Thursday, May 28, 2009

Please don't faint

Yesterday was a field trip day.

I was one of the lucky parents (and I really mean that) that was asked to chaperone Kate and Julia's Honor Choir trip to the Seattle Center.

I got up extra early so that I could be presentable and non-embarassing to my children.

I packed yummy lunches, bigger than normal of course, and treats.

We arrived at school and boarded the buses to make our trek to Seattle.

I listened to the typical 5th and 4th grade banter/teasing/merciless eyerolling and had a nice chat with Julia who WANTED to sit with me.

As we arrived and then entered the Seattle Center food court, I noticed that a good percentage of the population at the food court were, as the girls in my group so eloquently put it, Hobo's.

Who can blame them. It's warm inside, there is the possibility of free food given by generous patrons, and on this day, there was music.

Jeff had walked over from his office to be there for his girls. As the kids lined up to perform, Jeff and I found our sits and got ready to be suitably impressed.

As the music began I heard a rustling behind me, accompanied by a most unique odor.

I slighly and ever so casually looked around to determine the source of the smell. It seems one of the "hobos" had decided to join the audience.

I was actually quite pleased by this since music is for everyone, and children's music surely is a way to lighten the burden and the heavy hearts of those without homes.

However, my slightly patronizing and softhearted feelings quickly turned to body shaking laughter as the first song ended.

The gentleman behind me, in a very soft and trailing voice, gleefully joined in with clapping and a happy "Wee hoooooo!" "alright!"

This repeated itself a number of times until I was distracted by the little blond boy second row from the bottom who apparently locked his knees and fainted onto the stage. Followed then by a little girl who abruptly walked off the risers and went and fell in a little heap off to the side. (and on the bus ride home another child apparently fainted as well, sitting down)

When the drama was over, the man was gone. But I kept his spirit alive by adding my own little "Wee hooo!"s throughout the performance.

When the choir was done, my little group of girls came running up to me and asking if I had seen the man behind me and was he a Hobo?, and how scared they were of him, and how he kept pulling at his hair and making it look like devil's horns.

I promptly told them that he was in fact very pleased by their performance as was evident from his clapping and exclamations.

I think that made them feel better. Or not.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I went to visit my grandma and grandpa yesterday in the Thorp, Wa cemetery.

My brother and his family had already been there and left beautiful potted flowers, one for each of them.

Kate and I left lilacs.

While we were there I showed her some of our other family members.

I showed her the headstones for my great grandparents-Neoma and John Morrison and for my grandfather's uncle and my namesake-Linn Morrison.

As we wandered through the cemetery we commented on the sad reality of the small headstones. The little white ones that represented a parents greatest heartache.

Within the area where my family is we found 6 of these white little headstones all in a row.

The first 5 all had the name Mattox on them.

We walked slowly by them all, reading the names and dates of birth and death.

Infant Son-June 15, 1898-Lived one day, gone but not forgotten.

Infant Son-December 25, 1903, gone but not forgotten

Evert Mattox-April 30, 1904-November 22, 1904, gone but not forgotten

Tessie Mattox-November 16, 1908-April 22, 1910, gone but not forgotten

Lois Mattox-April 13, 1911-December 18, 1911, gone but not forgotten

5 children. 5 babies. All lost in infancy.

I tried to envision their mother, my great, great aunt, Daisy Maud Morrison Mattox. I could see her round and lovely with the baby growing inside of her. Anticipating holding the precious, sweet smelling bundle in her arms. And then the ache as that baby would not live long enough for them to give him a name.

Maud had three children after that who lived to adulthood.

But then the next 5 all died before they were grown.

Their last child, Esther, only lived til the age of 16.

She even outlived her son Ferman who died in 1952, by 12 years.

I tried to imagine the heartache that was part of Maud's daily life. The hope that went into each pregnancy, the despair as she was parted from another child.

I'm sure that she was eventually told that she should not get attached to her children since they were mostly likely going to die. That she should not sorrow for the ones she lost because she was blessed to have some that lived. That she should fear loving them too much for the heartache it would cause later when they died. It seems that was common advice back in the days of influenza, no vaccinations and high infant mortality rates.

