Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Summer at the McFarlands'

A guest post by Maddie [One of the kids' chores is to do something 'academic' every weekday. This is pretty loose; Will learned how to load the digital frame, they've learned how to make a playlist, import a CD and burn a CD on iTunes, update their reading on Shelfari and other tenuously academic pursuits. This is one reason that my blogging all but stopped in June -- I haven't been able to come near my computer since the kids got out of school! This post was one of Maddie's entries, and I was tickled by it.]

Things are pretty crazy here now that we are out of school. No, we aren’t schlepping ourselves and a load of luggage over to Europe, but while that means less hassle, it also means more house to clean up (and more swim team for will & I). So, this is a typical (crazy) day at our house:

6:00ish:Mom and dad wake up and take turns jogging/ making sure godzilla doesn't eat us in our sleep or something.

8:00ish: will, seb and I wake up. We then make our beds & get dressed (don’t get too impressed. That's how we earn breakfast) and go eat breakfast.

10:00 : sebi goes to basketball. Will and I babysit Joss.

11:00 : Sebi goes to swimming lessons

Most of the time 'til 3:45 we play, do chores, work in the garden, etc

4:00 : Will and I go to swim team

5:00 will's level ends

5:45: mine ends

6:00 ish we eat dinner.

Until 9:00 we do more crazy stuff like we did previously

9:00: we go to bed and mom& dad start watching west wing.

11:00ish mom& dad go to bed

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Anniversary Thirteen

This quote by Michael Chabon in Manhood for Amateurs explains his relationship with his wife, and was immediately familiar to me. It articulated our relationship so closely, though I am years from being able to put this into words:

"Not very long afterward, in an ongoing act of surrender to the world beyond my window, with no possibility of knowing what joy or disaster might result, I married her. And since that afternoon in Berkeley, California, standing along the deepest seam of the Hayward Fault -- no, since our first date -- this woman has dragged, nudged, coaxed, led, stirred, embroiled, mocked, seduced, finagled or carried me into every last instance of delight or sorrow, every debacle, every success, every brilliant call, and every terrible mistake, that I have known or made. I'm grateful for that, because if it were not for her, I would never go anywhere, never see anything, never meet anyone. It's too much bother. It's dangerous, hard work, or expensive. I lost my ticket. I kind of have a headache. They don't speak English there, it's too far away, they're closed for the day, they're full, they said we can't, it's too much bother with children along.
"She will have none of that. She is quick, mercurial, intemperate. She has a big mouth, a rash heart, a generous nature (always a liability, in my view), and if my way is always to opt out, to sit in the window seat with a book in my lap, pressing my face against the pane, then her great weakness, indistinguishable from her great strength, is a fatal, manic aptitude for saying yes. She gets herself, and us, and me, into trouble: into noble causes and silly disputes, into pregnancies and terminations, into journeys and strange hotel beds and awkward situations, into putting my money where my mouth is and my name on fund-raising pitch letters for the things that I believe in but otherwise, I don't know, haven't gotten around to yet."

He is the man that demands always my best self, my highest ideals, my continual progress; but adores me on an as-is basis.
Happy Anniversary, Love. It has been a breathtaking journey so far.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Eunice Elizabeth Johnson Nelson

Eunice Elizabeth Johnson Nelson
October 18, 1917 to May 23, 2010
My maternal grandmother passed away about a month ago at age 92, and I wanted to put down some of my memories of her just like I did for my grandfather. I remember Grandma Nelson as the grandma who would drive to town with Grandpa in the Chevy Impala with a 9 x 13 pan of applesauce brownies on the seat. We would always meet them at the Nut Tree, which was about an hour away from home and seemed like The Longest Ride In The World. She was there to take care of the family each time there was a new baby. She bought me crocheted hair ribbons and pink clothes. My favorite thing to do with grandma was to go on a really long walk and get lost in Piedmont. I thought it was so exciting, and if she did know where we were, she never let on.
This was the picture used for her LDS missionary farewell. She served in Portland, Oregon and before she left, her brother cautioned her not to let on that she knew how to type, or she would be stuck in the office. She lasted about three months before she was found out, and then she did indeed serve in the office, as the missionary in charge of the Primary program (for the kids), corresponding and meeting with the local leaders and encouraging them and sending them materials.
It was there that she met my grandfather, who was training as a diesel engine mechanic. He asked and was granted permission to take Eunice and her companion out to the movie. He sat between them. Once the movie began, he wanted to hold her hand, but with the companion there, he didn't know what to do. So he held both their hands!
Leo and Beth's wedding day. Salt Lake, 1942?
Grandma was also famous for winning. As mentioned at her funeral, it didn't matter if the game was based on skill or luck, Grandma would always win. In later years, I remember her sleeping through everyone else's turn only to wake up and win the game.
Occasionally her winning streak resulted in moral quandaries. Like the time she won a case of champagne since she didn't drink alcohol. Or the time she played bingo on Sunday and won -- she dithered about whether she should pay tithing on the winnings.

