Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Last Lecture

If you get the chance, read this book. The author, Professor Randy Pausch, died last Friday of pancreatic cancer. I have been following his story since I watched his last lecture that he gave a year ago after he received his diagnosis of cancer and was given 3-6 months to live. This book takes from that lecture plus more that he wanted to leave for his 3 young children to be a sort of "message in the bottle" that would come ashore in time to help them know who he was.

Tonight, ABC had a special about him and his life and family. It was wonderful and he talked (taped in April) about the importance of overcoming obstacles, of enabling the dreams of others, especially our children (I really liked how he said to let your kids paint their rooms as they want to and not to worry about resale value), and of seizing every moment.

At times I was overcome listening to him express his love for his wife and knowing now that he is gone and she is left to raise those young children without him. That has always been one of those experiences I hope I never signed on for (as if we could choose what they will be!), I don't know if I would have the strength to bear it with such acceptance and grace as she has. At one point he told Diane Sawyer that Hollywood couldn't make a movie of his life because there is not a Hollywood actress pretty enough to play the part of his wife.

Click here to view his last lecture.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Dog Days of Summer

The days are long and hot with plenty of coming and going around here. About this time every year I remember to pull out and read the following to help me remember to enjoy this age and stage because too soon it will be over. (Grab a kleenex, you will need one).

Precious Moments Slip By
By: Ann Cannon, Deseret News

You fold another blanket left in the middle of the floor after last night's TV watch-a-thon.

Wipe up a puddle of melted popsicle from the kitchen counter.

Answer the telephone at midnight because someone is calling for one of your kids.

Survey the skateboards and scooters and bikes and other wheeled objects strewn throughout the entryway.

Search (dripping wet) for a clean towel in the linen closet, then remember that one by one, day after day, they've all been left at the swimming pool.

Look at your youngest son and wonder when the last time was that he changed his shirt. Begin to wonder the same scary thing about his underwear.

Glance at the pile of Baseball weeklies by your favorite chair, stacked there in hope that you'll eventually read them and realize nobody (including you) has read anything except the back of a Cap'n Crunch cereal box since school ended.

Walk outside where you feel defeated, depleted, demoralized and done in by the heat.

And then the moment comes - like it always does - where you say to yourself that even though summer is by far your favorite season, it's time for it to end. You start looking forward to the things you won't have to do again until next year - pulling slivers out of tough bare feet, picking up junior high kids from friend's houses night after night, going to the grocery store a dozen times a day because food you thought you had in the fridge (surprise!) isn't there anymore. Swatting houseflies the size of hummingbirds in your kitchen.

Yes, you'll say to yourself the night before school starts, no more sleepovers in the middle of the week! Then you'll remember the scene in the novel "Open House" by Elizabeth Berg where a mother looks at her 11 year old son, wondering how she will break the news that his father has left them and remembering the days of innocence when he was small enough to sit in her lap.

"I don't hold Travis anymore," she says, "not to read to him, or for any other reason, either. I wish I'd known that the last time was going to be the last time. But of course that information would have been as painful as this moment."

Life is full of last times. If you sit on your porch tonight with the moon rising and the night air shot through with the scent of honeysuckle, just like it was those summer nights when you and your girlfriend Gigi slept in her grandmother's backyard, you can try to list them in your head.

The last night before you became your husband's wife.

The last haircut you gave your son before his light fine hair began to darken and turn coarse. The last time he asked you to play "Candyland" with him, and the last time he wasn't embarrassed to be seen eating hamburgers at Hires with you.

The last family vacation you all took to the beach before the oldest cousins began leaving for college.

The last conversation you had on a hot morning in Liberty Park with your girlfriend before learning about her husband's illness.

The last time you walked across a grassy field while the scent of the game that was just played there still lingered.

The last time you nursed your last baby.

Some of these things we prepare for. We take pictures. Write in journals. Mark their passing. Some of them we don't. They end so quietly we hardly notice them slip away until one day something happens and we are suddenly reminded of the thing we no longer have in our lives.

The trick, of course, is to notice. And to love it while it's there.

My goal for today was to deal with the growing piles of stuff on the kitchen counter, but not right now. Now I am off to enjoy a walk around the block with my youngest who wants to become more confident on her bike. I am glad she wants me to come along.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Waiting and Remembering

I am sitting here waiting for the phone to ring and I can't believe that I just mindlessly ate a DING DONG! I don't even like them, but it was sitting there on the counter and with emotions flaring, I snarfed it down. I am waiting for the phone to ring, Lax boy to a hard hit to his head in a lacrosse game today and on top of the first hard hit on Saturday, he isn't doing well at this time. His counselor is taking him to the ER in Provo and I am waiting. Now I am feeling a bit sick to my stomach, that ding dong was not worth it and just thinking of what it is made of makes me feel worse.

