Peaceful Plane Rides

Middle Child likes to talk. A lot. Incessantly. Nonstop. Constantly. We took a quick plane ride to Denver this weekend to visit Sister Quilter and her son who is Middle Child's age. I told Middle Child to bring a book. And apparently he did. But he didn't want to read it the whole time. I don't mind flying because it's a chance for me to finish the book I started the last time I flew. So I was looking forward to sitting at the airport and reading, getting on the plane and reading and then landing and reading til we could get off. But I forgot one important thing.

Middle Child likes to talk. A lot.

We got to the airport and had some lunch. He informed me that he didn't eat lunch at school since they ate so early. They had a half day and therefore lunch was served around 11am. Not really that much earlier, but whatever, I've quit trying to understand his logic. When we headed to the airport I didn't tell Olaf to feed us so he did his job and took us straight there. He's a good man.

We ordered some Pizza Hut pizza and as my back was turned Middle Child committed the Cardinal Sin of air transportation. He saved us a seat by leaving his suitcase at the table while he filled his soda. I looked around and thankfully there were no TSA agents in the area. After we sat down I fervently whispered, "You can't ever leave your suitcase alone, not even for a second!" I don't think he understands the whole Cardinal Sin concept. He tried to do it again when he refilled his soda cup. (A bonus to not traveling solo is not taking the suitcase into the stall with you. They designed airport bathroom stalls before the whole "Unattended suitcases will be treated as a terrorist threat.")

We went to our gate with an hour till the plane left. I was looking forward to some hardcore reading time. But Middle Child had other intentions. He's only been in an airport one other time, and that was four years ago. He kept asking questions. He kept a running commentary on how well he liked the paint job on each airplane. He tried to answer some questions to folks talking to the Flight Attendant whose desk we were sitting near. They completely ignored him as I shushed him. He replied, "I'm just trying to help." Which he was. I kept asking him, "Don't you want to read your book?" "I will in a little bit," he kept replying. So much for peaceful reading time.

We finally got on the plane. I thought for sure he would read now. But no such luck. As we were waiting on the entrance ramp they decided the plane's overhead containers were full. So we had to check our luggage after all, but at least they didn't charge us. But Middle Child's book was in his suitcase and he forgot to get it out and I forgot to remind him to get it out. So he continued to talk all the way off the ground. I just did my best to ignore him while I read my book. I'm getting near the end so it was easier to ignore him than if I was at the beginning.

He finally fell asleep! I got to read for about half the ride in peace and quiet! I even got him a 7Up. When he woke he didn't really want that to drink. He drinks Root Beer and plenty of other illegal (in our household) drinks, but not 7Up. So I had to suck it up and drink it. Back when I was 12 I got sick after my Aunt's wedding rehearsal dinner and haven't drank the stuff since because that's all I could taste coming back up. Until yesterday. It wasn't really that bad. But I won't be ordering another one anytime soon.

We had a few bumps up there in the air. I hate bumps. I feel like that's the end, even though we would have to fall 30,000 feet for it really to be the end. But it always makes me nervous. I have to concentrate very hard on reading my book and ignoring the bumps. Middle Child didn't mind them at all. "This is bumpy?" as the crew was even holding on, "This isn't that bumpy." I'm sure he was comparing it to a roller coaster ride which is completely different and safer. It's on solid ground.

When we got in to Denver we got off and found the family and headed out. Finally he had someone else to talk to! He's been playing with his cousin and they've been having a great time. But it will start all over again Sunday when we head home. Hopefully I'll be recuperated by then.


