With such a limited budget for accessories I was surprised to see Brittney today with new shoes. It was a costly little boot bought as she tripped hurrying out the door to take her roommate to the Emergency Room. (I'm not kidding).
I read this article yesterday and wished that I had done so without mascara. (That was your fair warning). Tragedy has struck this amazing family but what has been even more amazing is the way they have rallied around each other. Their bond as sisters has especially shone through. They have managed to not only inspire thousands of others but show us all how to see the tender mercies in our lives regardless of the circumstances. Sister Courtney wrote early on that through this experience she no longer feels that there are tragedies in life-only opportunities for growth.
My thoughts have, of course, turned to my relationship with my own sisters. Your mom always tells you to "be nice to your sisters because friendships will come and go but you will always have the relationship you have created with your sisters." Strangely, once again, mom is right. Moving as often as we did growing up we seemed to have had more friendships that went than came our way and -perhaps to our detriment- that was often okay because we had each other. Each of us sisters, has, in recent years had our own trials that, if asked, we would have gladly opted out of- (except for maybe Kelli-she's especially tough) - but as there was no choice given we have endured. I have watched as my sisters have chosen to be refined by life's experiences and have continued to gain strength and wisdom that I have been and will continue to be able to draw from throughout this journey called life. I am sure that we will continue to receive more "opportunities for growth" in the years ahead and that is okay. Because one of the greatest "tender mercies" in my life is knowing that through it all my sisters will always be there.
There is something special about boys. No..I am not referring to their special "smell" or even the "special" sounds they can make. It's their ingenuity, their industriousness and their curiosity for life. They create fun. They see the world through explorative eyes. They find gross things fascinating. I find them fascinating.
For example, when I came into the kitchen today I saw this on my counter:
This in the mud room:
And 10 top ramen wrappers in the garbage can.
The thing that really fascinated me about that one was that they had even loaded the dishwasher.
Last night I feasted. And I came hungry. My "tank was empty", my "well was dry" my "cup needed to be filled"-however you want to say it-I needed last night. Once a month, I gather with a group of 6 other women to be fed.
Not just physically-although the dinner that Andi made last night was amazing-but spiritually and mentally as well. We call it our "Family Night Group" because from the very beginning we have each taken a month and prepared 7 (one for each mom to take) gospel centered lessons to take home and present and discuss with our own families during a weekly "Family Night." This past year we chose conference talks. A typical lesson has had maybe one other story (geared more to kids) that further illustrates the gospel principle in the talk and a visual-maybe a picture or an object lesson. Last night Kristin gave us her lesson from Elder Worthlin; Concern for the One. A large focus of this lesson is showing kindness to all-something that Kristin has very sweetly and humbly mastered in her life. She also reminded us of the story of the 3 Musketeers-who were not only loyal protecters of the king but loyal friends to each other. "All for one and one for all" being their heartfelt motto and words they lived by.
I think true charity and kindness has almost become a lost art. Kristen teaches her kids that "they will never be sorry that they were too kind." I don't think we can remind ourselves or our families of that enough. I am buoyed and lifted and inspired by my association with these amazing women. Truly, I want to be just like them when I grow up. I left last night after filling my belly with food from Andi's Thanksgiving favorites recipe collection,
my mind with talk about the upcoming presidential election, stories from Rebecca and Shelia's family trips to the Holy Land, family ideas for the Halloween Holiday,
the nutritional value of a sweet potato and how to create a leaf made of frosting,
and my spirit with spoken and unspoken testimonies borne in the exemplary way that each of these mothers, wives and friends live their lives. My cup runeth over.
I can tell somebody's been feeding the dog people food (Ahhem, Jordan). You know how I can tell? First, he pukes in the morning right after all the kids, and husband, have left for the day. Second, he stands by the table whining and crying hoping that the noise will get to us eventually and we will, out of sheer desperation for our sanity, feed him some of whatever we are eating. We had really yummy spaghetti tonight and our groans of culinary delight were mixed with the whining of the dog wanting to try a few morsels but I was having none of it. No. The only way to teach this dog is to not give in. "Just ignore him", I tell the kids.
It must have worked because after we all ran into the office to get Jodi a list of SL restaurants for her date we came back out to the kitchen to find the dog laying quietly beneath the table. In fact, amazingly, he never whined or begged for another morsel all night. Almost like he was guilty or something. That's right, people. Tough love.
We women love to swap. Swap babysitting, swap stories of our labor and delivery, swap recipes, ideas for decorating, lessons, birthday parties and child rearing. But of all those, the thing I most love to swap these days is dinner. Every Monday, I make a meal and 4X it for 3 other families besides ours. The moms of those 3 other families are doing the same thing and at 1:30 we meet to SWAP. I now have 4 fully prepared dinners for the week and I only had to cook once, come up with one dinner idea and do major clean up-that's right-once. My kids get to try things they might not have otherwise (and I get to plead innocence) and it frees me up to make a nice salad or homemade rolls (although I get those with dinner at times). It helps that I know and love these women, that our families are generally the same size and that they are all incredible cooks.
