Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Family: Abby

Madelyn * Kathryn * Me * {Abigail} * Elizabeth * Isaac  * Reed

Abby doesn't like to be summarized (who does, really?), but she doesn't mind being explained. She can usually be found reading, organizing, making a list, making delicious food, homeschooling her wonderful daughters, spending down-time with her brilliant husband, playing the piano, or laughing so hard that she cries. She shares with me a secret and somewhat-embarrassing love of Twilight movies, and an unabashed love of: all things birth and babies, young adult literature, new recipes, selective shopping, and dark chocolate. We also share obstinance, over-thinking, and Middle Child tendencies, which may or may not be a reason for a rather rocky year or two of our adolescent years of sisterhood. (Or maybe it's just because we were adolescents, which is both a word and stage that I hated.) Abby and I call each other just about every day, for reasons ranging from big {hey, I'm coming to visit!} to non-existant {hi. I just called to say that. So. Hi.}, and she has been the patient, ever-present witness to my growing-up, even the most painful aspects. If I could put ear-plugs in her ears so she wouldn't hear me summarize her in this one word, I would say that word is: Constant.  
So. Without further ado. Abby:

What brings you most happiness?

At this point in my day? I'd say having my girls in bed and getting a chance to hang out with Eric (usually watching TV).
During the day - knocking things off my to-do list and those moments where I actually manage to really enjoy the girls! (This is a fine art I am still striving to perfect. If you have kids, you know what I mean. If you don't, someday you will.)
Overall?? My family and living the gospel. :D

What would you say is your occupation currently, and/or what would you prefer it to be in the future?

My current occupation is like many other moms. I'm a professional chauffeur, housekeeper, psychologist, chef, and schoolteacher.

I have thoughts of a piano studio full of young students and am excited about the latest curriculum I'll be checking out. In the future, I have my sights on finishing school with a degree in Elementary Music Education. Strangely enough, I have no desire to teach in a traditional school with a degree like that, but I'd love to teach groups of kids on a private basis or at a charter school.

Sometimes I dream of completing a degree in nursing and then a Master's in Midwifery to be a Certified Nurse Midwife, but I don't know. I can't do everything as much as I would love to and music calls to me a little (maybe just a little) bit stronger.

What is your favorite memory with Rae?

Favorite? That's hard. What about favorite funniest memory with Rae? Oh wait...maybe those are a little too embarrassing for her (and me!) if I were to share them. Hahaha. One word Rae -- ballet. Can you think of a way to share that story without embarrassing us? Don't forget the egg.

One to share with everyone else...

I'm at a loss. Rae was with me everywhere we went. Aside from a short time where we didn't get along (blame hormones), there are just so many memories! I remember that when we lived in North Carolina, in the purple house, for some unknown reason I loved walking down the street to visit an elderly couple. I don't know why. It was really unusual considering all the other things I did with my time. But I remember Rae liked to go with me to visit Bob, Hazel, and their poodle (ack! urg! poodles?!), Dolly.

I love remembering playing at Grandma's with Rae. But I can't think of the words to describe it and make it sound as amazing as it was. If you've read Rae's essay (Rae, link here!) "June in Junction", you'll get an amazing picture of the things we did. (My, I'm not very verbose tonight, am I?)

What makes you laugh really hard?

Farting so loud at night that I woke myself up! I still crack up when I remember this. The best part was that at first I didn't realize it was ME. "Wha? What was that?" Bwaahhahaa! (Us Boatrights and bodily humor...never failed to disrupt us while trying to gather for family prayer....poor mom and dad...)

Conversations with my four year old.
E: As she walks down the hall, "Ah! Someone keeps giving me wudgies (she means "wedgies")."
E: "Ugh! Someones's still giving me wudgies. Oh! It's me!"

Watching my one year old get dressed, in everyone else's clothes.
Hearing my one year old catch on to different phrases and how to use them.
B: "Mom, watch."
B: "Mom, I want that. Now."

What are three of your favorite family memories?

1. I love remembering the short time we lived in New Jersey (9 months). Being a family of nine made it hard finding places that fit us all and the military put us up in a duplex and cut a doorway into one of the walls to join the two apartments. It felt like something out of a story. Two kitchens. Lots of rooms. And Reed, our oldest brother, slept in the kitchen on a cot and liked to wash his laundry in the dishwasher and buy his own ice cream to have handy in his own freezer.

2. I used to love going on road trips as a family. Our trusty old van, Beulah, was perfect for our big family. Eight seats, and a huge back section for cargo. Our dad built a frame in the back to fit luggage underneath and then he placed a thin mattress on top. I don't think we could get away with it nowadays, but we would climb back there and play on the mattress on our long road trips. It was up at window level too, which must have looked strange to passersby. Isaac coined his own version of the round, "Scotland's Burning" on one of those road trips. We loved to sing and we loved to sing familiar things. That meant lots of repetition! We used to sing "Scotland's burning, Scotland's burning, Look out, Look out, Pour on water, Pour on water, Now it stops, Now it stops." Is that a really old round or does anyone else know it? ANYWAY...Isaac's version went like this:
Broken record, broken record
Repeat, Repeat
Lift the needle, Lift the needle
Now it stops. Now it stops.

