Kids

Arabella FInn back to school

Isn’t it so exciting to get ready for the kids to go back to school? Normally I start out super organized and ready for the school year. All the kids’ lockers and lunch boxes are cleaned out and ready to go–normally. But this year it didn’t really happen like that. This year started out with a little more mayhem. I told the kids to go clean out their lockers. I didn’t bother to check them, though, so who knows if they did it. I’m just too knackered to really care all that much. My oldest two kids are knee-deep in preparations to go to Brazil for a couple of years so it’s not like my brain can handle organizing everything and everyone at the same time.

Maybe I just have no energy left for mothering. Maybe I had this finite amount of caring inside of me and I used to much of it when the kids were little. I squandered all my caring and effort on matching clothes and finding attractive hair accessories and now I’ve depleted my parenting resources. Instead of viewing my energy as something renewable, like solar power, I should really be considering all my parental interest as fossil fuels. Once they’re gone, they’re gone!

Yesterday at Back to School night one of the parents raised his hand and said he’d like to see the class do a Science Fair or Wax Museum (which is a really obnoxious thing that the schools do around here. Every single third grader dresses up as a historical character* and does a little two minute presentation and all the parents walk through the “wax museum” and the “statues” magically come to life and give us their two minute presentation. All at the same time, over and over again to all the parents who come through and press the kid’s “button”. It sounds cute but really it’s a pain and you can’t hear any of the kids because there are 125 third graders mumbling all at the same time.)  The dad went on to elaborate on how great it is and how it teaches the kids to speak in public blah, blah, blah. I raised my hand and said, “can we vote on that? Because I hate those things.” The mom in front of me turned around and gave me a fist-bump. Another beleaguered soul, I can tell.

On the last day of school way back in the[del]Pleistocene Era[/del] first week of June I instructed my kids to clean out their backpacks and lunch boxes and all that stuff. I naively assumed that they followed my instructions. Can you believe I was such an idiot? Fast forward to three weeks ago when I was looking for a lost library book (one of my favorite past-times). I knelt down and looked under the bookshelf in the living room. The library book wasn’t there but I did find Jasper’s really fancy bento lunchbox. And what do you suppose was inside? The ham and cheese sandwich that he hadn’t bothered to eat was a pile of maggots. Yes, writhing maggots everywhere. My first reaction was to throw everything out. But I wanted Jasper to be very aware of the consequences of hiding his lunchbox and letting nature take its course. So I informed him that we would be continuing to use his maggoty lunchbox. (Sans insect pupae, of course.) Naturally he was thrilled.

In between dry heaves I hosed the box out and then did what I call “Texas fumigation”: placed the lunchbox in a black garbage bag and then placed the bag on the hot black asphalt for a few days (this is also a great way to kill lice on bed linens and stuffed animals. For extra death, put the stuff in the car which has been left out in the sun). I let the 104º weather do the dirty work of killing all the vermin.  Then the lunchbox got a soak down of clorox and two trips through the dishwasher’s sanitation cycle. There were a few suspicious stains left but nothing smelled amiss so the lunchbox has been put back into action.

I meant to throw all the other lunchboxes and backpacks though the washing machine before school started too. Fail. Everyone showed up with accessories covered with stains. And I forgot to take pictures of most of the children too. Because I am that organized.

When I went to put Jasper’s lunchbox in his backpack I realized that it was still full of everything from his last day of class. Another fail. So I dumped it out on the stairs, put his new stuff inside and sent him out the door. See? I wasn’t kidding.

Jaspers crap on stairs

Naturally I spent the rest of the day in bed with a giant Mtn. Dew, watching Mr. Selfridge.

So you might see why I have already sort of given up before we even got started. Although to give myself credit, the kids did all have fresh haircuts and new shoes.

 

I haven’t been writing much about our Texas Tuesdays this summer. Shame on me! I’ve got a whole pile of things to tell you about. One of our most favorite place we went was called Newman’s Castle. This is quite a drive from Austin–about an hour and a half (it’s just past Brenham), but it’s completely worth the trip. We went when all of the big kids were at camp or working so it was just the littles along with my niece, Avery. We also brought along some friends of ours. Because road trips are funner with friends!

