Wednesday, December 29, 2010

"Dad is Sooo Annoying"

That’s what Clark informed me this morning as I sat at the computer. Annoying?? That’s an interesting word for him to use. I don’t think I have ever heard him say it. Usually it is “Dad is jumping up and down mad” which interpreted means “He is telling me to walk on the treadmill and I don’t want to. It makes me dizzy.” He didn’t come to the right person to tell me dad was annoying. He was hoping to get out of exercising. “Okay, Clark, you have a choice. You can either go out with us when we go for our walk/run or you can go on the treadmill.” I can now hear him on the treadmill.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Birthday in December

“I’m so excited for my birthday!” Clark reminded us repeatedly in the days leading up to his big day. Family was invited to the party (nine were not able to attend) as well as four other long-time family friends. He requested hamburgers, chips, pop and mud pie (the long-standing favorite clown cake has been replaced—at least for now). Part way through the party Clark’s speech became slightly slurred and he felt dizzy. He periodically has these spells—like he has overdosed on medication. Notice his eyes in some of the pictures. Despite not feeling well he was still able to enjoy being the center of attention for a day.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Magical Day

A trip to the Alpine Bavarian village of Leavenworth on The Snow Train earlier this month was scripted perfectly. The five of us (Clark in particular was happy to be included in this excursion) arose very early for a Saturday to be downtown at the train station by 7:30. We boarded, found our seats and waited for departure time at 8:30. Before our world started changing color we made two stops, picking up more passengers, ate a box breakfast and were entertained by a magician and a variety of singers and musicians who passed through our car. Then began the slow climb to over 4,000 feet with increasing snow flurries coloring the landscape white. By the time we disembarked at Leavenworth it was a winter wonderland with carolers caroling and chestnuts roasting and snow quickly piling up on our heads. There was a festive mood as we wandered through shops, sampled chestnuts, listened to music, ate Wiener schnitzel and red cabbage at Café Christa (except Clark and Phil who wanted hamburgers and fries) and watched the snowflakes fall all afternoon. At 4:45 we gathered with thousands in the town square to listen to Christmas songs (not Santa songs), to unite in prayer and to watch Christmas lights come on along store fronts and in the trees. It was like a Currier and Ives Christmas card day and we enjoyed it as a family in a peaceful, white world.
Back at the train station.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Bowling Christmas Party

Yesterday was the annual Christmas party at the bowling alley after they had bowled three games. Paul and I took Clark and Phil so I went inside to watch them bowl. Phil is exuberant (joyously unrestrained and enthusiastic according to Webster—a perfect description) in his approach and then in releasing the ball with speed and power. Clark, on the other hand, walks to the line, plants his feet, and throws the ball, also with power. As I watched them I thought about the importance of exercise for them with the added bonus of participating with peers. I looked around and realized they are not the youngest nor the oldest. They are not the best bowlers nor are they the worse. They are inconsistent (bowling 60 one game and 126 the next) but so are most of the others. And they are as happy with the 60 game as they are with the 126 game. They don’t know what perfection in bowling is nor do they care. They have learned about taking turns, cheering others on, taking care of their possessions (their own bowling balls and shoes which were gifts at Christmas a few years ago), and paying $5 each week with their own money. What a great place for them to be each Saturday morning from August to February.

What party with pizza, salad and cake would not be a success? Add a visit from Santa and a gift and it can’t be beat.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Special Musical Number

A men’s chorus sang a special musical number in church last week. And the conductor was none other than Phil. I watched the men as they walked up to the choir seats, many with smiles on their faces, with Phil leading the way. As soon as they all assembled in front of the congregation, Phil turned his head, checking to see if anyone else was coming, and then he signaled for them to sit down. And they did. Then he paused. On signal he had them stand up. And they did. Then he threw his arms open wide and on the down beat they began “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” a cappella. Phil had been talking about this day all week—the day the men would sing and he would conduct. I noticed before they went up to sing that Phil had turned to the right page in the hymnal and had his baton out. Phil is famous for the unexpected but he didn’t turn and bow at the conclusion. Paul thought he might. If Paul were a nail biter he would not have had any fingernails. Compliments came as I left to go to Sunday School. I smiled as I thought of this community who has helped to give Phil his confidence, opportunities to participate and a sense of belonging.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Where Is the Soap?

