Thursday, December 4, 2014

Mothering a daughter

When I found out we were having a girl, there were many things I worried about and many situations I imagined facing as the mother of a daughter.  But who can plan for every eventuality?  I must say, being M's mother has brought plenty of surprises, including these moments....

* Talking her into pony tails with the argument that they would keep the hair out of her eyes so she could better stalk prey.  She was a cheetah yesterday morning, dressed all in light brown so that she could camouflage herself and disappear into our wood flooring.

* Defending her right to be a zombie when her brothers claimed only boys can be zombies.  "Your sister can be a zombie if she wants to" is not a sentence I ever anticipated saying.

Here she is today as a black Florida panther (are there black panthers in Florida??) with her cub tucked in her pouch (can you see its nose poking out?).  She's teaching it the ways of the panther.

Thursday, November 6, 2014


I was let off easy for Halloween this year.  The middle two wanted to be astronauts:  costumes already made.  The oldest took care of his own and the youngest wanted to be an Egyptian.  I don't know where that came from.  I was guessing some kind of animal, but she stuck with the idea for three weeks.  That's like 50 years translated into adult time reckoning.

So I poked around my stash of fabric and craft miscellany and .... I'm not sure whether to be pleased or embarrassed, but I had almost everything I needed already.

I found a scarf at the thrift store for $.85 and a few jewels on clearance for $.70 and we were done!  It was actually very fun to make, too. 

After a trunk or treat at the church and trick or treating in our neighborhood, we have enough candy to last for about 27 years.

And C didn't even go out!  He manned the door instead with his surveillance equipment set up to alert him when trick-or-treaters were coming and his spooky music wafting through carefully arranged speakers in the front yard.  He's hoping to add a fog machine next year.  :)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Quick trip

Since we knew the kids had the first of (too many) random days off school coming up, we tried to motivate them to finish memorizing the Articles of Faith by offering a fun trip as a reward.  In typical C fashion, he waited until the last minute, then passed everyone up, memorizing about half of them in 2 days.  The other two boys worked on them more gradually, but finally passed off #11 on Monday. 

We decided to revisit a trip we'd done four years ago when M was a baby.  None of them remembered it that well, except C.  It turned out to be the perfect mini-vacation. 

We picked up J&S from school early so when C came home from middle school, we were ready to go.  We missed the rush hour traffic AND got to see the Blue Angels over Baltimore on our way through!  Amazing.  They are SO fast.  Even watching from the freeway, the formations were impressive, especially the stall where they seem to hover and then take off straight up.  I want to go to an air show now.

After that, there was much license plate spotting and that kept them entertained almost to the Red Caboose Motel.  Which is a dive, really, the rooms are so old, but how fun is it to stay in a real caboose?  We found some dinner then came back and had a donut while sitting by the train tracks, looked around the petting zoo, climbed the viewing tower, and played on the playground until dark.  It was so pleasant.  There is something about getting out of our normal routine that breaks some bad habits.  Everyone got along so well.

We got ready for bed and watched the first half of The Great Race.  Have you seen that movie?  It's hilarious.  Jack Lemmon is a genius.

(The only picture I got of the motel :(  Ours is the turquoise one in the middle)

Friday morning, after eating cereal with milk frozen in the mini-fridge, we headed to the Mennonite Information Center to tour the replica of the Israelite Tabernacle.  I loved it.  The visual inspired a lot of questions and answered a lot too.  I would love to go back again after having studied the Pentateuch more closely.  The kids, aside from M, liked it too.  She was pretty restless by the end.

(The three littlest with Percy)
We rode the Strasburg RR after that.  They were gearing up for a day with Thomas the next day, so we benefited by missing the crowds but still getting to ride the hand crank trains and see Percy anyway.  One advertiser wanted kids to ride battery powered trains and take pictures for marketing.  They really wanted M, I'm sure because she's a girl and she's got cute red hair, but she was so focused on driving that she wouldn't even crack a smile.  So much for that. :)

We finished out the day with the Hands-On House in Lancaster.  Perfect.  At about 3:00, I wondered if we'd have trouble with older kids getting bored and younger kids wanting to stay, but that place is just great.  The inside is just big enough to play with everything without feeling like you have to rush.

