Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I decided to get my Thanksgiving grocery shopping done early this year, so I went today. Two days before the holiday IS early for me and it took a real effort to make my goal. You see, I don't like shopping much in any form, especially grocery shopping right before a holiday- or the Superbowl. Is the Superbowl a holiday in our Country? Anyway, so I anticipate how horrible it's going to be and usually put it off for just one more day, until finally it's the morning of, and I have to get up extra early (like all the other losers like me) and hope I don't forget anything. But this year is different, and I got my shopping done early. Yay me! But I spent sooooo much money! I spent more money than I've ever spent in one shopping trip at a regular grocery store. I decided Costco doesn't count since everyone spends way more than necessary when they go to Costco. We are making the yams and two pies this year. Kaylee wanted to make everything from scratch so I had to buy a bunch of ingredients that we don't keep on hand around here. Things like flour, sugar, lots and lots of butter, and more flour and sugar. Which begs the question, what kind of household doesn't have flour and sugar? How lazy does that mother have to be? Actually, I blame Oprah and Dr. Oz. I already felt guilty about eating sugar, drinking soda pop, and eating meat. Now I'm not sure if there's anything I should keep around the house besides brown rice, apples, and leafy greens!

So I got my stuff, spent a crap-load of money, and I'll be going back tomorrow for the things I forgot. The lines were not too bad so I'll be calling it a success. Now if I can only get my Christmas cards out in time, and then... ugh!.. get all my Christmas shopping done. Wish me luck.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


This is a weird time of year for me. It's the time of year when I'm reminded more to really look at how much I have. I feel grateful pretty much 365 days a year for my family and my cushy life, for the choice I have to be home with my kids, and for a man who is willing to work long and hard to provide us with these comforts. But this is the time of year when I'm reminded of how much I have in so many other ways. Things like the freedom to blog whatever I feel, and not fear being arrested for my thoughts and expressions. Or the security of knowing that my government and law enforcement agencies are set up to protect and provide for me (most of the time :). During this time of year I remember how lucky I am to have the abundance of food and necessities that cause me to curse those extra pounds I'm carrying around the rest of the year. It's that same over-abundance of good, healthy, food and water that keeps my kids thriving and happy. And I'm grateful for Community and the goodness of Humanity that really shines during these few weeks each year.

Then there are all the smells, the Holiday foods, the music and lights. I love all those traditional symbols of Thanksgiving and Christmas. I like to make candy and treats for our neighbors with the kids. I like to decorate the tree and house, and I like to watch all the traditional Christmas shows on t.v. It's just not Christmas without Ralphie and his Red Rider b.b. gun!

But this is a hard time of year for me too. Right around Thanksgiving time I start to be reminded of who will not be with us for the Holidays this year. All those same traditions that make me feel connected and familiar are also a reminder of sister who is missing from these celebrations for the past 13 years. It's harder this time of year to forget the memories of that terrible night, to forget about the regrets that followed, and to ignore the obvious gap her passing has left in our family. I cry more, I have a harder time controlling my emotions, and my thoughts and feelings about the Holiday Season are bittersweet. So much has changed over these 13 years. Not only do we mourn the untimely loss of a sister and daughter in my family, but we mourn the loss of our traditional family unit. My extended family has changed, is not the same in many ways, and we are still trying to feel our way around all of these changes. Certain traditions have had to fall by the wayside. Yet, we still have many things to be grateful for. We have added some very special and valuable new members to our "untraditional" family, and in the process, have added new traditions and (my personal favorite) new Holiday foods.

This is the time of year that reminds me most how little real control we have over certain circumstances. And that we really need our traditions, and our foods, and our gatherings, to help keep us all connected and grounded during the times of change and difficulty. Change and loss are an inevitable part of living, and mourning is just a normal part of those inevitabilities. But this year is a good one. My parents are both happy and content, my siblings are ALL doing relatively well, and we've added four beautiful new members to our family in 2008. I'm sure I'll have my darker days, but that's why I'm blogging today, a good day, to help remind me how there's more light than dark to enjoy this time of year. And it just barely occurred to me that is exactly what Christmas is meant to remind us of... the Light.