Time for Summer

Another summer is upon us. Glorious warm and sunny weather. Time to get out of school. Time to let the kids stay up late and sleep in. Time to run your fingers through the soil as you pull noxious weeds. Time for shorts and t-shirts. Time for parades. Time for walks. Time to watch roly polies crawl around in the dirt. Time for dining al fresco. Time for visits to amusement parks. Time to sit outside because you can without freezing. Time for swimming in the pool. Time for barbecues. Time for bike rides. Time for swinging. Time for local carnivals. Time for night games with the neighbors. Time for camping. Time for watermelon. Time for sleeping with the windows open. Time for vacations. Time for lawn mowing. Time for fireworks. Time for visiting as everyone wakes from winter hibernation. Time for the rodeo. Time for strawberries and angel food cake with real whipping cream. Time for hikes. Time for weenie roasts. Time for not wearing coats or even jackets. Time for car rides. Time for visitors. Time for picnics. Time for sleeping with just a sheet. Time for running through the sprinklers. Time for driving with the windows down. Time for boating (if that's your thing). Time for fishing. Time for fresh corn on the cob. Time for the sun to shine and me to relax!


Memorial Day

I thought Memorial Day was a vacationing holiday until I moved to Utah. Having never lived around family much less buried family members I had rarely visited a graveyard during my childhood. When I did it was usually treated as a beautiful park to walk through, as were golf courses. And the reason I thought it was a vacationing holiday was because my Dad was so adamant about NOT going anywhere on Memorial Day. Memorial Day and Labor Day were, according to him, the most traveled holidays of the year which in his opinion equaled most car accident holidays of the whole year. Cars on the road always equaled a car accident waiting to happen. We didn't travel on busy holidays on account of the possibility of a car accident.

When I moved to Utah and was around for my first Memorial Day I was shocked at the number of people at the cemeteries. By this time I knew it was a time to remember people who had passed on but I thought it was for people who had served in the military. When we drove by a cemetery on Memorial Day and I saw the roads inside and out choked with cars and people everywhere I was surprised. But I learned that Memorial Day is for remembering anyone who has passed on and left us all behind.

This was our first Memorial Day. We are lucky to live in a small town where they spend the extra money on lawn care in order to allow people to do almost anything they want in the cemetery for their loved ones. This weekend we went and bought some things to decorate Calvin's grave; flower basket, bird feeder, and wind chime. On Sunday Baby wrote Calvin a sweet note to put on his grave.
Sunday evening we went down to the cemetery to set things up. Baby taped his note to Calvin's plaque. We should be getting a headstone in the next month or two.
Then Olaf pounded the shepherds hook into the hard ground while Middle Child held it in place. We put it between Olaf's Dad's and Calvin's spots. We figured they can share it.
Then we hung the things we bought and Olaf wrapped them with lots of wire in hopes of not losing things to the wind or teenagers.

Olaf's Mom brought down a gorgeous arrangement of Red, White, and Blue flowers earlier this week. And I don't know where the orange flowers came from. My Easter decorations are still up, lilies and Easter eggs since he couldn't join in the hunt this year.
We went back down Monday evening. Olaf had put up some flags. And throughout the day several of Calvin's friends dropped things off. My neighbor told me that while at the store her son (Baby's age) was specifically looking for flowers for Calvin's grave. He kept looking for a bunch of flowers with a ribbon that said "Friend". He misses Calvin too.
As Olaf was driving away after putting the flags away (there is a US flag, Troop flag, and another homemade troop flag (I made that one) he saw a cute girl hop out of a car and put a rose down by Calvin. Several of our neighbors told us they saw cute girls bringing things to Calvin's grave throughout the day.
The charm in the flower says "I Love You." So sweet of all his friends.
Another good friend of Calvin's brought down some flowers with a nice note. It says "Friends Forever." I hope so.
It amazes me that the kids still remember him and talk about him. I never had someone close to me die when I was younger and I didn't know what to expect of his friends. I'm glad they still remember him. I know some of his friends have made a few changes in their lives because they have seen how fragile life is, not something many teenagers experience. I know he was a teenager and far from perfect, but he was still such a good kid and so likeable. I decided I'd come down before they clean everything up and plant the flowers that his friends had left. Since we can't plant them there I'll bring them home and plant them where I can see them and be reminded of Calvin and his great friends. I'm thankful for the awesome friends he made in 7th and 8th grade. Knowing he had a bunch of good friends makes me feel better.