Yesterday I went into what we call the “boys’ bathroom”. The shower door was open so I could see there was no soap in the soap dish—bottles of shampoo, one for each, but no soap. I would get to the bottom of this I determined. “Clark, when you take a shower each morning, what do you use to wash yourself with?” “Water.” “Water? How long has this been going on?” my mind yelled, not in anger but in disbelief. I distinctly remember teaching them to bathe with soap. “Philip, when you take a shower, what do you use to wash yourself with?” “Shampoo.” Well, at least that was soap. I couldn’t believe it. When did they stop using hand soap? I felt like a negligent mother who hadn’t noticed something so simple and basic like not using soap when they showered. Of course I haven’t personally supervised showering since they got old enough to start shaving but Paul has. Where else have I failed and when will I notice? This morning a smiling Clark came to me with his hand extended and in his palm was a bar of soap. It is a good thing that it is not too late to make a change. I just need to remember to check the soap dish in the “boys’ bathroom” periodically.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

"A Present for Me?"

A week ago Paul and I were in Las Vegas for my nephew’s wedding. In the days leading up to our departure Clark was a wreck. “I go with you please.” “No, Clark, just Dad and I are going.” “Please. I’ll be good. I’ll be nice. You’re lucky you get to go.” The frequency of this conversation increased in number as the day of departure approached. Finally we were in bed, late, with the alarm set for 3:30 a.m. so we could make a 6:00 a.m. flight. Under the door a sheet of paper appeared. This was Clark’s way of apologizing for getting upset because he couldn’t go.
We called home a few times to make sure all was well. “A present for me?” Clark asked. “You’ll have to wait and see.” I told him. When we arrived home it was one of the first questions both Clark and Phil asked. Since this wasn’t a long trip we actually hadn’t bought anything but of course I didn’t tell them that. I had leftover Halloween candy they didn’t know about that would please them as much as anything so I put together two bundles of tootsie rolls. When Clark saw his bundle his face lit up “Thank you Mom.” and with that he gave me a big hug and then removed one and gave it to me before he even ate one himself.

We arrived home late Monday night and then we were leaving Wednesday. I was lecturing on fragile X at Centralia Community College Wednesday night and then we were spending the night in Olympia at our daughter’s. All day Tuesday requests to go with us came from Clark. The conversation sounded much the same as it had the previous week. “No Clark. We’ll only be gone overnight.” While we were reading in bed Tuesday night Clark came in and started dusting our bedroom as he talked about how nice he is. The next morning before we left he was in our room dusting again and this time vacuuming as well. Finally my heart was softened and I gave in. “Okay Clark you can go with us but you have to shower and pack and be ready to go in 30 minutes.” And he was. We had a discussion about appropriate behavior at the lecture since he would see pictures of him (as well as Phil) and would hear me talk about him. He was amazing. He sat on the front row by himself for two hours (Paul was on the back row) with his baseball hat on and his hands clasped together. It was definitely the right thing to do—to take him with us. We celebrated after with ice cream at McDonalds. This is his thank you note for letting him go with us.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Instructions That Came with the Bread Maker

1. Plug in the bread maker.
2. Pour in the ingredients.
3. Choose setting.
4. Pull the machine close to the edge of the counter.
5. Push start and let the fun begin.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

A Sweet Thank You

Phil came into the study where I was at the computer. He was laughing excitedly as he pasted something on my back and then ran out. I reached back and peeled off an envelope.
"What is the thank you for?" I asked the still excited Phil who had reappeared at the door.

"For cutting my hair."

I told him that was one of the sweetest thank yous I had ever received. It brightened my day.

(Sondays is Sonny, a name I call Phil.)

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Phil's In His Uniform

Therefore, it must be Wednesday. One of the major chores on Wednesday at our house is cleaning bathrooms. Phil is responsible for the boys’ bathroom—toilet, tub, sink, mirror and floor. I have learned personally on numerous occasions that it is best not to clean bathrooms in anything you might want to wear out in public again; therefore, training, which included months of reminders, began early for Clark and Phil. “Some of the cleaning products we use in the bathroom contain bleach. Do you know what bleach is? It makes marks on your clothes that can’t be washed out. Do you want permanent marks on your clothing?” Phil caught on and adopted a uniform—a worn out shirt and green shorts he did not want to wear out in public ever. Notice the decorative marks on the front of his shorts. He, too, has learned by experience.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

On Going to the Dentist

I came across this entry in one of my journals.

