Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Invisible Lines

Kate's got me reading her latest book series.  And while I started reading it just to humor her and have something to bond over (a chapter a night), I found myself staying up past 11:30 last night pouring over "just one more chapter". (Brandon's in Ohio learning how to freeze kidneys and prostates inside the body to kill them, in place of radiation. The dead organ is left in the body instead of doing a big resection. Kind of a cool idea - less invasive for sure. FYI, in case your husband needs his prostate out someday . . . which leads back to today's topic.  Kind of. You'll see.) The book is based on the concept of time travel, and there was something about the chapters I read last night combined with this video recommended by a blog I like to read (which I've seen before, but any mother could watch it a million times - if they're in the mood to bawl . . .) that got me thinking about time, and the passage of it.

"You think the life you have now is the only life there is.  The one that's going to last forever . . ."

Kate has been morphing for awhile now, but I think she's pretty much transformed completely into a young version of what she will look like for the rest of her life.  But it's not just the physical transformations that are so striking at this age.  Kate's transformation marks a change in the entire family dynamic on so many levels.

For instance, on Sunday there was a noticeable difference in our home.  I may have been the only one to notice, but it really hit me.  Will, Elizabeth and Rachael played for hours, tying pillows to their bodies and banging into each other, making creations out of their magnetic toys, pretending, pretending, pretending . . . where was Kate? Reading in her room.  That's not to say she spends all her time alone in her room, but somehow, at some point, she went from being Will's best play buddy to being more of a mother's helper, giving me knowing smiles when one of the "little kids" says or does something cute and funny.  Now it's "us" and "them".  And even though I love this new stage, it still brings tears to my eyes when I think about it this way.  I am no longer the young mother of four young children.  Our family and our life is changing just as much as Kate is.

These wide, fuzzy, invisible lines we keep crossing over without even knowing it - they change everything and nothing is ever the same again.  

Just yesterday, Elizabeth begged me to get out the Halloween decorations.  And there it was again. A cool aloofness.  Kate wanted to help decorate too, and she did, but I could sense in her a feeling I remember all too well at that same age: wanting to feel more excited than you really did.  Let's face it, with the passage of time and the onset of adulthood, the "magic" and innocence of youth wanes a little.  The thrill and excitement on the faces and in the voices of Will, Elizabeth and Rachael were so reminiscent of Kate, Will and Elizabeth just a year or two ago.  And it happens THAT fast.  (Don't blink!)   

Just six short years ago, Kate was a mere 1st grader, Will was a pre-schooler, Elizabeth was an infant, and Rachael was just an inkling.  And I was still that young mother of young children, 33 years old.  Just six short years ago.  And now, all of a sudden, I feel like we are in the home stretch with Kate.  Six short years in the opposite direction and she'll be gone.  Gone!  And Will will be 15, Elizabeth 12, and Rachael on the brink of turning 9.  Only one child left in grade school, and she'll probably be too embarrassed to act excited about the Halloween decorations because of her cool big brother and sister (that's singular, because remember, Kate will be GONE).  

And I will be 45.

When did I stop being that young mother of young children?  Not that I'm old, but I'm pushing 40, and fast.  And even though I still have a two-year-old (for six more days . . .), I don't spend my days going to the park with the other mothers and their toddlers anymore.  My life gradually, almost imperceptibly, stopped revolving around library storytime and naptime years ago when the older children started school and teams and lessons, and the demands of the after school hours dictated that I get more of the housework and errands and paperwork done during the day.  What happened to those days at home surrounded by little children that seemed to last forever?

You think the life you have now is the only life there is.  The one that's going to last forever . . ."

This picture was taken just a little more than two years ago.  The kids were 0-10 years old, and I was 36.  So much change in so little time.

And here's my baby now . . . 

 . . . turning three next week, which means she can no longer pass for a baby.

It is at once heartbreaking and heartwarming. And that, my friends, is the daily dichotomy that is ever present with women who choose to be mothers.

