Sunday, June 7, 2015

Volume IX, issue v, May 2015

The Scarlet Letter
"Ah, but let [him] cover the mark as [he] will, the pang of it will be always in [his] heart."
-Nathaniel Howthorne
There are two unfortunate facts about this photo. The first one is that Caleb's hair and face are reminiscent of the famous Nick Nolte mugshot. . .
 and the second one is that the photo doesn't do the event it represents justice because I couldn't sneak the photo shoot in until the day after said events took place because I didn't want Caleb to be mad at me. I had to wait until he wasn't sure why I was taking the photo (hence the mugshot aura about the whole thing). I circled the affected area so you could see it, but it is a mere echo of what it had been the day before. Trust me, though. It was bad. Very, very bad.

During a Saturday trip to the local dollar store, Charlie had picked out a water toy that uses  a "pump action" to suction water and then spray it like a squirt gun.
All of the kids immediately did what most normal kids would do with a toy that operates using suction. They started suctioning each other's arms and legs and other body parts. I walked away from the suction party as soon as Eric tried to suction my derriere and I didn't look back.

Sunday morning, during the chaotic tumble of pre-church preparation, I was doing my frantic rounds from one head of hair to the next, like some triage hair-nurse, and Caleb stuck his face close to mine and said, "Does my hair look okay?" 

The involuntarily gasp that escaped my lips as I jumped with shock was probably a lot quieter than it should have been, considering the 3 inch wine-colored hickey that gaped at me from right between Caleb's baffled brown eyes. Without thinking it completely through, I said, "What in the world happened?" 

He was clueless. Apparently he doesn't look in the mirror when he combs his hair.

Before he could answer me, the awful truth hit me: "Oh my goodness! Did someone suction your face with Charlie's new toy?" 

He looked in the mirror and grunted with shock before fleeing the bathroom, speeding down the stairs and slamming the door to his bedroom so hard that I could feel the vibrations of adolescent awkwardness reverberating up the stairs. 

In exactly 15 minutes he was supposed to be at church solemnly serving the Sacrament to our congregation, and he had a Mick Jagger-sized hickey on his forehead. 

To his credit, he timidly came back up stairs after Ethan convinced him I had a way to fix it. 

I applied a thick layer of my cover-up powder to his forehead, which covered the mark of shame enough for it to be just barely visible. During Sacrament Meeting, Eric and I smirked at each other as Caleb self-consciously passed the Sacrament to the Bishop and his counselors, who didn't seem to notice the scarlet "O" between his shy eyes. 

Breaking Boy

I had to prod Eve just a little to get her to come with me to the orientation for the "Challenge Class" last summer, and after the orientation, the two of us were the perfect models for the masks of comedy and tragedy. On the way home, I started my wide-mouthed gushing before I noticed Eve's downcast visage. I knew that this was a rare moment when a little nudge forward was required.  Ironically, she gave me the same look of disbelief that I gave my parents when they nudged me into a rigorous private school as a shy 14-year-old. I told Eve about my experience there, and how it had opened the blinds on my brain, and had changed my world beautifully for the better. I could tell she still had her doubts.
It was a mere matter of days before her teacher, Mr Durfee, changed her mind. He is the quintessential "cool" teacher in every movie that glamorizes teachers. He was the Miss Stacy to Eve's Anne Shirley this year and Eve's relationship with books, numbers, and ideas will never be the same. Eve and her classmates hunkered down for hours, even working all day the Saturday before, to prepare for their "History Museum," which involved working in small groups to present different eras of American History. Eve chose the "Progressive Era" and specialized in the topics of women's rights and child labor. (Of course we had to tease her about going in to school to work all day Saturday.)

The last day of school we offered Mr Durfee a bouquet of books rather than a bouquet of flowers, knowing how when you choose a profession that involves teaching out of the best books, being able to buy them becomes a luxury.

I asked Eve to inscribe one of the books in the bouquet and this is what she wrote:

At the beginning of the school year I was very nervous, but now after learning how great you are and how I can triumph in this class, I feel like I can do anything. 
I have loved to hear your funny stories and jokes, but what I've found is that the best part is the way you teach. I used to hate math and thought that it was boring. Now I think math is wonderful.
I love the way you do everything and keep doing it that way. I am so grateful I am in your class.

Breaking Boy II or The Royal Toilet Decree

Perhaps it was all of the reading about women's rights that inspired Eves official bathroom door declaration, or maybe it was simply having to share a bathroom with a younger brother whose mind tends to wander during even the most basic of tasks.