"I was up early so this afternoon I took a short nap. I was nudged out of drowsiness.

'Cherlyn’s gone.' Clark said.

'I know. She’s gone to the dentist.' I told him.

'You didn’t take her!' he said with urgency in his voice (and I might add with anxiety written all over his face). I was awake now and laughing.

'You’re so cute Clark.'

He smiled. How innocent and sweet. I take him to the dentist, why wouldn’t I take her (his younger sister who has had a driver's license for ten years)."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The New Shirt

“Phil—you have been wearing that shirt for three weeks now, ever since your birthday when your brother gave it to you as a gift. Take it off!!! I’ll wash it.”

Moaning sounds rumbled from deep within him as he stood in the doorway glaring at me like I had asked him to relinquish his shirt forever…. “Nooooo!”

“Phil—if you take it off now I’ll wash it and you’ll have it fresh and clean to wear tomorrow.”

More moaning and then a smile crept across his face as he turned to go to his bedroom “Okay, but don’t shrink it.”

Sound advice to someone who must have done it to one of his shirts sometime in the past.

Saturday, October 16, 2010


In September Phil and Clark came home from their weekly bowling with envelopes the size of our kitchen window which had printed on them “Special Olympics Washington BOWL-A-THON”. I always forget about these until they are brought home one random day in the fall of each year but I do recognize and remember when they walk through the door with something large and white. I really do not like soliciting for money—even if it is for a good cause. I always envision spending hours, bundled up in our Gortex coats, rain dripping off us and the envelope, going from house to house trying to find people at home but such was not the case. Phil just right out said “I’m not going. I don’t feel like it.” Clark, on the other hand, is another story altogether. One afternoon I wondered where Clark was; I had seen him outside earlier with his coat on. Sometime later he walked in the house with money and signatures on his envelope. And today he found the final neighbor at home, filled out (well, I actually had to do it for him) the last line, sealed the envelope with $115.67 inside and next Saturday he will hand it over to his coach. I admit to feeling prideful. Way to go Clark! A year from now I will have forgotten and this scenario will be repeated and probably with little variation.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thank You Mr Welk

It was a busy day yesterday with getting up very, very early and then later a long, long nap to make up for the very, very short night while Clark and Phil were at Special Olympics bowling. Then it was time for two granddaughters to be picked up so they could spend the night while their parents are away on a trip. For the past couple of weeks we have had an incredible infestation of fruit flies (an overt invitation from the overly ripe tomatoes from our garden and two boxes of apples from our next-door neighbors) so I could no longer procrastinate making applesauce and finishing up the tomatoes. Three of us, no--make that four, worked for over an hour and got nine quarts in the canner. That’s pretty fast work. The fourth was one of the granddaughters who wanted to help from atop a stool. It was her job to turn the apples who were bathing contentedly in the kitchen sink. While we were sweating away in 100% humidity with windows steamed we could hear strains of Tea for Two coming from the TV and laughtercoming from Phil. He was watching, and conducting, and obviously enjoying, The Lawrence Welk Show. According to Wikipedia The Lawrence Welk Show ran from 1955-1982. I remember watching it as a little girl and particularly liking the Lennon Sisters because Janet, the youngest, was my age. I was transported back in time as I listened and remembered a time when I was a young child and my parents were alive. But something else happened—I felt a connection with my Grandmother Fetzer who lived from 1893-1992. In the last years of her life she was blind, very hard of hearing, mentally alert, still lived in her home of 50 years, and watched The Lawrence Welk Show every Saturday night. I felt a rush of gratitude for an upbeat show that brought her happiness and brought us together one Saturday night in 2010 while I stood at the kitchen counter making applesauce.

Friday, October 8, 2010

To Anyone Who Has Ever Been Nice to Clark and Phil

Thank you. My heart is always touched when a stranger meets Clark and Phil and treats them as they would anyone else. Such was the case yesterday. We are going to have some of the cracks in the sidewalk along the west side of our house fixed. Most of the cracks we could live with but there are two areas which definitely need repair. Paul called three companies to come, inspect, and give us an estimate. Yesterday it was Robbins and Co. The consultant who came told us he had called the previous day to confirm the appointment and talked to a very friendly person (it could have been either Clark or Phil). David, the consultant, greeted Paul and then Clark and Phil and gave each of them his card. Phil promptly pulled out his wallet and slipped the card in with his other treasures which include current and expired library cards, four identification cards (some with long outdated information), the souvenir room key from an Alaskan cruise we took three years ago, a Sam Goody gift card with less than a dollar on it (Is it even still in business?), three airline cards plus one that has embossed “your name here,” a picture of someone who looks vaguely familiar and more money than I carry in my own wallet. And now he has a new card from a company we may or may not use. It is time to see if I can talk him into cleaning out his wallet. I have my doubts.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A Favorite Time of the Day

