Sunday, June 27, 2010

Can't Get Enough...

Lately, I just can't get enough of the simple joys in life.

I can't get enough... coloring with Big Grandpa.
... babies snuggling with Big Grandpa.

... picnics with root beer and lemon cookies. (ants not pictured.)

... not worrying if my shoes match when I go to the library. (Ok, I'm not quite there yet, but my two year old is teaching me, and I really think there's hope.) Certainly, I can't get enough of how much she can do all by herself.

... being at the temple with family.

... my daughter, loving my mother.

...my daddy, snuggling my baby.

 ... trying to take photos with bright sunshine, and a two year old playing hide and go seek.

... pigtails, mischievous smiles, and friends who are beautiful without photoshop.

These are the simple joys that are filling my heart with happiness.  Take a look around your own life, and see what it is you can't get enough of.  Let me know what you find.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

I Pay for Dirt

One of my good friends has this new crowd of friends that she runs with.  None of them have a job, they just hang out with their fancy cars and their Iphones and look at her funny when she has to go home early because she has a job. I told her that when they ask why she has to work to tell them it's because every time they flush her toilet, she pays for that.  (I can see that I am making her friends out to sound like they are irresponsible rapscalions, and I mean them no disrespect.  My friend is a cool gal, and I am sure her friends are top notch.  But I think she might dig it if I made her out to seem a like a little rebel.  I hope.)

Because, what I hadn't fully realized about growing up is that you pay for what you use.  Everything you use.  I am learning that it is even more true when you own a home.  Let me explain about this flooding in our basement/backyard business.

It all started back in December.  Lincoln was layered in a crisp cover of ice and snow, two feet deep.  The university had even closed for a few days because of the inclement weather.  There I was, pregnant (lesson 1 - don't look for houses pregnant) and excited (terrified) about the prospect of looking for homes.  This house we live in now was the first one we saw.  After five days of looking at houses eight hours a day, it was the house I wanted.  We had gone back to look at it six times, and I loved it more each time.  The house, like all of Lincoln, was covered in snow, driveway, porch, and of course, backyard.  So really, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.  (Lesson 2 - Don't look for houses when there is snow on the ground.)

The disclosure statement that the previous owners wrote let us know that there had been some issues with water getting into the basement, but that they had done all they could to take care of it.  They had installed a sump pump, and done some landscaping.  (Lesson 3 - take disclosure statements with two grains of salt.)

Our offer on the house is accepted. We move in. We love it. The backyard is intensely demanding, much more than it looked like it would be in its peaceful, snowy slumber.  Much more than we think we can handle, most days.  Then it stormed.  Devin was gone, on one of his (innumerable) trips, and I didn't notice that it had flooded until the next afternoon.  (Lesson 4 - DO look for houses in the rain. Sort of just kidding.)  We have a home warranty on the house, so we called them and they sent a plumber out to come look and see if we would be covered for any repairs that might be necessary.  He went down to the basement, looked around, and told me that we didn't have a sump pump, we only had a pit.  I said, "We do too have one." (I didn't really say that. I said, "Are you sure?" - but since you can't see my face I have to write out what I was thinking...)  He said, "Yes, that is just a pit.  There is no pump there."  So I told myself to be a man, took a deep breath, and said, "I'm pretty sure we have a sump pump."  He looked at me like why do all the crazy ones look so normal?  And reassured me again, that I only had a pit in my basement, where I could put a pump if I wanted, but absolutely no sump pump.  So I asked him if I could show him one more thing before he left, and I took him outside and pointed down into our pit.  He said, "Ah, yea, that's a sump pump."  He jumped down in, looked around, and said that since it was outside the foundation of the house it was not covered by the warranty and would I now pay him his sixty dollars.  He had been there for six and a half minutes.  But then he was actually very nice and told me a few things that we could try to do to fix it on our own before calling in someone to pay another sixty (or more) dollars to.

