Music

Dear Dad,

It’s 4 days until Christmas. You’ve been gone for what feels like forever. I miss you so much, dad. You’ve been with me so much this month. In the Walgreen’s aisle with Almond Roca. In every bad dressed-up Santa. In the bicycle aisle at Wal-mart, and as I drove past the Harley store and heard your gut-busting laugh as I reminisced about running into the front door. With the Old Spice and the shaving cream I bought for Caroline’s slime. The rootbeer that I got just to think of you. In my feather pillow. In the measuring tape I needed at work and just happened to have in my car. When LG and I somehow managed to fix our own washing machine, the miracle belonged to you, and the moment wasn’t near what it could have been if I could have called you on the phone to hear your pride.

I wish I could see you just for a second. I want to see your smile. I want to feel your rough weathered hands. I want to smell you and feel the whiskers on your face when you try to give me a kiss and I turn my cheek to your greedy lips. One of the last things I said to you is that I don’t do kisses except for with LG and babies. I grew out of those a long time ago, but it never stopped you from trying. Ha. Unfortunately, as real as the memories are, because you aren’t actually here, I have to be satisfied with the memories making you alive in the sights, smells, and sounds that are here. When Mr. Bing Crosby whistles in “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas,” I just pretend that you are right upstairs. And I know you are.

Last month I went to the temple. I prayed and pleaded with God that he would let me see you. I waited in the Celestial Room for a long time, but you never came. I didn’t understand. I forced myself to my feet and walked toward the door dejected and disappointed. Outside the Celestial Room, I threw my fifty tear-soaked tissues in the garbage and got a drink of water for my perched throat, and then I noticed a burly man in his prime wearing a white suit watching my every move from where he stood at the top of the stair-case across the breezeway.

As I walked straight toward him turning to ascend the stairs back to my stressful and crazy lifestyle, I felt a peace permeate me. The peace was a literal thing, and it pierced straight through my entire being. As I turned back to make sense of this feeling — this weapon of peace — that could entice me to do anything and everything to keep it, the man smiled and said “goodnight.” I returned with an automated “goodnight,” like a Walton’s episode, while also automatically turning back around to let the goodnight of peace propel me back to so much drudgery below. After two steps, I realized that this man (if it wasn’t you) represented you. You had chosen to offer me the greatest thing you had to offer — peace. And out of all the things you could say, you chose “goodnight.” As if you were really saying, “don’t fret, Alice. I’ll see you tomorrow.” Upon my recognition of what had transpired, I jolted my head back to catch you, dad, but all I got was the back of your suit headed back into God’s abyss. You had other stuff to do, and at that moment I knew you were just fine. Busy, but fine. You stole the moment for your grieving child. You stole it just for me because you are way more than fine. You are busy in a place of white. You will always be watching, but not necessarily 100% present except in memory. You didn’t even wait for me turn back because it would have been too hard to say goodbye instead of just a simple goodnight.

Oh dad, you are everywhere that I am. I take you with me wherever I go. I know you’re fine, but I sure wish I could feel that peace all of the time.

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Each One of Us

He computes, analyzes.
So intelligent, but has no confidence.

She toils and serves.
So capable, but doesn’t believe she really makes any difference.

She is beautiful, talented.
So phenomenal, but doesn’t trust herself.

She is artistic, and a symphonic joy.
So welcoming, but she shuts the world out.

She is bold, and kind.
So forceful, but she loves everyone but herself.

They won’t find their part in the symphony
until they believe
each one of us
is glorious.

It’s About Who’s Waiting For Us in the End.

Come with me back to a high school track meet. It happened two weeks ago. I sat in the stands watching my teenage daughter and hundreds of other high-schoolers, all vying for their own personal records, hoping to beat out all the other competitors. Unlike the athletes, I, however, had a completely opposing mantra for myself. “Let it go, Alice.” “Let it go.” The Sunday before, my track-star daughter, my husband, and I had a heart-to-heart. Come to find out, I have always put undue pressure on the poor girl in all areas of her life, but especially when it comes to sports and grades. Yeah, I’m not proud. What can I say? She’s my firstborn? That doesn’t really cut it. You’ll be relieved to know that I am working on it. I have specific goals, one of which is not being result-obsessed.

