Thursday, April 28, 2011

Easter in Review

easter egg hunt held in the front yard after church

Molly is thrilled with the treasures found among our newly planted flowers

each year the children plant an annual blooming plant as a reminder that new life for all was the gift of Easter.

purple dresses for the girls, but nothing of the sort for the menfolk. Our days of looking perfectly matched on Easter Sunday are behind us now that we have an almost man for a son

Easter seems like a year ago. Time kind of stood still this week while I spent it with my buddy Susie from our old 'hood in Boise. She helped us re arrange and enlarge (with the use of new furniture and great organization) the girls' bedrooms. We also painted the entry of the house, which I will gladly show off to you later.

Easter night was her arrival.

We spent the day so comfortably. We decorated eggs with the kids, and enjoyed our yearly tradition of planting perennials in the garden on Easter morning. We had beautiful sunshine during our planting, warm light on our faces and glad hearts as we dug in the dirt.

Easter this year did NOT bring lots of matching sunday clothes. The kids (my teenage boy mostly) refused to 'look like a Christmas card'. so no pictures of us dressed in our Sunday best.

Such a reverent day. Spent so happily together.

Friday, April 22, 2011

We are Home but You are Gone...

The kids watched more of 'the Suite Life' than I care to admit. After playing at the pool all day, they crashed in front of the tv while Mandy and I talked and talked

new books from the bookstore were quickly opened at an impromptu read-a-thon. I'm glad that reading is part of relaxing for our children.

Dear John,

We got home safe and sound, and it was a hard re-entry from sunny swimming pool weather to cold wellie boot weather. But This morning the sun is shining, tho no shorts or flip flops will be worn as the temperature is still chilly. I'm sure you are extra cold, up in the mountains at your scout Woodbadge training. I hope you are keeping all those 'no electronics' rules; I think that would be a lovely mandate; unplug for 3 whole days-even if it means I don't get to hear your voice until you come home to us this weekend.

We had a great time in St. George, and I'd highly recommend we do it again. Only next time, I want to go with you...watching our kids laugh and giggle (and complain) is more complete with both their parents present. Plus, I think I could beat you at shuffleboard-Molly and I had a go at it and I was pretty good.

The house was lively this morning with Primary presidency meeting and all our kids home, not to mention singing practice all at the same time. Mason and Bryn had to weed the front flower garden-you would have thought I'd asked them to amputate their own toes. The job was done in30 minutes, but for all their complaining it could have been 20. Am I missing something, or is it harder to raise teenagers than to raise toddlers? Or do the teenagers actually become toddlers again, only wrapped in bigger bodies? Anyway, the house now hums with the sound of electronics-every tv screen and computer screen we own is currently employed with one movie or video game or another. Friday IS screen day; and the kids have taken that mandate to heart on this their last official day of spring break (I am not pushing them out the door either, as I've explained above that the spring break weather we came home to doesn't exactly measure up to SPRING).

I hope your three days of training is a fantastic experience. I'm so glad you have taken this chance to develop your talents and abilities and to prepare yourself to serve others as you are uniquely qualified to. I miss you, of course, but it is always endearing to see the one you love stretch and grow and become even more to admire, respect, and adore.

See (and kiss) you when you get here,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We are Chasing some Sunshine...

It is spring break at the Spruces, but it hasn't felt much like spring yet...winter has hung on far too long, so we've gone to chase some sunshine in Utah's Dixie (why do they call it that? Does anyone know?)

Some of the kids and my sister and her kids and I spent the better part of the day by and in a swimming pool, with blue skies and the perfect breeze. Now we are (most of us) sun-crisped and the little ones are sleeping on top of each other in a rented condo on a red-rocked hillside.

John and Mason, the menfolk of our clan, are home. John has church duties this year which require us to sacrifice his vacation time, so he remains dutifully providing for our family. Mason refused to leave his post as team punching bag and stayed for Rugby practices. We miss them.

But we've missed the sun so much this year that we are grateful to see its bright warm face shine down on us for a while.