A Trip Down Memory Lane

Yesterday was full of fun memories. I love days like this when I get to reminiscence about the past. When life was full of promise and there were no dark shadows to tint the dreams of the glorious future that lay before us. Days before any darkness and you know there is going to be dark times ahead but you revel in the joy of the day and know you can conquer anything to come.

First we went to a wedding reception. We got there near the end and they were already cleaning up. But, fortunately, everyone except the Bride and Groom were still there. The Groom's family have been friends with my family since before I was born. A long time! The wife, Linda, told the story of first meeting my Dad. Linda and Tony were at the office and it must have been a holiday because no one else was in the office. In came my Dad to stop by before he started working. They said hello and made small talk. Then my Dad asked Tony where he had gone to school. "BYU," he replied. "Oh, are you one of those Mormons?" "Yeah." "I took the discussions back in High School, but they didn't get me!" my Dad laughingly replied. (Who's getting the last laugh now?) And that was the beginning of a beautiful relationship. Linda told me how they started bringing them to church activities, then actual church, and before they knew it my parents were talking to the missionaries and learning about the church in all earnestness. And then they were baptized when I was a baby. I am so thankful for that decision they made a long ago. My life would have been so different otherwise. I never would have met Olaf and had the beautiful three children we enjoy. But on the other hand, I wouldn't be living in Utah either. Pros and Cons, everywhere we go.

I enjoyed seeing their oldest son, Todd, whom I had been friends with since birth. He has a great wife and the two most adorable girls. They've moved away to the Happiest Place on Earth. They can set the clocks to the Fireworks out their backyard in Orlando. Can you guess which Happiest Place on Earth? I saw one of their other girls, Kami. I remember she had just finished nursing school when I was dating Olaf. She still lives in the area. She was good friends with Sister Homemaker and when I told her Sister Homemaker lives in Boise she got excited. She's going up there in a few weeks and I promised to give her Sister Homemaker's info so she can call her and catch up. It is so much fun catching up with old friends whom you haven't seen in 14 years!

After the reception we surprised the kids and went out to dinner at one of our favorite places in Salt Lake City, The Pie Pizzeria. I was thinking of a few slogans for the restaurant as I was eating my pie.

The Pie Pizzeria, More Cheese than You can Shake a Stick At
The Pie Pizzeria, Come Hungry, Eat, Take a Nap
The Pie Pizzeria, Leave with Less Artery Clearance
The Pie Pizzeria, A Years Supply of Cheese

Now you know why I went into Accounting and not Advertising. I don't think they'd go for any of them, but I was pretty impressed with my skills. Olaf's parents went on their first date to this very same basement, collegish restaurant a long time ago. Our boys love that fact. They can't forget it. They love historical facts that relate to them. They got Olaf's sentimentality.

The brick walls at The Pie are covered in all kinds of writing. It's not Bathroom Wall writing, thank goodness. Most of it's G-rated with a few PG comments interspersed here and there. My kids get a kick out of reading a portion of the wall every time we come. Yesterday they noticed a few people had even written on the ceiling. Must be their basketball team. In the entryway the walls had new brick walls nailed up with only a few bricks defaced. My kids decided they were bringing pens next time so they could add their names to the walls of infamy.
Once we took Middle Child's friend with us and when our pie arrived he exclaimed, "There's too much cheese!" He is so not one of our children! On that same trip I noticed the Pie cutter looked a little strange. When I asked Olaf about it he quietly told me he was high. I laughed. "I guess they don't do drug testing here unless it's to make sure you're on drugs!"
Calvin loved The Pie Pizzeria. He described the pizza to the boys in Scouts and had them all drooling for some of that cheesy pizza. Olaf has promised the boys if they pass something off he will take them to get some of that awesome pizza.

On the way home, it was late, Baby promptly fell asleep and I slept most of the way. Nothing like a full stomach to lull you to sleep after dark. That's better than any sleeping pill they've made yet.