I am amazed at our Mom & Dad's patience on trips like that. I daydream about taking our kids on long roadtrips (longer than a day), but doubt it'll ever become a reality. I am remembering through the rose colored glasses of a child. [I, Rae, would like to add that although we had pretty lax rules about the mattress in the back (SO COOL), my mom also did Seat-Belt Checks every half-hour....she'd call out, "Seat-Belt Check!" and if you were buckled up, you'd get a mini snickers or a couple of Starburst. Once I kept my seat belt on for two hours straight and ended up with a huge wad of Starburst that I shaped into one giant ball. Abby was grossed out beyond belief.]

3. The Christmas before I got married, we all spent the holiday at Grandma & Grandpa's in Junction. We played so many board games. The highlight of that visit was playing Clue. Isaac started it really. He decided to make a "chart" of some sort that would help him figure out cards he hadn't even seen by writing down the suggestions of others and taking careful note of who could and couldn't prove them wrong. It caught like wildfire and we all slaved away trying to come up with our own style of charts to help us win the game. It made for a fun (if long, as we updated our charts) game of Clue! [P.S.-Isaac cheats at Monopoly.]

What do you do to relax?

Play the piano, watch TV, read books. Eat chocolate.

What are three books you love?

I read such a variety of books. But the main uniting factor of most of the books I read at this stage in my life can be summed up this way -- compelling and engaging stories (whether real or not). Three favorites that come to mind are:

1. Left to Tell -- the truly amazing (TRUE) story of a woman who discovered God amidst the Rwandan Holocaust
2. These is My Words -- a wonderful story based on the author's grandmother's life, but fiction. It's been a year since I read it and it still sits with me. I like to think over it and remember all the details. I loved finding all the things I felt I could relate to, with the main character, Sarah. I loved reading about such a strong woman. It made me want to be stronger myself.
3. The Lonesome Gods -- a classic. And yet, it's Louis Lamour! Fun, huh? So good. What a story. What depth in the characters.

I just love a good story.

What are two of your favorites of all the places we've lived as a family?


What do you love about where you live now?

fresh fruit my neighbors bring me
winter that feels like spring and sometimes summer
5 1/2 hours away from my Rae
living close to the Happiest Place on Earth
having annual passes to the Happiest Place on Earth
a backyard with a swing set, monkey bars, and playhouses for the girls

Tell us about your family.

My family is awesome. We're a little crazy, but we have a good time. Eric and I have four girls who manage to be very girlie while simultaneously being very "boy". Anyone who thought they only had to worry about boys breaking windows or causing destruction around the house -- hasn't met my girls. But on the flip-side, they are also the sweetest, cuddliest, girliest, girls you've ever met. I can't believe how old they're getting to be already. Autumn turns TEN this year and loves all things Harry Potter. She is in 3rd grade but already reading the fifth Harry Potter book. Heidi turns EIGHT this year and is obsessed with Hello Kitty. Really obsessed. Like squeal at the store when you see anything Hello Kitty, kind of obsessed. Esther turns FIVE this year and will start kindergarten. She loves playing violin and Tinkerbell. Becca turns TWO very soon. She is a joy. And a little spitfire. Eric is almost done with school. He's been in school since before I met him. 1996 to 2011 with breaks in between for a mission and working (and thinking school was not what we wanted). This December he will graduate from USC with a doctorate degree in Vocal Performance. WE will graduate with a doctorate, I should say.

What does your dream home look like?
My dream home doesn't look like anything in my mind yet. Currently, it's a bullet list of all the things I want in it. Oh wait, sometimes I joke with my friend Melissa that her house IS my dream house. We tell them to let us know when they're ready to leave because we'll be more than willing to move in. So here's the bullet list, if you're still here reading...

- an entryway
- a "doored" (what's the word for that?!) music room/studio off the entryway
- master bedroom a half floor up from the main floor
- a crawlspace/playspace under the stairs that leads to the master bedroom
- an open family room/kitchen/dining room plan
- guest space
- a laundry ROOM (not hallway, not section of kitchen)

And really, I think that about sums it up! Not too much to ask for, right? Someday, I'll find out...

Do you have pets? Tell us about them, and maybe briefly share a memory of one of the pets we had as a family.

We have two cats, Louis - as in Louis Armstrong, and yes, he's black, and yes, I know -- not very PC. Deal with it. We're musicians. And Izzy. Short for Isabella. The female lead in the opera Eric was in when we got her. Louis is everyone's cat. Autumn is Izzy's person. They are a lot of fun.

Growing up, we were definitely a cat family although we did have the occasional bird, dog, mouse, and hamsters. I think Elroy won a spot in every one of our hearts though. He is the only cat that was as "pro" as he was at detecting raw emotion. He just knew when someone needed a little extra love. We got that from other cats we owned, and I get that from our own cats now -- but never to the degree that Elroy did. He was really special that way.

What do you like to create? What makes you feel most create-ive?

I like to create
And order.
Do I get to keep things that way?

But I'll take one out of two.

It's interesting that what I "like to create" and "what makes me feel most creative" are not the same things! I feel most creative when I'm with the girls doing science experiments, crafts, drawing, doing art, or playing creatively (forts, masking tape trains...).

What do you love to eat?

Chocolate. Fruit. Salads that work as your entire meal. Homemade bread. Big, delicious sandwiches. Usually on french bread.

What is your favorite thing about where you are right now?

