Saturday, November 5, 2011

My Openly Weeping Appreciation for Helpers

The other day I took my little brother Ed out to lunch for his birthday. He was born when I was in the 7th grade.

My mom was 42, I believe, when she had Ed, her final child. She was also teaching at the same junior high I attended. I found out that my mom gave birth to a baby along with all my fellow junior high classmates and faculty. The announcement came over the intercom system:

"Attention: Mrs. Christenson had a baby boy this morning. Congratulations to Mr. Lynch."


A few seconds later, "I mean, Mr. Lynch won the faculty pool guessing when Mrs. Christenson would have her baby."

I loved the faculty at West Minico! They were a bunch of crack-ups!

During lunch, I told Ed that we'd hired a babysitter to watch the girls for a few hours a day. Kulani found a job outside the home, so we needed extra help.

Paula, my babysitter, is AMAZING! The first time I came home and saw how much she'd helped, I fell on my bed and weeped with joy. Literally weeped.

Everyday I come home she's done something more. She does my laundry. She cleans my room. The other day she cleaned out my fridge! Occassionally she'll have a lunch waiting for me.

And she's great with the kids, too. Once I quit my job, I have to figure out some way to keep her on to show me how she does it all.

I know, I know: More than anything else I've ever written on this blog (not my one-eyed dog Jesse or the cat who gets shut up in rooms, so he paws through the carpet all night), you are jealous of my sweet Paula. I'm jealous for you. I tell her everyday, "What can I do for you, Paula, because you do SO much for me?" I want to pay her $50/hour. I don't pay her that, but I'd like to.

So I was telling all this to Ed, and this story, of course, conjured up our memories of Grandma Pete.

Who was Grandma Pete?

Grandma Pete was the Christenson version of Alice from The Brady Bunch. (I don't have to explain Alice to my readers.) In fact, Grandma Pete's real name was Alice (Peterson), but she insisted that we call her Grandma Pete.

She was at least 70 years old when she started working for our family. She'd say that Mom giving her the job was a great blessing straight from Heavenly Father. But really, she was the huge blessing in our lives.

I'm embarrassed to think of some of the things I thought about her, so I won't write about those. She was a bit feisty and a touch cranky, but now that I'm older, I've realized that about 75 percent of people get that way in their older years.

How does that old saying go, "I'm now old enough to not be afraid of expressing my opinion, but now I'm too old for anyone to take me seriously." Grandma Pete wasn't afraid to share her opinion.

For example, she didn't want me wearing makeup until I was 18. My mom let me start wearing makeup whenever I felt like I wanted to start, which was about 9th grade. So every morning when I'd put on makeup, Grandma Pete would give me a frown and a head shake.

But these aren't the memories I want to share about Grandma Pete. Let me back up a moment and tell you a little bit about Grandma Pete's life.

Grandma Pete was married to Grandpa Pete, Al Peterson. He must have been 10 years her senior, but you wouldn't know it to look at them. They'd both lived rather difficult lives. He was much more cantankerous than even Grandma Pete.

They never had children of their own, but they raised five children. My memory is hazy on this one, but a close relative, maybe a sister or brother, died in a car accident, and Alice and Al took the children in as their own.

Al was a farmer, I believe, out near Emerson, a small farming community outside of Paul, which was outside Burley, which is about one hour from the Utah border. Utah? It's in the western United States. Oh, now you know where it is.

Grandma Pete took care of all five of those young children. Later, she took care of some of the grandchildren. She also watched another lady's adult child who was severely mentally and physically handicapped.

Grandma Pete was born to take care of children. And she seemed to love doing it.

When Grandma Pete started working for us, I was in the 5th grade. The youngest child was Wayne. He was just a baby. Grandma Pete also watched Mary for half a day (because she was in kindergarten) and Hetty, who must have been about 3 or 4.

And then my parents had Ed, and Grandma Pete watched him until Ed was in 1st grade. So all total, Grandma Pete was with us for nine years.

Ed told me during our lunch that he thought Grandma Pete was his grandma. Us older kids were always bugged that she insisted we call her Grandma Pete.

"She's not our grandma," I thought. I feel really bad about that now.

When Ed found out she wasn't our real grandma, he was deeply saddened. It was like he found out he'd been adopted.

"But I love Grandma Pete. She must be my grandma!"

And Grandma Pete loved Ed. I think she loved Ed more than any of the rest of the kids she watched.

She would hide things from Ed to see if he would find them throughout the day. Once my dad found a couple of Pepsis in his shoes because Ed hadn't found his treat that day.

As soon as Grandma Pete walked through our doors at 1911 Q Street in Heyburn, she would get to work. She'd help my dad make breakfast. She would start cleaning up dishes. She would start a load of laundry.

Do you know she did our laundry every weekday (excluding summers when my mom was home from teaching)? Can you imagine doing laundry for a household of about 10-11? (A little Christenson fact: We never had all 10 children living under one roof at one time. Either Doug was away on his mission when Ed was born, or when he came back, Amy was gone to college.)

Every day there was more laundry, and lots of it. And she'd do it all. Even fold it and put it into piles for each chld.

Our only job was to take our pile down to our rooms and put it in our drawers. We rarely even got that right. (But between you and me, doesn't every mother know that actually putting the clothes away IS the hardest part about doing laundry? That and the folding, I mean.)

And she'd vaccuum, clean the kitchen, and on very rare occassions, she'd make a lemon meringue pie that was really tasty.

I know my mom appreciated Grandma Pete immensely. Now that I'm a mother, I understand that appreciation on a whole new level. Appreciate is something you put on a thank you card: what my mom felt (and what I feel for Paula) is deep gratitude and indebtedness.

After Ed started first grade, Grandma Pete went downhill pretty quickly. She passed away a year later.

Perhaps she needed to be needed. If so, she picked working for a family who truly needed her.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Brudda, be awesome like kine!

My younger brother B.J. will be competing in the Ironman Championships in Kona, Hawaii, in about two hours. I think this is his fifth trip to Kona. Yes, he's that good, and did I mention he's my brother?

What's even cooler about B.J. is how cool he is. People gravitate to B.J. Perhaps it's his 6 foot 7 inch frame; no matter where you're at in a crowd, you can see B.J.'s head popping up amongst the other heads. But his personality matches his tall frame.

Whenever I'm running in a triathlon with B.J., I watch as person after person comes up to talk with him and ask him about his race. He asks them about their race in return. He always seems just as excited about how well they did as he is about his own race.