So, my daughter had just run her 100m. Unlike her past track experiences, she’s not typically in the Top 3 this year. She’s running at the middle of the pack. Thus the mantra. “Let it go, Alice.” I was pep-talking myself, “This is about your daughter, not about you. Abigail is having fun. Abigail is getting exercise. Just because you want her to be in first place, it doesn’t mean that is where she needs to be. Be happy. Love your girl. Let it go.”

Then an amazing thing happened.

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It was the boy’s mile. The mile takes forever. As my thoughts were repeating in circles, I haphazardly watched the male athletes going round and around. I watched while I wrestled with my only baby boy and started imagining his future. I wondered to myself if I could master being a better mother by the time he takes to the track. I hoped I would never put too much pressure on him, too. I questioned whether or not he will even be an athlete and silently wished I will be able to embrace whatever it is he decides to love, even if he only loves it with mediocrity.

The race was over….or so I thought. My mind moved on. Then, right in front of me, I saw some super energetic young man rally his whole school to their feet. He hooted, hollered, jumped, cajoled, begged, and demanded full participation. I silently hoped, “Oh, I don’t wish that for Max. Please let him be an athlete, instead of a cheerleader.” Stay with me. My mind was abruptly changed.

It so happened that there was one runner left. He was way behind the pack. He belonged to this crazy make-shift athlete turned cheerleader’s school. This runner was a runt. He was slow. He was in last place. Yet. Yet, as he slowly made his way to the finish line in front of the crowd, his school was cheering for him like he was an Olympic gold medalist. All because of the efforts of his crazy encouraging teammate (that he hadn’t even seen rally the crowd) his stride quickened. His chin lifted up in pride. There was a wide smile on his face. The finish of this race is one he will never forget. Neither will I.

I hid my face in shame for being such a proud person. And because I was bawling my eyes out. I whispered to Max, “You don’t have to be an athlete, but please be a make-shift cheerleader wherever you go.”

Then I ran over to tell Abigail that she did awesome in that 100m.

The following Sunday, while I was driving to church, this song came on the radio. It took me hours to find it but it was worth every search effort.

Enjoy.

It’s not about how fast we get there, it’s about who’s waiting for us in the end.

Life is always worthwhile when you cry or smile.

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When I die the most important thing I would want to say to my family is “I love you and I’ll see you on the other side.” If I was allowed more than one sentence I would probably elaborate on my wishes for them to live good authentic lives.

I would tell them how I hope for their happiness, and I would tell them I would regret not being able to be there for them physically in their times of sadness. I would want them to know that if I can negotiate something with God, I will and I will always be right by their sides watching over them until we are reunited.

The song “Smile” from Charlie Chaplin’s 1936 movie Modern Times is one of my favorite songs. (Did you know the lyrics were added later based from themes and scenes from the original film?) This song brings back a lot of good memories for me. LG gave me some Happy by Clinique perfume for one of our first Christmases together. It came with a CD full of happy songs. We used to lay in bed together listening to the CD. When “Smile” came on it always seemed so appropriate. Those were really happy times, some of my favorite from my entire life.

However while re-listening to this song recently I discovered how the message of smiling when you are in pain is just kind of screwed up. I thought about Michael Jackson and Judy Garland (both have beautiful renditions of this song – go ahead – hit their links) and how their lives came to tragic ends way too soon. I thought about how they both may have lacked the emotional intelligence and/or support they needed. Maybe nobody ever told them it was o.k. to cry? I wish I could have helped them somehow and see them die in happiness, not out of their desperate attempts to escape.

