Monday, October 17, 2016

It Really Is Hard

Benson had fabulous bed head this morning.
I enjoyed it.
Being a Mom is hard. In fact, I think it's the hardest thing I ever have done or ever will do. There is no taking time off from being a Mom. It is a constant demand for patience and selflessness, and I will just be honest here -- sometimes I don't have patience and often I am very selfish. So this is just a stretch of monumental effort, all the time, for the rest of my life. Would I ever change it? No. Never. But is it okay to admit that it is hard? My Mom seems to do it so gracefully. Will I ever get there? Will I scar my children? Will they be okay? Will I ever be good at this? Will I ever learn to be truly present? I don't know. I pray for the enabling power of the atonement and have faith that the Savior can fill my holes as long as I am truly giving my best effort. 
And I guess if a little Diet Coke helps, I'm going to give myself a break about that, too. Gotta pick my battles here. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016


This girl...
Tonight we were watching a show and the man and woman on the screen were getting a little friendly. I've never seen the show before, so I didn't know how far things were going to go, so I paused it so we didn't see more then we bargained for. Katelyn looked back at me with a smart little smile and said "I know what they're going to do next." She said it with so much authority that I thought "hmmmm," so I invited her to come cuddle with me and tell me just what it was they were going to do next. She laughed and said "I'm not telling you!" I assured her she can tell me anything and there is nothing really embarrassing, but no dice. She wasn't going to budge about what she thought would happen next! Has my six-year-old discovered the birds and the bees? Or did she think they were off to play checkers? These are the parental mysteries of life.
Guess I'll be keeping my ear to the ground. This girl keeps me in my toes!  

Monday, October 10, 2016


What I watched instead of the second presidential debate. Infinitely more satisfying! 
Benson said his first prayer tonight. He loves prayer time, and folds his arms and closes his eyes so vigorously at the beginning of every prayer, wanders and has a great time in the middle, then rushes to shout "amen!" before the one saying the prayer as he hears it coming to a close. It's so cute that it distracts us all! So tonight I decided I'd see if he wanted to try repeating after me to say the prayer himself. Once he realized what I was doing he was so very excited. It basically went "HENLY FAFFER! LOVE EEE! FANK OOOO BLESSINGS! (he takes this opportunity to try to steal my phone) JESUS CHRIST! AAAAAAAAMMMMEEEENNN!!!" Followed by hysterical joyful laughing while jumping up and down and clapping. His siblings gave him a rousing applause of prayer encouragement. It was so. Stinking. Cute. 

We made my grandma's sugar cookies tonight with a stinking delicious cream cheese frosting recipe I just found. It was fun and Liv (my sous chef) and I felt very domestic (as long as I ignored the big mess and and the pials of laundry). Marie for the win. 

This afternoon we went on a walk (minus KJ who had an epic bike crash) and Katelyn gathered stones and twigs and leaves as we walked. She happily told us "When I grow up, I'm going to be a nature person and an artist. I just lloooovvvve nature. I will love being a nature person! I'm going to make really good paintings, too." She makes me happy. 

 A few mornings ago she was laying on her bed crying because it was time to get ready for school, and she just did not feel like school that day. When I went to check on her and Livi she was sobbing "You don't understand, Liv! I've been doing this for TWO YEARS already!!!" 
I didn't break the news to her that she still has many years left on her prison sentence. 
We never lack for drama around here. 

I was doing Olivia's hair in front of the bathroom mirror (her hair is getting so long and thick, and it is such a pretty golden brown -- it is beautiful) and got looking at the wrinkles in my forehead. They are getting quite deep and I pointed out to the Double B that they kind of look like the San Andres fault (which I am proud of). He rolled his eyes, but not Olivia. She patted my hand and said "Mom, maybe it's just a little bit of old lady-ness creeping in."
We cracked up. 
I felt deeply comforted by her words

The quotable moments are my favorite part of parenthood. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Dear Steven

We wrote our oldest nephew Steven a letter last night for FHE. Steven is serving an LDS mission in the great nation of Brazil (a personal favorite of ours). I decided to include the letter as a blog entry, because it's a pretty good summation of our life currently. I like letter writing. We should bring it back.

Dearest Elder B., 
Greetings from your Las Vegas family. We are writing you for Family Home Evening, which just shows that the Lord knows how to make our good intentions  (writing our favorite nephew) a reality (by setting aside a specific time in which to CTR).
We are writing this together, of course, but I will be serving as abridger of this record. Sort of like Mormon, except not really at all. Let's just say, I'll glean out the most important stuff and sometimes add a little narration, i.e. "and thus we see."

The Small Plates of Uncle Double B:
Work is going well for my main squeeze. He is pretty awesome at what he does, even though he won't brag -- I will for him. He is happy that things are cooling down here on the surface of the sun (Sidenote: remember how you just really wanted to go somewhere where it wasn't hot? Funny how that worked out.). Your loving Uncle Double B is wondering how the language is coming and how the beans and rice are treating you? He makes sure we pray for you each and every night (sort of like your own personal prayer police), and they are heartfelt, I assure you. 

