Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Brahm shredding on a jump at the sledding park.

I overheard Oliver talking to his father yesterday.

"Daddy, you know what my favorite thing in the whole wide world is?"

"What's that, Oliver?"


I don't think either of us expected this, though it makes sense. Oliver doesn't hide the fact that he's pretty fond of his father. Just to see what he would say, however, I asked him again this morning. He had come in to get Brooks and I out of bed and was snuggling with his dad.

"Hey, O-man - what's your favorite thing in the whole wide world?"

"Dad", he says again without hesitation.

"You're pretty lucky," I reply, ready to make an important point. "There are a lot of dads who are mean to their kids, who yell at them and are angry all the time."

There's a pause of consideration and then this: "Yeah, and moms, too."

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Fossil Attempts Another Entry

Here's the non-post-related image for the day. Poor Brahm gets pummeled by Oliver every night without knowing it. The latter is a restless sleeper and is constantly rolling around, changing positions, etc. I have watched with my own eyes as he encroaches on Brahm's space time after time. I woke up one morning and found the two like this so I grabbed a shot with Brooks' phone. I see myself showing it to my friends. "Look," I'll say, "The two are so close that they can hardly be apart even while at rest."

So just a couple of things I want to jot down so I won't forget:

In the car tonight Brooks is trying to keep the boys from getting too restless by engaging them with simple trivia questions. "What happened in American Fork on April 6, 2001?" for example. This is the day and place where Brahm was born so they guess it right away. I try my hand with this one: "What happened on June 23, 1974?" which happens to be my birthday.

"Um, was that the day Daddy was born?" Oliver ventures.

"If that was Dad's birthday, "Brahm points out in earnest, "then he'd be like 322 years old!"


So Brooks then picks up with quizzing the O-man on the colors of the rainbow.

"OK, OK! Don't tell me!" He concentrates to be able to get the answer right then proceeds in all sincerity. "OK, red, yellow, violet, Massachusetts..."

We all bust out laughing.

"Massachusetts?" Brahm chuckles in a good-natured way. "Oliver, that's pathetic."

Sunday, December 21, 2008

What is 791?

The number of times I have sat down on a sprinkled toilet seat in my career as a mom.

Here are a few more figures to consider:

17 - Nights I have slept through since Brahm was born
1 - Ambulance visits to the house
2,698 - Pokemon cards living in my home
559 - "Eeeeew, this is disguuuusting!" (in reference to supper)
3 - "This is the best supper I ever had." (in reference to some mac-and-cheese crap from a box)
16 - Viewings of Star Wars: Episode IV by Oliver
12,442 - Cursings emitted from my mouth after stepping on rogue Legos
324 - Washings of pee-pee sheets
3,888 - hours spent together driving in a car
39 - "That didn't hu-urt!"
39 - "Do you want me to make it hurt?"
8 - Trips to the Red Balloon so far this month
71 - Containers of Clorox Wipes purchased, bulk-size
411 - boxes of Band-Aids purchased
58 - Magic Tree House books on tape listened to in car
9,999 - "Here, watch this while I take a nap. And don't wake me up unless your head is on fire."
226 - "But I can't find it."
225 - Dollars collected for finding it myself
103 - knee-holes worn in jeans
81 - Nights spent holding a head over a barf bowl
12 - Trips to the principal's office
819 - "When will Dad be home?"

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Hey, There's Always Kwanzaa

For the boys' bedtime stories tonight, I picked a handful of Christmas books and plopped down on the couch with them. Their choices involved Santa in blizzards, snowmen and snowflakes so when it came to my turn, I chose one about the First Night. Oliver takes one look at the book in my hands and groans out loud, "Oh, no! Not a Jesus one."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Old Whine in New Packages

Oliver is a whiner. He has more passion than his little body can hold so the disparity between what he wants and what he gets just leaks out sometimes in the form of a whine. I understand this – but it doesn’t mean it’s not annoying as hell.

But as powerful as his whine can be, nothing holds a candle to his curiosity.

Take the other day, for instance. Oliver and Brahm have been eyeing the only present under the tree so far. They know it’s for them, and while it has aroused Brahm's curiosity only slightly, it has just about been the death of his brother.

