Friday, May 13, 2011

Going Home

When I was 18, fresh out of high school my parents abandoned me and moved here, to Idaho Falls.  My mother grew up here and I am technically from here (I was born here and lived here until I was two) so when they moved here this quickly became "home".  I know that it has more to do with my parents and family than the actual location; if they decided to move to Nebraska or Brazil, that too would quickly be called home, even though I have no real connection to either.  But, one way or the other, they live here and I live here so, in this present moment, it is home.

It's not as easy as that though, because for the last thirteen years I have lived in Southern California.  SoCal and I have a very complicated relationship. We have, at times, hated each other.  It should not be over 100 degrees in October.  It really just shouldn't.  It should not take 45 minutes to drive 15 miles.  No one should live in a 1100 sq. ft house worth a half million dollars.  But, we have loved each other too.  Ben and I "grew up" there, learning to depend on each other and eventually getting to the point where others could depend on us. We learned to love the hills covered in orange groves and farmer's markets that went year round.  We made friends that turned into family.   We loved it, very much.  So now that I'm here, when I refer to home it means California.  It's confusing, I know, but it gets worse.

Really, if we get down to brass tacks, "home" is Orem.  Orem is where I went to school, had my first job, where I went to college, met my husband, bought my first house, had my first baby.  It has changed a lot over that last 18 years; the orchard behind the house I grew up in is now a subdivision, my best friends have moved away, the swimming pool I learned to swim in is now a water park and they tore down my high school last year.  But every time I go back, when I spend a summer night in the shadow of my mountains, it still says home to me and I love it.  I'm glad that I feel that way because in July...I'm moving home.

When we left Santa Clarita last summer, we felt inspired to do it. We had never lived near our families and Ben was self-employed, working from home, the timing seemed perfect.  We also felt like a year was what we were being asked to do and, with our limited understanding, we assumed that meant we would move back and just re-insert ourselves into our previous lives in Newhall, we REALLY DID think that.  Apparently, God had other plans.  In January, both Ben and I began to grow weary of our self-employed life.  We decided it was time to look for a job.  We applied for dozens, focusing on here and California.  Nothing.  Then one just kind of fell into our laps.  Ben called a company in January, mostly on a whim, it didn't even have any jobs available, and long story short, they have a job now and they want Ben.  The company is in Colorado now but moving to the Lehi area this summer; Ben starts mid July.  He will be the media director for a growing company that, in a nutshell, is working to promote and sustain healthy families.  We've pretty much decided to live in Orem because I am prejudiced and think it's the best place in the whole valley.

So there you have it, our big news.  I'm going home.  I wish that it was a move filled only with joy, but the truth is this move is more than tinged with sadness.  I have loved being here, just minutes away from my sisters and parents.  It has been one of the sweetest years of my life.  I will miss, with an actual ache, my "family" in California.  When we left, the sadness was tempered by our belief that we would be back soon, now that we aren't it makes my heart hurt.  I wish I could express to you how much my association with you over the years has meant to me.  You filled the mother and sister shaped holes in my heart.  You taught me to be a better wife, mother and friend.  I love each of you so much and I feel so blessed to have been able to be a part of your lives.

So there you have it.  Our big news.  I wish I could have called you all and told you in person, it seems so impersonal in a blog, I know.  I'm just not sure emotionally I could have taken it.  So, here's the plan, I will forward the want ads to you all and then you can all move to Utah and then we can be together again.


Can't blame a girl for trying.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Love Letter 15 Years in the Making

Dear Ben,

I love that you tell me I'm pretty even when I look gross.  I thought that should be number one.

I love that you fill up my water bottle and put it in the fridge so it's cold when I go to the gym and that you know to fill it with the fridge water and not the filtered water that tastes like nothing.

I love that you have taught yourself how to do Ev's hair so that I can sleep in every once in a while.  those first few were a little embarrassing but she's young and she won't remember.

I love the fact that you knew this morning that the red bow was the wrong kind of red and didn't match the red shirt Ev was wearing.  My dad would NEVER have known something like that.

I love that you talked to the boys about the birds and the bees because the thought of me having to do it made me squeamish.

I love how you know my order at Subway.

I love that you yell louder than any other parent at our kids games.

I love that you get up at 5 am to go to the gym so that you and Cooper can go together.

I love that you can flip an egg without a spatula.

