The Wailing Wall

The priesthood power in my home doubled yesterday. 

I felt a bit like Hannah. 

Both happy and sad.  Both blessed and robbed.  Both humbled and entitled.  Amazed at the opportunity to mother such a son, and tenderly aware that he is not really mine.  Utterly grateful for even one moment with this boy, and equally devastated by the brevity of childhood.

David's voice broke when he blessed Caleb.  Overwhelmed, I think, by the same feelings. 

Yesterday in sacrament meeting, when they asked Caleb to stand and be sustained, one of my friends turned around in her bench and mouthed, "He's twelve?!" to me across the room.  I nodded and she winced.

My thoughts exactly.

Makes me wonder how Hannah made herself get up that morning, what she cooked for breakfast, and if she touched her boy all the way to the temple.  And how she had the faith to turn around and walk home, or if it was Samuel who turned around and walked away first. 

The latter I think.

At least, that is how it is happening in my life. 

I reread her account last night when my house was quiet, but my head was not.  It comforts me some, that Hannah was given to emotional displays.  After all, I have a similar tendency.

But in the end, she took her three bullocks and her ephah of flour and gave thanks.

And after the ribeye roast and the apple pie and the kisses goodnight, in the dark and the quiet, I did the same. 

An Old Refrain

If you're busy, you might want to skip this one.  You've read it before after all.

Right now, I'm trying to talk myself into doing my chores from yesterday.  (Let's be honest, my iron is much too low to make this even a remote possibility.)

Instead, I keep pushing the refresh button on my blog, hoping that I've written something clever to read since the last time I looked at it.

(Do you find it endearingly charming or sadly pathetic that I find my own blog wildly entertaining? 

Never mind.)

Last night, as David and I lay in the dark reviewing our day he asked, "Do you think all parents feel like this?"

I thought about it but didn't answer.  I was busy counting.

Counting the years we've had with our boy, and the years we have left. 

I was alarmed to see that the hourglass has flipped devastatingly in favor of the years we've already had.  We're running out of time.

I asked David, slightly panicky, "Do you realize we only have 7 more family vacations together before he leaves.  Including this one?"

And then we both whispered together, "We've got to make the most of it."

And neither of us said "Jinx" because it was such a sober moment.

After the candles and the presents and the story about the first time we met, I tucked my boy in and told him to stop growing up.  He grinned at me, like we were sharing a joke.  

Little does he know.

I couldn't have been more serious. 

And if it weren't for the chocolate frosting smeared across his cheek, reminding me that he is, in many ways, still my little boy, my heart might have broken in two right then and there.

It was a very close call.

What Did the Violin Say to the Cello?

David is loading the dishwasher.

The sink has been full since yesterday, and he finally gave up on me.

In my defense though, I did go to a two-hour meeting at the hospital today, and that's usually his job.

Tonight we sat in the dark of the gorgeous Ikeda theatre and watched our son play the Wabash Cannonball with the city youth orchestra.  I leaned over to David and said, "Look at our boy."  He smiled indulgently back at me.  Because he forgets that it was just yesterday that I was feeding Caleb his first bowl of rice cereal, admiring and flattering him for his ability to swallow.  It's harder than it looks.

Olivia spent the concert trying to think up string-instrument jokes and then leaning over to try them out on me.  I didn't try to quiet her.  She has her sixth (!) and final day of standardized testing tomorrow.  Good heavens.  She can do the testing instructions by heart by now, complete with exaggerated eye rolling and a demonstration of the proper way to sharpen a number 2 pencil.  She's had just about enough.  And after all that, even orchestra concerts are hilarious. 

On the way home, Ethan used the word "thrice" in a sentence.  David asked him if he knew what that meant.  He slowly and carefully explained the definition to David, to make sure he understood.  David said, "I don't think I've ever used the word 'thrice'." 

I smiled to myself.  And then Olivia did her material one more time. 

It was a good night.

Consolation Pie Comes in Lemon Flavor Too

We ate more consolation pie last night.

For those of you keeping track, we've eaten more than our share of it the last year or so.  It's starting to feel like a habit.

Don't worry.  We're still not eating humble pie.  (Never that.)

Turns out lemon pie is still good mixed with tears.  Maybe even better.

I went with Caleb to the state science fair last night and watched him walk away empty-handed and swallowing back tears, experiencing equal parts sorrow and bafflement.  He practically ran ahead of me towards the car, trying to avoid eye contact because then the real tears would start.  As I trailed along drowning in his wake and my own possessive, protective feelings, I felt like one of those little league parents who yells at volunteer umpires when their boy gets strike three.  Turns out I'm this close to being a "stage mom."  The pageant circuit is just one false step away.  I had no idea.

David is much more logical.  Trying to talk me down from my (irrational) frustration.  Or up from my (self-destructive) discouragement.

Maybe he's right.  Just once, I wish he wasn't.

That somehow I could be the one who was reasonable and logical and calm.

