Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The Best From 2009

I don't know if these are really my best posts, but they are the ones that generated the most commentary.

#1 Run It's Course? As I questioned the educational choices we had made for our children, I came to you seeking feedback. You came through in a big way and our school now looks a lot different because of it.

#2 Things I Enjoy Cleaning You all know how I adore housework. This post outlines my very favorite chores. (Make sure you check the comments to read about your favorite things to clean!)

#3 Mad, Mad, Mad! outlines my fury at the government handouts that began at the beginning of this year. Just a note, here. The CEO of AIG (which the government (I mean, We the People) bought out for $85 Billion) has opted to leave the company (with a multi-million dollar compensation package) rather than abide by the government imposed salary cap. Also, GM is getting a few Billion more to get them out of their "slump." Most of my news comes from NPR (notoriously liberal)--none of this is from Glenn or Rush. Just to validate my info.

#4 Friends was during a particularly hard moment in time. One commenter threw my own quote back at me, "Yes, just one suggestion: give yourself a break! We love you. And, good grief, we all have crap we need to change. It takes a life-time."

#5 Great to be Gross My son's 10th birthday. It was really gross.

#6 Thirty-two Years Ago, Today My mother's cameo appearance in which she describes my birth. We were in the paper.

#7 Thoughts on Shots I dared broach the subject.

#8 Wise Choice in which I philosophize about the importance of healthy friendships and highlight one particularly valuable friend.

#9 Danny Boy My Down Syndrome brother came to our home when he was still a toddler. My parents have adopted him and Zach, another Down's boy. These are a few thoughts about growing up with retarded siblings (and why I still use the word retarded).

#10 To the Busy Bodies where I gripe and complain.

#11 Newsy You get to read about the randomness in my life--and see my huge laundry pile.

Thank you for making 2009 fun to report. It makes me excited for next year.

Actually, I'm already excited for next year 'cause I like saying twenty-ten. Isn't it, like, waaay, more fun?

Happy New Year!!

Love,
The Mothership

A Bench

I needed more efficient seating around the kitchen table. Now that the baby is sitting at the table for dinner, there are seven for a regular meal--not to mention those times when friends stay for dinner or we invite company. I found this antique bench online and wanted to mimic it. It is something like 150 years old and used to be in a school house. It was on the East Coast, like all good American antiques, and I'm not.


I made this this morning.



Pretty close, I think. The kids all helped distress it (and will surely continue to do so). It will need paint and a coat of pod-tough polyurethane. But, it seats six children or four adults.

Hurrah for necessity!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas 2009



We had a wonderful Christmas; a day filled with giving and food and games and laughter and together. What a joy.
*****
And, Happy 300th post to me. Thank you for being a part of my life. This blog has certainly been enriching.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Man

The handle on my vacuum cleaner broke off a couple of weeks ago. It wasn't an ideal solution, but I had been pushing the vacuum by the hook that you wind the cord around. I tossed the handle in the garbage can.
A few minutes later, my son happened to glance into the garbage and saw the said handle. "Why are you throwing this away?" he asked.
I explained that I could still vacuum just fine and didn't want to take the time or make the effort to fix the handle. "This is why men were invented!" he proclaimed.
Um. Okay. That's weird. And I went back to washing the dishes.
Ten minutes later, he calls me in to the living room. . . to show me this:
Apparently women can't wield the duct tape with the skill or finesse of a man.
His sister tried to take credit (by being in the picture with him).

I just think it's funny any time she picks on him--she does it so rarely.

So, now, thanks to my Man, my vacuum cleaner has a handle again.
With duct tape all over it.
Yahoo.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Great Wish

I grew up in a card playing family--specifically a Pinochle playing family. (I wrote more about it here.) My husband has never learned and my children are just beginning to learn the game. It is fairly difficult, but SO fun. So fun.