Eve posted this note on the bathroom door after an unfortunate "incident"

The note says, "From now on by royal decree you must clean up after yourself!!! And if you have already made a mess then clean it up!!! I'm serious!" I'd say that this note is a "Royal Flush." I especially adore how the happy little character cleaning up is singing, "Clean up. Clean up, everybody, everywhere."

Our Little Shoe-In

I received a phone call last week informing me that our Marie had won a new pair of shoes for running the most number of laps in her grade during what they call "pacers." When I informed her about her victory, Marie's face broke into the cutest overwhelmed smile and she said, "Really?"

She received the nicest pair of running shoes anyone in our family has ever owned and started running laps around the house as soon as she put them on. Eric keeps threatening to steal them from her, and she ignores his teasing patiently.

The cheer evident in her self-portrait seen above and in the photo of her on the right with her "play glasses" is pretty much consistent with her daily demeanor.

Marie Turns Seven and Mom is in Heaven

The most significant event this month (and maybe even my life!) was Marie's Annie birthday party.

When I was ten-years-old, nothing seemed as romantic as being a red-headed orphan. On Sunday nights, my sister and I would spend starry-eyed hours in the living room, passionately belting out "Tomorrow" and "Maybe" as our own Daddy Warbucks accompanied us on the "piana." As we resolutely shouted out the chorus to song after song, my oldest brother would growl from the basement, "Stop! Yelling!" and we would smile and just keep on singing because we knew that "belting it" was how it was supposed to be done.

For Christmas that year, my parents surprised me with tickets to see Annie in Salt Lake City on my birthday only a few weeks later. I couldn't have been more pleased if they had announced I was going to NYC and leaving Miss Hannigan's orphanage. It wasn't long after that that I wrote, directed, and starred in a play for my class at school about an orphan girl with a cat. I brought our feral feline, Muffy, to play my pet, and was forced to exit the production in shame as the poor, nervous creature fouled up the carpet in the classroom. I still remember crying as I trekked up the hill to our house, carrying Muffy as she tried to claw her way free.

So when Marie quietly whispered to me a few months ago, "I think I'd like to have an Annie party for my birthday" the ten-year-old in me started singing and I didn't tell her to stop yelling. Not one bit.

I tried to avoid tearing up constantly as our Peter Pan collared-crew sang their little hearts out at the same piano where I used to sing on Sunday nights. I don't look like I'm having any fun at all. . .

 Marie and all of her girly guests agreed that "The Search for Sandy" was their favorite event of the party. Caleb snuck outside while we were singing and knocked at the front door. I rushed to the door and said dramatically, "I wonder who THAT could be!"

In his best English accent, Caleb/The Butler exclaimed with urgency, "I have a letter for Annie from Daddy Warbucks!" I was going for my birthday party Emmy during this part of the game, and gasped and ooo-ed and aaah-ed just like I did when I was in the chorus of all of those theatrical productions as a child.
The girls raced to find each paw print with such speed and determination that I could barely keep up with their mary-janed feet. They huffed and puffed their way down the sidewalk and up the hill, screaming with glee as they found each one in our path of paw prints until we finally arrived at our kind neighbor's house that made the perfect Warbucks Manor.

Eric greeted us the door, complete with bald cap and suit, and exclaimed that we had not only found Sandy, but that we had found a Sandy for each girl! True love is when you dress up and act like Daddy Warbucks without grumbling about it just because you know it will make your wife happy. As excited as the girls were, I can say that I was probably more thrilled than any of them as we handed each overwhelmed girl her own little plush dog.
Yes. I wanted to sing "I don't need anything but you" to that absolutely charming fellow on the right. He couldn't be any more wonderful, and yet sometimes he gets more wonderful with each passing party, costume, and year.

I had been planning for months and absolutely swooned when I found the perfect puppies and the most wonderful golden lockets at a discount online. I couldn't resist making "bottom dollars" out of chocolate. I couldn't stop myself from letting little girls become dripping--not with diamonds or pearls, but with chocolate and caramel as they dipped their "Big Apples." Oh! There was sun! It was like it was tomorrow. . . . all day long.

1 comment:

Daniel and Lindsey said...

I loved your blog as always. Sorry that I haven't commented for a while. We loved Mr. Durfee too. Such an amazing teacher - he makes kids fall in love with learning. Kai still sneaks over to his classroom and checks out books. The Annie party is fantastic! Thank you for including Carson even though she couldn't be there in person - she absolutely adores her Annie loot.

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