Devin did what he said, and it was fixed.  Turns out the floater bobber thingamajooberdeedodad wasn't completing it's allotted task in life, bobbing and floating.  Devin freed it, and we immediately saw water pumping into our yard.  Great. (Lesson 5 - if a plumber gives you free advice, try it.  It might work.)

Then we had 20 days of rain out of the last 23, as reported by our neighbor.  On Sunday night, the night of the big flood we got four and a half inches of rain.  (Lesson 6 - Don't move to Nebraska.  Just kidding.)  We had that whole adventure that many of you are familiar with, because apparently the problem was much bigger than just the malfunctioning floater bobber thingamajooberdeedodad.  As it turns out, all of the neighbors backyards slant. Towards our yard.  And our backyard slants. Towards the house.  In particular, it slopes towards the pit.  As we discovered when we were out in the pouring rain with water up to our waists with our buckets watching the waterfall come cascading in towards our basement.

So, we spent a large portion of today shopping for dirt.  It don't come cheap, and it certainly don't come easy.  Last night we had more ridiculous displays of nature's raw power, and as it first started coming down my husband got all antsy (understandably so, we hadn't fixed the problem yet) and said, "I'm going to dump out all your pots and use that dirt to create some slope to stop the rain from all draining down into the pit." I just stared at him. My pots? With my peppermint, and my strawberry, and my marigold, and my moss roses?  The ones full of potting soil that my mom and I just bought yesterday?  Oh, yeah, he really did mean those pots.  What could I say? No, spare my marigolds, who cares about the basement? Let it rot!  So out he and my father went into the pouring rain to save the house, and out my mother and I went to save the plants.  We pulled them up as fast as we could and put them in a little pot, and crossed our fingers that they would survive the night.  (Lesson 7 - husbands typically, for reasons unknown to women, think the house is more important than marigolds and peppermint.)

Today I was desperate to try and replant my little friends, but my anxious husband and hard working father had already dug up dirt from another corner of the yard and put it all on top of our beautiful potting soil.  So, stealthlike and totally awesomelike my mom and I waited until it was almost dark and everyone was busy with their "after the babies have gone to bed pursuits" and we crept outside.  We took our trowels and dug through the dirt to get to the dirt.  (Lesson 8 - You can laugh about doing crazy things like digging through dirt to get to dirt in the dark when you do it with your mother, if she's as cool as my mother is. I hope you have one that cool.)


And there you have it.  That's the full story of the dirt I pay for, the house I love, the plants I love (more), and the lessons I've learned from it all.

Thank you, and good night.  (That just felt appropriate, is all.)

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Ox in the Mire

Imagine.

It's Sunday evening.  Our day of rest.  I'm sitting at my kitchen table working on a birthday present for my sister.  A late evening dusk is falling, slowly and peacefully as it only does in the summer.  My babies are upstairs, all nestled snug in their beds, if you don't mind me borrowing that phrase.  A light rain is falling outside, as it has been for the past day and night.  My parents are visiting, my mom upstairs enjoying her Sabbath rest after a hard week of working in my and my sister's yard and playing with her grandbabies.  My father is watching me work on my sister's present and offering helpful advice.  My husband is itching to be making something in the kitchen.  We discuss some ideas, and settle on chocolate covered peanuts, and chocolate covered walnuts.  He gets out the ingredients.

I need to let the paint dry on my project, so I get up to help.  Now I'm standing next to the stove, spatula in hand, stirring the chocolate while Devin makes little piles of nuts.  This is your cue to think about what a domestic little scene I'm painting for you.

Suddenly, Devin starts to think about how our basement flooded a few weeks ago.  He looks out the window to see how the situation looks this time.  Yes, we're flooding.  My dad, who is now reading on the couch, jumps to attention.  My husband runs outside to begin bailing out our pit before it seeps into the basement like last time.  I am dripping chocolate all over the nuts. They look so yummy.

