Friday, July 31, 2009

Bye Bye Birdie

Wednesday night began with an announcement in the backyard. "Guess what, guys?" I asked as cheerfully as possible. "Tonight, we are going to PAR-TY!"

Everyone was immediately suspicious. "Why?" asked All-a-Boy. "What for?" asked Cowgirl. "Do we get refreshments?" asked Princess.

"YES!" I answered enthusiastically. "We are going to have ICE CREAM! And COOKIES! But first someone has to guess which chore we are taking out of the job jar FOREVER!"

Hopeful guesses were immediately shouted out. Vacuuming? Dishes? Laundry? Bathrooms?
Nope.

Shoe job? Trash job? Toy closet?

Keep guessing.

Dusting? Make beds? Clean Buddy's cage?
"That's it! We don't have to clean Buddy's cage anymore!" I told them. And then All-a-Boy, in true tease-cowgirl-who-loves-the-bird-most fashion, said, "And then Buddy will DIE!"

"Actually," I interrupted, "he already did."

(I told you I wasn't good at this kind of thing.)

Weeping and wailing and questions of unbelief began immediately and I explained how I had found Buddy and then buried him. But tonight were going to celebrate Buddy's life, not be sad about his death. Cowgirl took it the hardest, as was expected. All-a-Boy was quick to make up for his untimely teasing.
"Where did you bury him?" Cowgirl asked. It was the question that I dreaded most. Because honestly, it had taken everything in me to place Buddy's little birdie body in a paper bag. I did not want to deal with a backyard burial. So, I buried him in the only place I was capable of... (please do not think badly of me!) the trash can.

"He is buried somewhere in the yard," I answered (truthfully!) while passing out ice cream bars. And then the Buddy Celebration began.

We all took turns jumping on the trampoline and sharing our favorite memory of our little feathered friend.
Thumbelina recalled the time that our bathroom was flooding and All-a-Boy ran to Buddy's cage, opened it, then yelled, "Fly away, Buddy! Save yourself! Be free!"
All-a-Boy remembered when Buddy became a phantom bird and found his way into the crevice between the kitchen sink and the dishwasher.
Princess laughed as she talked about the time Buddy flew onto the tray of Baby O's highchair and O was excited for the company.
Cowgirl's favorite memory was of the day we got Buddy.
I don't think Hubba had a story, but I think he may have seen Buddy's ghost...

Afterward, we went inside for a movie night and slumber party.
The next morning I asked Cowgirl if she would like to clean the cage and sell it then use the proceeds to purchase a stuffed animal which lives online as well. She liked that idea.
We listed the cage for sale and Cowgirl had cash in hand by this afternoon.

We're going to buy her a Webkinz bird tomorrow.

(For those of you who marveled over my cruelty in burying the bird in the outside trash receptacle, hate me no more. Allen always had a soft spot in his heart for Buddy and wanted to give him a proper burial so I dug the bag out from under a few things and he will find a new resting place in our yard very soon.)

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Flown The Coop

I have never been a huge advocate of pets. For all of you who may be pet lovers, I apologize. But let's be honest - would I be a responsible pet owner with nine children to care for? (Hint: the answer is an enthusiastic NO.)

But, Gerb, you are thinking, I remember reading about your bird. You do have a pet.

Actually, did.

But the kids don't know yet.

Yesterday Allen and Coolister flew the coop to go on a rafting trip. Not more than 2 hours after their departure I noticed that our bird was not in his cage. This is normal - he sometimes flies around the kitchen and sleeps on the stove. (I know!) But not today. So, as I stood on a chair and peeked into the bottom of his cage, there he was.

Dead.

This is not the way this is supposed to have worked out. I mean, we've had the dang bird for almost 3 years now, and his previous owner had him for at least a year before that. So as far as parakeets go, he lived a pretty long life. He was loved plenty, ate lots of enriched birdseed, he even had his own grape-shaped chunk of chalk. Does it get any better? (Hint: The correct answer is NO, it does not.)

I am not sure what led to my finding him laying there with his little birdie feet in the air, but find him I did. And Allen is gone. So as soon as the kids realize he's not happily chirping about in his cage it will fall to ME to have to somehow tell them he is now flying around happily in Birdie Heaven where the streets are paved with gourmet birdseed and the trees are all made of spinach leaves.

I did not sign up for this.

Allen agreed to take the bird in.

Allen thought it would be good for the kids to have a pet.

Allen loved the bird.

Allen is on a river trip with the scouts!

So, quickly, before my kids figure out what happened (so far no one is suspicious...), I need some advice. How should I tell my kids that Buddy is no longer with us?

Do I say that he flew the coop (lie) or just tell them he died (which is sure to bring on more questions)?