But I have to think that no matter what face she put on for others, that Maud mourned her babies. That not a day went by where she did not think of them. That as each child breathed their first breath that she tried to love them without fear. That when her own life came to a close she gratefully made her way into the arms of the children she lost.

As we left the cemetery, I thought of my own 6 beautiful children. How fortunate I am, truly.

But I felt connected to my ancestor in a way that I had not experienced before. I saw her as a mother of a large family, but only able to raise a few of them. And my heart swelled with love for her.

And it swells for those I know who have lost a child.

And it swells for all mothers who watch nervously over their children when there is a fever, or a bad cough, or a tumble off their bike.

And it swells with the love for my children that is so strong, at times I think my heart will break from trying to contain it.

The beautiful thing is that I know that Maud is not sad any longer.

Her family is with her.
And I imagine she would tell us to enjoy our children.
To not worry about things that don't matter.
To hug them tight. To kiss them frequently.

And to love them without fear.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

We are in Ellensburg at Jeff's sister's house. (My first away from home post!!)

We arrived yesterday, we'll leave today.

In between, the following:

Camping in Delayna and Ron's backyard.
Mud puddles, dirt piles, toy backhoes and dirty feet.
Water guns, bathing suits, sunscreen and 80 degrees.
Chicken coop building, baby chics cheeping, girls using power tools.
Windy kite flying, smell of lilac, cousins laughing.
Delicious gluten-free food, homegrown vegetables, warmth and love.
Remembering those who have passed, hopefully keeping their memories alive, creating new memories with those still here.

Life is good. 

(Pictures tomorrow.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Father-Son campout

I'm honored that Amy asked me to blog about the church father-son campout! First off, Amy really takes care of us boys. She got all the food ready and packed the kids stuff. All I had to do was grab the tent and my own clothes and we were off.

The trip started with us driving to Ensign ranch about an hour away. We talked about the rope swing and putting up the tent and eating s'mores. Then we listened to music and skipped all the "girl" songs!

We arrived and unpacked the car. Charlie (7 years old) and Henry (2.5 years old) helped me to put up the tent. They got the poles together and Henry helped to stake the tent in the ground with the little hammer. Then Charlie and his buddies decided to have a pine cone fight! what could be more fun than that! They threw pine cones at each other until someone started crying and I had to encourage them to find a different game.

Henry ran off among the other tents and so I called out his name a few times until he giggled and came running back; this would occur about 20 more times over the course of 24 hours. He found the football and while older brother was throwing stuff at his friends, Henry and I played a close game of catch.

While we waited for hot dog and s'more time Charlie asked if he could have one of the sweet Koolaids that mom had packed for us. We're camping, right? So, sure. Let's drink them ALL before dinner. So we did and it was great!

We cooked the hot dogs, caught the marshmallows on fire and then ate the chocolate without waiting for graham crackers or marshmallows.

Before the campfire we found the bug spray that mom had packed and made sure we were covered. (thanks again, Amy!) Charlie slid down dirt hills on a worn out piece of plywood; he ran an obstacle course; and he and Henry splashed through as many mud puddles as they could find. The boys played in vacant cabins, climbed a tall tree house, and then we went searching for the rope swing!!! The Rope Swing!!!! Yes, indeed!

It was the best thing ever! I had to push Charlie and Henry out of the way so I could go first. ;-) The rope swing has a 6 foot tall tower and you hold on and swing out across a dirty little pond and then land back on some sawdust. Charlie climbed up the tower without any of the nervousness from last year, shouting, "Dad, get the rope! Bring me the rope!"

We had such fun for at least an hour that first night and then went back two more times the next morning! The rope swing was the highlight of the trip. And not to be left out, Little Henry got to go on the rope swing, too. The first night Henry went on the rope swing while in the backpack. He liked it! The next day i didn't have the backpack but held him in my arms and told him to squeeze my neck! We did that over and over again. What fun! I want to go back just thinking about it. Finally, with the rope hanging straight Henry held on tight and swung back and forth 5-6 feet. He loved it, too!

With no bug bites it was time for bed. We slept in our clothes even though they were dirty. Charlie wore MY sweatshirt because making sure he had a jacket was my one responsibility. We told ghost stories in the tent: "When the log rolls over, we'll all be dead!" and "In that deep dark box, there was a.... JELLY BEAN!"