Bedtime stories have turned into 45 minutes of TV in the evenings we are all at home. We have watched all episodes of Father Dowling, Columbo, Monk, Good Neighbors, Murder, She Wrote, Doc, half of the episodes of The Waltons, many episodes of The Bill Cosby Show and right now we are watching short movies on artists, musicians and scientists. It is one of my favorite times of the day when we lounge around the TV together eating popcorn or applesauce and watching something we all enjoy. It is almost time. Tonight we will watch Leonardo: A Dream of Flight. Sunday we watched conference.
Phil leading the Tabernacle Choir

Every once in a while Clark asks me if his eyes are open or if his eyes are
okay. Sunday was one of those days when he asked over and over. “Yes Clark, your eyes are fine.” I wonder what is going on? What is he seeing? What can't he tell me because he doesn't know how to explain it? He finally asked me about eye drops and left to find some, returning with nose spray and eye drops. I told him what the nose spray was and then put drops in his eye. Later he told me Heavenly Father gave him a blessing and his eye is getting better. He has not mentioned his eye since then.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

It Was a Happy Birthday

It was a wonderful day yesterday—Phil’s 34th birthday—with a family party starting at 6:00. Unlike last year’s party with all of us here we were minus two families who would have added nine to our group of nine. Most birthday requests are predictable but this year Phil broke with tradition (tacos and a heart cake) and asked for hamburgers and mud pie with his name spelled out in M&M peanuts. His sister made the mud pie which was, of course, a huge success. Candle decoration was provided by the two attendent nieces. Clark donned his green apron and did the barbecuing. His diligence produced perfectly cooked burgers which we raved about. After dinner Phil brought the presents to the table. He received shirts and shorts (which he wears all year regardless of the weather), a DVD (The Prince of Egypt) and a can of cashews and a 2-liter bottle of diet Sierra Mist from Clark. As soon as the wrapping paper was gathered and placed in recycling he went upstairs to put gifts away (that is tradition). Phil with two of his nieces
From my 1987 journal—
"My Phil-Bill is now 11. He chose tacos and a bear cake. After he opened his presents he disappeared. I found him in his room eating his peanuts, listening to his new tape. He was all by himself so I sat on the floor by him while we sang along and he tried on some new socks. He also had his new tape holder and VCR movie which Brian (a friend) gave him."

Monday, September 20, 2010

Mister Rogers Is Back

Or at least I thought so. Phil was watching The Price Is Right with Drew Carey who has lost weight. I was upstairs when Phil appeared and excitedly told me to come downstairs and see. So I did and he has—80 pounds. Anyway, after the show was over last Friday Phil turned to PBS and we both heard.
It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood,

A beautiful day for a neighbor,

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

It's a neighborly day in this beautywood,

A neighborly day for a beauty,

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you,

I've always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you.

So let's make the most of this beautiful day,

Since we're together, we might as well say,

Would you be mine?

Could you be mine?

Won't you be my neighbor?

Won't you please,

Won't you please,

Please won't you be my neighbor?

Yes, we would love to be his neighbor. Phil clapped and cheered—Mister Rogers was back after a year-long hiatus. I clapped and cheered. Then I looked at the KCTS 9 Viewer Guide and Mister Rogers is on Fridays only. Phil didn’t seem to mind when I told him. He is just plain happy to see him again.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Return