It makes me want to savor every minute I've got with these children of mine.  To keep reading those chapters with Kate, to always step away from making dinner for just a moment to watch Will do a trick on his Ripstick, to go around the block one more time with Elizabeth and Rachael on our bikes, seeing Elizabeth's bike tassles fly along with her curly hair, and hear Rachael call out to dogs, cats and neighbors with her cute little lisp.

Just like Katrina Kenison says, one day Kate and I were walking hand in hand across the street and I was reading her bedtime stories, now she helps me get Rachael to bed and we talk about mythology assignments.  I love it, I really do.  I think I will enjoy every stage in my children's development, it's just that there is no going back. All we have is NOW and THE FUTURE, and even though my now is wonderful and my future promises to be even better, leaving the past in the past still makes me a little sad.

What am I talking about?  How do you think these guys feel?  Knowing their third child is pushing 40 . . .

My mom turned 70 yesterday.  SEVENTY!  And that's a-whole-nother ball of wax, the opposite end of the stick, the other side of change and generations.  I'd better quit while I'm ahead.  Shouldn't be crying this early in the day . . .

Where will your family be in 6 years?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Teenager in the House

Welp, it happened.  Kate turned 13.  (I always feel a little sentimental on Kate's birthday since it's also the day I became a mother - my own little private "birthday" of sorts - but I keep it to myself.  That day is all about Kate!)

So why am I starting out this post with yet another mountain picture?  

First of all, because it's gorgeous and I just can't get over it.  Secondly, because Kate's birthday celebrations started last Saturday morning up that canyon.  (I took this picture from a smaller set of mountains that jut out horizontally from the larger Wasatch mountains that run north/south.  It's a "wall" of sorts that separates the Salt Lake Valley from Utah Valley where we live.  The nice thing about that is that it creates a beautiful little "cove" area directly to the left of this picture.) 
Here's a shot of Kate's school with that cove area as the backdrop.  (It's aptly titled, "Alpine Cove".)  
But I digress.  Back to my first born's introduction to teenager-hood.

You see, since we have no immediate family nearby, and Kate hasn't made any bosom buddies yet, I knew there would be no big party.  So I decided to do "The 13 Surprises of Kate's 13th Birthday" over the weekend.  (Kind of like "The 12 Days of Christmas" but more cumbersome to say. . .)

Surprise #1: Brandon woke Kate up early on Saturday morning and took her to the Timpanogos Cave National Monument up that beautiful canyon.  

What you need to know about Kate is, a trip like that is the equivalent to taking most 13-year-old girls to a Taylor Swift concert.  She is an avid nature, animal, art, book and music lover.  (That just about sums up Kate in a nutshell.)  But nature is her first love.  I'll never forget going to visit our dear friends the McLeods (hi Betsy!) in Ohio one year when our first born girls were 2 or 3, and we went to a huge outdoor park together that had a manmade stream running through it for the little kids to play in.  Kate spent most of her time on the periphery of the park, playing in the bushes and un-manicured areas looking for who knows what!  When she was about 4 or 5, I remember being at a big BBQ for residents and their families near a lake, and by the end of the evening she had a group of older boys following her around asking her to show them how to catch frogs.  I've always loved that side of Kate.  

Not only that, but she is way more mature than I was at her age (I was the "froofy doofy" girl that wanted to be pretty and popular at any expense), super helpful at home, mega responsible about her homework . . . I don't normally like to brag about my kids, but birthdays are an exception.  Birthdays at our house are all about making the birthday girl/boy feel like a king or queen for a day, and part of that is always putting the birthday girl/boy in the "hot seat" where everyone in attendance tells what they love/admire/remember fondly about them.  Warm fuzzies all around.  

Back to Surprise #1 . . .

It's a mile and a half hike up to the mouth of the caves, and Kate took a lot of pictures on the way up and down, and in the caves as well.  Here are the highlights:
Once they got home from the caves, I was ready to whisk Kate off to Surprise #2: a real haircut at a real salon.  Two separate people referred me to this place and now I know why.  Adorable!  (I hope she enjoyed the royal treatment, because it's back to Super Cuts next time.)

