Thursday, December 30, 2010

lucky seven

upon the occassion of our seventh anniversary

I met Brigham a few months after explicitly committing myself to a fairly formulaic dating regime. Essentially, I decided to quit dating men that were not, in my dad's word, "marriageable." Nice and funny were not enough any more; I needed someone who was serious about a real career, someone who could be a spiritual leader to me without being off-putting or judgmental of the little things like that I had to stop reading the Book of Mormon every day because the thought of a lifetime of perpetual rounds of reading the same thing that was not Harry Potter was just too much at one point, someone who was steady in mood, reliable and responsible. As someone whose favorite movie is Clear and Present Danger, I consulted my feelings for Jack Ryan and knew the truth: I need a man to whose back I could strap myself to be lifelessly carried through all of life's travails (and I am a feminist)
Our first date was to see the Mormon Short-Film Festival at the Provo Library. (During which we saw a clip of Napoleon Dynamite, a movie to which our reaction was identical in a way that is bizarrely important to me--we loved it the first time, wondered what we liked so much about it the second time, and back to love the third. Very bonding.) I barely knew the guy, but the activity selection gave me a positive impression. He may not remember this part, but even the conversation we had at my carell about the prospect of the Film Festival was perfect. He just got me, and I got him, and that was all there was to it.

The date was great and was followed by a series of other very impressive dates to such places as midnight runs to the Provo Hospital cafeteria (best milkshake in town!) and breakfast for dinner at Cracker Barrel (still a favorite, and I thought I hated the place). He was everything on my list, and, though I tried to not place too much emphasis on it, he was funny, too.

Brigham, meanwhile, didn't have a list. But he made one about me. After dropping me off at the conclusion of that first date, he enthusiastically punched the ceiling of the car in which we would later take our first born son home from the hospital for finally finding the type of girl he was looking for. (This still gets him a lot of credit from me). He wrote down in his notebook two things that he liked about me. Neither of us can remember the first (I think it was that I was an easy laugh) and the second was some observation I made about one of the film shorts. I liked that he was thinking like that.

As helpful as my list was to eliminating prospects that were not going to be right for me, in the end it just came down to a gut-check. After all, there are lots of guys who are serious and fun and kind and spiritual and smart. I knew and cared for a few. It got quite confusing, truly. The list could only take me so far. My heart took me to Brigham. I'm so glad I listened.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

a blog post about today in 5 minutes or less

After grilling me on my failure to provide proper materials with which he could build a real, working computer, Andrew declared his intention to build a computer for himself and for his wife when he grows up. "Will you build one for me, too, Andrew?"

"Sure. If you are still alive."

Brigham called to say goodnight to the boys and thought Will was Andrew. He is getting so big.

Porter looks downright fat these days. I feel an acute sense of personal accomplishment. I wish I could get a second chance with Will. That was what I thought about when I nursed Porter this morning.

I still haven't purchased a satisfactory gift for Brigham. The guy is hard to shop for.

Andrew told me and Will this morning that he loved Will with all his heart and that Will was his best friend. It makes Will feel so good.

Will loves his Uncle Agustine and has somehow picked up his uncle's habit of misusing the prhase "I promise." They both seem to think that it denotes a passionate emotion about something. For example, they both will promise you that they would like to go out to dinner (well, Will probably won't be making promises about that, yet). Will was making lots of promises today about wanting to read a book, play in the basement and take a bath. Will, this phrase you keep using, I do not think it means what you think it means. I promise you.

At bedtime tonight, Andrew told me that he didn't want any "songs and rubs" (we rub his feet while singing a medley of the same 3-5 songs). He said it was because he is trying to get out of that habit and get used to going straight to bed. I thought I was waiting all my life to hear that come out of his mouth, but I insisted on songs and rubs, anyway. It was just yesterday that we were locking him in his little two-year old room at bedtime while he sobbed on the other side of the door and said things like, "I just want to hold you so much!" What he wanted, really, was for us to lay in his bed with him all night, or at least until he fell asleep.

Will, on the other hand, told me, after I pulled his finger from his nose, that he "{is} trying to get out of that habit." It was such a cute thing to say that I don't mind a little more nosepicking if he will talk about it like that.

I got Pillars of the Earth from the library over a week ago and have read only one sentence. What is my problem? And I still think about These Is My Words. I wish it had a different title.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

a dust of snow

the way a crow
shook down on me
a dust of snow from a lilac tree
has given my heart a change of mood
and save some part
of a day i rued.

r. frost
(i may have misquoted here or there but am too lazy to double check).

We had an unexpected (for me) little dusting of snow. It stuck to the streets and sidewalks, but not so much on the grass. I was a little bit worried about road conditions for picking them up from school (now that I call Will's Joy School a "playdate" he is happy to attend. Wish I figured that out a few months ago.). But not worried enough to actually pick them up early.

