Wednesday, September 29, 2010
At some point after they were all piled in, Anne Marie got out to go use the bathroom unbeknownst to Jeff.
Jeff then proceeded to pull around to the front entrance of the chapel and wait for Kate and I.
When I saw the van waiting in a different spot than where we had parked, I naturally assumed that everyone was in the van.
I should have done a head count then. But I didn't even look in the back, I just began to talk to Jeff about church.
About a mile down the road, Henry called my name so I turned to talk to him.
It was at this point that I realized immediately that Anne Marie wasn't there.
Me to Jeff "Where's Anne Marie?"
Jeff to me "Uhhhh. She was there."
So we promptly turned around and headed back to the church.
As we got closer we could see someone at the tall iron fence that lines the property.
Yup, it was Anne Marie. Sobbing.
Of course at this point we feel about as low as a person can feel.
We parked, she found us, and everyone who wasn't buckled into a car seat jumped from the van to embrace her and tell her how much we love her.
She cried for a little while longer. We apologized over and over. Told her we didn't mean to, that we loved her and that we would always come find her if she got lost.
It was a bit traumatic for all of us, but the rest of the day went smoothly and she never brought it up again after that day.
So I thought she was over it.
Well, she wasn't.
Last week we went to curriculum night at the elementary and upon visiting Anne Marie's classroom, her teacher showed us what the kids had been working on. One item was where she would ask them about a change in their life, something big or that had been hard.
On a litle post it note Anne Marie had written "My mom left me".
So we talked to the teacher about it, explained what had happened and all had a nice little chuckle.
But then she said "You should go look at the picture she drew about it."
That is Anne Marie standing at the fence at church.
And the funny thing is, it was really Jeff who left her. Not me. I'm the one who noticed she wasn't in the car. But she will always remember it the other way. The way in which I'm the type of parent who forgets my kids.
Which I don't. Usually.
But all's well that end's well. Right?
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Bump, set, spike
Monday, September 27, 2010
Wednesday, September 22, 2010
I was visiting one of my favorite blogs the other day, and the question was asked "what does country mean to you?" I'm pretty sure she was referring to what it means in decorating. But my brain wouldn't work that way.
So many images flashed through my mind. Things that make me glow inside upon remembering them.
So I sat down to think about it, and how I can still be "country" even here in suburban Maple Valley.
Because I still feel country. I've lived all over, been to big cities, experienced life on both coasts.
But I still miss the quiet of a small town nestled at the base of the cascade mountains.
I have a hard time being where there are a lot of people. I don't love, at all, that my house is 5 feet from my neighbors. (Although I love my neighbors, I do). Traffic makes me claustrophobic, and I'm so overscheduled it ain't funny. And I like to delude myself into thinking that all of that would be better in the country.
So here is what my heart and mind combined to come up with for my very own personal definition of country.
Country means sitting on the back porch of my great grandmother's old red farmhouse.
Country means using her mixing bowl as the inspiration for my turquoise kitchen.
Country means repurposing again and again as the inspiration strikes.
Country means distressed, but not stressed out.
Country means linens dried on the line, coyotes howling at night, and running through the field between my grandmother and great-grandmother's houses.
Country is plates on the wall, comfort in every room, and letting the kids wear their shoes in the house.
Country is homemade bread, because that is just the way it's done.
Country is having a garden, and relying on it.
Country is turning away from wordly things that distract us from our families and God.
Country is hard work, physical labor, roast with mashed potatoes on Sunday.
Country is not being able to remember the first time I saw a cow.
Country is catching grasshoppers in a peanut butter jar and sneaking them into the house.
Country is hand cranked ice cream, with real strawberries.
Country is scraping my leg on a hay bale in my great-grandmother's barn.
Country is knowing most everyone in town, and having them report your good, or bad, behavior to everyone.
Country is football games on Friday and everything closed on Sunday.
Country is feeling safe enough to play outside until dark.
Country is not knowing that so much of the world may think you're a little out of touch. When really it's the opposite.
Country is watching older kids swimming the canal. Cuz they're crazy.
Country is passing tractors on the road and stopping for herds of sheep.
Country is sleeping with the windows open cuz you're not afraid of burglars and you love the sound of the crickets.
Country is all of these things, country is home.
And while I can't give all that I experienced to my children, no matter how badly I ache for that life for them, I can try and capture that feeling of love and security I associate with "country".