I stood poised with my camera all night.  At the ready to capture Caleb's inevitable moment of elation.  Is it pride?  Is it ignorance?  Is it blind, motherly adoration?  Is it the fact that these little human beings were once housed inside of me?  Can I really be expected to act like a normal, rational, unbiased human being after that?

I think it's clear that whatever it is, I could use another piece of consolation pie

With plenty of whipped cream.  Motherhood is a blood sport.  And I need provisions. 

I just hope I can hold it together tonight at Olivia's softball game.  It's the season opener.  And David will die of shame if I have to be escorted from the field.

Images from Last Night

Caleb won first place in the Medicine and Health category of his school's science fair.  His project was entitled, "Hand Sanitizers: Helpful, Harmful, or Hooey?".  He could have won first prize for alliteration too.  And as a bonus, not one of us got E. Coli poisoning.  Which is great.  On so many levels.

There is always more than one place to be on nights like this.  Savannah performed a gymnastics routine (complete with choreography) with a couple of her friends at her school's talent show.  David and I split up to support our darlings.  Luckily, everyone made it in time to see Caleb do the double fist-pump when his name was called.

And Ethan ran into a friend from school at the science fair.  She wanted to show him her ankle bracelet.  He did his best to look interested.  She also introduced him to her dad.  At this, Ethan shoved his hands in his pockets and looked at the floor and then up at me for help.  Sorry love, I cannot help you.  Girls are complicated things. 

The Scientific Method

By Saturday, David's diet was reduced to bananas, rice, apples, and toast.  Without butter.  (He'd want me to point that out.)  By Sunday, even this seemed gluttonous, as he was limited to this:

in preparation for a couple of scopes his doctor is doing this morning.  We are looking (literally) everywhere for answers, and this is part of the process of eliminating one "cause" at a time.  I have my own hypothesis about his gallbladder, but we'll see.       

Caleb spent his weekend finishing his science fair project.  I spent mine playing assistant and editor.

He would like you to know that your hand sanitizer is completely ineffective.  I told him I'd tell you.  He thinks more people read this blog than actually do, and he would like to warn the world "before something bad happens."  Knowledge can be a burden.

Grammy-Award Winning Wheezing

My mind has been on Reuben Land this morning.

My boys and my husband are spending most of their energy just breathing in and out.

David is down to having enough breath for one-word answers: "Yes."  "No."  "Bad."

The only good part of that is that he doesn't have enough breath to pick out a tie, so he's home for the day.  When I muttered something about it being about time, he just winked at me and said, "We can play."  But this proved to be too many words at once and he started into a fantastic coughing, wheezing fit.  Careful there, cowboy.  In his condition, even Scrabble might be too taxing.

This morning at scripture study, Caleb had to stop and catch his breath every four words or so.  It was so pathetic I made him stop after a couple of verses.  I told him to put his backpack away.  He wasn't going anywhere.  Luckily, he didn't have enough breath to put up any kind of resistance.  He just closed his eyes and said, "Thank you."

In other news, Coldplay won the Grammy last night for "Song of the Year" for Viva la Vida.  Which was obvious.  Gosh, I love that song.  Reminds me of the magical days I spent with my children in the upper peninsula this summer.  And Adele won the Grammy for "Best New Artist."  David clapped.  Which was easier than using his lungs to say, "Hey, I like Adele too."  He's a fan.  Chasing Pavements accompanies his shower and shave most mornings.  What is it about musicians from across the pond?

And before I go pick up Caleb's four prescriptions and do another round of nursing, here's a little proof from David's blackberry that my Arizona boys can Klondike with the best of them.

When they got home, David took to his bed for the rest of the day and I took Caleb to a youth orchestra audition.  He got word Saturday night that he made it.

Then I took Caleb and Olivia and Ethan to the Chinese Cultural Center to celebrate the Chinese New Year for a school assignment.  My favorite part was sharing a dozen potstickers while we sat on the lawn and enjoyed a perfect February gloaming.

We had the most gorgeous thunderstorm Sunday morning.  The kids were out picking oranges for our brunch when it started pouring.  They came in soaked and giggling as the lightning started cracking.  It was cloudy again this morning, prompting Olivia to close her eyes and fervently wish for rain again today.  And even though we ran the heater (mostly out of sentiment) on the way to the pediatrician this morning, there is just no stopping that Arizona sunshine.  It is already shining again.  I understand how she feels though...there is something quite romantic about an overcast sky.

And speaking of romance, the other day I overheard Olivia wistfully talking to her friend,

"We used to have a chicken named Lily.  I hope she's happy."

Long sigh.

"I hope she met a rooster to make out with so she can have lots of baby chicks."

What in the world? 

I laid on the grass and laughed my head off. 

Nursemaid to One

David stopped breathing this morning at five o'clock and it woke me up.  And then there was a gasp and all kinds of wheezing coming from his side of the bed.

I got up and found the nebulizer and fixed him a fresh batch of albuterol cocktail.

He and Caleb are supposed to be going on a Klondike campout tonight.

He said between wheezes, "I'm going to die in that tent tonight."