He comes back in, soaking wet, but victorious over the water.  I tell him to go upstairs and change before he gets sick.  He comes back down in dry clothes, and I work some more on my project, the chocolate covered treats are done.  We go down to the basement to look at the windows.  Oh dear, now that one is flooding.  My dad grabs a bucket and runs up the stairs, dashing out the door to bail us out of that one.

My husband and I wander casually into the other room to check the status on the first window.  It will be flooding in minutes. My husband runs upstairs to put his wet clothes on again to go back out.  I stand there for a minute longer, staring at the window, mesmerized by the sheer amount of water pouring in to the pit.  I am snapped out of my reverie by the steady trickle of water into the room.  The flooding has begun, again.

I run up the stairs, change my clothes, and we all meet outside in the pit.  Dad gets down in the deepest, I'm on the steps, and Devin is in the yard.  We set up a working assembly line, filling buckets, passing them up, tossing them in to the rain drenched yard.  Again and again. Fill and empty. Repeat.  Water is coming at us from all sides.  I am saying approximately two prayers a minute. Please, let us know how to save our house.  I have two ideas that are acknowledged by all to be "great ideas".  We work hard.  We save our house.  The rain slowly lets up.

The next hour is filled with hot chocolate and mopping up the basement.  We set up the dehumidifier that we bought last time this happened to help dry out the basement.  Hanna fusses, I get her up, calm her down, she goes back to bed.

I see lightning flashing.  The thunder rumbles, I feel the house shake a little.  The rain starts coming down again.  We might be up all night.  I'd say we have an ox in our mire.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Gross, or Totally Normal?

I was vacuuming my stairs tonight in preparation for an exciting guest that's coming in on the train tonight at midnight.  He leaves tomorrow at midnight. It's all very mysterious and wonderful.

So, I'm vacuuming, and I'm thinking about a book I just read called The Help.  I'm thinking about those women and how they worked harder in one day cleaning houses than I have probably ever worked to clean a house.  My excuse is typically "I'm too hot."  Well, unfortunately for me, these tough women were cleaning homes in the South in the Summer without air conditioning... I have nothing left.

So I'm cleaning because I have no excuses left and my mysterious visitor will be here in a few hours.  I'm  now vacuuming the stairs.  It occurs to me that we have lived here for three months and a few days and the stairs have been vacuumed twice.  Once by Devin, and once now today by ME.

Is that gross, or totally normal?  How often do you vacuum your stairs? I don't know what the norm is on stair vacuuming.  So, for those of you who have stairs, please, PLEASE be honest. We're all friends here, inside a very secure trust circle.  How often do you do clean those stairs?  And for those of you that don't have stairs, have you ever gone to someone's house and noticed their stairs at all, be they clean or icky?  Be honest now, remember the sacred trust circle.  It's ok, nothing will leak.

Ok, now back to cleaning. Yes, I stopped in the middle of my cleaning to ask of you this burning question. That's how important it is to me.

Can't wait to see you Grandpa!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

It's a Beautiful World, and it has bugs.

Sometimes I forget that it is a beautiful world.  Lately though, I've had a little help in remembering.  See, we have a backyard now. (Er, yes, I will be talking about my backyard again.)  And backyards in Nebraska, as in many places I'm sure, have grass.  I don't think grass grew this fast when I was a kid, but alas we can't stop the world from changing can we?  This all boils down to the fact that I get to spend a few hours every week going around and around my backyard.  Tedious work, but leaves the mind free as a bird to think, or not to think.  (Is that the question?  Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against*... don't worry, I won't go there. But, Mrs. Springman, I really do still have the whole thing memorized.  Is that sad, or awesome?)

As I make my way across the lawn, I discover new things every time that I had never seen before in our yard.  Most of the time, it's flowers that catch my eye:
But more often than not, it's the bugs.  Bugs in my face, bugs in my hair, bugs on my arms, bugs chewing on me all over the place.  And when I take my eyes off the flowers, and focus only on the bug:
Well, bugs just aren't as pretty are they?