Friday, November 21, 2008


Have you seen it? I have. Just got home in fact. And I'll just say this... so I won't be the spoiler... This was the first time EVER that I have liked the movie better than the original book, play, or musical. I read the book way back before the whole Twilight mania thing took hold and I didn't love it enough to finish the series. Blasphemy, I KNOW!!! But my kids have read all four books and although they were not standing in line all night, wearing "Team Edward" shirts, excited for the movie, they did want to see it. And since Jeff had the afternoon off we thought, heh, why not? We saw the 1:30 show mostly because anything later was basically sold out. It was still kind of a frenzied atmosphere at the old Jordan Commons, and the only thing further I will say is... if you plan to see Twilight this weekend anywhere in Utah, don't wait till you are on the verge of peeing in your pants to find a ladies restroom! Because there will be gobs of people, and there's just no dignity in having to shove old ladies and little girls out of the way to get to a stall in time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The barn has been on my list of things to fix since, well, FOREVER!

See the insulation all dirty and hanging down?

And the garbage laying around...

And muddy stalls because the roof has been leaking!

So we have been working on it for the past five days, non-stop, and we've fixed the roof, we've painted, and put the walls back up that had fallen down. We have worked hard! And working hard hurts! And the barn is not even close to being done. But I feel better about it already. I love the Dutch-door we built, just the kids and I, all by ourselves! It's so cute!

But my most favorite part of this HUGE project is my little red shed. There's something about a red barn or barn-shaped shed that really gets me happy. Even better that I turned this old, crappy, falling apart, shed into the cuteness it is now! I've been looking out at it all afternoon just to get that warm, fuzzy feeling all over again.

Now before you go judgin' me, and thinkin' I'm bordering on obsessive, you think back to the last project you completed that you were really proud of. And then once you've re-lived that, and you still can't relate, well then maybe you were right about me. And then maybe real soon an intervention may need to be in order.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


It's probably not a good idea though. Today was our big "going out" day. We had tickets to the matinee showing of "Noises Off" at Pioneer Theater at the U. I love that we have these great opportunities and they help make homeschooling easier on me. The part that is NOT easy for me is the going downtown part. And it's not even that I don't like being in the city, it's more that I don't like driving in the city. I am not good at it! Not one bit good at it. So today I was going to take a different approach... public transportation. Trax is the name of our light rail system in Salt Lake County and we've taken advantage of Trax a few times with relative success. Today was going to be a little more complicated because we had to exit one train and then catch a connecting train to the University, and walk the rest of the way. A few things I should have considered more carefully before putting this plan into action. 1) The weather 2) Things may not go to plan, and 3) What if things DON'T go as planned.

I think things first started to go bad when I decided to skip the gym this morning in favor of a few quiet minutes to myself at home while the kids were at art class. It would have been fine to take a day off, if only I didn't let myself feel guilty about it. One bad decision tends to lead to a chain reaction and I found myself un-showered and unready to go with only 30 minutes to get to our Trax station on time. Rush, rush, rush, and we barely made the 12:34 train. Whew! Okay, now I could finally relax and enjoy the rest of the day. I studied the routes on the wall of our car as we bumped along and felt relief that I was not driving on this blustery, rainy day. "Brit, do you have the umbrella? No?" When we left home we had clouds and the temps were around 55 degrees. This seemed like jacket weather, so we wore jackets, not coats, hats, and gloves. When we got off at our transfer location we had rain, wind, and temps in the low 40s! Our connection came, we stood their stupidly watching people board, the kids asking if we should get on, and then missed our train! What was I thinking? Well, the train came from the north, and was headed south. In my mind we needed to continue north. My faulty, frozen mind. We stood for 15 minutes in the rain, wind, and coat (not jacket) weather until the next train came around. I told the kids to hurry up and get on because if we missed this one we would not make it to the play on time. I grabbed Kaylee's hand and headed for the nearest opening. Lots of other people must have felt the same kind of urgency to make this train because they were pushing and shoving their way on. We made it though... most of us... then Kaylee screamed, "Mom! Brit didn't get on!" And then she fell apart completely. That was about the time those pushy, selfish people who had shoved Brit out of the way to get on train started to grow a conscience. One guy tried to stop the train by opening the doors, that didn't work, another guy tried to help Kaylee calm down by telling her another train would come by and Brit could catch that one, and another guy gave us his seat. Nice gestures, yet not really much consolation for a little girl who honestly thought she'd never see her brother again, and a mother who just watched her baby boy disappear from view. Kaylee was sobbing and I knew I needed to call Brit's cell to let him know he could catch the next train. At the same time, Brit had the same idea and called me to say he was fine. I gave him instructions on what to do and then put a call in to Jeff to let him know our situation. Jeff was working downtown today and decided to call Brit and offer to pick him up and bring him to us. Kaylee was squeezing my hand and crying, I was trying to make her understand that everything was going to be okay. I wanted to cry too, but that's not really an option when you need to be the strong one. We got off at the University and sat down on the benches in the rain, and wind, and freezing cold temps to wait for Jeff and Brit to find us. Kaylee was now to the point of heaving and shaking uncontrollably so I just sat and held her close. She said, "Mom, I just want Dad to come and pick us up and take us home!" And as much as I really wanted to see "Noises Off", I knew it was too much to ask of my little girl to suck it up and forget that just minutes before she honestly thought she would never see her brother again.

