A Day in the Good Life

My Basis kids, Caleb and Savannah, have the whole week off.  Believe me, they've earned it.  They've done the work of an entire year in just nine weeks.  And then some.

My other two, trudged reluctantly back to school today, as I pumped them full of promises of a couple more days off at the end of the week.

Minus David, we all spent the day yesterday playing round after round of Bang! and eating the weekend leftovers.  This morning Caleb and Savannah slept blessedly late and then we played a few more hands and an opening match of Caleb's new game, Power Grid.  Then we went for a late lunch and a lazy trip through Barnes and Noble, mostly just to browse.  It was a near perfect way to spend the day, and I feel nothing but lucky to have them to myself for the week.  Believe me, I've earned it too.  As amazing as I am, chauffeuring and cheerleading and championing has worn me thin.  It is not to much to say that for the past month, the thought of this glorious week in my future has been the only thing getting me out of bed in the morning.

Tonight my three oldest have gone to the temple.  It's Savannah's first time inside.  When I was ironing Caleb's shirt, I overheard Olivia reassuring Savannah not to worry, that she would show her what to do.  And she will. David is on his way home from surgery committee.  He had a terrible day, but I will cheer him up because I could not have had a better day.  I even managed to wash and fold the laundry in between my turns on the game board.  I was fun and efficient.  A near impossible combination.

This morning as I was sorting laundry and doing dishes and picking up pens and highlighters and General Conference notes, I found a treasure: Ethan's careful summary of each talk.  Succinct little sentences of what he heard.  They were a revelation, sweet and tender and unaffected.  Then under the notes from President Eyring's talk, Ethan had written:

President Henry B. Eyring talked about the temple and how you can't see Jesus Christ inside the temple.

Which probably wasn't quite the message President Eyring wanted to convey.

I smiled.  And wondered if there were any talks that I had misinterpreted as well.  What a job those men have!

Speaking of difficult jobs, mine was a very good one to have on a day like today.

Verde en Amarillo

Dear Reader,

Are you weary of these letters yet?

The good news is that we will arrive home tomorrow.

The bad news is that we are not there yet.

Regretfully yours, April

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

Dear David,

You will be amazed to know that we made it to the panhandle tonight, even before the sun went down.

Apparently there really is nothing I can't do. Make a note of it, darling.

I drove through five states today and went 855 miles (all by myself) and even the sun was impressed. It watched me all day long and then threw a little party for me as we came into Amarillo. The sky was on fire and made one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen. Add the silhouettes of the huge silos in the foreground and you know my heart was thumping.

(I'm giving you fair warning that whatever welcome home party you are planning for tomorrow night, it might have been upstaged by the show tonight. I recommend a little passionate necking as one of the party games just to be safe.)

We stopped at Liberty Jail on the way through Missouri. It was tender and faith-promoting, and especially touching to Caleb. (Though it does pain me to admit that hearing the accounts of women who walked from Missouri to Illinois with their little children in the middle of winter made my cross-country driving feat seem slightly less impressive.)

From Missouri we went a different way than we usually do, and when we came into Kansas, I excitedly told the kids they were in a state they had never been in. But actually, it looked quite a bit like Oklahoma and even though it was all new, the kids lost interest pretty quickly and slept from Topeka to Wichita.

The rest of the day was miles and miles of land and sky, barns and hay bales and cow crossings over the highway. The heartland will steal your heart.

And now we are tucked in in Amarillo. The kids showered and are softly snoring. I know I made it look easy today, but to tell the truth, I am dizzy and rather nauseated. (A consequence of being both slightly carsick and popping M&M's most of the day to stay awake.) This does not bode well for the final leg tomorrow.

It's a good thing I'm amazing.

But then, you already knew that.

Always yours, Ap

At the Gate of the Year

The Kansas City airport, early 2011

I am writing from the middle of the country.

It is charming out here, even in the dead of winter.  Nearly everyone you meet wishes you a "blessed day" and there are cows and rolled hay bales on the hills behind our hotel.

I am here looking for places to fry up the bacon, as it were.

And I'm sorry to admit, it's a little bit scary to imagine cooking bacon anywhere other than where you've done it for the last ten years.  I am not quite as brave as I had imagined.  (That is the trouble with an active imagination...you can even deceive yourself.  Woe is me.)