"Just tell me what it is, Mom! Pleeeease??? When can we open it? How many days until Christmas? Just give me one little hint! Will I like it? Did you buy it or did Dad? Why can't I just open it right now? That’s no fair!! Is it a lizard?"

"Yes, Oliver, it's a lizard." I say.

"BRAAA-aahm!" He yells, running through the house. "It's a lizard! Mom said it was! I knew it!"

Today is Sunday. Always hard up for things to do on the Sabbath, Oliver resorts to wondering what’s inside the box again. Only this time, he’s turned his focus on Brahm.

"Look, Brahm," I hear him say in jeering tones. "I'm going to open the present now." They're both in the front room and I'm in the kitchen. From what it sounds like, Brahm is trying to mind his own Legos business while Oliver is holding the present over him, taunting with tiny tears of paper.

Of course it’s not long before Brahm takes the bait and soon they’re fighting. “Give me a break,” I say to myself. “I’m too old for this.”

That’s when the idea comes to me.

While Oliver is in Cool Down, I slip into my room and wrap two more presents I bought just for him. I do two, of course, so that it will be impossible for him not to notice them right away. When I am finished, I carry the packages out to the front room and slip them quietly beneath the tree. Heh, heh, heh. It will be a loooong ten days for the poor kid.

Sometimes I have to create my own fun in a job that gets predictable and boring. Awaiting the punch line to my own private joke will be enough to get me through the rest of this Sunday afternoon. And no amount of his whining or pestering me will ruin it for me, either.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fa La La La La

"And NO sword-fighting with my wrapping paper!"

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

From the Mouths of Babes

Sonic Drive-Thru is the backdrop for today's entry. Brooks and I took Oliver there after his school Christmas program to celebrate his performance and to enjoy some together time. He likes the burgers and as he's hungrily delving into his, I think about the highs and lows of my mood swings that morning. Suddenly I ask aloud, "Why is it so hard to be me?"

Without looking up Oliver says, "'Cause you're so angry."

Thanks, but it was a rhetorical question.

Monday, December 8, 2008

And Lo, Chewbacca Abiding in the Field

To keep the boys out of trouble Sunday afternoon, I asked them if they would set up the Nativity scene, as is our holiday tradition. They were excited to go about that business.

And now, two days later, I see why.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Calling All Experienced Bloggers

This is an image from a stop animation short that Brooks made with the boys last Sunday afternoon. Note the Sabbath relevance: the granite block in the background is a chunk from the SL temple leftover from a seismic upgrade.

Again, nothing to do with the post, just visual interest.

So, can anyone direct me as to how I can customize the background, graphics, etc. on my blog? I think I'm ready for that next step. :) I was cruising some of yours last night and was pretty impressed by what y'all have got going for you.

Friday, December 5, 2008

I Won't Go to Rehab

This appears to be in direct opposition to the title of my last entry.

I crabbed again at Brahm yesterday morning as we rushed out the door for school. I promised myself the day before after crabbing all afternoon at Oliver that I wouldn't do it again. If it were bonafide parenting that I was about, that's one thing. But taking out life's little frustrations and unmet expectations on my children is another. But the promise is only as good as that of someone who's behavior is out of control and they know rehab looms on the horizon as the only way out. It's as if the promise itself holds some kind of balm that will somehow magically heal the source of the crabbing. And just what is that source? Are they truly being naughty? Am I insufficiently caffeinated? Was I not loved enough as a child?

"It always seems to be made worse when punctuality is an issue. Try diffusing the situation by preparing in advance." advises Dr. K. "For example, you say you lose your temper Sunday morning when he can't find his shoes and you're going to be late for church. Why not anticipate this and have him set out his shoes the night before?" Her suggestion seems so obvious. Why doesn't this occur to me on my own? Why do I have to shell out a $25 copay to acquire this kind of information? Well, it works when I remember to work it. It also works best when the battery on your phone isn't dead so the alarm fails to sound putting you behind an extra 34 minutes for the morning. In other words, it works when life doesn't happen. And life seems to happen about 85% of the time.

"Why do have to be so bossy?" he shoots at me as I run up to the car.

"The answer, dear seven-year-old, is because I AM THE BOSS!" I reply in my best impersonation of an intimidating mother figure. Besides, I know it's only said for show anyway since apparently it's not coming through on its own. Maybe this is what is irritating to me: why can't they just accept my position of superiority and then understand that, by nature, their rank then falls in below mine?