Brit seemed to get through the whole ordeal without much trouble. The worst part for him he said was that he knew how worried we were about him. And in the parking lot when we all got out of the car, a miracle happened... my 15 year old teenage son gave his little sister a big, giant, hug! Oh, and I got a hug too.

I told Brit that this whole thing could have been avoided if he hadn't been so stubborn about holding my hand in public!

Monday, November 10, 2008


Camas Lilies

Consider the lilies of the field,
the blue banks of camas
opening into acres of sky along the road.
Would the longing to lie down
and be washed by that beauty
abate if you knew their usefulness,
how the natives ground their bulbs
for flour, how the settlers’ hogs
uprooted them, grunting in gleeful
oblivion as the flowers fell?

And you — what of your rushed
and useful life? Imagine setting it all down —
papers, plans, appointments, everything —
leaving only a note: "Gone
to the fields to be lovely. Be back
when I’m through with blooming."

Even now, unneeded and uneaten,
the camas lilies gaze out above the grass
from their tender blue eyes.
Even in sleep your life will shine.
Make no mistake. Of course
your work will always matter.

Yet Solomon in all his glory
was not arrayed like one of these.

~ Lynn Ungar ~

Don't you wish sometimes you could just go out to the fields to be lovely?

Friday, November 7, 2008


So guess who is in the hospital again? No, not little Sammy (thank goodness), it's my grandma... in the hospital again. She is almost 88 years old, born in 1921, so she's been here a long time, and done a lot of things. Her body is wearing out and that is just what happens when you live to nearly 88 years of age. So while I want to sit around all day crying about the fact that sooner or later she's not going to be here to answer my phone calls, or to patiently show me how to end my knitting, again, I'm going to blog instead.

Since I am her oldest grandchild, I've been able to spend lots of time with my grandma. Even though my grandparents lived in another state my entire childhood, my parents made several trips each year to visit them. We were always excited to visit my grandparents, but it was Grandpa who really got the "hero worship" early on. If he was home, he would wait for our arrival outside in their long gravel driveway, his pockets full of candy. He called me Kimilee and my brother B.C. which stood for Baby Clark, but then was later changed to C.B. (Clarky Boy) after much insistence from my brother that he was a big boy now! Grandma was never out to greet us in the driveway, or to take us for ice creams after dinner, that was Grandpa. Grandpa was the one who pushed us in the swing, took us to the chicken coop to gather eggs, or to the dairy to buy milk. Grandpa let us ride with him on his old riding lawn mower, made up bedtime stories for us, and held barbecues at Butte Ridge (a made-up location from his stories that was actually the fire pit in the backyard). Grandpa would take time away from one of his two or three jobs to spend with us while we were there. Later when there were more of us, and more nicknames to make up, more kids to vie for his attention, that was when I started to notice what Grandma was up to. Grandma was up early every morning. I noticed the reason she was never waiting in the driveway for us was because she was busy making something for us to eat in the kitchen. While Grandpa was pushing the swings, Grandma was weeding the garden or picking raspberries for our lunch. In the afternoons when we were hot and tired from playing outside with Grandpa, I noticed Grandma was inside working on her sewing or knitting of future Christmas gifts. If we were lucky enough to visit during early fall, Grandma would be busy all day with her canning and pie making. The older I got, the more she would let me help her with these things, and the more I learned about Grandma. One visit, Grandma had purchased a canvas, some paint brushes, and paint, it was time for me to learn about oil painting. Grandma is a fabulous artist, and she wanted to share her talent and knowledge with me. One visit, she said it was time for me to learn to make pie crusts, another visit it was freezer jam. Next I learned to crochet, then to knit, and sew. I learned how to make a bed properly from my grandma, how to make those hospital corners. I learned how to hang laundry on a line, how to grow a garden, make food from scratch, and "do-it-yourself."

