Friday, February 29, 2008

Bad News, Good News, a Pet Peeve, and an Explanation

The bad news:
My mom left this morning. That makes me sad. I think I will lay around in my bathrobe today and sulk. I like having her around and miss her already.

The good news:

I do not have skin cancer after all. You may remember that I had developed an unsightly something on my arm. Turns out it is some unpronouncable something that means that a tiny blood vessel is bleeding to the surface. Mmm, delightful, huh? Anyway they got rid of it.

The pet peeve:
Don't you think that a prerequisite for working for a dermatologist should be a poker face? Like when I showed the male nurse (although I'm doubting his training) my unsightly nubbin, he should probably not wrinkle his nose in disgust? Probably?

On why my son was carrying a pink umbrella at the zoo:
It's really quite simple. That umbrella was mine. After insisting that he carry his umbrella himself, he left it in the car. As strange as he looked with the pink umbrella, I looked worse with my wet head. Motherhood really has its perks, doesn't it?

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

A Day in a Boy's Life

Once upon a time, a little boy went to the zoo with his friends.

He loved watching all the animals...

And riding on the merry-go-round.

He ran like crazy...

And even played in the rain.

And when his mother tucked him into bed at night and gave him a kiss, he asked, "Can we go to the zoo again tomorrow?"

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Battle of the the French Fries

Sometimes married couples fight about the most insubstantial things. The absurdity of these arguments, however, does not dilute their passion. The marriage contract requires so many personal concessions that once in a while a partner may find herself gripping desperately to a scrap of autonomy. For me, it was McDonald's french fries.

Mr. Wicke and I were on our way to the airport. Already past the noon hour, we knew we needed something to eat before boarding our plane. And here is one of the many areas in which we differ. To me, ease trumps money. Mr. Wicke disagrees. The artificially high price of airport food goads him in principle. And while I agree that there is an element of price gouging, I don't really care. I'd rather pay a couple of bucks more just to make things easier. That said, with Thomas driving, we were pulling through the drive through of McDonald's just before reaching the airport, which meant to me that we were going to be eating hurriedly in the car and, more likely, dragging our meal with us, along with all of our bags, and eating it cold once we got inside. Perhaps that made me grouchy on the outset.

It got worse.

"Welcome to McDonald's. How may I help you?" came the voice from the tin box.

Thomas looked to me awaiting my decision. "Ummm...I'll have the number 4 with cheese and a diet coke."

Then, to the tin box, Thomas says, "We'll have a number four with cheese, supersize the fries--"

"I don't want a large fry!"

"--and a diet coke with that..."

"I don't want a large french fry," I repeated more loudly. I felt like a pesky gnat buzzing at his ear which he casually flicked away.

"And then a Big and Tasty..."

"I don't want a large french fry!!" I was nearly shouting now.

Finally with equal irritation, he responded, "We're gonna' share!"

Now in every marriage, there comes a time when one has to ask, "Is this the hill I'm going to die on?" At that moment the answer was a resounding yes!

As he began to pull forward, I cried, "I don't want to share!"

"What is your problem?!"

That quieted me for a moment. Not happily, but it did quiet me because while my elevated blood pressure indicated that I, indeed, did have a problem, I didn't know exactly what that problem was. Why was this hill so important to me?

And then I had a recollection. I remembered as a child sitting in the back of our family car, pulling through a drive through ever so long ago.

"I want a fish sandwich! I want a fish sandwich!"

My dad paid no heed. "We'll have four hamburger deluxes--

"But I don't want a--"

"--with onion and extra pickle."

"But I don't like onions--"

"Then I'll eat it!"

I sank back in my seat, my arms folded defiantly across my chest and mumbled under my breath, "When I get big I'm going to get anything I want!"

And here I was, big, and still not getting what I wanted. The only thing left to do was to sit back, fold my arms defiantly across my chest and say, "When I outlive you, I'm going to get anything I want!"

This was evidently a hill on which I was just going to have to outlast him.

Monday, February 25, 2008

A Tag Continued and a New Obsession

Three more little known quirks to go...

This one was suggested by my friend Ashley in her comment, and it caught me so off guard that I actually blew a tiny little bit of snot out of my nose. Gross, but true. So I will paste it exactly as she wrote it.

