The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
November 2013

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Fan Boy

This whole thing must have started when Stomper was just 2 years old. I think that's about the time we bought him his first little collection of plastic safari animals. He fell in love with those things with a fervor we didn't expect. He played with them constantly and was on a never-ending quest to increase the size of his collection. He learned names and behaviors of all the animals. He wanted to watch the rather gruesome National Geographic video tape Last Feast of the Crocodile every single time we visited Troy's parents.

And then came the dinosaurs. Most likely as I was killing time with my toddler one day (remember the days when you tried to kill time every day because you had nothing to do but entertain one toddler?) I took him to a toy store where there were racks of little plastic animals. (Papo is the best brand but Schleich is really good too.) He caught sight of a carnivorous dinosaur. WHAT. IS. THAT?!?!? his little face seemed to say - mean, meat-eating predators with scales and claws and as big as a building? Bring it on!! Very soon dinosaurs were all he could talk about. He collected them with much begging, pleading, earning, gifting, bribing - anything to get more. He knew all of their names. He knew what period of the Mesozoic Era they came from. And this was as a three year old. PASSION.

Troy and I used to think his forceful love was limited to dinosaurs and perhaps a few other carnivores and reptiles, but around them time he started kindergarten he was introduced to a little cartoon character by the name of Ben 10. New obsession. Ben 10 toys.  Shows.  Pajamas.  Halloween costumes.  Birthday themes.

Here's little Stomper as a kindergartner going trick-or-treating in his Ben 10 outfit:

And guess what.  That big black thing on his wrist, aka The Omnitrix (don't ask), is still in his possession  and he still plays with it.  Regularly! And he wore that costume as pajamas until 3rd grade.

That was just the beginning.  What turns out to be the case is that Stomper loves stuff.  Pokemon. Marvel super heroes.  The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. Lego series like Ninjago.  Making stop-motion movies.  Godzilla.  Harry Potter.  He just throws himself into loving a thing with all the energy in his heart.  It used to put me in a bit of a panic - he'd show a new passion for something and suddenly have just an aching desire to envelop himself in that thing.  He'd want the action figures, or the costume, or the...whatever, he just wanted to make that thing as real in his life as he could.  And I would feel his desires and want to fill those wishes - uh, okay okay, how are we going to do this?  I'll start looking online for a costume or maybe we can make a figure out of clay!  Or I'd set up some reward system for him to earn the thing he was so desperately wanting.  And then....he'd get over it in a day or two and be thinking about something else instead.  An old thing, a new thing, either way.  So I've learned to just sit back a bit and let him work out for himself what's really worth spending energy on.

I have to admit that with the entrance of persons such as Captain America, Iron Man and Spiderman, I wasn't sure he'd ever go back to dinosaurs.  He's returned to his love of Ben 10 a few times - I think his 8th birthday was Ben 10 in theme, let me check...

Yep there he is. Same costume and everything:

And since we just found the whole Ben 10 series on DVD at a Rummage Sale along with a NEW Omnitrix (don't ask) he's loving it all again.  Anyway, my point is that he has returned time and again to several of these passions, but with all the superheroes and cartoon characters, I was afraid that dinosaurs were a thing of the past.  Those seemed to be the thing he loved the most thoroughly and for the longest.  I was a little sad thinking that he was only excited about fictional loud cartoony things.  (Okay, Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter are both barely fiction in my mind, but still...)  and then last week he went all nuts over dinosaurs again.  The last time we were in St. George he even brought a large collection with him and spent a great deal of time arranging the dinosaurs in artistic tableaus in the sandy yard:

I even have found a few other interesting applications of dinosaurs lately (although these are a little older):

I'm so happy he still harbors dinosaur love.  It's infectious.  In fact, my sweet hubby had a birthday last month and in my lack of blogging didn't get a post up. (Bad me!  Sorry!)  He got some nice things for his camera, but he also requested a couple of the latest Papo dinosaurs.  We love that brand.  Amazing models.  (Troy and I will always have a special spot in our hearts for these little models, thanks to our son.)

Daddy and Daughter out to Birthday Lunch

Some of the old dinosaurs welcoming the new additions

Anyway, I guess I'm just saying that I really enjoy the passionate fan boy that is my son.  Clearly he comes by it honestly - I have been a fan girl all my life, starting with my earliest loves of The Black Stallion, E.T. and Ziggy. Something tells me I was not as cool as my son is.  Ain't no Black Stallion at Comicon!! But I was just as passionate.  So glad he keeps up the pop-culture energy at our house.  