I was born in love with my kind, gentle, permissive grandpa. The kind of intense, unabashed love that makes you cling to that person without shame, knowing they will return your affection, but not exploit it. When Grandpa left us so suddenly and without warning, I fell apart, I couldn't imagine life without him. What Grandpa gave me was everything I needed as a child... unconditional love, and I still miss it so much. With Grandpa gone, things changed with Grandma too. I wasn't just her student anymore, in my mind, I needed to step up a little bit and try to give back to her. She had given me, after all, everything she felt was important for me to carry on. And I wasn't a child anymore. In fact I had a child of my own by then, who needed to know his great grandmother, who needed to learn from her. But Grandma wasn't finished teaching me. She taught me how to pick up the pieces, how to start a new life, how to find a new purpose. She taught me that happiness is something we work on each day, and that we don't stop worrying about our kids and grand kids, no matter how old they are. She taught me that even the people we look up to, our heroes, are not perfect, make mistakes, have regrets, and that is okay. And, she started teaching my kids all those things she feels are important for us to keep, to carry on. And I love my grandma, with everything I possess, with all my heart. My Grandpa taught me a lot about being loved, Grandma taught me what love is. Grandma showed me that Grandpa can still be here with me as long as I keep him that way, if I take what he gave me, and I keep teaching it to my kids, grand kids, great grand kids, and teach them to pass it forward. And because I love my grandpa, and because I love my grandma, I will do it. Not just the crocheting, the knitting, the pies, or the stories about Trigger and Pal on Butte Ridge. I'll pass on their stories, their legacy. I'll do my best anyway. It won't be exactly the same, it never is, but it will hopefully be beautiful, and worthwhile, and maybe one day they will stand together and look at all of it from where they are, and be happy that they can be where they are, but still be here with us too.

The latest lesson my grandma taught me was today. We were talking on the phone, me at home, she in a hospital bed. After giving a brief explanation of what she is dealing with, she needed to know how I am doing and how the plans for my winter in Arizona are going. I told her I've nearly chickened out several times in the past couple of weeks. Why? She wondered. Because I fear the unknown, I lack confidence in myself and my ability to do this on my own. "Yes" she said, "I've been having some anxiety about the unknown lately myself." I remember wishing after Grandpa died that each person who loved her could take a little piece of her grief away so that it would be easier for her to bear it. I found myself wishing the same today about her fears and anxieties for her future, if each of us could just take a piece of it away from her, wouldn't that lighten her load. I guess that is what we are trying to do when we tell another that they will be in our thoughts and prayers. Today Grandma taught me that we are all in this together. And that maybe she can forget about her own problems a little easier, by carrying concern for ours. You can bet that while I am finding my way this winter in a strange place surrounded by challenges and new experiences, that I will be thinking about my grandma, and how if she can be strong, she'll be expecting nothing less of me.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008


It's November 5th Ya'll!

That has to be at least six inches.

Dogs didn't seem to mind.

I guess it's time to say goodbye to fall and hello to Old Man Winter :(

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Can you feel them too? There's electricity in the air tonight... some of it fueled by excitement and hope, some by fear and dread. Either way, it's thick, tangible, and fully charged.

I liked things about both candidates this time around. I read and re-read their platforms and watched their rallies and debates when I had time (usually at the gym while walking on the treadmill) and I have to admit I was captivated by Obama's public speaking skills and compassionate demeanor. But we don't want to cast our vote based on emotional response alone, now do we? So I studied both sides and for the first time ever, really looked at who I thought was willing to tackle the issues that are most important to me. I didn't vote this year based on party bias, or on sheer emotion. I didn't let fear of certain alleged outcomes drive my decision either. And once I made my choice, and because I had really looked at what was good about both candidates, for the first time ever I was able to cast my vote and then finish the day without a shred of anxiety about the outcome. I felt like whoever was needed most by our bruised and broken Nation would be the one elected. Now of course I voted for one person over the other for my own personal reasons, but I was okay with the fact that my choice may not be the winner.

