Saturday, November 28, 2015

My first car

Almost two months ago I entered a contest where I was supposed to write about my first car. I don't know if winners have been selected or not, but I wanted to share the story I wrote here for posterity's sake. It is, after all, a fun story. ;)

My dad was giddy when he picked out my car. Ever the vintage Volkswagen enthusiast, the prospect of his daughter driving a cherry 1976 Super Beetle made him glow with pride. As a beginner stick-shift driver I appreciated the cars forgiveness as I stuttered and stalled through my first few manual-driving lessons. Eventually I was a pro, and I would confidently zip around town in my eye-catching, brick red Beetle. After learning to surf I affixed a "toes-on-the-nose" surf girl decal on the back window, and placed my bobble-hipped hula girl on the dash.

The summer I was seventeen I approached my dad about a couple of things. The oil light was flickering, and there was a funny gasoline smell in the car every morning. My dad, a busy airline pilot, said he'd check it out, but I don't remember if that actually happened. After a few weeks the oil light stopped flickering. Fluke problem, I assumed. But the gas smell.... It didn't go away, and I knew I wasn't imagining things because my sisters and friends smelled it, and complained, too.

One day, on the way home from my history class at the local community college, the fuel gauge did something weird: it went from half tank to quarter tank in the two minutes it took me to make the drive home. Now I was worried, and I went to Dad and told him, again, that the smell was weird and I lost a quarter tank between class and home. That got his attention. I drove the family car the next few days, and Dad took the car to the airport for his next trip. First he had to make a stop at the gas station. The closest gas station was barely a mile away, but that quarter tank barely lasted him. He rolled into the station dead out of gas. He filled up, and then hopped onto the freeway. Not even a mile on the freeway and he watched the needle on the gas gauge go from full to empty. The Beetle ran out of gas before he got off the freeway. Fortunately, the exit ramp allowed him to roll downhill into another gas station. Before refilling, he popped the back open to check on the engine and watched as gasoline splashed all over the engine from the fuel line. It had come disconnected and needed a new ring to keep it attached to the intake valve. I'd been driving around all summer with a loose gas line.

Dad got back from that trip, told me how he'd fixed it, then handed me a small fire extinguisher. "Just in case" he said and he showed me how to use it. I looked it over and hoped I wouldn't need it.

The next night, on my way home from a friend's house late at night, a pokey driver was making me crazy and I went to pass him. But all of the sudden my Beetle wouldn't accelerate. At all. Slightly confused I glanced in my rearview mirror - and there were flames.

I still have no idea how I got out of the car, but somehow I pulled onto the side of the road, got out of the car, grabbed the fire extinguisher from my back seat, popped the ring, and was shooting CO2 through the vents over the engine within seconds.

I didn't have a phone on me (this was the age before all kids had cell phones by 12), so I flagged down a passing car and hitched a ride to home with a nice woman and her two boys. Dad went and picked up the car with our trailer, and we took it to a VW doctor. A loose wire in the engine caused the flickering oil light and that, coupled with the fuel leak, had triggered the flames. My Super Beetle was lucky. I'd acted so quickly that the engine was saved. A week or so later and I was back in my little red car, this time without any fuel line leaks and the oil light wire securely in place.

To this day weird car smells scare the tar out of me. I look for flames first.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Last Saturday Jonathan graduated from Red Phase into White Phase. He was supposed to get a call home. Apparently his unit lost those privileges because he didn't call. I was hoping for a call today.... EVERY time the phone buzzed in church I'd check it. My family had a series of funny texts and, while I usually don't check my phone during church, I saw them all today and had a hard time keeping a straight face through Relief Society.

I led choir practice again today. We've got five Sundays to our big performance. I'm feeling better about things, the two big choir pieces are shaping up nicely with little effort. Yay. The other two pieces have been turned into smaller ensemble pieces with hand-picked singers. Those I am worried about.

 I watched a friend's little girl on Tuesday and Friday. I've done that for a long time. She's always a lot of fun to have around. Andrea especially likes having K around because she likes doing girly things with her that she can't do with her brothers. She asked for a baby sister. She said she always wants a hand to hold. So cute. (-.-)  She asked again for a baby sister on Thursday. Let me tell you a little bit about Thursday...