My brain is really winding down now. I'm amazed that I've made it this far in one sitting. At church I feel like I have ADD/ADHD because I can barely concentrate on the lessons. That's what happens when you spend all day with kids and kids' attention spans. And spend more than a year serving with the kids in Church. So...I'm calling this one already covered by the earlier question that is similar, although slightly different. :D
Lastly, will you explain a family phrase of ours, which is: "Psst....Bernard. Pass it on."
We have a secret code in our family. I know it started with Reed, but I'm not sure if he thought it up himself or if it came from a book. [I think my mom said that the boys needed a non-embarrassing way to say I Love You in front of friends?] But he would lean over and whisper, "Pssst. Bernard. Pass it on."

Bernard = I love you

We've kept up the tradition for years.

On a semi-related note, we also had a secret password for opening the door if we didn't recognize someone at the door. It went like this:

Person at the door: "Who killed Amalickiah?"
Person waiting: "Teancum."

The other day I was telling the girls about whether we wanted to use it in our own little family or make up our own.

Esther said chimed in, "How about -- who killed the babies?"

??!! Oh, wait...

We also just started studying the New Testament as a family and had just finished our scripture reading for the morning. We had just read about Herod killing all the babies when he couldn't find Jesus.

How's that for a secret code? I think it sure would throw people off. No scriptural names to go from either. So no worries that someone would know Amalickiah's killer but have poor intentions. I kind of like it.
Abby lives in California and blogs at Business As Usual

Sunday, January 23, 2011

My Family: Qait

Madelyn * {Kathryn} *  Me * Abigail * Elizabeth * Isaac * Reed

Qait, who is married to a gorgeous man (in and out), lives in Utah, and is pregnant with her second child, loves to: play legos, have alone time, draw, play her harp, read, laugh, make food for loved ones, engage in quiet and usually-harmless rebellion, snack in secret, and make up songs with Maddie, amongst other things. She entertained a Barbie obsession in her younger years, but not one you might expect....her obsession was with popping off the HEADS of Barbies...and she got sent home from our dear friends' house a few times because of it. (Years later, she and Maddie would invent a game called Bop the Barbie. We'd set up the Barbies on the island countertop, their chins holding them up, their heads the only part visible above the edge of the counter, and throw beanbags at them from far away.) One last fascinating fact about Qait is that while I can definitely see her joining the ranks of the likes of Elizabeth Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, were she born in a different decade, she's also rife with Martha Stewart/June Cleaver tendencies that (I believe) round her out just beautifully. (Lurv you, Q.)

What brings you most happiness?
Fulfilling my role as a wife and mother; there are comparable things, an example being the creation of music, and I find a lot of reasons to be happy in life, but those two things are the highest on the list because being the best mother and wife I can be helps me feel more and more like the divine daughter of God I am.  

What would you say is your occupation currently, and/or what would you prefer it to be in the future?
I am definitely a fully occupied mother. And I do think that's awesome! But I love my hobbies! I am a harpist, and that is a great passion of mine. I'm also a beauty consultant, and that's more fun than I would have imagined! I feel quite ambitious and want to someday do more; I want to illustrate children's books, I want to learn the fascinating sciences of food and become an expert on nutrition and cooking, I would love to learn more about interior design and even clothing fashions, and with those skills I would be content if I only used them to sew my own clothing and decorate my home.  

What is your favorite memory with Rae?
This is a hard question you ask!!! :) I have so many, but the most precious memories to me begin with the night we couldn't find Isaac. We held each other on your top bunk and cried. We also prayed, and we both comforted each other with our faith and inexplicable trust that Isaac would be alright. That is a very tender memory. A lot of my favorites include times that we comforted each other, either by laughing together or crying together or even being bitter together (just for the sake of having sympathy and sharing honest feelings). There were lots of times that we went on "adventures" together, and I remember relishing your cautious nature because it made me feel even more brave-- I knew I impressed you with my fearlessness, and I loved it. It gave me a chance to feel like a leader.
What comes to mind right now is that for a while in Colorado we liked to walk to the curb together and watch the sunset. I loved being with you. I felt honored when you included me, because I thought everything you did was fun and interesting. One night we even took a thermos of soup or chili to the curb, with Mom's permission, and I felt like our little walk to look at the sunset was a really special time together. We didn't talk much, and it was perfect.
One more thing, brought to mind for its similar time period and feelings. We often biked or walked together to an old, seemingly abandoned fire station where there was a soda machine which for some reason only held orange and grape soda. Each only cost a quarter, which made us feel rich and independent. When we got there, you'd always have me pick first so you could pick the other soda. And I always wanted to pick your favorite--just to be like you--but in the end, without fail, I got grape and you got orange. And we'd sit by a ditch close by and share sips. 

What makes you laugh really hard?
I will be honest: gas. It just does.
But also, Michael makes me laugh-- he is really funny when he wants to be! And I laugh with my sisters, always, and perhaps even more with Isaac. It's almost like anything Isaac does can make me laugh, maybe because it makes him laugh too. Belly laughs! I also love to laugh with my parents. And I love to make other people laugh--sometimes that's even more satisfying!  