After being out of the country for ten days I am feeling overwhelmed by all that did not come to a standstill while we were gone. It has been repeated often—the time you need a vacation is when you’ve just returned from one. What you need is a week of no outside responsibilities, just being at home to attend to the accumulation and the most important thing—paying attention to neglected children (two sisters manned the homefront while we were gone). We walked in the door with suitcases, bags and coats and were greeted by a clean house and two happy sons. Clark showed his excitement by giving numerous hugs and lots of “I love you” and following us closely from room to room. I did manage one hug from Phil and could tell by his “Hello Sweetness”, delivered with a sweet smile, that he was also glad to have us home. As we walked upstairs and to our bedroom to start the process of unpacking and putting away I could see vacuum marks in the carpet. Our bed was made (which I would expect) but when we pulled back the rumpled duvet and top sheet we saw a fitted sheet that barely clung to the corners because under it was our blanket. So the line up went like this—mattress, blanket, fitted sheet, top sheet, duvet. We laughed as we scratched our heads. Here is what happened. After the bed had been stripped, sheets and pillowcases washed, Phil was put in charge of making our bed. He is diligent in making his own bed daily, changing his sheets every Monday and putting them back on when they have been cleaned BUT he has a twin bed and is not used to making a queen-size bed all by himself. We were clearly touched by his effort and praised him for his work (after we altered the layers and smoothed out the wrinkles when he was not looking). It was great to get away for a while but even greater to get home.
This is actually a picture of Clark's work at an earlier date. In the excitement of being home and remaking the bed that Phil made we failed to take a picture.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Annual Fragile X Picnic

I’ve been thinking a lot about the annual state fragile X picnic which was held on Saturday. With about 40 people who came I would consider it a success. One family (grandmother, daughter and her two sons, one of whom is affected) traveled three hours to associate with other fragile X families. I met families who have never come to anything but now feel a need to connect with others who understand what they are dealing with. Just as in the general population there is a wide range of disabilities (and abilities) with those who have fragile X. Yesterday we had verbal and nonverbal boys. Come to think of it there were only boys (and men) with fragile X at the picnic. I know families who have daughters with fragile X but they didn’t come. Many who came were anxious and showed their anxiety in different ways. One had his baseball hat pulled down low while he sat alone and silent in a chair, a nine-year old started crying as soon as he saw the resident big, black dog and cried for most of the two hours he and his family were there. Another hid behind his mother and ate at a distance from most of the attendees. Phil was his normal, noisy self, laughing a lot and thoroughly enjoying the picnic while eating more than his share. Clark was talkative and more than happy to go over the high points of the state softball tournament where their team took the silver.

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Busy Week

It has been quite a week for Clark and Phil. It was time to get out our (Fragile X Association of Washington State) semi-annual newsletter. Getting over 200 newsletters in the mail shouldn’t take too long. Wrong! Spread out over four days, this project took longer than expected but not as long as it would have if it hadn’t been for Clark and Phil. Clark especially has the patience to sit for hours putting on return labels, stamps, and address labels. Then there is the stuffing of the envelopes. No one wants to lick the flap so out come the glue sticks. Phil makes one swipe with the glue stick and then folds over the flap. Clark on the other hand, because of his perseveration, goes back and forth with the glue stick five times. I counted. We are finished now and all newsletters have been mailed.
A friend of ours broke her leg in two places so while she was in a rehab facility Clark and Phil helped three others mow and weed whack her yard. It will need to be redone before she returns home in a month or two.

It was also the state Special Olympics softball tournament on Saturday. Clark and Phil’s team qualified for state a couple of weeks ago. I’m not sure they have ever played on the state level. Saturday was a perfect day, 70 degrees, for sitting outside and cheering on The Screaming Eagles for two games. They won the first game. Then came the second game a few hours later. Where had those giants come from who won their first game 18-0, who knew how to connect with almost any pitched ball and could throw the ball to first base before the cheering section could even open their mouths to tell the batter “good hit.” The other team won 10-2 and I am happy to report Phil drove in the two runs for our team. Win or lose “the boys” had a great time in playing and a great time in the retelling.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Morningside Farm

We were up early for a Saturday, 6:00 a.m., so we could meet others at 7:00 and carpool to Vashon Island where we were doing a service project at Morningside Farm.

“Morningside Farm is 105 acres of woods on Vashon Island. Just a short ferry ride from three points in the Puget Sound area, it is a peaceful place to get away from busy life. Bridges, a Gazebo and benches are here for reflection or viewing deer feeding in the pastures. Camping areas are available in the meadows and in the woods. There are 2 dormitories on site... The manor, complete with kitchen, sleeps 22; it includes an indoor pool. An apartment, which sleeps 6, is also available, with the Manor or separately. Many points offer views of the Sound, Quartermaster Bay and Mt. Rainier. Another gem of our property is the beach-front.” (“About Morningside Farm” on the web)

It was a beautifully warm day, perfect for standing on the deck of the ferry going to and coming from Vashon. Then there was the 25 minute drive south to the farm where we received our assignments—weed whacking the orchard and cutting up tree trunks and stacking the wood for burning. Clark was hoping to be able to chop wood so he went with that crew and Phil was hoping to use a weed whacker and went with that crew. A chain saw was used with the wood so Clark was not able to use an ax; he helped pick up and stack the wood. There were only so many weed whackers so Phil’s job was to assist by picking up and stacking debris. He loved using the pruners. We arrived home at 2:00 with Phil proclaiming “That was fun!” which he repeated many times throughout the day.

