Friday, October 31, 2008

"You've Come a Long Way"

For the third year in a row, Cami donned a princess costume & ventured out into the wilds of suburbia to beg candy from strangers. She went out with a slightly older friend, me & the other mom watching from the sidewalk. . .at least most of the time.

Cami took a tumble going down a driveway & needed help finding a shoe in the dark & retrieving candy that had escaped her plastic pumpkin (the only one I saw -- treat bags are the rule around here). The woman whose driveway Cami had encountered walked up to my sad little girl, bowl of candy in hand, and let Cami get what she wished. When we said "Thank you" her immediate response was, "You've come a long way. Where are you from?"

"America" didn't answer her question sufficiently. It turns out that she's married to a Texan & they are thinking about heading back to the States. As we chatted, comparing the crowds and decorations of a pleasant English subdivision at Halloween with the soundtrack-and-"corpse" strewn houses of my childhood neighborhood, I couldn't help but think about how much better I like the restrained version.

But no matter the address, there was a happily exhausted girl to put to bed "late" (after 9) on Halloween night. And happy memories are worth traveling "a long way" for.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Forgiveness in the Morning.

Graham, sweet, sweet boy that he is, looked at me with confusion. I could tell there was something he needed to tell me, but couldn't figure out how to say it. Finally, "I not Cami."

"Did I call you Cami?'

"Yes," with a nod.

"I'm sorry, Graham. I know you are Graham," as I reach out to hug him.

He snuggles in, "That's ok."

Monday, October 27, 2008

"Ah, Nicole, it's a crass, commercial world we live in"

Can anybody name the movie? Or at least the leading lady (although the leading man is equally charming in this movie)?

OK, I've made a decision which I've rejected for a long time. I've been loathe to add advertising to my blog, because #1 it just grates #2 I'm not cool enough. All of which is ironic, because I've actually written and edited advertising copy when I worked in marketing.

But, I'm doing this with a goal. . .I want a new camera. A camera that will provide quality photos for this blog, for grandmas, and posterity. And I promise to post adventure tales, with accompanying photos, with said camera.

So, until I learn "How to Steal a Million," I'll try to earn it.

Not Entirely Accurate

Graham mumbled an unexpected announcement, "Mom, I've got a flashlight in my mouth."

He was only partially right -- it was just the bulb.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Psgotti, Anyone

Family Home Evening is usually less effective around here. Jason and I aren't very creative about lessons. But we needed to have a family-unity lesson that the kids could participate in. So, we made "psgotti," or, as the rest of the world knows it, biscotti.

My kids LOVE biscotti. I'm not sure why. I mean, I love it, but usually munchkins go for something sugar- & fat-laden. So, mixing the ingredients together, knowing that there was a very good thing to expect at the end, made it easy for Graham & Cami to want to work together. A rather successful FHE.

I also had a secondary motive. Cami's school was having a bake sale. And homemade biscotti is just a tad more sophisticated than the brownies & pound cakes that I saw back in the States. Well, biscotti was too sophisticated for the intended customers. All the treats got laid out in the computer room (very brave), then the kids were let loose (with some parental supervision). Each treat, no matter the type, cost 20 pence. Before my eyes was a spectrum of colorful treats designed specifically for the sugar- and fat-lovers under age 7. My bowl of biscotti was untouched until I touched it. I HAD to. All the biscotti at our house was gone & Cami was going to want some when we got home. . . plus, I can't have anybody feeling sorry for me, except me.

I still feel just a little self-conscious about it all, but I am feeling some vindication. Believing that all the biscotti from Monday was gone, Graham and I just made more.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

To the Point

Graham's prayer this morning made me laugh. "Dear Heavenly Father, We're just grateful. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Is That a Threat?

Cami wanted to watch a video after church. When I told her no, I couldn't help but laugh at her reaction, "Mom. If you don't say yes, I'll be so cross that I'll go to bed!"

Crazy 8s, part 2

Two More Pieces of Eye Candy

Graham waters the dead basil

My Beautiful Boys

Crazy 8s

My wonderful friend Erika tagged me. I've seen these games of tag on other blogs, but this is my first invitation to play. Here it goes.

