Boo To You

boo to you

This photo is of:

a. me as a spiderweb for Halloween
b. what I look like in the morning
c. my impression of an 80’s rocker who accidentally cut his hair
d. all of the above

Horsing Around

Yesterday afternoon and evening we spent at J’s folks’ farm.   We brought out our horses so they could play with Grandpa’s horses and harass calves in the new arena.  My two eldest took part in practicing keeping a calf in a particular area of the arena, an exercise that Grandpa (the hardest worker I’ve ever known) described in a word that I almost never hear him utter in relation to his activities:  Fun.

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Since I’m no horsewoman, it was gratifying to watch my girls fearlessly gallop around the arena, keeping that calf right where they wanted him:

Necia and Kira

Some of us got on the hay wagon to feed the cows and calves down at the bottom of the place; once we got there, big-boy G was given the task to drive the tractor.  Grandpa put the tractor in low gear and gave a quick driving lesson while the cows looked on:

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Then Grandpa and Uncle Don stood on the back of the wagon and pushed the hay bales off the back in a long line for the cows to eat:

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G did a great job getting the hang of keeping the tractor headed in the right direction:

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When we got back, J was practicing his roping skillz:

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Madame Chaos locked her brother in the dog pen:

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As the sun set, G played on the old hot walker (horse exerciser) that Grandpa converted into a merry-go-round, arguably one of the most popular destinations at the farm:

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End the day with Grandma’s meatloaf and mashed potatos with rolls and sweet corn, and you’ve got yourself a perfect memory.

I’m Published!

If thinking that people are going to read my blog is self-absorbed self-delusion, then bragging about a publication accepting my work must be narcissistic.  I accept that.

 Here is a link to the table of contents of the latest Sunstone magazine (click the “See the Cover” link under the cover photo); I took the large photo of the woman surrounded by children.  The woman is a good friend of mine, as are the three redheaded cuties around her; the fourth child, a purple-coated brunette, is my own little Dee.  Another photo is featured inside the magazine, in the article entitled Relief, Society.  It is on the second page and is of my same friend, holding her son while he slides down a pole.

I’m awaiting my complimentary contributor’s copy from editor Dan Wotherspoon, and I note that several bloggernacle voices are featured in the bylines. 

I’m in good company.

How To: Ruin Your Mom’s Diet

Installment Six in Madame Chaos’ informative series.

Nothing could be simpler than this little tip.  It requires only luck and timing, but I do give some credit to the fortunate circumstance of being lastborn.

All you have to do is lie in wait while your mom is frantically sewing your big sister’s very complicated Renaissance costume that must be done by Saturday night’s costume party.  Do little distracting things like whine to be held and “help sew,” get close to the iron, complain about every movie Mom suggests to put in the laptop for you, smear the Bribe Cookie on the fabric, and disappear out of the sewing room often to go on mysterious and nefarious errands.

Once Mom leaves the room, pick up her Sacred Sewing Scissors and use them to cut the cord to the sewing machine pedal.  Since Mom has a house rule that I (her baby!  Her sweet, sweet baby!) can’t be punished for destroying something if people leave their stuff unattended and in my reach, I know I’ve created the amusing situation of entangling her in her own web.  All that’s left to do is acknowlege to her that yes, I did indeed cut the cord, say something cute like, “I fix it, okay Mama?”  and sit back and watch her beeline for the chocolate chips.

I can’t believe she wouldn’t give me any.

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It’s Darking

Today is one of those heartbreakingly beautiful October dreamdays — clear blue sky, dazzling foilage displays, crisp morning giving way to a warm afternoon.  I use the word “heartbreaking” to mean both “that which sears the soul with impossible beauty” and “durn conniving Jezebel of a day that tricks you into not being torqued that summer is over and the Season of Double-Plus Ungood is on its way.”  I know many people consider fall to be their favorite season, but I greet it with the same enthusiasm as I greeted my first gray hair and the grooves on my forehead that no longer smooth out–hunker down, lads, it only gets worse from here

So I’m being a little dramatic.  Perhaps if my corner of the world actually got snow it could hang on to during the winter, I would look forward to winter a smidge more.  Some of my best childhood memories involve long Snow Days home from school, digging forts into the banked-up snow until our extremities were numb, after which we could go in and sit on the hearth next to the fire (but I never did figure out WHY warming up those wet mittens made them smell like they were rotten).  Here it is just brown, brown, brown, from November through bleak February. 

Add to that the ever-increasing inventory of inflatable lawn ornaments that come out of hibernation this time of year to populate my town with evil gaucheness.  It starts with seven-foot-tall Dracu-Tiggers and doesn’t end until someone finally drags the sodden, mutilated, and thoroughly sad Santa Homers off the lawn sometime in March.  If you have these unmistakable announcements of poor taste cluttering your yard, I will pull no punches in my judgment of your ferociously insipid kitsch.  It’s like landscaping with sagebrush: I’ve never seen it done well, and it seems inherently impossible to do so. 