Friday, August 13, 2010


Our family vacation in June included two four-wheeling excursions for Paul, his brother Uncle Tommy (the owner of the four-wheelers), Clark and Phil. The first excursion for an entire afternoon was to the hills by Menan. They came back dirty, happy, and talkative “That was FUN!” Both Clark and Phil had an opportunity to drive but most of the time they were in back of someone. The next day “the boys” went four-wheeling again while “the girls” went shopping for Father’s Day gifts. I got a call from Phil while I was in a store. He wanted me to guess where they were. Of course I knew but I guessed MacDonalds. “No,” Phil said with an indignant laugh “on top of a mountain.”

Saturday, August 7, 2010

The Middle of the Night

There was no particular incident today that motivated this post. It was a relatively quiet day. Phil vacuumed the upstairs and down the stairs and Clark vacuumed the entire downstairs. Then Phil went out to mow some spots he missed yesterday while Clark went with Paul to see an elderly friend of ours who has always loved gardening but can no longer do much. Paul and Clark mowed his lawn, did a little weeding and then stayed to talk. He is 88, a widower, and life is definitely winding down. They go to his house two or three times a month.

4:15 a.m. We all went to bed at a decent time. I awoke at 2:30 and instead of tossing and turning I came to my desk. Soon Phil was at the door of the study “What are you doing Mom?” I told him I couldn’t sleep and he told me he couldn’t either. Coughing awoke Paul so he joined us in the study and then in came Clark. As Paul was putting on some quiet music he told everyone it was not talking time. Clark has been known to say “I’m not talking to you; I’m talking to Mom.” Phil was carrying around a shower radio to hear what the weather will be today. Now that he knows I think he has gone back to bed. Clark just left the study and returned with lather on his face. He had shaved and will need some tidying up. He hopes to be able to run some errands tomorrow with Paul and I hope to soon follow Phil’s example and go back to bed.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Our Anniversary

It was our wedding anniversary yesterday and we celebrated by going to a full day of softball and time out at noon for lunch at Taco Bell. It was the regional softball tournament for Clark and Phil. We arrived at 8:30 and left at 4:30 and were thrilled by three wins which means they will move on to state in three weeks. I don’t remember this ever happening for them but am not betting on it. If they ever went to state it was so long ago none of us can remember. I do remember, however, what happened last year at the regional tournament. Paul and I left for lunch and when we returned to the games and to our Coleman camping chairs which we had left set up this is what we found.

We never did find out who they were, two from another team, but we let them enjoy the seats until they were rested and ready to move on.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The End of a Day

It is the end of a day—9:30 to be exact. Four out of five are either in bed or getting ready for bed. It is earlier than normal but tomorrow will begin at 5:30 a.m. for two of them. We ate dinner at 6:00 on the patio which is on the east side of the house so it is shaded and comfortably warm this time of year. Breakfasts together at our house are sporadic, lunch together is rare but at dinnertime we are almost always together. Tonight was “clean out the fridge night”. This occurs about once a week when there is an accumulation of a little bit of this and a little bit of that in the fridge. The fridge looks so much better now and everyone enjoyed the meal which consisted of pansit, noodle and spinach casserole, green beans, salad for one, cottage cheese with pineapple, sliced and toasted roll with canned chicken and mayonnaise on top. I am glad my family is easy to please. I assembled the dinner while Cherlyn set, Phil cleared, Paul did the dishes and Clark will unload the dishwasher tomorrow morning. It is always a combined effort. Most evenings about 8:30 we eat popcorn and watch a 45-minute program (recorded without commercials) with three on one couch and two on the other. It is a relaxing, peaceful, enjoyable time of the day that I always look forward to. For the past few months we have been watching Doc with Billy Ray Cyrus. When we were given the complete three seasons as a gift I remember saying “You can watch these when I am gone in the evening.” But then I tried one episode and became a fan. I will be sad when we come to the end. By next year, though, we will have forgotten much and can watch again.

