The first weekend in December, William and I celebrated our birthday together. William is affectionate, handsome, funny, tyranical. When he is tired he says "I sleep in yours bed." When he is impatient he says, "Move yours butt!" When people ask me why I have ten children, I wonder how they could imagine a world without William.
This was the first present I handed William on the morning of his birthday. He just wanted to hold it.
In the morning Granddad took us to a big Christmas activity for families of BYU faculty.
Olivia's favorite breakfast.
Sophie was in love with this bouncing Santa.
Sam helped William at the craft table.
In the afternoon we met Grandma Martha for more celebration. I love turning forty and being able to say I went to Chuck E. Cheese for my birthday.
Thank you to Grandma Martha for the beautiful cake she bought us.
I am grateful to share my birthday with you William.
Where I grew up in Tulsa, on the street where I lived, my next-door neighbor was a little old lady named Mrs.Thomas. Although she was white haired, frail, and hard of hearing, her home was very much alive. She was the mother of ten, and Grandmother to many, including children like me whom she invited over in the summer to use her pool that was old and cracked, surrounded by overgrown bushes, and filled with frog eggs, but nonetheless a delight to young naturalists, and in the winter she must have welcomed us as well, because I can remember sitting in her living room with wide eyes gazing at her Christmas tree surrounded by mountains of colorful, ribboned gifts. I decided in those visits, that I would have ten children as well. It wasn't a desire for what was inside the boxes that convinced me, but the beautiful scene that their colors created as the lay nestled next to each other, stacked in seemingly endless connection.
Now December 26 is possibly the most difficult day of the year because that is the nature of being so abundantly blessed. Where to put things, and how to respond to all the newness, and take ownership? The boxes are opened and what was inside comes out with it's own demands and all of it's wrappings must be attended to as well. Like any responsibility, inevitably comes the need to remind oneself that this new chore is what comes with the blessing of this new connection.
But I do wake up aware that I have completed something. My single mom Santa hat can now be boxed away with the lights and paper ornaments...quickly as the branches are dry ,and the tree must go out before it goes up like an incendiary,and now to take control of all the wonderful gifts that surround me, to clear away the wrapping, so I can focus on finding a new focus.
This was Christmas morning. Some of this was the single mom Santa, but most was the responsibility of our extreme home teachers who snuck into the house Saturday evening left colorful boxes filled with sweaters and boots, pants, socks, DVDs, toys. They did the dishes, vacuumed the rug, and left the glass on the fireplace open, so Grant looked in and said he swore he could see Santa's foot prints.
Saturday evening they had asked me to have the kids out of the house, so I drove them to the McDonald's in Springville. We brought the girls' friends and sang Christmas carols as we drove along Springville highway, singing in what Kyle called our "lower class British accent." I am grateful for that memory.
Wednesday evening, I was grateful to spend time with Sam in the kitchen. I was making stuffing and pear and jello salad. He was working on his Twin Peaks Cherry Pie. Wednesday day we took care of two kids with cavities at the dentist, lost lots of time at Wal-mart, something else there must have been as well, I felt tired and discouraged by the end of the day. I prayed that I could know just one thing I could do to make the kids' life better. I prayed to understand what is life about anyway. What is just one thing that makes life worthwhile. So the answer came the next day, as answers do in small ways.
We were excited and grateful to see Raines cousins we haven't seen for a while,
and Grandma Julia and Great-Grandma Hammond who was visiting from Arizona. There were so many cousins Grandma Julia decided to hold dinner at the church. Grandma Martha came with us too. Then some of the kids came back to our house with a few of the Mangum cousins, and Bethany and Ben went to the Mangum house to spend time with Alex and Samantha and accompany Kayla to a midnight Black Friday laptop run. Friday we all met up again at Trafalga in Lehi. Another chance to use our Pass of All Passes.
Friday November 18 Bethany and Olivia went to a sleep over. I intended to take everyone to Riverwoods to see the light celebration, but had to bring back the little ones, due to fighting over who got to wear which hat. Sam, Ben, and Kyle took Caitlin. Anyway, its fun for the kids to have separate outings. Everyone enjoys the new dynamic.
They returned and we had Pier 49 for pizza night. I ordered Sam's favorites, pesto chicken and spinach Alfredo. Later we looked outside and saw snow falling. Grant was so excited, he ran out in his pajamas and bare feet. Sam helped all the kids get on coats and boots for a late night snow ball fight. I was nervous about driving Grandma Martha home in the new, slippery snow, and grateful to return home safely. The biggest thing I don't like about winter is the possibility of limited mobility. Grant wasn't worried about anything.
Saturday morning the kids went outside as soon as they could. Sam and Kyle took Grant and William sledding. I had to take Olivia shopping, which was agony for her. She couldn't wait to get back to sledding. Mary and Kyle started a snow man at the park, but decided to transplant it to our yard. By afternoon the snow was almost gone, but the kids intended to use up what they could.
Monday, November 21, the little kids went to Grandma Martha's house for the day. I spent the time getting my Utah driver's license, the kind of thing I dread. Not sure what hoops I'll have to jump through, what paperwork will be slightly off. As predicted there was one glitch. I went to the wrong office. Testing was only done across town. Just as well since I had forgotten my glasses. Tried again after lunch, passed the open book test, failed the eye exam--good thing I had my glasses, and the happiest thing, walked out with a picture I didn't detest. I felt pretty euphoric about the whole thing.
In the afternoon Sam wanted to accompany Ben and me to downtown Provo for Ben's guitar lesson. He found out that I sometimes get lured in to the Peruvian restaurant next to the guitar shop for papas fritas and the most delicious spicy green dipping sauce. On the way we saw this rainbow over the Y. I was limited by my cell phone camera and the fact that the light turned green right as I decided to go for the picture. Here's the best I could do.
Tuesday was the kids' last day of school for the week. Mary and Caitlin came home dressed in paper bags and construction paper feathers. I can remember so clearly my own oatmeal box Indian drums of childhood. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
Caitlin and her new friend from school.
Tuesday evening, I surprised the kids with a trip to Pizza Pie Cafe to start off the weekend. I loved this pumpkin pizza. The place was packed. They were having a text special; three dollars off the regular buffet price. Caitlin had a coupon for two free kids buffets for her October reading reward.
After dinner Sam and Mary walked over to the mall to enjoy the lights and the gingerbread houses in all the shops.