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

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Being Okay With Being a Little Broken

If you chance to meet a frown
Do not let it stay
Quickly turn it upside-down
And smile that frown away.

No one likes a frowny face.
Change it for a smile.
Make the world a better place by smiling all the while.
-The Children's Songbook

Miracles are healing because they supply a lack; they are performed by those who temporarily have more for those who temporarily have less.   
-A Course in Miracles

A couple of weeks ago, I had a series of bad days that culminated one Tuesday afternoon when I found myself completely unable to function like I needed to.  I was tired and overwhelmed, one of those days when my bed seems to have strengthened its gravitational pull by one thousand, combining with my brain to seduce me into the sweet escape of sleepy oblivion.  My sweet husband found me wrapped up in a sad cocoon in my bed and called my mama, who offered to watch the children for the afternoon.  I roused myself long enough to text my friend Hana and let her know that I wouldn't be over to visit that afternoon like we had planned, that my mom was taking the kiddos and I was going to spend some time alone.  And sweet Hana knew that I needed something.  She responded, "Are you okay?  Do you need someone to talk to?"  And I, who early in life deeply internalized the idea that "no one likes a frowny face," and very rarely let people in on my crap, decided that I would just let it all hang out.  So I texted back and said that I was not okay.  That I was exhausted and sad and angry and overwhelmed and that I would very much like to talk.

And so she came over.  And we talked.  I told her all my frustrations.  I cried.  And it felt fabulous.  Faaaabulous.  My burdens were lifted just in talking about them.  And do you know what? She was totally okay with my frowny face.  In fact, our friendship deepened as a result of that afternoon conversation. She called me the next day and I answered the phone without even being afraid.  This is big for me, who only answers the phone fearlessly for approximately four people.

And do you know what else?

On a whim, she ended up loaning me a book that I needed.  That I really, really needed.

Nobody wants to be friends with a person whose life is perfect.  I mean, it's true that not a lot of people are going to be want to spend large quantities of time with someone who is persistently negative, whiny, and critical, but that doesn't mean that you can't be real.  That you can't say, "Sometimes I hate my life."  Because  everybody hates their life sometimes.  And it's really, really nice to know you're not alone. That someone is there with you, and they see your flaws, and they still like you anyway.

Being okay with yourself means being okay with your broken bits, too.  I suspect that true happiness is  hinges on this idea.  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Why I Don't Play Computer Games

Like every hot-blooded American child, I played Nintendo games.  When we got our first PC in 1992, I spent my fair share of time playing Jones in the Fast Lane, Sleuth, Oregon Trail, and Commander Keen. But as I grew into adolescence, I lost interest.  And for years I hardly thought about computer games at all, except for an occasional late-night Tetris binge.    

And then I got married and my relationship with computer games quickly became antagonistic.  Those of you non-gamers who are married to gamers will know exactly what I'm talking about.  

Anyway, Abe decided recently that I needed to spend some time playing his latest computer game love, Skyrim, so I could see how fun it was.  I've always resisted his attempts to drag me into his games, contending that I have way better ways to spend my spare time, but he looked so cute and eager that I couldn't resist.     

Well.  It was not fun.  It was stressful.  Just navigating the guy around the screen required massive amounts of concentration.  There were arrow keys and letter keys that did stuff and then mouse movement and all those mouse buttons I didn't even know existed.  And the whole time I was worried about bad stuff happening.  What if someone tried to hurt me?  What if I fell off the cliff?  What if I got lost?  What if I did something bad and got in trouble?    

Finally, I got stuck in the basement of some creepy building in a village and begged Abe to let me quit.  The thought of having to expend problem-solving energy towards problems that didn't actually exist was exhausting to me.

And I guess that's the clincher.  I spend enough time in my real life solving problems.  I don't feel the need to invent more to solve.  

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Reading Journal: The Grapes of Wrath

Just read this for the first time, which is a little embarrassing for an English major.  Shhh.  Don't tell.  

And it is so good.  So good.  It rocked my world the way The Good Earth rocked my world.

I was telling my mom that it I thought it was beautiful and Abe remarked, "That isn't the word I would use for it!" So I amended with, "well, it's beautifully....earthy."