When the wee ones begin to cry, do I feign sadness along with them (lie) or ask for help in cleaning out the cage so we can sell it and take everyone for ice cream with the proceeds (bribe)?

What would YOU do?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Sixteen

picture by my talented daughter ElemenoB

Is it weird to you that I have a sixteen-year-old? Because it's weird to me. Around here, sixteen is a magical age. Not only is it the official age to obtain a driver's license (which is not happening anytime soon), in our home it is the age our children are allowed to start dating.

We took Coolister out for the customary Birthday Dinner With Mom And Dad and there attempted to establish the ground rules for dating. I think we did pretty well, but this is uncharted territory, you know? Coolister was agreeable and took everything well.

I know he'll make good choices. I fully trust his judgment when it comes to girls. But... it will be difficult (impossible?) for any girl to ever be good enough for him in my eyes.

To make this easier on me, as well as potential dates, I came up with the following short list of questions to ask each young woman who would like to spend any amount of time with my son:

1. What do you like to do for fun?
2. What kind of classes are you taking at school?
3. What is your current GPA? If below a 3.0, please explain.
4. Are you planning on going to college after graduation?
5. What are your favorite 3 books and why? (Certain answers will disqualify you, so please think this one through before answering.)
6. Do you have a FaceBook account? If so, would you be willing to 'friend' me?
7. Do you get along with your parents?
8. Do you have any body piercings or tattoos?
9. Tell me about what DRESSING MODESTLY means to you.
10. Have you earned or are you currently working on your Young Womanhood Recognition award?
11. How did you and Coolister meet... and what are your current intentions?
12. What do you think about kissing before marriage?

If the teenage female in question answers these to my liking she will pass round one and be allowed a first date.

What do you think? Am I being too lenient?

Should I ask more questions?

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Getting In Shape

photo from commons.wikimedia.org

I dusted off my rollerskates the other day and went for a little spin. I am embarrassed to say that it was roughly 3 miles round-trip and I could barely make it back home. I thought to myself (as I attempted to keep up with my husband - who was running well ahead of me)... I need to eat better. I need to exercise more. I am out of shape.

And then I thought about that phrase: Out Of Shape. What the heck does that mean, anyway? Out of what shape? What shape am I supposed to be, and who decides? Am I a rectangle? Square? Circle? I started looking at others that I passed as I rolled on (wheezing) by. What shape were they in? Triangle? Octagon? None of these shapes seemed to fit.

And then - it came to me... the kind shape I wanted to be in. A heart! This would this require a different kind of change. Not a change in what I ate, but a change in who I was. I could be more kind towards others. Less judgmental. I could look for opportunities to do nice things for my neighbors, friends and family - even perfect strangers! I could look at others and try to see their potential and worth... no matter what their shape. Maybe then I could be a heart.

Or a star! I always wanted to be a star. Someone that others could look up to. Not afraid to stand out; a bright, shining beacon of light in a sea of darkness. A luminous guide for those who need help finding their way. I would love to be in star shape.

Well-rounded like a circle?

Sharp-looking like a triangle?

I decided I wasn't 'out of shape' after all. I think I could make the best of whatever shape I was labeled as or determined to be.

I am in shape.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Car Lots Are Exhausting

Photo from photobucket.com
Shopping for a new (used) car is exhausting.

(Get it? Exhausting? Sorry. The heat is getting to me... it makes my brain go goofy.)

The summer sun reflects off of the asphalt (which looks like midnight but feels like purgatory), beats relentlessly down on my face and back, and I begin to melt.

The names of various makes and models and acronyms (like SE, LE and GX... what?) get all jumbled up in my female brain. Can't we just call them what they are? The white car with 4 doors. The silver car with a stick shift. The gold car with the sweaty leather seats.

The multiple numbers representing mileage and price and things I don't understand (like engine size) float in a sea of chaos and confusion in my head. Can't they just sell quality vehicles for what they're really worth so we don't have to worry about purchasing an overpriced lemon?

(However, I will gladly purchase an overpriced lemonade. Two, please.)

I miss our little peely-paint Neon who served us so well for almost 15 years.

You cursed car lots! Look what you've done! I'm melting! Melllllllting! Oh, what a world! What a world!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Genius Genes

Last year Coolister wanted to take an AP class at school. His counselor advised him against it. The counselor thought that it was a very difficult class for a sophomore and he should wait.

Did I know anything about AP classes? No. I didn't even know what AP stood for when I was in high school. Most of my classes began with the words "Introduction To". But, no matter. I told the counselor that I know my kid and my kid can take on a challenge like nobody's business. He let him register.