"And furthermore," I add, feeling a lecture coming on, "I wouldn't have to boss if you would know what to do on your own! Why are you just standing there by the car when you should be in it with your seatbelt on, ready to go?"

That should give them some food for thought! Hmph.

Doors slam, the engine turns and we're off. This last point made in my favor will surely be the morsel of logic that persuades them to my way of thinking. "Where would we be without Mom's abundant life experience to guide us?" they must be thinking now. Instead, I glance in the rear view mirror and see Brahm. He has pulled his head completely inside his coat, not unlike a tortoise under siege, and is starting to cry.

I look upward. "God, spare me this little display of emotion," I say to myself pretending He and I are on the same side in this moment. I shift uncomfortably in my seat but say nothing, my eyes straight ahead on the road. Mom guilt is setting in but I'm doing a good job at staving it off.

"When you get mad and say that, that means you don't love us!" he says accusingly through his zipper.

That criticism is just what I needed to bring me back to rational thinking. He has lobbed the ball back in my court and now I return it with the biggest swing I've got: "If I had even thought of talking back to Buck and Noni like that when I was a little girl, they would have spanked my bum so hard it would have stayed red for a month! That is definitely not the way kids talk to their parents!" Translation: I'm losing ground here but my voice is way louder than yours right now which means I just won the match. THE END!

No one says anything for the rest of the ride. My self-justification is slipping. I can't believe I went the "Why, when I was a kid..." route. I mean, kids really love that, don't they? When they hear it they say to themselves, "Boy, I'm so lucky I didn't grow up with parents like Buck and Noni. I should be grateful to have Mom. I think I"ll start obeying everything she says from now on." And this on the heels of a visit two days earlier in which Buck and Noni had given them them $20 each to go buy whatever Pokemon cards they wanted. If ever I give them money they have to pay it back to me with 10% interest. Yeah, real effective. With any luck, they'll be calling Grandma and Grandpa tonight asking to move in.


Back at home I'm in the kitchen making Brahm's lunch - that's how late we were. I'd drop it off after taking Oliver to school later that morning. An idea occurs to me and I go off in search of a pen and paper. A butterfly post card sits on top of the desk and I choose that. "Dear Brahm," I write. That pen runs out of ink and I pick up another, tracing back over the first words. "Dear Brahm, Do you think people can have an argument and still love each other? I love you very much and even though I was crabby, I hope you still have a great day. Love, Mom." I tape a chocolate-filled silver coin to the front and slip it in his lunch bag.

This would be a great place to wrap up the entry. It's a nice point of resolution where the conflict dissolves into a place of understanding and forgiveness. But that only happens 15% of the time when life doesn't happen. But this isn't one of those times.

On my way out the door again, the phone rings and Brahm's unmistakable voice comes through the other end.

"Mom? Uh, today is the class field trip and you marked on my permission slip that I was supposed to take school lunch with me."

So much for the nifty note idea.

"And Mom? My lunch account is out of money."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

I'll Never Be Famous

Brahm won an award for his Lego airplane sculpture at his school's Reflections Contest. He didn't know he had placed until it was announced at an assembly to which Brooks and I were secretly invited. Here we are in the multi-purpose room beforehand with Oliver at the camera.

This has nothing to do with my entry.

I only posted it because photos add visual interest to blogs. (And because Brooks is so handsome. He keeps getting better-looking with age. Sigh...)

A mid-life crisis was averted two months ago when Kami A. and I headed out to the community garden on a cold, wet Saturday morning. We were stringing lights for the pumpkin festival scheduled for the following weekend and doing a good job of catching up in the process. I don't remember what I said but the gist was some kind of musings on a general malaise that had come over me at the time. I couldn't quite put my finger on what was at the core but Kami did.

"I think for me it was summed up a few months ago when I realized that I'll never be famous," she says candidly from across a few garden rows.

"What?" I query. This seems so off topic.

"Yeah, I woke up one day, realized I'm thirty, married with kids and a mortgage and my name isn't recognized in most households across America."

Oddly, I see where she's going with this. I never considered it before but I begin to see how I, too, carried some kind of hope throughout my adolescence and early adulthood that I would make something of myself. I mean, really be someone. This, of course, translates into a certain amount of fame and recognition, maybe money, too. At twenty-one, the sky is the limit. The future has yet to be defined. Anything could be in store. Now at thirty-four I have settled into a structure that has narrowed down the possibilities quite a bit.