At many races he stays after to help clean up or do any other manual labor they may need.

B.J. is also super good with kids. He's taught my girls the "snowman" handshake. When someone sticks out a fist to fist-bump you, you add one fist to the top of their fist, and a second fist to the bottom of their fist, and say, "Snowman."

He's just a really cool guy.

He wasn't always so cool, or so I thought. I remember going to school with him when he was a first grader and I was a third grader. He always had on a huge smile and would wave and say hello to me when we happened to be eating in the same school cafeteria.

"Hi, Cindy!" he'd practically shout.

"Oh, boy. It's my little brother and look at how he combed his hair today. I should hide," is what I thought.

I remember in sixth or seventh grade, he declared that he no longer wanted to be known as "B.J." I'm guessing most boys with those initials once they hit a certain age would like to no longer be referred to as that. But he couldn't shake his name. It has stuck with him.

My parents liked to name us after teenagers they'd admired. B.J. was named after two teenage boys in our ward named Bill and Joel. They're still our family friends today, and they truly are great men. I love that B.J. is named after them. (B.J.'s real name is Bradley Jay, though. But my parents wanted the initials of Bill and Joel.)

I probably brought more pain into B.J.'s life than help. In junior high, B.J. and myself both had the opportunity of riding the ski bus. Because of the heavy influence of an older sister in college and having cousins in Utah, I started getting into alternative music, and so did B.J. Getting into alternative music also meant dressing the part and getting a "waver" haircut: two things that didn't mix well in our Wrangler-wearing, boot-kickin' junior high. B.J. became the target of "cowboy bullies." (To this day, I have a healthy distrust of cowboys.)

On one of our ski trips, from my vantage point of the ski lift above, I saw my brother speeding down a hill while being chased by a bunch of cowboys from our school. (How did you know they were cowboys? They wore jeans and a baseball cap when they skiied.)

I was furious. When I got off the lift, I skiied as fast as I could to catch up with them. And when I found them, I gave them a serious shout down about messing with my brother. Gulp. Men everywhere when reading that took in a collective, "Oh, no!" In my adult years I have learned that an older sister defending a younger brother doesn't help matters; it hurts more.

I can see those little Nelson Munzes (the bully from The Simpson's) standing over B.J. and hitting him while saying, "And that's for getting your sister to fight your battles. And that's for your waver haircut."

When we entered high school together, B.J. as a sophomore and me as a senior, the tides had changed. Now it was me saying "hi" to B.J. in the halls while he pretended like he didn't know me. But the bullying hadn't stopped, at least not as a sophomore.

Once I saw B.J. running as fast as he could and hiding behind the English building. A few seconds later I saw a bunch of cowboys running in the direction B.J. was running. (How did you know they were cowboys? They wore tight Wranglers, short mullets, and a baseball cap.)

The tradition in our school was for the senior boys to find sophomore boys, pick them up, and throw them in the bushes. I'm not sure they ever caught B.J., but they tried. Maybe that's where the beginnings of his speed originated.

Because I wanted to get to know B.J. better before I headed off to college, and because I wanted to look good in my prom dress, I joined B.J. on the track team my senior year. It was a lot of fun getting to know him and his friends.

B.J. and his friends invented a game called the "tricky trap." One of his friends would kneel behind an unsuspecting person, while another friend would come by and gently tap the shoulder of the person behind whom the friend was kneeling. This would cause the person to take a step back, not seeing the kneeling person, and fall over. Then they'd all laugh and yell, "tricky trap!"

They tried it on me once. The neighbor boy Lynn Brown was the one kneeling. I think it was Thurman Heiner who gave me the gentle tap. I fell over, and the laughs ensued. I got up seeing red. I chased Lynn down and proceeded to wail on him. I still feel pretty bad about that. Sorry, Lynn! All in good fun. I can take a joke now, I promise.

At one of the last meets of the year, my dad, who made us breakfast every morning, sat us down to breakfast and proceeded to give us a talk that would live in infamy. Lincoln had the Gettysburg Address. Martin Luther King had "I have a dream." This was my dad's talk. I think I'll name it "You're not the only one running that race."

My dad's speech essentially went like this:
"Your mom and I can't make it to your meet, but I want you to know that while you're running that race, you aren't the only one out there. Your mom and I are there. Your siblings are there. Your grandparents are there and your great grandparents. Your teachers and Sunday School teachers are there. You aren't alone when you run; everyone who has ever supported you in any way is with you, too. Don't be like some athletes who claim they did it all themselves. You are representing those who love you. Represent them well." 
Later that day as I was running the mile race and heading into the last lap, I saw B.J. and his friends and I heard them shouting, "Do it for the family! Do it for Maytag! (He was our pet dog.) Do it for the Laudromat! (That's where we lived when we were younger.) Do it for the trampoline! (The trampoline was like a second home for us.)"

I couldn't hardly breathe I was laughing so hard. After I got my composure, I picked up my speed and happily ran to the finish. On my shoulders was all of that, and I still managed to run a personal best of 6 minutes 18 seconds. (Slow, but fast for me.) I think those things weren't on my shoulders, but inside my heart fueling the engine.

So today, B.J. will be running in the Ironman Championships. In his heart, I hope he knows that we'll be there, too.

Do it for your family. Do it for the Hawaiian Style Cafe (a place we love to eat when we're on the Big Island). Do it for the state of Idaho. Do it for the University of Utah. Do it for the Salt Lake Running Company. Do it for the little kids who look up to you. Do it for the adults who look up to you. Do it for Will, who looks up to you most of all. Do it for the mountains. Do it for the sea. Do it for America. Do it, because that's who you are. And I love you, little brudda!

Some pictures to humble B.J.:

My dad always took a picture of us before going to school. The following picture isn't great, but it's a picture of me as a senior and B.J. as a sophomore. Proof that we were wavers. (And I think B.J. was a tuba player, and that's a tuba in that red bag.) Little sister Hetty is on the left and younger brother Wayne is on the far right.

I think I was in fifth grade in the following photo. B.J. would have been third grade, and Mary, on the right, would have been first grade. Hetty was at "Grandma-Pete school."