And you know what? Coolister proved me right (and made me proud). At the end of the school year, AP students take a test which covers the subject area of their class. A month or so later they get their test results in the mail. If they pass, they are able to receive college credit.

May I present further proof that Coolister has his dad's penchant for smartness:


If you were like me in high school, you may think AP stands for "Academically Privileged" and have no idea what a score of 5 means. Let me enlighten you (from The College Board website):

AP Exam grades are reported on a 5-point scale as follows:

5 Extremely well qualified
4 Well qualified
3 Qualified
2 Possibly qualified
1
No recommendation

That's right. Coolister is not only qualified for college credit in biology, he is extremely well qualified.

Pardon my mommy-blogger moment as I shout: THAT'S MY BOY!!

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Accidentally in Love

From my place in front of the kitchen sink, I heard the screeching tires. The impact. The sound of dragging metal. It was much too close for comfort. I ran outside in my socks and noticed that the car was parked at an awkward position, but everything seemed fine.
After doing an inventory of kids and bikes and realizing no one was hurt, I checked out the other side of the cars.
Maybe it was a bit more serious than I thought. My mind began immediately racing with thoughts of the terrible things that could have happened. All of the what-ifs. And then, looking at the wreck in my front yard, my brain shifted.

I couldn't help but notice that these two cars looked as if they were clinging to each other... one with a tire outstretched as if offering comfort to the other.
It was like the car that had caused the accident was telling our car it was sorry. Like they were close friends. Or maybe even more? Had they been checking each other out all these years, parked across the street from each other for so long? Had they been holding on to the hope that they might find themselves on the same side of the road sometime? I walked around to the back of the accident to assess the damages there. And I thought...
Don't they look like they're in love, all huddled close together?

I just wish they didn't have to meet by accident.

I know some of you are probably wondering what happened. The oldest daughter of one of our neighbors was coming home from work. It was determined that she was looking at her cell phone when the car veered to the right and by the time she looked up, she was immediately behind our little Neon with no time to correct herself. She carried our car from the curb to the sidewalk and onto our lawn and driveway. She was traveling fast enough that airbags were deployed - and the only (minor) injuries she received were from the impact of the airbag (thank heavens!). Both cars are no longer operable - but the cars are just 2 hunks of metal and glass... they can be replaced. Those damages are not important. We are just very, very grateful that none of our kids or neighbor's kids were playing in front of our house at the time. We are also very, very grateful that our neighbor's daughter is fine. Our suburban was not parked on the street or in the driveway or else it most likely would have sustained some damage as well. For this we are also glad.

And yes, I really did think about the cars having a relationship. That, my friends, is how my mind works. I can't help it. (Or maybe I have just watched the movie
Cars one too many times.)

Saturday, July 18, 2009

It's About Love

Meet Daren and Shannon.

Daren is one of Allen's brothers - for sure the one who smiles the most. I say this because I don't recall a time I have seen him without a smile on his face. Which makes he and Shannon a perfect match - because her smile is also a constant ray of sunshine.

I am not sure how to even begin to describe how much I love these two. In fact, it brings my emotions very close to the surface when I think of what an amazing couple they are. Despite the fact that they are younger than Allen and I, we look to them as examples. Daren and Shannon have a zest for life. They are incredibly smart. Their love for each other and their families is evident in all that they do. They know how to have fun. They are patient, kind and generous. And no matter what life throws their way, they are always smiling.

Daren and Shannon
want to be parents. They want children to share their home and happiness and hearts with. I do not know anyone who is better qualified than these two! However, they have discovered that they are unable to have children on their own. As devastating as this was, they are still smiling - because they are hoping to have a chance to adopt.

It makes me smile to think of the lucky baby (or BABIES!) who will become a part of their happy family.

(This is where you come in!)

What can you do to help? Lots of things!

- You can click on that button over at the top of my sidebar and read all about Daren and Shannon.

- You can put their button on your blog to help spread the word.

Help us adopt

- And if you know anyone who is in a position to place a child for adoption, you can tell them about Daren and Shannon.

Thank you.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Heber Is Hubba Heaven

We were having a bit of an issue with getting Hubba to sleep in his own bed.

Coolister's bed? Fine.

All-a-Boy's bed? Great.

The 'big girls' bed? Anytime.

Our bed? Perfect.

His bed? No way, Jose.

So I presented Hubba with a plan which played on his affinity for trains: Sleep in your own bed for 30 days and you can ride on a real train. He didn't miss ONE DAY, and yesterday was the time to make good on my promise.

He grabbed his 'train hat' and we headed out to Heber City, home of the Heber Valley Railroad.

We stopped at Dairy Keen (forevermore to be known as "The Train Restaurant") for some lunch.
It was here that I realized I did not need to promise a train ride at all.

