About Time

Two days ago it was high summer. Hot still air filled with the buzz of cicadas and the smothering, shimmering heat that brings mirages on the horizon. This morning, fall is here. In the middle of the night, I pulled my blanket over me, and found all of my children huddled under months-forgotten covers in the pre-dawn light. Cool air poured in the flung-open summer windows, so useless two days ago, now causing me to ponder pulling them closed.

Over my sundress I shrugged on a pink cardigan, and padded to the kitchen in barefeet. Fall is pouring in the windows, changing the sunlight, and heavy on the slow, breezy air. Crispness hangs on the outskirts of the vision- if you look too fast, it’s gone- but it’s there, like a dim star at night. Hello, fall… you’re a little late this year. It’s okay- all the seasons have been a little behind, and I don’t mind. But I’m glad to see you just the same.

A Shaggy Summer Story Ends

Back in the spring, I made a deal with my boys: after much complaining and wailing and gnashing of teeth, they could grow their hair all summer. It took all my self-control to keep from taking the clipper to them some nights in their sleep, but I did it- I honored my promise. Today, the bill came due. We started out like this:

And ended up like this:

And this:

Tenth Eve

Gravel crunches under her flip-flops as she navigates the edge of the driveway, looking both ways out of sheer habit down the empty street. It’s 87 degrees near midnight, but she clutches the light robe over her slip, lest any sleepless neighbors note her lack of proper clothing. It’s too hot for layers, and a sheen of sweat beads on her neck and lazily trails down between her shoulders and the straps of her slip.

Why is the mailbox across the street? she wonders again. These days she retrieves the mail maybe once a week- there is seldom good mail anymore- only bills and people wanting things she cannot deliver. Mail stops being fun when you live on the edge. Last week a postcard came from Pennsylvania. That was a happy trip- this time she is hoping and absently praying there will be something mixed in with the junk and bills that she can put on the table to surprise her son.

Boys don’t turn ten every day, and a boy should have something to surprise him when he bounds out of bed to celebrate his first decade. Fishing deep into the dark mailbox, she grits her teeth and hopes no spiders have made a home amid the crunched up letters and folded junkmail- perhaps more than once a week is necessary. It’s dark, and she’s not sure, but it feels like there might be a birthday card mixed in there. Clutching the pile of mail to her chest, watches the sky as she flip-flops back towards Little House.

Dry lightning sparks across the sky, matching the disquiet in her heart. Tipping her face skyward, she hopes for rain, but catches little hope on the hot night air. The kitchen light twinkles through the open window, and she pulls herself up the steps back into the cumulative contained heat of the day held inside her small kitchen.

There is not one card, but two, for her boy. She exhales relief, and adds the two cards to the pile of M&M cookies on the cake stand she decorated earlier. The banners she uses for each birthday are strung across the kitchen, and a small sign says “Happy Birthday” in pink and orange circles. It has to be enough for now. Tomorrow she will try harder.

Tomorrow she will make him macaroni and cheese from scratch, per his request, and whatever he wants for breakfast. She will bake a cake and add the oppressive heat of the oven to the un-air-conditioned Little House. She will run to the store and find him a small gift that won’t satisfy the cravings for X-Box, or iPods, or Wii games, but will hopefully please him nonetheless.

She hits the lights on the now happy-looking kitchen and makes her way down the small hallway to her boys’ room. Bare feet feel their way around the landmine of Lego pieces, and she bends down to kiss the rosy cheeks of her giant sleeping boy. How did a decade pass and her cherubic copper-headed baby turn into this giant man-child who shares clothing sizes with her? She brushes the haystack of red curls from his face and presses her lips to his freckled forehead. He doesn’t stir, deep in the arms of sleep.

Stepping back she lands on a Lego and smacks her head on the top bunk. She stifles a cry, but the boy stretches and rolls and cracks one eye at her. She smiles and rubs her head, and he mumbles, “Love you too, mom” as he rolls over and sprawls on his stomach in front of his whirring fan.

She stands in the darkness looking at her boy. Lightning flashes outside, and the hum of fans floats in from all rooms. She had never said a word… but he had seen her and assumed her love. Maybe she’s doing something right after all.

Returning and Reporting: Ohio Edition

Yes, I am still alive. I know. I’ve been off galavanting around the country this summer, made possible by grants from people who love me despite my many faults and my empty pockets. My best cousin Heather got married in Ohio last week, and thanks to some generously proffered airline miles, I was able to hop a flight at visit as close to the Eastern seaboard as I’ve ever stepped.