A soft rain falls. I pound stakes into the ground, Kami follows a few feet behind stapling the lights into them. She's still talking, developing the theme as we go and I consider her words.

A blur of new hairstyles, Botox, crash diets, fancy cars, wardrobe upgrades and career changes flashes before my eyes. When that passes, I see a woman wearing her husband's cast-off parka, wet hair sticks to a face laced with hairline wrinkles. She lives in the Sandy ghetto and drives a ten-year-old Subaru station wagon that usually has two little anklebiters affixed to the back seats. Her college degree is gathering dust and the only time anyone ever recognizes her out in public is, well - never.

And then the unexpected happens. Instead of feeling like I somehow failed or sensing the rise of resentment, I feel relief. Yes, relief! This is strange. It's like M. Scott Peck writes in the beginning of his landmark book, "The Road Less Traveled": Life is difficult. And once we accept this truth, suddenly it's not so hard. Once I identified the disappointed expectation, somehow I wasn't so disappointed. And somehow, I don't care about fame or recognition at all. My compulsion to be someone has suddenly dissolved and settled into the satisfaction of simply being.

We finish and head to Hagermann's for sandwiches and more conversation. I consider the good fortune in all areas of my life but especially that which comes in the form of good friends like her.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

In Case of an Emergency

He's not Boo Radley, but only makes me think of him. During the year we exchange warm hellos in passing but he likes to keep to himself and that's OK with me. Last year when Brooks and I took the boys trick-or-treating, we knocked on his door and waited. He appeared with the traditional bowl of candy but stopped when he saw us and closed the door. A moment later, however, it opened again and he emerged with a clever smile and two large pumpkin-shaped trick-or-treat bags full to the brim with candy bars, suckers, and other such goodies - one for each of my sons. Still smiling, he nodded in response to our delight, and then closed the door again.

This year we were treated to the same kindness.

"You guys can borrow my belt sander if you don't have one."

Brooks and I look at each other wondering how to respond. Usually when you hire someone to do work for you, that's exactly what you think you're doing - "hiring". The carpenter we chose to do the finish work on the basement, however, is standing in front of us telling us that he will loan us his personal equipment free of charge. This so we can finish one of the DIY projects that have become the norm as we attempt to complete a huge undertaking on a modest budget.

He has a wife and kids. He has a mortgage. I'm sure has has a car payment, too.

"Uh, that would be great!" one of us says in a way that probably comes off as something close to awkward but not ungrateful. Do people really do stuff like this? He does. Over the course of the remodel he has stopped in to see how we were surviving even when he was not directly involved. Not only has he freely lent tools but also his experience, advice, and a listening ear to boot. His moral support, easy laugh, and attention to the detail of his craft have pulled us through some tight spots, even (and especially) when he was not on the clock.


Our home away from home is the roomy and well-kept basement apartment of Brooks' aunt and uncle. Our boys have found new and fast friends in their second cousins, crashing summer and holiday parties not intended for their attendance - but who would know the difference? Room is always made for them on the trampoline, air hockey table, inflatable water slide, zip-line, and Cousins Club House. An extra slice of pizza, some ice-cream cones or a big helping to Uncle L's Belgian waffle specialty will periodically find its way into their bellies. Brand new boxes of color pencils from aunt and uncle met them on their first day of school, new tee-shirts just for them came back from a St. George excursion, and a notice arrived in the mail the other day letting them know of a gift subscription to Kids' National Geographic.

Of course these are not the perks given to good customers in order to keep their business. Brooks and I are squatters, first rate! They have not only opened their doors to us but have rolled out the red carpet, too. In fact, not only do they decline rent but once when we wrote out a check to cover our utilities, we found it the next day on the breakfast table with a note that read, "You are our guests."

photo credit to Brooks and his clever phone

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Printed with Permission

If colonoscopies, nudity, and flatulence repel you, you are advised to read no further. :)

So, I picked up Oliver from school the other day and as we pulled up to our house, I explained, "Hey, when we go inside we're going to have to be a bit quiet because Papa is resting. While you were at school he was up at the hospital having a colonoscopy and he's pretty tired."