We all know that progress is what our country needs. And I think we all know deep down that the kind of progress we need cannot be accomplished by one man in the White House. What we do need from the White House is a strong and brave leader who will coax the best out of all of us, who will encourage us to get up and help ourselves out of the slump we've so easily let ourselves fall into. We need someone who will help keep us focused on what the real issues are, and not let us get distracted by issues that will continue to keep us divided as a Nation. It's going to take all of us to keep moving forward towards a better future for our great country. I think both candidates were acutely aware of how much is at stake for our Nation right now, and I believe they were both prepared to do their best to rise to the challenge. We are ready to stretch and grow. Are we ready for the growing pains yet to come? Anyone who has been married knows that real resolution to disagreements only comes when you put aside the notion of being the winner, and decide to work together to solve things. But, you also understand how much hard work is involved, and how much courage it takes to see another's side. I think we can handle it. We are a strong, stubborn, and ambitious bunch. So to quote President-elect Obama... "Yes we can."

Congratulations to our new President-elect. I don't envy your position, nor your immortal place in our Nation's history. But I will give you my hopes and prayers to live up to the responsibility you've won yourself.

Monday, November 3, 2008


So I guess most of you know what I'm talking about? The problem here is that I don't know what I'm doing!!! I've had a Facebook account/profile/whatever for... I don't know... a year or two, and when I first signed up it was at the request of a childhood friend. I created my profile (and yes I know it sucks) and then kind of forgot about it. Every once in a while I'd get requests to be friends with people, mostly people I really didn't know, but that was about it. But all of a sudden my friends have exploded! What's up? Is everyone in some kind of Facebook competition to acquire the most friends? Do you all talk to each other? Do you all have really cool profiles? I'm starting to feel like a huge Facebook loser now that I have all these friends and I don't even know what I'm doing! I barely have time to keep up with my blog. So Facebook friends beware... I may just be the biggest "friend" mistake you ever made!

Okay, now if you are really my friend, you will know that I can't just let this thing die. It's gonna bug me until I update my profile. Then it's gonna bug me when I don't update my profile often enough. Then I'm gonna think about what I've put on my profile and it's gonna bug me that I said something wrong, or I added too much. See the twisted mind we are dealing with here? So fine. I'll update my profile, I'll check my account more often, I'll read my "friends" profiles, and I'll try to find new friends. But there is no way, no how, I'm gonna have time to keep up with my Goodreads account!

Crap! There's that little voice in my head again...

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Halloween is one of our favorite holidays. It might even be our very favorite holiday of the year. Since we homeschool, we can choose just about anything we want to learn about, and so we've been able to study many of the cultures and traditions that have contributed to what we call Halloween. Like most holidays, Halloween has it's roots in ancient Pagan traditions, traditions that were celebrated based on the earth's cycles and their very survival through agriculture and healthy crops. So we've had fun researching why we carve pumpkins and light up our jack 'o lanterns, to why we bob for apples, to why... ooops..! Did I just accidentally treat you all like my students? So sorry! Anywho, for all those reasons, and because we looove candy, Halloween is the best!

Jeff and I had a costume party this year with friends. Can you guess who we are?

Jeff would add that he likes Halloween because he loves to scare people. And it's true! I hardly ever let my guard down around here. On Halloween he can scare people without it becoming a police matter.

This year Kaylee wanted to dress up as an '80s popstar. Brit had taken a couple years off from wearing a costume, but decided to dress up as a hobo this year.

We like to wait until later in the afternoon on Halloween to carve pumpkins and this year we had some visitors to help us. My dad and Diane came to see the kids' costumes and Devin and Addy brought their little cuties to help out. So here's how it went down. Dad and Diane ooo-ing and aaah-ing over the kids, taking pictures. Addy carving a pumpkin, and Devin trying to manage two babies, changing diapers, giving bottles, adjusting costumes.
Devin is a really good dad and Addy is a great mom... and as it turns out, she's also great at carving pumpkins! Alias was dressed as a German Shepherd and Jacoby was dressed as a giraffe. So cute!

After pumpkin carving it was time to visit Jeff's parents which has also become a Halloween tradition. My parents usually make the rounds to see all of the grandkids, but Jeff's parents have been living in their home and neighborhood for over thirty years and many of the neighborhood kids look forward to trick-or-treating there. Jeff's mom is very creative and always makes something special out of her Halloween candy and this year was no exception. After our visit we were ready for dinner, but the kids still wanted to do some trick-or-treating of their own. We decided Jeff would pick up take-out, I would man the door for trick-or-treaters, and Brit and Kaylee would hit a few houses. We ordered Chinese/Vietnamese from Cafe Trang (one of our favs) and then watched a scary movie to finish the night.

Another great year! Now I can't believe it's already November!!!