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dancers and Poets

Recently Troy and I have been attending a poetry group.  It got started unexpectedly - we were enjoying some dinner with a couple of close friends and after the meal, as we sat on their living room floor chatting about our favorite music, I kept glancing at their bookshelf.  I always love to look at a person's bookshelf - the books we keep near us say a lot about us, I believe.  It's fascinating to see what people have on their shelves.  Our friends had several books of poetry on the shelf and finally I pulled one out.  Or maybe it was Troy, I don't remember.  Anyway, poetry came up in conversation and as we talked about a certain poet we all love I suddenly got the idea that we should have a poetry night - just get together and read our favorite poetry or things we've written.  Luckily my idea was well received and not totally laughed at. We invited a couple of other families that we thought might enjoy an evening of reading poetry aloud.  Does it sound pretentious?  If it does, I don't care - it was so much fun.  The different poetry styles that everyone brought to the table were fascinating and it was just a lovely evening.  So lovely, in fact, that we have done it twice more since and have another on the calendar.  I hope it never gets old.

One outcome of this poetry night is that everyone has had the inkling to start writing a little of their own poetry. Even my husband, who after the first poetry night declared that he had never had the urge to write a poem in his entire life, suddenly found himself jotting down a few lines.  It is so awesome.  In fact, I thought one of his poems would fit very well as an accompaniment to some pictures of Bundle's latest dance performance.  I really want to post some pictures but have run out of anything interesting to say about Bundle dancing because she's had like 5 performances in the last 18 months.  And since Troy wrote a poem about his youngest child and her tendency to spin, I thought they'd go nicely together.

She skips just because
She twirls without thought of the furniture around her
She smiles from morning to night
She gives kisses warning or reason
And hugs with reckless abandon
Her giggles are like a virus
Every moment is a grand adventure
When Emma is your girl

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

I Once Caught a Fish THIS BIG

I was not expecting this evening to turn into an adventure.  After all, we only started out by asking our friends if they wanted to buy Girl Scout Cookies.  They kindly ordered a couple of boxes.  We didn't think that getting the cookies to them would turn from delivery to life-long memory! I guess we forgot to consider that these friends live in Layton so no matter how we got the cookies to them it would take some traveling.  And after all, these are our Christmas-Tree Hunting friends, and any time together with them at all is both rare and desirable, so if we were going to see each other at all why not at least spend the evening together?  At first we planned on enjoying some supper together. Easy - soup, bread, no problem.  But then Mary, the matriarch of the Layton-dwellers, had a great idea.  Why don't the Preslars head north, meet at Mary's mother's farm and fish for our dinner out of the trout pond?  Our kids LOVE fishing, this cute little pond is teeming with huge trout - how fun!  She made salads and a pie, I made scalloped potatoes, we were in the car by 4:45 and had lines in the pond by 5:30.

Of course Stomper had a fish out by 5:32 or something.  The fish must have been starving.  Stomper made like two casts and before we knew it he had a big ole' trout flipping around on the grass.  Triumph!  Then within 10 more minutes Troy had snagged another one and persuaded Bundle to kind of help him reel it in so she sort of felt some claim to that fish.  But then poor Bitty wanted to catch one with just a net.  She tried for a while but obviously wasn't very successful.  We took a break for dinner - the trout (talk about fresh!) were quickly gutted and wrapped in tin foil and thrown onto the nearby camp fire.  Everyone ate potatoes and salad and then when the fish was done started on that.  Bundle ate more than anyone else - she probably ate half of a 4 lb trout!

By the time people were eating trout, Bitty was getting desperate to catch a fish.  She started using a fishing pole (when it's not fly fishing, can I call it that or will I get in trouble?  Is it always a rod?  I don't know but I'm sure to screw it up!).  She stood by that pond for way more than an hour, casting and reeling, casting and reeling - I was really proud of her for not giving up and not totally having a meltdown because she was so disappointed.  Just as we were packing up dishes in the dusky evening, she started hollering - she had a bite!  The huge fish splashed violently while Troy and Stomper dashed to her side - just in time for the fish to unhook itself.  I saw one moment of I-Am-Going-To-Cry on Bitty's face until we all cheered for her for getting a strike and she went back to it.  Now I am trying to get everyone into the car and all the stuff loaded up so our bedtime wouldn't be completely shot, but Bitty just kept casting.  Just as I got the last few things in the car I headed down the grassy hill to fetch Bitty, only to see the group of kids gathered around Troy and an ecstatic Bitty who was beside herself with joy.