And then the inevitable question: "What's a colonoscopy?"

"Well, it's when a doctor uses a camera attached to a scope to be able to look inside your large intestine to make sure everything is healthy." At the age of two or three, Oliver went through a phase of looking through my Netter's anatomy book whenever he had a question about the human body. He was pretty keen on knowing how things worked and what they looked like beneath the surface. There was that confusion once between an asparagus and an esophagus, but once we worked through that, he was good to go. Having this to build on, I felt sure he understood the phrase "large intestine", especially since he had also successfully graduated from the anal phase around the same time.

He pauses a moment, digesting this (no pun intended) then wants to know, "That camera - is it pretty small?"

"Oh, yes. Pretty small." I say.

"As small as a crumb?"

"Well, maybe not that small, but small nonetheless."

We park the car and get out, walking toward the back door. I know he's imagining just how this procedure unfolds in the OR. "Was he naked?", he asks frankly, looking up at me.

"Well, sure but the hospital gives him something like a robe to wear over the top so he can have some privacy."

This reassures him a little but he suddenly stops at the door: there's one more thing he wants to know before he'll go inside. "Is he still naked?"

Suppressing a smile, I let him know that his father is fully clothed and it is, in fact, safe to proceed into the house.

The following is not the first time I have underestimated the Great Brain of the Firstborn.

Enjoying leftovers today after church, we're all seated around the table talking about this and that. The subject turns to stars and planets since Brooks has mentioned that the first photos of planets outside our solar system has emerged in the news recently. Oliver is naturally animated. He gestures dramatically with his hands and face as he speaks. Brahm, on the other hand, is more subtle. It's usually hard to know what he's thinking just by looking at his face. In fact, most of the time I wonder if he can hear me at all when I'm talking to him since at any given moment, he's usually involved in some kind of manual activity that absorbs his attention.

So the conversation is going something like this:

Brooks: "Which planet in our solar system is the smallest?"

Oliver, hand shooting up wildly before the question is entirely formed: "Oh, I know! It's Pluto! And did you know that Venus is the hottest? It's like 133 degrees or something. Wait, maybe 5,000. And it would burn you if you were even on that planet. Well, not it you had metal to protect you. It will burn everything except metal, like robots."

In my minds eye, I see droplets of saliva shooting through the air between us generated by the sheer force of his excitement coupled with his lisp.

Brooks: "And what about Jupiter - ?"

Oliver, interrupting again: "You couldn't even land on Jupiter, you know why? Because it's all made of gas swirling around everywhere. There's nothing you could even land on."

Brooks: "Except for the lava at the core - "

Oliver:" Yeah, except for the lava. And you know what? The lava is so hot, sooo hot, that nobody could even live in there. And you know what else?" He raises his hands to make a crushing motion with his fingers accompanied by the appropriate sounds. "The pressure from all the gases above you would smash you to death!" he explains, parroting something his father had said moments earlier.

Jenny, with her two bits: "And what's Jupiter classified as? A gassy _____."

Oliver, hand shooting up once again: "'Giant'! A 'gassy giant'!"

Brahm is at his seat, not having moved much in the last five minutes except to look around from time to time. He's too busy using his fork to shift the food around his plate to be bothered with the conversation. And yet, here I see his eyebrow go up and a smile start to curl at the corners of his mouth.

"A gassy giant? You mean like Papa's tooties?"

There's a brief moment of silence where his sudden comment stumps everyone, even the little brother. Then, we simultaneously erupt into laughter and with that, the conversation has come to a pleasant end. There is, it seems, nothing left to say.

Friday, October 31, 2008

When October Goes

Yes, I'm out of the closet about my affinity to Barry Manilow and his music. In fact, I have been for a long time. In double fact, if you know me, you probably know that I am the proud owner of a quadruple CD set of his called "The Complete Collection and Then Some" that Graywhale actually paid me to walk out the door with some ten years ago or so. I have owned vinyl, audio cassettes, CD's and recently an mP3 of his music spanning from seventh grade to the present. But I digress.