5. "You sometimes swear but I think your true friends like you better because of that trait."

Well, I hope they do, because the rest of that is true, unfortunately. So true, in fact, that Mr. Wicke informed his family that I had a "swearing problem" before I ever met them. I'm still holding a grudge.

Please keep two things in mind: First, I have a swearing problem for a Mormon, so my off color language consists mostly of damn and hell, and everyone knows those don't really count. (said with tongue in cheek.) And secondly, Thomas was really uptight back then. I still don't know what he expected me to do. Let loose with a string of expletives upon introduction to his parents? What a nimrod!

He still is not forgiven for that one.

I think that last one should count as at least two quirks, so I will jump right to number 7.

7. This weekend I have gained a new obsession with My friend Megan invited me to join and compare our booklists, but it just sat there for a while until this weekend when I decided to list some of the books I have read these last couple of years. Now I can't stop. Turns out I really like listing things. Who woulda' thunk it, huh? I'm cataloging everything I've read since about 1997 it seems, or at least what I can remember. Back in 2006 I started keeping track of books that I had read and giving them a personal review, but this system is way better and easier. But I need friends! So if you are a reader and want to compare booklists, see mine here and get started. I'd love to see what you all are reading.

Friday, February 22, 2008


We are off to the zoo this morning, so this will be quick. A while back I was tagged by Katie to share 7 little-known quirks about myself. So here is my beginning.

1. I dislike showers and am a full-fledged bather. And more accurately a bubble bath bather. It's just delightful. And I would rather my entire body be immersed up to my neck in hot water than to have half my body exposed to the breeze. So there.

2. I'm developing stage fright.

3. I have a dream to run a bed and breakfast or a small cafe, but how I will do this and return to teaching is the conundrum. That is what stinks about life. Every choice has to close some other doors.

4. I don't like making choices.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Advice from a Veteran of the Trenches, part 2

This part of the interview I want printed, enlarged and framed so that I won't forget, so that my mothering will be better. It was my favorite moment of our conversation and so profound for me.

On Loving Your Job
Me: If you could give a piece of advice to young mothers, looking back with all the things you have learned, what would be your advice?

Mom: Well, I really would advise young women to, as hard as it is every day, to meet the challenge, and cherish each day because it goes so fast. You know, when you've got a houseful of kids and you hit the floor running every morning, and granted you're tired a lot of the time, but suddenly it's over and they're gone. Therefore it's, it's...what I was going to say is that when you have them around you all of the time you're thinking I'm always going to feel this way, I'm always going to be tired, I'm always going to be behind and suddenly they're gone, and you've got all this time and you wish you could go back, for just a day, and enjoy it.

Alright, if you could go back--let's say you could go back in a time machine and spend one day, what would you do?

I think I'd take my children on a picnic, and we'd go down near the river where I grew up and we'd...throw rocks in the water, roast marshmellows...just enjoy each other...We spent a lot of time outdoors. We grew a garden and took care of a lawn and all that, but sometimes I think we get busy and we forget to stop and play with our kids. I don't know that the kids noticed it that much because where we lived at the time I had all my children, we had neighbors that also had large families and they played out of doors every day all day long. So they probably didn't miss--not that I'm aware of--having their mom stop and play with them....but I would like to have spent more time with them...just playing.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Advice from a Veteran of the Trenches

Our Crazy Family (minus my big sister)

Sorry I didn't get to posting this earlier. Logan and my mom are both sick today. Boo hoo!

Anyway, I thought it would be fun and maybe educational to interview my mother while she was here. The focus of the interview was motherhood, and I tape recorded the whole thing, which will be a keepsake in years to come, I'm sure, but I also learned a few things in the process, the first of which is that my mother is pretty chatty! We talked for nearly an hour. The other highlights I will post here over the next few days. Here is the first:

On Gestation
First of all, how many children do you have?

I have seven. 5 boys and 2 girls.

And you haven't killed any of them?

Up to the present time, no.

So if you added up all the years that you were pregnant, how many would that be?

Well, let's see...7 times 9 divided by 12 about 6 years, right?

I don't know; I need a calculator. As a matter of fact I'm blaming my lack of math skills on--


On you. Yeah. We'll come back to that math question in a few minutes. So does that freak you out, when you think of spending that many years pregnant?

