Tuesday, June 29, 2010

All’s Well That Ends With a Working Car

Last Friday Russ drove out to the Sea Base Scout Camp in Pamlico Sound to pick up one of the scouts that needed to come back early.

He called me about 6 and said, “This is not good.”

“What,” I asked.

Then he told me.  He was 10 minutes from the camp and had stopped to go to the bathroom.  When he was done, the van wouldn’t start.  At all.

We’ve been having starter problems for a couple of months.  First we thought it was the battery, but a new battery didn’t improve the situation at all.  We should have been smart and just had it fixed, but we just never got around to it.

And now it was dead, 150 miles from home.

Russ said that he was going to try to find someone to fix the car, but the fact that he was in a tiny town and it was 6:30 on a Friday night did not bode well for his chances of success.

I told him that I would get a starter motor and start driving towards the coast.  If he managed to get the car fixed, I’d have only lost my evening.  If he couldn’t find someone to fix the car, or if a starter wasn’t available locally, I would help.

I happened to be in Raleigh at the time, which was fortunate.  (An hour closer to the coast.)  I bought the starter motor, got a quick tutorial on how to install it, and then I bought a coke and started driving.

It was not how I expected to spend my evening.  And my cell phone battery was dying, so I couldn’t even pass the time talking on the phone!

It was actually a lovely drive.

The sky was filled with beautiful clouds. 

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As I drove along the tree-lined highway I remembered my first experience with these tree-lined roads.

June 2010 1215 In the summer of 1994 we were living in Idaho.  I flew to Atlanta with Cindy Lynn and Jason.  We were traveling with my sister Andra and her son Robby.

We rented a car in Atlanta and started driving to our family home in Western North Carolina.  We drove and drove and drove.  I was so exhausted and couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me; it was only a 3.5 hour drive, why was I having such a problem?

I finally figured out that the problem was the trees.  I was used to the wide-open spaces of Utah and Idaho.  The tall trees on either side of the interstate made the drive monotonous to me, and made me feel like we were never getting anywhere.  It was a relief to finish that trip.

Fast forward to today.  We’ve lived in North Carolina for 15 years this month, and I love my tree-lined roads.  Instead of finding them monotonous I think they’re beautiful, and I appreciate all of the less-beautiful things they hide.  (When I drive in Utah now I actually feel a little anxiety at the number of houses I can see!)

Later in my drive, after watching a lovely sunset in my rearview mirror, I learned something of interest to all of my facebook friends.  I may not play the game, but now I’ve been there in real life!

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By the time it was dark my cell phone low-battery light was blinking furiously.  I texted Russ that I would check my messages every 10 minutes, and then I turned off the phone.  Every 10 minutes I would turn it back on, wait for it to get a network signal, and then turn it off again.  Finally, at 9:10, there was a message from Russ.

“Van running now.  Turn around and go home.”

Instead of swooping into coastal NC a starter-motor-carrying hero, I made an unglamorous U-turn and started the long drive home. 

I spent my time working through some things that have been frustrating me lately, praying, for the last hour listening to the one cd that was in the car, at last arriving home at 11:30.  Exhausted.

It took poor Russ another hour to find the camp in the dark.  He didn’t get home until almost 2am.  Poor guy…

I think this year’s scout camp was one that Russ & I will never forget!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Braces: Take 2

Last week the long awaited day came.  It was time for my braces to come off…


The day didn’t start too auspiciously.  I burned several fingers on the flat-iron right as I was getting ready to leave.  It hurt so bad, and I wasn’t sure what to do.  Then I remembered that my sister Laila had posted one her blog several weeks ago about using mustard on a burn.  I figured I had nothing to lose, and so I squirted some mustard on my fingers, wrapped a paper towel around them, and headed for the orthodontist.  I was so happy that after a minute or two the burn really did feel better with the mustard on it.

Once there they popped the brackets off of my top teeth, made a mold so that they could make a new retainer, and offered to throw away the paper towel I was holding.  I finally did throw it away, but not until it had been on for over an hour.

I was surprised (I’m not sure why) to see that my fingers were stained by the mustard!  Totally worth it, though.

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Then they took all sorts of pictures of my teeth.  These are the pictures they keep in their files, and they make you hold all sorts of implements of torture to get your lips out of the way so that they can get the perfect shot.  I was sure it must look ridiculous, so I pulled out the purse cam.

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I want you to know that the orthodontist said that I have one of the smallest mouths he’s ever seen.  So that picture must be some kind of an optical illusion!

I was so happy to look in the mirror at my straight teeth again.  I’d forgotten how great they looked. 

