The Scariest Month of the Year is September

It has not escaped my notice that three of the last five posts have contained numbered lists.

(Be assured that your disappointment is no match for my shame.)

Regardless, somehow today turned into October. Amazing really, as I thought September and all it's horrors might never end.  If I wanted to, I could make quite the numbered list, starting with "grrr" and ending with "ugh" and all the exhausting, soul-killing, first-quarter-back-to-school grievances in between.  If I happen to find myself in purgatory at the end of all this living, mine is sure to be an eternity of September.  Excruciating.

So, in a rare display of holiday spirit I dressed my mantle up in eagerness for the upcoming holiday.  The kids, who know I have always downgraded Halloween to "minor holiday" status, hardly know what to make of my new-found zeal for Halloween.  What can I say?  October has never looked so good, with its promise of fall break and a few days of sleeping past five, fall food menus, a perpetual apple pie in my refrigerator, and six tickets to the BYU Homecoming game clipped onto my calendar.  There will be fall leaves and crisp temperatures to go with the game, not to mention twenty or so uninterrupted hours in the car with my lovelies.  It's nearly enough to make me weep, and more than enough to make me decorate in anticipation.

Now if only the election were already over, my life would be near perfect.  Please Fox News, give my husband back.

"Then the Charm is Firm and Good"

We made the most of our Halloween weekend.  And you can bet we did all the usual verbs in the spookiest way possible: carve, feast, fry, light, roast, dress, comb, watch, howl, dance, parade, read, serve, laugh, kiss. 

We threw a party for our neighborhood that involved more brats and buns and sauerkraut than you can imagine. 

There was a fishing pond, a costume contest, a monster mash, and a dunk tank. 

And my children went to bed believing that their parents are magic, that they alone found the very best tricks and treats, and that the world is a very fine place...even on the scariest night of the year.     






(Olivia was very specific.  And Savannah's make-up was the most fun to do.  Obviously...on both accounts.)

(I am personally responsible for the gun holster and the blow-dry.  Some of my best work, no?)

(In ninety-degree weather, they don't last long.) 

Never Fully Dressed

Eventually, it's going to come back, I tell myself.

The happy, I mean.

The heaviness is going to leave my heart and my head and life is going to return to normal.

Something really good is going to happen again.

At some point, it's not going to take superhuman strength to leave my bed in the morning and superhuman resolve not to want to crawl back in there and have long talks with FPM in the middle of the day.

Eventually, it will be fun again.  And funny again.

(Admit it.  That picture is already a little bit funny, right?)

But as of today, one month in (exactly), it still feels like I banged my head on an open cupboard door.  I'm a little bit surprised, a little bit hurt, a little bit mad, a little bit ashamed of my own carelessness, and I still feel a little bit like swearing or a little bit like crying.  Dang, that smarts.

Mortality is hard.  As you know.

A couple of weeks ago, at the end of the day, I told David, "Guess what?  I didn't cry once today."  He said, "I did."  Which made me cry of course.  On the first Monday of unemployment, David put on a suit and tie.  I laughed when I saw him.  Overdressed and ready to impress.  Yesterday, he wore his pajamas the entire day.  Today, the same thing.  And yesterday, nearly a whole month away from one of the worst days of his life, David sat on a chair while I folded the socks and the rags, and still teared up while he talked about it. 

And so yesterday, because I just couldn't stand it anymore, I wore Savannah's bat clip with the googly eyes in my hair the entire day.  (When Ethan came home from school he asked, "Did you get a haircut?"  I said no.  He said, "Something's different."  Also a little bit funny, right?) 

And after dinner we watched Hocus Pocus.  On tap next:  The Addams Family and Wait Until Dark.  My older kids are still debating if they're ready for the latter one.  I've got my fingers crossed because there is nothing quite so fun as the scare in that movie.  (I'll be honest, I get a little bit giddy just thinking about it, despite everything else.)

And then today we went in search of these. 