The Finished Cabinet

Last month I told you about staining a display case we had made for the Junior High in Calvin's memory. Finally, here are some pics of us working on it.
Here we are sanding. Thank goodness for electricity and sanders!

The boys enjoyed getting all kinds of dirty and stained.

They really got into their work!

Yesterday we helped put up the cabinet. It turned out very nice looking and matches another display case they already have.

Here is Todd the Cabinet-Maker taking things down on the wall.

Olaf is prepping the wall after everything is down.

Here is Middle Child helping attach the bottom base the cabinet will rest upon. Love the cowlicks, one of the many endearing qualities of Middle Child.

Here is Todd the Cabinet-Maker, his Assistant, and Olaf setting the first cabinet in place.

Here is Todd the Cabinet-Maker anchoring that heavy thing to the wall. Hopefully it won't fall on anyone!

The second cabinet went up and Todd the Cabinet-Maker went to work putting the two together, anchoring it to the wall while his Assistant, Nephew, and Olaf held that thing in place.

Now he's putting the finishing touches on anchoring.

Now the crown molding is being installed.

Here the children and I are cleaning it up. I must only have one shirt. Can you tell how I know that?

Now the kids are putting up the shelves and Todd the Cabinet-Maker is installing the tempered glass doors.

We even got Middle Child to do some glass cleaning.

Here is the finished product.

We put a little plaque inside.


Spring is in the Air

It's Spring! Spring is here! The daffodils are blooming. (The year I went to Scotland the daffodils were in full bloom in JUNE!) The crocuses are all gone. The yard finally needs watering after a few dry days. The sky is blue and the temperatures are warm but not hot. All the remaining patches of permasnow have finally melted. (You know the black snow that has a hard time melting.) Summer blockbusters have hit the theaters. Go Star Trek! And all the roadside crews are busy cleaning up the winter garbage that is flat and icky after being piled under layers and layers of dirty snow along the road. If it hasn't disintegrated yet there's a good chance it won't anytime soon. Off to the landfill with you!

The other morning on my way to work under a beautifully blue sky I noticed a work crew ahead, leisurely picking up garbage. Then I saw the sign announcing the crew so no one would run over any of them. It said, "Sheriff's Inmate Cleanup Crew." And then the next sign a few more feet down the road said "Sheriff's Cleanup Crew" with a very blank spot where 'Inmate' had been yellowed out. It gave me a good laugh on my way to work and reminded me not to pick up hitchhikers wearing orange vests.


Revenge on the Cat

When Baby got home tonight Olaf told him to go and get some dinner.

"Go get some Cat-Tacos."

"What are those?" Baby asked.

"Tacos made out of cat meat. We have a lot of cats around here and we were out of meat. So we made do."

Baby went and changed and when he came back in the kitchen Olaf asked him, "Did you get some Cat-Tacos yet?"

"What cats are they made out of?"

"Black cat."

"Thank you for getting revenge on him! Did you see what he did to me a little while ago?" Baby was all kinds of excited.

Baby is referring to an incident involving Black Cat that happened about five years ago. He was playing with Black Cat who ended up giving him a little scratch on his arm. He hasn't forgotten the offense and brings it up regularly.

Now Baby is happily eating his Cat-Taco with Tank dancing around him looking for loose shreds of cheese to fall on the floor. (He became a cheese addict when we had to give him some pills and the only way we could get him to take the pill was to squish it into a small hunk of cheese. Now if he hears the fridge open he is right there, hoping he's getting his share of the cheese.)

Whatever you do don't upset Baby, apparently he knows how to hold a grudge and I don't want his revenge visited upon anyone.


How to Tell if You're Getting Taller

Sister-in-Law Nurse told Baby he was getting taller. And he agreed.

"I can tell when I pee," he nonchalantly replied.

In between fits of giggling she asked how that was the determining factor of growth.

"The toilet's farther away."

And that is the logic of an eight-year-old boy. I don't think it gets any better over the next 60 years.