So here's my swap for you...dinner ideas from dinner swap:
*BBQ ribs with oven roasted potatoes (sprinkle the dry onion soup mix over peeled and cut potatoes)
*spaghetti with garlic bread pull-aparts
*shredded chicken tostadas with cheese, avocado, cilantro and sour cream
*CPK BBQ chicken salad w/ jicama, tomatoes, avocado, black beans, cheese, chips and ranch dressing/BBQ sauce.
Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. (from the Adventures of Tom Sawyer)
Last summer, at the ripe ol' age of 9, Gabe was handed over the reins (or handle) of the lawnmower by his big brother, Christian. When I looked out and saw Gabe doing (a little haphazardly as you would expect) what was supposed to be Christian's job, I called my older boy over to question his morals. "But mom, he wanted to mow."
Saturday, I again looked out to see Christian's friend, Tyler, bowing off my driveway. Yep, you guessed it- Christian's job. "Hey, thanks Tyler!" I called out, giving my boy a knowing sideways glance. In a flash, Christian was at my side whispering, "mom...just so you know, he wanted to do it." Of course he did, Tom. Of course he did.
As boys do not cease to be boys, just before finishing, Tyler was able to help Christian blow-dry his hair.
A couple of years ago, I saw Odyssey Dance Theater's Halloween production, THRILLER. It was kinda freaky, kinda funny, kinda funky. I liked it. I vowed to come back again-with the family. As luck would have it the kids were out of school yesterday, Jordan was in town, Brittney had fall break and so Thriller tickets got booked. I was feeling pretty good about myself. I love it when we have a plan. And I just knew the rest of family would be so grateful. This was an indulgence. These tickets were not cheap. This was going to be fun.
Me: "Hey hon, I got Thriller tickets for Thursday night!"
Jordan: "Is that the dance thing?"
Me (sensing hesitation): "ya..but it's a Halloween dance thing. It's really cool."
Jordan: "How many tickets did you get? Enough for the boys?"
Me (feeling a little frustration creep in): "I got enough for the whole family to go. I may get a couple more 'cause Britt's friends wanted to come."
Jordan: "Hey...I've got a great idea! Just give them MY ticket."
Me (really, really thinking about it. I mean, how much fun would he be if he didn't want to be there?): "Actually, I thought it would be fun to do something with the whole family."
So...I stew. I think of all of the times that I go with him to events I'm not thrilled about and the fact that if HE made a plan, I'd be all over it-regardless.
Thursday afternoon I get this phone call from the foot dragging, Thrillerless husband:
Jordan: "Hey hon, I just called to tell you that I'm excited about tonight. (I drop the phone momentarily then pick it up to hear him finish...)Not about the dance thing necessarily but for the chance to be with you. The chance to be with the family."
That was theplan.
Nothing freaky about it. I just got the real Thriller.
Confession: I am a die hard sports fan. Yesterday, our High-school girl's soccer team played my niece's team in the playoffs. Our team wore green jerseys. MY team wore a white jersey with the #6 on the back.
It was tough to get up this morning. THIS was staring me in the face. It felt like I was sorting dirty clothes in slow motion. My warm bed was calling my name.
As I threw Gabe's soccer uniform in a pile, I thought back to Saturday when his dad excitedly told me after the game that he thought Gabe was the STAR of the team. My son beamed with pride. My heart swelled at the look of joy in his eyes.
I sorted Jodi's pajama pants that Hailee borrowed on her weekend sleepover with her aunt. I thought of Hailee's repeated announcement of "I had so much fun with Jodi" and my heart filled with love and appreciation for my sister and her positive influence in the lives of my children.
(Let's see..socks, undies, towels-nothing).
Ah, my skirt from Sunday-now with hot sauce and a little apple crisp on it-is the skirt I wore to church (it was clean at the time). The skirt I lovingly served my family dinner -thrilling at the addition of Brittney and Kia home for the day from college. I was still wearing the skirt when we drove up to Kelli's to draw names for Christmas and shared desert and our favorite thoughts from conference. Today that skirt reminds me that I have family all around me that I love and adore.
What is on Christian's jeans? Really. Maybe it's grease from riding go-carts with his dad on Saturday. An event Christian has been pressing for for quite some time and one that his dad was more than willing to oblige. I heard them before I saw them when they returned. Reliving the events and teasing each other over who got the fastest score. (Yes, honey, YOU were the fastest) I love that I married a man who loves his children-who spends time with them. So..they all create dirty laundry for me to wash and dry and fold and put away (small sigh)...but all that dirty laundry reminds me how truly blessed I am. I wouldn't trade any of it for the world.
My baby brother turned 29. I have to say, this boy warms the very cockles of my heart. He has a way of pouring on the charm so that all of the women in his life swoon and drop everything to be of service to him.
We gathered family together Sunday to celebrate with the dinner of his choice: Shepherd's Pie. It's been awhile since I've had comfort food like that.
long brown hair,
brown skin and
lean, mean muscles that
help him to
skate and skate and skate
and play tennis.
Meticulous about his clothes,
his closet, his car.
(Please don't dry that shirt and please lay these out nicely on the couch till I can fold them)