I love that flex when I grab your arm.

I love that you love my family.

I love that that one time I said I think my sister should come live with us for a few months so she could attend a class in California, you said "okay" and not "WHAT?!?"

I love that you still call your mom to tell her you got in safe when you have been traveling.

I love that when I tell you I need a day with my sisters, you say, "What should I make them for dinner?" not "When are you going to be home?"

I love that you are loyal.

I love how you call to tell me you miss me even when you've only been gone a couple hours.

I love how you learned all the weird rules for rugby, just because your son loves to play.

I love how you get upset with the kids when they get sassy with me, because "No one talks to your wife like that."

I love that you hold my hand when we walk, even at the grocery store.

I love that you told me you loved me and wanted to be my husband fifteen years ago and you still mean it today.

I love that I get to spend the next fifteen years with you, and the next, and the next and that you loved me enough to make it forever.

I love you.  Forever.  I can't wait to see what the next fifteen brings.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Funerals, Family and Fun

 Funerals can be fun.  At least they can be if you come from an irreverent family like mine.  There are of course tears, copious amounts of tears, but at least some of those come because you are laughing.  My Grandma lived a good life; she used it up, wrung it out and then went back for more.  This was never more evident than at her funeral.  She was a fantastic lady, lived a fantastic life and raised a fantastic family.  I am so profoundly grateful to be a part of that family.

My grandparents had six kids, all of them married and had kids, LOTS of kids.  I have 31 cousins on my dad's side,  all but four were there (one just happened to be hanging out with my grandma on the other side).  We live all over the country, we range in age from 50 to 21, we are about as different as you can get and yet, it doesn't matter .  Maybe it's because we share the same gene pool, or maybe, and more likely, we were all raised by people who were raised by the same people (did you follow that?).  Either way, it doesn't really matter, because what you end up with is 30 people that are pretty awesome to spend time with.  Grandma's funeral was one part funeral and two parts family reunion.  We spent the weekend reminiscing, reacquainting,  and firmly committing to spend more time with each other.  I honestly think that's exactly what my grandma would have wanted.

Now in the interest of posterity I will share my favorite memories from this weekend:

1.  When my cousin Tom walked in I turned to my cousin Barbara and said, pointing at Tom, "Look, Grandma was so awesome that Donny Osmond came to her funeral."  From then on out Barb laughed every time she saw him.  That may seem odd to you, but I present, Tom:

Uncanny, isn't it?  P.S. Sorry, Tom, if you read this and it's embarrassing.

2.  My dad telling me that when he dies he wants me to give the life sketch and that if I take more than 15 minutes he'll get up and tell me to shut up and sit down.  He really would, and it made me laugh.

3.  The flower arrangement that I had done for my Grandma from her grandkids:

She'll probably come back and haunt me for letting them put cheap chocolate on her flowers, but they were awsome!

4.  This conversation between my daughter and my cousin's son:
A.J.(4) and Evie(5) are looking at Grandma in her casket

A.J.:  When this is over they are going to close the lid and then she will turn into a skeleton and then a ghost.

Evie:  (rolling her eyes) That doesn't happen, you have to take off your skin to be a skeleton.

A.J.: (nodding sagely) True.

Then they walk away.

5.  As my grandma was passing, my uncle thought it might be nice if they played MoTab singing the hymns.  Now we can debate the helpfulness of hearing "Press Forward Saints" as you go towards the light, but that was not my favorite part.  That came later when my dad said he would like us to play Pink Floyd's "The Wall" as he goes.

6.  Putting together the photo montage DVD of Grandma's life and finding this:

And this:
And these:
From when Grandad was wounded in action on one of his bombing runs.

Grandad in front of his plane the "Dinah Might".  That's my grandma's name on the right above his head.

And finally these:

 That's what my Grandma did on her 80th birthday.  Parasailing in Hawaii with a 650 ft. long rope.  They wanted to put her on the short rope and she got mad.  She was the oldest person they had ever flown.  She did that in her knee high pantyhose and walking shoes.  Remember how I said she was fantastic?

7.  Learning that, at least once, my grandparents had a "quickie" in a closet at Grandad's work. 

There are more but most of them contain family "secrets" that probably shouldn't be shared on a public blog.  Perhaps that caveat should have included that last one, but really, that was too good to not share.  All in all it was good day.  A fitting tribute to a woman who was all about her family.  Man, we're going to miss her.