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Hopefully this time the braces are off for good…

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Tender Mercy of Timing

My sister Laila and her kids have been here visiting with us this week.  Before Laila flew out here she asked me if I could borrow a booster for her little boy Josh.  I told her that I was sure I could borrow one from my friend Katie, but that she wouldn’t need it right away because there’s a built in car seat in my van.

We realized that there was a bit of a problem in our plan to borrow the booster from Katie.  She could use it to drive to the beach, and she could use it to drive back to the airport, but then what?  If she took it back to Katie’s house, she would have to drive the 30 minutes back to the airport with no booster seat for Josh.  I told her she could drop it off at someone else’s house that lived closer to the airport, but it still meant her wiggly son would have to drive back to the airport in a regular seat belt.

Every day this week we planned to go pick up the booster seat, and every day we did something got in the way of our plans.  Meals, naps, trips to the pool...we couldn’t seem to find a time to pick up the booster seat.  Finally on Friday afternoon we finally set off to Katie’s house.  We were on our way to the airport to pick up a rental car for Laila’s family, and figured that we would just get the booster on the way. 

As I was getting ready to turn left out of Katie’s neighborhood, Josh happily strapped into the newly procured booster in the back seat, Laila yelled

Stop!  Turn that way!!

She pointed in the other direction, but I couldn’t figure out why.  And then I saw what she had already seen.

There, on the side of someone’s driveway, sat a car seat and a booster; both with a sign taped to them that said


June 2010 1202 At first I couldn’t figure out what was doing.  After all—we had just gotten Katie’s booster not 60 seconds before.  Why did she need another?

Then she pointed out what I had forgotten.  This way her child would have a booster seat all the way to the airport.  This way she wouldn’t have to worry about him not being safe enough after returning the other booster seat. 

And then she said that she was sure that this was a tender mercy from Heavenly Father—that he knew the anxiety in her heart at the thought of driving without a booster seat for Josh, and so he had prepared a way.  In just the right place, and at just the right moment.


Saturday, June 26, 2010


One of the things I love about taking pictures is seeing how light and shape work together to make something beautiful.  Last week Russ & I were out for a Sunday evening drive together and I persuaded him to stop by the nearby pond so that I could take some pictures of the swans. Really grimy swans, as it turns out, but the pictures were still fun to take.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Hamster Anatomy

Everyone loves our hamsters.  And what's not to love about these cute little critters.

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But, everyone asks, what is up with their bottoms???

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One enterprising young friend (who shall remain nameless for her protection, but her initials are Erin) went home and did some googling.  And it turns out that that particular part of the male chinese dwarf hamster is called “noticeable testicles.”

Um…of course.

My sister asks, if they could dwarf the rest of the hamster, couldn’t they dwarf that part too???

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Good Clean Fun

Last week Jason had a spontaneous party with some of the kids from church.  It started with a grape-stuffing-contest which was a little bit scary.  (And it’s no surprise that the girls didn’t participate!)

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It turns out that Jason doesn’t have the mouth size or skin flexibility to participate in the big leagues—the winner put something like 26 grapes in his mouth!

June 2010 650 I love to see my kids having fun with their friends…

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

That was Close!

Becky and her children came over to swim this afternoon.  Russ had taken the van to work so that he could pick up my sister and her kids at the airport, so I got to drive his convertible.  I figured hey, the pool is only .4 miles away and I'm just going to drive 15 miles an hour, so I will see if Becky's kids want to drive to the pool in the convertible with the top down. 

First I should say that the convertible has 4 seatbelts, and I had me, my 3 little people, and their friend Joshua.  So as you see, we were already past capacity.

But, like I said, it was only .4 miles.  What could it hurt to add 3 more small people?

Except that it wasn't 3 more; Becky was babysitting 2 of Martha's kids.  So it was 5 more.

Never one to back down from a challenge, I stacked the 9 (NINE!!!) children into the back seat and passenger seat of the convertible.

And then I drove oh-so-slowly and oh-so-carefully to the swimming pool.

Where a police car was sitting in the parking lot.


And me with TEN people in a four-passenger car!

I told everyone to duck, (hah) and then drove around the other way and let them all out in front of the clubhouse before driving over to the parking lot.

Hoping he wouldn't notice just how completely and thoroughly I was breaking the law...

(I think we got away with it, but I do not think I will do that again!)

Silly Bandz

When I first read (on another blog) about silly bandz I couldn’t figure out what they were.  And when I did see them I was not impressed, though I bought a pack for my kids to share because I’m just that cool of a mom. ;)

Recently we had a bunch of families over for a cookout, and I was so amazed to see what happened as soon as everyone arrived.

All of the little kids formed a circle in the school room.

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They laid their bands in little rows on the floor, and then the trading began.