Clark invited me to lunch today so I drove and he treated me to a hamburger at a new “Burgers and Shakes” place about three miles from our house. When we came home Clark complained of a sore throat so I gave him some medicine and told him to lie down on the coach. When he actually obeyed, I knew for sure he was not feeling very well. He even fell asleep, putting his head on my shoulder, during Doc. I am the mother of a young child in an adult body and I still worry and check on him.

Phil asked me to play The Price Is Right game someone gave him as a gift. It is an electronic game you connect to the TV so it has the music and an announcer. “Do you know who that is?” Phil asked me. I had no clue. Then he told me. Of course he would know since The Price Is Right is one of his very favorite shows. Fortunately he was ready to quit after about 15 minutes. Then he got out a 300-piece puzzle—Pinocchio. “Come help me.” he said as he spread pieces all over the kitchen table. So I did. I like puzzles. Time for the puzzle will be grabbed in snatches so it will take a day or two to finish. Then we will leave it on the table to feel (I love to run my hand over a finished puzzle and have noticed other family members doing the same thing) and admire.

It has been a good day. The house is quiet and I will get in some reading time as I always do when I finally go to bed.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"Beep, beep"

I came across a journal entry this morning from 1988.

Last night daughter #2 fell asleep before daughter #1. I went in to their bedroom to talk to daughter #1. Phil (who was 11 at the time) came in and stood by his sleeping sister. He looked down at her (he didn't know I was watching), smoothed her hair, pulled up her quilt and tucked it softly under her chin. He looked at her so sweetly and then bent down and gave her a kiss on the cheek. He then looked over at me and smiled angelically. Then he tweaked her nose softly, said "beep, beep" and went out of the room. I would love to have had a video camera. It was wonderfully perfect.
Here is Phil in 1988 (and his three older brothers) with his two sisters, one on each side of him.And here he is helping his sister get water.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Cookie Baking Time

We had a ward picnic yesterday and I signed up to take chocolate chip cookies. I decided to make them on Saturday morning so they would be fresh when we took them to the picnic at noon. Phil got out all the ingredients as he always does (see June 4, 2009). I did the assembling except for the chocolate chips which Phil poured in while sampling. Then, of course, came more sampling (by more than one person I might add) before the dough was dropped onto cookie sheets and baked. A change has occurred in
cookie production. Clark has officially joined the team. After months of training he now does a very commendable job of getting the trays ready to put in the oven. I set the timer and am responsible for taking the cookies out of the oven. I can get easily sidetracked and cookies have been known to overstay their allotted time in the oven. Further training was required to help Clark and Phil feel some responsibility in telling me when the timer goes off when I have wandered upstairs and can’t hear it. All in all, I think we make a pretty good team.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

I Stared into Eternity

For the past eight days we added four people to our household—a daughter, her husband, their 18-month old son and their two-month old son. I held my two-month old grandson for hours during those eight days. One particular morning before it was time to get ready for church I held him for 30 minutes straight, staring into his eyes as he stared into mine. He seemed very content and contemplative. How could he focus on me for so long? What would he tell me if he could speak? I told him lots—about how much I loved him, in fact, how much he is loved by many people, aunts and uncles, grandparents and great grandparents, cousins. I told him about his wonderful family with caring parents and a big brother. He couldn’t understand the words but he could sense the love, peace and security. When he would fuss while my daughter and I were making freezer jam Clark would scoop him up. He would walk around the downstairs
talking to him in a soothing voice or he would sit in the rocking chair, rocking back and forth. He is amazingly patient. More times than not he would bring him back to us, slumped over and sound asleep. What a great uncle he is!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Where is...?

Every house needs a Phil. I am reminded of that on a regular basis. This morning it was—“Where is the floor mat I put on the front lawn yesterday?” I didn’t do it, my younger daughter put it there from her car, and it was missing. “Ask Phil…” I told her “Phil knows where everything is.” She asked him but he was moping about not being able to watch TV so I went to his room to negotiate. I found these two notes taped to his door.
I knocked. No answer. I knocked again. Still no answer so I opened the door and went in

“Where is the floor mat?”

“I don’t know. It’s naptime.” He was laying on the floor listening to music and it was 10:30 a.m.

“It is not naptime. Where is the floor mat?” Silence. “Do you want to talk about not being able to watch TV?”


