The Preslar Family

The Preslar Family
December 2017

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

All Figured Out

The other night at bedtime I tried a new tactic with the big kids to fend off the post-lights-out barrage of questions, requests, commentaries and suggestions for improvement. (I think you know what I'm talking about, parents of the world.  You've got to turn out the lights and run out of earshot as quickly as possible otherwise you're in there for an hour adjusting the blankets, getting drinks and saying, "Can we talk about it tomorrow?" at least 11 times.) I told the kids that "mom" was going to bed now - she's had a long day and needs a break.  She's all done.  "You may," I told them, "see someone who looks like mom, but that's not mom.  That's Rachel and she is only available to help you in case of a fire or oncoming vomit.  Other than those types of emergencies, please leave Rachel alone."

Bitty giggled but Stomper said, "Oh!  I know her; she's the maid!"  I couldn't decide if I should laugh or cry. 

Isn't this exactly how you all look while you do the post-bedtime cleaning?  Yeah, me neither. I look more like this:

P.S. be careful when you google "maid" or "cleaning lady."  Not all images are as wholesome as these. F.Y.I. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

The First Day of School (was almost a week ago...) !

Yeah, I'm a little behind here.  Which is par for the course, I'd say! 

Stomper has begun 2nd grade.  He has the much-revered Mrs. Lloyd, and I'm so happy for him because she's known far and wide as (and I quote), "The nicest teacher on the planet."  It thrills me how much Stomper loves going to school.  He even asked, one evening last week, if he could go to bed early because he was ready for the next day to start.  I go to bed too late every night for the opposite reason! 

Here is a nice picture of Stomper on his first day:

(Bitty doesn't start school until after Labor Day, but she's so excited that she wears her backpack everywhere, including to bed once.)

And here is a not-so-nice picture of him, which I think fits the 2nd-grade-boy image perfectly:

May he never make that face at the reportedly very nice Mrs. Lloyd.  Man, I hope this year goes well for him.  He is finally in the same class as one of his best friends in the neighborhood, and the boys are notoriously silly when they're together.  I was anxious on the first morning as Stomper chose to sit by him as well as two or three other good but occasionally spastic boys.  I almost intervened but figured Mrs. Lloyd has seen her share of 7 year old boys and can probably manage the situation.  Besides, when I asked the friend how class was after the first day he excitedly told me, "I sat by Stomper and I didn't go Cuckoo!" All right! So far, so good, so it would seem. 

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bitty's Birthday: Death by Glitter

It's only once in a little girl's lifetime that she turns 5 years old. And to celebrate properly you really need a lot of glitter.  Oh, and some sparkles too.  I don't think there was a single person at our house last Saturday who wasn't sparkling in some way by the time they left.  It was a beautiful thing, really.  That is unless you had aspirated some of the glitter, which can be unpleasant.  But oh we had a marvelous time.

The theme for the party was all about fairies - everyone got to start out by decorating their own set of fairy wings.  (There were some dragon wings available for those opposed to calling themselves a fairy.  If you know what I mean.) Crowns and wands were available as well.  We hired this awesome face painter to come and do some seriously fancy facial decorations.  I was a little nervous that I forgot to tell any of the kids' parents about the face paint - I wasn't too sure how they'd react when they picked up their once-clean/now completely-covered-in-face-paint child.  Especially the boy who wanted to be a dragon; his face was so green that I'm sure he's still sporting some green eyelids today.  But he looked great!  (Our camera was acting up so I'll have to see if my mom caught a shot of him.) We loved the face painter.  Bitty was so attached to her butterfly that she cried her eyes out at bath time that night and she tearfully said, "Good bye, butterfly!  I'm going to miss you!  I know you'll always be with me!"  Sweet. 

The best part for me was that I made very good use of the crazy overgrown wilderness at the back of our yard.  It's really a mess back there, but kids have always loved playing back there.  So on Friday night I went and cleared a path through the growth.  Then I got a whole bunch of stuff I had either made or borrowed from my nieces' "little things" collection and set up little tableau's of fairy life all along the path.  There was the fireplace with rocks around it where fairies gathered in the evenings to tell stories.  There was the rocking chair with a basket of knitting at its feet.  The tea table all set for tea.  Oh  my gosh, it was so much fun.  We told the kids that fairies lived in our back yard (a few of them really bought into it and were quite distressed that they didn't get to see the fairies themselves!) and they could go on a little walk and see where they lived.  They made fairy bread (bread & butter, cut out with cookie cutters and topped with colorful sprinkles) and took it as a gift for the fairies.  Actually, I haven't cleaned up yet and there are little piles of very sprinkled, very mushy bread and butter still out in the yard.  It was a kill.