When we arrived in Kansas City, we had to rent a car and drive out from the city for a while.  The lady at the rental car agency gave us a blue Toyota Corolla, the very kind of car we owned when we were first married and just starting our adventure together.  Back when nothing seemed scary except being apart.  Remember that?  When we got in the car we grinned at each other.  David said it was like starting all over again.  Trouble is, it's not just us any more.  There are four other people in the equation now.  Four people with hopes and dreams and futures of their own to worry about.

It can be overwhelming.

Last night I couldn't sleep for all the fear and worry.  David and I stayed up late.  Happily, this morning, everything looked a little more cheerful by the light of day.  I told David we can't have any more discussions late at night.  He just looked at me.  Because our late night discussions are never his idea of course.

All morning, as I passed the cows on the hills, and the bare oaks and maples, and frozen ponds in this little midwest town, Minnie Louise Harkins' poem was running, running, running through my mind. 

And it was some comfort to my terrorized heart.  Bless you, Minnie Louise.  It gave me back a bit of the courage that has ruthlessly abandoned me, and tenderly prodded me to do my best "to trod gladly into the night."  That's right, not just trod, but trod gladly.

How'm I doing?

I haven't cried once all day.  

I told you I was a wonder.

At the Gate of the Year

I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year
'Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.'

And he replied,
'Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!'

So I went forth and finding the Hand of God
Trod gladly into the night
He led me towards the hills
And the breaking of day in the lone east.

So heart be still!
What need our human life to know
If God hath comprehension?

In all the dizzy strife of things
Both high and low,
God hideth his intention.

Stress Makes Me Cheeky

Well.

Just like that, it's the beginning of December.

Seems like I just published this photo, and here we are again. 

For the record (because you know I like keeping score, especially if I am winning) I got my tree up early this year.  A first for me.

Because this weekend we are hosting the entire neighborhood for Christmas dinner, a hayride, and a holiday concert.

Ha!  Pork tenderloin for four hundred.  Good thing I'm amazing.

My mom called me yesterday and said, "What can I do to help?"  And I thought, "Oh, I guess I'm supposed to get out of the fetal position and do something."

Be brave, I tell myself.

Did I tell you the whole event is outside?  Which is probably the reason for our current "cold snap."  We even had to light our first fire of the season on Monday night.  And we didn't have to turn on the air conditioner to do it!  Plus right now I am wearing socks.  See?  Cold.

My Christmas cards arrived late yesterday afternoon.  (David and I had a debate about what picture to use this year.  I won.  Which is a shame.  I told him I wanted one where we didn't look "perfect," one that "reflected our real life."  He said, "But it looks like we just rolled out of bed."  "Exactly," I said.  At which point he gave up.  Which, again, is a real shame.  I think it's pretty clear that this whole thing is his fault.)  Plus I'm seriously considering not writing a letter this year.  David says our friends would protest.  I'm thinking they would be relieved.  What can I say that I have not already said a thousand times?  Entropy.  The fall.  You can fill in the rest.  But then all there will be to do when people open the card is to stare at our very real picture and wonder how bad things really are over here. 

The best part of my week was singing "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" with my lovelies, all of us around the piano on Monday night.    

And, yes, I am at least as tired as I look.

Evening Grace

somewhere in the middle of yesterday

At the end of yesterday, at the very end, after I had fed, and read, and testified, and prayed, and coaxed, and washed, and combed, and consoled, and sandwiched, and packed, and taught, and coached, and hurried, and kissed, and reminded, and wiped, and bused, and fieldtripped, and Costcoed, and Targeted, and unloaded, and restocked, and put away, and perspired, and tracked down, and dropped off, and encouraged, and picked up, and tutored, and picked up again, and talked, and listened, and bolstered, and picked up again, and nurtured, and cajoled, and cooked, and fed, and curriculum-nighted, and helped, and edited, and re-edited, and kissed, and prayed, and kissed, and goodnighted, at the very end of all that...Olivia showed up in my dark sewing room and asked me if I had any "cardboard" so she could make a pyramid for her game project that was due tomorrow.

I didn't handle it well.  I was all out of nurture.  And it was only by the grace of God that she made it out of the room alive.  Well, that, and David showed up just in time.

Yesterday was so exhausting--mentally, physically, emotionally--that by the end I could only make animal noises.

David said, "Do you want to talk about it?"

I said yes and did my best.  I started with, "I am a wonder!" at the top of my lungs, but then the rest of it dissolved into gibberish followed by primal hoots and grunts and whoops and deep bellows of frustration.  I finished by saying, "Ay, carumba!"