There were plenty of train attractions to keep his attention for hours.
But, a promise is a promise, so off to the train station we went.
He could not believe this train had a real conductor.
He sort of stalked the conductor, in fact.
Luckily, Mr. Conductor was very nice about it.
He even let Hubba help with the brake when needed.
Hubba was incredulous at the idea that he could run through the train, one end to the other, as it was moving, and no one seemed to care.
So, run we did. Repeatedly.
He also could not believe that, when sticking his head out of the window, no one told him to stop.
He did it a lot.
He also occasionally enjoyed just watching things whiz by outside the window.
Near the end of our ride, Hubba sat down on a bench in the open air of the caboose. I sat beside him, welcoming the rest. He laid his head against my arm and said, "Mom, I love you."
I began to respond when he jumped up and started to run towards the engine at the other end of the train.
As he ran, he shouted to the other passengers, "THIS IS THE BEST DAY I EVER HAD IN MY WHOLE LIFE!"

I just followed after him, happy to have been a part of it.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Old Barn


It doesn't look like much from far away. The aging, dilapidated barn sits nestled among green fields and small creeks and ponds with only horses and mosquitoes for company. At first glance it appears to be a ramshackle sort of place with broken windows and cobwebbed beams.


Yet, for my mother-in-law, it stores a wealth of memories and stories from her childhood years. This place is all that is left of the dairy farm where she grew up in Afton, Wyoming.


As we wandered through the old barn, listening to mom's recollections of years past, I felt a melancholy kind of sadness come over me. I could picture the barn as it had been back in its prime and wondered how it had come to be the way it was now, broken and in disrepair. It got me thinking about people.


Like the barn, we all start off sturdy and clean with a new coat of paint. As we face life's storms the paint slowly peels and cracks. Windows break. Grime accumulates. Beams and boards warp. And before we know it we are only a shell of our former selves, something that no sandpaper or even a fresh coat of paint can repair.

When others look at us, do they see what's really still there?


Do they look for the story behind each bent nail and loose floorboard or do they only notice the wear and tear, not realizing that it is simply evidence of something more?

Do others notice the beauty of the places where the cracks in the walls and shattered windows have allowed light to shine through?


If we could, what would we choose? To look as striking and solid as we did in our prime, never having to endure any of the pounding hail or lightning strikes that life throws at us - or to tolerate various storms and allow some of life's experience to show through in these bodies that house the person who we truly have become through it all?


At the end of my life I hope I'm like the run-down old barn. Perhaps weather beaten and warped, but well loved because of the experiences and interactions that have made me that way.


And every last measure of who I am bursting with stories of a life lived to the fullest.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What the HAIL?!

Here we are at Reunion Flats, trying to huddle together to avoid the pelting hail last Saturday.

I swear, it's following me.

(Secretly, I kind of like it.)

We Are Family

In case you were wondering, this is the reason my blog has been neglected this past week. We attended the family reunion for Allen's side of the family up near Driggs, Idaho at a campground called Reunion Flats in the shadow of the Teton Mountains.

Can I just say: I love these people.

Only 11 of Allen's siblings and their families are in this picture. One family had to leave early for another reunion and 4 weren't able to make it. Aren't we an awesome looking group of people, considering we have been camping and haven't showered for 4 days? (Please take time to notice that at least 4 of my children have red licorice all over their faces or clothing. Yes, friends, that's how we roll in the great outdoors.)

I have lots of great pictures and stories to tell. But guess what? Another family reunion. This weekend.

I know.

Catch up with you soon.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What's In A Name?

Photo from Disney/Pixar
Last Sunday at church, I wanted to emphasize my point with a story.

"There was a little boy named Wally," I began, summarizing the narrative in my lesson manual.

"WALL-E?" Super C asked. "Like the wo-bot in the movie?"

"Actually," I replied, thinking quickly, "the boy's name was... Wilbur."

"Like the pig in Shaw-let's Web?" Super C countered.

"Okay," I suggested, "let's call him Walter."

"Walt-o is the boy in the movie about the house in space!" Super C told us.

"Hmmm. How about Will?"

"That's my fwend Lilly's bwuth-o!" he informed me.

"Well, Super C, what would you like me to call him, then?" I inquired.

"I fought you said his name was WALL-E. Why awen't you cau-wing him that?"


Good point.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

All Hail Camp MIA Shalom

The next to last day of camp was overcast and cool.

I held out the selfish hope that we would be blessed with even just a wee bit of thunder and lightning, but to no avail.

When the time came for our closing flag ceremony early that evening, the storm clouds quickly came rolling in...
They were moving in a manner that all but promised a torrential downpour. And before we knew it, there was indeed a deluge falling from the heavens.

But not of rain...