The Grapes of Wrath is full of insights into the human condition, written with flawless, descriptive, warming language, and peopled with sweet, honest, simple, and wise characters.  

My heart broke for the hopeless circumstances that so many good, hard-working people found themselves in during the Depression, circumstances that no amount of work and effort could mitigate. The book helped provide insight to me for the reasons behind legal regulations regarding workers' rights and minimum wage laws.  It was also a reminder of how easy it is to justify ourselves in allowing others to suffer.
Some of my favorite quotes....

The preacher said, "She looks tar'd."
"Women's always tar'd," said Tom.  "That's just the way women is."

"I figgered about the Holy Sperit and the Jesus road, I figgered, 'Why do we got to hang it on God or Jesus?  Maybe,' I figgered, 'maybe it's all men an' all women we love, maybe that's the Holy Sperit-- the human sperit-- the whole shebang.  Maybe all men got one big soul ever'body's a part of.'  Now I sat there thinkin' it, an' all of a suddent-- I know it.  I knew it so deep down that it was true, and I still know it."  - The Preacher.

"When you're young, ever'thing that happens is a thing all by itself.  It's a lonely thing.  You're gonna have a baby, Rosasharn, and that's somepin to you lonely and away.  That's gonna hurt you, an' the hurt'll be lonely hurt, an' this here tent is alone i the worl', Roshasharn.  They's a time of change, an when that comes, dyin' is a piece of all dyin', and bearing' is a piece of all bearin', and bearin' and dyin' is two pieces of the same thing.  An' then things ain't so lonely anymore.  An' then they don't hurt so bad."  -Ma

"If he needs a million acres to make him feel rich, seems to me he needs it 'cause he feels awful poor inside hisself, and if he's poor in hisself, there ain't no million acres gonna make him feel rich, an' maybe he's disappointed that nothin' he can do'll make him feel rich-- not rich like Mis' Wilson was when she give her tent when Grampa died.  I ain't tryin' to preach no sermon, but I never seen nobody that's busy as a prairie dog collectin' stuff that wasn't disappointed."  -The Preacher

"When I was a little girl I use' ta sing.  Folks roun' about use' ta say I sung as nice as Jenny Lind.  Folks use' ta come an 'listen when I sung.  An'-- when they stood-- an' me a singin', why, me an' them was together more'n you could ever know.  I was thankgful.  There ain't so many folks can feel so full up, so close, an' them folks standing there an' me a-singin'.  An'-- that's why I wanted you to pray.  I wanted to feel that clostness, oncet more.  It's the same thing, singin' an' prayin', jus' the same thing.  I wisht you could a-heerd me sing."  - Mrs. Wilson

"Sure I got sins.  Every'body got sins.  A sin is somepin you ain't sure about.  Them peopel that's sure about ever'thing an' ain't got no sin-- well, with that kind of aon-of-a-bitch, if I was God I'd kick their ass right outa heaven!  I couldn't stand 'em."  -The Preacher

"If you think it was a sin-- then it's a sin.  A fella builds his own sins right up from the groun'."  -The Preacher

Saturday, December 08, 2012


When I was in the fourth grade I entered a writing contest and lost.  I came home heartbroken.  My mom sat down with me, hugged me close, and told me that the world's greatest authors had drawers just bursting with rejection letters, that I was merely joining their ranks, that I shouldn't give up.    

Later that year we were asked to draw a picture of what we wanted to be when we were grown up.  I drew a picture of myself, sitting in an attic room at a computer, writing, smiling.  Next to me was a filing cabinet drawer labeled "rejection letters."  When I grew up, I was going to be an author.

But when you really, really, really want something, it's easy to become afraid.  You fear failure.  You fear that the thing you want the most is the thing you won't be able to have.  So you pretend you don't want it.  You say you're too busy.  You say it's not that great anyway.

I have been afraid of writing fiction for many years.  Several years in a row I tried participating in National Novel Writing Month, only to give up within a week.  Sitting down to write was the most uncomfortable thing in the world for me.  My heart would grow tight.  My mind would shut down.  I had nothing.  There was nothing for me to write.  I couldn't write.

