There's Nothing Wrong With Your Eyes

I have been decluttering. The drawers, the closets, the cupboards.

And finally, the blog.

Last and least. But finally, done.

When I went to clean it up, it was in a woeful state. Apparently, I had long-since stopped actually seeing it.

Over Christmas break, I drove Caleb down to the DMV to get his driving learner's permit. Before he took the written exam the woman at the counter said he needed to take the eye test. She had him press his forehead against the machine and then said, "Read the second line."

Caleb was quiet.

"Read the second line."

More silence. He looked up at me. Confused.

"Just read the line," I said, helpfully.

He put his head back in the machine and pulled it out again. "It's blurry," he mouthed at me.

I said, "Just read it." I am nothing if not helpful.

He started tentatively reading.

The woman looked at me. "Are you his mother?"

I nodded.

"Um, he can't see."

"Yes he can."

"No, ma'am. He's reading numbers and there aren't any numbers on the line."

He looked at me and shook his head. He couldn't see anything. Too bad. I had such high hopes for that "Mother Of The Year Award" in 2013.

And I asked myself, all the way home, all the way to the optomistrist, how I missed something like that. Blindness, I mean. What else was I missing?   It's staggering to consider.  When we got to the car, Caleb admitted that the board was blurry at school, but that he was "managing."

I protested, "But you don't have to 'manage.' Just tell us and we'll help you."

In the days and weeks since he got his glasses, Caleb has commented that his vision has "deteriorated." David asked him what he meant. He said that now when he takes his glasses off he can hardly see, everything is blurry. Um, exactly. That's how it has always been and he just didn't know that the world could be different than that.

Was blind, but now I see.


Tailgating for Romney

Do you have plans for tonight?

David does.

It's the second presidential debate.

I know.  I'm excited too.

I just can't wait to hear the same questions and the same answers all over again.

But wait.

This time it's town hall style.

What?  Holy cow, that changes everything.

Now I'm totally excited.

Because different people will be asking the same questions that the same two guys will be answering in the same way.

Oh yeah, we're kickin' it town hall style tonight.

But what I want to know is if any of this is really necessary.  I mean, I could do all the answers for them at this point.  In my sleep.

What is left to suss out?

Do people really not know who they are going to vote for? 

I don't believe it.  It's not that hard.  Do you want more or less of what we've had for four years?  See?  Easy.

I want to know who all these "undecided" voters are and ask them why they can't get their junk together.

Get your junk together, people, so the rest of us can get on with our lives.

I thought about having a tailgating party for the debate.  You know, invite the neighbors, break out the grill, use red and blue paper plates, and napkins that say "Power to the People."  Maybe my neighbors will bring beer because I am pretty sure I cannot do another one of these without alcohol.

What?  Too far?

Not far enough, CIM says.

If I was at that townhall tonight, and Candy Crowley handed that microphone to me, here are the burning questions I'd ask the candidates:

Why are there no good designers on Project Runway this season?

Are skinny jeans actually an ironic joke that make us all look fat?

When is Starbucks starting up their salted caramel flavor again and what do we have to do to get that to be a year-round thing?

How does Connie Britton look that good all the time?

Is it wrong that some guy has the energy and determination to get himself 24 miles above the earth and I have trouble getting the energy and determination to get myself up 24 stairs to put the clothes away?

Should I join my ward bookclub or is my eventual disappointment inevitable?

Is using eventual and inevitable in the same sentence redundant?

Can I use the shrimp I didn't use last week, but put in the refrigerator to defrost, or is that just asking for trouble?

What do you think we should wear for our upcoming family picture?  Keep in mind that the last official family picture we took was four years ago when one of you took office, so this is most likely going to be on the wall for some time.  The voters cannot afford a mistake.

Should I curl my hair or wear it straight for the aforementioned family picture?  Should I color it the same color as Connie Britton's?

Forget that last one.  That's just silly. 

Or is it?

Regardless, as Fox News let us know this morning, there are only twenty days until the election, and then David will be all mine again.  And for the record, I am really hoping Romney wins tonight.  Because when Romney gets lucky, we all get lucky.

What?  Too far?

Yes, says RIM.

Wish You Were Here

To Whom It May Concern (you know who you are):

First of all, you were missed.

Second of all, you missed out.

See how that works?

I told David that spending a week anywhere with us should be temptation enough, but seeing how that is clearly not the case, it occurred to me that maybe I haven't made the argument strongly enough. And so for your consideration, here are my top ten reasons you should pack up your sunscreen and your beach towels and your reservations and your hesitations and be here next year.