I told him that in all likelihood he probably wouldn't die, but that it may, indeed, be a very long night.  Regardless of his imminent demise, he has plans to put on his tie and blearily sit through some meetings today.  Even now he is simultaneously puffing away on the nebulizer and putting his blackberry through its paces.

When Caleb came to ask what was for breakfast, he quietly added that he had thought he had a cold.  He does.  His whole face was running.  (Truth be told, I am just relieved that it's not E.coli.  I've been on high-alert ever since our little live cultures were delivered.)  I tried (hard) to talk him into staying home, but he said he had two tests.  I sighed and told him to call me after they were over. 

However, Ethan was still in his pajamas at breakfast, where he announced that he was too sick to go to school. 

"My neck hurts."

"Inside or out?"


He is staying home.  No cajoling needed.  Letter G can wait.  I snuggled him back into bed, with promises of soup and apple juice and a Home Alone marathon when he wakes up.

I propped David and Caleb up with day-time cold medicine and resignedly sent them on their way.  But, I'm thinking now that I should have switched the dosage to the night-time stuff when they weren't looking, because my patient-load should really be three.

Word of the Week: Detritus

detritus  /n./  rock in small particles or other material worn or broken away from a mass, as by the action of water or glacial ice.  any disintegrated material.  debris.  fragments.  garbage or waste.  matter.  rubbish.  scree.  silt.  tuff.  rubble.  shavings.  leavings.

detritus  /n./  1.  I have always loved this word.  The letters themselves, put together in this combination, sound like the leftover sand and rocks rolling around in the bottom of a beach bag.  And in addition to that, it is my constant companion.  Detritus and entropy dog me ceaselessly.

detritus  /n./  2.  I have to admit I almost discontinued "word-of-the-week."  It felt almost like the detritus of another time, and that maybe I ought go in a different direction with my blog this year.  But then I realized I had only posted once between my last two SPT's.  Apparently, I need more reasons to post, not less.

detritus  /n./  3.  Last week was rough.  Re-entry into regular life after two weeks vacation with my darlings was harsh and shocking.  It always is.  When I commented just that, David only said resignedly, "I knew it would be."  Last Monday, when I found myself surrounded on all sides by detritus of every kind (laundry, holiday decorations, suitcases and boxes from our trip to Michigan, ashes in the fireplace, and new toys with no "home") and simultaneously deserted by everyone I live with, a small rebellion ensued.  Not to mention a hearty resentment stew boiling away in my hard heart.  There was enough there to last more than a few days.  But eventually, I cleaned up both the detritus and my heart (you can guess which one took longer), and by Saturday night, it was livable here again.

 detritus  /n./  4.  By the end of last year, working (blogging and editing pictures) on our home computer was just about impossible.  There is so much detritus on there from programs the kids have uploaded and downloaded and generally unloaded on there, that it has brought it to an almost excruciating standstill when you're trying to do anything requiring even the least bit of memory.  David, seeing my plight, bought me a brand new Dell laptop for Christmas.  And in particular, a red one.  He was very specific about that last point.  I was so shocked and confused when I opened it (I thought it was an electric skillet?) I started bawling from the surprise.  (I'm sure that will shock most of you, considering my decidedly un-lachrymose nature.  Last night I did start bawling while I was making hamburgers, but my blood sugar was low, so there.)  Anyway, I am feeling extremely blessed to be using it.  In addition to all this, David spent a good two and a half hours on the phone and on the computer getting my wireless internet hooked up on Thursday night.  I know how lucky I am.  (Especially considering everything in the paragraph above.) 

detritus  /n./  5.  It seems we barely put away the detritus of the space station project, and Caleb is already nudging me to help him start his science project.  He told me yesterday, "Mom, I really think we need to order those petri dishes today."  I really think Target should have a petri dish section.

detritus  /n./  6.  In an effort to clear up some of the detritus leftover from last year and "start fresh," we finished reading the Book of Mormon this past week.  We read the last chapter of Moroni together on Tuesday night and then ate cake.  We believe in celebration around here. 

The Other Shoe and Semester's End

I had to take our only working car into the shop yesterday.

My eyes watered when I saw the bill.

The car guy said, "It could have been worse."

I raised my eyebrows skeptically. 

I know he was thinking, "I had one guy in here last week who has to get a whole new car."

And I was thinking, "I know.  That was my husband.  Ironic, no?"

Thankfully, RIM kept CIM from bursting into tears.  But it was close.

The good news is that school is out tomorrow.  August seems like an absolute lifetime ago.  But our holiday begins tomorrow afternoon.  Well deserved, I say.  And in two sure signs that the semester is winding down, Caleb had his violin Christmas concert on Monday night  

and this morning I went to the school to help Ethan decorate a graham-cracker house.  

And just so I don't give you any false impressions about my crafting abilities (that last post may have been misleading) I am including this picture Ethan took of me and my shredded wheat reindeer.  In my defense, I think it would have worked if the royal icing had dried faster.