And then, just a few months ago, my friend Lara published her own novel.  I read it and was so impressed.  And at the same time, emboldened.  Gosh darn it, I thought.  If Lara, who is like me in so many ways, can write a novel, so can I.   I did some research about how to write a novel and had a massive breakthrough when I discovered an outlining technique that utilizes a spreadsheet.  I love spreadsheets, and knew it was for me.  I spent several weeks outlining a novel in detail.  And then I closed my eyes and plunged in.

I am now writing a novel.  Slowly.  But I'm doing it.  Several days a week I sit down and work on it.   I set a timer for twenty minutes (just like I do when I'm cleaning the house) so I don't get overwhelmed by the prospect of writing interminably.  I read an inspirational quote or two.  I remind myself that it is okay to suck, to write ridiculous and low-quality fiction, but that it is not okay to hide from your dreams.

And then I write.

So far I have 14 single-spaced pages.   I think I might just do it this time.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Administrative Changes

In light of recent excessive whining and tantrums, I (the mother of this household) am instituting the following rules, effective tomorrow, November 23, 2012:

1. If you can do it yourself, do it yourself.

2. When Mommy comes home, she and Daddy get to spend a few minutes relaxing and spending time together.  Kids stay in another room. Do not disturb Mommy and Daddy unless the house is on fire or someone is bleeding or choking or otherwise in imminent danger.   

3. Kids have to do the following each day: brush hair and teeth, pick up room, complete homework, complete one chore.  There will be no having of fun until these items have been completed.

4. TV/Computer time is limited to 1 hour per day.  

5. Mommy is not the entertainment committee.  Kids figure out how to entertain themselves.  If Mommy is doing something-- even if that something is holding very still or reading a book--she doesn’t need to be disturbed.  

6. Whining, badgering, and tantrums are not tolerated.  They will be counted mercilessly.  They can be carried out in the privacy of one’s bedroom.  

7. The cleaning up of all messes, including messy underpants, is the responsibility of the mess' maker.

**Mommy and Daddy’s responsibilities: keep kids safe, teach independence, ensure good hygiene, provide healthy, regular meals, enforce 8 PM bedtime, read to, talk with, cuddle, and love kids.  

**Mommy and Daddy’s responsibilities do not include: providing constant entertainment, being a playmate,  performing slave labor, etc.  

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book Journal

I love Roald Dahl.  I mean, what's not to like about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (except for horrifying film adaptations)?  Or The BFG?  Or Matilda?  Or The Witches?  His stories are a little dark, a lot hilarious, and all kinds of charming.   And if you've ever wondered where it all came from, you've got to read Boy, a collection of memories from Dahl's own childhood, which reads almost exactly like his books for children.  I chortled for days afterwards.  Good stuff.  

And one can't read Boy without wanting to know what happened when Roald took a job with Shell Oil Company in East Africa and then joined the Royal Air Force.  This man had no shortage of life adventures.  While not as amusing as Boy (a lot of it was, after all, about war), Going Solo is an interesting and perspective-broadening memoir.    

Monday, November 05, 2012

In Which I Tell You How to Vote

Don't worry.  No presidential candidates will be mentioned.  People support presidential candidates with a religious fervor and I harbor no illusions that I might be able to sway anyone's opinion about who to vote for.

But.  I do want to talk about two Idaho voting issues that are near and dear to my heart.

First: for you Shelley/Firth people:  the library bond.  Vote YES!  I have heard a few people say that they think that libraries are outdated and that we shouldn't put any more money into our public library than we already have.  This could not be further from the truth.  Circulation at the North Bingham County Library has been increasing steadily over the past decade and doesn't show signs of stopping.  The NBCL serves our community extremely well, catering to the needs and interests of the people in the region.  They provide many excellent literacy, educational, and community programs for all age groups.  Adding additional space-- at an average tax-payer increase of about $20/year-- will enable them to increase the number of available materials and provide even more services, including tutoring, classes, and learning manipulative for children (not gonna lie, not exactly sure what a "learning manipulative " is-- a fancy word for toy, mayhap?--but it sounds awesome and I think we need them.)  If you care about literacy and life-long learning, THIS is the place to invest.  Click here to learn more.