Can you tell she likes her haircut?  The stylist said she looked like she was 15 or 16, not 13.  Yikes!  (As long as people say I look like her sister I guess that's alright . . . hardy har har)
I can't believe I didn't get any pictures of Suprise #3 except for more mountains: I took her to the BYU Museum of Art (see the Y?) where we got such a kick out of the temporary exhibit: Suburbia.
Surprise #4: We went as a family to this AWESOME ice cream place Brandon and I found accidentally the night before.  Let me tell you about it.
Like the sign says, choose your mix (custard rocks), flavor (can blend two), then mix-ins.  
They pour your "cream" in a bowl, add the flavor and mix-ins . . . 
 . . . and then blast it with liquid nitrogen so it freezes instantly!
A little more mixing and it's done.  It's so good!
The other fun thing about this place are all the arcade games, pool table, and TV room for kids upstairs.  
A great family ice cream joint all around.  (Probably why they've won a bunch of awards.)  
Surprise #5 on Sunday morning: breakfast in bed.  This was definitely a first for her.  I can't tell if she likes it or not - what do you think? It looks like she just wants to sleep some more!
Monday was Kate's actual birthday and a normal school day of course (bummer!), but she seemed pretty happy when I picked her up and she had this little guy keeping her company. 
Surprise #6: with the help of Elizabeth, Will, and two of their friends, we decorated her bedroom door and room after school.  (They get out a little earlier than she does.)
Her favorite color is blue . . .
Surprise #7-13:  the traditional birthday party with cake (she wanted strawberry cheesecake this year) and presents.  We didn't get her very much except for a new bike (finally! a bike she won't outgrow!), so we were glad to have some supplementary gifts sent from family and friends.  (I should say, Brandon got her an "owner's manual" for Newfoundlands.  We are digging ourselves deeper and deeper . . . I don't think we're getting out of this one and I'M SCARED!  Maybe if we just rent indefinitely . . .) 
You know, I thought I would be feel a little more bittersweet about this birthday, but the truth of the matter is, it's just fun having a teenager in the house when that teenager is KATE THE GREAT!


Monday, September 20, 2010

The Last Taste of Summer

Last Thursday night we had dinner with Brandon's new partner and his family at their home.  (Part of the reason they invited us over when they did is because their oldest son is leaving on a mission for Japan this Wednesday, and they wanted Brandon and I to prep him a little.  I can't believe I almost forgot to warn him that Japan does NOT celebrate Christmas.  I told him just as we were going out the door, and encouraged his mom to send a really nice Christmas package of some sort.  The only thing that saved my one Christmas over there were the candy canes, mini tree, and Christmas tapes my sweet mom sent over.  Even the Christians there don't do much.  Except eat "Christmas Cake", which I'm pretty sure they think is an American tradition.  White, fluffy cake with whipped cream and fresh strawberries on top.  Go figure.  My Japanese Christmas was spent eating bad ramen in a tacky mall listening to bad Japanese Top 40 music over the intercom.  No decorations, no lights, no music, definitely no nativities - nada, nunca, nanimonai.)  Totally and completely off topic.

They asked us to bring a dessert,  and I came with a very lame assortment of store bought cookies and frozen drumsticks.  (I was mostly thinking of the kids.)  Well, I have no idea why in the world they even asked me to bring dessert, because in addition to my pitiful offering, the woman of the house brought out her own home canned Utah peaches - chilled - and then proceeded to pour french vanilla creamer over the top.  

Holy. Cow.  

The next day I found myself at the roadside stand she told me about, purchasing a massive box of Utah peaches.  Apparently, there are over 300 varieties grown in North America alone, and I have no idea the differences between them or what I even bought, but something I have learned about Utah is that they are serious about their peaches, and the peaches I bought are yummy.  

Then I went to the other roadside stand she told me about and got even more peaches.  (I thought we should taste test.)  And sweet corn, and raspberries, and tomatoes - I like to eat garden fresh tomatoes like apples, lightly salting every bite.  Yum!