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When they were done they picked them back up and put them on their wrists again.

I think they’re all insane!!!

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Monday, June 21, 2010


Just in case you ever wondered what might happen if you plant a yellow zucchini plant next to a green zucchini plant…

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Saturday, June 19, 2010

Floating Back to Sanity

Earlier tonight I floated on my back in the pool, enjoying the feeling of the warm water while I watched the evening sky.  The half-moon was just above me, a jet flew high overhead, and the lowering sun lightened the edges above the trees.

I love floating on my back in the water; love the feeling of being supported, the muted sounds from water in my ears, the total relaxation.

That moment was a contrast from the rest of this week.  After our lovely but exhausting beach trip on Monday the rest of the week was a whirlwind.  I had to take Jared to Day Camp every morning and pick him up every afternoon, take everyone to swim practice in the morning and the evening, give advice while Jason painted all of the interior doors, meet with the air-conditioning salesman, take pictures during two swim meets (one of them in the full sun while it was 95 degrees), take individual pictures for all of the swim team members, and go to book club.  And still feed people.  There wasn’t even time to email a friend, my week was that busy.

As I lay there in the water I felt terrible about my week as a mother.  Sure, I drove everyone places, got them where they needed to be, but there was NONE of me left to spend quality time with any of my kids. 

It was a good reality check for me.  Sometimes I feel guilty that I am not a “soccer mom.”  I wasn’t before I had triplets, and I really haven’t been since they were born.  I know that there are many moms who successfully take their children to lots and lots of activities, and it works well for their families.  But it doesn’t for us.

Perhaps I needed that reminder this week.  The reminder that I cannot be the mom I want to be—the reading mom, the game-playing mom, the piano teaching mom, the craft enabling mom—if I am exhausted from being the driving-all-over mom.  And in the end, it is those things I want.  I want my kids to remember that we read together, that we laughed and played together.  I want them to remember that I made them ugly smoothies every morning and that when I baked bread we had scones for lunch.  I want them to remember being with me, not looking at the back of my (cranky) head in the car.

And that is why, after I was done floating on my back tonight, I played water volleyball with Russ and the kids.  We yelled and we leapt in the air trying to hit the beachball and got water up our noses when we fell back into the water.  We high-fived when we hit the ball over the net and groaned when we missed.  We must have looked like we were having fun, because all of the other kids in the pool came to play. 

That is the mom I want to be.

Friday, June 18, 2010



Being in the right place

at the right time

with the right camera

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Unexpected Volunteer

We often have little weeds growing in the little space between the driveway and the garage.

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I was a little surprised to see what’s growing there this year!

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Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Carolina Storms

Our day started with a massive thunder storm.  House-shaking, downpour-making thunder storm.

Which meant that instead of driving across a dry concrete road while taking Jared to Cub Scout Day Camp, I got to drive across this.

June 2010 793 It was very exciting.

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And instead of repotting some plants when I came home, I took a few more pictures.

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Including one of tiny little snails, not much bigger than the head of a pin, swarming on the side of one of my pots.

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This evening another loud storm rolled through, staying around just long enough to get the swim meet postponed.  Hooray for unexpectedly free evenings!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Beach Escape!

Alisyn decided that she needed a beach day before she takes off for Italy, and since I’m always up for a beach day, we loaded the car (ugh!), got up early(ughh!) bought a bunch of fun treats (yum!) and off we went for a day of fun in the sun.

I realized that one of the downsides of a daytrip to the beach (besides eating sand with your lunch) is that there are so many people in my beach space!

I love those times when we go to the beach for a day in the fall or winter and we are there all alone.  And I get much better pictures that way.

Here is a purse-cam moment from the drive—someone obviously has their priorities in the right place.

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We learned something at the beach too—where the water comes from!

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And here are some other pictures from our day…

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Sunday, June 13, 2010


When Cindy Lynn was young we studied Latin roots.  We learned the meaning of each root and then combined it with other roots to make words we commonly use every day. 

One of my favorite words was made from the roots photo (light) and trop (turn, change). Phototropic means:
growing or moving in response to light.

The plants in my garden are phototropic.  This morning when I went outside the sun was still low in the eastern sky.  I knew that the sunflower plants would be leaning  towards the sun, but I was surprised to see that the squash plants were too.  They will follow the track of the sun throughout the day, always oriented towards it’s position.

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As I drove away from the house I envied the plants and their automatic phototropism.  I wish it were that easy for me; a physical reaction from my DNA. 

Instead, I have to remember, over and over again, that I want to orient myself towards the Son.  I have to consciously remember that if I don’t make the “best” choices with my time, other “good” things will fill my life, leaving little or no time to turn towards the Son.