What are three of your favorite family memories? (Long, short, silly, otherwise--whichever)
1. One I think of quite often is when Isaac and all of us girls played in the snow in the front yard of our house in Colorado. We made a grandma snowman, who had little snowballs packed around her head for hair or curlers. And we all tried to make an igloo, but we gave up when it collapsed in middle, and we tried to then make it into a slide. That turned into more of a throne, and we plopped Maddie on top of it and pretended she was a queen. It was all so invigorating and fun, and we laughed together and played for a very long time before coming in for cocoa and blankets.
2. The guesthouse in Germany-- I specifically love that time because I recognized it as a peaceful time for us all, when I had expected to be frightened and lonely in Germany. Things felt orderly to me because I did my chores and was careful to read in my scriptures and pray every day. I knew it made a difference. And I loved the way everyone seemed to feel on vacation, relaxing together as if it were summer instead of winter. That was a delightful Christmas, with our skimpy tree and beautiful German ornaments (I loved the fact--perhaps too much--that they had been purchased from the store "Katie Wolfhart," and I said that name as often as I thought I could get away with it).
3. BOOBY TRAPS! This is maybe cheating. I love ALL of our booby traps memories, and I've always loved how that tradition sets us apart from other families. We had particularly special Christmases because of it, and I think it's one way I've remembered each Christmas from year to year. I loved the way we kids planned together and banded for the special event. I loved the challenge, and I loved having assigned buddies for what felt like a secret mission. Sneakiness was my forte, I thought, and I loved a chance to explore it. I also loved the way we had so much fun together with it, every single time.

What do you do to relax?
Almost invariably, I snuggle down in a comfy seat with a book. Even better when I have food with that book. I do not choose to nap for relaxation, even though I often need it--napping annoys me because I feel like it's such a waste of time. I'd rather waste time while being awake. I also love to watch movies while cuddling with Michael. That's always very relaxing.  

Three books you love?
It should be obvious, but I'll point it out anyway, that I love SO MANY books that these aren't necessarily the top of my list.
1. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver - I felt like it changed me life. I felt so deeply affected by it, as if I'd lived in Africa as one of the daughters (any of the daughters-- I related to each in some way or other).
2. Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden - Again another book that seemed to transport me to its place of occurance (Japan). The narration is honest in a very deeply poetic way. As with the Poisonwood Bible, I felt like my mind had been expanded. I felt like my wisdom had grown as well as my understanding of the human heart and soul. Sometimes that's what does it for me in a book-- I love to learn more about people and why they live the way they do, why they think what they think, how they feel about life and how their understanding of life came to what it is.
3. A Northern Light by Jennifer Dosselly - This is a very recent read of mine. I relish honest writing, and this book was full of it. It was beautifully pulled together, made into a complete story not by a perfectly happy ending but by how real the character's feelings were. I understood her, and I understood her reactions to the sometimes jarring things she learned about life.

What are two favorites of all the places we've lived as a family?
Colorado and Belgium. I have so many wonderful memories revolving around Colorado! I loved our home, I loved my sense of freedom in our neighborhood, and I really, really loved being a child there. It was a perfect childhood-piece of life.
Belgium resonates with my introverted ways. I actually love the grey days, the rain and the wetness. I love the ancient buildings. I love, love, love the somber and mellow landscape, the lazy b'jours of the people, and the quiet feeling of walking down an endless road that seems almost handmade in its meandering path, surrounded by wetly bright green meadows. If I painted a picture of my inner character, the part of me that loves to ponder and say nothing, Belgium is me.  

What do you love about where you live now?
I am in my own home (well, apartment, but it counts). I love that my home reflects my desire to create an orderly environment where the Spirit is felt and where there is kindness. Beyond my home, I love that we live close to a lot of "things to do" or "places to go." We are friends with our neighbors, we live across the street from the church. There's more opportunity to be social than I've felt existed before, and it seems perfect for our stage of life. Oh, plus, I love that I have learned how to navigate really well. I don't really get lost--makes me feel powerful. :)

Tell us about your family (your kids, spouses, people who make your life joyous and full, people you are happy to be surrounded by....)
Michael and I met the "traditional" Mormon way: at BYU-I, in class. But we're cool and different, I promise. ;) We met because I needed a ride, and a guy friend of mine, eager to help me, found me a ride with Michael. Goodbye, eager friend! Thank you forever! It's a delightfully long story, actually...
Michael is getting his Masters in composition at BYU now. He has no shortage of original ideas, and his professors have great expectations of him. We have a son we call Ender, who is almost 3. Ender is a witty little boy-- he loves to make us laugh, and he does it often. One of my favorite characteristics to observe in him is that he loves order and obedience. Ender tries to obey us even when it is really, really hard for him. You can see the struggle on his face. But it's important to him and always has been. He loves to clean his room and line his toys up-- he feels a little bit miffed when things are untidy. He's a good helper. I'm so glad, too, because I know I'll need his help more than ever when we have another baby this summer! Hooray! The name's picked out already: Austuvious Galnutt Wourmberg Derdills Wahlquist XVI. (I know we do not indeed have 15 preceding Austuviouses, but the XVI looks so cool, don't you think?)

What does your dream home look like?
My dreamhouse is always evolving, but it will be a beautiful one that Michael and I will build, and it will be a place where kids can play and easily feed their imagination, music will be a big part of everything, beautiful gardens will surround the house, and delicious food will fill the kitchen. I have already put a lot of love into the dreamhouse.