{Photo: Quoth the Brahmie, "Nevermore."}

October is my favorite month of the year hands down. And this year in particular has been the most brilliant fall I can remember since moving to this neighborhood. The weather has been warm all month (except for the day of the pumpkin festival but that's a tradition so it doesn't count) which makes it seem like fall has lasted longer this year. Not the calendar fall, the beautiful leaves and sunny afternoon fall. Barry Manilow, Tony Bennet, Paula Cole and others have sung down the end of the season in my home this month with songs like "The Autumn Leaves", "Indian Summer" and the title of this entry, "When October Goes". Johnny Mercer wrote the music to that tune but never finished it with words. Manilow approached Mercer's widow for permission to add lyrics and make a recording. Permission was granted and the result is a wistful tune that enunciates the end of a warm, colorful season and laments the beginning of a cold and gray one. Sigh. Double sigh.

So today is the last day of the month. We went to Oliver's Halloween party at school this morning and are now washing the dishes from lunch and cleaning up for tonight's festivities. My sister Vicki and her husband come down every year to trick-or-treat around the neighborhood with us around the neighborhood. Before we head out we grab a bite to eat of the traditional "Cheesy Beef Hideaways" and fresh-pressed "apple slider" as Oliver has called it since he could talk. Then it's back to the house to examine and plunder the loot, of course. I make my anal attempts to buy off their candy with trans fats and HFCS in it then we settle in around the fire and try to stay awake as long as we possibly can before November 1st inevitable arrives.

{Photo: Here lies the body
Oliver Croft Briggs
he sucks his white fingers
like ghostly-sweet twigs.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Wise As Serpents

Since Brooks and I moved out of the house, we've been eating breakfast together every morning as a family. We all have to leave the house at the same time to get to school, work, etc., and so it just works out that way. We find this to be a convenient time to read scriptures with the boys since they can't talk while their mouths are chewing or get up and run around with a hand stuck to a spoon. So far it's working.

A few weeks ago we started in on some of the war chapters in Alma to make sure and hook them in good and strong.

That's working, too.

One day back at our house, I hear some squawking in the back yard and decide to investigate. Going out the back door, I'm nearly bowled over by Oliver who zooms past me into the house with Brahm in hot pursuit.

"Mom!", he yells, running up to me. "Oliver's not following the rules! He was shooting me with his squirt gun when I didn't even have mine loaded yet!"

He's not just annoyed, he's mad. What's worse, Oliver has taken cover before Brahm can exact his revenge. He's frustrated as am I when they fight. We both stand there not knowing what to do.

Suddenly, the Holy Ghost descends on me like a dove.

"Hey," I begin nonchalantly. "Do you remember when we were reading the other morning about Moroni and Teancum? They wanted to get the city of Mulek back from the Lamanites but to do it, they first had to come up with a way to lure the Lamanites out. Do you remember how they did it?"

The clouds begin to clear from his face and I watch as his plan of action takes form.

"Yeah...", he says slowly, a smile curling up the corners of his mouth. "They came up with a decoy."

What happened next was nothing short of genius on the boy's part. Preying on his little brother's weakness for sweets, he runs out the side gate, hides behind the fence and begins to make the sounds of an ice cream truck.

"Do do dooo dah de dee, dah de dee dum.", he croons to "The Yellow Rose of Texas".

And I'll be a monkey's uncle if it wasn't Oliver's knotty little head that pokes itself around the corner of the back door not two seconds later. Bam! Bam! Bam! With impeccable timing, Brahm jumps out from behind the gate and soaks the little bugger from head to toe, sending him screaming into yonder parts of the neighborhood.

I don't recall seeing a look of satisfaction like that on Brahm's face for quite some time. I must have had a similar expression on my face, too, judging by the way I felt. Justice had been served and a lesson learned - maybe two. It would probably be a while before Oliver came up against his brother again and as for Brahm, maybe he would never have to ask the question, "But what does all this have to do with my life?"

Monday, October 13, 2008

Elections 2008 Brinkel-style

This is for Brandi who says I need to update my blog.

From the backseat in the car on the way to school last month, Brahm pipes up, "Mom, you know who I'm voting for for president? Obama." I'm surprised and amused, not by his choice per se but by the fact that he's given it any thought.

"You know who I'm voting for?", Oliver chimes in, removing his sucking fingers from his mouth only long enough to say the words. "John McCain."

This amuses me even more. I am imagining our '96 Subaru wagon rattling down the street with a McCain bumper sticker on Oliver's side and an Obama on Brahm's.