Charlie was great watching out for his little brother and showing him all the neat stuff you get to do at father-son campout. We drank hot cocoa by the campfire. We moved around the campfire to keep the smoke out of our eyes. We still smell like campfire! We missed mom when it was bed time and when we woke up.

But, most of all we smiled a lot and made some great memories!

Girls Night

Last weekend Jeff went camping with the boys for the annual Father/Son Campout, which Jeff will be blogging about tomorrow.

For the girls and me this means that we get to do girly stuff that boys never want to do.

It was just me and my 4 daughters. We laughed, we ate Chinese food (a first for all of them)

and we painted our fingers and toes, we then finished up with popcorn, goodies and a movie.

Even Nora got in on the beauty action. And let me tell you, we decided there is nothing as cute as painted baby toes. Nothing.


Monday, May 18, 2009


On Friday some sort of cleaning/organizing bug hit me. It didn't last long.

But while I was feeling ambitious I set out to accomplish a few things that don't get done on a daily basis.

Now, our house needs daily tidying up. If we let it slip for even one day, then there are mountainous piles of toys,laundry, dishes etc. But while messy, untidy, and cluttered have occasionally been adjectives I would use to describe our household of 8,I have never felt dirty.

Until now.

As I gave into the need to deep clean a little I decided to pull the stove out and sweep behind it. How bad could it be? We've only been here 10 months. Well....

Yes, that's all from under the stove. Ugh.

So then I got to thinking, if the stove is like that, what is it like behind my fridge?

Apparently, things were a little more calm under the Fridgedaire. But still.

So now I dare you to check behind your appliances. What will you find?

(Nora update: She looks great, a little pink still and one dime sized scab left, but otherwise you might just think she scraped her head. Thanks for all the prayers and well wishes)

Friday, May 15, 2009

Here's how it goes....

"Hey,(insert child's name here), I need you to load the dishwasher for me. I'm going to go (insert activity of choice which will prevent you from supervising here)"

"ok, mom" responds happy little, wonderful, no whining helper.

Fast forward 40 minutes.

"Hey, Mom"

"Yes, oh child of my dreams, helper of all helpers, fantastically full of vim and vigor, lovely, obedient offspring?"

"I couldn't find the dishwasher detergent, so I just used the liquid stuff we use to wash stuff by hand."

Imagine sound of everything screeching to a halt.

Wait. What?!

Huh. Didn't see that one coming.

"Well", I say to myself. "This can't be too hard to fix. We'll just scoop out some of the bubbles, take the dishes out and run it through again, that'll fix it."

Aaaactually, that will make your bubbles have babies. And then those bubbles will have babies until you end up with this:

Lots and lots of bubbles.

And just trust me when I say, running the dishwasher just one more time, does NOT, I repeat, does NOT, get rid of the bubbles.

But I know what does.

Olive oil.

Yup. That wonderful yummy stuff that infuses pastas and dressings and rosemary potatoes with just the right flavor, also gets rid of bubbles.

Pour about 1/2 a cup in the bottom of your dishwasher. Run a cycle, and you are in business.

The business of doing dishes again. yay. yippee. so glad i figured it out.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


This picture is deceiving.

This lovely picture of the Space Needle with Mount Rainier in the background had to have taken months to capture.

Simply because it doesn't stop raining.

So some poor schmuck photographer had to sit and wait, and wait, and wait until the weather cleared so that the department of tourism could have one picture that would both fool and entice travelers to venture out to Seattle.

It doesn't really rain that much, right?

Give me a break.

What is it about incessant, never stop, make me crazy enough to pull my hair out rain?

Why can't I get used to this darn weather and finally realize that I need to carry an umbrella with me everywhere if I want to both live here and curl my hair?

That I should just adopt the local custom of only wearing black since there are no rays of sunshine to be absorbed by dark clothing anyway?

That I should purchase a pair of Keens, wear them with wool socks, and forget any summery clothing that involves flip flops, sandals or anything where my feet will get wet?

That I need to erect a jungle gym in my garage so that my children have somewhere to play during the 250 days a year it rains here?