(working at the factory)

And then the outside.  The gardens are so fantastic.  They played outside for probably an hour and a half, maybe longer.  They built the Land of Sand, all four of them, for the longest time.  It's nice to find something they'll all do together.

It was so peaceful and lovely, sitting there watching.  G and I even had a chance for a nice long talk.  I must say, it is much easier doing things like this without worrying about diapers, bottles, pacifiers, and naps.  I am loving this stage of parenting.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I am so far behind it's not even funny.  But yes, the kids did start school and now we're a month in and everyone has survived so far!

C is adjusting to his new middle school.  We were redistricted, and he had to switch -- which he wasn't thrilled about, but as with most changes, there were both things to be gained and things to mourn their loss.  He really likes his science class.  His teacher has pet snakes and brought one to keep in class.  He'd really like one as a pet.  I don't think I'm ready for that.

(These two love fact books; they're quizzing each other on S's bunk)
S likes his 2nd grade class.  His new recess pal is a boy with the same name, which is enough for instant friendship when you're 7.  J decided to join band, so he's starting on the clarinet this year.  He's excited about it.  Unfortunately, it overlaps every other week with his bird-watching seminar.  Not good scheduling there.

(I got to chaperone his first field trip - celebrating the 200th anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner!  It was super fun!)
M started preschool which she was thrilled about.  There was no fussing, no tears, no fears to be eased.  She just dived in without looking back.  Strangely enough though, I watched her join her playmates and suddenly, she seemed so little.  I guess I'm used to her ruling the roost around here with her big brothers.  It was an adjustment to see her as just another 4-year-old!  She is enjoying the class so much and loves being asked at dinner how school was. 

(She was being so silly, I couldn't get a decent picture the first day!)
I am actually loving my alone time as well.  I've discovered that my nine hours a week goes by quickly.  :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

My newest nephew

I am so far behind on this blog, but I have been thinking about this post for a long time now.  My youngest brother and his wife recently adopted this sweet boy: 

(Isn't he a darling?)
 They brought him home from the hospital as a newborn and finalized the adoption in April. 
I keep thinking of the boy's birth mother, what a tough decision this was for her.  How would it be to let that child of your body go to someone else, even if you knew it was for the best?  To trust the care of your baby to virtual strangers?  I don't know if I could do it.  But she did.  Because she loved him.  And now my brother and his family love him.  And his new cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents all love him.  And we're all grateful for her sacrifice so J could be a part of our family.
(They were able to seal J at the DC Temple last month.  We were so happy to be there for it!)

Monday, June 16, 2014


This plant makes me happy:

I almost ripped this peony out a few years ago because it kept getting powdery mildew and wasn't blooming, but I sprayed and pruned and fought it until I think I've figured out how to keep it healthy.  Now, the blooms are huge and gorgeous every spring.  It always amazes me that I can cut it down to nothing and every spring, it grows like crazy again. I might plant another one, they're so lovely.

For Memorial Day, I tried making these patriotic parfaits.  They weren't quite what I envisioned, but everyone liked them and ate them, and I call that a success.

In other spring-related events, we attended seminary graduation for four graduates in our ward.  They are celebrating four years of attending 5:45am classes every school morning.  They are amazing.  Two of these four are among the last of my own "seminaries" (as my kids called them).  Sometimes I miss teaching that class - but not at 5:00am.  :)

 Spring also means the return of the libraries.  Somehow, they forget about this game during school, but about this time of year, they build their own branches of the library.  I love how it brings out their personalities, like S's obsession with order....

He started a summer reading program too.  :) 

 And C's electronics (his library has ambient music and a computerized checkout system)...

