Monday, November 26, 2012

Tailgating, and not for a football game

I went to Costco tonight all by myself. I wandered through the food, the gifts, the clothes (which at my Costco seem to be tailored to middle-aged women with no fashion sense, and a propensity toward layering). It felt like such a luxury to take my time and not have to run to the potty or wipe up anything that spilled or buy anybody a hotdog.

On the way home I drove down the country road that connects Costco to our town. The speed changes a few times reflecting how close you get to civilization. At one point I was pulled out of my serenity when I looked in my rear view mirror and saw the car behind me following quite close. I looked at my speedometer and I was going the speed limit, maybe even a mile or two over. I tapped on my breaks and said aloud "Get off my tail."

Suddenly I remembered the first time I had ever been aware of a tailgater. I was 10 and we were staying at the Homestead Resort in Utah for a family reunion. It was the last reunion I remember that involved the descendants of my maternal grandmother and all of her 8 sisters. It was a big deal, and we were excited.

My cousins were in town from Arizona and somehow, my oldest brother Nathan was driving our light blue Oldsmobile up Provo canyon filled with kids. My cousin Jim was in the front seat next to him, the bench behind them filled with probably two more of my brothers and another cousin. My sister Liza and I sat in the back. Not in a seat, just in the cargo area (because you could in those days). And we listened to the boys talk.

Our car was slow and heavy and it didn't like climbing those canyon roads. Especially with such a load. Suddenly I heard Nathan comment on how close the car behind us was. He said he was going to tap his breaks and tell the guy to back off. Jim said something like, "I'm going to flip him off" and I saw his arm go out the window.

Immediately, I looked out the back window at the guy in the white Cadillac and I gave him the bird. He pulled out and sped past us as soon as it was legal and gave Nathan a dirty look. I came to find out later, (after Liza ratted me out) that Jim had been joking. I didn't know what the middle finger meant any more than I knew that riding someone's bumper like that was dangerous. I was just caught up in the moment.

Once I neared the lights of my little town tonight, I looked again in the mirror at the car behind me. I saw he was turning left as I was turning right. I kind of hoped that as we came up to the line I would actually know him and laugh at tapping my brakes and putting him in his place. But I didn't.

And then I went home. Still glad that I hadn't flipped him off.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


In case I haven't mentioned it, we're moving.*

Last week, we took a scouting trip to find a place to live when we arrive. We packed up the mini-van (which we call the Pirate Car, because you can't have a boy Van and car Van in the same family), and made the 11 hour drive (12.5 for us) from Davis to Salt Lake City.

The kids and I spent a few days up at my parents' mountain house playing in the snow while GK worked his new territory. Then we spent a few more days looking for a place to live. It was a fun trip, making the big move much more real. More exciting, and more terrifying.

I spent much of the drive home in the back seat addressing various requests. Juice, a book, milk (in Augie's case this meant huddling awkwardly over his carseat trying to nurse him while we were both strapped in).

Around hour ten, I found myself on the back bench wedged between two carseats. Augie was clinging to my right pointer finger, Van was holding my left hand with both of his, Josie and Delia each had hold of one of my feet as I propped them up on the inside armrests of their seats, and they were all fast asleep.

It's hard to leave the house these days without someone commenting on how full my hands are. We are not a subtle group and there are many days when I wonder how well I am juggling the needs of my four little children. But then, there are moments like this when I am connected to each one, and that connection has met their needs with perfection.

At that moment in the car, I realized again that it's all about perspective. Little moments that bring it all into focus. Sometimes it takes chaos and catastrophe to see the silver lining. Sometimes the catastrophe doesn't seem to have a silver lining, and the other way around.

I've decided to start recording my moments of clarity. Just so I don't lose perspective.

A few months ago, the Utah territory in GK's company became available. His boss (also a Mormon, who lives in Utah) knew that we have family there and asked if GK was interested in taking the position. After considering the offer, and weighing it against another possible position with the company, we decided to make the move.

Thursday, June 14, 2012


Today I had a moment that I wanted to hold onto forever.

After a very pleasant morning playing at home. Dancing and singing and playing (mostly happily) together. We finished lunch and it was time to put Delia and Josie down for their nap.

Van is often at school for this ritual, but this week is his break between spring and summer school. So he often reads a book, or watches a few minutes of "the kitties" (Busytown) while I read "We're Going on a Bear Hunt" (at the frantic insistence of both girls) and sing a song or two.

If Augie is awake, he sits in his bouncy chair in front of me and I bounce him with one foot, a girl on each knee, and we try to make it through our ritual before he starts to fuss and the girls insist that he needs "boke" (according to Delia) and "gook" (according to Josie)__milk.

Today, Van came in the room as we finished the book and were about to sing. Vanny won't let me sing to him. It's a phase, but an insistent one. I said to him, "Vanny, the girls and Augie would like to hear the temple song (I Love to See the Temple, a favorite song from church)."

"No! No Temple song!" he insisted.

"They would like to hear it, so if you don't want to, you can go into the Living Room and read a book and I will be right there." I said, and I started to sing.

Immediately, he joined me. He sang every word. Perfectly on pitch and with such sweetness.

About two lines in, Josie took her pacifier out of her mouth and started singing too. Then Delia.

I kept singing, not wanting to call attention to what was happening. Trying to just enjoy this perfect moment as we all sang together. Recognizing again that everything we teach our children, in the moments of chaos, sinks in. Every time I wonder if they're hearing what I say, or if anything is getting through... it is.

And moments like this, frozen in time amid the routine pandemonium, are precious reminders.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wild Places for Wild Things

Found a remote location and set them free.
They went to bed still talking about it. 

Saturday, May 26, 2012


It's a reality. We have four kids. Under four.
August Gordon Risser
Born May 13, 2012- Mother's Day
7lbs. 12 oz. 21 in.

Needless to say, our three ring circus just got a little more intense.
 So far everyone is happy about the expansion. But believing, as we do, that there is an opposition in all things, the equal and opposite sadness/whining/tantrum-throwing rounds out our days so there's never a dull moment.

More details (and pictures) about Augie's arrival and adjustment to come. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Thank You

To everyone who listened, to everyone who expressed concern, to everyone who has and continues to donate to the children left behind, and to everyone who goes forward more aware and willing to help and inform someone in danger, thank you. My mother says that the funeral today was full of friends, and as the hearse drove through town the streets were lined with strangers standing in support of my sweet cousin Morgan's family and against the crimes committed. The state has mentioned capital punishment. It's an honest test of my personal politics and morality and makes me wonder "What is justice?" It's so desperate and incomplete. I don't know what to say. Most importantly, take care of those around you. Thank you, again. We have wonderful friends and acquaintances. Call us if you need us, ever.