While I indulge myself in crotchetiness, I have to wonder what Madame Chaos thinks about fall.  At two, she’s old enough to remember going to the beach and having to go to bed while it was still light outside, but not old enough to know that those days will come around again.   “It’s darking, mama!” she tells me as the sun sets too early– and she doesn’t like the creepy masks, skeletons, and witches that seem to be everywhere she looks.  We spent some time with fmhLisa this weekend, and her family goes all out for Halloween decorating (minus the lawn ornaments, thankfully).  Included in her decor is a vast collection of awesome vintage masks all over the walls in every room in the house, and even suspended from the ceiling fans–I told her she’s got to take pictures and blog about it.  Anyway, Madame Chaos was traumatized by even the seemingly innocuous Disney ones and clung to me fervently.  “It scare me,” she whimpered, “I don’t like dat!”  before burying her head in my shoulder.  So what’s it like when you’re two, and the Summer of Happy Sunshine Nakedness is over and the world seems to be hurtling toward Hell?  

It’s darking, indeed.

Small Town Musings

Living in a rural community has its downsides–“good ol’ boy” politics, one grocery store (but five pizza shops–how does that happen?), no place to buy shoes, and everyone’s a busybody (with spotting scopes and police scanners–I kid you not).   But it also has great things about it, and one of those things is a sense of community.  Today I took five of my six kids to the dentist.  Simple enough, but as I thought about all the connections just in that office, it made me smile to myself.  One of the receptionists goes to church with me, the other taught ballet to two of my daughters, an assistant also attends my church, and I exercise with the dentist’s wife.  The clinic is shared with a doctor who used to date my sister (in another state, no less), and who coached my daughter’s soccer team last spring and whose children are on soccer teams with two of my children this fall.  His wife shares kidsitting with one of my best friends, and the doc who sold him the clinic has attended my book club for 11 years.  After I left the office, the receptionist needed me to come back for the debit card I left, so she tracked me down at my friend’s house because she knows that since it’s Wednesday, my 4-year-old plays over there in the afternoon and I’d be dropping her off.

 Maybe some people would feel stifled by those kinds of connections, but it makes me feel secure (despite my wallet getting stolen out of my car in the church parking lot a while back).  I like knowing that I’ll see friends in the grocery store and at the library and the park no matter when I go, even if it means I have to put mascara and lipstick on every time I leave the house. 

My Love Affair With ‘Zac

I wasn’t sure if I should trumpet my love for ‘Zac on the internet.  I’ve admitted to our relationship before on various support sites, but not on my blog.  I think it’s time.

I spend time with ‘Zac every day.  In fact,  ‘Zac is always with me, and has made a huge difference in my life.  Before ‘Zac, I often felt like there was a deep chasm of boiling bile waiting to drown me, with only the thinnest membrane of sanity keeping me from the abyss.  Despite having a loving husband, six great kids, a nice home, and a love of God an a knowlege of His love for me, I had to force myself out of bed every morning and often schemed for a nap in order to escape.  Sometimes I even fantasized about people in white coats coming to take me away to somewhere clean and orderly and quiet, and maybe padded.

In the end, it was ‘Zac that took me away from the edge and gave me a new life.  He wasn’t the first in my life, though–I became acquainted with Lex just a few hours after I gave birth to Madame Chaos, and, with my doctor’s blessing, Lex helped me begin to turn things around.  I began to enjoy my family again, and learned the value of “good enough” instead of berating myself for all the things I wasn’t doing.   Ultimately, however, my relationship with Lex was unsatisfying, and when I found myself again at the brink, Olof stepped in.  Still, it wasn’t quite right–I gained weight with Olof, and began to wonder if the me that I remembered being, the one who thought her husband’s jokes were funny and who could tackle about any project was truly just . . . gone.  I thought that maybe being thirtysomething and married while homeschooling six kids in rural Idaho was just supposed to be overwhelming.

 I resisted ‘Zac for a long time.  He’s older, and the younger Lex and Olof seemed more tailored and sophisticated.  But in the months that we have been together, I have felt the old me returning.  ‘Zac may be older, but there’s a reason he’s a classic–he knows what I need.  He has helped me become more relaxed, even-keeled, and realistic about my self-expectations.  And I refuse to be ashamed that I need ‘Zac; in fact, telling the story of our relationship to other people (particularly new moms) has sometimes led to them finding their own ‘Zac or Lex or Olof, or in one case, even Mic

You might think that my husband is jealous of ‘Zac.  On the contrary, he is delighted to have me under ‘Zac’s influence–especially now that I laugh at his jokes again. 

‘Zac, you are beautiful.  I love you.