And in a couple of days we are going to carve them up and drink apple cider and stuff our faces with homemade donuts and Hungarian "ghoul"-ash and pumpkin soup and we are going seriously celebrate this minor holiday.

Because even though things aren't fun, we're going to pretend they are.

Boo to you, mortality.

The Magic of Minor Holidays

We have a long tradition of getting the most out of our minor holidays.  David once made the best decision of his life on a minor holiday and since then we do our best to joyfully exploit every minor holiday on the calendar.

Yesterday was no exception.

We all slept in, with the exception of Caleb who set his alarm and rode his bike to the church to set up flags around the neighborhood with the rest of the scouts.  Do I love that I heard his alarm and then rolled over, burrowed into David's side and went back to sleep, completely confident that he would get himself up and do his duty?  Yes, I do.

I made a big breakfast of crazy pancakes (which are really German Pancakes, but we call our crepes "German Pancakes" and so we needed a new name for the actual German Pancakes.  This was a mistake perpetrated in the last generation in our family and I don't know why I didn't correct it when I had children.  Make a note Em, this madness can stop with you.)

And then we played games until mid-afternoon when I took Olivia to her viola lesson and stopped at the store for baking potatoes.

David surprised us all by coming home by five, a rare occurrence on any day, and celebrated by kissing me thoroughly while the potatoes baked.  And just when things started taking a turn for the scandalous and he began pulling me towards a more private corner (I'm telling you he has a thing for minor holidays), I raised my head and caught my children enjoying a perfect gloaming together.

At dinner, Olivia bowed her head and thanked heaven for "all the soldiers and all the veterans who had fought in that war."  We all said "Amen" and meant it.  Because of them we enjoyed a perfect minor holiday, free and safe, in the middle of the week in the middle of November.  We could not have been more grateful.

I was humming this morning while I dished eggs onto the plates.  Ethan said, "You're alone again today, Mom."  He had a worried look on his face that said he didn't want to be the one to break the news to me but somebody had to do it.

I said, "Yep."

"Then why are you happy?"

I smiled at him and told him to eat his eggs.

Why am I happy?  Leftovers from yesterday, I suppose.  And the small, delicious taste we got of the major holidays just around the corner.  I really can't help myself.  I have been seduced, yet again, by the bewitching charms of the minor holiday.  After all, she has all the fun and none of the work and stress and pressure of her more "official" sister.  Which is just more evidence of birth-order discrimination, I say.  Apparently, even first-born holidays do most of the work.

(That's right, I said it.  My brothers and sisters may now audibly groan.  It's still true, though.)   

Halloweening (the noun went as a verb)

Our spookiest minor holiday of the year is officially over.

Marked by the tell-tale sign of only tootsie rolls and dum-dums left in the bottom of the candy bowl.

The rootbeer extract controversy has been long forgotten.  Was I for or against?  I'll never tell. 

The only thing left: pictures of my darlings in their holiday splendor.  Olivia as Miss Earhart (she played the part as romatically as ever), Savannah fresh from the sarcophagus and Caleb from the Transylvanian tomb.  Ethan has been practicing "the force" all month in preparation for his night as Yoda.  He did not disappoint.


Better Than a B12 Shot

There is a story that is told in my family, especially among the women.  A family folk tale of sorts, but I heard it from my Aunt Margaret who swears it's true.

It goes that when my mom and her sisters were young and my grandmother would get in a particularly bad mood, one of my aunts would call my grandpa and tell him to bring home the B12 shot.  My grandpa was a doctor and on really rough days he would bring his doctor bag home and while my grandmother was madly stirring away at something on the stove he would lift up her sleeve, swab her arm, and give her a shot.  The story goes that neither of them acknowledged that he'd done it, she'd go on doing whatever she was doing without even looking at him, and he'd put everything back in his bag.

(I told this story to David once and he said, "Really?  Did it work?" and then wondered aloud how you go about getting B12.  He said he was just kidding when I protested indignantly.  But sometimes when I am particularly hard to live with and I see him staring off into space, I know he is secretly wondering if there is a B12 black market.)