It's an old person game and I love old people. I love their papery skin, their watery eyes, their shaky hands. I love when they jest with one another (especially a couple that has been married more than forty years), when they sing songs they sang in elementary school, and when they become exasperated with modern changes. I love their movies, their stars, their clothes, and their goodness. Mostly, though, I love their stories. I can sit at my grandmother's feet for hours as she talks about her life. It isn't too hard to get them going. They are just as sick of talking about their bunions and diabetes as you are sick of hearing about it. Sometimes the elderly get lost in their ailments, but ask about their first house or their first child or their older sister and they become a completely different person. Their eyes light up, they smile, they wave arthritic hands in the air and scoot to the edge of the seat on their walker. Sometimes tears will come and you'll get the chance to feel with them the loss of their livelihood or sweetheart or baby. Your heart may break as they describe their loneliness or feelings of depression because of their whole spirits stuck in broken bodies. Our grandparents are so full of good information and helpful advice. I rarely leave a conversation without payment of one kind or another. I just love old people.
When my children were small, I had a stroke of genius. I decided that during the day, when my children were all in school, I would go play Pinochle with the old people. Once a week, say, I'd go and play for a hour and a half. I'd get my fix of stories, advice, and love and maybe I could help them think about something besides their pain. Maybe we'd even laugh a bit.
Then I decided to home school. There will never be a "when my children are all in school."
The other night, my son's scout pack delivered gifts that they had purchased with extra fund-raiser money to the Veteran's Home in our town.
The boys sang a few carols and then handed out packages filled with cologne, sugar-free candy, socks, and so on. I found a seat and started chatting with a fella about the Spencer Tracy/Katherine Hepburn movie that was on. We had a right jolly ol' time. In that twenty minute conversation, he expressed how depressing the nursing home was. He had lived a vivacious life for ninety years and here he was stuck in this stinky, lonely place. We shook our heads and smiled as he told me about his daughter making him hire someone to do his lawn and then, after he quite working in his yard, he had his first heart attack. He told me about his wife's death twelve years ago. With tears in his eyes, "Damn, I loved that lady." You get awfully used to a person after forty-nine years, I suppose. Then, when he opened his gift and found cologne, tears came to our eyes for a different reason. With riotous laughter, we read the label: For the rugged adventurer. The fragrance of seduction, blah, blah, blah. The dude was nearly one hundred years old. He weren't lookin' for no "rugged adventure!"
I came home resolved to find a way. I need them. They need me. We all love Pinochle.
For the New Year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Recital Time


(This was her pose--and her own ruby cheeks. She's always had them. When she was a baby, people used to ask if I had put blush on her. I didn't . . . and don't.)


I always wanted to be a dancer. It wasn't it the cards for me, but you know how we mothers are: if we wanted it when we were kids, we're going to figure out a way to get it for ours. Our three oldest are in dance of some kind or other. Uh, oh. I find myself with the urgent need to leap up on my soap box. Skip it, if you want.


We have a strict not-until-you're-six rule at our house. Anything younger than that and the parents are wasting time, money, energy, and gas for lessons. This rule goes for music, dance, sports, Et cetera--any lesson for which you have to pay to play. When they do get to finally participate, they really want to. We have found that it takes only a super short time for them to catch up to the kids who have been in class since they were two. Also, it's good for children to play, undirected. Even once they start the lessons, they should be fun until they are nine or ten. Then it's okay for (I even encourage) the teacher to lay down the law and teach the kid to push for improvement. Side caveat which will result in a good deal of hate mail. I'm sorry, but there it is.

Anyway, Christmas means recitals. Am I the only boob out there? I can watch my child at every practice for months with little emotion, but once they are on stage, the flood gates open. I snivel and sob at each leap and turn. My babies are growing up! (Wah, gulp, sob!!!)

I didn't get a picture of my boy. Crap. Well, he looked good, too. He makes me cry 'cause he is a ten year old boy who is enjoys ballet--and can take the heat of being the only boy doing it. And 'cause he still gets kinda grossed out by the fact that he has to touch girls in order to lift or turn them. Ewww. He also likes basketball and running.

I hope you enjoyed all of your Christmas/Holiday/Winter concerts/recitals/shows this year.



Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Last Year's Letter

I'm taking a page out of Brandi's book and posting last year's info. I ALWAYS send out a Christmas card, but couldn't this year. Everyone is one year older; that's about the biggest difference. This picture was taken moments ago. The gingerbread house is gone. Dentist appointments are next week.