We'll be back on Thursday. With red skins and white smiles. See you then and Happy Spring Break!

Friday, April 15, 2011

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Our Russian Neighbor wanted to learn how to make Lemon curd. We worked together, stirring and sifting, and talking about being a mother and raising good children. It was a lovely hour spent with a lovely person (plus, Lucy was darling and very helpful, squeezing lemon juice and stirring egg yolks).

This treat has been a family favorite and a neighborhood gift for several years now. Usually John takes it as his Christmas chore, preparing small jars and sending them in the arms of our children to our close neighbors and friends. It was good for me to remember that I can craft this delicacy well enough, its tart but sweet goodness dripping off the back of my spatula.

I love being in my kitchen with my children, my husband and my friends. Its not just that I like food, its that when we exchange conversation as we work together a closeness forms that is unique and true. Friends who have been in your kitchen are friends who know your mess. They see you as you are, and out of your sticky fingers comes something good and lasting to share. 'Refrigerator rights' we call it; the right for a friend to walk in and help themselves. It only happens after you've let others into your kitchen.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

3 Frowns and a Smile

The front yard tulips are really taking a beating this year with all our crazy weather

Frown: We went to bed last night to the sound of pouring rain. This morning the tulips were weighed down with snow, only to have it melt and then have hail pelt down instead. This year's April weather has been particularly lion-ish, and I, like a frightened little sheep, want to go and hide.

Frown: Because of the statement above, I am taking some of the family to a climate that is usually much warmer this time of year. Alas, due to upcoming travel obligations for my better half, John will not be joining us. So I will go on vacation playing the part of a single mother. Is that a vacation at all? I pray for warm weather and a clean accessible swimming pool as sun and splash are exactly what we need to brighten sheepish souls.

Frown: I was informed, suddenly, last week that the 'personal trainer' whose services have helped me recover from various sports injuries, has left his position at John's office gym. I am well aware (WELL aware) that it has always been a 'perk' or a 'privilege' to have a trainer for my use through John's employer at VERY minimal cost (we are talking all you can use training for $10 per month. Affordable to say the least). And I have taken advantage of that perk with good result. His telling me he was leaving (that day!) was like a break up of some kind. It hurt a little. I didn't know what I'd done wrong. I wasn't sure where to go next. I'm still figuring it out.

Smile: John wrote me this note:

And since there is no trainer, there is about 23% more of me to love, his note was something to really smile about :)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

So Proud of Her...

The trophy's size is in proportion to the amount of brain power it takes to win this kind of award.

Madi has made us proud around here. Last weekend she and 3 of her classmates competed in the "Future Problem Solving" competition for the State of Utah. This means that they spent two + hours in a room at Westminster college figuring out how to solve one aspect of the 'water quality' debate. They had no idea which piece of this large problem they would be asked to address, and so for weeks now they've been meeting at lunch time and after school (with other FPS teams from their school who qualified for the state competition) to study the vast array of information spanning the issue of water quality. They now know how to filter it, protect, use it and how to conserve the water of the world.

This is not a contest for the faint of heart. This takes reasoning, writing and persuasive abilities to match the intellects who are also competing.

At the awards ceremony (which I'd been tempted to skip) we sat and learned about the problems posed to the teams and how they went about solving them. Madi had mentioned something earlier in the day which I had understood to mean that her team had not performed as well as she had wanted. I sat comfortably in my seat and chatted with a stranger, mother from another school who was possibly moving to my neighborhood.

Then Madi elbowed me. I quieted and paid attention to her. She told me her team's number and I listened as they announced the winners.

SHoCKer! Her team WON! Madi WON!

Madi reacted well, huge smile, quick step up to the podium, pictures with her team mates. I was proud not only that she won, I was proud of the way she won too.

This honor means another competition; and international one, in Wisconsin that will take place this June. I hope I'm able to attend. I'm not sure I can send my Madi, mature as she is for her age, off on a plane with her classmates and her teacher and NOT with her mother close by.

She and I are currently 'competing' for how that scenario, that future problem, will be solved and resolved here at home....