Ohio is a lovely, lovely place. My family lives in the tiny but historically packed town of Oberlin, and I thoroughly loved the little place. It’s beyond charming, and Oberlin college, the heart of the town, is beautiful. My aunt Crazy Chicken Annie (anyone who’s been reading Dandelion for any amount of time known CCA) relocated from California to Oberlin earlier this summer, and I was able to stay with her in her fabulous farmhouse with all her creatures. There was even a bat, but I’ll have to tell that story another time…

The first morning I woke up, this was the view out the window. Ohio is lovely…

We spent the next days getting ready for the wedding, making airport runs and reuniting with people I love but had not seen in eons. I also spent a great deal of time trying to get my hair to not take up all the vacant space in the known universe- the humidity was UNREAL. I finally resorted to just putting it up and trying to forget that I looked like a sharpei whose tail had wound up in a 220v socket.

Auntie Heather was radiant and very calm for a woman about to get married. We spent the day before the wedding hanging out in the little resort town of Huron with friends and family on Lake Erie.

As a western girl, familiar only with the Northern Pacific for my body of water, this lake was curious, in both its fresh-water-ness and in it’s odd warmth. I’m not used to a body of water large enough for tides and waves to not be cold enough to freeze my patootie off despite the late summer sun. I walked along the shores and talked with friends while I collected shells and stones for my kids. I really wished they could have been there this day- they would have loved the warm, calm, incredibly blue-green water.

Heather was stunning and the wedding was a blast- held at an artist’s retreat, complete with a giant tent, costumed photo booth, smores down by the river, torches and fireflies lighting the paths, woodfired pizza, and dancing late into the balmy night, it was one of the most beautiful wedding and parties I’ve ever been to. It was a joy to be there for her amazing day, and the family she has married into might be some of the coolest most wonderful people ever- she did well- and they are so blessed to have her.

That’s what I’ve been up to…

Perseverance Pays Off

For weeks now I’ve been battling with Financial Aid at the University- and I know everyone has their own horror stories of the special level of unhelpful hell that is college fin/aid- so I’ll spare you mine. But finally this morning, children in tow, yet another trip out there, I emerged victorious, holds lifted, and funds set to clear for fall. I felt like Will Smith in Independence Day when he was dragging the parachute behind him in the desert.

The kids and I ran over to Senior Hall, where I was meeting with a new advisor, after placing a hex on my previous inept nincompoop. My new advisor provided me more concrete information in thirty minutes with three kids dancing around the desk than my old one did in five full quarters of college. We went over everything, and I have a written plan of exactly what I need to do EACH quarter between now and Spring in order to graduate in June. Before this week, I wasn’t even sure how many credits I had, and what applied to my major. Like I said, he was a nincompoop.

When I left my New and Improved Advisor’s office this morning, I had all my classes registered, winter and spring quarters laid out, my senior capstone reserved, and graduation slated. It was freaking amazing! Unreal what a little competence can do.

I can take the GRE in the spring, and while my course-load is going to be heavy between now and then (but I’m a college Senior so that’s kinda expected, right?) in June I should be walking in robes, a mortarboard, and hopefully with a tassel or three.

It’s the most hopeful I’ve felt in a long time. Now I need to start looking at Grad Schools. 3.92 is good, right? Anyone want to write me some letters of recommendation? 😉


For the last three days, with only a pocket of exceptions, I seem to have fallen prey to the unstoppable need to sleep. If I’m busy, I’m okay- floppy and without sparkle, but at least awake. But if I sit down? or flop on the bed? Forget it. I’m out. Zonked.

How long of a hangover can you have from a RockStar and a Five Hour Energy? Because this is ridiculous. I’d be umbraged, but I’m going to take a nap instead.

Road Trip Stories

In the car for eleven plus hours on our way from Utah back to Washington, there were bound to be some interesting conversations. Oh, there was pinching, bickering and bugging too- but there was also plenty of chatter brought on by the forced confinement and perhaps aided by the RockStar energy drink I mistakenly consumed.

Somewhere in Montana, Bean chimes in from the backseat…

“Mom! I have to go potty! It’s a poo-squirrel!!”

Cue record-scratching noise in my head. “Huh??” Dare I ask? “Bean? Uh… what’s a ‘poo-squirrel’?”