The Leo and Beth Nelson family, circa 1957.
In 1981, grandma was driving home from her job at the Beehive Clothing Center in Portland where she'd worked for 28 years. It appears that she fell asleep at the wheel while making a left-hand turn and ran into a telephone pole. She broke both femurs, shattered a wrist, an elbow, and broke her ribs in 12 places. It was fairly certain that she wouldn't survive.
When my grandfather called with the news, my dad was in Venezuela, and my mother packed up four kids in the Ford LTD and drove up to Portland. We stayed for 5-6 weeks that summer. I guess now that my mom cooked and cleaned and visited the hospital and that we children were loud distractions from the tragedy. I remember that at 11, the nurses thought I was old enough to go in and see my grandmother in ICU (the sign said no one under 12). I walked in and saw her hooked up to all of the monitors, tubes and wires and recall thinking "No. I'm not old enough for this at all." I spent hours gluing the get well cards into huge scrapbooks for her and weaving tiny satin ribbons into barrettes as was the fashion.
Grandma slowly recovered and moved to a care facility and home again in November. She got out and about first with a wheelchair, then with a walker, and finally with a cane what grandpa always gallantly brought her from the trunk of their teal Buick. Though she had consistent health problems and complications from then on, I don't think anyone was surprised that Beth outlived Leo by 16 months. Life is just another game of luck and skill.
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Alle Meine Entchen

Last Friday it was such gorgeous weather that we wanted to feed the ducks after dinner. We tried the BYU duck pond, but those poor birds had been inundated by student mothers and kids. So we visited Oma instead. There we found 48 ducks and ducklings who were much hungrier.
Your aim had to be pretty good, or the trout would surface and snatch it away before the ducks could get it. Joss was as delighted with the fish as he was with the ducks. Will and Sebastian tried to spear them with a large stick.
I was partial to the ducklings.
Oma is so pleasant to visit. Rob went in and saw her staring vacantly at the TV with the others in the high security unit. He speaks to her in German because she's sharpest in that language.
Rob: "Come on, Oma! It's time for a walk!"
Johanna: "You're taking me? Just me?"
Rob: "Yes, I'm here for you."
Johanna: "But your German is so good! Who taught you such good German!"
Rob: "You did, Oma!"
Johanna: "Aber naturlich!" ("but of course!")
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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Picnics in the Park

We have been trying to go up to South Fork park each week and have dinner with friends. It helps us enjoy summer a little more to get out and enjoy the weather. Since our yard really has no place to eat or sit, we take to the road. Last week we went to Nielsen's Grove which was also fun. I'm always amazed now when I can actually sit and talk with other adults for a few minutes.
I'm also surprised to have a more adventurous soul at the playground. Unlike his older brothers and sister, this one will climb up to the highest slide and actually come down it. He'll tackle ladders and rock climbing walls that are way too hard for him. Then he'll do it again and again and again and again until he has it mastered.
And if his parents don't put shoes on him? He doesn't let that stop him!
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Swim Lessons for Sebi

Our little fish is back in the water and having a wonderful time. He was swimming 5-10 feet before we left for Vienna. His biggest problem was that he hadn't figure out how to breathe! So he's working on that and on learning actual strokes. He wants to get onto the swim team with his big brother and sister.
On the last day of class, the kids get to ride the water slide. Sebastian was the only one in his class who didn't take a life jacket, and didn't ride down with a teacher. Instead, I heard him shrieking the enTIRE way down. When he got out, he shouted "That was AWWWESOME!!"
One of the very best things about summer. And if you happen to be a parent who gets to sit quietly and read poolside? Mmmm. Even better.
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Thursday, June 24, 2010

What Happens When You Say

. . .you can't go outside because you don't have shoes on!
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Wednesday, June 23, 2010


It's an odd moment when the four Shumways are together without kids swarming us like a human jungle gym. We got one picture of us during the family reunion, and that was during breakfast with mouths full. And it's a big year as we're turning 30, 35, 38, and 40.
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Maypole

Each year Wasatch holds a dance festival. The traditional sixth grade dance is the maypole. Maddie and peers practiced for nearly a month and she really enjoyed learning it.
After the graduation ceremony and again the next day for the whole school dance festival, they got out three maypoles, one for each class and danced until the ribbons were all woven together down the pole.
Then they turned around and worked it back out until it was all undone. It looked like they were old pros at it, but Betsy told me later that the teachers pray mightily to the gods of the maypole each year so that the kids don't make an unholy mess of ribbons in front of everyone.
It was so festive and felt like a real ceremony to end graduation.
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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sixth Grade Graduation

Maddie's sixth grade graduation was an impressive event. There were lots of awards and musical numbers and talks. Maddie was chosen to welcome friends and family and lead them in the Pledge of Allegiance. She was cool under pressure, and looked, of course, about four years older than most of the other kids there.
Here she is getting her diploma.
And a hug from her marvelous teacher and aunt.
And here she is with Betsy and friends afterward. It has been a great year for her, doing the medieval checklist, the after school Shakespeare, early-morning Kodaly choir, the art expo, science fair, and the class play. She's absolutely loved it and has made some wonderful friends.
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