Now, Props 1, 2, and 3.  Vote NO!  IGNORE the idiotic propaganda about how ULTRA-LIBERAL NATIONAL TEACHER'S UNIONS WANT TO RUIN YOUR CHILD'S LIFE.  That's a bunch of crap.  Props 1, 2, and 3 are simply stripping teachers of their voice, increasing class sizes, decreasing overall teacher salaries, taking away teacher incentives to work with children with special needs or lower socioeconomic backgrounds, creating an even greater focus on "teaching to the test," and taking money out of educators' pockets to fund unnecessary extras like laptops for every high school student.  I don't know any educators who support these propositions, and you shouldn't either.  It is TEACHERS, not buildings or technology or standardized tests, that provide education.  We need to put money into supporting teachers and make sure their rights and voices are honored and upheld.  A vote NO for Props 1, 2, and 3 is a vote YES for teachers-- and a vote YES for teachers is the BEST vote we can give to our children.

Read arguments both for and against Props 1, 2, and 3 by linking from this page.  Then realize that I'm right and vote NO on Props 1, 2, and 3.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

Love Journal: Protect and Border and Salute

In his book, Let Your Life Speak, Parker Palmer describes one of his bouts of serious clinical depression.  He was frozen, paralyzed by sadness, completely unable to feel joy or sense beauty.  Many well-meaning friends would visit and try to help, but he was completely unable to connect with them.

He writes,

blessedly, there were several people, family and friends, who had the courage to stand with me in a simple and healing way.  One of them was a man who, having asked my permission to do so, stopped by late every afternoon, sat me down in a chair, knelt in front of me, removed my shoes and socks, and for half an hour simply massaged my feet.  He found the only place in my body where I could still experience bodily feeling—and feel connected with the human race.

He rarely spoke a word,  and when he did, he never gave advice but simply mirrored my condition.  He would say, “I can sense your struggle today,” or, “It feels like you are getting stronger.”  I could not always respond, but his words were deeply helpful: They reassured me that I could still be seen by at least one person, life-giving knowledge in the midst of an experience that makes one feel annihilated and invisible.  It is almost impossible to put into words what my friend's ministry meant to me.  Perhaps it is enough to say that I now understand the Biblical stories of Jesus and his foot washings at new depth.

The poet Rilke says, “Love . . .consists in this, that two solitudes protect and border and salute each other.”   That is the kind of love my friend offered.  He never tried to invade my awful inwardness with false comfort or advice, but simply stood on its boundaries, modeling the respect for me and my journey— and the courage to let it be— that I myself needed if I were to endure.

Early in my college career, I went through a nasty romantic breakup that seemed to me to be the very end of the world.  I look back now and I'm like, "Um, okay?  And your problem was?"  but at the time I thought that I would never know happiness again, ever.  For months I was a complete wreck.  There were shouted phone calls.  There was dramatic crying.  There was loud music.  There was sprawling poetry on butcher paper and acrylic paintings of nude women.  It wasn't a pretty picture.  

My beautiful best friend, Holly, responded to all this perfectly.  She rode around with me in my car in the dark while I shouted along with Alanis Morissette's "You Outta Know" at damaging decibal levels.  She appreciated my frightening art.  She patted my back when I sobbed until I hyperventilated.  She kept a hand on my knee the time that I bawled during the three hour drive from Pocatello to Provo.  She climbed into bed with me at night when I woke up crying.  One night she drew me a hot bath.

Had our roles been reversed, I surely would have gotten sick of all the drama.  I would have become impatient and rolled my eyes and said, "He was not that fabulous.  Seriously.  Get over it.  You deserve so much better."  But Holly was just quietly, patiently present with me in my suffering.  Her quiet vigil was the thing I needed most and I will always be grateful that she was there to protect, border, and salute me during that time.

Sometimes when things are hard, you don't need someone to give you advice.  You don't need someone to say anything at all.  Sometimes you just need someone to sit with you while you struggle through the darkness.  It's so tempting, when others are sad or hurt or angry, to try to offer comfort or well-meaning advice.  But sometimes all they need to know is that you see them, that you love them, and that they're not alone.