I can make their bread, teach them to work, and help them to understand God's love for them.
And maybe someday, I will be able to call the country home again.
But for now, I will enjoy having Target 15 minutes away, a McDonald's everywhere I look, my high speed internet connection and the many opportunities that suburban life provides.
All the while incorporating a little country in our lives, everyday.
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
One is to learn how to play be-utiful music.
To learn notes, rythm, and proper posture.
The other is for pounding, smacking and making lots of noise.
Which one do you think Henry and Nora are allowed to touch?
If you said the big piano, well, that would be wrong obviously.
The little one is the trainer piano. Get your pounding out early, so that by 7 you can sit down and learn for real.
Isn't most of life like that?
It is for me. I still have to pound out the kinks, straighten out the wrinkles, and then eventually I can move on to the grownup stuff. Which isn't always better or more fun, just more grown up.
You know what I mean?
In what ways are you still learning? Please tell me you're still learning, too. I can't be the only one. Can I?
Monday, September 20, 2010
Jeff and my brother Keno ran their first half marathon on Saturday.
I got to be there as their photographer and cheering section.
I got to watch as they both ran across the finish line, exhausted, elated, and nauseous.
I then got to witness them both at Wendy's later, eat all the calories they just burned.
I'm super proud of both of them. It's no small thing to train for this. I know, cuz I started training for it. I paid my registration. And then half way through training I had a little problem with my IT Band that would cause a sudden seizing of my left knee.
But I was so glad to still be there. And yes I still wanted my t-shirt. Even though the lady at registration saw me not dressed in running clothes and asked me if I wussed out. (this half maration was on an army base, they don't hold with people wussing out I guess)
But I didn't wuss out on purpose, and Keno and Jeff for sure didn't wuss out.
Cuz there were no wusses allowed. It's true. And I'm sure there is a sign somewhere on base that says just that.
Friday, September 17, 2010
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
My sister Maile called and asked me if I would cut her hair. And that if I cut her hair, the money she didn't spend could be used to eat out for lunch.
So I said"Heck yeah I'll do it!"
She arrived with hair way past her shoulders. Ready for a change and new hair possibilities.
Now if you are wondering why she would trust me, I have cut her hair before. I have cut all of my children's hair and I have been Jeff's main hairdresser for 14 years.
So I had confidence and she had confidence in me.
Oh how much we were both about to be humbled.
I went and borrowed my neighbors gray handled scissors (since I couldn't find mine) and after deciding upon a new length, we also discussed thinning her hair out a little as well. She didn't want me to use a razor type implement to thin it though because it gives her split ends. I told her, oh no worries. I have these neat little thinning scissors.
Which are also gray handled.
So, I proceeded with the haircut. I started with the first layer-luckily the layer hidden by all the other layers of hair.
After I cut the decided upon amount, I thought, oh so cleverly, that I would thin the layers as I went. I had set down the GRAY handled scissors down while I looked at it, and picked up what I thought were the GRAY handled thinning scissors.
It wasn't until I had already done this that we both started freaking out.
Yes. I cut a section of my sister's hair completely off. And she watched it, probably in slow motion, in my bathroom mirror.
I looked at the thinning scissors,(which were in fact still the regular scissors) so confused as to what was wrong with them. Maile jumped from the stool, backing into the corner of my bathroom (presumably to get as far away from me as possible) while crying "Why?! Why?! Why?!".
To which I stupidly replied, with her face in my hands, "I'll fix it, I'll fix it, I'll fix it!"
"How are you going to fix this?!" she wailed.
"I don't know, I just will. " Plus a bunch of "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm soooo sorry".
I know both of us had eyes as wide as saucers. My hands were shaking, her whole body was shaking. And all I could think was "I ruined her hair, I ruined her hair".
Finally, we both composed ourselves enough to take stock of the situation. Maile sat deep breathing for a moment, and then burst out laughing. Laughing only in the way you do when something traumatic is finally over and you can see the hilarity in it.
I followed suit, and we belly laughed for a good five minutes before we could regain our composure.
Then I went to work assessing what I had done. I won't lie to you. It wasn't good. But luckily, blessedly, the place I chopped her hair was right by her ear, on the bottom most layer, and when her hair is parted on the correct side, you can't see it at all. Even if her hair is pulled back, the little bit of fringe tucks neatly behind her ear.