Okay, take a deep breath because Here. It. Is. The Sanders’ Family Roundup!

We are really proud of the progress Justin has made since he started drug-court two months ago. His meth scabs are healing nicely and he is getting his public profanity under control. His next challenge is to cut back on his lottery obsession. Actually, he is in his first year of Pharmacy school and is a funny dad and super husband.

Emily is working on her new goal to pour her whiskey into a glass, instead of drinking it right out of the jug. She enjoys keeping up on Brad and Angelina, Jen and John, and is continuing her You Tube campaign to STOP THE HATE toward Britany. She also reads classics, blogs, stretches dollars and raises her massive brood.

Our oldest, _____, is nine and is working on his colors and shapes in school right now. He can sing the ABC’s the whole way through and only slurs the LMNOP part–but who doesn’t, right? He reads several grades above grade level. He is learning everything he can about rockets, space, flight, and has started saving for Space Camp.

Next in our “line-up” is ____, age seven. Finally, after weeks of practice, she can go potty on the toilet! Let’s all cheer . . . only three in diapers. She loves to watch Teletubies! _____ is our smarty pants who luh, huh, huves to read. She is wonderful with our baby–rocking her like a practiced adult, not the barely-four-foot tall creature that she is.

Our five year old, _____, had silver caps put on all of her teeth this fall, so she can finally eat something other than bananas and baby oatmeal. _____ likes to watch Judge Judy with her mom and can swear just like the plaintiffs. Boy, is she funny. She loves everything fancy and loves to dress-up. She says the nicest things and likes to surprise her mom by cleaning without being asked.

____ is three and can climb the ladder and get on the roof all by herself. WOW, isn’t she something? Sometimes she jumps off, but usually lands in the manure pile. She is getting handy with knives and helps make breakfast every afternoon. ____ is still our cuddly, sweet girl. She loves people and gets along with everyone. She is not shy and has many of the elderly people in our neighborhood wrapped around her finger.

Our newest arrival is _______. I don’t have it in me to even pretend about our lovely new babe. She is the blessed event of the year. Her June 16th delivery was fast and furious and her personality in these first six months has proved her worthy of it. She is always moving and loves her brother and sisters.

And You. You are our friends because we know you will get this joke. We are grateful for our Savior Jesus Christ, for our incredibly blessed lives . We are happy and healthy and looking forward to seeing you at the next AA meeting.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Changing Outlook

(My Dad multi-tasking)

I have always loved my mother's garden,


but when I was young, I preferred a more formal garden look. The gardens I thought I liked were those with pruned hedgerows, gravelled walkways, symmetrical beds and a fountain in the center. I used to stare at magazine layouts with that design and thought that is what I wanted. I mean, it is beautiful, isn't it? As far as architecture goes, my future home was to be in the storybook style, but always big--big windows, big entry, big facade. Inside would boast dramatic color, hand-knotted rugs, tapestries, elaborate mantels and so on. Drama, drama, drama.

Now, my plans are described by three words: cottage, comfort, and rustic. The cottage refers to the simple and cozy feel of both home and garden. I like meandering walks with surprise mossy benches, the flower beds that seem to ooze out into the path, shocks of bright color mixed with variations of green, and texture, texture, texture. Inside should be filled with warm colors, natural woods and soft chairs. Rustic can be a risky description because it is easily misinterpreted. You will not find a moose shower curtain or a plaid seat cushion or a bear carving in my rustic. You will also not find cowboy boot wallpaper, wrought iron branding rods or cow hide. My interpretation of rustic is rough-hewn woods, a centerpiece of lavender in a galvanized bucket, and, generally, the outdoors, in.


I think this says something about my own growth. My thirty-third birthday is just weeks away. The drama of sixteen is long-since past (though I pull it out now and again). While I do still care what people think of me (who doesn't, I beg), I'm not going to wear clothes that are not comfortable. When people enter my home, I no longer care to impress, I just want them to feel like they don't want to leave . . . not just yet. I decorate my home with an aim for a feeling of Welcome Respite. You can leave your shoes on--or take them off if you are more comfortable barefoot. You can sit anywhere, you can take a nap on my couch, you can pick up a book and escape, if you'd like. A cottage garden allows for unexpected changes. If a large root is growing, you don't have to take out the tree in order to achieve that symmetrical flower bed, you just plant around it--you may even have to change the direction of your planned path, but who knows? Maybe you'll find a gnome door behind the trunk. Isn't that the kind of thing you learn as you grow older and live as a parent? Take the good with the bad and even the bad becomes it's own treasure.