Do you have pets? Tell us about them, and maybe briefly share a memory of one of the pets we had as a family.
I do not have pets. I'd love to have a couple kittens. Hey, who knows? Maybe this pregnancy will surprise us! HAHAHA! Just kidding... I loved my kitty Nigel. I even call Ender by that name sometimes! :| Oops... Anyway, Nigel was so weird! I loved it! He had the chortliest meows and the babyest face. Sometimes he was maybe a little annoying, but never in a bad way. Just when I had to go the bathroom, and he'd stand in the doorway looking at me like he was waiting for permission to come in so he could drink water from the tap. Sheesh. YES, come in, NOW. Weirdo. But! I love this sneaky memory of our cat Spiffy: one day, well, one of the many days that I felt scissor-happy (by the way, I was probably 5 or something), I decided that Spiffy didn't really need such long whiskers. I thought they should line up nicely instead of stick out all funny. So I wrestled her to the ground and snipped a side. She got away before I could finish the haircut. And Mom came to me later, saying quite suspiciously, "Qait...did you cut Spiffy's whiskers?" I said "No! I noticed they look funny, though, don't they? Maybe they grew in funny this time..." (Mm-hm, not fooling anyone)

What do you like to create? What makes you feel most create-ive?
Well, I love to draw something from an original and funny idea. Doodling is really satisfying in that way. But I also take great pleasure in cooking meals very well. I love to bake and cook, and I even like to experiment with either inventing recipes or finding out what makes a recipe better. I enjoy doing different "looks" with my makeup, as if my face is a canvas ready for painting (it's really one big reason I enjoy makeup, rather than for the sake of covering my face or something). I love thinking of fun ways to play with Ender. That always leaves me feeling invigorated and brilliant.  

What do you love to eat?
Hah. Right now? Food is kind of stupid because I need it all the time. But that's okay, I won't complain. When I'm more my normal self, I first of all love the act of eating. It's very comforting, almost regardless of the food. I suppose I have favorites, though! I love to eat chocolate ice cream, popcorn, or Italian food. Or...chips. Or fruit, mmmm. And it's always better with a good book. Besides all of that, though, I really love to eat a good meal that I've prepared. That's a very good feeling, most especially when I'm sharing the meal with family or friends (I guess because I'm proud of it...) 

What is your favorite thing about where you are right now? (This can be Where You Are as in the state or city you're in, or Where You Are as in what your life is like, etc...)
Since I talked about where I am locally already, I'll talk about ... spiritually, more like. I am so happy. I feel like I'm in a time where my growth is constant, or at least consistent. I love the feeling of progress. I feel very forgiving of my faults, and I feel very encouraged by friends and family...I feel very confident with who I am, even with the humility of realizing I've got far to go. This feeling, of not being consumed with ME, is very ...peaceful, relaxing. I feel like I have the mental space to care for Michael and Ender better than before.  

One last thing: We (the readers) want to know how your name came to be spelled the way it is! (Q-a-i-t, instead of K-a-t-e) When I was 13, I went through a variety of spellings...some were definitely inadvisable. Maddie's favorite to tease me about is "Keyte." She called me Keet for about a week or two...or three...
But during the month or so that I played around with the spelling, it was to have fun with it. I like wordplay, and I liked the idea of seeing how many ways I could logically spell my name. I didn't feel an identity crisis, that wasn't it. I honestly love my full name (and my mom's only request was that I not try to reinvent my full name's spelling, which was perfectly fine with me. I really was just aiming for a twist on my nickname).
I'd been emailing my brother Isaac pretty regularly (like I do now, actually), and I had signed my emails with a new spelling each time. Then one day, he emailed me with his own spelling: QAIT.
And I LOVED it! It's so fun to me that I've kept it up since then! And "Q" has become an affectionate nickname for me that I feel fits me really well somehow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My Family: Maddie

 {Madelyn} * Kathryn * Me * Abigail * Elizabeth * Isaac * Reed

Madelyn is currently a student at BYU-Hawaii. She likes Reese's Puffs cereal, reading my old journals, creating art, original humor, laughing, sleeping with soft & cushy blankets, exploring new places, and probably likes long walks on the beach. ;) She's a winning combination of sass and sweetness, which I imagine has been instrumental in her beautiful handling of being the youngest of the family. She's our baby, and usually she doesn't mind. She's full of surprises, starting with her birth, when we were all convinced she was a boy. (My mom was most convinced.) She is also the only other girl in the family who has brown eyes, and once I saw her newborn self, all pink and new in the bassinet, I was perfectly okay with sharing the title of "Daddy's Brown-Eyed Girl".

What brings you most happiness? Feeling people’s love and loving them back

What would you say is your occupation currently, and/or what would you prefer it to be in the future? Currently I’m a student, and in the future I hope to have a job that’s quirky and exciting and teaches me lots of new things. For example: lumberjack supervisor (a real job!)

What is your favorite memory with Rae? (my secret selfish motive comes to light) What ISN’T a favorite memory with Rae?  Here’s one: one time in belgium, me and rae were throwing big rocks into this pond just for fun. i was 8 and she was 15. while we were throwing rocks this grumpy guy came out of his house and started yelling at us in french. i was really scared. rae understood some french so she told me he was saying that we shouldn't throw the rocks in the pond because it will block the pipes. i don't know the rest really, it's kind of vague. rae probably remembers this better. i just remember thinking rae was really cool for knowing what he said and that afterwards when we left and i said i didn't like him because he scared me and hurt my feelings the way he yelled at me (and i had no idea what i'd done wrong) she was totally consoling.

