Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pretty Stinky


The number of hours since our water supply line broke. While my dear, sweet, kind, wonderful, resourceful, and talented hubby has worked on it all day, the pipe keeps breaking farther and farther back beneath the loose retaining wall they put in this summer. And so here it is, 9:30 at night, and he is still digging in the pitch-black and freezing weather. Bless him.


The number of hours since anyone flushed a toilet. Or truly washed their hands. Or bathed. The sink is overflowing with dishes. The hampers are stuffed with an entire vacation's worth of dirty laundry. (Not that it matters much since the washer's still broken.)

Oh, and did I mention that our minivan is now resting in the parking lot of the Home Depot where it broke down?

I don't mean to whine, but we could sure use a turn of good fortune by tomorrow or the very latest next year. Life is getting pretty stinky around here!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wacky and Wet

Today was our first day back in St. George after a fabulous Wheeler Christmas in Logan (more details to follow.) While our waffles were wonderful, the day went wacky from there. Here are a few highlights:

-the washer refusing to spin, leaving mounds of wet clothes
-Eli scribbling all over the counter and floor, soaking himself with blue marker
-the girls toppling their dresser (again)
-Eli taking off his soggy diaper and grinning madly because he was so proud

Oh, and, last but not least, our water supply line broke, flooding the entire yard in an already saturated St. George. (We've had thirteen inches of rain in the last week and a half.)

I'd be grumpy, but I'm far too busy being extremely grateful that we were here to notice this major mishap. We'd hoped to stay longer in Logan, but came back yesterday instead because of an important yet unanticipated meeting. Our early return seemed inconvenient at the time, but in reality it was a miraculous blessing.

Let's just hope tomorrow is a little less soggy!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lista de deseos

Last week Brooklyn brought home her "Lista de deseos" (wish list) for Santa written in Spanish. I thought I'd share this one too since it's different from the first. Interestingly enough, her spelling is generally better in Spanish since español is very syllabic.

Mi lista de deseos: (My Wish list)

perro (dog)
jugetes (juguetes--toys)
calores (colores--crayons)
caramelos (candy)
mas amigos (more friends)
gato (cat)
mas elmano (más hermanos--more brothers)

Oh boy.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Short on Sports

In many ways, I consider our children to be fairly well-read and broadly educated about the world around them. A few days Brooklyn asked me a question that made me realize that we've neglected the world of sports.

Holding a basketball with one arm and a soccer ball with the other, Brooklyn asked: "Which one do I dribble and which one do I kick?"

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Growing Up

Brooklyn's growing UP!

Our Christmas child, Brooklyn turned 6 on Thursday. Yesterday she was the star of the show as we celebrated her birthday at a cute little place in St. George called "Creative Minds."

The "UP" inspiration came from an online search for the easiest possible cupcake design.

Unfortunately, our dreams for a fabulous pinata got thwarted by strep throat. Instead we cobbled together this monstrosity half an hour before the party. The good news is that as long as it's filled with candy, the kids really don't care.

Despite passing out lots of invitations, we were a small group, which was actually more intimate and more fun. Here's Sofia from Daisy Scouts.

This is Kaleigh, showing off her mad cashiering skills. Kaleigh is both a Daisy Scout and in kindergarten with Brooklyn.

This is Logan, Kaleigh's twin brother, sporting a slippery serpent.

After seeing Logan's snake, our friend Nathan from church wanted one too.

I'm embarrassed to admit that I actually painted Talia's butterfly/demon/clown face. What can I say? It must be the drugs.

Fortunately, Kaleigh's butterfly wasn't as much of a disaster, particularly when adorned with bunny ears.

All Eli needed was a yellow ball to be plenty happy.

Blowing out the candles!

Overall, the party was great fun, leaving everyone in the family happy.

We really are so delighted to have Brooklyn in our family. She's creative, beautiful, intelligent, but even more, she's working so hard to be good. Instead of doing presents for her party, she agreed (albeit somewhat reluctantly) to collect for Toys for Tots. That's really hard when you're six! For her birthday, our little artist got lots of fun supplies. As beautiful as her drawings are, I was even more touched by her sincere expressions of gratitude. We love you, Brooklyn!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Love All Year Round

First of all, many heartfelt thanks for all of the thoughtful and kind responses to the previous post. I feel wrapped in love and empathy, which is a really nice feeling because...