Well, actually, I felt like I was pregnant most of the time, for the years of my marriage.


Did you enjoy being pregnant?

Well, actually, I was very ill for the first few months with every one of my children...'re saying you didn't enjoy that.

And of course, I carried all of my children way out in front of me, so it wasn't what I'd call the most pleasant experience, BUT it was worth it because I love all of my children, every single one of them.

You don't have to say that because I'm sitting here.

I don't. That's a fact.

On Really Knowing Your Kids
So...which one of your children is the biggest disappointment?

(Laughter...coughing) I've had no disappointment in my children because I'm very proud of them--

Oh, mom! You don't have to--

Let, let, let me just tell you--

C'mon...we all know Curt's a little disappointing.

I--(laughter)--I must tell you that when I think about my children I'm so grateful. They are upstanding, honest--fine upstanding citizens--they all have a good work ethic--

Can you be sure of that?

Well, I--

Has it ever occured to you that maybe they're, maybe they're lying to you?

I see them. Their lives have proved it out and that's a fact.

But everyone says that about a mass murderer, too. If you ever interview their family or neighbors they're like, "I can't believe it."

Well, nobody's killed anybody yet.

That you know of.

Well, RIGHT! I think I would know it.(Laughter)

More on Gestation
So, let's go back to the beginning. Did you figure out how many years you were pregnant?

5 years and 2 months.

Wow. That's a long time.

Yes. A long be large.

On Handling Surprises
Alright. Do you remember when you were a young mother? Can you remember all the way back there?

Just barely.

Okay...what was the biggest suprise to you in mothering? Were you surprised by anything?

Actually, we never had ultrasounds so we never knew the sex of our child until they were born, and my first child was a girl, and I wanted her to have a sister so bad and every time I'd go to the hospital I'd have a boy and her daddy would say, "Would you be too disappointed if it was another boy?" And she'd say, "No...I guess not." And so I had 5 boys in a row. And then, when I finally gave birth to my last child and it was a girl, my oldest one was married.

Alright, alright. Now you're kind of putting a happy face on that. It a well known fact, public knowledge even, that you did not want me.

Oh, jeeze! (Laughter)

Now c'mon..

Oh, you are laying the guilt on me, I tell you what!


I must tell you--

Mother! Did you or did you not want me?

Could I tell you the circumstances--

No! Just answer the question. Did you or did you not want me?

I felt that--

Mother! Answer the question!

Shh! After my fifth child I thought that my family was complete. So I was quite surprised--

That would be the sixth child...You're saying Curt wasn't wanted either!(Loud laughter.) Now he's really going to be mad!

After my fifth BOY I thought my family was complete, so I was surprised when Heavenly Father sent me a little girl.

Mom!!! You are making this out to be--

I've got to tell you something--

--much more pleasant than it--Did you cry? Did you cry when you found out you were pregnant with me? Yes or no.


Did you want me? Yes or no.


Mother? Yes or no.

...After I got used to the idea.
(Loud laughter.)

Monday, February 18, 2008

Come By Later

I'm busy taking my sister and niece to the airport this morning. I will be back later this afternoon with an interesting post.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

My One and Only Valentine

When I stumbled into the kitchen this morning to make breakfast for the kids, lo and behold, there was a dozen roses and a valentine waiting for me. But that isn't all. Oh no! Not only had my darling Mr. Wicke thought of me, but there was a flower arrangement for our kids. And then, just to hit the high note, he gave flowers to my mom, too. Isn't that the sweetest? His kindness was one of the first things I noticed about him when we met oh so long ago, and it made me fall in love with him all over again today.

He is really on a roll lately because, while I love the flowers, if I'm going to be honest, what really made my heart flutter was when I brought my mom home from the airport and found that he had hung my valances, put the room back in order, vaccuumed the stairs (which I despise doing), and the entire upstairs.

Is it any wonder he is my one and only valentine?

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Let Me Introduce You

My mom is coming for a 2 week visit today, and we are all excited to see her. I am lucky she is mine. In her honor, I am sharing an excerpt from our 2001 adoption questionaire in which we were asked to describe each of our parents. This is the best overview I can give of the woman I love and admire.