What makes you laugh really hard? Tons of things make me laugh! But I tend to laugh really hard when I’m hangin out with friends and one of us or all of us does something funny, or when I watch a good show or youtube video.

What are three of your favorite family memories? (Long, short, silly, otherwise--whichever)
Hmm... I will just choose the first 3 that come to the top of my mind since this is kind of a tough one. Family memories... 1. We went to Denmark together. We saw Hans Christian Anderson's museum, we went to Legoland (SO FUN!), we saw the statue of the Little Mermaid, we had mind blowingly yummy ice-cream, and we rode and slept overnight on a Ferry. Plus, Qait got ice-cream on our car window and we left it there for years. We thought it was hilarious. 2. This summer we all got together at Grandma Garmann's house. Everybody was sick, except for Isaac. Healthy invincible Isaac, haha! Us girls stayed up one night in Mom's hotel room all together on the bed talking and laughing. 3. Um.... I know! When we were living in Hinesville Georgia, Isaac came to visit us for a while! :D He got to meet Rae's squeeze, Phill, and we had tons of fun drawing, playing with toads in the backyard (who died in the hot tub) and eating too much cinnamon toast. :)

What do you do to relax? Take a nap, go to the beach, make dinner, zone out, get on the computer, watch TV… anything different from the unrelaxing thing that I AM doing.

Three books you love 1. The Count of Monte Cristo- It’s the coolest story ever, and it’s also the longest book I’ve ever read. I had to read it for school, and I felt so accomplished when I was done! 2. Slumdog Millionaire- I couldn't put it down! 3. The Outsiders- I know it's popular and that bugs me because to me I feel like I loved it first. This book makes me cry and it makes me happy at the same time because of the struggles the main characters face but also the relationships they have with each other

Two favorites of all the places we've lived as a family? 1. Belgium (fun time, lotsa good memories, beautiful place) 2. Japan (I learned a lot and grew a lot there, made some wonderful friends there, and experienced lots of cool new things!)

What do you love about where you live now? My roommates are nice and my house is right across from the beach! Oh yeah!

Tell us about your family (your kids, spouses, people who make your life joyous and full, people you are happy to be surrounded by....)
My friends are awesome. My closest friends are Amanda, Becca, and Brandon. Amanda and Becca are so dear to me. I can tell them anything and I always feel good around them. They help me to be closer to Christ and I know they're both strong in the gospel. At the same time, we laugh together so much and do so many silly things... every Sunday we have make dinner together. It's a tradition I wouldn't give up for the world. Brandon takes me surfing a lot and actually does a lot of favors for me. His house is always available if I have nowhere else to go (they invited me there on Thanksgiving!) He has a car which has come in handy, and right now I'm using his bike since mine was stolen or something. I just feel close to him because I feel like we understand each other well, and I think he's a really fun and sweet guy. We've had plenty of interesting talks.

What does your dream home look like? (maybe this question looks superficial, but I'm actually really curious about each of your answers to this one, since my own answer is pretty solidly cemented in my mind) 
My dream home isn't something I daydream about often. Maybe that will happen when I actually buy my own home. Something cozy and clean and warm, with lots of people inside.

Do you have pets? Tell us about them, and maybe briefly share a memory of one of the pets we had as a family.
Oh my goodness! I don't have any pets right now but anyone who really knows me well will know that Elroy will forever live in my heart as the sweetest, cutest, funniest cat to ever grace my presence. One of my best memories of him is this night in Iowa when I was 12 and I was lying in bed, not really asleep yet. For some reason I felt a wave of loneliness. I felt really, really lonely. And then out of nowhere Elroy bounded up onto my bed and chortled all happily. He snuggled up to me and I felt instantly better, just like that! We fell asleep with him purring. He slept with me like that all the time :)

What do you like to create? What makes you feel most create-ive? I really like to create doodles of little scenarios. Like comics, only with less effort put into them. I like to try to write interesting journal entries. I like teaching spiritual thoughts for church and coming up with small lessons. I like to draw, to write stories and make up characters. Anything can inspire me, I never really know what will get to me next. Honestly? These two cartoons really make me want to draw: Phineus and Ferb and The Powerpuff Girls. They draw really cool looking people. I notice these things.

What do you love to eat? Steak!! Macaroni and cheese. Chocolate milk. Milk chocolate. Grape juice with ice. Burgers, eggs, avocados, TONS OF THINGS

What is your favorite thing about where you are right now? (This can be Where You Are as in the state or city you're in, or Where You Are as in what your life is like, etc...)
What I love, love, love about Hawaii is... surfing! It's so much fun!!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Lord works in miraculous ways

Once upon a time, there was such baby-hunger in my heart that I could hardly handle it. I prayed (fervently, consistently) that either 1) we would have the funds necessary to make a baby a reality -or- 2) that I would simply stop being so hungry.

For months, long long months, I prayed for relief.

And then friends started to get pregnant. Lots of friends. Close friends, faraway friends, neighbors, you name it.

I had a brief and bright moment of "Everyone-Is-Pregnant-But-Me"....and then continued to pray. Asking that Heavenly Father would give me whatever I needed.