Thanks, Holls.

Halloween 2012

The weekend before Halloween, my little niece Sylvie came to visit.  Isn't she gorgeous?

We also went to the U Pick Red Barn Pumpkin Patch and did some pumpkin carving.  

Soren's Jack-o-Lantern.  His was the only one that ever got carved.  (And painted.  And glued.)  

Liam painted his.  

The bat that Soren made for our entryway.

More kid-made decorations on display.  

Now for the awesome part.....

Briar and our co-worker Alex both dressed up as Angry Birds.

 Look at that amazing make-up job.  Yeah, I did that.

Jasmin and I dressed up as Sociopaths.  Scary, eh?

Aren't my little ghost and jaguar just adorable?

My childrens' mother was too lazy to make fancy Halloween food, so for dinner we had "monster faces."  

I gave up and put on a real costume for trick-or-treating, at Soren's behest.  

We trick-or-treated around the block and capped off the evening at Grandma and Grandpa's house with a spooky episode of Spongebob Squarepants.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Another Happy Day

Had a happy day.

Got to go on a "Giggle Walk" with my favoritestest sister in the whole world.

Was informed by Soren that he had a good life-- good family, good friends.  He even said that he loved his brother Liam "so much."  (!!!)

Went to the library with Liam, who had a funny conversation with another little kid his age.  It went like this:

Kid: "Who are you?"
Liam: "Yeeyum."
Kid: "Yeeyum?"
Liam: "No, Yeeyum."
Kid: "Then who are you?"
Liam: "Yeeyum!"

Took a nap.

Read, read, read, read, read to the kids.  Learned about the Galapagos islands.

Baked bread.

Visited some friends.

Cooked dinner while listening to little kid music.  

Watched the children dance dramatically to Beethoven's 5th.  (Liam put on a particularly charming performance.)

Folded laundry.


Life is sometimes hard, so I am sure thankful for days like these.  I, like Soren, am grateful for family and friends.  I am particularly grateful for the gift of motherhood.   I love those precious little boys so much it makes my heart squeeze.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Running Meditation

The rhythm of feet against pavement, the in and out of breath.

I smell (in town)  fabric softener. Wet asphalt. Newly cut grass.  Motor oil.

In the country: woodsmoke, warm manure, freshly cut grain,  dark green potato plants.

The cooling, loamy air fills my lungs, pumps through my veins, curls around my bones, takes root.
Leaves and tendrils grow, wrap around, open up.

I hear a harvester humming mechanically through a field, the whir of a water pump, the steady ch-ch-ch-ch of sprinklers, the long trill of crickets, the voices of people-- a child's shout, a family playing under a giant cottonwood tree, a husband and wife chatting as they bicycle past, a woman explaining a recipe to her daughter, who is climbing into a white van.

The evening sky reflects on a pool of still, silent water: the palest pink brushed across deepening blue.

Behind a log fence, the silhouettes of horses bow their heads to graze on blackened grass.  

The wind rumbles in my ears, flows over my face like silk. I hear the crescendo of an approaching car, like surf.  It roars then rumbles and fades.  I run through pockets of cool and warm air.

I hear a dog bark, far away.  I hear a dog bark, very close.

A red light blinks against the foothills in the distance.

Back in town, lights shine through windows.  A cat peers out from behind silken curtains.  A woman with straight brown hair sits at the piano, her hands dancing out breathtaking chords.  The harmonies cross the street like air, wrapping, lifting, tugging, opening.

And behind it all, there it is:  the rhythm of feet against pavement, the in and out of breath.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Reading Journal

I've been putting this off and putting it off, trying to wait until I'm ready to write professional-grade book reviews.  But tonight I'm all, "Ah, what?  I switched this to a reading journal!  I'll say what I want!  Professional grade, my foot!"  So you get what you get, ya'll, and no throwing a fit.