Sometimes we talk about our "Mansion above" or the estate God is preparing for us when we return to Him. Anymore, however, I don't care for a mansion and I'm sure He knows that. I have a feeling, my "mansion" will look a little more like my home.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Spelling Error

Please, people! You have to tell me!

I have always been a poor speller. (I'm pretty sure I talked about this before.) It plagues my soul comparable only to the way my terrible house-keeping skills do. The spell checker isn't even that helpful. It will often tag words that are not spelled wrong. I try to look up words before I send them out into the great throng of people-smarter-than-me, but now and then, a mistake gets through.

In a recent post, I wrote about the ridiculous things my children demand. But, instead of ridiculous (laughable, preposterous), I wrote ridicules (derision, mockery). TOTALLY DIFFERENT WORD! If I had just written it once, it could have been written off as a typo, but I wrote it twice. Twice and not one of you thought it would be prudent to save me from myself.

Next time you notice a gross error such as this, please send me a private email and tell me. I don't care if you are gentle or rude, funny or pithy, just get the information from your head to mine.

Thank you, forever.
Dunce

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Confession

I love Charles Dickens. I love his wordiness, his outrageous (and memorable) characters, and his insight into humanity. His story A Christmas Carol is wonderful. Really. Wonderful. But I have a confession to make:

it scares me. I have read the story many times, seen it on stage, watched Mickey Mouse and The Muppets interpret it. I've seen the freakily animated version and the Bill Murray version. I know that tears will spring into my eyes every time crippled Tiny Tim, full of goodness and typifying the light that Christ affords us, asks God to bless us, everyone. I know that the visiting ghosts will guide Scrooge into repentance and understanding. I know that many lives (except that of the prize turkey in the poulterer's shop window) will never again know the sadness of their lives previous to the fateful Christmas Eve night. All of this I know!

Yet, at the beginning, whether I am reading or watching or listening, I have a persistently uneasy feeling swimming around in my insides. I know that those scary ghosts are Going To come and Jacob Marley is Going To untie his head wrap, letting his jaw fall slack. The thought of all the freakyness happening in the relative safety of one's own bed is, well, unnerving.

I keep tuning in because the good in the outweighs the bad, but, I'm holding my pillow awfully tight until Scrooge wakes up on Christmas morning.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

So Far Today

I lay in bed this morning with an unquenchable desire for watermelon. My mouth felt hot and dry. I dreamed of the fresh, cool fruit; of the sweet liquid satiating my thirst. Alas, I live in the mountains of Idaho--there are no watermelons of any value in December.

Moments later, my husband and I sprang from our warm bed because we heard water . . . a lot of water . . . and it was pouring out of the ceiling. Of course, the first thought is burst pipe! After a moment of sleuthing, we discovered our son taking a shower with the curtain outside of the tub walls. His shower was draining on the bathroom floor and, thereby, through the basement ceiling.

I came upstairs to find all five of my children awake (at least an hour before they usually wake up). They were on the couch staring at the Christmas tree. I remember doing that. Christmas is full of magic, when you are six. I squished in with them and we talked quietly, enjoying the lights, the companionship and the warmth under our shared blanket.

Then one child asked for egg nog. There is about 3/4 cup left in the carton. If I let her have some, the other six of us wouldn't get any. That would be terribly unfair. I told her "no" which invited a tremendous tantrum. This effectively ended quiet time.

After showering and starting breakfast, I logged on to read the headline: I Cheated and it Saved My Marriage. Wow. What a broken, fallen world.

After a little prayer of gratitude for my good and faithful husband, I cleaned up the water spilled by the child trying to water the tree, put yet another diaper on the baby--she keeps taking them off so it went on backwards this time--and made it before she did her duty. I raced around squelching a few childhood storms. The laundry is going, my bed is made, now a blog post is written.