1. There is no better place to be a child. Period.

2. There is no better smell than sunscreen and salt water. Period.

3. There is no better feeling than sand below you, sun above you, and kissing in between. Exclamation point!

4. There is no better sound than to hear your children shrieking in delight as you fly across the waves together. Parentheses. Unless it is hearing the waves crash behind you while you snuggle them around a warm fire. End parentheses.

5. There is no better delight than the little curl of anticipation that comes from cracking a new paperback on the beach. Comma. And the magic world that its words will weave around you. Comma. And knowing that nothing is going to interrupt you.

6. There is no better weight than wet eight-year-old boy wrapped in a towel and snuggled under your chin. Sigh. In quotation marks.

7. There are no better dreams than those you have in a beach house because real life has never seemed farther away. What is worry. Question mark.

8. There is no place with greater evidence of God's love. This sand, crushed for millennia just so you could build castles with moats and turn your children into sandy merpeople (semi colon) this coast split and torn by cataclysmic events just so your children could throw themselves into the surf at the edge of the world (semi colon) this sun which fired the sky last night in hot oranges and brilliant fuchsias just so you could stand there with your mouth ajar in wonder.

9. There is no better sight than our long line of bicycles trailing down the boardwalk at dusk, headed towards the park, the pier, chocolate donuts with sprinkles, and hot chocolate if we're cold. Another exclamation point. I'm feeling exuberant.

10. There is no better place to count your blessings. Ellipsis. They are as numerous as the grains of sand at our feet.

You think I'm exaggerating.

That's impossible. You cannot exaggerate the joys of this kind of living.

This morning as I type from the most perfect view in creation, the sun starting its long graceful arc across the sky and warming my back, I cannot imagine anywhere else I'd rather be.

The girls are all laying as they have for six days, heads together, wearing their sunglasses and floppy beach hats. They gossip and laugh as Olivia dishes everything she knows about junior high to her younger, adoring cousins. Don't worry. Savannah, with her perfected eye roll, never lets it go to her head. Soon they will grab their boogie boards and scream as they jump in the ice cold water, and I've heard rumors of a dance routine performance they've been working on. You don't want to miss that for anything.

Caleb and David are beside me reading. Their toes have disappeared in the sand, while their heads have disappeared into the world their authors created out of nothing. Ethan is napping in his beach chair. The hair on his legs has turned golden. It's not too much to say that I see that as one of my greatest personal accomplishments.

Soon I will go boogie boarding and amaze everyone, especially David, who is the only one I'm trying to impress anyway. And then I will lay in the sand, press my ear to the earth until I can hear its slow, steady heartbeat, and take a well-deserved nap. (It's hard work being a world-class anything...boogie boarding is no exception.)

As usual, my thoughts this week have been about magic and miracles and creation--the millions of years and enormous effort that had to be expended for me to be right here with those most precious to me. I am humbled by that knowledge.

And I have no doubt that if I ever make it to that mansion in heaven, it will be beachfront property.

Join me here.

Surfer Girl

There is a Sunday night dance party happening in the other room. It's a natural outgrowth of cousins in close quarters.

Olivia just came up with a new dance move, named appropriately "The Olivia." She says it could be a trend.

My mom texted us today asking how Newport is.

It's hard to complain.

Sun, surf, sand, and some of the finest boogie boarding you've ever seen. Done by yours truly. I'm seriously considering adding it to my resume: "Enjoys reading, writing, quilting, and is a world class boogie boarder." I like the sound of that.

Do you want to know the best part?

I've never been hotter.

Today I caught the biggest wave I've ever ridden and David kissed me so hard it made us both dizzy, which caused him to sway and lose his balance, and consequently caused me to end up unceremoniously on my butt in the sand. I told you, hot.

My brother, who had the good fortune of witnessing the whole thing, said sarcastically, "Wow, that was almost like the movies."

Whatever. It was hot in my head. (Then again, it's always hot in my head. It's a gift.)

Yesterday David asked Olivia to keep an eye on her younger cousin. She looked over at him running in and out of the waves. She smiled and said, "He's fine, Dad. He's living the dream."

We all are.

As for me, what could be better than looking across the waves to find my lovelies paddling their boards along beside me, their bodies turned silver in the light bouncing off the waves. We watch as a wave builds and crests toward us, we flip our boards and kick off. David grins over at me and I am undone.

It is no surprise to me that life began in the oceans. I am reborn every time I get in one.

The Long Overdue Update

There is no good place to start.

Let me sum up.

For a long time it felt like we had been forsaken.

For a long time it felt like we had been left alone.

For a long time I had to force myself from fear to faith, at first at the start of every day, and then at the start of every hour, and towards the end at the start of nearly every other minute.

