Monday, June 20, 2011


family gathers around the biggest round teak table I could find. This year we are using it every night it doesn't rain or snow!

kids laugh and giggle on the back yard trampoline

Madi did a great job compiling our garden grown centerpiece

flashback: I'm sitting at my work table in the upstairs master bedroom of our Boise home. The sun is beautiful through my windows (I LOVED the light in that house). The windows are open, frangrence from the roses in our garden floating in along with the sound of my children playing with John. I was right in the groove of a project; you know that place when you've finally warmed up to what you are doing and things are humming along nicely (I've heard it called 'flow' and it is a rare experience in my stop-and-start-life). As I hear my kids laughing, I feel the warmth of the sunlight on my back. I look up from my work to see my hero husband kicking the soccer ball with his children.

I feel in that moment a complete sense of contentment.

Its another one of those memories that I welcome every time in crosses my psyche. I linger in the memory. I love that memory, that feeling that all we had in that moment was good, and it was enough.

On Friday we pulled together a pretty impressive impromptu bbq for cousins and the like. It was the close of 'cousin camp' (more on that tomorrow). My parents, sisters, even sister in law Katie and her two California boys were in and out of the house. We had plenty of yummy food. The older boys helped organize, they set up extra tables and did whatever needed doing to make the meal happen. Flowers from our blooming garden were cut to make an outdoor table centerpiece.

Dinner was almost over, after lovely conversation around the table. I went in to get something. I came outside again. As I walked across the yard, a wonderful welcome feeling came over me. A feeling from my memories.

I felt content, completely.

It brought me to tears.

Its not that I haven't felt content ever since we left our Boise home. Its just that the sense of 'enough-ness' is one that I really want to have with me ALL the time. I think it is human nature to see what it is we lack, or to wish for things we want. But I think I have an acute sense of what my life is not, instead of all that it is. So in my prayers and strivings I am trying to improve my perspective, to see all that is in front of me, instead of the one or two things eluding me.

So my gratitude that my soul could come forward and show me that all that we have can bring such a centered feeling of contentedness just caused a tear to fall.

I'm so grateful for the moment in the yard on Friday night; and for all that surrounded it to make it move forward to its rightful place before me; good family, a loving spouse, a home that can welcome loved ones and guest, the beauty of the garden, the satisfaction of a delicious simple meal. The realization that these kinds of things are the treasures this life has to offer. The treasures that bring us that memorable, wonderful, welcome, peaceful feeling that we are content.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

On Airplanes and Altars

in Old Town Stockholm, sometime close to Christmas 2000

enjoying Swedish summer, out on a tiny island, with friends and my sister, summer 2001.

Midsummer in the country. Summer 2001

Mason explores our 'garden'. Spring 2001

Madi and I Outside our Chapel in Tabby; Autumn 2000.

In August 2000 my life changed forever. We moved abroad. John had an assignment for 12-18 months in Stockholm Sweden. We left our first Texas home. I was scared.

And I was excited.

We traveled with 3 small children. We brought my sister to help us handle roudy kids or insolent travelers who couldn't handle our roudy kids. We got to Sweden. Everything was beautiful.
And inventive.
And timeless.
And ingenious.
And European.
And amazing.

I loved all of it. I loved our house that looked like a barn and had (I've always wanted one since) a WHITE kitchen. I loved our Pram, which came with a cool 'kid board' so not only could my little girls ride, but my 'big boy' too. I loved our British School. I loved the chocolate and I loved the trains. I loved being a grown up, doing things I'd never done before and learning that ;
1. The world is HUGE
2. The people in it are INCREDIBLE
3. I could love another people and culture as much as I loved my own.

I especially loved the people.
I learned from them. I tried to learn their language. They were so good to me, to let me try even though I massacred the accent and mumbled because Swedish words came out in Spanish most of the time.