I am sitting here remembering a small blond boy, always going somewhere fast, with the always present scab in the center of his forhead. Driving little trucks complete with sound effects, building tall towers out of blocks, swinging high in the backyard. Pockets full of the day's favorite treasures...

I finally hear from him and he ended up with a mild concussion and needs me to drive down to get him as he can't drive for 24 hours. I am glad to be needed, most of the time 17 year old boys don't really need their moms, except when they are hungry and that is almost always! So I guess I am needed a lot!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Girls Week

This week is a first for me! Early Monday morning - 6:30 am - I said a cheerful good-bye to all my men and sent them off into the world for the week. Lax boy is at a lacrosse camp (lax=lacrosse in case you don't know that abbreviation), Ernie is at EFY and Tbone and Spice man are together at scout camp. Even better, the drive to scout camp at Bear Lake went right by USU, so the scouters dropped off Ernie and saved me a three hour round trip drive. Sweet and thank you guys! Just when I thought everyone was on their way, the phone rings and a man said that he had found two bags on the main street by our home... those scouter men had driven off with the tail gate down on the truck! I still am laughing at that.

Patch and I are home alone and enjoying ourselves. She told me yesterday "Mom, it is summer, you don't need to clean."

Don't I wish...
I have become slightly obsessed with organizing and gutting kids rooms, finding and washing every piece of dirty laundry in our home, and YES matching all those unmatched socks in a very big laundry basket!

Keep up if you can... still moving Ky out and getting stuff to her married life (watch out, I will be bringing a LOAD this weekend!), Patch is moving from her old room to Ky's bigger room, Tbone is moving out of his shared room to Patch's old room and Ernie is celebrating his own space, finally! Whew! I carted out 3 garbage bags of junk from Patch's room (well, 4 really, but she didn't see that last one... plus a big DI box of old treasures she no longer needs). I feel like I am moving out of this house as most of the accumulated stuff in our home is in those rooms! It is a BIG job, but this week I am up for the task.

I can say (and I don't think I can remember a time when I could say this with many children) that my laundry is completely done. WOW. I wish I had my camera (gone to scout camp) to document this occasion. Not only done, but also folded and put away!

In case you doubt, we are having fun together too! We got our hair cut on Monday and then I took Patch to get a little pedi and mani. FUN! Yesterday, we learned how to make friendship bracelets and played Patch's original game. This is her game... with your toes you have to pick up marbles out of a big bowl of water and drop them into a cup. We tied with 31 marbles each! Today is a picnic at the park and then off to Clairs with a friend to find a fun friendship necklace. Tomorrow, the library and a movie. Not sure when, but we also have on the calendar a High School Musical movie marathon!

Although the house is unusually quiet and stays picked up and I am able to read to my hearts content late at night, I will be glad to soon welcome home, dirty laundry and all, all my guys.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Raspberry Days!

Look at the lovely raspberries that Ernie and I picked from our patch this evening! This is our first real raspberry season and it is very exciting for me as I don't have a very green thumb when it comes to growing things that can be eaten. Don't they look so sweet and tasty? It is only about 3 cups, but there is wonderful potential as these are the first "pickins" of the season. I am delighted to get this many away from the birds. I am anxiously awaiting apricots on our trees, maybe some apples (again, those birds!) and our grapes are looking very plentiful. My gardening trend for now is plant it once and reap the harvest for years to come. Mmm, maybe raspberry shakes for a late night treat tonight...

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

All Aboard!

Welcome to a good friend of mine, Cami. She just entered the blogging world on July 5th. Mother of four and runner extraordinaire! One of the many things I like and admire about Cami is her weekly (without fail) dinner menus. She is such a pro of planning this. For me, I cycle in and out of having a firm plan on this evening ritual of eating. I am so glad you guys moved from Arizona.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008


Hello and welcome to Bryn - a new friend in the neighborhood and a fellow blogger! Yeah! I am glad you moved in to our area and hope you soon feel that this neck of the woods is home. Bryn has a very sweet pineapple door knocker... in the South the pineapple is a sign of hospitality (did I get that right? It is late.).


For me to be awake at this time of night (11:27 pm) you know that:

A. there must be a GOOD reason to need to be awake
B. there are teenagers in the house (or in this case, who need to come home to the house!)

I Love To See The Temple

Patch, Tbone and I watched today as the statue of Angel Moroni was placed on the Draper Temple! I always assumed that this part was done towards the end, but maybe they are close to being finished on the outside. The grounds are being planted with trees and ground cover. It looks so beautiful even now with scaffolding around the top. When we got home we went on our deck and were glad to see the golden glow on the top of the temple.

Patch in front of the temple. They are building the fountain behind her.
Notice the little basket to the right of Angel Moroni. There were two men inside of it who were working on small details of the statue. I don't think I would care for that job!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Older = Cooler?