The boys have gone out in the snow twice. It is nice that they are old enough to do that without requiring my presence. I hate the cold and luckily Porter provides me with a good excuse for ushering them out alone.

Will was desperate to wear boots like Andrew, but had outgrown last year's (which were also the year before that year's boots, too). So he settled for one rain boot (I couldn't find the other) and one too large light up sneaker. Andrew wore a ginormous snowsuit that I couldn't believe I had ever purchased. I don't think it is featured here, though, since he wore it during round 2 only.

They were so happy. It has been a nice, cozy day.

I burned lunch taking these not-so-great photos. They are headed out once again right now while I finish up ordering all our Christmas gifts off the internet and bumble around with a tiny bumble bee.

I think we did it right this year for the boys. On the advice of my friend, whose advice I unflinchingly and unfailingly follow (except on political issues) told me that this was the best item she has ever purchased for her kids. She bought it last Christmas and leaves it out in the open in the basement almost all the time. While some of the novelty has worn off, they use it almost every day. Even Andrew can operate it (Will is close), so I think it is going to be a hit with all of us.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

another reason to love shutterfly

So I have yet to even make our Christmas cards this year. Shocking, I know. I also only shower sporadically and have taken to employing my old college trick of washing the top of my head and bangs area so as to appear clean(er). (I was very popular with the boys!)

But I digress.

The point is that shutterfly has a promotion where you can receive 50 free cards if you advertise for them on your blog, which provides a subject matter rather more interesting than any I write about these days, so here it is. Though I am writing this to get the promotion, I am only saying it like it really is.
Honestly, I think that the site has a ton of really cute designs. The hardest part about using the site was to simply choose which card among many I liked. Although I sometimes want to throw in the towel on Christmas cards, I do love the tradition of sending greetings out to friends far and long. I always keep a copy for myself and it has been sweet collecting our yearly cards and seeing how our lives have changed each year. It will be nice to have one that I didn't make at costco.

I am getting started on a photo book for our family and a calendar for extended family. I also have a goal to finally create the collage of Andrew's joy school photos for him and the other kids from his class. I saw that shutterfly is offering a sale on their photoshow dvd. I wanted to make a photo book for my parents this Christmas but had given up the cause as lost to incovenience and lack of time, but I saw that I can instead make a much simpler little flip book. In fact, there are a ton of photo-themed gifts on sale. My Christmas gifting just got a lot easier.

Thank you, Shutterfly, for the free cards. I love the internet.

By the way, which of these do you like best for us? Honestly, it is really down to the first two. The third wouldn't allow me to edit out my gut and the bottom one does not have enough photo slots.

Friday, December 03, 2010

my druthers

"I can't even enjoy a blade of grass unless I know there's a subway handy, or a record store or some other sign that people do not totally regret life. It's more important to confirm the least sincere. The clouds get enough attention as it is..."
— Frank O'Hara

I have been haunting the mls for 5 years now, and the time has come that it is really my turn to really get serious. And now that it is here, I am a little bit afraid to act. It is just my way.

The housing market here is rather depressing to those of us who are beggars that cannot be choosers, but if I could choose, these are my druthers:

1) I love a kitchen with white and glass-doored cabinents and dark granite counter tops. I'd love an island with shelves. Subway tile on the walls and stainless, too, please.
Here is the "after" of the kitchen we remodeled ourselves (Brigham was the laborer) in our little bungalow in Salt Lake.

2) A back deck off the kitchen or dining area.
This one is almost a must. We looked at a house that was way too small for us (and the $$), but I could have been foolishly talked into it because of that tiered back deck and fenced, level yard. I want (need) to be able to look out the kitchen window and see the boys playing outside in the back.

3) A front porch.
This one is silly, I know, especially in this part of the country, but my heart is mightily tugged when I see a front porch on a property. Were it not for my more level-headed husband, I would trade a 4th bedroom or a 3rd bath or physical safety for a front porch in just about a second. There was a house in 16th street heights (DC) whose front porch sang a siren song to my soul; Brigham noted that the front porch could fit almost an entire gang of neighborhood thugs.

4) A neighborhood with treelined streets, a bike trail and lots of children for the boys to play with. I am willing to negotiate on the bike trail, if I must.

5) Big windows. Many of them. My mother in law disagrees, pointing out that she does not like "the sun beating down upon [her]" (I loved that conversation!), but I welcome as much abuse as that sun can dish out (in?) through my windows. The better to look at my large, fenced and level backyard where I have locked my children until they get in better moods/get their energy out/are ready to not act like wild animals.

These are my druthers. I will give up a garage (I have never had one in my entire life, anyway); I could do 3 bedrooms if at least one was big enough for the boys to share; I can buy a house that needs to be remodelled (but not added onto); the basement doesn't HAVE to walk out. I don't need a formal dining room, either. Just let me eat in my kitchen, let the light pour in, give me a master bath of my own, keep us on the same level while we sleep, a working fireplace (as many as you can spare), and a garden where I can grow veggies, herbs and flowers and fit a trampoline.