Touching Spirit Bear, 
by Ben Mikaelsen

Touching Spirit Bear is a YA novel about an angry rich kid named Cole who winds up in a lot of trouble over some pesky assault and battery charges.  Spared from jail by a Native American program called Circle Justice, he finds himself banished to a cold northern island for a year.  It is there that he learns some hard truths...and discovers the strength within himself to become more than he has been.   

I liked the story, especially all the Native American stuff, though I kind of thought Cole's transformation was unrealistically fast. 

The Demon Child Trilogy, by Jennifer Fallon

My brother-in-law Nate, whose family stayed with us for a few weeks, saw one of these books lying around the house and asked, "Who's reading the romance fantasy books?" 

And I will admit, the covers are bad.  Real, real bad.  But don't judge them by their covers.  I swear they are not fantasy romance novels.  I swear it.  On the contrary, what I like most about Jennifer Fallon's writing is the depth of her world.  She's got centuries of history for a variety of countries.  There are complex cultures.  Roiling politics.  Engaging characters..  Plus, she's amazingly gifted at showing the story from multiple perspectives.  Plus, she's awesome at weaving a gripping plot.  Plus, I like her.  

So read these.  Unless you're offended by some moderate literary sex and violence.  No swears, though!  Phew.

Breaking Night, by Liz Murray
I read this at the separately rendered recommendation of my friend Pam and my mother-in-law Brenda.  

So glad I listened.   

Breaking Night is the true story of a girl who is raised in the Bronx by drug-addicted parents.  It's about how she goes without food while her parents spend money on crack.  It's about how she loves them anyway.  It's about a homeless teen wandering the streets while her father lived in a men's shelter and her mother lay dying of AIDS.  It's about how she decided to go back to school after 11 years of playing hooky.  It's about how she earned straight As and a New York Times scholarship and admission into Harvard while sleeping in stairwells.  

I find myself thinking about this book all the time.  Partially because it makes me feel like a rock-star mom.  Partially because it's an awesomely inspiring story about how We Can Do Hard Things.  Mostly, though, I think about this book because it's a lot about love-- about how love can prevail in even the most infertile conditions.  Here were these two parents, broken and chained by addiction.  Here were these little girls-- hungry, dirty, neglected.  And there, stretched between them all, were golden threads of love that endured through it all.  Miraculous.   

Saturday, October 06, 2012

Liam Update: October 2012

Sweet William,

You were in the bathtub one morning when I heard singing. "Wah nah noo, wah wah noo, myyy muh muh nah sweeper," you sang.  This is your version of "La La Lu," a song you refer to as "Oohs."  Peeking in to see what you were up to, I saw you cradling a miniature teddy bear in a washcloth.  You tucked him into the measuring cup we keep in the bathtub.  "Shhhh," you said, looking up at me and smiling with sparkling eyes.  "Sweeping!"

Not all of your play is quite so gentle, though.  Most of your play centers around two things fighting with each other: toy cars, blocks, even your gummy vitamins.  When one fighter triumphs, the other one will fall to the floor. "He dead!" you'll announce cheerfully.

Here are a few other things I want to remember about what you were like at three and a half:

You can be a drama queen at times, crying loud and long when Soren looks at you wrong, or snaps at you, or touches you when you're not in the mood.  On the other hand, you can be good at peacemaking, saying "Ah sorry," when things are getting tense with Soren, even when you don't have anything to be sorry about.  This can calm your brother down a bit, and sometimes he'll say " I'm sorry" too, and you'll hug each other and move on.

"Hazicious!" (means "delicious").

Grandma and Grandpa are known to you, interchangeably, as "Beepah."

One of the most adorable things you do is pout.  If you're ever in the least bit disappointed about anything, you'll get a really sad look on your face, hang your head, and walk slowly and sadly to your bedroom.  You can almost hear the sad violin music playing.

Speaking of music, you're a big fan.  You love to raid my bedroom and find CDs, which you'll put into the computer and play all by yourself, singing along even if you don't know the words.

We were playing near the Idaho Falls High School football stadium one afternoon with Grandpa Hanson, and he was seriously impressed with the dance moves you were rocking to the pop music being played in the stands.