Baby the Entertainer

A few Sunday's ago Baby had to read a scripture in Primary. Primary is the LDS version of Sunday School for children under 12. And since we have a lay ministry it is essential to get the kids in front of an audience at a young age so they can do it when they're older, even if they don't like too.

Baby loves to read scriptures! He thinks it's so cool for some reason. I've never run across another kid that likes to read scriptures. When we got to church I told Olaf he needed to help Baby find a relatively short scripture to read. Even though his age group doesn't mind being behind a microphone, understanding them is another matter altogether.

Olaf told me later that he tried to help Baby find a shortish scripture. When he showed one to Baby he protested, "It's too short! Find me a different one." So Olaf found him two scriptures that went together. He felt pretty good about their selection.

When it came time we went into Primary to witness the carnage that our children create when in front of a group. Baby got up, found his scripture, and started reading. And after a relatively long verse he paused and I was pretty proud of him. He had pronounced some big words correctly and he was fairly intelligible.

And then he continued on to the next verse. No one was too surprised, these were two well known verses in our Faith. He did great with the second verse and I was still proud of him.

And then he continued on with the next verse. All the adult's heads whipped around to look at me and I just grinned. I mouthed, "He loves to read scriptures." There were a few giggles from some of the older kids and the adults, including me. I thought it was cute.

And then he continued on with the next verse. But, thankfully, this verse continued on to the next page. Did he flip the page to finish it? No, he stopped right in the middle of the verse where it ended on the page. By this time all the children had lost attention and the adults were thinking about other things, like, how long is this kid going to drone on? I didn't even notice that he ended midsentence.

Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, it was over. And then after Baby closed his scriptures, he leaned into the microphone one more time and blew. (My kids have a propensity for "checking" microphones.) Just for a second, but he did it. Then all the kids burst into giggles, not laughs because that isn't reverent, just giggles, and all the adult's heads whipped around to look at me again as I was openly and quietly laughing. My kids are always good for entertaining the masses at church with something verging on the inappropriate.


Unsent Letters

Sometimes I just wish that Calvin was on a trip and I could send him some silly letters that would make him and his roommates laugh. Every now and then I compose one in my head and get a giggle out of them. I'm sure they have computers in Heaven so I'm sending him a letter.

Dear Calvin,

Last spring when you got excited about mowing the lawn I knew something was amiss. You hate mowing the lawn. You keep begging us for a goat. You keep suggesting areas that you think should be covered with bark. You complain every time I plant a tree, one more thing to mow around. So, when you were excited last spring about mowing the lawn I knew something was amiss. I asked why you were excited because I know you hate mowing the lawn. You answered my question by exclaiming that we were buying a new lawnmower this year. You were so excited. Until I burst your bubble. Being the practical woman that I am I assured you we would be using the lawnmower until it inhaled its last gas and spewed fumes instead of revving to a start. You were not amused. But whenever I asked you to mow the lawn you did it and I'm proud of that.

This summer Olaf tried to start the mower for the first lawn mowing session of the year. It wouldn't start at all. So we went lawn mower shopping. You can take solace in the fact that we didn't buy a goat so Middle Child will still have to mow the lawn. We checked out a few and showed the boys an old-fashioned mower. It's a couple of blades welded between the wheels without any protective covering. They thought it was pretty cool, but then, they were only pushing it across the smooth tiled floor, not through a forest of grass. I'm sure they would lose a few fingers this summer.

The good news is we finally decided on and bought a new lawnmower! You would love it. It has a window in the grass bagger so you don't have to guess when the bag is full. No more waiting for it to fall off and spread cut grass everywhere. It also has a 'easy pull start.' If it doesn't start within two pulls they will replace the engine. You would have loved that when our old one took 10-15 tries to start last summer. You probably wouldn't even have to help Middle Child start the mower anymore.

I hope you don't have to mow your lawn up there. I bet you have a couple goats and they are much better about listening to you tell them where to eat and how much to leave. And if you do mow your lawn I wish you the fanciest riding lawn mower available in Heaven!