This last picture is of B.J. after the Spudman triathlon in July where he took first for the third time. Photo by Angela S. Nelson.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The one and only feminist article I will write before shoving her back in the box

Writer’s Note: Still haven’t figured how to get these feeds off Facebook, so for those reading this from Facebook, I’m sorry. I’m sure by now whenever you see a post from me, a gentle roll of the eyes and a, “Oh, boy. Here goes long-windy Cindy again,” comes to mind. Not offended. No I am not. It’s a return to my elementary school nickname: Windy, as in, “Was that you, Windy? Gross!” That only scarred me for a short 10 years. Short. Keep rolling the eyes and ignore my rants. For the rest of you, welcome to my mind!

By now everyone knows what Netflix is best for: catching up on old TV shows that somehow you didn’t catch the first time they aired. To date, we’ve caught up on all Friday Night Lights, Veronica Mars, Battlestar Gallactica (Kulani only), and Sports Night (me only).

TV writing in this day and age is quite good. The stories and characters are complex. The writing is so real-to-life that at times, it makes me think I’m watching something that could have easily taken place in my own home, even though the scene may play out between a druggie and a teacher-turned-meth producer. TV dramas/comedies are the new reality TV.

But we kept hearing rumblings about Mad Men. I’d read enough and seen a few minutes here and there to know that watching that show may not be good for me. And not for the reasons you might think.

Inside me is a raging feminist.

Not because my dad mistreated me or anything. Heavens, no. My dad washed dishes, did laundry, cooked breakfasts, took an interest in our games, wanted to see his girls succeed as much as his boys. No, my dad was/is one amazing dad.

No, I think my issues with men began smoldering in high school. Because I went to a pretty chauvinistic high school. My older sister Amy (who has asked me to be nicer to her on this blog) had a teacher once who told the guys in her class that if they wanted a great show, they should attend the girls’ volleyball games and see how short the opposing team’s shorts were.

Another infamous teacher/coach at our school liked to tell the track girls to “eat from the salad line.” I don’t think he ever told the guys that.

My inner creep meter definitely went off around some male teachers who didn’t mind an ego stroke from a cute cheerleader. To which I can already here some men thinking, “You were just jealous,” and my inner feminist starts growling.

We had intramural sports in my high school, but girls weren’t allowed to play. Well, that’s what we all assumed, because all the intramural basketball teams were made up of all guys. Until me, my cousin, and a friend formed a basketball team to take on the guys.

We lost every game, but we sometimes came sort-of close to winning. We honestly formed the team because we were all basketball players who didn’t play for the school team anymore. Especially my friend and cousin: they were honest ballers. They could play! But part of me also wanted to show ‘em.

One boy told me that it was embarrassing of us to play. It put the guys in an awkward situation: beat the girls or be beaten by the girls: a lose/lose situation. I get that analogy with wrestling, honestly I do. But with basketball? Really? Just beat us already and shut up about it! Or if we beat you, sorry. Practice a little more next time.

Over the years, and perhaps because of my early vocalness, I have learned that being a wear-your-heart-and-feelings-on-your-sleeve feminist isn’t very fun, and it turns people off. Trust me, I lost friends because of my verbal rants, and I especially lost the interest of many guys wanting to pursue a pursed-lipped little upstart like myself.

So I’ve mellowed. Plus, you can’t be thinking, “Men are all jerks!” when you live in a world made up of 50 percent men. And you’re married to one. (Not that Kulani is a jerk, but he is a man. Just keep reading.)

Even more, many feminists seem bitter and lack a sense of humor, as evidenced by this article, wherein feminists take Tina Fey to task for not being feminist enough. Nobody whose company I want to share would talk about my idol Tina that way. If I had a feminist card, I would have sent it back after reading that article.

And now we’ve started watching Mad Men, and that inner feminist, who I’ve tried so hard over the years to keep deep within me so as not to scare people away, is rumbling inside of me.

If you don’t know, Mad Men is about 1950 advertising men and the way they interact with the women around them, from their wives to their secretaries to their mistresses. It’s an AMC production, which means it’s not “rated M” (no nudity, no super-bad swear words) but it’s not for kids either.

I’m not very far into the series, so the characters still have lots of room for growth and improvement (which is why I love TV so much), but currently, the male characters are all a bunch of JERKS! Kulani says they’re worse than jerks, but I can’t print what he calls them. Well, I can, but I won’t.

The most egregious example of the men’s chauvinism is of the main character toward his wife. She is going through a midlife psychological break down, in large part due to her husband. She turns to a psychiatrist for help, and after every session with the psychiatrist, and unbeknownst to her, her husband calls the psychiatrist and asks him what he found out in therapy! And the therapist gives him a breakdown of what they talked about! And he summarily tells the husband that his wife has the thoughts of a spoiled child! What?! Do you think stuff like that ever actually happened?! It seems a little far-fetched, but maybe it was that bad?!

Deep breath. Deep breath.

As we’re watching it, Kulani tells me he really likes the upscale-department store owner. The upscale-department store owner is a Jewish woman who, at this point in the series, is a very smart, savvy business woman. She seems like a champion for women’s rights.

After he said that he liked her character, he said, “I’ve always liked independent women.” I wanted to kiss Kulani when he said that.

My husband, the NRA loving, gun-toting man that he is, loves himself independent women.

He was the one who had to drag me to a Tori Amos, the feminist songwriter of my generation.

And whenever we watch BYU football together and I’m doing dishes because I’m so nervous watching the game, if he sees a great play, he’ll pause the TV and say to me, “Cindy, you’ve got to see this play.” Even if his friends are watching the game with him, he’ll stop and wait for me to see the amazing play of the game.

And when I talk too much about the players and wonder what they are like off the field, and which players served a mission, Kulani doesn’t act annoyed that I’m talking through his football game. He pauses the TV or we just talk through the game about all the good things the football players do off the field. (Three cheers for DVRs! Saving one marriage at a time.)

And when we’re planning our goals and future life for the family, Kulani asks for my input, my ideas. He took out a rather large insurance policy because he said he wanted me to be well taken care of in the event that he should die.

And we have four girls, and Kulani brags to his friends about our girls’ soccer accomplishments as much as if he had a little boy who played quarterback on the little league football team.

And when we’re watching Mad Men, and my inner feminist starts stirring, I exchange looks of “did they just SAY that!” with him, and he looks back at me with his big, brown eyes that say, “I know. They are such JERKS!” (But his eyes say the other word that I won’t write.)

And hopefully he can see in my eyes, when the big gloppy tears well up because of all his awesomeness, that I love him.

And my inner feminist just needs to take a chill pill.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

When you know you're done having kids...