So with shaking hands, and a ban on the thinning scissors, I finished her hair. Yes, she let me touch her hair again. I know, it's shocking the trust she had left for me.
She has received repeated compliments on her new do. And if I wasn't so ashamed of that little bit of sheared fringe, I would be very proud of the job I did. Of course, she is a super sport, the best sister ever. She can laugh about it, and loves to show anyone who comments on her hair the hidden little secret.
But best of all? She did not require me to chop my hair in similar fashion as punishment for my stupid-ness.
Which I would have done.
If she had held me down and forced me.
I love you Maile. Thanks for being who you are and loving me despite this.
Monday, September 13, 2010
Nora seems to be commentating through that look, about my repeated obsessing over boys.
And Kate was here. She just happened to be the photographer today.
Snuggled in that space between Anne Marie, doing whatever it is she's doing, and Henry, who looks like he needs his mama to snuggle up against.
I guess there's always next Sunday. Right?
Thursday, September 9, 2010
And quite happily he is in line as well. In a really long, long line.
Where am I? I am behind the camera, because there is no way I am paying 5 bucks to ride some stinky camel around for all of 1 minute (I kid you not, that's all you got for your money). Not when we already paid 35 buckaroonies for the rest of them.
There is a term for people like me.
Two things happened. First I really wished I had my super zoom lense on my camera.
Second, I had no idea how absolutely hilarious it would be to watch them all. They all bobbed up and down on the thing as if they were jockeys.
And Nora was so giddy with excitment that her funny little hee ha laugh could be heard by all those waiting in line.
It was awesome.
So was it worth it, in the end?
Was it worth all that money spent?
Do I regret not riding it?
But am I glad my kids were so dang happy?
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
I wanted it to be inspiring, without being preachy.
I wanted it to convey our love for the Gospel and be applicable in our everyday lives.
I was sitting in traffic when it hit me. When the inspiration struck.
With the knowledge of what our family theme would be, I set off to find the perfect back to school gifts that went with the theme.
I planned a dinner and dessert for our Back to School feast that I hoped they would all like.
Jeff and arranged what we would each talk about.
And I prepared myself to watch the glowing faces of my children as they soaked in the inspired Allen family theme for 2010.
We started with dinner. So far so good. Everyone likes a good stir fry because they can pick out what they don't like and keep the rest.
We used my great grandmother's dishes, perfect for the special occasion.
After dinner, we asked them all to stay seated as we presented them with our thoughts and ideas, all in preparation for revealing the family theme.
Well....lets just say that mayhem ensued. The older children were just fine, quiet and attentive. (My two middle schoolers. Crazy. We gave them each a book mark with a picture of a girl wearing the full armour of God, and a modest is hottest chapstick. Love that idea. Don't you?)
But it took a good 5 minutes to settle everyone else down, to try and talk someone down who was angry and yelling (no it wasn't me or Jeff) and to try and not be angry that my "perfect" little moment was flying out the window, and to try and recover the evening. I felt a kinship with my friend Karen at that moment. You can read about her experience here.
But then, thankfully, gratefully, peace resumed and we were able to finish out the evening on a better note.
We discussed learning. How we gain knowledge and how knowledge serves us. Knowledge from the best books, especially the scriptures, and how having this knowledge and strong foundation can help us know what to do when we don't know what to do.
We talked about learning how to learn and seek by faith to gain intelligence and apply spiritual knowledge in righteousness. (thank you to Elder Bednar and the Friend for the article I used, you can read it here.)
We then read Doctrine and Covenants secton 93 verse 36 which says:
The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.
I present to you, the Allen family theme for 2010.
(my friend Amber Puzey over at PinePlace did the vinyl for me.)
So every morning as they come down the stairs, even if they don't pay attention to it everyday, this will be there. Ready to filter into their minds and help them desire increased intelligence, through learning at school, but also through the scriptures and the gospel of Jesus Christ.
In conjunction with this theme, we gave each child a journal with their names printed on the front. And on the cover of each journal is a quote from Marjorie Hinckly that says: "Everything you are learning now is preparing you for something else".
Our hope is that the children will use their journals to write down things that they have learned. It doesn't need to be profound or groundbreaking. It can be as simple as "Today I learned that Bobby is a jerk." Or "Today I learned that I have a better day when I read my scriptures" or "Today I learned that playing on the monkey bars in a skirt is a bad idea."