It's 8:30 and I'm ready for a nap.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My Name is Tale of Two Cities

In the book Fehrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, it is illegal to read books. Fireman, instead of putting out fires, burn books. At one point in the story, we are introduced to a group of underground book-savers. The way they save books is by memorizing them. They refer to people as "Leviticus Five" and "Hamlet." It made me wonder: What book would I like to be?

There is a list. It's kind of like asking for a favorite Christmas carol or scripture passage or child--the answer changes depending on my mood, my station in life and whether my pants are too tight.


In no particular order:

  • Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens. I especially love the golden thread that the woman uses to tie everyone together. It is a lovely analogy of a gift women have. We are, generally speaking, good at knitting hearts together with love.

  • The Books of Genesis and Mosiah.

  • Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. It is chock-full of wisdom and goodness.

  • The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien. Just a dang good story with every essential element: devotion, honor, horror, battles, suspense, bravery, fear, good, evil, greed, selflessness, humor, pain, hope . . .

  • Anne of Green Gables by LM Montgomery. She makes me happy.

  • Little Britches by Ralph Moody. He shows how much joy can be found in life--even if you are poor and have to work hard.

  • The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. You won't believe her faith and courage. Have you read this book? YOU MUST.

  • Something by Jane Austen and something by Mark Twain.

Obviously, there are others that are greatly loved, but, today, right now, this is my top list. I think.

If you weren't (fill in your first name), what book would you be?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

To the Ad Wizards at Walmart


You need to re-think the store-wide white packaging into which you've forced all of your generic items. When they first started showing up on the shelves, I thought it looked both fresh and vintage. Now that the white labels are slathered all over the store, however, it just looks cheap and, forgive me, like it came from Walmart (a fact that no one wants to admit).


I buy generic because I gots me no money, but only if it is of the same quality as the name brand. There are some products which simply can't compare to the name brand (macaroni and cheese and toilet paper) and some where the generic is actually better than the name brand (stuffing and soda). However, I don't want to feel like I'm buying generic. I want to be tricked into thinking I am getting a product just as fancy as it's more expensive sister. I want to look at the package and think, "Wow, what a great bargain I just found," instead of "Wow, my entire cabinet is filled with knock-offs!"


Sure, you shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but I know some people who put the jacket of another book on the book they are reading because they don't want people to judge them by the cover of their book.



Do you need to read that again?


No one wants to look poor. Thrifty, yes, but not poor. Everyone wants to look like they can afford Ralph Lauren while secretly wearing Lee. Why do you think those "Rolex" watches and "Gucci" handbags sell so well?



So, Walmart, flatter our pride and get rid of the I AM TOO POOR TO BUY NAME BRAND labels. Give me the I AM A THRIFTY BARGAIN HUNTER label instead.



Love,

The Girl Who Hates to Shop at Walmart but Can't Afford To Not

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A Mother's Style

A dear friend blogged about a recent visit to her town's festival of trees. She wrote:

I want to know why EVERY woman I saw there was dressed to the nines, had the
most stylish handbags, had no hair out of place, and had faultless make-up---- including the ones with perfectly stylish babies and strollers.

I'm aware that I fell off the fashion train some time ago, but SHEESH! Where are
these women coming from? What do they do all day?

I identify with this sentiment completely. While I try to be clean and presentable, I don't check my hair or make-up multiple times daily. I have no spare change for the latest anything. It got me to thinking about a story I read years ago. It's about Marjorie Pay Hinkley, one of my Mothering Mentors. One of her daughters wrote:


When we were young, it was very uncommon to have mothers in the
classroom--or anywhere at school. I remember only one day. We were
having a program in the lunchroom. Chairs lined the room, and the children
sat in them as we waited for the mothers to arrive. I noticed with curious
interest as each mother came in and then made her way to sit with her
child. The mother who came through the door just before mine was wearing
spiked heels and a darling dress and had all of this foofy hair. Yes, she
was young and, I thought, beautiful. In fact, she looked like a teenager. As she made her way over to her tap-dancer daughter (of course, I thought), I looked up to see my mother come through the same door. With that instant juxtaposition, I will never forget the flood of security and happiness I felt when I saw her--no foofy hair or spiked heels, not very young or very beautiful, dressed in her typically tidy house-dress. There was a warm, comfortable feeling and the thought clear as neon: "Oh, I'm so glad that my mother looks like a real mother! Whatever would a person do
if her only mother wore darling dresses and had painted fingernails?"