The women in my church group, the Relief Society Sisters, they were my dearest friends and my closest allies. They helped me navigate the road ways and the train stations. They helped me learn how to cook without cream of mushroom soup (!). They taught me how to make Swedish buns and they loved me. They loved me and I loved them more right back.

Our time ended. We came home. I have always wanted to return. When memories of Sweden come to my mind I stop what I'm doing and close my eyes. I welcome those thoughts. I invite them. I remember the time when I was part of the greatness of the world and it was good to me.

This year John was invited to go back to Sweden. He will lead a 'crew' of 8 boys (one of whom is Mason) to Rinkaby Sweden for an International Venture Scout Jamboree. When we were asked if he could go there was no hesitation. Our son would be included. They could return to our 'second home' and enjoy it and remember, and learn new things and have new experiences which will make Sweden mean more to them than ever.

And I will stay at home.

The night the invitation came for John to lead this group, I entered my room alone. I cried out of jealousy. I didn't really want to lead the boys myself. But how I wanted to go back. I knelt and asked if I could be helped to make this a generous offering. To put the good of my spouse before my own desires. To place the value of time spent with father and son ahead of a selfish longing to see the tiny islands that make up the coastline of a country I love.

I want to make this offering. A willingness to set aside my longing to have an experience for myself and give that instead to my son and my husband. To set my selfish desires on an altar and give them up in the name of sacrifice and selflessness.

There is a story in the bible about a wealthy happy man who followed Christ and wanted to 'enter the kingdom' and be a true disciple. He approached the Lord and asked what was needed in order for him to be worthy. The first answer from the Savior was to love God and follow after His son, and to keep all of their commandments. The eager follower promised that he would do these things. Then the the greater challenge was given; give all that you have away, your possessions and your wealth, and leave those things to follow wherever Christ would lead.

The man went away, sorrowing. And kept his comforts, his goods and his wealth. He didn't have the faith to believe that by giving it all he would find himself and his joy would be made full. It was the hardest sacrifice that could be asked of him-the one he needed to make the most.

I think I know how he feels. I bet he wanted to give all that away. I bet he wished he was stronger and more faith filled. I am sure even more that he wished he could keep them and still be counted with Christ. But he clung to those things instead, and didn't place them all on the altar.

At the end of July my boys will board the airplane bound for a place I long to go. And I hope that in the days when they are gone my time will be happy at home. Full of joy at the offering I've placed on the altar. Sometimes I feel that sorrowful, and I realize my pettiness and the truth that I keep 'wishing it was me' a little too close to my heart. But there is still time for me to prepare to give it all, and I believe in a God who is willing to accept my whole heart whenever I have the faith to place it all, on the altar.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Leaving Two Babies in Provo...

Mason is staying on the campus at BYU to attend Rugby camp this week.

Our newest nephew was born a couple of weeks ago in beautiful Provo Utah. We went down last weekend to meet him; absolutely perfect in every single way.

On Monday we found ourselves in Provo, dropping Mason at BYU so he could go to rugby camp.

Mason is my first baby. Our new nephew is the first baby in his family as well.

We made a little stop to see Lincoln Allen (awesome name, right?) after pushing Mason out of the car in front of Cougar Stadium. We held Lincoln and oohed and awed.

It made me think all the way home.

I don't know how to explain my thoughts, just something about me watching my first born grow up and seeing someone I love welcome their first born into the world. I push my boy out of the nest; encourage him to stay in the dorms away from home to help him grow. Lincoln's mom does just the opposite; she holds him close and keeps him near because she knows that is what she needs to do to help him grow too.

So many different parts of mothering. I am more comfortable with the first part; the part where we hold them and watch over their actions. The part where we train them and hover a bit.

