Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Scenes

Yesterday afternoon #3 and I were roaming the aisles of Target as I slyly added things to my basket, hoping #3 didn't notice. Christmas was definitely on her mind as evidenced by her singing, unabashedly at the top of her lungs, "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."

#3 has her own lyrics that go something like this: bout the other reindeer? used to laugh and call him names
.... then one froggy Christmas Eve
... if you ever saw it you would even say it globed

...over and over again. She doesn't quite know the order of the lines or exactly how to end the song.

So there we were in Target. We turned down one crowded, wider aisle and suddenly, like one of those 'spontaneous' musicals you see on You-Tube, a random lady who had been earnestly searching the boys pajama rack, whipped around and joined in singing the chorus of "Rudolph." Within seconds a few more shoppers who had apparently overheared #3's singing quickly joined in the song. Surprisingly, #3 wasn't embarrassed by the attention but encouraged by it. She sang louder and with bodily animation (all while sitting in the front of the cart). People stopped shopping and turned to watch the impromptu show. When the song ended, the on-lookers clapped and laughed. A few people across the way yelled, "That's the Christmas spirit!" and "She's a performer!" Then a lady approached us. She had tears and a smile on her face. "I can't tell you how happy that made me."

The crowd dispersed, but the fullness in my heart didn't for quite some time. I kept thinking about all the things that divide us (the people on my street or in my town or in my state or in my country or in the world). There are so many differences, so much that make us enemies. Sometimes these things get me down and I wonder how we, the collective people on earth, are going to pull through.

I guess that's why I was moved by what happened at Target. There was nothing unifying us but a three year old singing (and our love for cheap-chic only found at Target). And for a few moments, total strangers shared something special and joyful.

I don't know what the answers are, but I know they have something to do with children, hope, love, joy.... and Target.

More scenes of Christmas at our house

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Deep thoughts and #1's baptism

Tonight after the other kids were asleep I found #1 in her dark room, huddled over her scriptures with a flashlight. "Mom, can you read this to me?" She was reading Song of Solomon from the new Bible she received at her baptism.

"Uh, wouldn't you like me to read you something else?" (Have you ever read Song of Solomon? Not exactly eight year old material.)

"I think you and Dad are the tooth fairy."

"Uh, what?!? What made you think about that tonight?"

"Well I was thinking about how I don't believe in magic. Like it's impossible for reindeer to fly. Maybe there are birds holding up the reindeer. Why can't birds pull Santa's sleigh? They fly? How can anyone know? I mean, maybe Santa's suit is green? Maybe everything we know about Santa is wrong!"

"You're right. No one really knows anything about Santa. How about we read your scriptures now. Would you like me to read to you about Jesus' birth?"

So we read Luke 2 and when it was over she hugged me and pulled my face close for a kiss. "Thanks for reading that to me mom."

That pretty much says everything about my intellectual and analytical yet believing and faithful firstborn.

She was baptized by her own choice in the Logan Tabernacle on a very cold day in November. She felt sheepish in the white jumpsuit, as did Spouse. But she earnestly listened to the talks on baptism and the Holy Ghost. She was moved by the special music arranged by my sister. And when it came time to go under the water she didn't just go under, she jumped up and went under.

While I helped #1 into her beautiful baptism dress and braided her wet hair, the men in the chapel were anxiously occupied in striving to drain the font.

#1 was truly radiant as she sat to be confirmed and receive the Holy Ghost.

When the baptism was over, people were hungry and it was time to party. My dear father in law treated the entire group to a real fiesta at our favorite mexican joint.

It was a happy, happy day for our family.

Fiesta time!

If you are in any of the photographs below: Thank you for coming and sharing our special day with us!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The best laid plans always fail

The plan was to wake up early Sunday morning (4:45 for me) and be pulling out of our driveway by 6:00 am. I had made sack lunches for everyone so we could avoid wasting time (and money) stopping for lunch. The plan was to be in Cache Valley around dinner time, eating a delicious meal my mother would have warm and waiting for us.

The plan was to make this miserable drive as quick as possible.

Nothing went according to plan. Except for me waking up at 4:45 and having lunches ready for everyone. We left our house at 6:50, a little late, but still OK.

It was snowing and blowing hard when we arrived in Flagstaff, but confident and safe in our 4 wheel drive Jeep, we hadn't lost any time.

I passed out our lunches somewhere between Paige and Kanab, feeling good about keeping on the road and not using precious daylight waiting in line at Wendy's.

In Kanab Spouse took over behind the wheel and we immediately drove into the wicked winter storm of the west. There was no warning. Cloudy but dry skies suddenly turned dark and snowy. The snow was piling up fast and there was nary a snow plow on the road.

If we had been the only car traveling that highway we would have been fine, but unfortunately there were about 8,000 semi trucks on that road that had also been caught in the sudden storm and they weren't doing so well. Every corner we turned there was another one stuck on a hill, pulled onto the side of the road or even worse, crashed into the mountain side. We were lucky to break 12 mph.

On one very steep and windy stretch we came upon a semi truck that must have hit some ice and had skidded perpendicular across the highway, blocking all lanes of traffic. We waited on that hill for quite some time before police came and attempted to direct the truck driver to back down that icy, snowy, hill with twenty cars sitting in it's path, all vulnerable to the danger.

When we finally arrived in Panguitch we were relieved and felt confident that now we would definitely make good time . Thirty minutes later we were on I 15 going 75 mph, and it felt like we were definitely moving again. But oh no! What's this? Brake lights ahead? No!

Yes. We came to a stop and shifted into park. There we stayed for the next four hours of lives. The snow built up around us. We watched a few movies, drank all of our water and ate all of our snacks. The kids went crazy, "We want to play in the snow!" We listened to Christmas music. We talked on the phone. We tried to find out what the heck was going on but according to the Utah Highway patrol, the road was dry and there was no traffic.

Good thing I had woken up at 4:45. Good thing I had saved us all that time with our packed lunches.

Night fell and the snow kept piling up. We were feeling desperate. How much longer could this go on? There were certain people in our car that needed to use the facilities. There were certain people in our car that couldn't wait any longer and was desperate enough to go outside behind a blanket that Spouse held up. And it may or may not have been the very moment that traffic started moving. Four hours of stand still, and this, this was the moment cars started to move.

Spouse was a champion and continued driving the remainder of the trip. This was a good thing because I kept dozing off even though I had promised Spouse to stay awake and keep him company. Every now and then I would snap out of my daze and yell in turrets-like fashion, "Are you awake?" or "You doing OK?"

In our delirium, Spouse coined a new word for the weather conditions we were driving in, an equal mix of snow and fog: fnow or snog. It doesn't sound very funny now, but at midnight in our manic state we were rolling (not literally) with laughter.

We arrived at my mother's house, freezing but thankfully in one piece, at 1:00 am. In the last 8 1/2 years we have made the drive from Phoenix to Cache Valley many, many times. But the time we drove to Utah for Thanksgiving in 2010 will undoubtedly go down in history as the worst drive, in the whole world and the entire universe.

(thank goodness it was balanced by the best time we had that week. more on that. stay tuned)