~Pearce, Virginia H. Glimpses Into the Life and Heart of Marjorie Pay Hinkley. Deseret Book Company: Salt Lake City, 1999. pg 49. Emphasis added.



While I will do the best I can, I'd rather people look at me and know that I am a mother, not a celebrity. I'll do all I can to avoid "frumpy," I won't wear sweat pants unless I'm running, and I vow to try to remember to put make-up on both eyelids, but I don't want to look like a teenager. I'm pretty sure I would just come off looking stupid.

Thoughts?

*************

PS A comment on Betsy's blog included this quote. It must be included here.

I don't want to drive up to the pearly gates in a shiny sports car, wearing beautifully, tailored clothes, my hair expertly coiffed, and with long, perfectly manicured fingernails.
I want to drive up in a station wagon that has mud on the wheels from taking kids to scout camp.
I want to be there with a smudge of peanut butter on my shirt from making sandwiches for a sick neighbors children.
I want to be there with a little dirt under my fingernails from helping to weed someone's garden.
I want to be there with children's sticky kisses on my cheeks and the tears of a friend on my shoulder.
I want the Lord to know I was really here and that I really lived
— Marjorie Pay Hinckley


Amen!!

Friday, December 4, 2009

The Crap in My Head

So here's the thing: I got nothin' ta say. I keep thinking I do, then I sit down to write and, it turns out, I got nothin'.

I worked out an entire diatribe about how we should pay for the wars we are fighting (Victory Gardens, collecting rubber tires and nylon stockings for the troops, war bonds, etc), but decided it was too much work. That was a topic that required thought and I don't want to think that hard.

Then I thought I would tell you all of the ridiculous demands my children place upon me ("You put the peanut butter on the waffle after the syrup and RUINED it!" and so on). After musing over that for awhile, I decided you've had enough of your own people demanding ridiculous things to ever want to read my junk.

My eight year old daughter made cookies all by herself the other day--from start to finish. I just washed the pans when she was done. I took pictures and everything, but decided that was a too close to the annoying "My Child is an Honor Student" bumper sticker and I didn't want your not-cookie-baking child to come beat up my cookie-baking one.

I wrote out an advent calendar that teaches a mini lesson about Christmas from the scriptures' perspective and thought about sharing. I didn't because (1) it may come off a little too NieNie, (2) I'd have to post twenty-four days straight and my children would never eat or wear clean underwear if I did that, and (3) you don't come to me for spiritual guidance (oh, please let that be true!!).

One day I actually started a post about how gross boys are because my husband and his brothers call each other to talk about their . . . well . . . their solid waste. You never saw that post because I couldn't bear to talk about it. It's just too disgusting.

I wanted to write about how I'm having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year. No, I'm not depressed or pregnant or suffering from any other emotionally swinging malady. I finally concluded that it's because I am shopping online instead of in the cheery stores. I'm missing the displays of huge wrapped boxes, mechanical elves hard at work in Santa's workshop, and puffs of cotton snow. (Yes, I am aware some of you would argue that this isn't the real Christmas spirit. I'd like to argue that there are two different kinds of Christmas spirit. You see? This is why I didn't write about it. Semantics would spoil that post.)

People in my part of these Great United States keep making the "s" sound like "sh." They are pronouncing "nursery" like "nur shree" and "straight" like "shtrate." It makes me nuts. If only I never said "acrost" when I mean "across" and "bage" when I mean "bag," I could be more vocally critical.

So, see? There is the proof in the pudding. I've got nothin' to say, so I'll just keep my mouth shut (or my fingers still).

Love you,
Emily

Thursday, December 3, 2009

In Gratitude

and a little prayer that I am as careful with my children as he was.