How often do I do that?  How often do I focus only on another poopy diaper and forget the beautiful baby wearing the stenchy diaper?  How often do I focus only on another bill to pay and overlook the luxuries that I can afford (and by luxuries, please know that I mean air conditioning.) How often do I focus only on waiting through another traffic jam and forget that if I'm driving it means I have a car, and am out of the house, going somewhere, and how quickly I've forgotten that just a few short weeks ago I could not do that.  

So, in my backyard and in my life I am going to try and focus more on the flowers.  Because it is a beautiful world, even if it has a few (hordes) of bugs in it.

Please, enjoy a few more pictures of my backyard.  They really deserve a more talented photographer than I.
I wish our camera had been working during the tulip outburst of 2010. It was incredible.
*In case you didn't recognize it, that's Hamlet's soliloquy, and I memorized all 52 lines of it for extra credit that I didn't need for my high school English class. Repeat after me: Yes, I was a nerd.  Ha ha. Gotcha.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Meatloaf and Potatoes

Tonight for dinner we had your standard Americanized tacos.  Tortillas, seasoned ground beef, refried beans, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, and salsa.  Pretty tasty.  Devin and I always finish up pretty well the tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese, but we are not big meat eaters and so even though we always cook our meat in small portions we have large amounts of meat leftover that we use in creative ways throughout the rest of the week.  We also always cook too many refried beans, but that's because Devin loves his refried beans.  Tonight we had them from scratch, and Devin said, "I'm glad these beans don't have too much flavor.  Now we can spice them however we want later, Indian, or Italian and that will be yummy." (Please understand that is not a direct quote. That is not how Devin talks. I do not remember exactly what he said, and this statement is an interpretation of what he said.  OK.)
And me, being ever so witty as I am, said, "Yeah, we should spice them American."
And Devin, appreciating my humor as he ever does responded, "I don't even know what that would be. Like, salt and pepper?"
And I thought, "How lame, we don't even have a national flavor."

I started thinking about the different countries I've been in, and their foods and flavors.  I've eaten typical meals in Brasil, Mexico, I think I had lunch in Argentina once, but maybe it was Uruguay, Germany, Belgium, and France. Although, since all we ate the entire time we were in France was bread I don't suppose that country counts.  (Luckily, we were not in France long enough for this to have an adverse affect on our health. It was just really, really tasty.)

The point is, I love lasagna, fettucine, fajitas, tandoori chicken, keema alu, shabu shabu, pannenkoeken, boerenkool, and all sorts of foods from other countries, but I like them best cooked in my own kitchen, here in my own home, on the soil that feels like a very part of me.  (Or in my mother's kitchen, of course.)

I still remember my dad asking me as we prepared to leave Brasil after living there for four years if I would miss anything.  I didn't think I would then (aside from the people I loved so much), so eager was I to get home.  Looking back now after all these years, I do miss some things, but I am still happier eating my food here. Even when it is feijoada.  This may not make sense, but it's true.  The other main thing I remember about coming back to the States after those four years?  I'm pretty sure my sister and I knelt down and kissed the ground.  It felt that good to be home.

Note: I do also love foods like au gratin potatoes, meatloaf, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter sandwiches, hamburgers, root beer, salads with Ranch dressing, and I think it goes without saying, bacon.  I suppose those are "American" foods?

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Crazy Town

You know I can't resist it when I have a great (strange) dream.  It is a great and strange place, that murky land of dreams.  The one I had last night had three main components, each slightly or largely or mediumly horrific, in their own way.  I would have called it a nightmare, if it weren't that I was so well acquainted with real nightmares.

The first component was that I was on the swim team with Hannah, and Abby, and that was the one small fun part of the dream.  The horrific part?  We had our swim meets wearing bikinis.  Now, this would have been horrible for me even in high school, but in the true fashion of dreams I still had my current body. My "had two babies" body.  My body that is completely webbed with beautiful stretch marks, in all different levels of fading.  Grotesque, you're thinking? I agree.  Horrific, I told you.