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Newman’s Castle is probably the coolest and oddest place we’ve visited. Mr. Newman owns a bakery in the very small town of Bellville, Texas. Many years ago he decided it would be pretty cool to build a house outside of Bellville that looks like a castle, so that’s just what he did. Now this isn’t a flashy Donald-Trump style palace that is meant to show off his dazzling wealth. It’s more of a modern ode to medieval times. Like if you thought, “wouldn’t it be cool to have house with a moat?”, so you built one.

And being a smart businessman, he decided to charge people admission to come and see his castle.

Newmans castle ada avery

 

Mr. Newman offers tours a few days a week and you have to call ahead to schedule one. Here’s his website to get more detailed info. The cost of the tour includes lunch as well (with lots of goodies from his bakery) and is $15. It was yummy but be forewarned: the sandwiches come pre made with the vilest of monstrosities: mustard. But that was really the only drawback of our visit.

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The way it works is that you show up at the bakery, pay your admission, then are given a map to find the castle and you head over there in your car.

On the day of our tour it was us and a bus load of retirees. I don’t know if they enjoyed it as much as the kids did. Mr. Newman really knows how to engage children. He gave them all wooden swords (to borrow not to keep!) at the beginning of the tour and had them make a passageway over the drawbridge for us old folks to pass under.

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Then we were shown around the castle. Naturally there was a torture chamber, complete with faux bloody appendages.

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The kids were more than happy to be imprisoned We were tempted to leave them there but our husbands might have suspected something.

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The thing to remember is that Newman’s castle really is somebody’s house. Mr. Newman is amazingly cool about letting total strangers wander all over the place.

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You get to see the fancier rooms like the banquet hall

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And living rooms

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But you also get to wander into his bedroom and bathroom. Which seems oddly personal but is sort of awesome. He has armor and crowns and toy swords all over the place to keep the kids entertained ( you can see Ye Olde TV Sette here in the master bedroom). Unlike castles in Europe where the family lives in one wing and tourists are allowed in another wing, this castle is on the smaller side and you get to see all the nooks and crannies.

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Most of the wooden pieces were crafted by Mr. Newman himself, including the armoires and these dandy bathroom faucets: (this would be the master bath, as you can tell from the toiletries on display. As I said, it’s his house, not a museum.)

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The kitchen was pretty interesting too.

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But the favorite thing that the kids got to do was to lower and raise the drawbridge. It’s got an old-school hamster-wheel mechanism. The caretaker of the castle showed the kids how to work it then set them loose. It was pretty entertaining for us to watch but the boys found it a bit intimidating.

We loved our visit to Newman’s Castle and would highly recommend it to anyone who loves quirky and interesting sights. It make a great day trip from either Austin or Houston.

The other day I stopped at World Market to pick up hagelslag*, otherwise known as chocolate sprinkles. They’re not crappy chocolate sprinkles like you get at the grocery store, they’re real European chocolate sprinkles and that’s what my kids like to put on their toast and bagels. While we were in there trying to decide what other delicious chocolate things to buy, York decided to use the bathroom.  In order to get to the bathroom, York had to walk through the wine section. A woman stopped him to ask if he worked there. When he replied no, the women sighed wistfully and said she was trying to buy a bottle of wine for her friend’s birthday but had no idea what to pick.

York glanced over at the wine bottles closest to him. “Why don’t you try some Pinot Noir?” York offered, “it’s a little sour and a little sweet.”

Let’s just pause here to remind everyone that York is not only eighteen, but a Mormon. So he’s about the last person you would ever want to ask for a wine recommendation. But there is a bar where he works and he has to be vaguely fluent in alcohol-ese so that he doesn’t sound like a complete idiot when someone asks him a question about drinks.

“Pinot Noir?” The woman pondered. “That’s a good idea.”

York picked up the closest bottle of Pinot Noir he saw and handed it to the woman. “This is a really good year. I think your friend will like this one.”

Yep, he just grabbed a random bottle and recommended it to the lady. But he has already learned the first important lesson of being an adult: “being confident and sounding like you know what you’re talking about will take you far”.

 

*Hagelslag is a Dutch thing. I can’t remember where we first heard about it but we’re quick to try anything that involves chocolate for breakfast. You can read more about the delightful world of hagelslag here.