The Words of KJ: 
So -- uh -- um -- hi. (KJ is not sure of what to say. That opening is a direct quote.) Things have been going pretty good for KJ, conference was pretty fun for him to listen to (and he did pretty great at listening, I have to say). He has joined Chamber Orchestra with his viola, and we are looking forward to him supporting us in our old age with his magnificent talent. He has a concert coming up on the 10th. That should be stimulating, and I will probably get a little misty-eyed, because that is what happens with Moms. It's weird. Uncle BB hasn't cried at an orchestra concert yet. KJ is really excited for Halloween. He is wondering if there is Halloween in Brazil? Or do only savages live there (my question)?

The Large Plates of Olivia:
Hi, Elder B, from Olivia. Things at school have been "Complicated." They are in groups doing a miniature golf course for a festival they are doing. She is excited for Halloween (I'm teaching my children well). She is going to be a baby that wears a tiara. Please don't copy her costume. Every day at recess she plays tether ball with her best friend Hadley. She and Hadley are pretty much opposites, but somehow, it works. "I mean, I'm this girl that's into dresses and nightgowns and beauty sleep. And Hadley is more of the basketball player. So... we're pretty much from different worlds." This is an excellent example of how the gospel can bring us together. Feel free to use this heartwarming instance in any of your discussions with investigators. "It all works out in the end." -- Olivia. Personally, I testify that it does. "That's all." 

The Large Plates of Katelyn:
Katelyn is rocking first grade. She thinks it is super great to be in first grade. "I mean, I think preschool was way better, because, you know. There was nothing to learn about that. So my nice teacher is Mrs. McComb." Mrs. McComb let me know the other day that she was super excited because Katelyn actually raised her hand and made a COMMENT in class. TWO TIMES. I am always surprised by this, that Katelyn is so shy in social settings, because at home she rules with an iron fist. "I am ready to be in second grade already. I mean, like, in Kindergarten I was ready. And in first grade I'm getting better and better. It's a real privilege. I think that second grade is for ME."
I really don't feel like there is anything I could possibly add to that.

The Miniature Plates of Benson:
Benson has entered the phase that scientists everywhere refer to as "The Terrible Two's." They are terrible, Elder Burdette, I can not lie. Somewhere deep in there is still the native happy temperament of the boy I gave life to. He is happy, unless he is FURIOUS. And he is furious most of the time. I think we're changing his name to "The HULK." It'll be fine. We'll move past this. I've done it before. And maybe you could study psychiatry when you get home, because I'm going to need some therapy at the end of all this. Benson is learning a lot of words. We are most proud that he learned "Oh, Crap" (or "oh, ca-wap," more accurately) from one of the students in my CTR 7 class, and he uses it frequently -- always in the right context. Obviously my child is a genius. That's how I've decided to interpret recent events.

So that's us. I'm good because my children and husband are good, and that makes Marie's everywhere very happy. 
We've missed you, the last couple of weeks especially. Grandpa's funeral was so nice -- I am so thankful he was able to come to your farewell, that is really awesome. He will be missed and is so loved by all of us. The thing I will miss very most about Grandpa is that he was my friend. From the minute Uncle Double B and I got married, he welcomed me into the family and over the years we built a really beautiful friendship. I know that I haven't lost that, he is just my friend in a different place. We have all felt such peace -- peace that only the gospel can bring. And although we have been very sad, we have been just as filled with gratitude to Heavenly Father, that He answered our prayers, and took care of Grandpa.

My days are full of small, crazy children and household chores. It's a pretty wild existence, what can I say.

We love you, Steven Benjamin, and lo, we hope you are doing super awesome in your adopted continent and country. Your mom forwards me your letters and so I get to follow along. And thus we see, that you are obviously the best and you have big fans in the state of Nevada. Love you and type to you soon.

Your Favorite Aunt in the History of All Time (and everybody else that lives in the same house as me),

Marie. And BB. Also KJ. Don't forget Olivia. Then Katelyn. And last but not least, the Hulk.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Celebrating Grandpa Part Three