That I need full rain gear to be able to train for the 10K in July?

That the only reason I look like I've had any sun is because I have stupid Fifth's disease and have to endure possibly another month of looking like I have a sunburn on my arms?

And why do I have question marks at the end of those statements?

Why? Because I want an answer dang it!

What I wouldn't give for an entire week of sunshine. Just one week to pull me out of the tail spin into depression that I'm in.

That's all I ask, is to look out the window and see blue skies and sunshine for one week.

Then I promise I won't whine for at least the 7 days after that.

Yeah right.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Muffins and other important things

Have I made my penchant for all things homemade known?

I have a strong desire to rid myself of the need to buy things pre-made. But my children love muffins. Just not the homemade kind.

I have tried about 3 or 4 homemade muffin recipes. So far, they have all received a big thumbs down from the kids.

So I keep searching, hoping, that I will find the recipe that wins approval. Because I'm just not buying the boxed stuff.

So, any tried and true muffin recipes out there? We all know that muffins are just a breakfast cupcake, so I'm not really concerned about sugar content. I just want them to eat the darn things.

Because what's the point of breakfast if it can't be all sugary and hyper inducing? (I'm kidding, please don't tell me I should limit their sugar, I know)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Parenthood. Not for the faint of heart.

Saturday began beautifully. Clear, blue skies. Warm breezes blowing. Children trampoline jumping and bike riding. Delicious food eaten outside.

If only it ended that way.

We were enjoying a delightful visit with Grandma and Grandpa, Jeff's parents. Relaxing inside after the previously mentioned delicious food. The children were scattered throughout the house and the neighborhood, reading, playing with friends.

Why is it that in stories, these peaceful moments are interrupted with blood curdling screams? Sadly, such is the case in this story as well.

We heard Nora, crying a cry that meant only one thing: terrible pain.

We rushed to the family room where she had been. Kate was already bringing her to us, panic on her face.

"She fell against the fireplace and it's on!"

I took Nora from her, immediately looking her over, trying to find the cause of the screaming while asking "Why was the fireplace on?" The gas fireplace, warming in wintertime. But with glass that heated to temperatures that could burn.

As Jeff and I looked her over, we could see a layer of skin gone from a patch on her forhead, the instant blistering on her cheek. The immediate devastation as we realized that our baby, our sweet, tiny little girl was burned.

How badly we didn't know, but immedately it was clear she needed medical help.

Thankfully, Don and Donna were there. Donna calmly told us to just go and they would take care of the kids.

Jeff and I rushed to the car trying to remember where the nearest emergency room was. Too far away we came to find out. But there was an urgent care nearby. With Nora on my lap, writhing in pain (oh how I wish that weren't true!) we made our way through stop lights and traffic, trying to remain calm, I was unable.

I cried with her, I stroked the unburned side of her face. Repeatedly saying "I love you, I love you, I'm so sorry!" Even now, I can't type it without tears. I tried to keep her from touching it, and all the while she screamed.

Jeff dropped us off at the entrance and I ran in with her. As soon as I said she was burned they had someone take us back immediately. Jeff filled out the paperwork and then joined us. His own soothing words to Nora, his own grief filled face. Nora still crying in agony.

They asked us what happened. We tried to explain. We still don't know how or why the fireplace was on.

They looked her over. Was there damage to her eye since her eyelid was burned as well? We were forced as her parents, to help hold her down, while her tender eyelid was held open so that they could put drops in that would help to see if her cornea had been damaged. Thankfully, it looked fine.

But you must know, the entire time, Nora looked at me, looked at me with pleading to make it stop. To please help her, to rid her of the tremendous pain she was feeling. And all I could do was tell her I was sorry, that I loved her, stroke her little legs, kiss her. I was screaming on the inside, trembling with the effort it took to not scream outwardly at them to make the pain stop. To help her. All the while, her eyes locked on mine, begging for relief.

Then we saw her hands. Her left hand, a match to the left side of her face. Red, raw, blistered, twisting in a way that seemed to be trying to throw off the pain somehow. Her right hand, fingers blistered, not as badly, but still unbearable to look at.