That same day we got invited to swim after school at a neighbor's house.  It was in the 90's all last week, and we hadn't been swimming since school started.  It felt good.  The last swim of the summer I'm sure.  The last peaches, the last sweet corn . . . we even heard the ice cream truck as we were biking home.  I told the kids if it came by I'd let them get ice cream because it would probably be . . . the last time this summer.
It seems funny that I never made it to one of those road side stands all of August and most of September, but better late than never, right? 

So with a houseful of peaches, what was a girl to do on a Sunday afternoon except make peach cobbler?

 Enjoy the last day of summer - fall officially begins this Wednesday!

Another One Bites The Dust

She looked pretty good for her age, don't you think?  She was almost as old as I am for crying out loud! (At least she still had her toes and finger tips.  Some of those older Barbies from my childhood had their fingers and toes bit off mysteriously . . .) Brandon tried doing a little surgery on her with some pliers, but to no avail.  Oh well.  We kept the dress.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Labor Day and The New Skyline

Holy cow.  Ready for a mega post?

On Labor Day morning we woke up to find the teenage boys from church had put flags in the front yards of everyone in the neighborhood.  Love it!  Nobody even thinks twice about wether or not someone won't like it.  (I wish I had gotten a better picture where you could see several flags flying all at once.  I took this while driving, so this was the best I could do without killing anyone.)

My mom had one request during their entire nine day stay.  She wanted to see the Conference Center that was built in 2001.  (We figured it out, and the last time my parents were in Utah was 16 years ago when Brandon and I were just dating.)  

Here we are:
There is a lot of beautiful religious art inside.  I've included some of my favorites:
I really liked this one for some reason.  It think partly because it used to belong to Napolean's brother and that is just so random, and partly because it's Joseph interpreting the dreams of the baker and the butcher - the story of Joseph in the Old Testament is one of my all time favorites. 
The Conference Center center: 
Elizabeth sitting in a rainbow: 
After the inside tour, the guide took us outside and onto the roof.  There's a beautiful water fountain up there, but I think most surprising are all the natural grasses and trees, planted in a deliberate progression.  On the east end of the roof nearest the mountains are the types of trees the pioneers would have seen on the mountain as they came up over the top.  As you move to the western side of the roof, the trees and grasses change to reflect more of the trees found in the hills, and then the valley.  
Yep, this is the roof top:
After our Conference Center tour, we walked over to the Joseph Smith Memorial building via a beautifully landscaped area just east of Temple Square.  Here's Brigham striding into town:
Inside the Joseph Smith Memorial Building:
I love this picture of my parents:
We ate lunch in there and got a little goofy while waiting for our food: 
Off to Temple Square.  It never ceases to amaze me how those impoverished pioneers built this magnificent building with their hands.  It truly is a testament to their faith:
My parents were married in the Salt Lake Temple 40+ years ago, but when they went to pick up their wedding pictures from the developer they had been lost!! (Seriously tragic.)  So . . . I thought I'd do a little re-creation.  Not quite the same, but still pretty nice. I couldn't pick a favorite, and since I know my mom will hate them all, I'll give her two choices:
The Assembly Hall where they have various meetings and concerts.  It's right next to the old Tabernacle where the Mormon Tabernacle Choir originally began their weekly program, "The Spoken Word". 
More wedding pictures.  Aren't they cute?
Time for the next big event of the day.  Moving on!
We went through downtown, up past the capital, and into the mountains behind the capital to the home of my sister's husband's parents.  (Catch that?)  My sister and her husband live in Iowa and weren't even there (it was just his mother, his sister's family, and some friends) but they are old friends from Iowa City when we all lived there together.  Of course we were going for a traditional Labor Day BBQ.  (Great food, even better company.)

The state bird, the seagull:  (Cool story why.)
And here it is - the new skyline: 

I am such a sucker for old buildings, skylines, panoramic views, and sunsets.  So combining all of those things into one is just about the ultimate for me:

Not a bad place to live, folks!  Do you get the feeling I'm trying to convince all my family and loved ones to move here?  Because I am.  

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