...or maybe we should've stopped one child earlier. Oh, stop. I'm just kidding. Kidding! But this time, I'm pretty sure Kulani and I both feel we are done having kids. I mean, dis-one. Done. You know you're done having kids when even the thought of raising another infant causes you all new levels of dread.

Not to mention, my parenting is lackluster at best. I've said it before, but now I really fear I'm turning into Lisa Simpson in the dream sequence when she marries Nelson Muntz, the school bully. She's lying on the couch while her five children turn the house into a den of filth. She says to the kids, "Quit it. Quit it. Mom's watching her stories."

Don't believe me?

Take a look at this picture:

She'd dropped that rice crispy treat many times in the grass. What did I do?

"Meh, she'll live." I let her keep eating that extra tasty, grassy treat.

But far be it for me to take accountability of my inadequacies. Let's put blame where it belongs: on my child.

It's true that mothers don't remember what occurred with the other children. But even still, I swear my other children weren't into things as much as this one.

Her goal is to climb to the highest point in any room in the house. The table, the counter, the top of the television console. I'm raising Edmund Hillary. She's going to conquer the seven peaks of the Fisher house. Maybe I'll put her to work this winter and have her hang the Christmas lights.

But she's only 1. She turned 1 in June.

We had a huge luau to celebrate. Since she is our last child, we brought out all the stops for her 1-year luau.

Even killed a pig and buried it in an emu.

We've tried this before with always the same result: the pig comes out raw.

But this year? This year was success! Sweet, sweet, porky success!

We had a lot of help from Keoni, a friend of ours who moved here from Molokai, Hawaii. He knows everything there is to cooking pig in an emu. He even once threw a luau for the cast and crew of Pirates of the Carribbean when they were filming in Hawaii.

We also had help from friends and family who hauled the pig up to the upper level of our backyard, and helped give him a proper burial. And helped pull him out of his toasty grave.

Kulani made big improvements to the emu. He added fire bricks to the pit. Here are pictures of the event:

Dead pig.

Keoni, Kulani, and Kuhia clean the pig.

Friends and family haul the pig up the hill.

The emu with hot lava rocks and fire bricks lining it. Received some funny comments from the neighbors above us.
  A lot of work, but well worth it for this little ball of energy. We love you, Lehua!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Middle Borns: You're all right in my book

As I was driving home from work on Wednesday, NPR’s Talk of the Nation was interviewing two women who had recently written a book about middle children. Turns out, middle children are pretty fantastic, as if that’s a newsflash to anyone.

Common traits of middle children include:

  • Good negotiators
  • Keen diplomatic skills
  • Peace makers
  • Open-minded
  • Independent
  • Flexible
  • Great marriage partners (nudge, nudge, wink wink)
  • Smell good
To give them their due credit, the book is called The Secret Power of Middle Children by Catherine Salmon and Katrin Schumann. Here’s some great insight from Salmon:

"If you grow up in a family and the firstborn tends to have a certain amount of authority that's given to them by the parents, and they're physically larger, they tend to get what they want or get their way through physical force or the authority parents have given them. [ahemmm, Amy (my oldest sister, or as we like to call her, second-mom)…] While for the last-born, as anyone who's had to deal with a lot of last-borns often knows [oh, we know], they tend to whine to the parents or get very upset if they don't get their way. And so that's their particular strategy for working out what needs to be worked out.

"For the middle child, neither of those strategies are available. So they often get very good at negotiating, figuring out what the other person wants and needs, and then managing to get them what they want and what the middle child themselves want at the same time. And, of course, one of the things that middle children often want is peace and calm and quiet and for everybody to get along. And so those traits then serve them well when they leave the family and go on to form their own families, and in the workplace."

Rings true for me.

As they do on Talk of the Nation, they asked listeners to call in with their input. They wanted to hear from middle children and wondered at what age did they start to value their place in the family.

If I would enter the 21st Century already and get myself a cell phone, I would have called in with the following genius insight:

I remember being out of college and still complaining to my brother-in-law that I didn’t get as much attention as some of the other siblings in my family. I think I was 23. I’m embarrassed to remember that conversation. I think that actually started my mind toward thinking more on the good things about myself and less on the negative.

I distinctly remember at age 29 having an awakening of my mind. It must have had something to do with the looming age 30, because a light went off in my head. I determined that everything in my life up to that moment was due in large part to my own choosing.

I didn’t have the pressures of living up to some unmet expectations, because I had none placed upon me. I was me, and I’d always been me, and I was okay with that. I knew that if I ran a race, won a talent competition, or became a prize-winning author it would be because it was something I wanted to do. If people were there to cheer me on, great. But if no one turned up, not one solitary single person in the whole-wide world of mankind (crickets chirping), I would live. And I would still love whatever it was I was doing.

Middle children get the bad rap of being picked on, uncreative losers with poor self-esteem. Actually, middle children due tend to have less self-esteem than oldest children or those footloose-and-fancy-free lastborns, but they don’t need to look to their bellybuttons anymore. Pick your heads up, middleborns! You are wonderful!

I am the middle of 10, but really, there are quite a few of us smooshed in the middle. According to researchers, anyone who isn’t the first born or the last born are the middle.

But my sister Amy hardly qualifies as a middle. Even though she is the second born, she stole that title away from Doug, the actual oldest born. I think I would put Doug in a class all by himself: identity theft stole me of my firstbornness.

I’ve been mulling the idea of my life choices over in my head lately. I’m not sure I’ve mentioned this before, but I really like my job. I love it, in fact. I feel like I was born to be a technical writer. That doesn't sound exciting to you, does it? That's okay. What's important is that I love it.

I was moving some boxes up from the basement, and I found a newspaper clipping of when I was in high school and our school newspaper had won an award, so the local paper came out to interview the staff of the high school newspaper. In the article I mentioned that I wanted to be a journalist and that I loved computers.

How could I combine my two loves: writing and computers? Ding, ding, ding: technical writing! It wasn’t a career I necessarily set out to have, but now that I’m here, I fit like a Hand in Glove (the sun shines out of our behinds…a reference for those in the know to the best band of all time).

It was like my 17-year-old self was calling out to my 35-year-old self saying, “Hollah, girl! You know who we are, and you’re making us proud!” I wanted to kiss and hug my 17-year-old-self and tell her, “You are so amazing! And don't take yourself so seriously your freshman year at BYU! And don't live with Grandma; live in the dorms with all the other freshmen.”

You are amazing, middle children. But let’s not let it get to our heads. We know … we won’t. Firstborns and lastborns? They would let it get to their heads.