It's Brahm who interrupts my thoughts. "You know why I'm voting for Obama? It's because we've never had a black president before and I think it would be good if we could have one."

There's an audible pause and then this from the little brother: "Obama's black?"

"Yep." I confirm, "He's black."

"Is John McCain white?"

"Dear child, they don't come any whiter."

Another pause and then,"Well then I'm voting for Obama, too." I raise my eyebrows and glance in the rearview mirror to see if I can interpret his face for a reason behind the change. I can only tell that he's thinking.

"Why don't you want to vote for McCain anymore?" I finally ask.

"Well, if you put a black crayon on a piece of white paper and color it, the black will always win."

Aaaah. Now I see. No, I don't pretend to understand the logic behind the decision but with Oliver, it's all about winning, whatever the context, whatever the reasoning. Therefore, come November 5th, may the best crayon win.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Greetings from the South Pacific

Aaaaaah. Do you hear that? Neither do I. I'm on my second day of vacation from my day job - Brahm and Oliver. Brooks took them down to his parents' house for the weekend and I am all by myself. All I can hear is the soft hum of the box fan and even though I'm here in Sandy, as far as I'm concerned I may as well be lying on the beach somewhere warm and tropical. Now that I think about it, I really need to renegotiate my contract and build this kind of vacation clause in for three or four times a year at least.

Down at grandma and grandpa's, Brahm and Oliver are doing the same thing.

Things I have done since they left:

•stayed up late watching TV with all my neglected pedicure supplies laid out in front of me
•went for a bike ride without a trailer attached
•slept in
•sat through stake conference this morning without having to break up a fight
•didn't make lunch
•was the first to take a nap after church
•read for as long as I wanted without hiding in a closet
•took another nap
•read some more
•slept some more
•called a friend without having to schedule it on the family calendar
•nothing in general, and lots of it

The other side of the coin is that their absence allows me to see just what the little anklebiters add to my life. This isn't mom-guilt that compels me to include this piece of info, either - it's actually with a certain amount of surprise that I do. It will be nice, for a change, to actually feel delight when I see them again tomorrow. I guess that what vacation is for.

But I won't have to think about that for another seventeen and a half hours...

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Parable of the Three Blue Mugs

Yesterday my sister Lindsey came over and we hosted a joint garage sale together. She had lots of enticing vintage glassware items for sale which inevitably drew Oliver in. With some of the quarters he made from hocking a few toys, he soon became the proud owner of three glass mugs. "They're for my mom," he explained to Lindsey. I'm sure he was aware somehow that this was the only way he could make her consent to selling such sparkly forbiddens to a minor. When I came back out of the house, he presented his gift to me.

[Withhold judgment here]: Preoccupied with trying to get rid of all our stuff, the blazing heat of the afternoon, and wondering what we were going to scrape up for lunch, I offered a paltry, "Oh, that's beautiful, Oliver," in one of those irritating, phony-mom voices. I had no idea what had gone on while I was in the house and wasn't sure of what he was really doing or saying. When I finally understood that he had purchased them for me, I was secretly irritated that he was accumulating more stuff while I was trying to get rid of it. Ughh. Yes - low moment.

There's more. I asked him to take the mugs into the house so they wouldn't get broken. Wait, let me help you up the stairs... "No, I can do it myself, Mom." and one fell and broke its handle. "It's OK, Mom.", he reassured me. "We can drop the other ones so they all break their handles, and then they'll be the same!"

A few lessons here:
1) I was so absorbed into myself that I missed what was really happening in those moments as they happened and so they passed me by
2) I couldn't see that I was placing more value on an object than on my son's delight
3) Children live in the moment. In fact, they are experts at it.
4) There's more than on way to interpret an event. To me, the broken handle was a misfortune that could have been prevented. To Oliver, it was an opportunity for transformation.
5) It wasn't too late to turn my mistake around

This afternoon I called Oliver into the kitchen. While some berries and yogurt were mixing in the ice-cream maker, we washed the two remaining mugs together then filled them with the frozen yogurt when it was done. "I know just the place to eat these, Mom", he said with his knowing look. "The porch swing!"

And he was right.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Incubation Speculation

Day ten of twenty-one.