The second component was that I had an ex-boyfriend in the dream.  He was on the men's swim team.  In my dream he was my ex-boyfriend, in that we were not "together" during my dream, but I was aware that we had a "history".  I was also aware in my dream of who this "boy" would be when he grew up and left high school.  Adam Lambert.  I'm not sure which was more horrific for me, the feeling of having an "ex-boyfriend" in high school, one that I knew I had gasp, kissed and everything, or that he would grow up to be Adam Lambert.  Wow.

The third component was that I had two major, major homework assignments due that day.  I had worked real hard on both of them, and was feeling pretty good.  The horrific part? I went to print it off in the school computer lab, and they were out of paper. Out of paper, people!  When I opened the file with my assignments to see how many pieces of paper I would need to dig out of the recycling, I realized that they weren't even fully finished! At this point in the dream I broke down and cried like a baby.

So, you're wondering which of those was the slightly horrific, and which the largely, and which the mediumly?  I'll tell you.  It breaks down like this for me.  The worst part was the homework not being done.  I wasn't kidding a few posts back when I said the thought of not having my homework done still bothers me, subconsciously (and I know the people who read this who have known me since high school are probably scratching their heads, because I did the majority of my homework at lunch - but the fact remains, I always got it done.)  The next worst part for me was the bikini.  Even though I don't really know how to swim very competently, it was fun to be hanging out with the swim team kids in the pool.  But in a bikini?  Me?  No, thanks.  And last but not least, the shocker is that I was least horrified by having an ex-boyfriend who would grow up to be Adam Lambert.

It's crazy town, that land of dreams.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Elmo. And Emo.

Remember when I said I must live in a cave? Or under a rock? Or on Mars, even though I'm a woman and clearly therefore should be from Venus if I am from another planet?  Well, I'm feeling that way again.

What's the deal with Elmo?  When did he first hit the scene?  I don't remember him from my childhood, the first time I remember him is when the Tickle-Me's invaded.  At the time I thought, "sure, he's cute, he has a funny high pitched voice, what's not to like?" and moved on with my life.  When I was pregnant with Hanna, sometimes (read: every single morning) I didn't have much energy so Hallie and I started watching PBS.  Clifford, Curious George, SuperWhy, Hallie loved all those. But when Sesame Street came on more mornings than not she would walk over and turn the t.v. off and up I had to get.  Nonetheless, somehow, Elmo has still managed to creep into her (my) life.  She's addicted to him.  Elmo anything - she wants it.  What is his magical appeal?  Please, explain.

Next. What is EMO?  Someone tried to explain it to me, and I still just don't really "get it".  I mean, I looked it up on Wikipedia, but all it talked about there was music. And I thought that it referred to pictures.  So, a little confused.  Please, explain.  Because someone told me that my daughter is poster child for Emo: (I keep capitalizing Emo. Is it supposed to be?)
Do I have an Emo superstar on my hands?


If Emo is a type of picture, and you can explain to me what it looks like, I'll take a few of myself, Emo style. That could be fun.  And last but not least, I'd really like to know, is Elmo Emo?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Normal

Wow, hey, thanks for all your comments. While it is nice that we are all unique individuals, it is also reassuring to feel part of a common group, especially since I think some of my emotional stress currently is caused by loneliness.  So really, thanks.

A lot of your comments brought up some other topics about which I meant to write.  I wrote that post a bit hastily and while I was slightly distracted so I didn't get to say everything I wanted to say.

First of all, one of the things that make me feel extra horrible when I am acting this way is that I do have such a good life, and here I am messing it all up.  I know that I have a good family, nice home, and a comfortable, easy life.  It makes me feel like Minnie Driver's character in Return to Me when she says, "I feel like I shouldn't have days."  That's me. I feel like I shouldn't have these days. But, I do. And apparently I'm not the only one, so again, thanks.