Friday, August 5, 2011

More Iterations of Me Turning into … My Mother

As if written from a pioneer journal, circa 1850s:

Today we bid adieu to Kulani at the airport. He was called away to Washington D.C. for an import/export conference.

I traveled with my four young girls to visit a friend in the Sugarhouse area who, at the age of 36, gave birth to her first boy. As my friend told me, motherhood is for the young. She appeared heavily burdened with the duties of a new mother and a husband out of work for these two years.

I left her a small gift and short greeting, as my 1-year-old girl was want to destroy all her belongings.

We traveled east toward Emigration Canyon. I was want to show the girls This is the Place State Park, a place my mother took me when I was young. It's a park dedicated to honoring the memories of the early explorers and Mormon pioneers who settled the Salt Lake Valley.

Across the street from This is the Place is the Hogle Zoo, and young Nohea, who is only 4 of age, expressed a desire to go there instead. But my oldest, Lilia, would not have it. Being Sunday, she didn’t think it appropriate to go to the zoo. However, she thought visiting a monument dedicated to Mormon pioneer settlers was a suitable activity on a Sunday.

She begrudged me when I bought a few trinkets from the Visitor’s Center: rattlesnake poo and Utah rocks. In honesty, the snake poo is chocolate-dipped sunflower seeds and the Utah rocks are made of chocolate. I thought they would be great trinkets to send to Grandma and Grandpa Christenson on their mission in Texas.

I also purchased four tickets so we could ride the train that travels around the pioneer village. It was a great replica to my liking. Every story of pioneer hardship made my eyes tear up with great drops of water. The girls did not share in my profound affection for these early Saints.

I asked the girls if they would like to have their wedding receptions in one of the recreated buildings. “Gross,” is what they thought of the act of marriage. Lilia is age 8; Lissy is 7; Nohea is 4; Lehua is 1. Perhaps they are still too young to think of marriage.

I could have stayed there all day reading all the stories and plaques. It amazed me completely to think of those early explorers traipsing over the vast western land of America, especially considering the hot mess that is the Salt Flats and Wendover area. How did they do it without even a 7-Eleven with which to quench their thirst? In my heart I said a little prayer thanking the Lord for his tender mercies such as the 44 ounce Big Gulp.

At times I could not read the plaques detailing the sorrows of those early settlers, as my voice would be choked with emotion. I received funny looks from the girls, as if I was wearing my garments upon my head. In time, they will take their girls to This is the Place, and we shall see who's weeping then.

As a seed becomes a tree. And on it goes.

Writer’s Note: After visiting the monument, my desire to learn more about my ancestry was peeked. I did a quick search for Edward Partridge, one of my great-great-etc. grandfathers and first bishop of The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints. I remember my mother telling me stories of Edward Partridge, and she even helped me prepare a talk for Primary about him when I was young. I found this great article from the 1979 Ensign, written by Dean Jesse. Dean Jesse, coincidentally, was a next-door neighbor to us when we lived with Lani in Salt Lake City. His wife and Kulani’s mother are great friends.

Some interesting things I found about this article include:

  • Edward was considered to be without guile. I love that description.
  • Two of his daughters were polygamist wives to Joseph Smith, before he was killed. Later they became polygamous wives to Amasa Lyman. The article doesn’t say whether they divorced Amasa after polygamy was abolished and Amasa was excommunicated. But I get the sense that the two sisters were great friends, and especially helped each other in times of need. I love this line from the diary of Eliza (the line I am from):
“I thought my trials were very severe in the line and I am often led to wonder how it was that a person of my temperament could get along with it [polygamy] and not rebel; but I know it was the Lord who kept me from opposing his plans although in my heart I felt that I could not submit to them. But I did and I am thankful to my Heavenly Father for the care he had over me in those troublous times.”
I’m grateful for her honesty in that description.

  • Only one boy grew to adulthood from Edward, and his name was also Edward. He served a mission in Hawaii from 1854-57. Here’s what Edward Jr. wrote in his diary after he was called to be bishop:
“This is something that I have always had an instinctive dread of since I have had understanding sufficient to know what the office of a Bishop was.”
I’ve always believed that anyone who actually wants to be bishop has a screw loose in their head.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Prom in the Age of Plaid

"My girlfriend always has that feeling that something's missing. She checks her pockets, checks her purse, counts her kids, but nothing's gone. She decided it was side effects from not going to her prom." – Iona, Pretty in Pink
This time of year always makes me nostalgic for … prom. Me? The girl who wore dark eye liner, pale makeup, and deep red lipstick while piping Smiths tunes into her CD Walkman during high school years? The high school newspaper nerd whose wardrobe was made up primarily of plaid, baggy shirts and jeans? The girl who had the “I’m much too cool for this” rolling-of-the-eyes down to a science and could recite the Canterbury Tales in ye olde English? Yes, me.

Looks like Disney will be releasing a movie this month called Prom. This week’s episode of Parenthood revolved around prom. And with horror I am looking at my future with four girls thinking: prom.

Women are completely silly when it comes to prom. As we grow older, prom (or “the prom” as I like to call it) takes on even more meaning. My mother, who once said to me that she would be extremely sad if any of her girls ever competed in a beauty pageant, even encouraged prom. She begged my oldest brother Doug to take a girl to prom. She promised to even pay for the whole thing. He didn’t give in to her pleadings.

“You need to take a nice girl. Not for you, but for her. Every girl should have the chance to go to prom,” she said trying to convince the Gooch.

“Not gonna do it. Wouldn’t be prudent,” Gooch would say in his best Dana Carvey impersonation of Dana Carvey’s impersonation of George H.W. Bush.

I’ve seen pictures of my mom at her prom. She was taller than her prom date and wore a quintessential 60s floor-length gown with white gloves. Her sun-kissed blonde hair was done up into a smoothed-over beehive. It made me completely understand why it is the Beach Boys wished they all could be California girls. Her high school had their dance at some posh place like the Beverly Hills Hotel. She was elegant and beautiful.

For a girl, the dress may be even more important than the actual dance. Other than a woman’s wedding dress, girls fantasize, rehash, regret, and forever talk about their prom dress. Where they bought it. Whether it was made. How much it cost. The dress they really wanted but couldn’t afford. The accessories they bought with the dress. The shoes.

Even now I see dresses in stores and think, “Oh man, that would be the PERFECT prom dress. Who do I know who is going to prom this year?”