*I know it seems like I only write about York.  He has always had the funniest things happen to him, for one thing. He is also very good-natured about me writing about him. Some of the other kids get a little weirded out by it.

 

Sunrise jumping

I grew up surrounded by Night Owls. Everyone in my family stayed up late all the time, particularly on weekends. This was mostly due to the fact that my mother has always been a chronic napper. We all knew that every afternoon was quiet time and there was no reason in the world–none–in which you should wake her up. She was also a champion sleeper-inner. Again, there was no reason that she would ever be woken up.  (“You missed the bus? Too bad, so sad, now get walking. So what if you have to cross a ten-lane major thoroughfare on the way to elementary school. You should have thought about that earlier. And it’s snowing? That’s what boots were invented.”)  This set her up for a pattern which continues to this day. She has to stay up late because she took a nap. But she’s so tired since she stayed up late that she has to take a nap. To this day she refuses to believe that this is all a self-perpetuating problem.

Breakfast growing up was mostly made by us. it usually consisted of cereal which would be eaten while sitting on top of the heating vents in our kitchen, with our nightgowns tented over the top to trap all the warm air.  (Michigan was always cold, even inside).  Lunches were packed by us and starred a PB&J sandwich that had been previously made and frozen. These sandwiches were all lined up in a neat row across the door of the freezer. Frozen, they were actually pretty decent with the peanut butter retaining a pleasant hardness that never froze entirely. But once they were defrosted they were a hideous soggy mess that was particularly susceptible to apples. I can’t tell you how many times I would dump out my Charlie’s Angels lunch box only to find a wet apple-sized dent in the middle of the bread.  Even now I have PTSD flashbacks when I see a package of Uncrustables in the grocery store freezer. I can’t imagine paying money for such a thing.

So, yes, mornings were a time of cold, dark unhappiness. Best to avoid them entirely.

College was a revelation. Classes could be scheduled whenever I wanted? Naturally I never chose anything before noon. I couldn’t understood why everyone wasn’t on campus at 9 p.m., after-dinner seeming to be the most civilized time to go to school. So what if walking home down “Rape Hill” was simply terrifying? At least I didn’t have to set an alarm clock ever.

Even when I worked I waited tables (“I’ll take the lunch shifts, please”) or had a retail job that would let me come late and stay later. Only idiots and weirdos would get up early on purpose!

But then I went and had babies. No matter what I tried, they just didn’t like to stay up late. Or rather, they liked to stay up late just fine. But they also like to get up very early.  And the crummy thing about babies is that once they’re up, they’re up. It’s not like a dog where I could just let it out into the backyard then climb back into bed. No. These tiny people wanted to be fed and played with. So inconsiderate.

The oddest thing started happening, though. I found that after a couple of years that I had more energy and vigor (or was it vim) in the morning.  I actually started waking up before the kids to shower and get ready. I seemed to accomplish so much more when I would get up early. It felt like a revelation!

I also started getting very tired at night. I tried to force myself to stay up but the lustre was gone. I didn’t want to see midnight movies anymore. I certainly didn’t want to have a late-night job.

This summer I have realized that the night-owl in me has completely and absolutely died. And I’m quite happy about that. I love to wake up before everyone and read my scriptures and check my email and computer stuff before anyone is awake. I have so much more energy and find that I get a million more things done when I get a big jump on the day. Part of me feels like this is lame. I never in my life thought I would see the sun rise every single day. And that I would be OK with it.

I do wonder, though, what will happen when I don’t have to be up and around for little kids. Will I stay in bed all day again? Or will I keep my early bird ways?

 

This year we got our Big Summer Trip out of the way early on. We had a family reunion with most of Mister’s family out in San Diego. Mister’s Mother turned 80 this year and we all got together to celebrate. We rented a bunch of condos right on Mission Beach and had such a lovely time. The weather was in the 70’s the whole time and we hardly knew what to do without sweat running down our backs constantly. The ocean was mighty cold and it took the kids a while to get into the water.