This morning I dropped Ernie off for an intensely fun week at soccer camp. He was excited to go and play soccer 3 times a day. I waited for him to get all the dorm info and then drove him to his dorm for the week. I thought that would be that, BUT, he asked if I could carry his dress clothes (big dance on Thursday!) for him. Hmm, last year it was a quick goodbye at the car. This year, we walked in, found the correct room and I got a hug and "love you". Unexpected. Nice!

It is a funny cycle, this teenage life. When I think I understand the rules, the next one comes along and the rules change. But, maybe this is true. The older I get, the cooler I get. (I know, not really, but it sounds nice anyway.)
Glad I wasn't too embarrassing today, but all bets are off for tomorrow!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dent Free No Longer

Alas, my car is no longer dent free. Ernie was backing out the car to go to church today... and you know the rest of the story. All of a sudden I hear, "Dad, Ernie needs you"! Oh no, that didn't sound good. No one calls for Dad for ordinary run of the mill things, that is my job. Calling for dad is saved for the REAL emergencies. My front side met with Lax Boy's bumper and my car lost.

A few scratches on a car is not a big deal to me, but you have to know the rest of the story as to why we were taking a few private, hyperventilating breaths.
Once upon a time, there was a new car...

I had parked it in the driveway for a RS meeting. My counselor's husband backed out of his garage into the front side of my car (ouch - same side as the newest dents of today). Okay, not my fault, but in a car only 6 weeks from the dealer, not too fun.

Winter comes, and I go to Wal-Mart to shop. Someone side swipes the OTHER front side of my new car - bad enough that the door creaks when it is opened and closed. White paint on red, my husband was seeing red. What can you do? It was a hit and run in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Dear Spice man reminded me about defensive parking at the very back of the parking stalls. I know, I KNOW! Sometimes you just gotta get in and get out.

Fast forward to May. The dents didn't bother me, I KNEW I didn't cause them, but somehow they really got on Spice man's nerves. Something about washing the car, being spring, I don't know, but we decided to belly up and put the money down to get both sides fixed. When it was all said and done, my car looked good, looked new again. I was happy, Spice man was happier.

Until today. Oh dear. Another dent with scratches.

When I heard the news of what had happened, I took a breath and walked out into the garage. I watched my son, head bent over the bumper of his brother's truck slam down his hand on that bumper and shake his head back and forth. I knew he felt as bad as could be. Nothing I could say would make it any worse.

Then I remembered my dad.

I had just backed out my yellow rabbit from the garage and plowed into the green rain gutter on the side of the stairs going up to the front door. Green paint on yellow, some scratches in the paint of the car. I was crying. I was 14 (crazy Kansas driving!)... scary enough as that was. My dad just smiled and said "it's okay, it's only a car and you are okay".

So Ernie, it IS okay, it IS only a car and you are okay.

Keeping with the subject of dented cars...

I highly recommend the book "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. He initially gave this "last lecture" while a professor at Carnegie Mellon. The thoughts he expressed became so popular that he appeared on Oprah and in the Parade magazine. If you don't know, this man is dying from pancreatic cancer and has written this book to help his 3 young children remember him. There is a chapter (the chapters are small - 18) in it where he talks about the time his wife crashed one of their cars into the other one. She was worried about what his reaction would be. After he didn't get upset, she promised to get estimates for the repairs. This is his response.

"I told her that wasn't necessary. The dents would be OK. My parents raised me to recognize that automobiles are there to get you from point A to point B. They are utilitarian devices, not expressions of social status. And so I told Jai (his wife) we didn't need to do cosmetic repairs. We'd just lived with the dents and gashes."

She was somewhat shocked at this explanation. He goes on to say,

"Well, you can't have just some of me, Jai. You appreciate the part of me that didn't get angry because two 'things' we own got hurt. But the flip side of that is my belief that you don't repair things if they still do what they're supposed to do. The cars still work. Let's just drive 'em.

Okay, maybe this makes me quirky. But if your trashcan or wheelbarrow has a dent in it, you don't buy a new one. Maybe that's because we don't use trashcans and wheelbarrows to communicate our social status or identity to others. For Jai and me, our dented cars became a statement in our marriage. Not everything needs to be fixed."

Interesting thoughts. I hope that Ernie understands a car is just a thing. It still runs and not everything needs to be fixed (again). Now if I can convince my husband...

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Newlywed blog

Ky and EJ have their very own blog! Congrats and sorry if I bugged you too much about getting around to it. Think how fun to be able to keep track of your life together as it unfolds each week. Memories of things like having no AC and dates on the married student budget will be priceless in years to come. Love you both, still miss you tons.

Welcome and spread the word to the other fam - get on board.