Yes, just as I was ready to pull out of the driveway, Bitty (with Troy's help but she reeled it in) caught the biggest fish of the night.  The thing was huge - Mary guessed it was 8 pounds or so.  Totally worth it for Bitty and us too - the smile on her face illuminated the car the whole way home, she was so thrilled.  We are looking forward to grilling it for dinner tomorrow night.  She asked if we could make it "extra fancy."

So bedtime was pretty much shot after all.  Not all homework got done, the kitchen is a mess but you know what?  I couldn't be happier.  Partly because we now do not have to go back tomorrow night to help Bitty catch a fish.  Another time soon, I hope, but for this trip, all dreams and wishes were fulfilled.

Thanks Burnetts!

Side Note: should I be disturbed at how completely enthused Stomper was to plunge his pocketknife into the brain of the fish?  It was his favorite part!  Was that too graphic?  Sorry....

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Ring

People ask me a lot how my mother is doing.  It's a really tough question to answer because everyone wants to hear something positive and encouraging.  Mom is going downhill, there is no way around that.  True, she is still overall a very cheerful person and tries very hard to connect to all her family members and friends though she is definitely getting foggy about how everyone fits into her puzzle.  She still knows us and that is great.  For now.  The way Alzheimer's goes, that will leave eventually too.  I've been wanting to write for a long time about it, and I just haven't known how to put the words together.  And then suddenly it all came tumbling out in a poem.  Here it is.


A ring is on my finger
Slender silver circle,
Oval of blue clutched by
Tiny empty claws
Where chips of diamonds once winked
Long ago lost to the daily jostles of mother's hands.
My favorite part: a star
Hidden in the depths of the sapphire
Flashing only when tipped just so in the light.

It was a gift to me, this ring.
A gift given awkwardly
Passed suddenly over a cafe table.
No birthday, no parting remembrance,
"Here. You should have this.
It was a gift from my father."

Surely my mother, with her sudden bestowing,
Could not have known that
Even then
She was striding so surely toward her descent
Into the clouding oblivion of disease.
What little voice whispered to her
That this was the time?
The time to slip it off,
Look at it once more,
And with a quick polish of the thumb,
Press it into my palm?

This ring,
It is a token,
An anchor.
A key to the secret entrance of time's erasing.

There I am, leaning on the kitchen counter
With the dirt of a summer day still smudging my face,
Watching my mother's hands hustle and whip over bread dough.
The click of her ring as she rolled and shaped
Was the only solid sound in that mass of softness.

And there I am, sagging at her side,
Perching crookedly on her bench,
Leaning into the warmth of her as she played the piano,
Her ring adding a percussion of clack on key with every ring-finger note.

These visits to myself are brief but so solid.
In memory all is yellow light
So warm it seems to gather everything closer.
I see her hands; certain, efficient, warm.

Now they are flighty, unsettled, thin.  Cool.
I look for my mother in those cloudy eyes
Which hardly meet my searching gaze.
I find little remembrance of dough or music or warmth.

So I bake bread.
I sit at the piano.
I run my hands over the counter,
And against the mixing bowl,
Through all the daily jostles of a mother's hands.
I hear a little clack.
My children lean into me.
My sapphire winks.
I have an anchor
That holds in my mind
The surety that though she in not so now
My mother was my mother.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why I Love YouTube

Before I expound on the virtues of YouTube, I just have to share one little thing. Today is Thursday. My dear hubby Troy has been on a business trip since Sunday night. I made a big list that evening of everything I wanted to accomplish while he was gone. Checking things off my to-do list is one of the ways I get really really happy, so I thought it would help me get through the week. One of these things was to complete a blog entry each day. I, like always, have a long list of blog entries to get to eventually and I thought my quiet evenings would be a great time to start my best blogging month ever. And I have one thing to say about how that went:

BWA HA HA HA HA HA What was I on when I thought I would write MORE rather than LESS when Troy was gone?

Yeah, not a lot of blogging going on here. Oh well, one is better than nothing, right?

Oh yeah, one more little thing. Remember how I decided I wanted to make my blog private? I never got around to doing it and now I've changed my mind. Thanks everyone who let me know they cared about the blog enough to be on my list. I just had a bad little experience with a naughty website that I thought was connecting to my blog and was then accessible by any visitors to my blog. This, I don't think, is true, but if you see anything fishy please let me know. Sometimes the internet is the best and sometimes it really sucks. But since writing this blog has actually helped me connect with some old friends and reach new people too I didn't want to make it inaccessible after all.