Six (Because Blogger won't let me put up eight) Pieces of Eye Candy

Yes, this is egotistical, but I do find them beautiful. (Lots of credit to Maegan Dougherty -- our wonderful photographer & friend!)

In no particular chronological order:

Cami in a leaf sack

Baby RoseCami in our NJ bathroom
Cami at Rutgers Gardens

Kissing at the Gardens
The Airplane, Daddy!

Eight things I did yesterday.

1. Got up early and slept in late. Sound impossible? I got up, switched some laundry & then went back to bed. Due to jet lag & a sick baby, I haven't been getting into bed at my usual 10-ish bedtime. . .so I slept in until 11:45!

2. Took Graham & Cami to Kirkstall Abbey. We arrived late enough that we didn't get to go into the Abbey itself, but the kids played on the ruins of the guesthouse foundation, we looked at a pair of swans in the canal, I took photos of the kids up in a bent tree, & the kids played at the playground.

3. Bought shampoo & dish soap, paper towels & toilet paper, a cucumber & yogurt. And, because Graham and Cami were with me, non-essential junk food made their way home with us, too.

4. Had an awkward phone conversation with a family member.

5. Tidied up the ground floor of our house/laundry.

6. Tried to catch up on blogs. Thought about how much time I spend on the computer & wondered if I am any happier or if I'm more discontent because I have other people's beautiful lives to compare mine against.

7. Took multiple baths since Rose keeps throwing up all over herself & me. I keep dreaming of having one of those long, leisurely, bath-oil and candlelight baths. Maybe in about ten years.

8. Thought about all the thank you notes that I need to write & haven't.

Eight Favorite Eats

1. The first just-picked strawberry at the pick-your-own patch in late spring.

2. The first just-picked Macoun, HoneySweet, or McIntosh apple from the pick-your-own farm in late fall.

3. The first just-pick peaches and nectarines from the pick-your-own farm in summer.

4. Just-picked apricots snagged from a neighborhood tree in Salt Lake City.

5. Homemade bread.

6. Homemade popcorn (microwave does not count).

7. Christmas Eve fondue (a family tradition).

8. Trader Joe's Milk Chocolate Chips.

9. Because I must list this: Tart Montmorency Cherries from Trader Joe's.

Eight Things on my Wish List

1. Utter self-confidence. Not the obnoxious, I-am-incapable-of-self-reflection self-confidence, but the quiet self-assurance that I can do anything that I feel is valuable. I suppose another way of putting it is to truly be and feel elegant.

2. A self-cleaning house.

3. My bed back. We shipped our beautiful, pillow-top king-sized bed from the U.S. And it is too big to make the turn up the stairs in our classic English townhouse. When the workman from the charity Emmaus came to pick it up the supervisor walked in & said, "That's the biggest bed I've ever seen. Please tell me they don't come bigger than that."

4. An eternally healthy husband. And since I'm wishing, I'll extend that to kids & myself.

5. To live in Europe -- wish fulfilled!

6. To feel creative & excited & happy.

7. To have a Trader Joe's at the end of my street.

8. World peace.

Eight Things that I Love about Fall

1. Apple picking.

2. Fall leaves before they land on my lawn.

3. Roasting marshmallows over a bonfire.

4. Feeling cuddly in a cashmere sweater while reading in bed.

5. Remembering the time when Jason was "that cute boy who sat behind me in logic class."

6. Baking.

7. Hiking.

8. Farmer's Markets.

Eight Favorite Shows

This one is weird for me, because we don't have a TV. Since we've married, Jason and I have never lived in a house where we have TV reception. Cable seems a waste of money & I already waste too much time on other things. But my sister buys TV collections which I've seen while visiting & the internet streams stuff, so in the past two years, these are things I've watched.

1. The Daily Show.

2. BattleStar Galatica (the new version -- although I grew up watching the original). My sister started it all by buying us iTunes credit to download it.

3. Grey's Anatomy (I've seen the first three seasons).

4. Airwolf (Cami liked reliving my childhood with me.)

5. What Not to Wear.

6. The Cosby Show.

OK. I've thought about it & I've run out of shows I've watched because I want to. Although I've seen a lot of "Thomas the Tank Engine" and "Strawberry Shortcake" thanks to my children.