I went to prom not once, not twice, but … oh yeah, just twice. The first year I went to prom with a guy from my LDS stake. He was good friends with my cousin Chet. Chet had arranged all of his friends to take all of my friends. We went four wheeling before the prom. It was one of the funnest dates of my life, honestly. We ate dinner at someone’s grandma’s house, because we lived in rural Idaho, and nice restaurants aren’t exactly easy to find in those parts.

On the Sunday following prom, my mom was the Stake Young Women’s leader and had to speak in my date’s ward. She mentioned in her talk that she’d bought new underwear for me to wear to the prom. I don’t know why that was pertinent to her talk, but I’m sure my mom found a way to apply that to the gospel. I’m sure my date had wished he’d stayed home from church that day, possibly forever.

For my first prom, I borrowed my oldest sister Amy’s prom dress, which I thought was absolutely beautiful…at the time. Looking back now, it was just way too pink. But Amy went to prom in 1989, the era of Pretty in Pink. Prom dresses were made in only the following shades: pink, red, black, and white.

I thought about borrowing my sister Kathy’s prom dress, but I didn’t want to risk losing my life if I got a stain on it. My sister Kathy’s prom dress was AMAZING—if you were a 15-year-old Latino girl celebrating your Quinceanera. I think the dress cost somewhere around $200, which was a mega-ultra, super-huge amount to pay for a prom dress in those days. (This is the sister who is two years older than me and who puppy-dog eyed my dad into letting her drive an older Porsche he had on his car lot every day to school.) I do think she bought her dress herself, so I’ll cut her some slack. It was all black with lots of lace, and went all the way to the floor, which wasn’t the norm for prom dresses in 1991. Most prom dresses back then barely reached the knees.

My Grandpa McEuen took her to get a makeover at Estee Lauder and told the sales lady, “Everything you put on her face, I’m buying.” Kathy treated that makeup like it was precious, precious gold. I didn’t dare even pretend like I was going to try it on. Have you met my sister Kathy? Then you know why. But she really did look beautiful. She even bought gloves and rhinestone jewelry from Claire’s to sparkle up the look (which in my 15-year-old mind, Claire’s was as good as Tiffany’s).

Her nickname on the high school volleyball team was Brutus the Blocker. I think she saw prom as her chance to show the guys at our school that she wasn’t a brute but a beautiful swan. She was breathtaking.

But where was I? So my senior year I had a boyfriend. And he asked me to prom. This was 1994, and rural Idaho had finally emerged into the thicket of the grunge era. The grunge era, as you recall, started when the Cameron Crowe movie Singles came out and ended with the dot com explosion.

I LOVED the grunge era! It could not have hit at a better time in my life. My family was going through their own personal Great Recession, along with millions of other families in America who were struggling with the recession of the early 90s. If you’ll recall, designers like Marc Jacobs actually fashioned clothes to look as though they came from thrift stores. Plaid and vintage was king!

I asked my mom if we could go to Salt Lake City to find my prom dress. She didn’t say it, but I could tell that I totally made my mom happy asking her to assist me in my search for a prom dress. I hate to shop, whereas my mom lives to shop. And to make the shopping experience even better, my mom invited Grandma McEuen along, who is an even crazier lover of the shopping than my mom. It was an experience I will cherish all my days.

We stopped first at the Crossroads Mall. I had seen a dress earlier that year in a store called Haroon’s that was absolutely perfect in every way. It looked like something Mia Farrow’s character would have worn in The Great Gatsby. It was a seafoam green dress with flowing ruffles.

But the price tag gave my heart a real jolt. Yes, it was perfect, but there was no way I would make my mom pay $230 for a prom dress. And frankly, I wasn’t going to spend my hard-earned Kmart cashier money on a dress that expensive either. Tuition for summer term of college was going to cost me $400, and I’d only managed to save $500. Wouldn’t be prudent.

After looking at the most perfect dress in the entire world and having it fall through my hands, every other dress we tried on at the mall looked lame by comparison. The perfect dress had an old timey look to it, so I suggested to my mom that maybe we could find a dress in a vintage store.

You would have thought I’d given my mom the moon. Her eyes became all sparkly, wet with tears. Her girl was becoming a woman right in front of her eyes. It wouldn’t be long before I’d be hitting the garage sales circuit with the rest of the McEuen women, and she knew it. A chip off the proverbial shoulder.

The first stop on our journey was a thrift store I had come to appreciate on my own excursions to Salt Lake City called Grunts and Postures. I’m not sure if it’s still there, but it was super cool when I was 18. I had my sister Mary try to distract my mom and grandma from seeing the mannequin legs that were wearing tights with the mother of all swear words printed on them. After looking around for a bit, we couldn’t find any prom-like dresses, so my mom stopped to ask the sales lady whether she knew of any vintage dress shops in SLC.

She directed us to a place called Jax. We left the store, but not without Grandma discovering the swear-word tights and becoming flustered, pursing her lips and shaking her head.

Jax had exactly what I was looking for. The sales lady and effeminate sales man had me try on a dozen dresses. Each time I’d come out of the dressing room, they made me feel so good by showering me with compliments, such as, “Oh, honey, that dress was made for you.” It was like having my own personal team of Tim Gunn and Stacy London, along with a beaming mother, cantankerous grandma, and bored-to-tears siblings.

I settled on a flirty, black 1940s cocktail dress that had rhinestones on the sleeves. The dress only cost $30, but I loved it as much as had I spent $200.

I wanted to sparkle up the dress even more, so my mom sewed a line of rhinestones around the middle of the dress.

And to top it off, my date had the great idea of us both going in high-top Chuck Taylors. He didn’t have to ask me twice.

It was a pretty magical night. We went with friends in my date’s grandma’s Cadillac. We ate dinner in Twin Falls, a town 50 miles from our high school, and then drove like mad to make it to the Senior Promenade on time. After taking pictures, the dance was over, but the group of us stayed after and danced to our own singing while the junior class officers cleaned up the aftermath.

Then we had an Easter egg hunt in the blustering Idaho wind, and then we went home. I promise, my young daughters who may be reading this one day, that my prom date drove me straight home. We did not stop and make-out!

Prom was a really great memory of innocence and fun, and I’d really love my girls to have that experience. I hope some future mom convinces her future son to take one of my girls--and treat them as respectfully as my dates treated me. And I hope my girls will ask me to accompany them to find the perfect prom dress. And I hope Grandma Christenson will still be around to come along for the fun.