We headed up Monday night to stay at my Aunt Jan's. Dad's burial service was on Tuesday at eleven in a beautiful cemetery up next to the mountains in Salt Lake.
When we pulled up half an hour early, we were both so touched to see the Honor Guard already in place, holding perfectly still in honor of our Dad. They didn't move until it was time to bring Dad over, and I was extremely touched as they saluted him and stood guard over his body. 
There really was a big turn out and that was neat. 
The service was very touching. Tony conducted and Steve Jr spoke, and then several people made comments, including sweet KJ, who told the story of last April Fool's Day, when Dad asked him four times what he'd done to his arm (he'd wrapped it as a joke) and then laughed joyously every time when KJ said "April Fools." He said how he loved his Grandpa. I was so proud of him. I said how much I'll miss my friend, because that it what Dad was for me -- my friend. The Double B just quickly told the story of the time he accidentally hit Dad in the back with a big log while cutting down a tree and then mentioned how much his Dad has changed over the last couple years, how much he had learned to enjoy little children and had started expressing his love more. We are proud of Dad. When the Honor Guard folded the flag and presented it to Mom and then played "Taps," my heart was truly touched. Dad really, really loved his country and was proud of his service in the military.
Benson just wasn't too sure of any of it, but it did help afterwards when he found his Emily. Emily really does make everything better. (The Double B's big brother Walt is in the background of this picture. He is the youngest son of Dad's older kids.)
My parents drove all the way up to Salt Lake that morning to attend Dad's burial, and I just thought that was truly amazing. My Aunt Jan and Uncle Dennis came and all my aunts and uncles sent a plant, which was so thoughtful. 
After the service Mom B was very sick and we rushed to get her home (as much as you can rush four and a half hours). She has a lot of healing to do, but I know she'll be able to do it with time and distance.
We are all exhausted on a cellular level but thankful for a tender experience and more thankful then we can say that Dad B was ours.
When we got home, I had 106 Benson selfies on my phone. 
And that is pretty great.

Celebrating Grandpa Part Two

During one stop at Grandma's, Benson quickly found Papa's cane, his favorite toy. He kept walking up to Dad's chair with it, so I finally put him on it for a picture. His little hand is resting on Papa's scriptures. What a treasure.
I decided I'd like a little memento and had all the kids get in Grandpa's chair for a picture.
Kate did hers Kate-style. Wouldn't have it any other way.
I couldn't be more thankful these kids come from such a powerful bloodline. 

Celebrating Grandpa Part One

The kids and I headed up to join the Double B on Thursday night. He had left in the very early hours of Wednesday morning and I don't think that time period between could have seemed longer. I was so worried about him that holding down the fort was almost torture -- I knew things needed to be attended to and not having to worry about the kids or anything at home was the best thing I could do for him. But I needed to know that he was okay or not okay or somewhere in between, and I couldn't REALLY know that unless I was with him. This whole experience has been interesting in that it has focused my attention again on how central the Double B is for me and how critical his happiness and well being has become for me. Marriage is a wonderful thing in that way. 
We played games that night at Aunt Sabrina's and it was really wonderful to just be together and laugh and laugh and laugh. We played "Mormon Bridge" and had a great time together. We even put our cards on our foreheads at the end of the round, just for Dad. Family is so powerful, we bolster and strengthen and entertain each other.
KJ was absolutely delighted to learn that he has now outgrown Aunt Megan. He could not have been any happier with himself.
Benson very much gravitated to Grandma and loved her snuggles. He was a little mystified by all the laughing, but it was seriously so awesome. I love these pictures of my favorite boy and his Mom.
It was a great crowd to be in. I also learned that my nephew Josh knows more jokes then any human being in the history of ever. He just kept telling more and more and more! I was truly amazed and entertained.
Here's BB and Mom retelling the story of the time Dad fell over in his chair during a scriptural argument. His feet apparently just levitated for a minute and it was so funny to watch them tell it. BB and I had been laughing all week about the time Dad fell over into the bushes and they seemed to swallow him whole, so this was a good memory to add on top.
We had the viewing the night before and my kids had a really hard time. Uncle Jonnie and Aunt Trina so graciously jumped in and saved the day and came over and took them home to relax with cousins, treats and a movie, and I so appreciate it. Trina even made the Double B his very favorite cinnamon rolls from scratch so he could have them nice and warm that night. They are the very best! At one point at the viewing our brother-in-law John and I were sitting together and he leaned over and said "You know what, B is amazing in lines. He is the absolute best line finisher ever. It should be his job. He's just so great with the people and he could make a career out of this. Honestly, he is a line champion." It cracked me up. John is so funny and it's nice to find things to laugh about in these moments in life. And darned if he wasn't right. The Double B really IS a line champion!
That night the siblings all practiced the song we would sing at the funeral "O My Father," and then the Double B gave such a beautiful prayer. There wasn't a dry eye in the house. We are all so thankful for this good man we got to call "Dad."
The funeral was the next day. All eight of Dad's kids talked and they all did a wonderful job. I was so proud of the Double B. He testified of the Savior and talked very lovingly and well of his Dad. 
There was a nice turnout, especially for someone who was almost 92! Dad was very loved. Even the Double B's old friend Jerry from Costco came. We were both touched by that. 
Life is good. It is hard, but maybe the hard is what helps make it so good.
I am so thankful that the Double B is my other half. We are a good team. This experience is teaching me many things, but one really is about the marriage unit -- how divinely it is designed. As we go through the good and the bad, as we get through the hard, we really do become one unit. As hard as these past few weeks have been, I know they have added another very sweet and tender layer to our life story together.