San Diego Hildie (1 of 1)

I have been begging Mister to please let us have a trip to the beach for years but he finds the beach boring and much prefers traveling to cities where there are piles of things to do and see. But how could anyone hate this? Although the mornings in San Diego were a bit chilly, I liked nothing more than to sit on the balcony outside our bedroom and read a good book before everyone else woke up. Mister gave me a Kindle for our anniversary which was on the first day of our trip. I’ve resisted Kindles for many years but as I’ve entirely run out of bookshelf space, I’m having to rethink my view on e-readers.

San Diego Mission Beach Panorama

 

San Diego Bella Ada Beach

 

The place where we stayed was especially nice because it had a large outdoor terrace right on the boardwalk that runs along Mission Beach. The boardwalk was constantly full of people walking, biking, skateboarding and generally being completely fascinating.  We also had a lovely fire pit on the terrace that we sat around every night. It’s so fun to watch the cousins hang out now that they’re all getting older and the age differences don’t matter as much as they did when the kids were young.

San Diego Cousins Fire

Here is perhaps the most magical wonderful thing about this vacation: there were no bugs. None. Zero. I had completely forgotten that it’s possible to actually be outside in the evening without mosquito repellant. I guess it’s the strong winds coming off the ocean or whatever. But I was blessedly itch-free for a whole week.

Naturally we couldn’t go to Southern California and not hit Disneyland. We haven’t been there in forever. And we haven’t ever gone with cousins. We had a few issues with rides being mysteriously “shut down” off and on all day. It turns out Kim and Kanye were there for North’s birthday. And because they are the most special people in the galaxy, they didn’t have to wait like us rabble. No sireee, they got the whole ride shut down so that they and their cheesy entourage could go without waiting.

San Diego Disney Teacup

 

I made T-shirts for some of the younger cousins. They all requested their favorite Disney character. (Stitch? Really?) I’m truly proud that there wasn’t a single Princess.

San Diego Disney Cousins

We had Grandma’s birthday dinner at Ariel’s Grotto one night and were disappointed that they only do characters at breakfast and lunch. If you go for dinner you won’t get to do a conga line with Minnie Mouse and Pluto but you will get tickets for VIP seating at the cool evening show, World of Color. We enjoyed the show immensely (although I think the girls were secretly disappointed not to see Belle). Normally I hate crowds and all that stuff, but if you have a nice spot already it makes everything so much better.

Hanging out with Grandpa is the best of all, though.

San Diego Grandpa

 

 

Because we were in San Diego with so many relatives, we decided it would be nice for India and York to be able to go through the temple for the first time with their grandparents and aunts and uncles.  What a great experience! And that San Diego temple is sure impressive. (But, honestly, our little San Antonio temple is much, much prettier on the inside.)

San Diego Temple Kids

 

San Diego Temple Grandp

 

We had a remarkably great time on our trip. Most of the cousins are teenagers and older and we had all the single people stay in one condo together. It was the best idea we’ve ever had. Not only did the parents like it but so did the kids. Arabella and her cousin Daisy never get tired of having lots of time to hang out. And the trip was blessedly free of drama. When was the last time you could say that about your family reunion?

San Diego Arabella Deisy

Do you want to know the most incredible thing of all? We had all suitcases unpacked within one day of getting home. It’s a miracle!

 

 

 

 

York just graduated from High School over the weekend. It was . . . how shall I put this? Less than interesting?  I’m certainly glad he graduated.  I know high school was a big pain and we are very proud of York for making his four years there a success (he was voted Most Talented and Class Clown. Guess which one I’m more proud of?). But there are very few more boring events than graduation. Do we really need several perky girls talking about how fantastic they are and how their futures are going to be so awesome!!!!!!?(And yes, it was all girls in York’s grade. Out of the top ten students, only one was a boy. Naturally.) These are probably the same girls who wouldn’t dream of talking to most of the kids in their grade only a week earlier.

Instead of a bunch of boring speeches, how about an elaborate musical number, complete with a rotating stage and ostrich feathers? Now that would be entertaining!  And instead of just announcing the grads (all seven million of them), how about pre-recording each one introducing themselves with a little personality and verve, like they do at the beginning of the Miss America Pageant?  (“Representing the Lakeline Villas Apartment complex, my name is McKenzie Kay Larson!”)