Death is a funny thing.  Not funny as in "haha", but funny as in odd.  Despite a firm understanding of the plan of salvation, it doesn't change the fact that one day someone is here and the next day they are not.  Just gone.  Even when someone is ready to go, and my grandma was, it still leaves a ragged little hole that has to be filled by other things.  Mostly those other things are just life, the things we living do to keep on...well, living.  Problem is, those other things are also oddly shaped, not hole shaped at all, so no matter  how much you try to fill that hole it never really fills up completely, the ragged edges all exposed and hurt-y, until the simple passing of time does the job for you.  Time comes in and wears down the sharp corners and fills in the empty spaces and finally brings peace. 

I kinda like peace.

Monday, February 14, 2011


My Grandma is dying.  Even now, as I type, my phone is sitting beside me and I keep glancing down at its screen like somehow I might not hear its ring over the clacking of the keyboard.  It's silly, I know, and yet I keep on doing it over and over, the action of it somewhat reassuring.  This is not a sad passing, at least not completely.  Her body is used up, broken, her mind, more and more lately, the same.  She is not happy, often in pain and ready, I think, to go.  But still, she's my Grandma, and I'll miss her.

My grandma was not your typical grandma.  I had one of those, a grandma straight from the pages of a story book.  She belongs to my mom.  This one belongs to my dad.   This is the grandma that taught you how to play cards, let you drink caffeine once in a while, and let you stay up past your bedtime.  She was the one that always had Snickers bars in her freezer and a drawer full of the good stuff somewhere else.  She was the grandma that told you what short sheeting a bed was and then only manages a laugh and a "You little stinks!" when she climbs into bed and finds herself victim to her own prank later that night.  She made fascinating concoctions like fruit salad smothered in Miracle Whip and carrot pudding with caramel sauce, but she evened that out with applesauce cookies, chocolate cake and cinnamon rolls.  She had Easter egg hunts in her garden and took you out to fancy restaurants like Sizzler.  She sent you a dollar on your birthday, even when you were turning 30.  She was the kind of grandma who let you listen to four straight hours of "Maneater" on the tape player in her giant Chrysler when you were lucky enough to get to go on a road trip with her.  It was on one of those road trips, when I was eight or so,  that she introduced me to fine chocolate.  She took me to the shop and bought me a single dark orange creme, her favorite.  She handed it to me like she was passing on an ancient female secret, and that started what has become a lifelong relationship with the good dark stuff.  It was an experience that obviously had an impact on me; here we are 30ish years later, and I remember it like it was yesterday, but the older I get the more I realize it was less about the chocolate and more about the way she made me feel.  I was special and important enough to take part in that ritual with her.  She made everyone feel that way.  She was a great lady.   The proud matriarch of our big crazy family.

She was also a widow.  My Grandad died in 1979.  Which means, if you do the math, that my grandma was alone for three decades.  She never remarried, even though she was relatively young when Grandad died.  I don't know for sure if that was because of a lack of opportunity or by choice, but I don't think that it ever crossed my Grandma's mind that she could be married to anyone else.  She loved him and missed him.  On another one of those road trips we were on together, we passed an old couple driving an RV with plates from back east.  Grandma's eyes got watery and she swore (though she'd never admit it) and said it just wasn't fair that that woman got to be old and travel around in an RV with her husband and she didn't.  It was a rare break, one that I doubt she intended on sharing with her pre-teen granddaughter, but a revealing one, and I remember sitting there for a few minutes trying to figure out if I was supposed to say something.  I didn't, neither did she, and we went back to listening to "Maneater".   Now, the idea of my Grandma criss-crossing the country in an RV is laughable (that would mean giving up her weekly hair and nail appointments), but it was a rare glimpse, at least for me, into the depths of her loneliness.

The last several years my grandma's mind has been slipping.  Her usually sharp mind would easily forget conversations had only moments before, and days, months and even years became jumbled in her head.  Her past was, more and more, becoming her present.  My dad, who had lunch with her every Tuesday, was reporting more often that she was speaking of my Grandad, her parents and siblings (who have been long gone) in the present tense.  Often, she would be angry with Grandad, because while he would be with her at night, when she would wake in the morning he would be gone, off galavanting, she was sure, with the neighbors at the assisted living center where she lives.  My dad believed this was one more sign of her declining mind.  I choose to believe that Grandad was actually there at night, easing his scared sweetheart's transition from our world to his.