Crying is an important part of life. Without times of sadness we wouldn’t know how much to treasure the times of happiness. We don’t have to run away from sadness. In fact I’ve found trying to run from it makes things much worse. Sometimes we just need to take time to process our emotions. We need permission to cry in our pain. Everyone should have someone in their lives that will just hold them while they cry.

I’m thinking about the pains I’ve experienced in life. They have been my very best tutors. Not all my days have been spent smiling while laying in my bed with my husband. In fact, I would say that I’ve probably had a close equal amount of time laying in my bed alone crying over life’s sadness. (If you read my blog regularly, you know this. I often use this as a place to process a lot of my emotions.)

So, in short, what I am trying to say is. It’s o.k. to cry. In fact it’s as necessary as smiling is for your emotional health. So do both. When you are in the middle of either happy or sad, most of all, know that your life is worthwhile.

I changed the words of the song to reflect the healthier message.
I am not voice-trained so feel free to skip the video, I made it for my family. I love you guys.

 

Who knew her homework would by my payday?

imageHours upon hours I’ve spent hovering over my children making sure they were getting their homework done. I never dreamed this duty of mine would eventually pay off in a big old payday of personal validation.

But it did.

Before Christmas break Abigail wrote her 49 page autobiography for her 10th grade Honors history class. She did a bang up job.

We won’t mention how her dad had to take her to work at 4:30 a.m. to print it the morning it was due. Two hours later he then took an emergency trip to FedEx Office to get it bound. – dang ADHD! I was the lucky one in bed recovering from surgery. When LG got home with the finished work in hand, I was actually awake enough to read it over before Abigail took it to school to turn it in.

Reading my little girl’s grown-up account of her life was one of the most beautiful moments. The thing was jam-packed full of many of her most cherished memories. Without intending to include me, I was personally interwoven into every page. Yes, I was there for most of it. I saw her playing in the yard in TN all the time. I put away the toys all over the driveway when they just HAD to play Boxcar Children for the 55th time. I was the one who introduced her to “The Boxcar Children” in the first place! Yes, I was. (What a super proud book-loving mom moment to read that her favorite game to play as a kid was boxcar children!) I know her favorite food is lasagna and her favorite movie is “She’s the Man.” I didn’t know that her friend Courtney gifting her a stuffed sheep when she was four-years-old had meant so much to her but I am so glad that she shared about it. And, yes, I take as much pride as she does that the staff of her elementary school referred to her as Harvard Girl…even at five, she was her own little Elle Woods in the making….beautiful and smart. And, she, by some miracle of heaven belonged to little old me then and still does today.

Her teacher enjoyed the part about The Boxcar Children game too.

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As shown above, her teacher, like me, also enjoyed the part of the paper Abigail wrote about me. Although I am positive she couldn’t have appreciated it as much as I did.

I am not trying to brag here. In fact, when I asked Abigail about why my part was just so sweet, she said, “Oh mom, that was so easy to write. I just wrote everything I felt about you and twisted any negative to positive. That’s why you sound so cool.” Ha ha.  I didn’t care. I had bawled my eyes out at every single word. It meant everything to me to know that my daughter “gets” me. She knows me intimately. And, most of all, she still loves me, no matter what.

Like Julie Andrews sings in Sound of Music, I felt, “I must have done something good.” When reading Abigail’s words, every single crappy parenting moment dissolved. The one time I found Sophia with poop smeared everywhere in her crib, on her body, in her mouth….gone. The time I force-fed Abigail oatmeal when she was 2. A distant memory. All the nights I cried myself to sleep wondering how I could ever face another day, only to still be crying when everyone woke up….totally worth every second that seemed like an eternity at the time. All the instances where my kids have told me what I suck at and how I need to improve…they didn’t matter. I was loved, gosh dangit. I mattered to my daughter.

I know you are all dying to read it now. It won’t mean to you what it means to me, but here it is for all eternity. I will try to remember to come back here from time to time. Maybe the next time one of my spawn hollers that they hate me.