It's up to them. But hopefully they will fill it with their thoughts, with their ideas, and with the knowledge that they are gaining.
I love my children. I love my family. Even when we aren't perfect, which is EVERY DAY!
But if I can help them, even if it's just in fractions, to be better, to do better, and to choose better, then hopefully I will have done my job as their mother.
So here is to a new year. We can't wait to see what it holds for us.
Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Monday, September 6, 2010
Friday, September 3, 2010
And yes, if you're keeping track, I did this with Kate last year.
It felt different with Julia. Almost more surreal to have her leave elementary school and join the ranks of middle schoolers. Aren't they all supposed to stay my babies forever?
We arrived at the middle school early, as to ensure a parking spot. Parking is something of a joke no matter which school we attend, no matter which school district. There is just never enough parking. So you arrive 20 minutes early, just in case.
As we found our seats in the gym, and waited for orientation to begin, I marveled at the girl beside me. I wish I knew how to work my scanner so that I could show you pictures of this girl at 3. Cute, dimples, and the biggest scowls that would make us roll with laughter.
She's so grown up now. Aaaand, obviously used to having her picture taken.
We walked around and found her classes. Got some ice cream, talked to friends, paid all of the fees. All while she endured me asking her if she was nervous, telling her she would make great new friends-since most of her friends are on Dream Team, while she is on Team Extreme. (that's how they divide up the 6th grade, different teachers for each team even.) And telling her I couldn't believe she was in 6th grade already.
She looked so lovely, so grown up, and so sure of herself walking around finding the classes.
This is a rough time of year for me. In a good way. 5 of the 6 kids all have birthdays within 8 weeks of eachother, school starts. Everyone gets older and leaves me during the day all within a short period of time. So it's hard because I love them all so much, and I miss them being little, but I wouldn't miss watching them grow up either.
There are more joys to motherhood than any book could hold, any author could write.
Some heartache as well, messes to clean, lack of sleep or time for oneself.
But I am absolutely sure Heavenly Father knew that being a mother could be the biggest blessing of a woman's life. At least this woman's life. (Me, I'm talking about me)
And gratefully, it doesn't end. There is just more waiting around every corner for me. More happiness, more struggle, more reward, more kisses and hugs, more joy.
And more messes. Always.
Thursday, September 2, 2010
So you do your best to work it in.
Sometimes that means dinner and a movie.
Sometimes that means a walk around the lake.
And sometimes it means you get to leave the house under the pretences of "Kate, dad and I need to go get a new tea kettle."
So when you are able to get away, it's important not to take yourself too seriously and to enjoy the short amount of time you have.
Because, you know, you're usually PREtty cool, and must hit all the best places.
And finally, on your dream date with your spouse, you run the errand that was your whole reason for leaving the house in the first place.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
For Family Home Evening on Monday, Jeff took the kids and I on a trail in Maple Valley.
Nora of course, was just happy to be out of her carseat.
Kate tried so hard to be nonchalant as I snapped pictures left and right.
She looks pretty nonchalant, don't you think?
And what would any family outing be without Charlie attempting to break something?
I just love this picture. The blur, the dust around her feet, the little blonde hair and trailing behind her siblings. It's gold I tell you, gold!
So here we arrived at our destination. Armed with a flashlight and some woodblocks, we learned about faith, and building a strong foundation around the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Everyone listened with rapt attention.
At least they did once I yelled at a few of them to be quiet and listen.
It's amazing how a tunnel amplifies your voice.
And I'm not sure why Kate's shoes is off, but I'm pretty sure Charlie had something to do with it.
That look on his face tells the whole story.
On the way out we visited a little maze that a local church put together.
The idea is to take your time walking through it, reflecting and pondering life, and then contemplating quietly on the benches when you are done.
It was more like a race for us.
Not so much contemplating and pondering.
But in the end we all finished. We all made it. Some faster than others, some more reflective. Some louder than others, some more quietly. Wait. No one was quiet.
Oh yeah, that was my wishful thinking.
So mainly the maze was wishful thinking for me, and chaos for everyone else.
But I'm pretty sure that's how life's meant to be.
And then we headed back to the house for cake.
Cuz cake makes everything feel like a success.
Everything I say!
Always end any event with cake, and people will love and adore you for years to come.
That's my entertaining tip for the day.
You never knew you could get so much out of one blog before, now did ya?