I'm sick.

Yuck. I hate being sick. Sore throat, fever, body aches, earache, chills--go away!

It's funny, but I generally find it slightly gratifying to have the thermometer register a fever when I feel lousy. It's as if my invisible aches and pains are being validated with concrete, tangible proof that something's definitely awry. My fever ceased to be gratifying, however, as my temperature spiked to 103 last night. I'd be perfectly content to never run a temperature again.

The bad news is that between Brooklyn's birthday and Christmas around the corner, I really don't have time to be sick. The good news is, it doesn't matter. Like it or not, my body's forcing me to slow down, crawl into bed, and enjoy a hot cup of herb tea.

Believe it or not, Christmas will happen whether or not I'm "ready." So what if the Christmas cards arrive late? Oh well if some packages don't make it in time. Too bad if I don't do all the baking, shopping, wrapping, crafting, caroling, and entertaining that I originally hoped to do. I simply refuse to beat myself up for "missing" a self-imposed December 25th deadline. I believe that the true spirit of Christmas should inspire us to serve and love all year 'round. This year, the love may show up a little late, but it's love just the same.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A little lonely

Please forgive this evening's ramblings. I process life by writing, and tonight I have lots of emotions in need of processing.


First of all, I need to vent. Today has been an odd day. (Or worse yet, perhaps it was normal!) Throughout the day, at least five different people have commented on at least five different occasions about how incredibly short I am.

Gee. Wow. How insightful. I really hadn't noticed.

Walking into ward choir practice this morning, some lady commented on how I looked just like a little kid as I scurried along the sidewalk to church. She went on and on about how the sight of me running made her laugh and brightened up her morning.

So glad to be of service. If anyone else needs a good chuckle at my expense, I'm happy to volunteer.

Walking out of stake choir practice this evening, a group of women were fretting over what colors to wear for our upcoming performance of Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus." Before I know it, they've singled me out. Voice dripping withing concern, one says: "What we're really worried about is you, dear. Perhaps we can get a stool for you to stand on."

Gosh, thanks. Just what I've always wanted. Maybe the conductor can just give me his podium, and we'll all be set.

And thus, I've come to the inevitable conclusion that the only way I'll ever truly belong is to become a Hobbit. (Wink, wink.)


As much as I openly joke about my height, there are moments when the joke runs old. Days like today are hard, not because they make me feel small, but because they make me feel lonely.

"Huh?", you say. "Small-talk is harmless conversation. At least people are noticing you. Why would it make you feel lonely?"

But that's just it. Small-talk is evidence that nobody is actually noticing me. Believe it or not, I'm much more than my diminutive stature. These passing comments are alienating because they show how nobody's bothering to look beyond the packaging to the real person who lies beneath.

Have you ever noticed how when you are with a really good friend, you don't even notice what they look like anymore? Short of tall, fat or thin, you see their spirit instead of their physical shell.

I left behind a few such kindred spirits in Illinois--lifelong friends. Here in St. George, I'm still searching for that connection. Until I find it, a hole deep inside feels kind of empty, reminding me that I'm...



Recently I've done some reflecting on what's changed to make it more challenging to make friends here in St. George. These are a few of the things I've come up with.

1) It's Mormon Utah.

Now wait a second, before you start bristling, please realize that I'm not dissing the religion, nor the state. I love them both. My Mormon heritage is an inextricable piece of my identity that shapes who I am today and the person I hope to become. Growing up outside of Utah, however, my religious beliefs were always seen as unusual, unique, distinguishing characteristics. I always felt a deep sense of connectedness whenever I met someone else who was LDS because we shared something rare. While these encounters didn't always blossom into friendships, the building blocks were there.

Here in St. George, 70% of the population is LDS. By moving into the religious majority, I've somehow lost some of the personal connectedness that I used to feel. Being "Mormon" is no longer a unique, common bond. Rather, church sometimes seems like a neighborhood block party. Upon meeting someone new, the first question everyone asks is exactly where they live. I'm not sure I enjoy being identified by my home.

2) Our ward congregation is big--really big. Jason and I finally located our names on page 8 of the Sunday School roll. This is challenging for me as one who gets overwhelmed by crowds and prefers small, intimate settings.