I have a job interview on Monday, but it has been so long since I have had to go in for a job interview that I didn't really have any clothes appropriate for an interview. I had some things I was going to just make work, but then Mom told me to go get something, she'd help out. So Peter and I went Thursday morning and were as thrifty and careful as possible picking out some clothes. I felt like I was on "What Not to Wear". I tried on a ton of things, but was super picky because I was trying to follow all the fashion "rules" out there. After four hours I found some of what I needed, but Peter felt like it would be the perfect moment to exactly disobey everything I asked of him. "Peter, come hold my hand!" and he'd RUN and hide in the clothes. "Peter, stop spitting" and he'd drop to the floor and lick it. I had to haul him out of one store in the football hold. And he just got worse as the day went on. We had to pick up the kids. He spent twenty minutes kicking and hitting so I couldn't get his shoes on. For those of you think I just wasn't being tough enough... no. Peter is really strong, and really fast. It is a workout to physically force him to do something he doesn't want to do. And at that moment getting his shoes on was the last thing he wanted to do. And so it went, as we ran around trying to get the last of my errands finished he just raised a little hell everywhere we went. By bedtime I was so beyond exhausted. And driving home from practicing a special musical number I for today, Andrea asked, yet again, for a baby sister. Peter was in his carseat screaming, I was ready to cry, and David was terribly short and cranky. So I said, "You either get a sister or a puppy, which one do you want??" Peter and David jumped on board the puppy train. Andrea wanted both at first, but after a half hour decided on a puppy. I'm so down for that.

My birthday present from my parents came in early! I LOVE IT!!! The kids like it too. David wants to get back to piano lessons. And I'm just happy to have something to play after the kids go to bed to unwind. It fits perfectly in our tiny apartment. It makes me giddy how perfectly it fits.

So I have felt for a while that my hair was getting a little out of control. Kinda like this:

In preparation for my interview I wanted to get my hair trimmed. Mom had a few suggestions, and I asked Emma for some advice (Great Clips or no?). I got it trimmed up yesterday. I tried a nicer salon in town, but I was a short notice walk-in and only had a sitter for an hour. They couldn't take me, so off to Great Clips I went. The lady took an INCH off my hair. I know that doesn't sound like a lot, but I've been growing my hair out for almost three years and every inch was hard won. I feel like my hair grows so slowly!! I told her to add more layers, and she worked quickly. It was a cheap, fast job. I didn't get it shampooed or styled, but it got the nasty, crusty, brittle ends off. I threw it back in a bun for the rest of the day and forgot about it until this morning. After I'd washed it and put my goop in it I realized that no layers were added. Because I didn't want to take off length the lady said she didn't want to shorten the layers too much because it would give my hair an odd shape. I guess that makes sense. But when I saw it this morning I realized absolutely nothing had changed and the layers ended up really odd and aren't blended like I thought they would be. I'm afraid to fix it I'd have to really shorten my hair, something I had really wanted to avoid. At least my hair isn't as ratty at the ends, but otherwise it didn't get any of the lift I'd hoped layers would give it. Oh well. Live and learn. I'll do the best with it that I can tomorrow for my interview. I'm sure in another eight months I'll go to another salon and get the right cut. Whatever that is. It is back in another bun with my hair stick. That seems to be the state of things as of late...

I miss Jonathan. I have no idea how he is doing, or what he is doing. We didn't get a letter at all this week. Last letter we got was on the 4th, dated the 1st. We'll see if we get anything this week.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Friends and Famil

Today I am grateful for friends and family. Without them I wouldn't be where I am today. I figured this would be a good time to get wedding pictures from last month posted because it contains a random sampling of the people in this world that have changed my life and brightened it in often unexpected ways.

There are so many other people I wish I could put up here, but I was horrible getting my phone out and taking pictures. I'll steal some off of Facebook soon and post them later.

Today was the Primary Program at church. The two big kids did very well. The songs were pretty, the message was great. Peter had an epic meltdown the last ten minutes of the program, so I missed the last songs and speakers. Then I walked him to nursery and walked out to my car, got in, and spent a while having a good cry.

I've not been letting myself fall apart (not that I do that often), but things have been so beyond stressful. I've not been sleeping, I've not been eating (I keep forgetting), and with the crazy stress and missing I've been feeling lately, in combination with the fatigue and lack of adequate fuel, I just had enough trying to get Peter to stop screaming. So I allowed myself a moment to crack, away from other people and my kids. After I'd settled down enough I grabbed a couple of tissues, put on a smile, and got back to work. And I felt much better, too. :)

I talked to almost everyone I needed to at church today, and I lead choir practice without too many mishaps. In fact, the choir sounds great! It was the first time we'd run Joy to the World and I would let them perform it next week because it sounded that good! Not so for "Once in Royal David's City", but it was a cold run after not having reviewed it for weeks, and just so I could hear the accompaniment for the first time. I have no doubts that it will be sounding amazing before long, too. I'm really looking forward to this Christmas program, I feel like it will be a good one. And if it doesn't touch a single other person's heart, it has touched mine so I am satisfied.

After dinner tonight I gathered the kids around me and we had an impromptu family council. I told them that we really needed three things in our family at the moment: routine, schedule, and cooperation. We defined those things, identified what is part of our routine, and then the kids created a schedule (with some input regarding specific times from me). Then we talked about the importance of cooperation in accomplishing our tasks and sticking to our schedule. I asked if they would be willing to make an extra effort at cooperating and sticking to the schedule. David was enthusiastic in his response, Andi was not. Peter was picking his nose the entire time, so I'm pretty sure he'll be eating glue while we work at a schedule. But after some discussion I think we are all on the same page, and I think having so much input from the kids in the creation of our routine and schedule will help them stay focused. I can always hope, right?