What's amazing to me about birthday parties is that they don't seem to obey the laws of the space/time continuum.  I have never thrown a party without either a) planning just a few simple things and yet running out of time to do them or b) planning a ton of stuff, working so hard to make sure there's enough to do and the kids are done with it all in about 25 minutes, leaving you with 1 hour and 35 minutes to fill.  Guess which group we fit into. Yep - at 10:45 I had 10 little faces looking at me like, "O.K. lady, what else you got?"  Luckily I have no qualms about having the birthday girl open presents in the middle of the party, leaving my dad enough time to zip over to Little Ceasar's for a stack of cheap pizza.  THAT will keep kids entertained!  And then all you have to do is top it all off with the cake and ice cream and by the time that's done, parents start wandering in and you can send everyone home.

But let's not skimp on the cake details.  I would like you to know that I love to make cake.  I keep thinking that I'm pretty good at it.  Guess what.  I'm really not, especially kids' cakes.  Theme cakes. I suck at those.  I thought I was being all clever with an idea to take two round cakes and turn them into fairy wings.  I made purple frosting, I decorated the wings with berries like the patterns on a butterfly, I even put a little dolly on top to make the "fairy wing" illusion complete.  Sounds cute, right?  Well, it wasn't.  Now, I'm sure that the problems began early on when I experimented with both the recipe and the coloring of the cake.  Bitty wanted "A Strawberry Cake."  I hate those strawberry cake mixes, so I thought I'd just add some jam to the batter.  Well, turns out it takes a damn LOT of jam to make the batter taste like strawberry.  Enough jam, it turns out, to turn your cake into something with the consistency of a wet sponge. After it's cooked, that is.  Oh well.  Also, I have no experience using high quality food coloring - I had no idea how potent that stuff is so Bitty's cake was so dark pink it was a little unnerving to actually eat.  Oh well, the kids didn't seem to notice!  (The grownups definitely did, but were all very nice and said nothing.)

So yes, we had a lovely party.  Most of all, I was so so proud of our little Bitty.  She worked so hard to be a happy birthday hostess and she did great.  It's not easy being the birthday girl!  The day before the party I was talking to her about being grateful for the gifts you are given, no matter what.  I asked her what she would say if someone gave her something she didn't really like.  She thought for a moment and then replied, "I would say, 'Thank you very much for the present and I like so many things about you but I don't like that present.'"  Well, no, not exactly what I was looking for, but I think our chat really helped. Not that she didn't like any of the gifts - everyone was so nice and gave great things - but she was just a pleasant, grown-up little gal and we had zero fits of sobbing, which, frankly, I was totally expecting.  Good job, little Bitty.  I love you like crazy and am so excited for the year ahead!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Wrong Wrinkles

I had the chance to speak in church today, and since the talk I wrote covered some thoughts that I've been meaning to blog about, I thought I'd just post the talk here.  Also, a Mr. Irvine requested it, and when Mr. Irvine asks, I do it! 

Several months ago I was driving along in our car and came to a stop light.  I took the opportunity to flip down the little mirror in my visor and slap on a little last minute lip gloss or something like that.  I looked in the mirror and was horrified with the discovery I made.   I had the wrong wrinkles.  I looked closely and there they were – the exactly wrong wrinkles.  I mean, I am getting older and I have accepted the fact that I will wrinkle up a bit here and there as life goes on.  But in my mind I envisioned those wonderful crinkly laugh lines that happy people develop after smiling too much all their lives.  I’m a happy person, right?  I thought I had every right to expect those wrinkles.  But I don’t have those wrinkles.  I have these two miserable little creases right between my eyes from scowling too much.  Also I have developed a slew of streaks across my forehead from furrowing my brow; either in anger or confusion, and believe me, I hadn't planned on spending me thirties being angry and confused.  Alas, there they are.