Nowadays they have the graduates wear medals and tassels of different sorts. I guess it’s so that the kids all feel better about themselves, like it’s the Olympics or something. One of the medals means “I’m graduating!” For real. You get it just for showing up. As if the cap and gown didn’t tip everyone off.  Sadly, nobody knows what all the different accoutrements mean. There’s no explanation in the program. All I can assume when I see a graduate walk by with a bunch of medals and tassels is that she must be a really high-strung, Type-A person.

Naturally York couldn’t find his mortarboard when it was time to leave for the graduation. I asked him if he had it earlier  and he said, “no, my gowns been lying on the floor all week and I haven’t seen it.” Oh, super; wrinkled shiny polyester. But he had a cap by the time he walked across the stage so he must have found it. Or maybe they have extras for just such an occasion.

Because graduation ended at almost 11:00 pm (don’t even get me started!), we were pooped and York was antsy to get on with his Marvelous Future, he agreed to pose for one–and only one–picture with us. Naturally he used his his-ultra fake smile that he reserves for all the most important occasions.

York Graduation

 

Let me include one of his senior portraits where he looks a whole lot better. If you know us in real life, you’ll be getting your announcement soon! I like to wait til after the event (just kidding, I didn’t get them done in time.)

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As you probably know by know, we’re Mormon. And one of the rites of passage for Mormons is going on a mission when young adults turn 18 or 19 years old (it’s strongly encouraged for boys–being the fools that they are–but optional for girls). Part of the reason is to tell people about Jesus and all that traditional missionary sort of thing. Part of it is to help them learn to get outside of themselves and serve others; community service being a huge part of missions. I can’t think of many teenagers who don’t need a big fat dose of “you’re not the center of the universe”. Part of a mission is just to help kids learn to work hard, do what’s right and solidify their belief in Christ and all that’s good in the world.

Missions are paid for by the missionary and his family. It’s pro-rated by the church so every missionary pays the exact same thing ($400 per month) whether he’s living in Tokyo or a tiny village in Guatemala. The prospective missionaries do not get to chose where they will serve. They go where the Church needs them. Physical, mental and emotional  considerations are taken into account and church leaders prayerfully decide where each prospective missionary will go.  It’s always a total thrill to open the letter (referred to as “a mission call”) to find out where in the world the missionary will be going. It’s always a big joke that you’ll end up going where you don’t want to go. Or to Idaho, which is laughed about as being the lamest place to serve a mission. Although everyone I know who has gone on a mission in Idaho has absolutely loved it. But Idaho and Utah are always the butt of everyone’s jokes.

India and York have both decided to go on missions (in common Mormon parlance it’s referred to as “serving a mission”).  The paperwork and preparations take a couple of months and India had planned to go before York. But she ended up studying in London last semester and it was just too big of a pain to get everything done while she was overseas. So it ended up that York and India turned their paperwork in at the exact same time once India got back. Due to the huge amount of prospective missionaries, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll get assigned at the same time.

 

But they did get their calls at the same time! We invited a bunch of friends over to watch them open their calls. And here is my super high quality collage of the happy event. Before you watch it, let me tell you that India was kind of hoping to stay in the U.S. She was also a little nervous to learn a foreign language.  York wanted to go anywhere but Africa. Why, I don’t know. He just really, really wanted to go anywhere but there.

 

So they’ll be going to adjoining missions in Sao Paulo, Brazil! How crazy is that? They both will leave on September 9th to go to the Missionary Training Center in Brazil. If they get their visas in time; that is the big question mark right now. The Brazilian consulate in Houston seems to be one of the speedier ones, so we’ll keep our fingers crossed!

I remember when I had little kids. There was nothing quite like a Friday afternoon when I would anxiously count down the hours until the babysitter would arrive and then I would be FREE! I didn’t even care where I went as long as no children came with me.  I remember scrambling for a babsitter and wishing there were some way I could just find out who was available instead of calling a dozen girls every single week. (This was before texting, obviously, because I’m super old and so are my kids.)

Mister and I have always gone on a date every week. Always. Because if we didn’t have regular reconnect time, things would get ugly. There would be much weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. I would get pretty upset too (ba-dum-ching). We always fit it into our budget because if you think babysitters are expensive, couples therapy and a divorce cost a wee bit more.