That done the only thing that remained in my day was to get the littles to bed before David and I sat down for a little while just the two of us and a couple of cups of herbal tea. He's getting to be so big, and I can hardly believe it but he's growing up from little boy to young man. He takes his school work very seriously, even if he doesn't like it, and he loves to tell me about what he's been working on, reading, and learning. He just learned the real story of Santa Claus, and thus the tooth fairy and Easter bunny... He's excited to be in on the surprise for the little kids. It wasn't the reaction I was expecting, but there we have it. ... Why did I have to blink?

41 days until Jonathan gets home.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Bear outing

 We enjoyed a wonderful Indian Summer this week. We had highs in the upper 70's, and it was delightful. It just so happened that David's Bear den needed to have a campfire cookout. They roasted hotdogs and we had chili and potatoes followed up by smores.

 The boys learned how to set up and take down a tent. They also worked on some knots.

 Andi and Peter were stoked to spend time around the fire and then run and play around the yard.

 As we were leaving David found a leopard frog. He insisted on getting a picture for dad.

Speaking of Dad, I got this text from him early the next morning. Along with a call saying he was getting his bus ticket home later that morning. He will arrive December 19th. 42 days.

3. Something I see every day: My children. They are making my life so bright and light these last few weeks. They are my delight and joy.

4. Something I do every day: Cleaning. Usually I HATE cleaning, but I've been working on reframing my annoyance over cleaning. I've found fun in rearranging things, making our home better, weeding out more clutter... It is relieving and therapeutic.

5. Transportation: Airplanes. I grew up flying across the country to spend time with family. I have very vivid memories of being on an airplane, rather young, and sitting by kind strangers that kept my mind busy and distracted from nerves and worry. I have memories with extended family, grandparents, aunts, and uncles that came after flying out to see them. The longest flight I was on took me to England, and for my 16th birthday my mom and I took a trip to London. My most recent trip I took with all three of my kids to Texas where, I hope, they had an opportunity to begin forming life-long memories and relationships.

6. Hobbies: quilting. Another therapeutic activity, it helps me take funny little bits of fabric and turn them into beautiful pieces of art. They go to family and friends, warm hugs that I cannot always give in person but can be communicated via a happy quilt.

Speaking of quilts... I've got one I'm working on right now. My craft to Christmas countdown has begun in earnest. :)

Monday, November 2, 2015


Peter and I went on a run this morning. I got the big kids to school and then hit the trails. I needed it. It is most certainly a more healthy method of relieving stress than eating all of the kids' halloween candy. Ha!

Speaking of candy, there is no more in the house. Yay! Peter was far to clever and, no matter where I hid the stuff, he always managed to find a way to it and would chow down before I could stop him.

We found a dentist nearby that we could go in and trade in the candy for $1 per pound. Peter got $2, Andi $3, and David $4. They were each very pleased with their little trades, and I was happy to get rid of the candy. It was making us all far too grumpy.

We live in a beautiful part of the country. When we first moved here it was early September, and very quickly the leaves began to change. I'd never seen this kind of change, though. There were so many trees, and so many variations of the vibrant reds, yellows, and oranges. It was absolutely breathtaking.

As we drove out to our errands today the wind was blowing swiftly, whipping the leaves up off the trees and into the air. It looked like large confetti, fluttering around and raining into the street. It was so pretty, and I wished I had an extra moment to watch it.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

No tricks, all treats

 The kids were adorable, of course. And they stayed toasty warm in their little robes the entire time. I, on the other hand, froze. Ice cube. That was me. I wore my good winter coat, and would have been warm enough had the night stayed nice, but then it started to rain. Not drizzle. Rain. The kids stayed dry except around the hems of their robes and pants. When we got back and I had peeled their robes off they were totally dry, and then I was soaked through. And cold. Oh well. The kids had fun getting their candy, and I had fun walking them around. They were well behaved and happy.

We carved our pumpkins before dinner, and they happily glowed a welcome for us as we walked home. I wasn't sure if their little flames would survive the rain and wind but they did. We saw them, all lit, from down the street and we were all so glad to see them.

In an effort to help myself remain positive, I started specifically hunting for silver linings. As luck would have it, silver linings are shiny and easy to spot most of the time. A tradition I started a few years ago was to take November and have days of gratitude. It seemed just natural to incorporate it into my shiny silver hunt. I found a good list, different from last year, and I'll work from it this month.

So today I am thankful for my home. It is a happy, cosy place. I fall more and more in love with it all the time. I'm navigating the crooked corners in my sleep now, and I'm happy here. It will keep us warm during the winter, and is cool during the summer. But more importantly there are happy little ones who fill the home with laughter and love. And cranky whining, but I can't have perfection all the time now can I? :)