My mother is my hero and my friend. She made my childhood golden. If love were compared to a rainstorm, mother’s children would have been drenched by sheets of the heavy, fat kind of raindrops that fall gentle and warm, clinging to our eyelashes, running the length of our arms and legs, and falling gently onto our tongues as we opened our mouths to taste their sweetness.

I believe I can do anything because my mother always told me I could. My mind is filled with thoughts that she planted and continues to nourish. “You are the most capable girl I know.” “I’d put my money on you every time.” “There isn’t a person I talk to that isn’t interested in you.” How absolutely grateful I am to her. She fed me love, and I like me because of her.

Mom is an interesting mix of humility and capacity. She is unassuming and sometimes unsure of herself, but she can do anything! I’ve never seen her say no to a calling, assignment or duty. She has spent her life in the service of others caring for her seven children, her husband, her mother-in-law and mother until their deaths, 20 grandchildren and 2 great-grandchildren. She worked a full-time job when times were financially tough, took care of the house—inside and out—during the years when dad was unavailable to help, did the books for the family business, taught all of her children the love of music and learning, and was an outstanding example of faith and testimony. I love her and admire her more than I am capable of expressing.

Although she didn’t attend college, my mother has been an outstanding example of life-long learning. She loves to read and is intellectually curious. She has a knack for writing and vivid expression; I love getting letters from her because they are often so poetic. She is a great cook, and I gained a love for the kitchen while working by her side. She is a terrific musician with a great ear for music and an artistic heart for appreciation.

One of my favorite qualities is her fun-loving nature. She is so quick to laugh, at a joke or at herself. She is fun to be around, and people are drawn to her. She made growing up safe and fun. I feel lucky in a world where so many are searching for a hero because mine was so easy to find. She took me by the hand.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hair Raising Parenting?

Yesterday, on the ride home from school, my sweet Logan said that a girl in her class (who shall remain nameless...okay it was Taylor) told her that her "hair was gross." This irritated me on a number of levels.

One, I am Logan's personal hairdresser, so I take all hair related comments quite personally. Two, her hair was NOT gross. I stand by my work. Three, my daughter already dislikes her gorgeous curly hair and complains every day that she wants straight hair like her friend Emily, so I do not need a heartless 6-year old adding to her already somewhat distorted self-image. And four, bratty kids bug a mamma bear, let's be honest.

So I asked all the pertinent questions...

Me: Why did she say that?

Logan: I don't know.

Me: Had you done something to her?

Logan: No. She's always mean to me.

Me: Well, what did you say?

Logan: Nothing. I just ignored her.

Then I gave her a little advice...

Me: You know what you should have said? You should have said, "Yeah? Well I think your personality is gross, and I can always cut my hair."

That last part made my friend Shilo gasp, "Laurel!?" but I don't think arming my children with some verbal defense tactics is such a bad thing. I'm not for drawing first blood, but I firmly believe in teaching kids how to put bullies in their place. Is that so wrong, people?

Monday, February 11, 2008

What Do You Know? I Was Right Again!

Some of my friends have taken to calling me "The Queen," and I'm officially going on record to say that I hate it! I have told them as much to their faces, but they think I'm kidding. I'm not.

Okay, so maybe I do think that I am right a lot of the time. Turns out that I AM right a lot of the time. Is that my fault?

Anyway, to prove them wrong, I took a personality test on line, and as it turns out I'm a green: Officially (Can an online personality test be called official?...for these purposes, yes!) Officially, I am "the most down to earth color of the spectrum."

Hah, my friends!!! Take that and shove it in your royal you know what's!

Take this test!

You're green, the color of growth and vigor. Good-hearted and giving, you have a knack for finding and bringing out the best in people. Green is the most down-to-earth color in the spectrum — reliable and trustworthy. People know they can count on you to be around in times of need, since your concern for people is genuine and sincere. You take pride in being a good friend. For you, success is measured in terms of personal achievement and growth, not by status or position. Rare as emeralds, greens are wonderful, natural people. It truly is your color!

What color are you?

Friday, February 8, 2008

Under the Weather

I know some of my Utah friends are sick of this:

But I'm just sick, period:

Wanna trade? Please?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Sew What?

Today I'm sewing, and I hate sewing. It makes me grouchy. So grouchy, in fact, that my friend told me I should try to limit my swearing on this current project to five curse words. So far I've used two.

