Wednesday, 4:17 p.m.

I have two loaves of French bread rising on the counter and a pound of shrimp defrosting in the sink.

I have an eleven-year-old boy, feverish and teary, working his way through a heavy load of homework on my couch.

I have two girls who took the keys and the car, and drove themselves up the road to the temple to spend a couple of peaceful hours.

I have another boy rigorously practicing his Bach partita, providing the daily afternoon soundtrack to my life.

I have a dog sniffing the yard apart and protecting us from all manner of treacherous and cunning birds that might happen to land.  You can't be too careful.

In the whirlwind that is my life, this is an afternoon to be savored.

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.

Rude Awakening

Well, we're seven days in (who's counting? Me! Me! Me!) and it's been a rough go.

Check that clock. Brutal. Especially after two and half months (who's counting? Me! Me! Me!) of eleven o'clock bedtimes and sleeping til eight. We are certainly paying the price of our hedonistic lifestyle. You can keep you're "I-told-you-so's" to yourself.

But it's not only early morning seminary cleaning our clocks (pun totally intended), it's the loss of freedom altogether that hurts the worst. Our afternoon movie marathons have been replaced by a strict routine of homework and practicing and getting dinner on the table on time so that we can have prayers and scriptures on time so that the kids can get to bed on time so that we can wake up on time and do the whole thing over again, on time. I am at the mercy of a cruel, coldhearted tyrant...the blasted clock. And in case I wasn't clear, he has no mercy.

David is fairing no better. The most stressful week of his year happened to fall on this same exact week. There are no coincidences. Our whole boat is drowning. And it's shark week.

As for me, I vascillate between giving myself encouraging pep talks and giving in to my sorrowful, angry, pity-party. This morning I was on the treadmill at the gym, when the Killers single, "Boots", shuffled its way into my headphones. (You should know this is a Christmas single.) I nearly started sobbing right there amid all those motivated, masochistic people at the tender thought of our Christmas holiday so many months away. I have no shame.

Because as I count it, my losses are great. Summer is gone and only the heat has remained. My lovelies are gone, leaving only my brain and the Kardashians to keep me company. Poor company indeed.

I hate to even mention the few perks of this new situation, given the glorious rant I've been having. But, grudgingly, there are a few:

1. The Fashion. There is no end to the entertainment daily dressing provides, particularly if Olivia lives at your house. She's only been in school three days and we've already seen woollen berets, slouchy cowboy boots, and what she calls the "must-have-jacket." Regardless of the weather. Regardless of the heat. Regardless of the real reason I send her out the door each day. Plus, as a bonus, each morning there is an indepth discussion about what hairdo goes with whatever she's wearing. Straighten, curl, wear it up, wear it down? Today it was a side-pony because she admitted she was wearing something "a bit more casual."

2. The Gossip. There is no better place to be than around my dinner table at the end of the school day. There will be stories. There will be intrigue. There will be romance. (Oh, yes, most certainly.) There will be tears. (Oh, the sorrows a new school schedule with the wrong lunch hour can cause.) There will be laughter. (Who knew junior high could be so funny?) Forget about the Olympics. The greatest human drama out there unfolds at my little round table every night. I should sell tickets.

3. The Car Ride Home. The car door shuts and the words can't come out fast enough. Did you know this, Mom? Did you know this? And all the way home, my car fills up with chemistry labs and latin conjugations and discussions about Homer and his Odyssey and Mozart and his gift and Columbus and his new continent; everything they learned that day about annotating and multiplying and oxidizing and mapping and classifying and analyzing. It's more than a little thrilling to be an eye-witness to all that wonder. One day after school I had to take Savannah to the ENT. The waiting room was full of senior citizens filling out their paperwork. Savannah was telling me about her day, going a million words a minute--loud and in careful detail--and still talking when they called us back twenty minutes later. Every one in the room was smiling at me. She had entertained the whole place. And they all just grinned as we walked past. Because that was delightful, their eyes said. Because these are good years even if they are busy, their eyes said. Because you are so lucky, their eyes also said.

4. The Prayers. Desperation breeds fervency. I am nothing but humbled and amazed by the things that come out of my childrens' mouths as they send their petitions heavenward. I was nearly undone by the one this morning as Caleb bowed his head over his breakfast. I would get up early just for the prayers.

5. The Weekend. Yesterday I told my mom that the days go so fast (never enough time) and the weeks are so long (will Friday every come?). I've never been so appreciative of the hours between Friday night and Monday morning. For a little calm, a little quiet, a little slow. On Saturday morning we will go out for our annual back-to-school brunch, were we will celebrate the highs and lows. I have mine ready. My low: This is only the beginning. My high: It is Saturday morning and we have nowhere else to be.

Manna, Again

I noticed today that I've written so few posts this year, that my Christmas letter is still at the bottom of the page.  

Pathetic.

I keep thinking that at some point I will have something good to share, something exciting to share, something different to share.