My second thought I started to sort of mention in my post but didn't really explain it very fully.  See when I referenced the pioneer women who made the trek across the country I was thinking, are women these days (read: Am I) just different than they were back then?  Or did pioneer women go through these emotional cycles as well, and maybe they just didn't write about it in their journals? Or maybe they did write about it and I've just never heard of it?  Obviously I think the mentality of women has changed over time since then, and I know that a lot has changed for the better for women, but sometimes I just really feel like I'm not as cool as they were. Any thoughts on this out there?

The third thought that I had is the one that gives me hope.  One of my favorite aspects of this new house we live in is that at the foot of the stairs we have a picture of Christ.  At the top of the stairs we have a cross-stitch that Devin did of Christ.  So, going up or coming down I typically find myself looking at the Savior.  And many times as I'm ascending or descending I find myself thinking a sort of spontaneous, sudden, prayer, without half realizing that I'm doing it.  They are always very succinct.  Sometimes it's "what do I do?" and sometimes "please..." but most often, it's just a simple, heartfelt "thank you".

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Therapy?

Something is happening to me, and I only know two things about it.
1. I have no idea what it is that is happening
2. I don't like it.

What are the symptoms, you ask?  Here are a few.

It's time to brush Hallie's teeth in the morning. I don't brush them. I start to think about cavities, and the look on the dental hygenist's face when she discovers the cavities.  Whose fault are those? Mine. Fail.

Devin comes home from work. I haven't done the dishes again. Fail.

I have people come over. I haven't swept the floor, picked up the toys, or done anything really to make it look nice. Fail.

The scary part?  I don't really care.  Me! The person who still has nightmares about forgetting to to homework!  Failing is one of the biggest fears of my life... Sometimes I can bring myself to care again, when I think about how cavities hurt and it's not fair to Hallie if I make her go through that because I am lazy. So we go brush. And sometimes I can bring myself to care when I remind myself of how much Devin does for me every day, and I get up and go do the dishes.  But even then, not always.

So what am I doing instead?  Sometimes I find myself laying on the couch or my bed, staring out the window. How much time has gone by?  Sometimes I find myself reading books. For hours, and hours, and hours.  (This is an old, and familiar escape habit of mine.)  Sometimes I don't even really know what I did to fill up all the hours of a day.

So, now, if you're following the same train of though that I always do, you're thinking I'm depressed.  And maybe that's what this is about. Yet, at this point I always tell myself to stop being so dramatic.  I guess I am in no position to diagnose, but I still find humor in things, I still like talking to the people I love.  I don't spend all day sleeping - especially compared to how much I did in high school.

Then I wonder if it's just normal to have an off day like this every now and then.  Maybe I had them before, and I just didn't notice as much because I had more going on.  I mean, I did just move across the country, away from all the places and people that I know and love. I did just have a baby, so maybe it's a little postpartum depression that will eventually go away?  The thing with these theories though, is that I just moved to Nebraska.  Devin and I go to Winter Quarters every other week.  Certainly with the worn stone markers there stand as evidences against those theories.  For those women walked across the country.  They had babies on the trail, and I'm really thinking to blame my new whatever-this-is on my trivial non-problems?

Maybe I should go to some sort of therapy.  Maybe blogging is my therapy.  Maybe I should have my Aunt Phyllis look this over and see what she thinks.  What do you think? Am I losing it?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

My Backyard part 2

Here it is folks.

This footage was taken on the last day of May.  I know, you're thinking I missed my calling in life by not being some sort of someone on t.v.  I just have a presence don't I? (muaha ha ha ha. I say that to cover how embarrassed I actually am. I forgot I was wearing sweatpants, and oh man. Just love me anyway, ok?)

Also - I take none of the credit for how good this backyard looks, except maybe if you're thinking the grass looks nice. I claimed the job of mowing the lawn when we moved in and it is still my weekly chore.  But honestly, aside from that, everything else has just come up from what she planted last year. The only work I did (aside from mowing the lawn) is in the garden (where Devin worked long hours also).  Ok. Just wanted you to know.




Please, enjoy.