“Since your finger is getting better you will be able to watch TV again BUT you need to help wash the car (after The Price Is Right).”


Phil bites his fingernails. A few days ago infection set in. One finger was swollen and red. It needed to be lanced. We tried two times. As soon as Phil would see the sterilized needle he would yank his hand and hold it tightly to his body. Once there were even tears. We were tired of fighting him and frustrated that we couldn’t overpower his will. Nothing worked. Finally it came out. “No more TV until you let us lance your finger.” So yesterday evening he stayed in his room while the family watched a movie. This morning his finger actually looked better, the swelling and redness down.

“Now where is the floor mat?” I asked him again.

“On the curb.”

And it was.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Roll Call

As we were packing the van three weeks ago, early in the morning, for our trip to Idaho and Montana Phil came into the garage with a legal-size yellow notepad with a stiff cardboard back. I looked at his pad of paper with each family member’s name written on it and told him what a good job he had done. We finished packing, piled in the van and then it was time for roll call. With no silliness in his voice he called out each name and waited for each us to answer “here” when our name was called. That set the precedence for the rest of our trip. Each time we got back in the van Phil got out the notepad and took roll. I remember a couple of times when we had a few more kids living at home when we did forget someone somewhere. A roll call would have come in handy back then.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July

We awoke early yesterday morning so we could be at the church by 9:00 for an Independence Day celebration, the most patriotic part of our weekend. Scouts of all sizes assembled at the flag pole with an assortment of onlookers encircling them. After the flag was raised we said the Pledge of Allegiance with meaning and solemnity and were then treated to The Star-Spangled Banner sung a cappella by a young woman I did not know. Stephanie, an immigrant from a small island southeast of Africa, spoke to us about her observations of the United States, reminding us of the freedoms we enjoy in this great land. We all felt her sincerity and were uplifted by her remarks. Then we (over one hundred of us) lined up for a breakfast buffet of pancakes, sausage, strawberries, blueberries and conversation. Our family sat across the table from a single mother with two young boys who served in the Navy for three years. Clark was content to sit by us but I have no idea where Phil ate. Soon it was Phil’s favorite time—taking down chairs and tables and putting them away. After an hour most of the people were gone and tables and chairs taken down but there was one table yet with the plastic table cloth still on and a person eating while two sat across from him talking to him. Phil tried to roll the table cloth right up to his plate. He wanted to take down that table. The woman across the table got a cool, angry look on her face and said something to Phil which caused him to stop what he was doing and leave them alone. My first instinct was to go to her and explain that Phil was doing his best even though it may not have seemed like it. His judgment isn’t always the best but his heart is. I turned away and didn’t say anything. How many times during his lifetime have people been unhappy with him and said something unkind or curt because they didn't understand him, hundreds of times I am sure. Phil handled it well. He did not seem affected by her comment and walked away to help in another area.

Monday, June 28, 2010

We're Back Home

We’ve been away from home for almost two weeks gathering memories from a family vacation. Paul and I had meetings at BYU-I for a few days so we headed to Idaho by van early one morning two weeks ago. While we were in Rexburg, Clark, Phil and C stayed with Uncle T and Aunt G. We had planned also to go to Utah to visit family and friends but our plans changed when we decided instead to go to West Yellowstone where we saw Beauty and the Beast at the Playmill Theatre plus three IMAX movies plus three documentaries on Yellowstone, bears and wolves. After two nights there at the Ghetto Motel which featured a bent and torn window screen, a large hole in one of the box springs, fitted sheets that had to be refitted during the night and were off again by morning it was time to move on. We spent a day in Yellowstone Park which was established by Congress as a national park and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1872. As a result of that visitors from all over the world (more than three million last year) can enjoy the incredible diversified beauty plus the wildlife. We saw bears (black), elk and bison and grizzly bears and wolves in captivity. When we emerged from the park we found an abundance of “no vacancy” signs and had to travel 45 miles to Livingston in the dark, praying we wouldn’t hit a deer, to find an available motel. The next day we traveled home.

Clark and Phil missed two practices for Special Olympics softball last week while we were gone. This morning before Paul and I were even out of bed Clark showered and dressed, even putting on his shoes, and then came into our room with his baseball mitt. By the end of the day, though, he had had a few seizures and was not feeling well. While I am typing he is sitting beside me in a chair, asleep, while Phil is at practice.
Clark is watching me while I sort recycling and garbage in C's room.