At which we both dissolved into laughter.

He rubbed my back for a while, and it is not too much to say that it was the best twenty minutes of the whole day.

Have you heard?  Even if you are a wonder, it is still the hardest job in the whole world.  I mean, I was playing a gold medal game yesterday.  You should have seen it:  mothering and homemaking and serving and giving and blessing and nurturing and all with patience and compassion and perseverance and inspiration all day long, but then I lost it in the final minutes of competition.

Ay, carumba.

You can’t possibly do this alone, but you have help. The Master of Heaven and Earth is there to bless you—Yours is the work of salvation, and therefore you will be magnified, compensated, made more than you are and better than you have ever been as you try to make honest effort, however feeble you may sometimes feel that to be.

Remember, remember all the days of your motherhood: “Ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

A Post In Which I Bless Your Life Again

I am making steady, wondrous progress on my "before-school's-out" list. 

The swim cupboard is accessible (no small feat) and pleasing to the eye.  The school file boxes have been readied.  The ironing has been completely caught up.  (A gasp and three cheers are in order here, should you feel so inclined.)  I have made summer pillows and bought the fabric to recover the cushions in the girls' room.  I've made cookies twice, for no reason at all except pleasure.

On Saturday afternoon I bought a round table on Craigslist (oh joyful day!) and I have begun sanding my kitchen chairs so that I can stain them to match.  (I'll take before and after pictures and save them for another post, because, as you know, there is nothing I like quite so much as bragging.)

In short, I am a domestic goddess.

And so that you might be too, (I find most people want to be like me...that's what happens when you're amazing) here are a few things to help you on your way:

1.  This Book

My lovely and talented Aunt Jill wrote this book and it is gorgeous and drool-worthy for several reasons:

  1. There are lots of pictures of me in it (reason enough right there to buy it).  There are also lots of pictures of lots of people who are related to me and who happen to look EXACTLY like me as well, so if you like pictures of me (and who doesn't?) this is the book for you.
  2. It is FULL of beautiful quilt patterns (really beautiful quilt patterns) that you can do with a group (if you have lots of domestic goddess friends to hang out with) or by yourself (if you are into making everybody else jealous of how amazing you are).
  3. So many other cute projects like pincushions and notebook covers made from selvages.  Just yum!
  4. Speaking of yum, it also has some favorite recipes. 
  5. I wrote the foreword.  And some people have told me that it made them cry.  And I think even if it doesn't make you cry, it will make you want to call all the women in your life and tell them that you love them.  And even if it doesn't do either, it may be the one and only time I am ever legitimately published and so get it while it's hot.

2.  Bamboo Sheets

A long while back I heard Martha Stewart say that she only sleeps on bamboo sheets and I thought, "Egyptian Cotton is out?  When did that happen?"  A few weeks ago I put the summer sheets on the bed only to find that they were worn out and threadbare and needed to be replaced.  I went to Tuesday Morning (where I always go to buy sheets, because I love quality sheets, but I refuse to pay for them.  See how that works?)  Anyway, they had a set of bamboo sheets and my inner Martha was delighted.

It's been a couple of weeks now, and I've got to say, for the record, that there is a reason she is Martha Stewart.  And she was absolutely correct about the bamboo sheets.  They are so soft they are almost more like leather than fabric.  Even though that sounds a little weird.  (Probably especially to Kelly.  You'll have to trust me.)  I told David these are the sheets that Adam and Eve slept on to populate the world.  They are that good.  And cooler than cotton too, which is a delightful characteristic in your summer sheet set.

3.  I am recovering my kitchen chair cushions after I re-stain the wood and so I have been looking through upholstery fabric swatches.  Talk about joy!  (There are times when I am completely my mother's daughter...this is one of those times.  She used to carry swatches around in her purse for months.  I am just now discovering that she did this just for the fun of it.)  Anyway, I found these lovely designs from Thomas Paul.  (The two owl prints at the bottom are Alexander Henry.)  You have my permission to drool, and then find something to recover.  I think I will do the piano bench while I am at it.  Perhaps Aviary in Tangerine.  Be still my heart.

For Money

It has been five days since the Garden of Hope Spring Tea (my big fundraising event of the year) and I am out of excuses.  It is time to post.

I cleaned my house.  Long neglected.

I paid the bills.  Long overdue.