It's late at night and I think I might be rambling. What was the title of this entry again? Oh yeah, YouTube!

And now I'm realizing that this is probably just more stuff that no one will care about but me. Oh well!

So back in high school, back in the day when the national pastime of teenagers was to make mix-tapes, I got just such a tape from my sister's boyfriend. (Now THERE'S a story for another day.....) (And in case you are freaking out about that, it remains true that my sister and I have never kissed the same person so no worries there.) ANYWAY. I got this great mix tape. And it had these two songs on it by Colin Hay, the lead singer of Men At Work. One was called "Hold Me" and the other was called "Can I Hold You?" (Apparently the man really needed a hug.) I loved these two songs dearly. But sadly, my little mix-tape went the way of all mix tapes. It probably got all its ribbon pulled out by a dirty tape player or a curious little brother, or maybe my tape player broke and I never got a new one because I had so many CDs already. (SO 90's.)

I missed those songs though! And I never forgot about them. Every few years I have looked around a little in CD stores or online and have never found them. Even when the miracle of iTunes came along - finally, I could just buy one song instead of a whole album I wasn't sure I'd like! - I couldn't find these two songs. Anywhere. Probably someone could tell me in 2 seconds where to find them but with my limited abilities I have gotten nowhere.

Then the other night I had a little idea. Look on YouTube! And although I can't exactly take songs off of YouTube and put them on my playlist, I can listen to them. And as I listen, watch their slightly odd (even for the 80's) videos.

Thanks, YouTube. Here are the links - having trouble posting the actual videos. Maybe I can fix that later but if I don't post this now I will totally fail in my effort to cross "Blog ANYTHING!" off my to-do list.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Sun Worshipers After All

For all that Troy and I declare that we could never live in St. George, we sure do spend a lot of effort trying to get down there.

I am sure this has a lot to do with the fact we are currently striving to get through Salt Lake's crummiest season - Sheri reminded me that in 2013 we made something like 6 trips to St. George and all of them happened in the first four months of the year.  Maybe one in the late fall, I can't remember.  But once April hits the land of Dixie, we don't go there much any more!  (I'm sure I don't have those numbers quite right, but it's true, the earlier in the year it is the harder we try to visit Peter and Co.)

So far in 2014 we have made two trips south.  The first was in January over Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend.  We probably would have gone anyway but since Peter and Sheri would be blessing their new baby Iva Matilda, of course we had to go.  It was still pretty chilly but the air was so clear and fresh.  We were able to go just as the peak of inversion season was hitting Salt Lake.  (Getting back was a little depressing - the inversion stuck around for a long time this year although we all remember last year being much worse.)

Time to pass on the name of Bundle to one more deserving?

 The city of St. George has put together a delightful new children's museum.  It's free, so you have to get there early before the crowds roll in.  I found it to be clever and charming.

Oma and Apa came down and really enjoyed getting their hands on wee Iva:

So did I, for that matter:

In the first week of February I had some free tickets to a UofU women's gymnastics meet.  The Romneys love going and I admit that I need to take my family more often.  Of course this warranted a trip to our house for Peter and the gang.  For some reason, we just don't get sick of hanging out!  We had another lovely weekend although the grownups are all learning that it's harder than it used to be to stay up late watching stand-up comedy on Netflix and chatting till the wee hours - we're too dang old and tired!

The best (sorry,,, WORST) part about our fun, rainy, umbrella-toting trip to the zoo was that Bitty had been dying for her own umbrella and even saved up money to get one for herself.  We stopped at the store on our way up there so she could pick one out.  These are such happy pictures of her with her new umbrella - she had used the umbrella for a total of 10 minutes at this point.  I didn't take pictures of the incident that occurred not ten minutes later where, in here umbrella-joy she started spinning Gene Kelly style and the umbrella was blasted completely inside out bending most of the little metal arms.  That was a very sad Bitty.  Very sad.  Weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

It was the very next weekend that the kids had a day off of school for Presidents Day so.....why not go back to St. George?  Oh my gosh, it was so lovely.  We were SO LAZY.  We talked about going for hikes and walks and doing fun stuff....but the kids were so happy playing out in their backyard that we just let them.  Stomper was even lucky enough to have a friend going down the same weekend - a really sweet kid who has three little sisters and a baby brother.  He needs boy time as much as Stomper does.  They kindly invited him over one day and Stomper had several hours of boy
time with his buddy which was wonderful.

Okay, okay, on the last morning we were there we actually DID leave the house and go for a stroll on the red rocks.

We're thinking we'd better sneak in one more trip before the heat really hits....