Saturday, September 27, 2008

Angels Among Us

"Meet Brandon Mull, author of Fablehaven. Thursday, Sept. 18th at 7pm at the Pleasant Grove Library."
I saw the sign on the door of Sego Lily Elementary and promptly added the event to our family calendar. William has already devoured the book Fablehaven and is currently sinking his teeth into the sequel, Rise of the Evening Star. He comes home from school and begs to go lay on his bed and read more. At the park I have to require that he bike 5 laps before he can read another chapter. (we go to the park for a physically active time) In the van we have had to keep the lights on during long evening trips because he can't bear to put it down and rest. At this very moment I am sure that John is on the boat trying to get him to tube and he is saying "Hang on, I've got to finish this part." He took the book to the lake this afternoon. Needless to say, the creative characters of these books have captured this son of ours, and Mr. Mull is satisfying his NEED to READ!

I had planned a trip to Price the weekend of CHS Homecoming and figured that it would work perfectly to attend Will's 6pm soccer game, hit the book signing at 7pm and be off to my hometown by at least 8. WRONG! We pulled up to the library that evening and from the number of nonexistent parking stalls I could quickly see that this would not be as slick a stop as I had anticipated. We finally found a spot and walked toward the crowd. Brandon Mull had just finished his presentation (of which I was unaware) and there was a line formed of fans waiting to meet him. Many spectators were still seated, and I assumed that they were simply lingering after the speech or letting their kids go wait in line while they relaxed. Come to find out those seated were waiting to be called up for their turn to JOIN the line. It was THAT crowded. Amidst the running around of 2 rambunctious daughters and while hauling around a very inhibiting infant car seat I began to explain to Will that we would probably not be able to brave the crowds and stay to meet this hero of his. He first tried to come up with some solutions, then tried begging that we just wait. Next came the puppy dog eyes and his chin started to quiver. I had been the one to build this up for him so much- because of my own library junkieness, and now I was telling him that we would have to turn around and walk out when Brandon Mull was only one room and FIVE HUNDRED FIFTY patrons away!
"But I wanted to get a poster." Will explained to me as a final attempt at convincing me to stay. A nearby Mom suggested he go check with the library staff at the front desk to see if they had any extra. Because of my heavy car seat and buzzing entourage of children, and because we were in a hurry to get on the road, I directed Will to run up around the building and inquire about a poster or bookmark. By the time I gathered myself and made it to the circulation desk myself, I saw something that made my heart melt. A sweet, brown haired librarian was leaning over so as to be able to hear Will's shakey voice better as he recited to her his name and telephone number. Apparently her warmness and helpful sincerity dispelled any guidelines about stranger danger. Obviously there were no more unclaimed posters in the library. But she wasn't about to tell that to this little boy and leave him hanging, library book clutched to his chest and tears streaming down under his fogged up glasses. "I'll see if I can find one after the event is over. And if not, I have some friends at Deseret Book." She looked up at me and smiled as she uttered these hope filled sentences to my little boy. I thanked her, and we went on our way discussing how glad we were that all hope was not lost. On the way out Will asked if he could just SEE Brandon Mull- so I pointed to the door where those who had just met him were exiting and said, "Go peek in there." Will did more than just peek. He weaseled past the door guard and decided that he'd see if anyone told him he couldn't just join right in at the back of that room's line, only about 20 people long. When I noticed what he'd done, I apologetically squeezed myself through the door and right past Brandon Mull to go gather my desperate Fablehaven fan. This sent him over the top. Coming so close with no success had crushed him. On the way to the van he threw quite a fit. When we got in he opened his book and escaped the situation his well meaning but despicably disappointing mother had caused.
I got on the website the next morning and discovered that, after an appearance in Sandy, Brandon Mull was on his way to book signings in Texas for the rest of the month. Hmm. I thought. Maybe he'll at least end up with a poster. I wasn't going to bring it up again for fear that life may get in the way of this sweet librarian's intentions resulting in no memorabilia for Will. Boy was I wrong. When we got back home we heard the sweetest voice saying this on our answering machine. "This message is for William. This is Linda at the P.G. Library. I just wanted him to know that I did find a poster for him and if it's OK I could drop it by this weekend. " I still have the machine saved so that I can listen to it when I need my faith in humanity restored :)
She came, she delivered, and William now has this huge poster right above his favorite reading spot in his bedroom. It was addressed personally to him, by the author himself, at ten minutes after midnight.

In visiting with sweet Linda Bethers we learned that she is the author of the retelling of the story Christmas Oranges which was published as a picture book in 2002. She will actually be at the PG library presenting the story on Nov. 13th.

Today when Caroline wrecked during the Stake 5K I caught up to her and sat on the ground to comfort her. I wiped a few tears and wondered if I should encourage her to get back on her bike or offer her a spot in the double stroller. Not a minute later a woman on her bike came past and saw our predicament. Low and behold, she had put in her bike trailer that morning a box of band aids. Any Mom knows what kind of get up and go power that can give to a skinned 5 year old. "She rescued us!" I told Caroline. "We can finish the race!" We thanked our kind runningmate and continued on 'til we had passed the balloons marking the finish line and arrived at the monstrous chocolate chip muffin table. A happy ending indeed.