I thought a lot about those wrinkles.  Where did I go wrong in missing the “cute wrinkle” boat? I’m kidding of course, but it did start me thinking about hard “furrow your brow” parts of life. I realized that for me, on my path right now, what was frustrating and what I really didn’t expect was how difficult parenting is.  I mean, this is really really hard.  I know, I’m kind of being a baby – I’m so blessed with a happy marriage, a good home, plenty to eat and wear and so many things that so many people are without.  And yet, parenting is not what I expected.  I didn’t know that having three little darlings would mean I’d be engaged in a major uphill battle day after day after day.  I didn’t picture those times of trying to cook a supposedly delicious and healthy meal with one hand, a baby whining on my hip and pulling my hair while one big kid tells me dinner smells bad and the other is crying because her pants are the wrong color.  And bedtime was ½ an hour ago.  I mean, I had always really wanted kids; I thought I’d be a fantastic mother who read with her kids every night and played games and did crafts with them.  We’d cuddle close and lie on our backs in the grass and look for shapes in the clouds. I just didn’t expect that they wouldn’t want to do those things with me and that doing happy nice things would sometimes be a battle royale, not to mention doing all the other stuff I am responsible for.  Thus the wrinkles.  And a few gray hairs.

I have a dear friend who used to live in this ward.  She, like so many others, bought a house and moved away.  I went to visit her in Bountiful shortly after she moved a came upon a rather wonderful insight.  My friend had bought her house from someone who had decorated the walls of the home with vinyl letter stickers.  You know, a pretty script stating “families are forever,” under which could be hung a family portrait.  Nice.  Fine. Unless you do the lettering in a deep and somewhat threatening scarlet color, use a large bold print and plaster the phrase, “LOVE IS SPOKEN HERE,” right over the dining room table.  I’m sure the cute mommy who put that up there was just doing what I’m trying to do – get her kids to be nice to each other every once in a while, but somehow the once beloved words of a tender primary song turned into a scary “I’m getting yelled at!” kind of feeling.  My friend went at the stubborn red letters with a razor blade the first chance she got.  Finally, with a little elbow grease, she was able to remove most of the stickers, down to two last letters.   What remained on her wall were the “O” and the “K” from the middle.  Well, that changed everything.  Now the wall just says, “ok!” It’s saying, “Hey, I know you’re trying, and some things you’ve gotten right and some things you haven’t, but you’re still trying.  Ok.  Good job.”  I love that big red OK above her table.

Most of us are familiar with this quote from President Hinckley:
"Life is just like an old time rail journey ... delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride."

How I love this quote.  Despite the bad wrinkles and all, would I trade my life for someone else’s? Never. Who would I be if I were not struggling so hard to be a good parent?  Certainly not the self that I have come to love and enjoy being, plus I’d miss all the lovely lovely parts of parenting, of which there are so many. As much as I did not expect the hard things, neither did I expect the overwhelming joy that my children bring me.

So I struggle along. And it is the struggle itself that is so vital to our purpose here on earth.  It’s not easy, don’t we know it, no matter what our stories are.  But I invite you, in your dark and brow-furrowing moments, to remember what you’re doing here.   The point is to keep going, to turn to the Lord with an open heart and open arms and say, “O.K.”  I will do what you’re asking.  I will trust in your beautiful and infinite wisdom and keep going.  I will be grateful for those moments when I am blessed with the joy of things being the way I hoped they would be, and I will also be grateful for the times when they just aren’t.  

I will remember what Joseph learned, that these things shall be for my good.  I will remember what Nephi taught, to press forward with a brightness of hope and a love of God and of all men. I will savor the vistas.  More importantly, I can savor the blessings that come from the challenges and be grateful for the path that I haven’t always chosen but that I’m blessed to walk upon.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Now THAT was Awesome

I have been waiting for today for like four months or something.  I can't remember when it was that I got a message from the kids' elementary school announcing that they could get discounted tickets to The Lion King when it came to Salt Lake.  It was in the spring sometime.  My friend Terri Lyn and I got on the list right away.  I'm so very very glad we did!  Tonight was the night and it was incredible!  The opening number alone was so amazing that I found myself crying a little I was so overcome with the power of all those beautiful people, all the powerful top-of-their-lungs singing, the magnificent set and costumes...the energy in that room blew me away.  We had awesome seats, we got to be right by a percussionist right in the balcony. My kids, Stomper and Bitty, were so good.  They were excited, they sat still, they didn't misbehave in the slightest.  And speaking of behaving, little Bundle stayed home with her daddy and though she required some high maintenance, did not totally freak out.  She went to sleep for him.  Miracle!  Best night ever.  I'm on such a high!  I so wish I could go see it again tomorrow!  Thank you, creative people of the planet, for making that show what it was. 