I'm not bragging. Believe me this is not something I am proud of, but sewing makes me crazy. Like foaming at the mouth, pulling out my hair, nuts.

Poor Mr. Wicke. You can imagine his horror when he sees me haul out the sewing machine. Inwardly he must be cringing, but outwardly he is stoic, even when this goes down:

Mr. Wicke: Is there anything I can do to help?

Madwoman: (armed with a seam ripper) Just stay away from me! I mean it!

Mr. Wicke: (backing slowly towards the door and shepherding the children behind him) Okay, okay...We'll just be in the next room if you needs us...

Madwoman: Fine, fine...(and with more twitching and incomprehensible muttering she turns back to her work.)

So why do I do it, you may ask. Because I want pretty things in my house that I can't afford to buy. *@#% budget! Ah, nuts. Three down, two to go.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Some friends and I do a rotating preschool for our 3 and 4 year olds two days a week this year. Last week it was at our house. Now don't get me wrong, they are cute and they love "school", but I can't help thinking the whole time, "Yes...teaching high school was the right decision for me." Here's an example:

Me: Okay guys, today we get to learn about the letter U! Look at this. You see this letter? It starts at the sky, curves down to touch the grass, and goes back up to the sky. Do you see that? That is the letter U. Now what letter is that?

Them: (blank stares)

Me: That's the letter U. The letter U says, "yoo" or "uh." Can you say that? "Yoo..."

Them: "Yoo."

Me: "Uh."

Them: "Uh."

Me: Very good! Let's see which of these pictures start with a "yoo" or "uh" sound. If it starts with "yoo" or "uh" let's circle it, okay? Oooh, what's that first picture?

Them: A giraffe!!!

Me: Right! Does that start with a U? Does it say "yoo" or "uh?"

Them: Yes!

Me: Are you sure? Uh, uh...giraffe. G-g-g-giraffe? Does that sound like uh or yoo?

Them: Uh-huh.

Me: No--no it doesn't. Don't circle that. What's next?

Them: An umbrella!!

Me: Good! Does that start with the letter U?

Them: NO!!

Me: Hey, I've got an idea! Let's paint!

And that's why I teach teenagers. But, I have to admit: Teenagers aren't nearly as cute as this:

You Might Be Getting Older When...

...a blazin' hot Friday night includes:

1. Getting take out from here.

2. Getting a movie from here:

3. And watching your friends do this:

It was 10:20pm. Yup, we've officially crossed over.

Friday, February 1, 2008

Choosing Happiness

My blogger friend EKB posted a question the other day that got my mind churning. She asked, "What do you do when life doesn't turn out the way you plan?"

It's an important question given its universality. While considering just my immediate friends and family there are: people who wish they were married and are not, did marry only to later divorce, want children and can't bear them, had a child who died, had a child who made poor decisions, had a child with a handicap, lost a spouse, live in a dissatisfying marriage, struggle with depression, face ill health, watch someone they love suffer, grew up with a lousy parent, grew up without a parent, settled for a less than dreamy job so they could be a more involved parent, work their dream job but don't make enough money, make a lot of money but hate their job...okay, okay, you get the idea. And that is just people I know. The list of heartbreaking and challenging circumstances in the world is endless.

The realization that life rarely turns out the way we plan seems to be the baptism into adulthood. The question then becomes: If the vast majority of us are living among the shards of shattered dreams, is it possible to be happy given the debris? I believe the answer is a resounding yes!

First of all, let's get one thing straight. Suffering has important purposes. Among its predominant blessings are greater wisdom, empathy, humility, and character. If we floated through life, unopposed by circumstances, always getting our way, wouldn't we remain childish in our scope of vision and character developement? Yes, and so God in his great wisdom put into motion a world that, by its very nature, would be unfair. Not to torment us, but to be the making of us, depending upon our reactions to the disappoints we endure. That is the tipping point. Often so much of our energy and focus is on the trial--"Why did this have to happen? It isn't fair. Why me?"--when the trial is not the point. Quite frankly, if it wasn't one thing it would be another. No, it is not the trial but our reaction to it that will determine our life satisfaction.

The picture of our life is first determined by the brush we choose to paint it with. Happiness is a choice.

So, my question to you today is: How do YOU choose to be happy despite life's disappointments?