There were several things this week that just made me happy.  Better than a B12 shot, I say.  The picture above was one of them.  The American Girl Christmas Catalog arrived this week.  When David got the mail he said, "Oh no."  I just smiled.  The girls poured over it, took it to school for conferences with their friends, let their dolls peruse it, and sat with David oohing and aahing over the holiday spreads.  This morning, after the girls had gone to school, I found Olivia's dolls making their own Christmas lists.  The anticipation has begun already.

And while I'm at it, just for the joy of it, here are a few more things this week that made me happy:

I found a get well note under Olivia's pillow from Savannah, that was mostly a long paragraph listing the fun they could have together once Olivia was feeling better and a profession her love.  Eighteen x's and o's with lots of exclamation points.  And speaking of sisters, I got a comment on my post yesterday from both of my sisters and one sister-in-law, all of whom knew exactly what I was alluding to.  I thought how very nice it is to be known.  I was completely delighted at this happy gift and the little impromptu book club on my blog. 

Yesterday David suggested that we meet for lunch.  I put him off thinking that we were both too busy, but then changed my mind after I got ready for the day because I thought I looked so good he really deserved to see me.  We met at In-n-Out and ate outside in the decidedly pleasant weather.  It is so rare to see him in the middle of the day, I have decided that lunch is my favorite kind of date.  The only downfall of the lunch date is there is no place for passionate necking.

Savannah and I have plans to tea-dye her mummy rags after school today, and we are going to pick pumpkins this Saturday.  For whatever reason I am embracing the Halloween season this year and my children could not be more pleased.  Perhaps it is all the spooky movie watching...we have plans for another movie marathon this weekend.  On tap, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, Casper, and Ghostbusters.  And David and I have our own late-night plans for Wait Until Dark, my personal Halloween favorite which I could watch any time of the year.

Yesterday I took Savannah and Ethan to the school book fair in the afternoon.  They both spent their birthday money on new books.  (Thanks Greg and Becca!)  Can I tell you how happy it makes me that I have children who would rather spend their money on books than anything else?  Deliriously so.

And speaking of books, Caleb has been working on his Reading Merit Badge.  One of the requirements was to read to a child for four hours.  He completed the requirement by reading to Ethan every evening, but they both enjoyed the experience so much that they've continued reading together every night since.  Last night they finished The Enormous Egg.  My heart does little thumps of joy as I hear Caleb reading and Ethan laughing from the other room and see their heads tipped towards each other in a pool of yellow lamp light.  Be still my heart.

Best of all, the weekend is here.  Mine is going to include date night, stake conference, sugar cookies, an indian-food dinner party, a trip to the thrift stores for our missing costume essentials, and maybe even a nap.  Color me delighted.

Imagine You and Me

My favorite thing about married life is the early mornings.

When the light is just leaving blue for yellow, and the sheets whisper their secrets as the mattress dips and David nudges his nose into my neck.

I love the sound of sheets in the morning.

And David's voice, right in the middle of a conversation.  No "How are you's" or showers or clean teeth.  Just us.  In the middle.

This morning I asked David if this is what he imagined his life would be like when he married me.

I could feel his smile against my collarbone.

"I don't think so."

"Me either."

"I'm not sure I really imagined anything.  Did you?"

But I know him better than that, of course.  He always had plans.  Ideas of the perfect life.  We used to break up every Thursday over this very thing.  He couldn't help himself. 

We waited a whole six months to get married because he had always imagined a June wedding.  He still thinks it was worth the wait.  I still don't.  It's been fourteen years and I still bring it up when we fight.  It was the first great offense, after all. 

I'm not sure what I imagined life would be like.  (I just knew I wanted to be with him all the time.  And wake up with him.  That most of all.)  But I'm sure I didn't imagine that building a life together would actually mean so many hours apart

Fourteen years ago this morning we were kneeling across an altar, making promises about things we couldn't imagine.  Promises about laundry and children and morning sickness and road trips and dishes and broken sprinkler pipes and forgiveness and emergency rooms and Christmas mornings and late meetings at the hospital.