But I try not to dwell upon these prefences too much, though, since at the end of the day the best I can realistically hope for (and which will bring me joy) is a clean, well-lighted place we can call home. Though that means a cleaning service.

it was a red letter day

October 22, 2010: Porter could sit up in the grocery cart seat. Also, I can't wait to tease Andrew about the photographic evidence that he was interested in a barbie doll.

"a small, good thing"

Short stories, in my opinion, are sort of the perfect form for mothers of young kids who want to fit some lit into their lives. The short story for which this post is named (by Raymond Carver) is particularly wonderful (if heartbreaking).

Another thing that I, at least, find very helpful as a mom of very young kids is to record some of the small, good things that happen each day. Probably too overwhelming to be realistic to accomplish, but I need to at least record a few, because there are a few things that keep coming back to my mind. They were so small, but they meant so much, even months and weeks later.

So thank you, Tuckahoe Man, for approaching me in the baby pool just to tell me that you saw me bolusing Will and thought that I had a great, casual attitude about it towards little Will. I know I was awkward, but I really did appreciate you sharing the experience of your friend, whose son also had an ng tube. Thank you for telling me I was doing a great job. I needed to hear that, especially that day.

And thank you, education specialist at Kluge Children's Rehab. Will loved the time he had with you, and it was the time I most looked forward to every day we were there, but what I really want to record is how moved I was that you could finish my sentence about why I had felt so stressed out over the summer with trying to get Will to eat that I became too forceful about it. "You wanted to avoid surgery." That was exactly it. I realize that it must seem so obvious to anyone reading this, but I think it often isn't obvious, especially to all the medical professionals we meet with. You had such a gentle, loving way. You made me feel like I had done well with Will. I wished that I could go over to your house for tea and book club and holidays. Your children, if you have them, are lucky. I must send you a card.

Thank you, Brighten, who was so aptly named, for calling me to keep up with how Will and I were doing. Thank you for praying for him. I know it must seem so small, but it wasn't to me.

Thank you, Brant, for dropping off that wonderful little Batman thank you note to Will. He reads it every night. I am glad you found the truck he gave you to be "beautiful." Likewise to your card.

Boys, try to remember that even in the most stressful times (maybe especially during them?) there are always some small, good things to be found out there.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

weekend review in 5 minutes or less

Friday we took down the Halloween decorations (yep) and went in search of our Christmas tree. My instinct to do Whatever Is Most Memorable last year led us to a Christmas Tree Farm in Great Falls where Brigham was supposed to chop down a lovely fir while the boys cheered and watched on enthusiastically. The only part of that that actually took place was that we went to that location. We only found paltry, sickly trees (maybe it was sort of late in the season or something) totally unacceptable to my very tree-discriminating husband. The kids were cold and wanted to go. Still, this is a great photo, no? And the memory is sweeter in its rearview rosy glow.

Friday we ended up at the same Christmas tree stand by Costco where we found last year's tree (whose needles I discovered still persisting in my front door frame. Someone reach out to me!). It was here where the first effects of K&E kicked in, as Brigham chose out a Noble instead of our cheaper stand-by Douglas. The boys could not have been less interested in the tree selection and saw the thicket of chopped trees as a mere backdrop to their game of super secret spies. Brigham tried to get me to relax while they darted around hidden from my view. I tried to track them, hoping I was a better tracker than the predators that constantly surround me, waiting for the least opportunity to snatch my kids and disappear with them forever. I got no photos.

Saturday we took the kids to Cub Run Rec Center. It was a great time and at the end of the night Andrew was profuse in his gratitude. It was "the best night ever!" And he hopes that "we can do that every night!" Brigham's day-long quest to find a ginormous tv that is on sale at costco but sold out, even the floor models, ended in a Chantilly costco where he (thankfully) bought the smaller sale tv. It is still ginormous. He warned me months ago that if he got this new job his first order of business was a new tv (our other has barely survived the 45 moves it has endured since we married). Then we sped home to drop the kids with my super-kind mom who watched them while we went to a packed theatre to see Harry Potter. Katie was in the crowd with us somewhere. (The movie was great, btw!). We came home to discover that my mom had allowed Porter to snort lines of cocaine. He was awake and bumbling around until 2.

Sunday we went to an hour of church and an open house before heading to Old Town to attend my elementary school friend's baby's christening in a gorgeous church. Insert all my typical gushing about the passage of time and not being able to imagine 28 years ago that I would be attending little Ashley Lowery's baby's baptism. Old Town in gorgeous. No photos.

The tree is decorated only to the extent that Andrew "flung" some lights onto the lower left quadrant. The room is filled with boxes of stuff to be put up. I have only managed to arrange the Christmas village, which I recently bought at the local thrift.