3) We're too old to be young, and too young to be old. At the moment, our family kind of falls into an awkward stage of life where we're not transient students anymore, but nobody really views us as established. In general, our neighborhood consists of young families who are renting apartments, and older families with big houses. At the moment, our family doesn't really fit into either of these categories.

4) We've opted to send our daughter to a different school with diverse students. Since we've opted Brooklyn into a dual immersion program, she doesn't attend the same elementary school as the rest of the neighborhood kids.

5) It's not Champaign-Urbana. "Duh," you say. "Aren't you glad?" Geographically, absolutely. But sometimes I miss the ambiance of a university town. I miss the graduate student families. The nebulous "lab" that sucked in half the community. The intellectual bend to conversations, even in the children's section of the library. Recently I was talking to another Mom at the park when her kid used the word "growed." I began to jabber on about this piece of evidence suggesting constructivist grammar in first language acquisition as opposed to B.F. Skinner's ideas about behaviorism or Chomsky's ideas on universal grammar.

As this poor Mom's eyes began to gloss over, I had an ah-hah epiphany. In Champaign-Urbana, such blabber sets you apart as quirky, but kind of cool. In the heat of St. George, you are simply a nerd.

6) It's not Winfield Village. Now, I'm sure all of you living in Winfield are probably scoffing right now. A few months ago and I would have been scoffing with you. However, with a whopping four months of wisdom gleaned from living in the "real world," I wish I'd relished the experience a bit more instead of itching to move on. I miss the friendly chats in the mailroom, the thoughtful conversations in the park, the extemporaneous sympathy in the parking lot when your child throws a tantrum. In short, I miss having friends.

I never realized how much I would value Winfield as a great equalizer. Sure, there were slight moments of envy for three-bedrooms or painted walls, but for the most part, we were all in a similar place. And we were happy with that. Dirt poor, but the experiences brought us together.


Even as I write these musings, I realize that there's no turning back. Winfield wasn't magic, Illinois wasn't perfect; rather, these places were made special by the people and the relationships. I trust that with time, patience, and a little courage, we will look back on St. George with the same wishful longing.

So now, I'm looking for wisdom from the many of you who have walked this path before. How have you crossed the bridge between stranger and friend? How do you go about building positive relationships in a new place? Ultimately, how do you fill the void when you feel lonely?

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Special Requests for Santa

Brooklyn came home from school with the following wish list for Santa Claus:

- a cinpudr (a computer)
- a rel prisus foon (a real princess phone)
- a big bag of cand (a big bag of candy)
- mune (money)
- a prinsus bed (a princess bed)
- a cat
- to be qwen (to be queen)

Nothing like ambition!

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Three French Ants?

For the past week, Brooklyn has been running around the house practicing the 12 Days of Christmas for an upcoming school program.

Unlike the traditional version, her interpretation involves such unique gifts as "Three French Ants" and "Two Turtle Ducks."

Should make for an interesting holiday season...

Sunday, December 05, 2010


Blogging always becomes a little more scarce this time of year. As the season speeds up, we're simply too busy living life to have much time to blog about it.

Even so, I wanted to record a few memorable things that the kids have said. The hilarious comments come pouring out so quickly that they are forgotten if I don't write them down.

Background: The day before Thanksgiving, we were taking family pictures and trying to get everyone to smile.

Eli: Cheeeeeeese!

Believe it or not, this is Eli's first word, spoken with a great degree of intentionality. While our little man generally doesn't perform on command, with this new trick he'll generally oblige when we pop out the camera. Say cheese!

Background: Brooklyn and Talia were in the back seat of the car as we drove past the temple, speculating about the current location of Jesus while simulatenously recollecting a recent trip to the planetarium. Brooklyn (the self-acclaimed expert) has just explained it all when I overheard Talia seeking clarification:

Talia: So you mean the earth is rolling around on Jesus?

Our future mathematician.

Brooklyn: How many sides does a stop sign have?
Mom: What do you think?
Brooklyn: Just a second, let me see.
Draws a perfect octagon.
Brooklyn: Eight.

Brooklyn: How much do you love me?
Mom: A billion
Brooklyn: A billion billions?
Mom: Naw, just a billion.
Brooklyn: But Mom, a billion billions is lots more! It's like, you have groups of billions. A billion, a billion, a billion---a billion of them!

Guess it's time to break out the multiplication.