“My mother is a very eccentric person. She has a wonderful colorful personality. She is a crazy, fun, human being with little to no tact. That is only the beginning of my mother. She grew up with six brothers and sisters who are all just as crazy and loud as her. I love my mom so much and don’t know what I would do without her. She works so hard in my family to keep our house clean and orderly. She is probably the coolest person ever. She is always cracking jokes and gets along with my friends so well. I know I can talk to her about anything and I can count on her to understand me. She has a giving heart and wants to give to everyone around her. She does so much for me and I don’t even ask her to. My favorite thing I do with my mom is when she knows I’m having a hard time, she sends me a card and a little treat. Like once I was stressed and we had just gotten in a fight about something. The next morning, she dropped off a card and a Kneaders breakfast and said we would go shopping later that day. My mom is such an inspiration to me. She always goes after what she wants and doesn’t let anyone tell her she can’t which can be difficult sometimes, but I love her just the same.”

Now, tell me I’m not the luckiest mom in the whole wide world!!

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Just the way you are, you matter to him.

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Here is some great spiritual enlightenment for your day.

The older I get the more I appreciate my kids’ imaginations.

A while back while I ran in to pay for gas after my card didn’t work at the pump, Bella captured Caroline lip-syncing. It’s so cute how Caroline always keeps up with her older sisters on pop culture. Days later as I came across this surprise video on my phone it brought tears to my eyes, partially because the words to the song were so fitting and partially because of the tenderness of one sister being able to see the value in the moment of her little sister just being little and care-free. Watching in after the fact was super overwhelming to this emotional proud mom. I also got a little chuckle about the fact that my kids can’t just sit in their seat-belts for 30 seconds unsupervised but always have to misbehave and jump around in the car.

As a busy mother of 5, I really love the one-on-one time I get with Caroline right after kindergarten gets out at noon. While Max naps, she tells me all about her day. Yesterday in P.E. they got to play with a parachute. She thought that was totally awesome and I smiled thinking back to a time when I was young and innocent and experienced the large parachute at school for the first time. I thought it was awesome too.

A few weeks back, while talking to Caroline about everything and nothing at all, she declared:

“Mom, when I grow up, I am going to create a green planet with rings around it.”

I immediately got out the watercolors and had her paint me a prototype.
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I hope she will get the privilege of making her own planets someday, (which is totally possible according to Mormon doctrine) but for now I am so glad that her whole big universe with infinite imagination can fit on my fridge. What a beautiful beautiful privilege it is to be a mom.

[Oh, and on a cool sidenote: I love it when science catches up with God’s truths about the galaxy. I believe God definitely has his children helping him out with planet creations. I know if it’s up to me someday I am totally putting Caroline in charge of all the green planets.]

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After post; check this out;
We Lived with God: http://youtu.be/JR8qIrJcJh4

This scientist says my thoughts way better than me.

7 things I learned in marriage counseling.

Eighteen years we’ve been married. Time has dragged on forever on a lot of days, but just as many have flown by as fast as the family-pack is devoured by our hungry children on Taco Tuesdays. It’s been the best of times. It’s been the worst of times. As a wife, I gave myself an A+ for over a decade….I was oblivious to my own short-comings and blamed my man for most all things wrong in our family. When things started getting more complicated we started marriage counseling and my perfect oblivion was brought to a screeching stop. Those darn psychologists always have a magical way of making people see the truth. And my magical mirror is harsh!! It took the best of professionals (and multiple ones, at that) to help me see the many ways that I had failed and continue to fail in my marriage, but I’m the better for it.

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I read a poignant article  the other day entitled “What Your Husband Really Wants” and it had my mind racing in and out of the many ways I’ve learned to give my husband what he wants. And just like kindergarten, everything I need to know I learned in marriage counseling.

Number 1 – He wants to be your hero. My husband wasn’t able to be my hero because my fierce independence and “I can do it myself” attitude never allowed him to be. Much of the time I would be running around the house like a tornado on its way to Oz all upset that once again he was sitting on the couch while I so desperately needed a break. How could he be so oblivious? Unbeknownst to me he was sitting on the couch because after many years of trial and error the genius of a man knew it was the safest place. He thought he was being my hero by getting out of my way when I really needed a hero to switch me places and take some of the responsibility off my spiraling shoulders. Well, in marriage counseling I’ve learned the hard way that if the queen wants a knight in shining armor, she has to let him be the king. If every time he tried to help, I bit his face off for something then he figured I would be happier if he was out of the way.

2 – He wants to be your lover. I feel like this is the area where I probably struggle the most. I don’t want to get into too much detail as I have to remember that this very post may be accessed by future employers and/or my mother-in-law. Let’s just say that it takes two to tango. I have learned that I am equally as bad at receiving as I am at giving undivided attention. Sure I can go through the motions and I have A LOT (ha!), but if my heart isn’t there then it is just as damaging to my husband as leaving him exiled on the couch. At one point our therapist gave us a “touching” exercise. We were to take 30 minutes each where the other would just touch us all over. We weren’t allowed to talk; we had to be naked. It totally wigged me out. It took this exercise for me to get in touch with a lot of real hang-ups I have….seventeen years later. My poor poor lover was constantly being rejected. This area is a real battle for me. I have learned that sex isn’t meant to be just physical but is best and healthiest when it’s emotional. It takes vulnerability to create true intimacy.

3- He wants to be your best friend. This is an area that has been our marriage’s saving grace. Since the very beginning my husband has been my best friend: I love being with him, I tell him everything, and he is the first person I call when I have good or bad news.  I also know that he considers me to be his best friend, but as is true with all of my friendships, I have a lot of room for improvement. I am a horrible listener which makes connection very one-sided. My impatience is not helpful to either side of the friendship and my quickness to problem-solve and rescue instead of just supporting is hugely problematic. Here, it boils down to trust…I can be a much better friend when I trust myself to be a good friend and I trust my best friend to take care of himself.

4 – He wants to understand you. For a lot of women this is a problem because they aren’t willing to share their deep desires. Like me, they also aren’t forthright with what they need. I, in my great need to be understood, over-share everything with a hidden agenda of control. I’ve been let-down (by my own hypersensitivity and others negligence) in my life so much that I feel like I have to now control everyone around me so they won’t hurt me. “I love daisies, but they can’t be orange. For my birthday, here is my list…make sure #2 is just the right size. No, we can’t go there to eat, you know I hate Indian food.” Trust me, we could do this all day. I guess what I have learned the most here is that being truly understood trumps any manipulated derivative that he could offer. I’ve had to let go of control and accept what others have to offer. What is more important: that he gets me the right kind of flowers or that he knows I’m having a crappy day? That I get what I want for my birthday or that he loves me enough to buy me a present? That we go where I want for dinner or that he wants to be with me on a date?

5 – He wants to protect you. It would be interesting to hear my husband’s opinion on this one, but I think he would probably correlate this to what I’ve already said about letting him being my hero. If I am all suited up in body armor of my own making and I think I can wield a sword better than he can then what is there for him to protect? I don’t need to be weak to be protected, but I do need to be humble enough to let him stand next to me on the enemy line. At the very least I need to not stand across from him with my gun pointed in his direction. That’s figurative not literal, in case you are wondering about how necessary marriage counseling is for us. A healthy relationship requires an “it’s me and you against the world” mentality.

6 – He wants to make you happy. There are two things I’ve learned about happiness. 1- No one else can make me happy. 2 – I can’t make anyone else happy. People can however work together with others for mutual happiness. The fact that my man goes to marriage counseling with me is the best way that he has shown me how important my happiness is to him. I have learned how to be happy without him. He has learned how to be happy without me. Therefore WE have learned how to be happy with each other.  My happiness increases as his happiness does and visa-versa. This makes me very happy.

7 – He wants to be himself. This is perhaps the trickiest of the seven. What should we do as human beings with inherent flaws especially when we are in a marriage? Is it really fair for my husband to be himself if being himself hurts me in some way? Is it fair for me to be overly critical (which I am) because that is just the way that I am?  Yes, we want to be ourselves, but, yes, we should also try to improve – especially for our spouse. I remember well the day we met with my psychiatrist who was discussing the behaviors associated with my bipolar disease and the management of such behaviors. LG asked, “How do I know the difference between Alice being bipolar and Alice just being Alice? I married her because I love some of these things about her – even if they are bipolar.” That, my friends was the most romantic thing I had ever heard. I think back on it often. He loves me for me, even if me is kind of screwed up. I try to give him the same benefit of the doubt although I think he is better at this than I am. I have found that I am always the best at letting him be himself when I put his needs above my own and he has learned that I am better at overlooking his weaknesses when he lets me know his awareness of them and how he is working at fixing them.

So, there you have it: my cliff’s note version of three years of marriage counseling. Yes, it has taken me three years to work my way up from a big fat F to a pretty solid C, if I do say so myself. I can honestly say that my marriage is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to me. It’s the worst because that mirror it forces me to look in is so very harsh! It’s the best because when I look in the mirror and start to cry at all the flaws that I see in myself, my man has always been there to love me through it. It’s my honor and privilege (when I succeed at it) to do the same for him.

Why? Because the amazing man that is my husband LeGrand makes me happy. He is my protector. He gets me. He is my best friend. He’s my lover. He’s my hero.

I feel a song coming on:

I belong with you. You belong with me. You’re my sweetheart. I love you LG.

God loves broken things.

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So, I haven’t been blogging like I should.
Did I mention that I am 40 and pregnant?
And a broken vessel just trying to cope with life?

Trust me, coping is hard to do when you are pregnant with what could be your own grandchild. I like to tease that I have always been a do-it-yourself kind of gal so I took the matter of having grandchildren into my own hands.

Oh, the really great news that you have all read on facebook by now is that after having four wonderful beautiful daughters, we are finally having a boy!!  I still can’t believe it. As you remember from this post I referred to the then un-sonogram-ed kid as a he. From the experience I had in the temple I knew that he would be a boy, but I didn’t want to admit it publicly until I knew for sure. (I have another special story about this boy to tell you some day.It started with a dream about 9 years ago.)

God has a great way of taking broken people and making them whole. In my case, one really astonishing way He has made me feel whole is by sending me a son. I’ve always felt like something was wrong with me so that he wouldn’t trust me with a boy. Until I recently read something about the same gender parent having the greatest influence on their kids, and then I realized that it was actually LG who finally must have passed some kind of test. I’m glad LG fixed the broken part of himself that was keeping God from giving us a boy. (This is sarcasm for those of you who don’t know me and think I am the world’s worst wife. I’m really just glad that God finally decided that if we could screw up all these girls, why not throw a boy into the mix?)  I am really excited for this adventure. I can hardly wait to see my beloved husband hold the son that I have always wanted to give him in his arms. Watching him with his infant girls has always been special, but I am excited for a new kind of special.

This morning I got a really sweet message from a friend who told me he read my broken post weeks ago and was touched. On his way to work this morning he heard this song on the radio and wanted to share it with me. One of my favorite things of all time is having a friend reach out at random times and with special messages telling me that they thought of me. This share was especially beautiful. I cried. I loved it. I had to share it with you all along with the most intense feeling that I had with the lyrics, “Could it be that God loves broken things?” I know he does and I know if He were to search the whole earth over, I am one of those most special broken ones, just as you are.

I am thinking of certain people this morning:

  • The friend who is in her forties and has so many kids that I lost count (is it 8 or 9?) and is exhausted and terrified that there still may be one more.
  • The divorced dad who still can’t find a job after months of searching, but doesn’t quit.
  • The thrice divorced mom who is just trying to love her kids and herself.
  • The mom of a very special boy in and out of hospitals.
  • The mom who deals with chronic illness and a slew of medical bills and no acceptable answers.
  • The friend who is trying to learn to walk again after a very scary life-altering surgery.
  • The widower raising his son without his beloved by his side.
  • You who has two completely unacceptable grades because you once again procrastinated turning your homework in, even though you know better. But change is so hard!!
  • The dads out there who bust their tails and still never feel like they can provide enough.
  • The addict who just can’t lay off the sauce.
  • The lonely person who has everything that they could possibly want financially but nothing that they need.

So many more of you are suffering in ways I don’t have time to relay in this post.

I just want to tell you that I know you’re broken and with all my broken I still love you.

But more importantly, God knows your brokenness, and in all his perfection He loves you. And better than loving you, He will fix you! I should say He will fix us! Because I need the most fixing. God not only can make us whole, He will, in His own time, in His own way. From experience I know that His way will only make us suffer as long as is absolutely necessary for our own growth.

Home on the Range

My third grade teacher died at 91-years-old a few months back. His name was Mr. Panman, a WWII Nazi camp survivor from Holland, and one of the best teachers I ever had. I’ll never forget the emotions I felt the day he told us about running from the Nazis and tearing to shreds his back by crawling under a barbed wired fence. I cried in class while I heard his living history. I loved him so much. He always played the piano in class and he often sang us the song Home on the Range.  The class quickly learned the lyrics and always sang along while thoroughly enjoying the musical break to our daily studies. Oh the good old days. I swear if I am ever a teacher, I would employ this simple form of educational entertainment.

Oh give me  home, where the buffalo roam,
where the deer and the antelope play.
Where seldom is heard a discouraging word
and the skies are not cloudy all day.
Home, home on the range.

I’m sure Mr. Panman is roaming free on a very vast range that includes a piano. Love you Mr. Panman. I can’t go to a place with buffalo and not think of Mr. Panman.

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On Saturday, while at Antelope Island, I had to break the law and get out of the car to take the photo above (of the buffalo – and the family, actually) The law-abiding family was in the rental van freaking out. I just laughed while I shot away. I was pretty sure I could outrun the buffalo just 20 feet away. The kids were begging LG to make me get back in the car saying I was going to get arrested. He assured them, “I’m staying in here with you, so one adult doesn’t get arrested.” Bella put two and two together really quick. (We were in the rental van that only I am allowed/insured to drive.) “But Dad, if mom gets arrested, who is going to drive us home?”

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On the way home we met up with Amy and Tyler and went to our favorite family restaurant. It was such an enjoyable dining experience with the cozy atmosphere, big fire, good food, and kids all getting along.

We love you Cracker Barrel. Our waiter, Kyler, was the best waiter I’ve ever had in my entire life.
I just got off the phone with the store manager to let him know to keep that kid around. I wish I would have got his photo. I guess we’ll just have to go back.

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Have a great Monday wherever you roam the range.

Feel free to sing along with your munchkins. Mr. Panman would very much approve.

Our family rocks!!

We decided to make the most of our Saturday after a really high-stress week. We took a short road trip in the rental van. We’re still in negotiations with the insurance company.

We went up to Antelope Island and out to dinner at the close-by Cracker Barrel. We haven’t been to a Cracker Barrel since it was right down the street in TN. It was so fun to see the girls get all sentimental in the shop. (photos to come)

After a short stop at IKEA (2 hours is short) we cranked up the toons for the remaining hour long drive.

I busted out the camera because I wanted to capture the moment. My joy was full. (Glad I didn’t crash trying to multi-task – save your lectures)

Our family rocks just like they do on one of our favorite movies: Bandslam. If you haven’t seen it, you can’t possibly be complete.