But the limbo continues.

Every week at church people come up to me to ask for an update.  And they are always disappointed.

Imagine how I feel, I think.

And so, fundamentally, things are still the same.  David is still looking, I am still praying, the kids are still hoping that at some point their parents will wake up and return to the present.  But life also goes on in its dependable, inexorable way.

Caleb's science fair came and went.  The snails were examined under his microscope and then met their ignominious end in my large soup pot.  His conclusion?  Plastics are very bad news, especially if you're a mudsnail.  Not so great for humans either as it turns out, and so we've started a slow, steady purge.

My painful root canal came and went, thanks in part to a friend who intervened at just the right moment.  I was nearly out of my mind with pain and had lost all ability to reason well.  By the time the endodontist saw it, I had a very nice abscess coming along.  I begged for death.  Instead he prescribed two hours in his chair and a round of antibiotics.  Delightful, with more dental work coming next week.

David's surgery came and went.  Without complication.  Thank heavens.  He has been happily eating whatever he wants for two weeks now with no problems whatsoever. 

David and I came and went back east for second interviews and a "get-the-wife's-approval" trip.  We found a charming community, six inches of snow, a job that David was made for, as well as a terrible longing to be settled and employed.

Other job opportunities came and went, a few of them more painful to see go than others, but we move forward believing we are being led to "the right place."

I had a few speaking assignments that also came and went.  One day I went to the temple with such a long list of things I needed help and inspiration on, I thought the Lord would turn me away at the doorstep. 

I'll be honest.  Most days I vacillate between terror and calm, fear and faith, abject discouragement and happy optimism, and all that before I've even had my shower. 

But it's the limbo, the monotony, the waiting, the every-minute slow crawl of the clock towards the unknown future that is the hardest.  It's given me new appreciation for the children of Israel who complained that yeah, the Lord was providing for them, but couldn't he please provide something different.  And this makes me humble and repentant. 

And also, acutely aware of the miracles.

A couple of days ago I was standing on the banks of the Susquehanna, a river I never imagined I would have the opportunity to see in person.  A couple of nights ago I was eating dinner at a tavern in Delaware with some of our dearest friends in all the world, stunned to be sitting across a scarred wooden table from them.   A couple of mornings ago sat on a 727 next to my husband and as I watched him preparing for his upcoming interviews I thought I had never loved him more, that maybe I was just beginning to understand marriage for the first time in my life.  It was a revelation.  And a couple of evenings ago, as I knelt next to David in a strange hotel in a strange town on the other side of the continent and begged for blessings, I remembered Nephi's words that the Lord is mightier than all the earth, then why not this, and I felt the sure witness of those words as strong as I ever had before.

None of which would ever have happened without leaving the fleshpots of Egypt in the first place.

I see that now.

There is no other way, afterall.

All You Need Is Love...and Pie

I wrote posts all week in my head.  (Rest assured, they were as funny and delightful as usual.  I am sincerely sorry you  missed them.)

Monday's post was about drowning my Monday and my Monday sorrows in peach pie.  As I write, that gorgeous pie is still on the counter...untouched.  We've been too busy to eat it.  And every time I offer it up, the kids just ask for peaches-and-cream instead.  Who needs crust?  Just go straight for the good stuff.

Tuesday's post was about how I spent all the grocery money on wigs, and how it was totally worth it.  Don't worry, I've got cupboards full of beans.  Who needs food when there is lip syncing to be done?  Or we could always eat that pie that's sitting on the counter.

Wednesday's post was about how I ignored all the boa feathers scattered around my house and in my bed (ooo la la) and went to lunch with two of my favorite people in the world and how nice it was to pick up the conversation exactly where we left off, nearly nine months earlier. 

Today's post is about how I am so low on my sleep quotient that I went out today to buy a wedding present for my very good friend's son. 

Last night I told David, "Tomorrow is the Wilkins' wedding reception.  And we're going.  It's non-negotiable."  (David hates wedding receptions.  But non-negotiable means that if he wants to stay married to me he is going with me.  I could see him weighing his options.) 

I read the invitation four times this morning, because something kept going off in my head.  As I was leaving Target today, gift in hand, I realized what it was. 

It says: OCTOBER 16th. 

And today it is only September, although I am so tired it feels about twelve years past that.   

I actually stood stock-still in the parking lot as my brain finally figured it out and said, "Ooooh."  After that, I got back in the car and went to the grocery store to buy nine tubs of cool-whip because I am going to have a nap and then drown myself in that pie no matter what.

Did I tell you we are putting on the ward talent show on Saturday night?  Below is our entry.  It is not the Black-Eyed Peas, but it has its merits, especially if having your own set of Beatles makes you completely gaga like me.  If you don't have ten minutes to waste (we really can't help ourselves), skip to minute 8 to see David making love to a blonde bombshell.  It is as delightful as pie.