I thought maybe I needed to understand this feeling. Maybe I need to learn what it is to want a baby, given that I have been spared from ever feeling that before now.(post-edit to clarify: I WANTED all my babies...but I have never had to try very hard at all. I am well aware that that, in itself, is miraculous, and a blessing.)

Maybe I needed to understand that what I want is not always what I need.

Whatever the reason, I prayed and I waited, watching bellies grow and waiting for the worst/best part--those babies--the deliveries.

My dear sister Qait came to visit, and shared with me the news of her budding pregnancy while we stood in the kitchen. She just slipped in the announcement, almost unnoticed, amongst our otherwise-boring conversation. I hugged her close and felt a mix of aching and joy. I sat next to her on the couch each night as she nourished her body with foods I made, watched her rest, and watched her tiny swelling of a belly grow in miniscule proportions during her stay. I quietly relived the earlier months of my pregnancies, and felt some sense of happiness in watching my sister experience it for her second time. 

And then on December 31st, I got to hold the still-very-new twin girls of Cara, one of my dear friends. 

I breathed in their new-baby scent, smoothed the fine layer of hair on their heads, examined at great length the fingers, toes, folds, nooks, and soft curves of their perfect little bodies. I felt an ache, and worried that this was not good for me, and silently begged in prayer. And that is when something miraculous happened. Filling me up, bottom to top, was peace. The aching wasn't gone, but much less, and finally manageable. In its place was the ability to enjoy the little bodies in my arms, the understanding that I don't know the timeline God has in store for me, but that he will give me ways to handle whatever it brings. Longing. Loneliness. Unwillingness to let time go at its proper fast pace.

I held another perfect newborn only days later, and again was filled with peace. And something else was added--patience. I finally FELT what I have been trying to feel, which is, "I can wait. I can wait for whatever is to come. What I have is enough, and it is alright if it's all I ever have."

And then my sweet and dear friend, Sarah....

Sarah, who has kept me informed and allowed me to almost-obsess over her pregnancy. Sarah, who even asked me to document the birth, something so sacred and so personal. A part I miss most. And here is where I really begin to understand that God doesn't give us things we can handle, though it sometimes feels that way.

Sarah had a practice run, otherwise known as prodromal labor, an extended and painful episode (complete with back labor) that had her, her husband, and me in the hospital on Sunday night. (I would like to state for the record "prodromal" does not always mean "false" and most definitely not "ineffective") And while it didn't amount to much that Sarah could see, it proved instrumental for me. (Sorry, Sarah...I grew at your expense.) Once again I was watching someone I love and reliving the moments I miss--and once again that longing was tempered. I least expected to feel relief in watching my friends and family go through the experiences I crave so much, but I firmly believe--actually, I know, I know for myself--that God knows what I need. He knows how to teach me, how to help me, and most definitely, how to give me more than what I want.

So....with a lot of gratitude in my heart as it is, I'm thanking my pregnant and/or new mom friends for their (however unaware) participation in what has been a healing and learning process in the last few months for me. All my love to you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Army....

....can be like an indecisive child.

Ah, well. No harm done in this instance--

Phill's orders to move to Spokane have been revoked.

Meaning, we're staying here! Meaning: Reed will go to the same school for the fourth year in a row (something I never did), we will live here longer than 3 years (never did that, either), Jax will get to start kindergarten at a school he's already quiet familiar with (three cheers for familiarity) AND...we can just...keep doing what we're doing! Or try and and shoot our roots a little deeper and buy a house?

Who knows.

All I know is, I'm happy. I am feeling watched-over and unbearably blessed. Heavenly Father answered with a resounding YES to the prayers I didn't really dare utter. (The thoughts whispered heavenward went something like, Please can it just NOT happen?)

My Family: A Series

My friend Jenn once said to me that she wishes she had a little directory of all my siblings, so that when I mention them (as I often do), she'd know just who I was talking about. I started to do just that--gathering a photo of each of them, compiling little factoids about each of them, and then I became very overwhelmed and stopped.

I was realizing, though, that I do the same thing here--I mention my siblings a lot, and I do often share personal memories that involve them--but I wish I could introduce each one of them to you. One of the things I love about my sisters is that they tend to love and care for anyone I love and care for. Friends included. Which means that my sisters, by extension, care about you, my readers and friends, and love you, too....and although some of you readers know each one of my sisters, I thought it would be fun to do a little series about them, and my brothers, and my parents.

So hold on to your hats! As soon as I have the first "interview" compiled, I'm posting it! I'm so excited for you to "meet" my family.

Friday, January 7, 2011

The case of the rogue sock wrinkle

For Thanksgiving just a couple months ago, we decided to go to California to see my sister, Abby, and her family. The trip there is six hours, and about four hours in, we were ready for a break. We stopped at an Arby's, got our orders (which were fantastically disgusting, I'd like to say) and sat down at a table. There was only one more family in the dining area, sitting all the way across the room from us.

So we sit down, and we're all happy and eating, and then Savvy starts to cry. And then panic. And she's yelling (loud enough for it to reverberate off the walls of the place), "My foot! There's something on my foot! My foooot!!" So Phill quickly comes to the rescue, unlacing her pink Converse and sliding it off.

With shaky hands, she reaches down, and we can see that her sock has sort of slipped and formed a little fold, an annoying little bump near the toe. She whips the sock off, and then laughs with relief, actually near tears in her happiness. Then, feeling free and joyous, she yells loudly enough for all to hear, "OH! It was just a NIPPLE! A nipple in my shoe!" 