Then thankfully, mercifully, the motrin given, the ointments applied. The crying slowed to a whimper. The exhaustion from all the pain and crying took over, and she slumbered in her daddy's arms.

And as we sat there, I could feel it. I could feel the prayer that was said on her behalf. And I told Jeff "They're praying for her. The kids, your parents, I can feel the prayer that they said for her" And I cried anew. Feeling the love that was pouring over us, for us. A loving Heavenly Father answering the prayer of Nora's brothers and sisters, of her worried grandparents.

And she continued to sleep. Peaceful. Safe.

They discharged us, told us to bring her back the next day for a recheck of her burns.

Again I held her on my lap on the way home. Her hands wrapped in burn cream and gauze. Her face glistening with anti-biotic ointment. I kissed her head, stroked her skin, melded her to me. My own personal agony still fresh inside me as I held this precious girl. But mindful, thankful that it was not worse. That we were bringing her home instead of sitting by a hospital bed.

At home, more prayers said, hugs and loves, and Nora settling back in.

She has second degree burns on her hands and face. We'll be taking her to Harborviews burn unit just to make sure. She's so little. Overly cautious we will be.

And yes, the fireplace has been turned off with the key. No more flip of the switch will ignite it.

And yes, I feel guilty. Even if there is no blame assigned, as her mother my job is to protect her, to prevent injuries, to foresee potential hazards and remove them. Even when that is unreasonable, as a parent you can never help but feel this way.

Now, I will gather my children a little closer, hug them a little tighter, kiss them more frequently and express my love more often. That in itself has healing power, for all of us.

And not for the faint of heart.

A picture.

Of Nora.

Healing. New wrapping. Tylenol with codeine, heaven sent.

My heart breaks a little every time I look at her. I retreat mentally when I gaze at her wounds, so that I can hold it together and not cry imagining how it felt to have her tender baby skin pressed against searing glass.

Obviously, it's a work in progress. And perhaps, until she is completely healed, that feeling won't leave me. I couldn't suffer the pain for her, I couldn't take it away, no matter how I wanted to. So I allow myself to imagine it, to suffer mentally, to feel anguish for not being able to protect her adequately. Empathy. In this instance, it's my bizarre language of love.

But it is love. Love for her, love for my other children. Love for any child or parent who has suffered pain or grief. Perhaps I'm a bit melodramatic, but know that I am aware of how fortunate we are. That this is a minor bump on the road of life. She will heal, it will be fine.

In fact, she's in her high chair throwing cereal everywhere. It seems that she is ready for life to be normal. No more sadness mamma. Feed me, love me, hug me and kiss me.

I'm good to go.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Diapering of the wee ones

So today's time saving tip may seem like a no brainer to many.


It took me until kid number 4 to figure this out. So either many of you are really smart, had other friends/siblings who clued you in, or I'm just really dumb, or both.

So here's the tip:

Keep diapers and wipes in two locations in your house. (loud cheering, the crowd goes wild, standing ovation, it's simple but brilliant)

For example. With two in diapers we change many a diaper. So I keep one set of diapers and wipes downstairs and one set upstairs in the babies' room. I'm sure I would lose a quick 10 pounds if I would keep it all upstairs and had to climb said stairs everytime there was a poopy bum.

But I don't want to lose weight that way. I want to lose it the easy way. Wait, that doesn't make sense,

Anyway......that is my tip. Just don't forget to stock up both areas otherwise you are left holding a poopy bum and end up yelling for someone to help you quick!

And that's all I have to say about that.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Cinqo de Mayo

What is that thing?

What is it doing?

And should they be eating it?

Answers below.

This is a Mug Cake. (We all thought, well, I thought it should be called Poop cake, yes I know, I'm mature)

It's an entire little cake mixed in a mug, cooked in a mug, and if so desired, eaten out of the mug.

In Celebration of Cinqo de Mayo, we made Mug Cakes. I'm pretty sure this is not a traditional Mexican dessert, or Mexican way of cooking for that matter, but it was fun, the kids did it all by themselves and from what I was told, they were actually pretty tasty.

I lifted the recipe from this sweet little site.