My dad told me yesterday that he hopes his mother passes today; that Grandma deserves a Valentine's Day with her husband after thirty years apart.  I told Ben last night I would give anything to witness that reunion.  Later, as I lay in the dark next my own sweetheart, I realized that while I may not witness it with my eyes, it won't matter.  After thirty years apart, the joy contained in that first embrace can't help but be felt on our side of the veil. 

So safe journey, Grandma.  Tell Grandad I said hi.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Snowed In...

Anyone want to guess where our yard ends and the street begins?
As in we really are.  Snowed in, that is.  Yesterday we found ourselves under a severe storm warning, and today it's a blizzard warning.  Who knew a blizzard was worse than a severe storm?  The things you learn.  Anyway, the city is shut down, schools canceled, the roads are closed and if you do venture out, good luck if you slide off the road, because no one's going to come get you.  By the end of it all there should be close to a foot of snow on my lawn, and the 30-50 mile an hour wind is drifting the snow, so it's even deeper in some spots, and you can't drive because visibility is zero.  To top it off, the high tomorrow:  4.  That is not a typo.  FOUR.  4.  FOR.  The low? NEGATIVE 11.  Balmy.  This is where I live.

All I keep thinking is, it's November.   If this is fall, what happens in the winter here?  Yesterday we ventured out in our "severe storm" to stock up on supplies like bread, milk, nacho cheese and Coke.  I thought we should buy things like water and batteries but, apparently, that is over-reacting and, besides, water seemed a little redundant.   I prefer the term cautious.  This weather doesn't seem to affect anyone here.  In SoCal, when it rained more than inch it became a county-wide state of emergency.  We'd watch Storm Watch 2010 on every channel for hours as we wait anxiously to see if that one dog is rescued from the roaring rapids of the L.A. "river".  An hour ago my sister called to ask if I wanted to have a girl's night tonight and I said, "There's a blizzard warning in effect until 11 pm." and she said, "And...?"  And?  AND?!?  And I intend my death to be from old age, not death by freezing in the TGI Friday's parking lot.

It has been 12 years since I've lived through a snowy winter and there are lots of things I've forgotten, like snow is only fun until you're old enough to pick up a snow shovel.  That's a lesson my two young sons are rapidly learning.  Also, it takes 3 times longer than the rest of your body for your butt to warm up.  This is because there is more fat in your rear end, which means less blood, which means less heat.  My tush is still warming up from yesterday around 2:45.   Also, there is a magical quality about snow pants that immediately makes every child have to pee.  It's a fact, look it up.

So I just wanted all of you to know we're fine.  We've hunkered down, waiting out the storm, doing things like making popcorn on the stove and playing Settlers of Catan with the boys.  We'll probably watch a Christmas movie tonight, under quilts, and drink hot cocoa until the kids start to bicker and fight because they've been trapped inside all day and someone is breathing someone else's air and then we'll all end up in separate rooms with a sentence of never-ending grounding hanging above everyone's heads if they dare speak to each other while Ben and I discuss how we're going to afford snow tires and Christmas at the same time.   It's gonna be a long, four five seven months.

Happy Winter everyone.  If no one hears from us by next week, please send help to dig us out!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In case you were wondering...

I'm sure some of you are struggling with what to get Mrs. Snowy Flip-flops for Christmas.  Well, to help you out there, may I present...

In green, please.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Little Miss Sassy-Pants

Scene:  Evie is taking a bath, I come in to check on her...
Me:  Evie, did you put that towel in the tub?
Evie: Yes.
Me:  Evie, you are not supposed to put towels in the tub!
Evie: Well, it's a little late now.

Scene:  Evie crawls into my bed about 2 am. into the empty space Ben usually occupies.  I let her f or a few minuted and then I say...
Me:  Ev it's time to go back to your bed.
Evie: I don't want to, I'm scared.
Me:  You can turn on the bathroom light.
Evie:  YOU can turn on the bathroom light, but I'M pretty much gonna sleep right here.

Scene:  Evie is looking through the Toys R Us catalog
Evie:  I think I'm going to have Santa bring me this WHOLE page.
Me:  I don't think Santa is going to bring you the whole page.
Evie: She looks at me for a minute, smirks and then says: That's what you think.