This part? I'm not so sure about how I will get through it. This part includes sending them away, letting them try for themselves all the things I've shown and taught them, watching them stumble and pull themselves back up, hoping they'll try to keep themselves close-not just to you-but to the Heavenly Father you've been trying to point them toward since they were tiny and small.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Away She Goes...

ready for travel, Madi checks in at the airport

With her team mate and neighbor, these darling girls are ready for take off into the wild blue yonder

The winning team just after their title is awarded. The trophy is too big for the school's trophy case!

Last April Madi and three of her classmates wowed us all by winning the State's "Future Problem Solvers" Competition. This competition involves a scenario that is based on a general topic (this year's topic was 'water quality'). Teams take the scenario, broaden it by identifying 16 'problems' that need to be solved because of the scenario. Then 16 solutions to those problems are identified. Then the kids go from broad to NARROW, choosing ONE of those problem/solution pairs and going into great detail about both the problem and its solution. Then they present their findings.

Pretty smarty pants amazing, huh?

We were all surprised and delighted when this team of smart good kids took the championship. I was even MORE surprised to learn that with that winning placement came the responsibility to participate in the International competition, in June, in Wisconsin.

Plane rides, dorm accomadations, rented cars and chaperones. The non-parental kind of chaperone.


I considered going along. I asked the other mothers if they were going to go. Nope. Not going.

I asked Madi if she wanted me to go. Nope. Didn't want me.

She didn't want me to go...

I've always been determined to raise independent children. I want them to be able to think for themselves. To be able to solve their problems. To feel confident learning about themselves in new situations. To have confidence in travel.

I guess I've been successful.

The night before Madi left, I was with my sisters and parents. Longing to get home to my soon to be gone daughter, I excused myself and began to head home. A tear or two fell as I told my dad why I was leaving...

"Madi leaves tomorrow for her competition. She'll be traveling without me." (tear, tear, tear)
"She'll be fine Katie" said my loving Father.
"I know she will, but Daddy, she is only 11"!
"But, Katie, she's no ordinary 11 year old"

Dad is always so right.

Madi has been gone now for a couple of days. We don't get her home until Monday night. Each morning and night (and often during the day) I pray that Madi is having an amazing experience. That she is learning the rely on the things we have taught. That she feels the comfort of the Holy Ghost if any thoughts of home tug at her heartstrings. I don't care if she wins the competition. I only care that she - when she's back home with me - feels happy she went and she learned.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Porter's Splash Fest Birthday

ice cream cake, Porter's very favorite!

yummy picnic foods, hot dogs and orange slices...

little boys, water guns, sunshine; could it be more perfect?

Two token girls were invited to the party; neighbor Lily, and cousin Ella. They are tough enough to hang with the boys and keep our Porter in line :)

Porter wanted a water fight for his ninth birthday. We delivered it in the form of a splash party, lunch included. After hotdogs and other picnic foods the kids soaked one another (and ME!) with water guns, squirt bottles, water balloons (launchers included, those things are fun!) and the garden hose. Once the guests were fully drenched we served Ice Cream cake and sang Happy Birthday. The rest of the party was spent in the next door neighbor's swimming pool. It was a fun afternoon for a really fun little boy.

Porter is so endeared to me, because he still likes to hug me and wants me to be proud of him. The other day I discovered that in a moment of anger he had written (with SHARPIE marker) 'molly is stupid' on our driveway. I was upset, but, due to his attendance at basketball camp, had some time to think through my reaction. Porter came home. I was waiting in the driveway. I spoke quietly. I explained my shock and dismay at seeing such unkind words written about one of my children. Who would do such a thing? I asked. Porter began to cry. I began to cry. I told him that Molly is my daughter, and she didn't deserve to have words written forever about her that were unkind...

I had scrubbed and scrubbed the driveway to get those words off before my Molly had seen them. So Porter scrubbed and scrubbed the grill of the car to get the dead bugs off...tit for tat. In his tears and humiliation Porter felt remorse. He had made his mother cry, and he vowed never to do it again.

That's the kind of kid Porter is. And I love him, all of him.

Happy Birthday Porter!