Congratulations Madi, I am so proud of YOU!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Lucy takes the time to stop and smell the roses any chance she gets. Spending my days with her has helped me learn how to slow down and enjoy life more.

Soooo....things in our family life have been moving along quite quickly lately. I have found myself feeling very behind and not very prepared for much of what faces me each and every morning. Helping with school activities and taking the lead on some additional church assignments, as well as running to keep the kids happy and on time to practices and performances has been challenging.

Dinner nights with my kids, reading to them at night, sitting with them through homework had basically taken a back seat to being in meetings, putting in hours of manual labor in the name of the PTA and trying to serve in my church in a manner that pleases both myself and my Maker.

At the height of the mania, during an afternoon of multi-tasking my scripture study and my dish-washing duty I heard this:

'Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives.'

funny enough, that very same day, a friend referenced this very talk, the one I had listened to and heard these words. Then, John mentioned the same sermon, in a post on his own blog. Another respected (an much more popular!) blogger also made reference, all in the very same week.

Could that message have been more clear?

I listened, and I realized that I could take heed to this valued advice. I couldn't just quit in the middle of some obligations, I had to see them through. But I did determine to stop saying 'yes' and instead pace myself and my family so we could think on and take joy in the things that matter more.

Like planting lettuce and spinach and peas in our garden.
Like having my sister over for a few hours yesterday so she could help us plan our garden (and, even more than that, so I could spend time with my awesome sis)
Like NOT staying home from Madi's awards banquet to do laundry or dishes or whatever. I was so GLAD I was there (more tomorrow)
Like having the chance to talk to Mason, even though we were up way too late, and really listening to what he had to say. That is one good boy I'm raising, if I do say so myself.

My school obligations are almost all done, and the extra church jobs too. Here is to the blooming of spring, and the chance to stop a little along the busy way to see the blossoming of the earth and witness its (and my) renewal.

Friday, April 01, 2011

'Lucky Lucy'

an old shot of Lulabug. Happy Lucy, lucky Lucy...

Today I went and got a Pedicure instead of cleaning the kitchen. I had 45 minutes before it was time to pick up the carpool, and I used it to prep my toes for spring and summer footwear.

It seems all pedicurists are Vietnamese. Don't you agree? And when we were in Vietnam, many many women were offering 'pedicure madam?' to me as I went down the street. They walked along the road with all of their supplies; two foot stools, a tub for soaking feet, a little shoebox of polishes and some cotton and polish remover. In their pockets or in an apron, they had their snippers and files and other metal tools. The women in Vietnam are hard workers, and very persuasive, but I never indulged there fearful, very fearful, of contracting hepatitis from one of those metal tools!

As I sat and chatted with my 'technician' today, I told her I'd been to Vietnam. This happens every time I get a pedicure. I can't help myself. I want to ask the women who are lending me moments of beautification where they lived when they lived there. I want to know if they know the place where Lucy's birth mother came from. I want them to know that I love someone who looks remarkably like them.

They always drop their jaw when I tell them I have a daughter from an orphanage. They always tell me I am 'good' or 'kind' and they always always tell me that Lucy is very 'lucky'.

'such a lucky girl'.

It is a knee jerk reaction for me to respond 'no no! I am the lucky one'.

and that's how I truly feel.

Talking to Han as she painted my toes sparkling red made me remember so much about Lucy's coming home. Every day I tell myself that I need to write it all down. I realize I'm forgetting so much as the days and years go by. Her coming was such a miracle. Such an amazing gift from Heaven to me. I want to give other people the gift of knowing what I learned from years of adoption. To shout out loud that children who come into your home are no accident. that a loving God has meticulously planned every parent/child relationship, and given us power and provision to both weather the challenges and revel in the joys of the very specific souls we nurture as mothers and fathers.

I'm determined to spell it all out, novel though it may be. I know its important for me and for my posterity to have a record of how Heaven taught this mother so tenderly about motherhood.

Because whether Lucy really is as lucky as they say, I know I'm lucky for what I've learned in becoming Lucy's mother.