Then came the glorious time when our kids were old enough to take care of themselves. Gone were the days of laying out pajamas and trying to make our house look a little more presentable because for some reason I feel the need to impress a 14-year-old neighbor girl. Now I could just shout, “have some cereal for dinner and be in bed by 9!” while we walked out the door. I thought my life was home-free and I saw years of leisurely weekends in my future.

Oh, how wrong I was. Having teenagers makes the weekends crazy complicated.

Instead of going out with my husband, I am now chauffeuring children to and from parties and get-togethers.  It’s possible to beg other parents for rides sometimes, but the more kids you have the slimmer the chances of finding rides becomes.  Sure, Sally’s mom would be happy to take my daughter to the birthday party. But could I bring them back home? And what do you know, it’s also my turn to chaperone the dance! And then there are the times when a bunch of kids end up at our house and I find myself making cookies at 11:00 at night because I can’t just let a pile of hormonally-challenged adolescents go hungry.

Let’s not overlook all the productions and games they have too–one of which will always be on a Friday or Saturday night. If they aren’t playing in the football game they will be cheering at it or playing in the marching band or singing the National Anthem. And of course we must go and watch and be supportive because what kind of crappy parent doesn’t watch and cheer from the sidelines? You want your daughter to end up pregnant? Or on drugs? Because that’s how it happens! When parents don’t show up wearing blinged out t-shirts that say “band mom” in Curlz font, they’re asking for it! Ok, not really, but that’s how it feels.

Maybe the kids have a jazz ensemble concert or a chess tournament or a drama awards banquet. The list of things that teenagers do is eternal.

Some weekends we scramble to find a movie that will start after 7:45 and be done by 10 because that’s the window we have after, say, dropping Arabella off at her friend’s house and picking up Finn at the bowling alley.

As if this weren’t bad enough, we now cannot go to sleep at a decent hour on the weekends either. I used to have all these fantasies of going to bed early once I didn’t have pesky kids needing a drink of water every five minutes. Yeah, that’s never going to happen. Because now I have to wait for kids to show up when their curfew is over. It doesn’t matter how tired we are, we’ve got to stay up and wait. Mister and I are fond of playing a charming game called, “who is more tired”, the loser of which gets stuck on sofa duty waiting for children to come home, hopefully without car accidents being involved. This is even more nerve-wracking once the children have driver’s licenses. We are just positive that they will die before the night is over. If they don’t answer their cell phones it’s because they are dead in a ditch. If they are late it’s because they are at the Emergency Room. Probably the police will show up at any second to break the bad news.

Basically by the time Sunday rolls around we are physically and emotionally exhausted and the fun weekend we had in mind never actually materialized.

Yes, we didn’t have to pay a babysitter anything, but I’m just about to the point where I’d like to pay my kids to spend a quiet weekend at our house.

No, no, I’m not the one getting a job. Mister likes to tell me I ought to start winning the bread around here, but I’m much too good at being a stay-at-home mother. It’s time for the children to start looking for jobs!  India has just returned from college in London (I kept meaning to write about that and now she’s already home) and the boys are running out of spending money. So now comes the fun part of filling out applications and trying to figure out how to make the most money with the least work (isn’t that the eternal struggle?).

My first job was at Pier One Imports when I was 16. I spent my days arranging throw pillows and restacking baskets. I felt terribly grown-up, especially when I had to take someone’s charge card. Back in those days we had to put the card on a slider machine that would make an imprint. We’d give the bottom copy to the customer and keep the top copy.

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It felt like playing shop like I’d done a million times as a little girl, only this time I had surly customers that were actual humans, not Raggedy Ann. Once I had a customer make so many purchases that there was no room on the counter and I had to do the card slider on a stack of crates near the check out stand. Only I forced the credit card thing back and forth so violently that the top crate tipped over and out fell a huge stack of bowls. Every single one broke. I didn’t have to pay for them, thank goodness.

