand and my smelly pine cones in the other hand and suddenly felt very small, like a teenage girl begging her mom to buy her a $100 pair of Lucky jeans just so she could fit in. I saw this, but I still bought the garland. And the smelly cones.

Sometimes I imagine God as a warm-hearted, big-bosomed black lady with a Southern accent. Tonight as I write this I can almost feel her taking my hand and, in her warm molasses voice, saying, "I know, honey. I know you're trying so hard. And I think you're doing just fine. More than just fine. You're doing great. So don't you worry so much about what everyone thinks. You know and I know that you're doing what you can. That's all that matters."

And I would pass that along to all of you women out there who feel, from time to time, insufficient and less than. You are doing just fine. In fact, you're doing great. Don't worry about what everyone else thinks. You're doing what you can. God's love will make up the difference.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

My new(ish) Dress

Abe's sister Lara is an artist for all seasons. She draws. She sculpts. She carves. She knits. She sews. She crafts. She'll see something in a magazine and say, "I could make that." And she does. This is a woman sewed her own wedding dress. Without a pattern. And without a sewing machine. Did you hear me? She sewed her own wedding dress without even using a sewing machine, people! The woman is some sort of artistic sewing savant! So when Lara announced that she had decided to make me a dress for my birthday, I was ecstatic. She asked for my measurements and I emailed her some links to pictures of dresses I liked. And a few months later, this is what I got:

As you might know, my birthday is in March, which means that it took me and Abe a little while to get some pictures taken and a few more weeks for me to post them here. But here they are. Pretty amazing, eh?

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

A totally disorganized/unedited/unpolished/boring/overly detailed description of my day, which was good. Don't feel obligated to read.

Woken up this morning on the couch--Liam had taken my spot in the bed sometime around 4 AM-by Soren, who, after some snuggling, willingly acquiesced to my mumbled request that he go play in his room while Mommy slept a while longer. Woken up a while later by little Liam shouting happily, "Daddy!" when he spotted me on the couch. Don't know why, but he's taken to calling me Daddy lately. Was intermittently bounced on/drooled on/cuddled with until Soren emerged from his room, asking, "Is it real morning now? Can we have Big Boy Cereal for breakfast?" Mommy's morale was a bit low from the broken night's sleep but I managed to find my robe, pull out a pan, put The Weepie's "You Can't Go Back Now" on continuous repeat on my under-the-counter kitchen stereo, and start some water boiling. The Weepies increased morale by 80%. Breakfast and a bath with the baby brought all systems to full functioning.

While Soren was at preschool, Liam and I took a walk, watched music videos with Auntie Merritt (we love The Piano Guys.....they often feature fabulous players like Jarrod Radnich, Jon Schmidt, and Steven Sharp Nelson), read stories, and entertained Miss Lindsey, Liam's Occupational Therapist, who couldn't stop gushing about how much progress he's made over the past few months.

Picked up Soren from preschool--the front of his shirt was completely soaked. "He was sucking on the collar," his teacher explained. And, bless her heart, she gave him a good-bye hug anyway.

We had lunch, the boys played, and I cleaned and put dinner in the crockpot. The kids did watercolor paintings together until Liam spilled his water cup and soren sopped up the mess with the rest of the paper. Liam fell asleep eating a brownie in his high chair. I wiped his chubby little fingers and face and carried him to bed. He only protested when I moved to remove his shoes. He feels that it is important to wear his shoes all the time. Even during naps. Who am I to argue?

While Liam napped, Soren tied his trike to the stroller. His favorite thing in the world is to attach things to each other. His idea was to set up a train. Then he realized that I had a bike that could be attached to his trike, so he abandoned the stroller and we rode around the block, both pedaling, but attached by Auntie Hillary's blue jump rope. Mommy in front. We enjoyed the ride so much we went all the way to the city part in the sunshine, chatting pleasantly along the way about things of interest to a four-year-old: why are the telephone wires so high? couldn't they just be put high enough that babies couldn't reach them but big kids who knew not to touch them could? how big are the biggest animals? what kinds of animals lived a long time ago? why are there zoos? don't you like those pretty white rocks? aren't they kind of like crystals? did those people with the construction tools forget they were building a road? have you ever made a friend, mommy?

(which, btw, cutest moment ever at a park on another day....little girl crests hill, i tell soren he should go say hello and introduce himself. he charges forward, gets nervous, turns around, comes back. "I feel shy sometimes, you know," he ways. So w ehave a talk about being brave and how that means doing things even though you're scared. So he tries again, gets a little closer, then turns back. "Did you know that people are shy sometimes, Mommy?" he asks. "Why don't YOU come and say hello?" But I prompt and encourage and finally he gets up the guts....he walks in....swerves away....moves back in and finally says "hello." then he runs back to report: "Mommy! she's just a BABY! like Liam!" At which point Liam runs over and starts strutting his stuff for her, walking back and forth with that funky shoulder wiggle he does when he's feeling extra good. The little girl is named Elly and the three of them play for a while.)

but we played at the park for a while and the sun was so warm and the company was the best and i hadn't ridden bikes to the park with anyone in so many years.

then we came home. liam was running around in the back yard naked while Auntie Merritt supervised; she claimed he had been playing in the kiddie pool. Drank homemade orange julius. Soren took to the pool and Liam stayed inside to help me make Zucchini Bread.

Chatted with various neighbors and friends throughout the day.

The boys dressed up in their pirate costumes--popsicle stick swords, eye patch for soren, bandana for for liam--and ran around sword fighting until soren got all spazzy and violent and had to be hugged then put in his room for some calm time. we took dinner to Sister King from church, who just had heart surgery. visited briefly with her and her husband. darling, wonderful people. came home, took one bite of the dinner, and realized--much to my horror--that while i had remembered No Chocolate, No Whole Wheat, and No Raw Vegetables, I had entirely forgotten Low Sodium. The shame. So poor sister king probably ate cold cereal for dinner while her husband ate my salty salty chicken and dumplings. Sigh...

Soren took it upon himself to give Liam a tutorial about using the potty. He took him into the bathroom: "Liam, this is a toilet. Toi-let. This is where your peepee goes. See? Like this."

The neighbor kids came over to play for a few minutes, then it was time for bed. Read stories, brushed teeth, entirely forgot about song prayer. Tucked the kids in bed, sat in the front room and read maeve binchy while abe read steven erickson and listened while the kids played together in their room--talking and music intermingled with occasional bursts of yelling or crying for another hour.

Then, silence.


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