“You know when you have to poo, and it hurts and feels like its gonna come out but if you hold it and don’t let it come out, it kind of goes away after a few minutes? That’s a poo-squirrel.” He’s looking out the window peacefully. Jeffrey is now snorking into his pillow in the front seat in an effort not to laugh, but he loses the battle in an enormous, red-faced mirth-filled  guffaw.

“POO SQUIRREL!!!!” Bwahahahahahahaha HAHA HAHAHAH!!!!

Bean, kicking Jeffrey’s seat but laughing too “WHAT?! That’s what it feels like! You know! When you gotta hold it but it wants out?”

Twisting around in his seat, Jeffrey asks the obvious but unfortunate question “How many squirrels have you had in your butt, Bean?” Snort! BWAhahahaha!!!

Oh dear. I think this is where I actually need to be the mom- but if I open my mouth, I’m totally going to laugh too. “That’s enough…!” I try and choke out, but I’m laughing now too.

So we made up a song about the Poo Squirrel. The words are lost to the road-trip gods, but suffice it to say, it was highly inappropriate in every possible way, and we laughed to tears.

How does your family do on Road Trips? And more importantly, do you understand the poo-squirrel?

Wishing for Time In Zion

Somewhere in my head I had this idea that I’d have wide swaths of unfettered time here in Utah. Go ahead and laugh- but a whole week just seemed like so much- at first. Now, it’s Friday morning and I’ve been running around all week trying to fit ten pounds of fun in a five pound bag.

Wednesday at the park was lovely, and then I followed up with dinner with two of my favorite bloggy-friends and their families. It was beyond enjoyable, and I love them more now than I thought possible- and their charming husbands and delightful children were fun. I was late to my after-dinner date because I was enjoying myself and our kids were having so much fun chasing the dozens of dragonflies around the backyard.

I wish I’d taken some pictures at the park- anyone have any they could email me? Thanks again to everyone who showed up and hung out.

Scrapping a date, I opted to call some girlfriends and hang out in Salt Lake City one night, where we ended up, after perusing the nightlife, in a diner having pie at midnight. It was such a treat to sit with women I love and have unfettered conversation- and while I had to abstain from the actual pie, I would love to have another Pie Date.

My kids got to go to one of the multitude of water parks sprinkled throughout the SL and UT valleys. The joys of fair redheaded skin means we have peeling and blisters, despite sunshirts and SPF 70- but no one seems to care. My friend Katie took them while I had meetings in SLC, and I wish I could have been in two places at once.

The sealing I attened at the Mount Timpanogos Temple on Thursday morning was simply lovely. The temple was packed- I’m used to our little small temple, and that one is a large, hustling hive of activity. Nauvoo retains my personal preference as favorite, but the wedding itself was lovely. I wish I’d had time to go to the reception.

After the wedding, Heather O and The Wiz met me for lunch in Provo with Little Sister. They both happened to be in town for respective family stuff, so we had three of the four corners of the country represented at our lunch table. Two really amazing women, and I wish I had more time to spend with both of them.

My friend Katie and her husband are amazing people- and they hosted and loved us all week. I’m not sure how I got so lucky to have the amazing friends I have, but I’m not looking a gift-horse in the mouth. I’m flat-out grateful. Next time, Katie and I are gonna try for more kid-free time and maybe a girl’s night out. Next time…

The kids and I hit up Temple Square last night on our way north to the mountains where we are retreating for the weekend. We lucked into choir practice, and Bean just about jumped out of his skin when the organ started suddenly. It was wonderful. We wandered around and did all the TS things until it was dark, and then headed out. I wish we’d had more time- but going in the evening was lovely- it was cool, breezy and dry lightning lit the cloudy skies. It felt like balmy heaven. Even Bean commented on how much he liked being on the grounds. Would have liked to frozen that moment in time.

We now find ourselves at a retreat in the mountains near Ogden with a group of friends who have flown in from all over the country. I have three academic-ish presentations in the next two days at Weber State University, and am looking forward to meeting some people I’ve had intellectual crushes on for years. There will also be much food and many children playing and running amok at the retreat. My kids are in heaven. Wish we had more time.

Playing at Pioneer Park in Provo!

Hey everyone, come join us Wednesday from 11-3:00 at Pioneer Park in Provo. My friend Katie, her boys, and all of us Dandelions will be spreading our blankets under the shade and taking over the park. We plan on bringing sack lunches and just hanging out while the offspring run amok and practice benign neglect. Come toss down a blanket and plop down your behind. Crack a diet Coke with me and let’s hang out!