Thinking back on the redheaded woman I will call the "Band aid Biker" and on our friend "Linda the Librarian", I had the impression that there truly are angels among us. I was reminded of one of my favorite quotes by Spencer W. Kimball...
"God does notice us, and he watches over us. But usually it is through another person that he attends to our needs. Therefore it is vital that we serve one another."

Monday, September 15, 2008


The six week check-up, the 2 month immunizations, the blessing day have now all passed us by. I know I am just giving the gals who spoof Utah Valley Moms’ blogs more material when I say this- BUT- Nathan has made me understand the meaning of the phrase “bundle of joy.” His full nights of sleeping and open mouthed smiles really have added happiness to our lives and we feel seriously, so blessed.

Nevertheless, when I look at all of the women around me at the end of their pregnancies (5 in our ward) I remember. I remember the aching back, the insanely frequent bathroom breaks, the varicose veins, the contracting, then MORE afterbirth contracting, the owies associated with nursing at first, and all of the other painful details about pregnancy, labor, delivery, and brand new babies. I remember and I am glad that around here we are for the most part …RECOVERED.

So in honor of our recovery, I share the story of an atypical (for me) household project I completed this summer. The pink tea party table…RECOVERED.

It was the weekend of May 30-31st. I was thirty six weeks along and wearing the gray gouchos with the silver jewel studded crocs about every day. You ALL know crocs are PERFECT for pregnancy. John had embarked on the Stake Encampment and I was determined to have a good attitude about my week of waddling around after the kids without him. A new project was the perfect thing to pass the time. The girls’ tea party table was sagging and decomposing in the middle, the plastic covering sliced up in several different spots. Wouldn’t my husband be surprised to see what his skillful and handy wife had completed upon his return! I was so excited about taking this on alone, that I didn’t even ask his advice on any of it (mistake #1). If I did I knew he would tell me that he could just take care of it when he got back. He takes care of most things involving power tools at our house-

Not this time.

I hauled the table to a workable spot and turned it over.
“ Just put that drill in reverse, remove the screws, staple the new vinyl in place, and reattach the like new table top back onto the frame. Wa la!” I thought. (mistake #2) The table top was attached with more than just screws. There were some L shaped bracket thingeys binding the top to the frame. Didn’t know what to call them, but they looked like a pretty basic part. Still doable.
I also needed a sturdy top. Although I knew John probably could have located a piece of scrap lumber 2 by 2 feet, I was doing this on my own so I hauled all 3 (plus1- I really WAS also HAULING the fourth) to Home Depot, put the table frame in a cart, and walked in to the store. Every step hurt by evening time but this was a quest worth the pain!

The kids ran around the aisles while I talked to several orangely aproned employees about the L shaped bracket thingeys I needed. I also asked about fiberglass vs. wood. A kind Polynesian man was helpful but pointed out to me a big ol’ kink in my swift and slik one night project plan. Those brackets were secured with a special upholstery tool and it was unlikely they could be removed without mutilating them. Oh, and Home Depot didn’t carry anything that would work as a replacement for the brackets either. Humph.

I noted the price on the pre-cut OSB board, returned it to its spot, and walked out of there let down and frazzled. By the time I reached the van, I WAS SOBBING, AND SOBBING over my own incapabilities, and missing my burley, get-it-done, construction worker husband. I drove straight home and hit the sack without him.

I left the table in the van hoping that if I took the table to Price when I went I could find some help there. I asked my Dad, who gave me his ideas, asked John’s Mom, who gave me hers. But we spent our time together on outings and fun like McDonalds and DinoMine Park while the disassembled table sat and sat.

Then just before it was time for us to take off, my mother in law suggested we go visit Grandpa Echer . Maybe, she said, he would even be able to find a piece of wood or something to help me out. THIS is where experience and knowledge took over.

“ Those are set in with pop rivets. You’ll need a pop rivet tool to re-attatch them. I’ve got one out in the garage. Or better yet, why don’t we just take some flat headed bolts and put them in through the top so that they will go through the one side of the brackets and hold firm that way.”

I felt like little orphan Annie being clothed and entertained by the expert staff of Daddy Warbucks. A disabled widow watching a bunch of boy scouts mow and edge her lawn. I couldn’t do it, but Grandpa Echer could!!! And he was!!! Woo Hoo! First we drove around town shopping for a piece of wood the right size. I had to be careful about price as I knew that it would be silly to spend more that the fifteen dollars that the table was worth. The cost of time was of course not taken into consideration. I was already about three hours in, and we were just getting started!

We found some wood and some bolts, Grandpa got out his GRINDER which was what we used to remove the pop rivets from the original decaying particle board that we used for a pattern to draw dots on the new board showing where the bolts should go. My mother in law even got in on the grinder action. She grew up watching her Dad work in his cabinet shop. Next he used his table saw to round the edges of the table top. I stood there with a HUGE grin on my face very happy and very impressed at his skill and unselfishness.

Even though it was 8:00 pm by the time we hit JoAnnes in Orem and we hadn’t eaten dinner , I just HAD to stop with the kids and pick out our fabric. We found something from the discount rack ($15 project limit) with some plastic to go over it. We took a bathroom break, then I felt like we barely made it back out to the van without my water breaking but we returned home ok. I don’t remember whether I stayed up late that night finishing the project or whether I got up early the next morning to do so. But I am oh so happy that, thanks to support of family and friends, both the tea party table and I are now fully RECOVERED!

John was proud, he took my picture shortly after getting home. I think I made him.