And J's library has a play zone and offers prizes for the person checking out the most books. 
M is usually the pet who visits the libraries. :)

Spring means the end of Joy School, the coop preschool we've done with M this year.  She loved it.  I taught the last week and the kids found this toad in our backyard. 

These awesome moms were my co-teachers this year.  I have so loved getting to know them better and knowing that M was in great hands with her first preschool experience.  She says A (in the stripes) was her favorite teacher and I was her second favorite.  :)

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Happy Father's Day!

To all the dads out there!  I feel so blessed to associate with so many fantastic dads.  There are so many men out there doing a GREAT job and making a positive impact on the children in their lives.  Of course my own dad ranks among them. 
In honor of the day, here are a few photos of my dad....
taking a snooze with Jeff (c. 1974)
with Jim on the day of his baptism in 1975 (nice suit, Jim!)

with me at the hospital, summer 1975 

with another patriarch of the family, my dad's grandfather Melvin, about 1976

fox hunting with his brother, Tom

a newly minted Ph.D., 1968

a newly minted father, 1966 (Harold Dean on left, Dad, Melvin, and Lowell Luke, holding Dave)

c. 1968 again

I think this is when Jeff turned 12 and was ordained a deacon (c. 1982)

with Matt in 1982 

helping Deans build a new addition on their house in Ogden.  This is so my dad.

doing something up on the roof with the two boys.  This probably gave my mom a heart attack.  I remember going up on the roof with him, too.  It was fun. :)
Happy Father's Day, Dad!  Thanks for being such a great example of faith, applied intelligence, hard work, usefulness and humility.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Just something

I did a search this morning for "day dress with sleeves."  This is what came up:

Is finding something with sleeves really so hopeless?  Or perhaps my computer is channeling Memorial Day....

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day

Do you remember when you were a kid and you only saw your mom as Your Mom?  And then you grew up and realized she is a real person with real feelings and a past that *gasp* did not include you?  Yes, it's nice to come through to the other side and get to know and understand your mom better from an adult's perspective.  One thing that helped me over the years was going through family photos and not only hearing stories but seeing my mom as a real person.  Here are a few of my favorites:

In front of their house (or possibly her grandparents' house) in Denver in 1944. She would have been four years old. 

The little accordion!  I love it!

Mom at the Grand Canyon in 1948.  They lived mostly in the southwest while she was a child.  My grandpa loved taking pictures.  My mom says he would often make her stand in precarious places for the best shot.  
This was taken at Bear Lake when my parents were engaged, spring 1964.  My mom's hair.  I adore it.  She got teased a lot about being a redhead, though.

My parents coming out of the temple after they were married.  Looks like back in 1964 they didn't make quite the production out of weddings that we do.  They just look so fresh and happy.

This is fall of 1964, I think.  My mom with her father-in-law and two new siblings-in-law at the farm in Idaho.  I don't know why I like this one so much, but I feel like I can almost tell what my mom's thinking in this photo.  

My mom expecting her first child in 1966.  She always dresses so classy. 

 Our family with the Luke grandparents in 1978.  This is the mom of my childhood, the mom I remember.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

Thursday, May 8, 2014


I know, I've been MIA lately.  It's suddenly been very busy around here!  I did celebrate a birthday last week and as a gift, C made me a video.  It is awesome.  I will try and figure out how to put it on here.  He even did an outtake reel.  He cracks me up.

So I have not "worked"  - as in a paid job - since I was expecting J.  Yes, that's approximately nine years ago.  Last year, I earned my first dollars since then doing some accompanying work - once for violin students, once for a vocalist, and once for a saxophonist.  Last week, someone commissioned me to make more mermaidens (I sold these at the school auction).  Who would have guessed that I would end up making money on the two things I resisted learning most as a teenager?  Sewing and piano.  Ha! 

We had a LOT of rain last week.  A LOT.  There was some serious flooding around here.  It was pretty exciting.  The boys' dam filled up and someone really loved jumping in the reservoir. 

 She adores these boots.  She wears them pretty much every day.  I will be so sad when she outgrows them.