But then, just at the moment of great alarm, salvation arrived.

Last Monday, David dressed in his new shirt and tie and drove to a new hospital and started his new job.  That same morning, after I ironed his shirt and kissed him goodbye, I met the moving trucks at our new place and started the overwhelming job of setting up house.

Savannah says that's my new favorite word.  Overwhelmed.  I said, "What do you mean?"  "Well, now you say it all the time."


The other day we had a family meeting.  I tried to tell the kids how I was feeling.  I told them it was like I was digging out from a mudslide while it was still raining.  Ethan looked outside.  To see if it was raining.


So, we are starting over.  New job.  New house.  New ward.  New friends.  New schools.  New streets and grocery stores and doctors and gas stations and banks and post offices and when I drive down the street I don't know what's going to be on the next corner.  I've been to the grocery store twice and got lost coming home both times.

It won't take long I tell myself.

What's not new?  The weather.  After all those plane flights and hotels and tempting views of some gorgeous eastern rivers, the place prepared for us was on the other side of the valley.  Just an hour up the road.  No one was more surprised than I.  And I wonder when I will learn that I am not in charge.

For the record, there are joys to this new life.  My favorite:  that particular joy of greeting your husband at the end of the day.  I'm in the kitchen starting dinner.  He walks in in his shirt and tie.  Hey you.  And then a little passionate necking.  (This never gets old.)

And what I think about most as I sort and unpack and hang and rearrange, is how Sariah made a home out of a tent and how when she was unpacking carpets and dishes and liahonas out in the desert she might have used that word "overwhelmed" too.  And how even though it might not make much sense to me now, the Lord knows what he is doing.  He has a plan.

Even in the middle of the desert.

The Solution to All Your Problems

You know what's really great?

Adele turned twenty-one and she came out with a new album.

It will make you deliriously happy.

Even if all you are getting these days is bad news.

It is so good that when she is singing and your husband is kissing you so deep and so hard, reality and entropy and unemployment and certain disaster and all their horrid cousins will magically disappear.  Your brains and your worries and your anxieties and the part of you that knows better will melt together and be sucked right out, leaving only a hot, throbbing joy pumping through your veins.

It will make you remember all the good parts of life.

Even if your husband starts crying on the way to the post office because he only wants to go back to work instead of running errands with you.

It is so good that it will make you forget that life can be hard, and instead make you start to dream that the future is as bright as resurrection morning. 

Even if the bad news only got worse this week, and you find yourself sitting across the couch from your one and only trying to calmly list your dwindling options and sort your priorities.  A roof.  Food on the table.  

It is so good it will make you want to throw a garden party with giant bowls of pasta salad and individual glass lemonade bottles and paper lanterns strung up in the trees.

Even if you are running out of time and after watching the last six months drag impossibly slow, you are now in a race with the calendar that is moving surely and swiftly towards summer, when everything will come apart for sure.

It is so good it will make you believe that anything is possible.

And that is only track 1.  Just wait till you get to the second half.  You will swear salvation is at hand.

Turn it up.

For The Record

This is the only picture in my camera from the last two weeks.  I can't remember what I was going to post with it, but it was probably something like:



This morning I rolled over to David's side of the bed and asked, "Do you love me?"

He murmured, "Uh huh."

I asked, "In spite of my problems?"


Then I asked, "Because of my problems?"

He laughed.

"You wouldn't go that far?"

He laughed again and grabbed my boob and told me I was crazy. 

So, for the record:

1.  I'm still married.

2.  My children are still alive.

3.  I'm hard-pressed to remember a time I've been this miserable due to my own actions (or inability to say "no.")

4.  I am dreaming of summer every waking and sleeping moment.

5.  In nearly every conversation I have with David I use one of the following phrases:

I quit.

Can't we just run away somewhere?

Isn't there a free bed somewhere in that hospital where I could just disappear for a couple of weeks.

I'm not kidding, I totally quit.

I mean it.

6.  I've developed a new "inside voice" as well.  CIM and RIM have been joined by FPM, "fetal-position-me," and nearly every day RIM is yelling at her that "It's not so bad!"  and "Just do something already!" which only makes things worse.

(I wonder if it is a bad sign that my inside voices are multiplying.  Whatever it takes to get one of those free hospital beds, I say.)

Do you want the good news?

Someone wonderful (I've no idea who) (or is it "whom" FPM asks from her sad little pile at the bottom of my mind) sent me this little book in the mail.

I read it in a day and half and it is helping my writing immensely.  Bless you, whoever you are.   

Well.  I suppose that's all.

Wait, you say.  I waited two and half weeks for that?

And now more bad news:

It's the best I've got.