Muchas gracias mis amigos.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

What I'm listening to

  1. Anne Marie creating her own song about a rock star and singing it to Nora.

  2. Henry crying in his room because I sent him there after he got mad and purposely knocked over a cup of milk.

  3. Nora's little snorty breathing as she attempts to ingest whatever she finds on the floor.

  4. The rain pitter pattering

  5. My computer humming

  6. the train going by

  7. Now distant laughter

  8. too distant

  9. where are they?

  10. uh oh, what are they doing?

  11. why is it so quiet now?

  12. should I go investigate?

  13. nah

  14. I'm sure it will be fine

  15. lots of 5 year olds tend their 9 month old baby sisters,

  16. right?

  17. No?

  18. More laughter

  19. Anne Marie giggling

  20. Nora happy

  21. all is well

Monday, May 4, 2009

My mother.

Happy Birthday to her.

Happy Birthday Bonita Ann Morrison Granger.

Happy Birthday to her.

Yes, my mother's real name is Bonita.

Most people know her as Bonnie.

You know, like "My Bonnie lies over the ocean", Bonnie wee lass, Bonnie Hunt.

And she is more of a Bonnie than a Bonita. Why, you ask?

Because she laughs readily, she has rosy red cheeks, she'll turn your frown upside down, and she is bright, educated and smart.

(No, bright and smart are not the same thing in my estimation. You could be smart about books, but still not so bright in other things, the way I see it.)

She'll still let me cuddle up next to her on the couch the way I did my whole life. It doesn't matter that I'm 35 now.

She keeps my family supplied with homemade jam. She taught me how to make homemade bread, a staple item for our family. Bread and jam together, a staple item for me.

She is excessively proud of me. And my husband. I used to think she liked him better than she liked me. But I think I'm catching up to him.

She has no favorites among her children or grandchildren. She loves them all to death.

Some of my most trying times were also her some of her most trying times, but she was there for me.

She made all of my prom dresses and my wedding dress so that I could love them and still be modest.

I have always, and continue to believe that she can do anything. From gardening to sewing to business to assembling a book shelf. I learned half of my work ethic from her. (my dad taught me the other half).

I am proud that you are my mother.
I am proud you taught me to work.
I am proud you have been married for 43 years.
I am proud that you are still there when we need you.
I am proud of you.

I love you. Happy Birthday!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Pizza cutters-not just for pizza anymore

I have decided that being the mom of 6 kids does not mean I know everything, in fact, it is pretty much a daily reminder that I don't know enough.

However, I have at the very least, learned some tricks to managing a large family.

There is a lot that goes into day to day life, breakfast for all those people, lunches for all thoses people, dinner for all those people, laundry for all those people, homework help, getting chores done, and so on.

So I have decided to start the tip of the week. Every Friday I will have some little tidbit, piece of advice, that will help make your day flow a little better. Sometimes these tips will come from me, sometimes not, but hopefully they will actually be helpful.

The tip this week centers around breakfast. I am a lover of breakfast. Cereal, pancakes, bacon and eggs, waffles, omelettes, you name it, I love it. However, having had numerous small children, I absolutely detest cutting up pancakes and waffles and french toast into bite size pieces. I believe this is because I am a firm believer in cooking most things from scratch, so by the time I am done making pancakes or waffles, and the syrup, I am ready to cut a few corners.

I rejoice when they are old enough to cut up their own food, it's almost cause for celebration in this household.

When a child would ask for their food cut up, Jeff and I would look at eachother, I would usually give a big sigh, and like the good father and husband he is, Jeff would cut up their food for them.

However, breakfast time is all me. Jeff is already gone to work by then.

So a few years back, one of us-we honestly can't remember which brilliant mind came up with this, discovered that using a pizza cutter on breakfast food cut down not only on time, but also my tendency to sigh heavily when asked for help by one of the small ones.

That wheel slices through a puffy waffles like nobody's business. It creates teeny, tiny little pieces for the likes of Nora with her miniature little cherub mouth. It puts zero strain on my slightly arthritic wrist, and I can cut everyone's food up before you can say "please cut everyone's food up".

So there you have it. Use a pizza cutter to cut up your children's food. You will be amazed at how much faster it is, how easy it is, and there is no dramatic sighing involved.
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