Sometimes when you're annoyed with something you'll let out a great big sigh, followed by a tongue click.   Totally something you picked up from your mama.  It makes me laugh.

Another thing that makes me laugh is when you reluctantly agree to something.  It's another big sigh and then an "Ooooooooooohhhhhhhkaaaaaaayyyyyy."

And when you leave a room, you always make sure to say, "I'll BEEE back."

When you want someone to come with you, you'll take their hand and say "us way."

When Soren gets hurt, you always ask with loud concern, "ARE YOU OKAY?  ARE YOU OKAY?  ARE YOU OKAY?"

You are very polite and almost always remember to say "please" and "thank you."  You also say "bless you" when people sneeze.

Sometimes out of the blue, without anyone saying "I love you," you'll bust out with "I love yoooo too."

Liam, you are a joy and a delight.  You are pure sweetness and sunshine and I'm so happy you're my littlest little boy.

Loves and Kisses and Hugs and Squeezes,


All dressed up for Soren's first day of school.

Playing at Auntie Clee's house.

Remember, kids, it's important to always wear safety glasses while playing with a sling shot.

Wet and wild with your cousin Tessa.

Who says boxers can't be stylish?

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Soren Update: October 2012

Dear Soren,

It's been a while since I've done this in letter format.  In fact, I'd kind of forgotten about the letter format until you started asking me to tell you stories about when you were a baby.  Not gonna lie, my memories of the past several years have been obscured by thick clouds of exhaustion, so I've had to rely on my blog to help me remember some of your antics and quirks from years gone by.  Reviewing the old posts reminded me of the letter format-- and I think you're about due for a letter.

Last week you requested that we have spaghetti and meatballs for dinner.  You helped me look up recipes on the internet and you found a demo video for how to make "The World's Fastest Meatballs."  You were very excited about this recipe and throughout the cooking process you kept asking, "Mom?  Are these really the fastest meatballs in the world?"  Then, when dinner was ready, you asked if you could take a meatball outside and roll it.  Bemused, I told you that meatballs only rolled in the song-- that we didn't roll meatballs in real life.  "But Mom!" you said.  "I want to see how fast they are!"    

This August you started kindergarten.  It's been fabulous.  You've loved it.  You like your teacher and you like the kids in your class.  You'll fall into the door after walking home from the bus stop and immediately start telling me about all the friends you "made up" at school that day.  There's a silly boy who sits by you at school sometimes.  There's a girl you meet at recess for games of chase.  There's Savannah and Adrian and Tyler and Jonah.  There's one kid you don't like because he's kind of rude.  There's a sad boy who stands alone at recess.  You tell me that you often invite him to play, and while he refuses, it warms my mama's heart to know that you care enough to try to help him feel included.

You've been so excited about everything you've been learning in kindergarten.  You've learned about dinosaurs and germs and blindness and hexagons.  You've reviewed your numbers and letters.  You told me recently that now that you were in kindergarten you knew how to do pretty much everything.  You've gained so much confidence from your time spent in school.  I was anxious that the opposite would happen; I am overjoyed that you have blossomed instead.  

You're so smart now you can even write your name in Bingo balls. 
This year you ran in the 18th annual Tater Tot Trot.  As a five year old, you had to run an entire lap around the high school track.   You were too worried about missing your race to switch into the sweatpants I brought for you to wear, so I rolled up your khaki cargo pants and you dashed off, skinny legs flailing in all directions.  The pants kept sliding down so you had to hike them up as you made your way all around the track.  You were the second to last to finish the race but I was so proud.  My little boy, running a whole quarter mile all by himself.  So handsome.  So sweet.  

One day I came home from work and noticed that Liam's fingernails were painted blue.  You told me that you had painted them for him.  And his toenails.  "I wanted Liam to be really handsome," you explained.  You then told me that you had also sprayed him with some nice smelling spray and cut his hair.  "I couldn't find the kid scissors but that's okay because I'm a big kid and I can use the big scissors," you added.  Alarmed, I checked Liam's head.  Sure enough, there was a patch of hair missing.  "Abe?" I asked your father, "Did you realize that Soren cut Liam's hair today?"  He looked up from his book.  "Oh yeah?" he asked.  "I didn't realize that. Huh!"