So our little incubator is jerry-rigged out of a Styrofoam cooler, some mini-loaf pans, a dish scrubber,a string of garden lights and a meat thermometer (the latter two items were both gifts on separate occasions from our neighbor Randy. How fitting since he and his wife Colleen are our chicken-sitters whenever we go out of town...). The "instructions" say to turn the eggs up to five times a day, keep the temperature at 102F with the relative humidity somewhere around something percent so that the eggs don't dry out (hence the dish sponge which we keep wet all the time). How do you know if the eggs are incubating? After the passing of Chicker, I suppose the next worse thing after all of the anticipation is to realize we didn't so it right and that the eggs won't hatch. Hmmm. Is it possible to stage a hatching?? Broken eggshells and three fluffy chicks from the IFA suddenly appear in the incubator one morning. "Brahm, Oliver! Come see what happened last night!"

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happy Anniversary!

It's been nine years today and we celebrated first thing in the morning by removing the toilet from our upstairs bathroom (photo courtesy of Brahm). The toilet was the only thing allowing us to stay in our house during the remodel (who needs a shower?) and so now that the only modern plumbing convenience remaining is the kitchen sink, it seems we must go. (Brooks' aunt and uncle in South Jordan have graciously agreed to take us in.)

They say if your marriage can survive building or remodeling a home, it can survive anything. How fitting that we should mark the occasion in this fashion.

Other things we have survived since July 14, 1999:

•moving to Historic Sandy from Provo
•three job changes for Brooks
•two live childbirths for Jenny
•the gain and loss of one hundred pounds directly associated with those childbirths
•transition from a sedan to a station wagon (yikes!). No minivan in sight.
•two first days of pre-school and one of kindergarten
•three trips to the ER and one appendectomy for Jenny; a tonsillectomy for Brahm
•(almost) two Bush terms
•the ascension of Paris Hilton and Nicole Ritchie in popular culture

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Thursday Playgroup

For a few years now, Brahm, Oliver and I have had a summer tradition of meeting up with a small group moms and their kids for a weekly outing. These are women I originally met through friends of Brooks while he was in the grad program.

One of the mom's husband is an organist for the tabernacle choir. Today he gave a recital at the old tabernacle and she kindly arranged a backstage tour for us which included an up-close explanation of the organ itself as well as a walking tour through the pipes behind the stage! Of course this is one of those moments where I'm thinking what a fine cultural opportunity this is is for my kids in order to subdue the guilt I feel for subjecting them to an hour of doing the impossible: sitting still through the recital and keeping their hands to themselves while near and in the organ! What are all those buttons, knobs and keys for if not to be physically examined? Sigh. And what's more, of course I felt compelled at dinner to reiterate what a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that was for them and how amazed they should be by what they saw and did (ahem, like I was).

Illusion: this had some cultural meaning for them.
Hope: they will remember this day as time well-spent with each other and with me.
Reality: Oliver summarizes the day's events with Brooks by stating that he had shared his Pokemon cards with Isaac and that Isaac promised to share his with Oliver next week.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Egg Watch 2008

At the prompting of our media-savvy neighbors, this is our official foray into the blogosphere. The matter at hand that incurred the prompting? Our family's attempt at hatching three chicken eggs.

Chicker (Brahm's Rhode Island Red) was unexpectedly taken back home to the Great Coop in the Sky last week by a (brace yourselves) wicked maggot infestation. We noticed she wasn't quite right only too late and rushed - yes, rushed - her to the vet's for an emergency diagnosis/prognosis. He gave her a 50/50 chance of surviving the treatment and so, after a brief family council in which we discussed our options, Brahm decided that we should attempt to save her. Naturally the question of cost came up and the vet replied with no small amount of humor in his voice, "Well, if she makes it through, she will definitely be your golden chicken!" (Can I still be a good mom and have secretly hoped in that moment that she wouldn't? Sigh.)

Well, she didn't. We were on our way out the door to go camping/river rafting with some friends when we noticed she was sick and so that's where we were when we got the news. As fate would have it, one of those friends had packed some farm fresh ("fresh" = "fertilized") eggs in his cooler and, upon hearing of Chicker's passing, kindly donated three of them to the replacement cause! And they just happened to be from a Rhode Island Red: the stars were aligned.

Chicker is resting peacefully behind the raspberry patch and we've completed day one of the twenty-one-day incubation period.