I went to the store and the library.  Long out of anything to eat or read.  (There is a running debate around here about which is worse.)

Today I intend to go to my final class and iron David's shirts.  The man has been ironing his own since February.  And after that I have a list of things I've been meaning to get to: wash the girls' bedding, organize the swim cupboard, prepare the file boxes for the end-of-the-year school treasures, breathe, sleep, nap, smile.  All good things and all about time.

Last night I had a dream that David no longer loved me.  Too hard to live with, plus the house was a mess, he said.  I woke up and had to be reassured several times before he left for work this morning.

When I think back over the last three months, I want to dance (it's over!) and cry (it was hard!).  David has been calmly coaxing me through the ensuing maelstrom of ups and downs.  You can imagine.

Anyway, did you know I was a philanthropist?  (Honestly, there is almost no end to my amazingness.)

Well, I am.

I made this quilt and raised a whole lot of money for the cancer program at David's hospital.  (He should be so lucky, I tell my horrid dream.)

And even better, I looked gorgeous doing it.  (Hello.)

David and I have a standing joke that since he didn't marry me for my money he must have married me for my looks.  This post is evidence that it seems I'm good for both. 

Tomorrow, a real post. 

P.S.  A generous and heartfelt thank you to all of you who sent cards and help and good wishes my way during the madness.  They meant more than I can say. 

My Blog by the Numbers

David and I are in a fight.

I'm not sure what it's about, but I think it might be about rootbeer extract.

No, that can't be right.  And yet, I think it is.

When I got married I had no idea that the big issues would include rootbeer extract.  I'm thinking that that probably wouldn't have even come up in premarital counseling.  Though I could be wrong.

Anyway, add rootbeer extract to my list of regrets.  (I'm as surprised as you.)

In other news, my blog turned 2 today, and so for your delight and entertainment, I give you my blog by the numbers:

In the last 2 years

I have written 370 posts,

including this one,

that have been read by people in 50 states

and 5 countries. 

(Two of my readers are technically Americans just spending the semester in Europe, but I'm totally counting that.  And ya, Canada counts too.) 

And what did I say in those 370 posts?

Contrary to what some people think, I've only mentioned entropy 15 times

and my perfect breasts 3 times. 

(Can that be right?  Clearly a serious oversight.)

Rachel commented once, "This blog has everything...suspense, sex, comic relief, scripture, drama, and oh so much more,"

but looking back I've only mentioned sex twice

and Isaiah twice,

but she's right about the comic relief.  (It has to be in the high three hundreds.)

For the record, there have been 6 kissing pictures,

but my favorite is still this one.

(What rootbeer extract?)

To my surprise, my most revisited theme was pie.  24 times in fact.  Well.  You can't beat pie.

Over the last twenty-four months

I have recorded the celebration of dozens of holidays,

deconstructed scores of days around my dinner table,

noted several perfect gloamings with my darlings,

and counted my blessings hundreds of times

Add to that the fact that this blog has blessed your life in countless ways (See?  More comic relief.  I told you.)

and I think it's a blogiversary worth celebrating.

I think I'll make pie.

Sights for Sore Eyes

Last week I wrote many posts in my head.

They were lovely.

And funny too.

But I got busy and so they stayed in my head.

Which is a shame.

Because did I mention they were funny?

Instead of posting, I made a quilt that was auctioned to raise money for ovarian cancer.  (Actually, my mom had to help me piece the top of it together as I ran out of time in the end.  I am thinking that at some point in my life, I should get it together enough to not have to be rescued by my mother.  I am also thinking that she is thinking the same thing.)

I put up jars of tomatoes and spaghetti sauce and raspberry jam for the winter (if it ever comes), with more to do today.

I've eaten about a hundred of these

and laid in bed dreaming about the tomatoes that made them irresistible.  One night I told David I couldn't sleep because I kept thinking about getting up and eating another one.  They were that good.

[Peaches later this week.  Can you stand the anticipation?  I'm already drooling.] 

David and I put on a ward activity, which included a variety show that put me in front of the computer for hours and hours editing video submissions and compiling them all into a movie.  My family made a music video to kick it off.  I have included it below for your viewing.

You're welcome.

And every night I was sure to ask David how it felt to be married to someone so capable and amazing.

And every night he said it was so wonderful he couldn't put it into words.

I said, "Try."

Because I love positive feedback.

Almost as much as I love tomatoes from Utah.

And now, our version of the Black Eyed Peas: