Parker was stung by a bee yesterday afternoon. For some reason the bees are very attracted to our pool. We don’t like having bees buzz around our heads. We try to encourage them to leave but they insist on staying. Parker said that the bee was in the water so he was trying to scoop it out. He thought it was dead on the ground. But no, the bee had vengeance on his mind and came back to sting Parker in the hand between his thumb and forefinger.

I pulled the stinger out with tweezers per Heath’s suggestion. Then I gave Parker an ice pack. He didn’t really use it for long and we didn’t insist he use it after dinner. We did give him Ibuprofen. This morning he was not feeling well. He said his hand hurt and the pain was all the way up his arm. He also claimed he was nauseated.

His hand was red and swollen but there was no sign of infection. The swelling was localized around the spot of the sting. It hadn’t grown beyond what would seem normal for the situation. But he was so upset. I gave him more Ibuprofen and told him to eat his dry toast. That was all he wanted for breakfast.

I went online to find the number for the advice nurse and decided to check the symptom tracker to see if he even needed an appointment. It told me I better have him seen soon or the symptoms could get worse. But I kind of got the feeling it wasn’t that big a deal. I have done the symptom tracker thing before. It pretty much always ends up in a scary warning like that. So I call the nurse to make the appointment and can get it all taken care of over the phone. Maybe I’m a bad mom but I didn’t think this was a serious problem.

The questions online are pretty general with general answers. There was no way of saying the answer is yes but …
It was all very black and white for what I feel is a pretty gray issue. I read in several places that redness, pain, and swelling around the site are normal anywhere between a few hours after the incident up to three weeks later. That and the fact that he said his pain level was a 5 made me think he just needed to take it easy today.

The site suggested Benadryl but then a few lines down it said that I better have a doctor’s permission first. He’s had Benadryl before with no problems. Other suggestions included hydrocortisone cream, soaking it in Epsom salt, applying witch hazel (whatever that is!), and my favorite – applying deodorant to the site.

How many of these home remedies should I try? I chose to only give him the Benadryl for now. The Ibuprofen has knocked down his pain level and he has perked up the longer he has been up. I kind of wish I hadn’t woken the boys up this morning. They have been sleeping in really late every morning. I got them up around 8:30 so we could get ready to meet our friends at the park. Given all that happened as soon as I woke up Parker, we did not go to the park. Nor will we be doing our shopping this afternoon. We’re just going to have a down day.

Parker watched The Bee Movie. The last time he was stung by a bee I let him watch the movie. I guess it’s a tradition now. Hopefully he doesn’t get stung by any more bees though. Twice was enough. Poor guy.

On the Menu



I often go through phases of things to look forward to each day. It’s just one event that sticks out in my mind for each day. It could be whether or not I carpool on a school day or if Heath is working from home. I can tick off the days on my fingers. It’s a quick way to make it to Friday.

This week Friday is coming fast because Heath worked from home today as a result of an early phone meeting, and it’s a holiday weekend. Gavin asked what we’re doing on the 4th of July. I told him it will feel like Saturday but we’re grilling tri tip and probably having potato salad and fun stuff like that. We may go to the church parking lot with some friends to see the fireworks from the fairgrounds. That’s got to be more fun than sitting in the front yard watching the kids throw Pop-Its.

Lately the thing I have been looking forward to the most is dinner. We have tried various menus to get through the week. Most have failed. When they fail we spend more money eating out and ineffectively grocery shopping. We eat whatever is most convenient because we made plans less than an hour beforehand.


This is our new menu board. It’s a magnetic dry erase board we picked up from Hobby Lobby. I cut out the word menu from my Cricut. The kids like to point out that the last two letters look the same. I agree. It is a strange font. I still need to cut out the initials for the days of the week.

Every weekend we plan our menu for the following week. It makes grocery shopping easier. Sometimes we still make multiple trips to the store because we don’t want our lettuce or green onions sitting around too long before we are ready to use it. But it sure cuts down on Heath or me running to the store for last minute items. There were so many days I did that after picking Gwen up from kindergarten. Those trips meant buying her Lunchables!

We also plan our restaurant meals. This week we will be going out twice. Thursday we’re taking the kids out to Round Table to redeem their free personal pizza coupons from the Summer Reading Program. Saturday is Gavin’s happy birthday and he requested 5 Guys. I hope those guys are tender! Tough, old burgers aren’t tasty! I’m kidding. 5 Guys is a burger place that’s a little expensive but really good.

Every afternoon I get so excited about dinner. Even the days I have to cook! I eagerly anticipate eating each day’s meal. The kids get it planned out in their minds too. Occasionally plans change last minute for one reason or another. The kids get pretty bummed out about it. Luckily it doesn’t happen too often.

The menu board hangs on the wall by the table. There really isn’t any wall space in our kitchen. One wall is the fridge and pantry. The other wall is appliances with a small square of backsplash. The last wall is windows with a small section of wall next to the sliding glass door. That’s where we hung up our board. So far I like it.

Frog People


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What do you do when it’s 103 degrees outside? Call up the frog people.


Swim goggles are awesome! Gwen has never worn her goggles for underwater adventures like her boys. While I knew that I’m wondering what on earth she did with them before. Parker is the only one with the full scuba mask type goggles. Gwen wanted to borrow his thinking they would more easily plug her nose. It’s funny how all three have working goggles now, yet they trade (and sometimes steal) goggles all the time. The boys were busy doing their own games under water so Gwen was on her own with her goggles.

She stuck her face in the water for a few seconds and declared “It’s like a whole new world down there!” Her little body was all curled up while she bobbed just under the surface of the water. In her mind she had become a mermaid and finally experienced firsthand the kingdom Ariel grew up in.


I love this picture.


I made sure to keep everyone hydrated. I had so much water and Diet Ocean Spray cranberry raspberry drink that … well, you know … I was definitely not dehydrated. The kids enjoyed the root beer I made them. Thumbs up for Soda Streams!

More than any of the floats we have, Gwen was most excited about floating around in a life jacket. She looked as ridiculous as I must have looked as a child. I remember wearing life jackets at Mt. Spa in Midway. Gwen didn’t want the life jacket for security. She liked how it allowed her to easily float on her back or her tummy. She would let it hold her as she rolled in the water. I loved doing that in lakes. She said she was dancing.

Give me a hot summer day, my sanctuary in the gazebo, and a pool to float in with my frog people and I’m a happy girl. I can still feel myself rocking on the water.

Counting Blessings



This morning’s Sacrament Meeting ended early. This doesn’t happen very often. It’s more likely to run over time than end early. It’s always interesting to see how the Bishopric handles the extra time. Today the Bishop called up two people from the congregation to share their testimonies.

These two men were completely put on the spot. There was no prior notice. They both handled it very well and bore strong testimonies of different gospel principles. Both men even had stories that tied everything together and helped illustrate their points. Very impressive, especially considering the circumstances.

It made me wonder. What would I say if the Bishop called on me? For a split second I anticipated hearing my name as the second person. It would have been nerve wracking but I would have done it. The Bishop came into the Primary room before church started to check on me. He wanted to see how I was doing with things. He’s a good guy. In that brief exchange I’m not sure I expressed myself well. So I guess there was part of me that hoped I could be called up to have a do-over! But I’m sure he felt it would be too much pressure for me.

The first man was Tyler H. His testimony centered around how we are all children of God and therefore brothers and sisters. It wasn’t that long ago that we served together on the Ward Missionary Committee. We took turns teaching the Gospel Principles Sunday School class.

It felt like every lesson was the same for me. Even though it was a different topic each week it really felt like there was a running theme. My lessons all came back to the Plan of Salvation and Christ-like love. Listening to Tyler pricked my memory of those lessons. It was another Post-it Note from heaven. The Lord has been preparing me for some time for the challenge of losing my dad.

The news of my dad’s passing made everything real for me. As I put things back together in my own mind, I find comfort in the simple beauty of the gospel.

I am a child of God.
We are all children of God.
He loves His children.
He loves me.

That love is not a generalization. It’s specific and personal. I know because His hand has been so evident in my life lately. There are no coincidences. He has been blessing me in very personal ways; carrying me, reminding me, preparing me. It is real.

As I was getting ready for church this morning I heard a talk on BYU TV about how personal tender mercies from the Lord are. I call those tender mercies Post-it Notes from heaven. It is pretty amazing to realize how perfectly orchestrated some of those blessings are. I think it’s that way so we have no doubt who it came from.

The speaker on TV suggested we write about our tender mercies. It’s a way of acknowledging the blessings from Heavenly Father and showing Him our appreciation for them. It also helps our memory, which can strengthen our faith.

I have already listed many of the blessings my family and I have received this past month. I am so glad I wrote them down. There were a lot. The Lord never forgot us. It has not been easy to go through the emotional turmoil of losing my dad but I have been so blessed. I’m humbled to still find Post-it Notes from heaven. Remembering a common thread in my lessons as a Ward Missionary may be a little thing. To me it means a lot. So does the Primary theme and scripture for June: Priesthood Ordinances and Temple Work Bless my Family “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matthew 18:18) More Post-it Notes.

There is a plan and a purpose to this life. We were not sent here to fail. It is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that that plan is possible. The Lord is guiding us every step of the way if we let Him. He is invested in our lives. He longs for our return home. He rejoices in our successes and He sorrows with us in our disappointments. I’m nobody in the eyes of the world. If I can be blessed in such specifically personal ways, then there is no doubt in my mind that He loves all of His children. He loves you. If you don’t believe me ask Him. Sincerely ask Him in prayer if He loves you. I promise He will answer.



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Today was a fun family day. This morning Heath and I tried to come with a to-do list. It feels like every Saturday our list is longer than there is day. Not today. The house was pretty clean, including bathrooms. We didn’t have any errands to run. It was a free day.


So we spent a lot of time in the pool. After playing for a long time, Heath grabbed us some Diet Coke and got Otter pops for the kids. We relaxed in the shade and enjoyed our favorite treat. It’s worth noting that I was so concerned about holding my bottle up and out of the water that my other hand holding the lid was in the water. Plus my arms were getting tired of levitating like that. I had to take a break and put the chlorinated lid back on the soda for a bit.

The kids don’t really like being kicked out of the pool. Eventually we had to let them back in! When we allowed them back in we made whirlpools together. That was the best! I was floating on a loungy thingy (technical term) and Parker was pulling me around the circle.

We could have stayed out there forever but it was time to get cleaned up for our anticipated evening of Shakespeare in the Park. The plan was to have a picnic dinner with KFC. We didn’t know how early people arrived for these events and we didn’t know how crowded it would be. It’s like we’ve lived here for years and have never done any of the park activities.

KFC was a little disappointing. First of all, it’s chicken. I hate chicken. My expensive taste in fashion, décor, and everything else also extends to food. Granted I don’t have the patience for cooking beyond warming things in the oven and microwaving. I’m lazy. But I hate chicken and fish.

Recently we watched a show about the origin of words and phrases. Do you know why cow meat is called beef or pig meat is pork? It’s because back in the day the elite royals or other some such stuck up snobs only ate nice food. To make the food even nicer the meat was referred to by its French name. Boeuf means cow and porc means pig. Over time these words were slurred to beef and pork. So much so that I can’t seem to find any online evidence that boeuf means cow. At best it means beef in French. But according to that show this is the history of those words. Chicken and fish were meat for commoners and didn’t have any fancy names.

My expensive taste does not stem from cost. Given a lineup of items I will pick my favorite. It turns out my favorite is always the most expensive. Whether I know the price or not, I will inevitably pick the expensive one. Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh yeah – KFC. I hate chicken!

Well the girl screwed up my order. She understood what everyone else wanted. Did I stutter or do I speak a foreign language somehow? I don’t know. But when I asked for the 10 piece chicken bites she somehow misunderstood the entire thing. She kept asking me what size I wanted. What? Then she said that the potato wedges, which I said I wanted as my side, come in a box. So what size did I want? Again, what? I chose large. Then she asked what size of drink I wanted. She didn’t ask anyone else that question. I said large. More soda for me!

It was a good thing I ordered large. That was my dinner. A box of potato wedges and a large Diet Pepsi. Everyone else had chicken and mashed potatoes with biscuits and drinks and anything else under the sun. I had potato wedges. I like potato wedges … but come on! Heath kept apologizing that she was an idiot. We of course didn’t realize until we were at the park sitting on blankets in the blazing sun. Not much we could do about it then. Oh well.

Luckily I don’t really like chicken. I tolerate popcorn chicken (no longer on the menu) and would have tolerated chicken bites that look very much like chicken nuggets. But I didn’t have any. Heath would have shared his chicken with me but his chicken was still on the bone. Gag! There is nothing worse than bloody ligaments and chicken gristle on bones crisped up so it seems tasty.

So I sat there with my back to the sun inferno eating my very sad dinner. Halfway through the box I was full and bored. The kids were nuts because despite all my explanations of what to expect from a play in the park, they didn’t listen. They were bored and hot and couldn’t see. We kept telling them there was nothing to see anyway. We got there very early in case it was crowded. We would figure out seeing the stage later.

Finally the green show was ready to start. There seemed to be a lot of child staff running around recruiting followers for the green show. Of course the green show wouldn’t be shown on stage! We sent the kids to the green show. It was on the grass near the picnic tables by the playground. Not too far from where we were.

I have to admit, I wished we were in Cedar City. Those plays are put on by the Shakespearean Festival professional actors. There are green shows on the Southern Utah University lawns. The plays are put on in the Theater in the Round. Stadium seating inside a giant open top gazebo. The sun doesn’t crisp families already sunburned from their afternoon in the pool who remembered bug spray but not sunscreen! Who am I to complain though? Shakespearean Festival tickets are expensive while tonight’s Shakespeare in the Park was free.

You get what you paid for though. We had blankets on a spot of lawn in the middle of camping chairs. Once those chairs’ occupants showed up it was going to be really hard to see. It didn’t matter though. We had to leave early because of me.

I decided it wasn’t worth swearing about so I chose to tear up instead. I was so mad at myself. It’s not often that I really hate being diabetic. Today was one of those days. After eating all those potato wedges I figured I better give myself some insulin. Big mistake. I bolused six units knowing I was way underbolusing for potatoes. Not long after that I started feeling like my blood sugar was dropping low. I tested and saw I was 84. Crap on a cracker! I had six units of active insulin sitting in my body. No amount of suspending my insulin pump was going to call back those units.

My pump had to be suspended and I needed to eat. Only the rest of my “dinner” was in a trash can. The best I could do was eat the last six glucose tabs I had in my purse. There were also fruit snacks and granola bars in my purse but I couldn’t see this working for the next two to three hours. I know me. I can stress my blood sugar low. Being low in public really bothers me and I panic. Low blood sugar already comes with symptoms that feel like panic anyway. Shaky, sweaty, I need to eat everything or I will die kind of feelings.

Heath left it up to me to decide what to do. He knows me and knows we were better off leaving. We folded up our blankets while the kids were busy watching the green show. Then we walked over to the green show and waited for it to be finished. Gwen was disappointed to leave but the boys couldn’t care less either way. We stopped off at McDonald’s for some ice cream.

Of course I was feeling better by the time we parked. I turned my pump back on and ordered an Oreo McFlurry. I didn’t bolus for it. When I started eating my ice cream I was starting to feel shaky again. Maybe it was just me trying to make myself feel better for leaving. The play is going on for the next couple weekends so we can try again. We will sit further back where there is a bit of a hill. And we will have camping chairs for everyone.

I’m still so mad at myself for forgetting that the sun zaps my blood sugar. I don’t know how that works or why. But being in the sun almost always drops me on my head blood sugar-wise. The first time I noticed that strange phenomenon was when my dad took me to the last Oingo Boingo concert at Wolf Mountain. From the car to the end of the parking lot, my blood sugar dropped fast. He bought me juice. By the time we climbed the small hill and set down our blanket I was low again. He bought me another expensive cup of juice. I felt horrible about the price but it had to be done.

You would think I could remember how the sun affects me. I can be suspended from my pump for hours doing nothing but floating in a pool. No affect on my blood sugar. I should have known not to bolus for dinner.

The kids enjoyed their ice cream and playing at the playground. I thanked Heath for the ice cream and for being so easy going. Because I’m not. That’s one of the many reasons why we work so well together. Opposites attract I guess.

The greatest things in life …


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are not actually things. It may sound cliché but I have found it to be true. The things I value most in my life are those relationships I have formed. With my family, my friends, my Heavenly Father, and myself. Relationships and experiences are all that matter to me.

Isn’t that the essence of life? In the end we can’t take anything with us but who we have become. I am who I am because of relationships and experiences. I think back to my grandpa’s funeral and that moment when I walked to my seat in the chapel. The room was packed with people standing as the family walked to the reserved pews. It felt like a standing ovation of angels. It was such a beautiful, almost out of body experience for me. In that moment I was so proud to be me – a Swain, a Clarke, and a Westover.

When Heath gave me a priesthood blessing after my dad passed away he used all four of my names. Normally my maiden name is dropped. It felt right. That’s who I am. I have rediscovered much of myself this month as I have come to terms with my father’s passing. I had my reasons for burying my maiden name and that “former life.” Now I celebrate it. I can’t be me without those things.

Over the last few weeks my view of things and possessions has grown. I wouldn’t say I have changed my mind. I have never really been attached to physical items. Things are important to me and I enjoy my stuff. But in the end they are just things. When my parents separated I remember having the existential thought that it was all just stuff. I didn’t need any of it. All I needed was my family. Things can be replaced. People can’t.

I never thought I would want any type of property to remind me of someone. It turns out I do. I am grateful for the physical tokens I have acquired from my dad’s home. They remind me of who I am and where I came from. It doesn’t mean I pay homage to these things. As sad as the thought is, one day these things will blend in with my other things and I won’t always be aware of their significance. After all, they are just things. Physical reminders of loss and hope.

There are items that I actually count as prized possessions. These are my scrapbooks and blog books. If I were warned of a mass exodus and had only five minutes to grab something. The only items I would care to grab would be my diabetes supplies and my books. My state of mind would determine which items I would think of first. The diabetes supplies are important because they keep me alive. The books are important because they contain my life. The diabetes supplies can be replaced. The books cannot.

Those books contain my thoughts, my memories, my experiences, my relationships, not to mention my artistic execution of those stories. Those books are meant for my children and future generations. In the meantime, they have become valuable resources for remembering. Recently Heath was able to help answer a coworker’s questions about infant acid reflux. Copious notes were available in my blog posts from when we lived it. We would have never remembered half those experiences on our own.

Those books are the only physical representation I have of what matters most to me in this life. Objects that personify how the greatest things in life are not things. This means everything to me.

Today was the final Blogging University writing prompt. As usual, I put my own piquant spin on it. I find it interesting how some of the prompts were exactly what I needed when I needed them. Occasionally I wrote on my own only to find my post fit the prompt for the following day! Each assignment was posted at 7:00 am the day it was due. Then there were the prompts that stumped me because I have already addressed the topic … many many times. I almost linked to my very first post from this year. To do justice to the writing challenge, I tackled today’s prompt anyway.

Writing 101, Day Twenty: The Things We Treasure

For our final assignment, tell the tale of your most-prized possession. If you’re up for a twist, go long — experiment with longform and push yourself to write more than usual.

Where Have all the Cowboys Gone?


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My great grandfather had an ear for music. The story is told that he was at a concert once that really offended his ears. At first he tried to cover his ears with his hands. The music was still audibly awful. He slumped in his chair with his hands over his ears like a little child. Soon he had slumped as far as he could and actually crawled under his chair to escape the musical assault. Grandpa Doc was a character!

I love music but my ears are not as well trained. There are times when I wince at off-key harmonies and tinny recordings that distort the sound. I don’t know that I would ever have the reaction Grandpa Doc had. Stories are different. I love stories. My life mission is to collect stories. I call myself the Piquant Storyteller. That’s how important stories are to me.

Maybe I’m a story snob but it seems as if stories have become watered down. Particularly in television and movies. No one trusts their audience to enjoy a real story. It has to be pumped up with extras until there is little story left. It’s just scene after scene of action, violence, and vulgarity. Sarcastic one liners are great in moderation. When that’s all the story is based on then we have a problem.

The library movie for the week was supposed to be Hoodwinked. I vaguely remember trailers for the movie. The library description sounded intriguing. How bad could it be, right? Going to a free movie with free popcorn and water gave us something fun to do this afternoon. The kids and I were stoked.

My memory was jogged all too well yesterday about arriving for these summer library events EARLY. Usually the parking lot isn’t completely full until about 15 minutes before show time. Yesterday we arrived 30 minutes early and had to park a mile away. Not really that far but I could only find a spot at a nearby government building. Was it a slow day at the local county fair or something? Why was there not a parking spot to be had anywhere nearby?

I was terrified I would get a ticket or be towed or something. I did park right in front of a sign clearly stating Visitor Parking Only. I was a visitor. Just not for that facility. Luckily there was no ticket. No harm or hindrance to my vehicle. It was not a big deal. Still, I made sure to get to the library early today for a parking spot. We got there an hour early for a silly cartoon matinee. How desperate are we for afternoon entertainment!

A librarian walked around telling waiting families that they couldn’t get a good copy of the advertised movie and would be showing the sequel instead. This did not faze me. It was actually my second clue that this would be a mind-numbing experience.

  1. Plenty of parking before and after the show
  2. Change in plans including a sequel rather than the original movie which I had not seen

My experience is that most sequels are kind of lame. So maybe Toy Story 2 was slightly better than Toy Story. Which is interesting when you realize that the sequel was meant to go straight to video and not show in theaters. But Steve Jobs pushed the idea. I really think it was him. John Lasseter and the Pixar team rewrote the script in a weekend, finished the entire production in nine months, and it turned out fantastic. Madagascar 2 was definitely better than the original. Anyway, my thought process going into the library “theater” was likely that the sequel would be fine.

I was wrong.

Clue number 3 was that the librarian announced that children under the age of 7 should sit with their parents since there may be intense or scary scenes for young children. Parker looked back at me. I wanted to think Gwen could handle it but it’s Gwen. The girl who claimed she was scared by her Barbies sitting in her toy kitchen fridge. That she arranged earlier in the day that way! The girl who leaves her light on all night and when we turn it off after she falls asleep she turns it back on. Yeah. Gwen. I called her to me and she spent the duration of the movie on my lap.

There were plenty of seats for the adults. I was on the second row. One mom sat a chair away from me then left. Another mom put a jacket on the seat next to me, which is how Gwen ended up on my lap. Then the lady left the jacket and went somewhere else never to return. About halfway through the movie another lady plunked her toddler in that chair and sat behind me. My row was otherwise empty.

Nothing was scary. Even for Gwen. Maybe it was a good thing she sat on my lap. It kept me from slipping under my chair, Grandpa Doc style, snoring and drooling on myself. Instead I did the head bob gripping Gwen’s cup of water tighter with each bob. I have a tendency to drop things unexpectedly. Like pickle jars on tile floor.

Oh how boring that movie was! It seemed to be 90 minutes of poorly animated characters delivering sarcasm that very loosely held together a weak storyline. I will freely admit I am getting old and 8 year old potty humor doesn’t do it for me. Sullen sarcastic characters don’t do it for me. Gratuitous cartoon violence doesn’t do it for me. I’m not sure I even understood the point of the story. There seemed to be a lot of convenient “twists” at the end to wrap things up. I was not impressed.

Gwen and Parker said they loved it. Gavin was a little more reserved in his enthusiasm. I said out loud in the library, in front of God and what few teenage volunteers were around, that I thought it was stupid. Because it was.

Where have all the writers gone? Why are there no quality stories anymore? My kids read Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I am trying to get them to pick more quality literature. Heath said the Wimpy Kid books are the McDonald’s of literature. Gwen exclaimed her intense love for McDonald’s. I think the comparison was still lost on the boys.

What else is there to do but continue to write good stories? The craft must be preserved somehow.

Today was a free write day for Writing 101. I tried to keep the quote in mind. On this free writing day, remember the words of author Anne Lamott: “I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good at it.”

Summertime Fun


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Yesterday we played in the pool a little longer than usual. We were having so much fun and since everyone earned the privilege of playing in the pool there was no clock or alarm to remind us of the time. On Monday Gwen lost the privilege of playing in the pool. She handled it well all things considered.

We have a new cover for the pool. It looks like bubble wrap but it’s designed specifically for our pool. The bubbles create a greenhouse effect and heat up the water slightly. Any heat from the sun gets trapped in the greenhouse effect. It sounds strange but actually works really well. Heath is smart enough to turn on the pump before getting in so the warm water mixes with the cooler water on the bottom. I always remember the pump just before getting in. Yesterday I plugged in the gazebo lights. It’s like my mind is never on the task at hand! Parker fixed it later when I realized the pump wasn’t on.

Everything was so perfect. The water was quite refreshing. Floating around was as relaxing as it can be given that I have to float among three very active splashers. Eventually the kids started saying they were hungry. We got out for a snack. I was the ultimate mom by bringing food outside again with napkins for the crackers and everything! On Monday I made two kinds of soda but forgot there was leftover soda yesterday. On Friday we’re having friends over for a pool party. I will be the hostess with the mostess by offering freshly cut watermelon wedges.

After we ate our snack I couldn’t resist the water. The kids of course had to follow me like little ducklings. Somehow the second time around wasn’t nearly as blissful. We were all a little cranky and in each other’s expanding personal space. About half the pool was shrouded by shade anyway. I found enough of the sun though. As the night wore on my skin darkened with pink highlights. This morning Gavin complained that his shoulders had weird lines on them. Really he had slept on one side and noticed the tight, itchy burned skin without realizing what it was. Gwen was fine but the boys were a little pink on the shoulders.

It’s a good thing today’s plans were to avoid the pool. Tonight I am the guest speaker at the Young Women’s weekly activity for the Beehives (the 12 and 13 year old girls). They want me to teach them fun hairstyles. I’m so excited! My reputation precedes me. It should be fun. I’m going to bring Gwen with as my model. I just wish her hair was longer for some of the styles. Oh well.

My little ponytail of hair that sticks straight out the back of my head has been traded in for a thorough hair straightening this morning. I want to look like I care tonight and not like I am willing my hair to grow by putting it in a ponytail each day after taking my hair pills. I’m so vain.

The weather has been windy and overcast all day. Not very warm either. It was the perfect day to catch a free library show. Last week I completely forgot about the show. I remembered the movie but was not interested in watching a movie we already own at the library. The show was about local wildlife. It was really cool.

Wildlife Associates, based in Half Moon Bay or some place like that, brought four animals to show. There was a red tailed hawk, a gray fox, a horned owl, and an opossum. This animal show went so much better than the last animal show we saw at the library. Expectations of behavior were more clear and the information was presented so much better.

Wildlife Associates takes care of wild animals deemed unsurvivable in the wild. Each animal had a story as to how they found a home at WA. The hawk was accidentally knocked out of its nest as a baby shattering bones in one wing. The fox was abandoned by its mother at a school yard. The students were throwing rocks at the fox family. The mom ran away but her two pups were too little to keep up with her. Both brothers live together at WA.

The owl was learning to fly and got too far from the nest. As she spread her wings she coasted out across a street and was hit by a truck. One eye became permanently dilated and she is blind in that eye. An opossum mother was scared by a dog and played dead. Two of her babies fell out of the pouch. The family felt responsible because of their dog. They tried to take care of the babies inside. One died from eating too much of the wrong things. The other lived but needs daily medication after eating the wrong food for so long. 

I loved how personable the presenters were. The stories were well told. Obviously sad stories but told very matter of factly. They were so informative and threw in jokes with their dry humor. The kids appreciated those jokes. They were able to talk to the kids. Not down to them or above their understanding. I loved every second of that presentation.

Early on in the presentation one lady was talking about how wild animals use their senses so differently from us. She said that wild animals can’t differentiate colors and that nocturnal animals can’t see color at all. I sat there wondering how anyone could really even know that. What hypotheses were tested to come to that conclusion? Later she talked about the hawk and how he loves toys. Not just toys but green toys. She said he obviously didn’t read the books that say he can’t see colors. He will not touch any toy that’s not green. She had great stories about him and his green toys.

Parker’s Wolf leader called this morning and told me that Parker can earn his World Conservation Badge if he notes the birds he sees for one week. He was excited to see two birds today.

Gavin was able to earn his first reading prize. That boy earned his prize. This is the first summer that my kids seem intrinsically motivated to read. I love reading to them but I can’t read out loud for all the hours required to earn every prize before the reading game is over. We wouldn’t be playing in pools or riding bikes through the park or any of the other fun things we’ve been doing this summer. Gavin read The Giver and really enjoyed it. He’s now listening to Speaker for the Dead. All the kids are looking forward to our Northwest Trip so they can rack up the hours listening to Inkheart and Inkspell on the drive.

Parker picked out a couple books at the library. He chose Dragon in the Sock Drawer because it’s one of his favorites. And he picked up a book that looked interesting. He says he likes fantasy and that book fit the bill. Gwen picked out two Junie B. Jones books. They’re a second grade reading level. Some of those books are a high first grade reading level. Gwen was reading to me this morning. I was so impressed by the books she was reading and how well she was doing.

We also found Alice in Wonderland. I will read it out loud to the kids when I finish reading Frindle to them. I hate the Alice in Wonderland movies! But I hated Peter Pan too and enjoyed the book. Maybe I’ll like the original story of Alice in Wonderland.

It’s been a pretty fun summer so far.

I’m sure there’s a phobia for that!


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Gavin said he wants to memorize all the phobias. I think that may take some time. There are a lot of phobias. A quick search online brought up many sites listing phobias. Wikipedia admits their list is incomplete. The Phobia List says their list was started in the 1980’s and put online in 1995. It is several pages long and I’m sure also incomplete. Good luck to my tween in his memorization endeavors.

If pain is weakness leaving the body, then what is fear? An acknowledgement of weakness? Having my fair share of anxiety, it hurts to face fear. The threat of a stroke or heart attack is an uncomfortable feeling! Although I did learn in my Understanding Anxiety class that adrenaline will not cause death. Hitting the ground will, or being mangled in a car accident. You know, whatever you’re afraid of. The worst thing that can happen from intense fear is that you live through the experience. Trust me, that’s enough.

We all are scared of something. Some more than others. And then there’s me. The queen of anxiety. I regularly address these fears in my writing. Which made today’s writing prompt difficult for me. What am I afraid of that I haven’t already said?

Then it hit me.

The what ifs give me a mini panic attack.
What if my mind goes blank?
What if this is all there is to say?
What if I have to resign to the fact that this project is over too?

A friend once said that she never wanted to scrapbook because it’s a never ending project. That is one of the many reasons why I love writing. There will always be something to write about. Right? But what if there is nothing left to say?

What if I have said it all? Over and over till there is no way of ever saying it better? And there are no new experiences to write about anyway? What if? What if? What if?

Life has hit enough plateaus for me in the last couple of years that my greatest fear is becoming reality. I know I don’t have to write every day. When I don’t write it affects me. My fingers itch to race across the keyboard. There is no way of scratching off the letters from the keys if my fingers can’t drum out my thoughts. The other day Heath showed me a keyboard that is basically a reflection of a keyboard on any surface. My heart stopped. That just sucks all the fun out of writing.

I am thrilled that when school resumes all three of my kids will be gone all day. The future feels spotless and full of possibilities. What wonderful things I could do during a full, uninterrupted school day! No more kindergarten schedules ever! *sigh* But what will I do all day?

Being a full time mom is all I have known for nearly 11 years. I am a very hands off mom. I don’t micromanage. When they walk out the door to school they are on their own. So what can I write? Getting the house clean more regularly and faster is not interesting. Not every day. I can’t have holes in our family history. I can’t! If there is nothing to say then there are holes.

It’s difficult to explain the need to write. I have never been much of a journal keeper. Scrapbooking was a great way for me to journal. Until I didn’t have time to do it justice. Blogging was so much faster. Then blogging became addicting. I can’t stop. I have tried. When the drought of ideas begins I try to stop. But I am worthless in the other facets of my life. My mind will not shut down until I have typed something. I have lame posts every so often just to overcome the writer’s block.

I was so excited to sign up for this Blogging University because of the ideas I would get each day. When I posted the link to last night’s post WordPress told me I had published five whole posts. Wow. How sad. Today is Day 17 or something like that. In my defense, life happened. Which was a relief to my fears of running out of ideas.

Maybe part of the fear stems from the need to leave my story behind. I’m not an interesting person per se. But I have to leave the story. I have to. I don’t know why. It’s morbid when I really think about it. Regardless, I have to do it.

Heath keeps encouraging me to write a book. A novel. I have published my blog books, which are more fact than fiction. I want to write a novel. It would be fun. But it can’t take away from blogging. I don’t want it to take away from blogging. My fear is taking a blogging break. My greatest fear is running out of ideas.

If I write a novel will I be admitting there is nothing else to say about my life?

I guess I was more afraid of these things than I realized.

The Essence of Things


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Things. They are what one inevitably accumulates over a lifetime. Most of it is worthless without the memories associated with the things. Some of it can fetch a price. It just depends on the things.

I can only imagine what it must be like to be in the estate business. The business of buying and selling late people’s things. What must their office look like? Does such a person find treasure among all the things and keep any of it? There must be warehouses full of things. Things to inventory, to price, to sell. Things.

Until recently I would have thought that other people’s things smelled like death. Dusty and old and not worth much. I could never be in the estate business of buying and selling dead people’s things.

My great grandmother passed away when I was maybe 5 or 6 years old. I have vague memories of my mom going through the house full of things. All these years later I remember the smell of strong rose perfume and dust. There were boxes and shelves and shelves full of boxes of things. So many things it was overwhelming to me. There are the edges of a memory in my mind. I was standing on one side of a shelf of things sitting in the middle of a room. There was a dreamy yellow light shaft from across the house. I can still see the dust dancing on the light.

What sort of things would an estate business person see? Furniture of course, but also trinkets and knickknacks. Those things that hold the memories, both revered and forgotten.

My dad’s house was the jackpot of these types of things.

As soon as the door opened I could smell the spicy cinnamon. The rush of familiarity was surprising. I don’t remember associating any type of scent with my dad. But there it was. Warm and familiar while taking up residence in my nose and throat. It smelled like the colors of autumn. Those colors say Dad.

My dad has always been stylish with an eye for design. I was unprepared for the visual assault of things on my first visit to his home. The decorations were floor to ceiling, perfectly filling every conceivable space. You would expect to find food in a person’s pantry. Upon opening the bi-fold doors there were more things. No, not stored. Proudly displayed on every shelf. Floor to ceiling.

That first time was almost like walking through a hoarder’s house. Only meticulously clean and beautiful. My mind could not wrap itself around the amount of things. By the second time I was less overwhelmed and was able to appreciate details. The third time Heath came with me and by then I was bursting with pride. My dad’s talents shone.

His front room was like a showroom or a page from a magazine. It was gorgeous. I get my expensive taste from my dad. He spared no expense on his quality pieces. Everything was so luxuriously elegant from the materials that made up the items to the design details.

There were Asian inspired pillows and throws, and intricately carved wooden boxes full of pillows and blankets. The birdcages were beautiful and expertly adorned. His curtains were made of heavy fabric with brocade trim. They were absolutely gorgeous. The tall black iron bistro table and chairs in the kitchen were so him. The open concept rooms at the front of the house were breathtakingly exquisite.

Framed art on the walls gracefully continued the experience on to the bedrooms. He had an office that was “messed up” when the laptop was set on the desk. The office had this carved table in the center of the room that was so mesmerizing. It had several panels all painstakingly carved to look like wooden lace. He also took a small dining table and turned it upside down in a corner. He decorated the bottom circle with items. You could see the claw like feet of the pedestal since the table was overturned. Then he put a tray or large disk or something in order to make more space for more decoration at the top (or bottom) of the table. I was amazed by his vision and gift to repurpose items.

His bedroom was an Asian oasis. It was richly ornate with deep reds and golds. It was not my style but so well done. He kept his TV in one of the smaller bedrooms with a stylish but smooshy chair. That room was probably my favorite for the dust collectors displayed in the entertainment unit. He had books and CD’s displayed with such an artist’s eye I could never replicate it at the memorial.

I loved walking through the house and recognizing family members in his style. How can one person contain so many spin offs? That’s how it felt though. Dad was the alpha and omega of art and style. The rest of us filtered down from him.

In some moments I coveted his things. Other moments I could only find one or two items that were truly my style and would fit in my life. His furniture was my favorite. But of course it’s hard to transport full couches and fainting couches and tables. In the end I settled for one table and a few small items. As we drove home I wondered if I chose well. Was I just shopping at my late father’s home because I could or did I really find meaningful things?

My creativity has been a little stifled by the memory of my dad’s perfection. I want to do things in my home but get frustrated because I can’t afford what I want. Today I decided it was time to continue what I started in my bedroom. At least make space for the stunning table I did bring home.

The few items I took from my dad’s house as memories of him … tears stung my eyes as I lovingly made space for them among my things. He had a couple butterflies in his house. Not many. Gwen loves butterflies. The boxes I took embellished with metal butterflies are so Gwen it’s uncanny. Heath says that maybe my dad bought the boxes not really knowing why he was drawn to them. I want to believe that’s true. I looked at the metal fairy hugging her knees in a round nest. Sobs choked in my throat as I thought of what a Tristan fairy it is. The only fairy in his house. Maybe just maybe he was drawn to these items for far more transcendent reasons.

I find myself trying to smell his things to smell him. The scent has to live in my memory because smells have no staying power on non-porous surfaces. If I inhale deeply with my eyes closed I can almost smell his spiciness.

It’s true that he who dies with the most things still dies. But those things can mean so much to so many. My brother often said that it’s just stuff we didn’t know about. We didn’t need those things before. We learned we need those things now. Those things remind me of who I am and where I come from. Those things make me believe that my dad loved me in some way and remind me that I loved him in my own way. Yes they are just things; things I have lived without. But things I cannot live without now. If not for the memory of the things.

This is Part III of my Writing 101 three part series about lost and found. Part I is titled Post-it Notes from Heaven and is about loss. Part II is titled Lost and Found – A Father’s Day Story. I didn’t know ahead of time what the three prompts would be or how the last two parts would even fit into my journey after the first part fit so perfectly. Technically I cheated and used my Father’s Day post for Part II days after I wrote and published it.


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