Eight Things I am Looking Forward to

1. Graham being toilet trained.

2. Paying off all of the student loans.

3. Traveling around Europe, especially returning to Italy & exploring Switzerland.

4. Rose & Jason being well.

5. Sleeping.

6. Teaching at the university level again.

7. Going strawberry picking next summer. There's a patch about 1/4 mile walk from our house.

8. Baking some biscotti.

Eight Friends

I assure you I have eight friends. I actually have a lot more than that, which is a surprise to me. Not everybody blogs & I always feel left out when I read somebody's tag list & I'm not on it. So, if you read this, consider yourself tagged! (But leave me a note, so I know you are playing!)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Our Family's Bad Word

Hysterics this morning. Weeping & wailing & gnashing of teeth. . .or at least Cami would have been teeth gnashing if she knew what it is.

I came into the kitchen to find out what was the problem.

"Graham called me 'stupid.' And I'm not. You shouldn't call people stupid, especially the people that are important to you!"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Mission(s) Accomplished

Mom phoned at 5 a.m. Dad is gone. He completed the work he had to do.

And now Mom can get some sleep.

When I told Dad back in January that we were moving to England, his first words were, "Oh, no." Then when we actually left St. Louis, he made the dire prediction, "This is the last time I'll see you." He felt Europe was just too far away for me to be accessible. But I promised to see him again. . . and I did.

One if my greatest desires has been to live abroad. Especially because I want our kids to be travelers, world explorers. To feel confident talking about places on the map, because they have been there. So, I felt a small thrill when I heard Cami tell Jason, "When we were in Amsterdam. . . ."

Even though he didn't hear Cami, I bet Dad is proud of me, too.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Cami, Rose, and I flew back to England on Monday/Tuesday. When we were on the final flight segment, Amsterdam to Leeds, the safety announcements were first issued in Dutch, then in English. Cami told me, "Mom, I wish we spoke Dutch. And English. And Americanish."

Monday, October 6, 2008

October 6th -- I always remember

6 October 1999

I walked off a plane wearing a grey skirt (the same grey skirt I wore yesterday), a blue jacket (which still hangs in my closet), & a missionary tag. I hadn't been home in 18 months. It had been a hard 18 months -- the hardest of my life. But earlier that day, when I had been in my mission president's office in Salt Lake City, I had been told in a blessing "not to regret" any of it.

When I walked off that plane in St. Louis, I saw my parents waiting for me at the gate & I was struck by how old they looked. It had been a hard 18 months for them, too. Dad had had emergency heart surgery about two weeks before mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. I'd spoken with them & told them I was coming home. Mom told me that I wasn't -- they needed the blessings that come from having a missionary in the family.

So, I stayed. And they met me at an airport gate 10 months later.

I remember my mission (something I think about every day, even though I don't talk about it much) extra intensely on 6 October. I have a habit of emailing my favorite mission president (I had three) on this day. I haven't written him yet.

But today I bought plane tickets for St. Louis. My dad is dying. Nobody will be allowed to meet Cami, Rose, & me at the gate when we arrive on Wednesday evening. And I'm not sure what I'll think when I see Dad. I know that one of the steps that families are encouraged to take when a family member is in hospice care is to say, "I forgive you." I praying that I'll be able to say those words & mean them not for that moment, but for my lifetime.

Because we're a forever family. One of the first things I taught people as a missionary is that families can be sealed together forever. It's only through Jesus Christ that this can happen. But it can. And so, I have something else to think of on October 6, 2009. . .that I love my dad forever.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Natural Disaster?

We're still learning about some very basic "this is how our house works" things. For example, the heater. It's extremely noisy. I kept getting up in the night to adjust various knobs in the hopes of quieting things down.

This morning (funny that I'm writing that description because the clock reads 7 a.m.), Jason readjusted something. Graham yelled, "That's noisy!"

Jason replied, "Well, that's just the price we have to pay to have heat."

Cami, "No, it's an earthquake."

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Digital Native

Cami and I read stories before lights out, and then I tell her a story once the lights go off. She always supplies the first line, "Once upon a time, there were [number][animal]. Tonight's line was, "Once upon a time there were two rhinoceroses." About three minutes into my tale of Eddie and Sherry, she charmingly interrupted, "Mom, can we pause the story?"