I'm still puzzling that one out.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

This quote (or big chunk of an article, really) was one of my favorites from the December Ensign. From the talk Fear Not.

"Sometimes [we] are confronted with a problem that seems like Mount Everest. [We] believe it is just too high and too tough to climb. Because [we] see no solution, [we] become discouraged—perhaps even negative and pessimistic—about [our] futures. But...[we] can learn that however unsolvable the problems of life may seem, God always has a solution."

"Because of the Savior’s birth, life, and Atonement, there are no unsolvable problems. There are temporary tragedies and difficulties, of course, but they need not be permanent or unconquerable. Can you imagine anyone having a problem God cannot solve? He always has a solution that will advance our eternal progress. That is both the reason for and essence of the Atonement."

And lastly:

"There is no question about the Atonement’s capacity to provide solutions for our problems. The scriptures are abundantly clear on this point. The real issues are these: Will we embrace those solutions? Will we choose the world’s answer or God’s answer? Will we repent or rationalize, seek God’s grace to overcome our weaknesses or “go it alone,” acknowledge God’s love in times of tragedy or spurn Him at every downturn in life?"

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Lavender House

As a military brat, my time at home was divided up into 2- or 3-year increments. Here is a complete list of the places we lived, just for kicks--

Tacoma, Washington (born there)
Fort Bragg, North Carolina (one side of post)
New Jersey
Fort Bragg, North Carolina (the other side of post)
Colorado Springs, Colorado (off-post)
Heidelberg, Germany
S.H.A.P.E., Belgium
Fort Stewart/Hinesville, Georgia
{got married to Phill, and then}:
Fort Carson, Colorado
Cedar City, Utah
Provo, Utah
Cedar City, Utah
St. George, Utah

...and in between those big moves, there were smaller ones. For instance, we moved twice in Panama, from one side to the other. And when Phill and I lived in Colorado, we moved four times--twice off-base, and twice on-base. Not to mention the three different places we lived in Cedar City.

There was definitely enough to keep us seven kids interested and on our toes. Sometimes I find myself getting antsy after a year or so, I'm so used to a change of scene every couple of years.

But some of the most fun we had was when we were in even more-temporary living spaces. One of those was a little lavender house in North Carolina, which we were in for just a few weeks (I think) before we moved on base. I was seven years old.

The house had a fireplace that I loved (and secretly feared), and a tiny sitting room where our green loveseat was. My mom would sit on the loveseat to feed Maddie, the youngest, "our". Or my oldest sibling, my brother Reed, would sit on the couch and read to us younger girls. (photo HERE) Sometimes my oldest sister, Liz (are you keeping track? I'll quiz you later...) would sit on the loveseat and have me sit in front of her while she French-braided my hair. That room felt safe.

In my bedroom was a bunk bed that I shared with my little sister, Qait, and I slept on the top. While my dad was far away in one of those many Army fights, I had his picture taped to my ceiling, a tiny wallet-sized print of him in uniform, that I would look at as I fell asleep each night. Under my arm was a tiny camp-pillow he had given me; it smelled exactly like him. I would look at his picture and pray, many times over, for his safety, nuzzle the pillow next to my face, and fall into sleep.

In the backyard, there was a swingset, and I distinctly remember sitting on the swing, noticing my worn and too-small shoes, when my mom, looking through the kitchen window, must have noticed the same thing. I got new shoes. Not the Barbie ones I wanted, but some sensible white Keds. And so I sat on the swing again, unaware that my mother was (again) watching as I purposely dragged the toes of my brand-new shoes, desperately wanting those stupid Barbie shoes. I remember glancing up to see my mother watching me with half a smile on her face. She opened the window a crack and said with a smile, "You'll want to take care of those shoes." Enough said. She was on to me.

There was the window seat, possibly my favorite spot in the house. Above it was a bay window, and I would sit there and read, or daydream, or lift the lid of the window seat and imagine the awful fate that would befall someone who got stuck in there. (I was a little morbid.)

Outside, there was a green grass and a street-lamp, and I remember picking the fuzzed-over dandelions and running in circles on the grass, watching the little seeds of weeds-to-be taking flight.

I remember that our big, green trash can said, "Cumberland County" on it, and that for the longest time I thought it said, "Cucumberland Country". 

There was one night that I couldn't sleep--at all, and I was earnestly trying--and I could hear music coming from Abby and Liz's room. Music and laughter. I knew that if they were happy and having fun together, they would probably not mind too much if I just laid on one of their beds for a bit. I knocked softly on their door, and Liz opened it. "Are you okay, Rae?" I told her my troubles and she gladly let me lay on the bottom bunk of their bed while she and Abby laughed away on the floor, as The Bangles played on and on. They picked me up off the bed so I could dance with them to Walk Like an Egyptian, and swung me around to Eternal Flame. They willingly included me in their fun and thoroughly exhausted me in the process. I slept like a baby.

Most of all, that lavender house is a safe place, a little holding-place in my mind for memories that are untouched by the incredible grief that followed only a couple of years later, when my dear brother Reed died. In the lavender house, we were all nine, all together.

When people ask me how I handled moving so often, having to adapt as much as we did, I reply that it is because my family is my home.Wherever they were, we called home. And temporary as it was, that house is permanently cemented in my heart, twenty years later.