In retrospect, I think the positioning of my garden at the end of the driveway was a great choice.  Not just for the benefit of the garden, though it’s proximity to my life and line of vision will help me take better care of it.

What I didn’t realize that it would also be a blessing to me; that every time I walked out of the house, I would see the example of my plants, reminding me to turn towards the Son.

Friday, June 11, 2010

What a Tease

I have learned something about flowers this year.

Some flowers grow easy, bloom profusely, and aren’t that much fun to take pictures of.

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Some flowers grow easily, without any special attention, and even attract beneficial insects-- but just aren’t that photogenic.

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Some flowers climb wildly and produce many beautiful blooms but are hard to take an interesting picture of.

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And then there are my lovely gerbers.  How they torment me.

When they bloom, the flowers delight me.  But so far they don’t bloom that often.  And, as Cindy Lynn pointed out, the foliage looks like something we might eat.

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Are they just playing hard to get?  Cause if they are, it’s working…

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Dress Up

The girls have a friend over to play today.  A few minutes ago they came downstairs and told me that they were playing dress up.

And that they live in French.  And then they talked to me in a foreign language, which I’m assuming is what you speak when you live in French.

June 2010 484Now they are watching a movie and eating popcorn.

Very daintily, of course.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Local Geometry

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GREEN Smoothies

I freaked out the little kids this morning with a smoothie that was actually (VERY) green.

June 2010 300 I assured them that it would still taste good, and it did.  In fact, it was fabulous.  But what else would you expect, when the extra ingredients were 2 fresh oranges, fresh pineapple, a fresh mango, and a few frozen peach pieces??

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Temporary Resolve

I went to the grocery store hungry today, never a good idea.  I came home with more “treats” than usual, and a firm resolve to make sure the kids didn’t eat them all right away.

I must have been thirsty too, because I bought several packages of Kool Aid Bursts, which my kids affectionately call “squeeze-its.”  My plan was that next week when school was out, each child could take one each day to the pool.

That resolution lasted about this long.

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How on earth was I supposed to resist that face??

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Dinner Table Conversation

Russ: Guess what!  Uncle Larry got back to Salt Lake yesterday and turned on his phone and there was a message that he had to go to an urgent meeting with a general authority.

Cindy:  So he had to go straight to church headquarters?

Jared:  The church has a headquarters?

Russ: Yeah, that building next to the place that mom always takes us for pictures when we go to visit Temple Square.

Jared:  Oh....  I thought it would be like the headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix.  You know, like Sirius Black's old house...

This One’s for You, Mom

My mother loved gardenias, those fragrant flowers of the deep south.  Sometimes she would bring home a small plant, hoping against hope that she could somehow make the plant thrive and bloom in the California dryness. 

The new plant would have always have a creamy white blossom on it.  “Don’t touch the flower,” she would caution us.  “If you touch it, it will turn brown.”

We would stand and sniff from a distance, and I learned to love the fragrance.  When we moved to the south I was thrilled to see gardenia bushes growing in yards, flourishing in their natural habitat of heat and humidity.

Last week as I assessed my growing plant collection it occurred to me that nothing I had smelled very good.  And then it hit me; I needed a gardenia plant of my own.  I brought it home, repotted it, and set it by the screened in porch.  I know that I will smile every time I smell it, and think of my mom.

This one’s for you, mom.

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(I think I’m going to have to touch one of the flowers, just to see what happens!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

To Every Thing, a Season

This year, I planted a garden.

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My new garden and my pots and pots of flowers have probably come as a surprise to some of my friends.  How could they have known that when I lived in Idaho I had a big garden?  That each month during those Idaho years I read my Organic Gardening magazine from cover to cover, hoping to learn new ways to improve our garden.

Two months after we moved to North Carolina Josh was born, and I was officially overwhelmed.  By the time he was 6 months old we had started homeschooling Cindy Lynn.  There was still occasionally time for sewing, but not for a garden.

And then Y2K changed our lives in ways we never anticipated.  We were plunged into a time of survival; there was room for nothing extra in our lives. 

I felt real grief about the parts of me that I “lost” during those demanding years.  It seemed like I would never get back those things; the ability to sew for the new baby girls, the time and energy to scrapbook all of the new pictures, the opportunity to travel as I once had.


  To every thing there is a season, 
and a time to every purpose under the heaven…

I wish I had trusted the Lord more.  I wish I could look back on those years and see myself looking forward with faith, understanding that I was in a different and difficult season, but that the season for sewing and traveling and gardening would come again someday. 


We’ve grown tomatoes in pots for the last few years, and tonight we ate the first zucchini from our new garden.  I enjoy looking at the beautiful flowers all around my house.  And every day I give thanks for this new season.
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