I also only made $3.35 an hour. Chances are you made $3.35 as well since this was the minimum wage for about fifty years.  Payday was the only time I liked having a job.  Who remembers the sheer thrill of receiving a paycheck that was over $100? I felt like the richest person in the world.  It sure beat babysitting which generally only paid $2 an hour if I was lucky. The really cheap people would pay $1.50 and hour and they generally had the most dreadful children of all. Nowadays my girls make much more than minimum wage babysitting.

I hated babysitting. Just hated it. I’m still not very fond of other people’s children, truthfully. I love my own but find other people’s kids annoying and problematic.  But babysitting was the only choice for a 14-year-old girl. It’s still the same today.

York, in true Ferris Bueller style, got the exact job he was hoping for and started today. Finn and India are still looking but both had interviews this week.  Mister is finishing up a Masters degree at the University of Texas and will probably be switching jobs or looking for something new soon too. So basically it means that all I do is help the people around me fill out applications and resumés. it’s as scintillating as it sounds.  But my job is to make my family self-sufficient and doesn’t self-sufficient children sound like the best thing ever?

 

I haven’t posted for over a month??? Wow. I hadn’t realized. I’ve just lost the mojo or something. I feel really bad because I didn’t even post any of the cool stuff that happened over the summer. Some of it made me sad. Like this:

Somebody flew the coop.

India Trees

 

 

India Jane senior

 

India Bluebonnets

 

Baby India graduated from high school. Mister’s parents came down, despite their health being not so great these days.

India Grands Graduation

I don’t know how that happened. I mean, one minute she was starting kindergarten and all of a sudden she was putting on her cap and gown. You know how old ladies at the store tell you when you’ve got your hands full of squirming kids that time flies and the kids will grow up so quickly? And you’re like, “yeah, right. Starting when?”  Because every day lasts for a hundred years when you’re children are small. You seriously wonder if you will ever not be wiping somebody’s butt and stepping on stray Legos.

It does go fast. Not until they get into school, though. Every year goes by a little quicker and by the time they’re Seniors in high school, the year lasts about seventeen minutes.

And then they’re leaving for school and you wish you could trap every day in a bottle because it’s the end of an era: the era of having your babies in your nest. Now they’re flying away and it’s exciting but it’s also terrifying.  People keep asking me how I’m doing and the answer is, “I’m kind of blue.” Not depressed, but just unmoored. Life is shifting and even though I knew it would happen, it’s unsettling.

I tell people I’m sad that India is gone but not half as sad as I’d be if she were still living in her bedroom with a lame future ahead of her. Because India is awesome she got a full-ride scholarship to college. And she got a couple of other scholarships too that are covering most of her room and board and books. So yay for that!

We dropped her off at Brigham Young in August and Mister sobbed the whole way back to the airport.  Real, blubbering loud sobs. I finally had to remind him that India is not dying. She’s just going to college and we’d see her at Thanksgiving. But he’s the softie in the marriage. I’m the mean, heartless one. But still it was sad leaving her there.

I can’t be too sad, though, because is there any time as full of excitement and awesomeness as the first time you leave for college? She’s got a shiny, spectacular future ahead of her and as sad and boo-boo as I feel for me, I feel happiness and excitement for her.

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India Jane college

 

Plus it’s not like I don’t still have fifty million kids at home. York is in 12th grade this year so we get to do the whole thing all over again.

Here are some other milestones we had:

My baby, my littlest kiddle, turned eight. Jasper Presents

 

Because we’re Mormon we believe that little children who die go straight to Heaven. Thus we don’t baptize kids until they’re old enough to know right from wrong which is at age eight. So Jasper was baptized. Having your youngest child get baptized in another milestone. It means you’re not a young mother. For so long I’ve always had little kids and that means I’m a young mother. But with my youngest being old enough to get baptized I feel like those days of having little kids is ancient history. Again, more unmooring.

Mormons do baptism the old-fashioned way: immersion just like Jesus did. So the baptisee and the baptizer both dress in white, symbolic of being born again and forgiven of our sins.  Jasper was baptized by Mister and it was a lovely ceremony.

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We had a bunch of fun Texas Tuesdays which I’ll tell you about later. Right now I’m just trying to keep afloat. Mister has gone back to school to get his Masters degree and I’m still as busy as ever. But I’ll be a little more diligent. I’ve got some cool new tutorials in the works; it’s going to be fun!