This was the group from my first prom. My cousin Monica is on the far left with white gloves (sorry about the picture scuff). My cousin Chet is the fourth in the front row. He took my best friend Keri, who is the fourth in the second row. My date's name was Grant Hansen. Hi, Grant, if you happen to Google your name and stumble on this post. Thanks for taking me!

This picture doesn't do justice to my dress, but it does show off the Chucks. I didn't have the patience to dig through my pile of old pictures to find the actual dance photo. This was the photo I got because I won 2nd Runner-up to prom queen, should she and the first runner-up not be able to finish out their reign. Royalty at school dances is so ridiculous when you think about it. The sad part is that the queen pictured in this photo (the one at the top with the crown) actually did die in a swimming accident not even one month after we graduated.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Night at the Museum

It's been all sickness all day for the last few days around the Fisher family. We've been managing, but please don't come by the house, because it really is a disaster area.

Because we were feeling slightly better, and since this is a three-day weekend, we ventured out last night to the Lehi Hutchings Museum. They have a special night once a year they call "Night at the Museum." The museum really does come to life, and it is really cool. If you get a chance next year, you should go. It's $3 a person, which is a bargain, really.

Volunteers dress up in costumes and take on rolls of people from the past. We met Christopher Columbus, Benjamin Franklin, an African explorer, Annie Oakley, an Egyptian mummy, native American dancers, Betsy Ross, a Utah pioneer, and many more fascinating people.

When we'd stop to talk to some of the characters, they'd tell you all about their life and what they did. Each volunteer had to learn quite a bit about the history of their character.

Annie Oakley was a really cute woman, who told the girls, "People always told me, 'You're a girl. You can't shoot guns.' But I showed them. Don't ever let people tell you something you can't do. Prove them wrong."

I thought that was great for my girls to hear.

And Benjamin Franklin was great, too. He told us all about living in England for 11 years while his wife had to stay in America. And how his wife died three months before he got home (or something like that). I asked him if he ever remarried, and he said, "No, but I did write a lady in France." He was a darling old man.

Here are some pictures from that night:

Get some shoes on that baby! The girls at the entrance of the museum.

This T-Rex was waiting for us as we entered. It actually moved and everything.

An English African explorer and his helper "Tuk."

Lissy pointing to a Utah geode. Grandpa C. would love that rock, as he used to collect geodes.

"Dumb, dumb. Give me gum, gum."

They had two little girls behind this frame dancing ballet. It was amazing how well these little girls did. Their faces were beet red from dancing for all that time, but they kept at it. My guess is they started out with great gusto, but as the night went on, their dancing faded a touch. By the time we got there, they mostly just positioned their arms differently, and did a plie every now and again.

This guy was hilarious. He was behind glass, but he beckoned for the girls to come near him. Closer, he beckoned. Closer. And then he turned his head, and turned it back around really quick and scared them. He posed like this for my picture.

Afterwards we met up with Kulani for ice cream. Kulani and Dave went to a post-training dinner at Rodigio.

Nono Grows Up

"I want a Tinkerbell party," Nono told me in March of 2010.
"I want a Snow White party," is what she asked for in April.
"Sleeping Beauty," was what she wanted in May.

Each month it was something else. Until the day arrived, and because I thought I could make a Rapunzel cake, I convinced her to have a Rapunzel party. And she agreed, which is rare for Nohea.

Because Nohea is a contrarian. About everything.

But I had a vision. I could build a cake with a cake tower and pipe long, golden icing flowing down the tower symbolizing Rapunzel's hair. I am not a cake decorator, but I thought I could manage that.

And I could make a pinata of a castle with a doll head sticking out. And the kids would yell, "Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your hair!" And I would lower the pinata and the kids could wack at it.

I could do this. I could give Nohea a great 4-year birthday party. Her first party with friends.... And then this is what happened.

I built the pinata two days before the party. Because I didn't trust my own brain, I researched the Internet for pinata-making ideas. Every site I found said, "Put paper mache around a balloon." So instead of just decorating the box and tower I made, I cut parts of the box out and put a balloon inside, thereby weakening the structure of the box. Here are pictures of what I'm talking about.

I was going to combine these two, and wrap them both with pink crepe paper...

but noooo. I had to cut out parts and put in balloons.
I can't believe I don't have a picture of the final product. It actually turned out okay, but I only put one layer of paper mache, and so with one wack, the thing fell apart. It was pathetic.

So then the cake. Easy enough. Make two cakes. One cake would be the base, and the second cake I would cut out round circles and pile them on top of each other to make a tower and place the tower on the first cake. Then frost it all.

Except, cutting out the round circles meant the sides were way to fluffy to frost. Here's what the crumbled cake tower looked like:

Kulani had to intervene at this point. It was not my finest hour. But he managed to think up another brilliant idea. He made the towers out of construction paper, and we frosted those instead. Here is the final cake. Not too bad.

It's supposed to be the top of Rapunzel's castle. The cake did taste good, so there's that.

And then we invited neighbors and friends from preschool. I thought it would be fun to give the boys pirate eye patches and the girls tiaras, and we'd play a game I created called "Princesses and Pirates." I was the alligator in the middle and held a green feather duster to signify my alligatorness. The boys sat on one side of the living room, and the girls sat on the other side of the living room. The goal was for the boys to run across the "ocean" and tag a girl on the hand. Then they both had to run back across the ocean without getting feather dusted by the alligator.

I had Lilia and Melissa show them how it was done.

"I don't want to do that," one little girl said. Then the other girls joined in. And soon, no one wanted to play THAT game.

So then I proposed another game I called the Boat Trip. One person is blindfolded and sits in a chair. I pick up the chair with the child on it and act like she is going on a boat trip. And the waves come, and the chair gets rocked. And the child has to jump off the chair to safety, but by this time I've lowered the chair to be near the ground.

Again, "I don't want to play THAT game."

Almost 10 minutes into the party, and I'm already running out of ideas.

Thankfully my friend Lindsay and her boys show up at this time. I ask the girls if they'd just like to play with Nono's dollhouse and dolls. Yes, that's what they want to do. And the boys just want to play Wii. So they do that. And me and Lindsay talk.

And it was a pretty lame party, but turns out, 4 year olds don't need a lot to be entertained.

We had cake, opened presents, and generally actually had a good time. Nohea said she liked the party, and that's all that counts.