David's right, of course.

I don't think it is what either of us imagined.

Some of it is better and some of it is not.

But the real magic of our marriage is that every morning for the last fourteen years, we have made and kept the same promises, regardless.

This morning before David went to work, we had to take the car into the shop.  (We know how to celebrate an anniversary.)  These are the middle years of marriage, when car repairs replace a night away.  David dropped me off and we went our separate ways, he to work and me to the children and the casserole dish still soaking from last night.  With a kiss and a promise to meet up later.

This is what real marriage is, I told myself, willing myself not to be disappointed.  I was a bit anyway.  But when I came in, I found the smell of David's aftershave and another note in red lipstick waiting for me.  Dated this time.  To show he intended it for today.  On the occasion of our anniversary.

It was enough.

To tide me over until tonight.

When we will review the day, and the last fourteen years, and the fourteen ahead, I will tell him that my life with him is better than I ever imagined.

And despite his old plans for the perfect life, I imagine he will tell me the same.

Things I Believe In

Last night when David got home from work, I was frosting cookies.  Dinner had not been started.  (I have priorities.)  David said that was fine, we could eat cookies for dinner.  But I was already feeling a bit emotional (who, me?) and I knew a really bad blood sugar episode (with the high and low only a sugar cookie with cream cheese frosting and pink sprinkles can produce) would likely threaten the very fabric of my marriage.

And technically, I believe in marriage.  So I made pasta primavera.  And I only cried a little bit when I was sweeping the floor.  (Who could blame me?)

Today was "Dress as Your Favorite Book Character Day" at school.  Which just makes my heart throb.  If they had had such a day when I was growing up, it would have been as good as Christmas.  I lived most of my young life as a book character.  So yesterday I dropped everything and drove around town finding a yellow sweater for Ethan, Eskimo boots for Olivia, and a blonde wig for Savannah.  The yellow sweater proved the hardest to find and I finally ended up altering a yellow sweatshirt I found in the Junior's department.  I told David that I spent more on Book Character Day than I did on Halloween.

But this morning, Ethan was worried because he didn't have any ears.

I heard Savannah say, "Don't worry. Mom can make ears in two seconds."  And then told him about the year she was Lily and I sewed her some ears while she was making her bed.  I don't remember that.  But it's probably true.  I am amazing like that.

When I was doing the girls wigs this morning, Ethan said, "I can't wait to go to school.  Everyone's going to be dressed up."

Not wanting to burst his bubble Savannah said slowly, "Well, actually, not everyone."


"Well.  Not everyone believes in books.  Our Mom does."

And how.

CIM Takes Matters Into Her Own Hands

It's time I posted.  Past time, really.

David listed my neglected and missing posts last night in bed.

Surprisingly, I wasn't feeling too amorous after that.  And I may have said something rude.  (I'm not saying one way or another.)

And then this morning RIM and CIM got into an argument about what to post and what not to post, and in what order.  Like that matters.  Obviously, CIM won because here I am telling you all this.  She always wins when I'm tired or haven't eaten recently or I've said something rude to my husband and am therefore feeling out-of-sorts.  (Let's be honest, after all that there is really very little place in my life for RIM.)

And so yes, there are other things to talk about.  Like our date to Othello with my parents (it was brilliant, by the way),

David's new car (no pictures yet),

the word-of-the-week and my SPT (in which I am teaching my kids a *new* game and *trying something new by letting the laundry and the mopping wait in favor of a couple of good games of croquet*),

not to mention the girls' Saturday sewing class with my mom,


a talk by Elder Bednar,

an inauguration, and the 100th day of school (which happened on the same day).

But instead,

here is a movie about why it is great to live in Arizona in January even if your bicycle-built-for-two gets a flat tire and it's so warm that you have to run the air conditioner for an hour before bed.