Last time I did an update on you I reported that you woke up one day and asked, "Why is everything so dumb?"  Well, this go-around you asked the opposite question: "Why is everything so cool?"

Sometimes you are afraid at night.  Often I will help you say a prayer that you will be comforted and know that you are safe.  One night as I was tucking you in you asked, "Mommy, why does Jesus have to be a boy?"  I answered, "Well, um, hon, that's just how he is.  For the same reason that you're a boy.  You're just a boy.  And Jesus was just a boy."  I thought for a minute and then asked, "Why do you ask, honey?  Do you want Jesus to be a girl?"  To which you fervently, and with tears in your eyes, replied, "It's just that I like mommies best!"  There is something special about Mommies, isn't there?  Sometimes I wish Jesus were a girl too.

You are reluctant to pray at family prayer time.  In fact, one evening when we asked you to pray, you answered, "I fink that Heavenly Father died."   However, at other times you are quite willing to tap into the power of prayer.  For example, there was one day that you ran downstairs to tell Daddy about the army of ants that had wound its way into our kitchen.  Daddy sighed, thanked you for telling him,  and went back to what he was doing, planning to take care of it in a little while.  But that wasn't what you had in mind, so you sat down on the stairs, out of Daddy's view, and prayed.  "Dear Heavenwy Father, Thank you for this day.  Please bless that the ants will go away."  Daddy heard you and thought, "Oh, poor little guy.  He's scared!"  So he got up and took care of the situation.  Later you told him, "Daddy, I asked Heavenly Father to get rid of the ants and he didn't-- but you did, so I think maybe that's how Heavenly Father answered my prayers."

There was another occasion when you forgot to get off at your bus stop and ended up being dropped off at a different place.  You came home to an empty house and were terrified.  You cried, you prayed, and pretty soon your Auntie Clee came and found you.

There was also another incident that involved constipation, screaming, and some loud and desperate pleas directed heavenward.  I won't delve too deeply into that one here.

Sometimes you get bloody noses and drive me crazy with your inability to calm down, hold still, and press a wad of Kleenex against your nose.  Instead you flop around in a panic, wiping your nose on anything you can grab-- the shower curtain, the toilet paper roll, a bath towel, my shirt.  Holding anything against your nose is totally out of the question.  I usually just have to put you in the bathtub until the bleeding stops.

As of late, you've been fascinated by electricity.  Your favorite activity-- and your father's least favorite of your activities-- involves getting out all the power strips and extension cords you can find in our house and stringing them together.  You love to do "magic tricks" that involve turning on the family room lamp without flipping the main light switch.  You've also really, really wanted to make your own little oven.  I helped you craft a solar oven using a cardboard box and aluminum foil, but it didn't work very well, which only served to reinforce your belief that a homemade oven had to be heated by flame.  (I've been trying to redirect your creative energies....)

And if it's not electricity, it's something else.  You've often got some sort of "experiment" or "invention" going on. One one day you informed your Auntie Clee that your table at home "is, wike, the messiest table in the world, 'cuz it has, wike, paint and cattail stuff on it."  You added, wistfully,  "I wish I could take my table for show 'n' tell."

You've also been obsessed with this a computer game called Seiklus.  Briar downloaded for you a few weeks ago.  You play it a lot-- and when you're not playing it, you're babbling on and on about it.  I've been able to persuade you to do a whole heck of a lot of work around the house in the name of getting to play Seiklus for an hour or so.  I've also had to listen to a lot of nonstop chattering about interest in all about secret rooms and giant fish and your girlfriend in the sky.  We all have.  Today Briar tried to escape your endless prattling by retreating into the bathroom.  That didn't stop you at all.  You just talked through the crack under the door.

Sure think you're sweet.  Love you so.


This is your very first day of Kindergarten!  You picked out a backpack with a camelback.  Look at your brother.  He thinks you're so great.

I made soup and bread bowls for dinner one evening.  You decided the bread bowl needed a little more personality.  

Chocolate milk mustache.  

Watching while your cousin Tessa focuses on a computer game.


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