The week before her birthday, Nohea took the scissors to her hair. She said she wanted a haircut like Dora's. After scolding her about her personal haircut, she ignored my insistence in not using scissors anymore and gave her Dora doll a haircut. She wanted to make Dora look like her. I really don't think she'll do that again, because I can tell she hates her haircut. She says she "looks like a boy."

Nono and Dora with matching haircuts.
But you can't keep Nohea down. She seems to be our most resilient child. She does as she pleases and she doesn't care if you like it or not.

She tells us that she wants to be a doctor when she grows up. I thought that was odd. What 4-year-old wants to be a doctor? So I asked her why.

"Because doctors work really hard."

What? Our other daughters wanted to be artists at this age or singing teachers.

I don't know what goes into Nono's head most the time. She has this look when she's concentrating on something. Let me see if I can find a picture somewhere...oh yes, here it is. She's digging for fossils with her sister Lissy. That's Nono in the bottom, left corner. Look at her concentrate.

Always with that furrowed brow.

We love our little bug. She's metamorphasizing into a unique little butterfly.


Friday, January 28, 2011

Social Butterflies

Yesterday Kulani took a call from Lissy’s teacher telling him that Lissy was talking too much in class.

We were a little surprised by the call. Talking in school is something kids do, isn’t it? Sticking tacks on the teacher’s chair, fooling around in the bathroom with lighted firecrackers, bringing exotic pets to school: these are unusual. Talking too much in school with your classmates? That’s the American way, or maybe you haven’t heard about a little program called Facebook?

Of course, we outwardly backed the teacher and when Lissy got home, we told her to mind her teacher and to not do it again or there’d be consequences. Luckily, Lissy was already shook up enough over it. She was crying, and we could tell she felt bad—whether she was crying solely because she was getting scolded or whether she was crying out of sincere sorrow for disrupting the class didn’t matter to us. We just wanted her to not want to do it again. Another of our children, Nono, would probably be like, “Yeah, so what? I was talking. Deal with it.”

Kulani and I were both social butterflies growing up. For me, it was an extension of being the middle child of a large family. There was always someone to talk to at home or at school.

I used to tell my best friend Keri, who was the last one in her family, and whose next older sibling was five years older than her, that it must be so great to be her. When she came home from school, she didn’t have to deal with noise and chaos and craziness.

But then I was able to experience her life for a short weekend when my parents left for a trip with all my younger siblings when I was a senior in high school. (No, I did not recreate the scene from 16 Candles, mostly because I didn’t think of it at the time, and I wasn’t sure anyone would come to my impromptu party, sniff.) I was alone in the house. It was approximately 15 minutes before I was calling Keri and asking if she’d like to come over and hang out.

“I thought you said it would be cool to have the whole house to yourself,” she asked when I called her up.

“Oh, yeah, but you know, I just thought it would be fun to hang out.” She totally saw right through me. She was right. I couldn’t even stand being by myself for 15 minutes. Looking back, I think that was honestly the first time in my life, at age 17, that I’d been completely by myself for longer than an hour.

It’s true you can’t go back, and that’s a really good thing. If I had to do elementary school all over again as the person I am now, a teacher’s stern warning wouldn’t get me to stop talking to my classmates.

Call my parents? You call my parents, teacher. I’m finishing this riveting discussion with Mary Beth about what she saw on the playground during recess.

And that is why Facebook is like crack-cocaine to a person like me. Looks like Lissy might struggle with it too when she gets older. I hope she friends me and we can talk about it.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Parenting Missed Opportunity

It’s no secret around here that I get cranky at night. But don’t bring that to my attention while I’m cranky, unless you like being barked at.

“I don’t need to go to bed. I’m FINE. It’s this family that is making ME cranky!”

Placing the blame on everyone but me—a fault that manifests itself brightly at night.

Last night for Family Home Evening, we read some of the Sermon on the Mount. Now, I’m no Bible scholar, but if you were to look for the best scriptural passages to sum up why you believe in Christ, and what passages you’d most want to teach your children, the Sermon on the Mount would be very high up there, if not the Mount Everest of scripture verses.

And so we began each reading three verses. Kulani and I took turns trying to explain to the girls what each verse meant.

“A mote is a very small piece of wood, like a splinter. A beam is a huge board. You need to work on your own problems before you can help others with their problems,” Kulani told the girls.

“Do we feed Jesse our finest dinners? No. So we don’t need to share things that are important to us with people who won’t appreciate it or who are just going to make fun of us,” is how I tried to explain the “pearls before swine” concept.

Afterwards I gave the girls a quick quiz. They didn’t get one question right, so either we didn’t do that great of a job explaining, or they weren’t really paying attention.

Then we had cookies, and it was time for bed.

Before Lilia goes to bed, she asks me, “Will you come read scriptures with me?”

Stop right there. What parent wouldn’t love to hear their child show an interest in learning the scriptures?

Yeah…….. but here’s what I did.

“We just read scriptures. Why do you want to read some more?”

“Well, I’m supposed to read eight verses on my own,” Lilia said.

“Fine. If you have to do it by the book, then read them yourself in bed. It’s late. I need to get up early in the morning.”

Reading what I said in the full light of day…well, all I have to say is, “Oh, heck.”

I watch Lilia walk to her room dejected. I tell Kulani, “Why does she have to be such a pharisee about these things? She can read the scriptures just fine on her own. Why does she need me?”

In the middle of the night, I awake realizing what I’d done. I hear Kulani rolling over and I say to him, “I think Lilia wanted me to read with her, so she could better understand what she’s reading.”

“I know. She came to me a little later and told me she needed help understanding the scriptures. I told her I would read with her.” Kulani answers me.

Gulp. Don’t stand too close to me. You might get wacked by the beam sticking out of my eye.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Study: Sisters AREN'T Blisters

Check it out, yo: According to a new BYU study, we'd be worse off without sisters. We'd be worse off without our brothers, too, but we'd be even worse off without our sisters.

I had four fantastic sisters. From time to time I would borrow their clothes, and from time to time I would get stains on their clothes, and from time to time they would get upset with me, and from time to time I acted as though I didn't care. I wasn't always the best sister.

But now my girls have each other to lean on, borrow clothes, laugh over incredibly silly jokes, cry over lost loves, support one another, and generally be better off having one another.
To sisters!

Sisters before their dance recital.

Sisters in their new pajamas on Christmas Eve.

Sisters climbing Grandma and Grandpa's tree in Blanding.

Sisters with our mom on a bench last summer in Lafayette, Indiana.