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

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.

Wrote.

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,

Mommy


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.

Mommy

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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