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Welcome to the Family

It's been a long time coming, and long ago if you had told me just how much I would want one of these, I would have scoffed.  Now, I couldn't be any happier. We have a new and very welcome member of the family:

2007 Kia Sedona - name to be decided.  
Stomper has suggested "Ole Bessie." Bitty is leaning towards "Violet" in honor of my 1976 Volvo wagon which I drove in high school.  I loved Violet.  She died in my arms one stormy winter night....but I digress.  That's a story for another time.

 Isn't our Kia so shiny and blue and clean?  I am cringing at the thought of what the floor may possibly look like one year from now; I'm sure the debris will contain at least 50% french fries, same as my purse. But I will do my best not take for granted this currently clean vehicle. 

I'm so grateful to not have to buckle three kids in a squashed row of carseats I can't even tell you.  And look:  here's Bitty demonstrating the automatic doors:

My life has just gotten  much much easier.  Thank you.

Still Recovering?

Since we have now been back from our family camping trip for about 10 days, I don't think I can use the "we're still getting our feet under us again" excuse as to why I haven't blogged about it yet.  I mean, don't get me wrong, it DID take a few days to be up and running, but 10?  I don't think so.  I think I'll chalk it up once again to the very handy and ever-present excuse of having a 1 year old.  Not much bloggin' here.  I guess it's also because the computer is right by the kids' bedroom door, which they insist upon being open once they go to bed.  I can't blog during the day because Bundle won't let me touch the computer without being an active participant, and I can't blog at night because if the big kids get a glimpse of me I am instantly under fire with a barrage of, "Mom!?  Will you get me ________?"  "Mom!  I don't like _________."  "Mom!? Could I please ________?"  So I steer clear of the back of the house for a long time in the evenings.  And generally I go to bed before I ever make it back here. 

Well, now that there has been an entire paragraph of excuses as to why I haven't been blogging much, wouldja like to hear about the camping trip?  I was so happy that the entire Preslar clan (minus Rick's big boys who we missed) made it up into the Uinta Mountains for a little old fashioned Preslar Family Camping.  Most of us were slumming it in tents but Mom and Dad had their well-loved trailer plus Rick and Tonja have a new big trailer too, so the rest of us could at least wash our hands and sit on something comfortable from time to time.  We really had a good time - the mountains are so lovely and we enjoyed cooking outdoors together.  There were wild flowers everywhere and the streams were just begging for the kids to come splash in them.  Which they did.  I would say there were really only two problems.  1.  The mosquitoes.  Dang those little varmints.  2.  Bundle.  Dang that little baby.  A kid who can walk, prefers to eat dirt and rocks over anything else, and has no sense of self preservation?  Yeah!  Let's take her camping!  Oh yeah, add in the fact that she was super grumpy and wouldn't let anyone else get near her for the most part and you have yourself one exciting camping trip.  I was very glad to come home.  I mean, you can throw in all the wonderful family members, yummy dutch oven meals and beautiful scenery you want, and when you've got a baby like that on your hands, camping is just something you get through until it's over. 

I'm really excited to go again.  In about two years.  Love the Preslars. Love camping.  Don't love camping with Bundle.  

Wow.  That sounded grumpy.  Here's what I did love.  Kids going for rides in the back of grandpa's truck.  Things getting roasted over a fire.  Not seeing my kids for hours; just hearing them shouting, splashing and playing happily with cousins.  Smelling yummy mountain air.  Camping is lovely.  I will enjoy it again one day.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Dear Beverly

Tonight in preparation for story time with the kids I was perusing our selection of picture books, feeling uninspired by any of the regulars.  I realized that it had been a while since we had done that wonderful "chapter a night" thing.  It's so fun to pick out a really delicious chapter book and read a bit to the kids every night.  I remember the practice fondly from my childhood - I think my favorite ever was Danny the Champion of the World, by Roald Dahl.  I have loved reading some of his others to my kids - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Fantastic Mr. Fox. Wonderful. Well, I came upon Ellen Tibbets by Beverly Cleary and knew that was the one to start.  Anything by Beverly is always a good pick.  She has such a way with knowing kids.  I remember reading all about Ramona, one of Mrs. Cleary's star characters, and being amazed to find out that Ramona felt just the same way about the world that I did. 

So I get the kids into bed and flip open the cover, and what did I see?  Mrs. Cleary's autograph.  I have always remembered the day that my mom took us to a book store to meet her, and I remember standing in line and getting my book signed, but I had forgotten which book it was.  Look, here's a picture of the day:

Don't I look just mortified?  I was so embarrassed that my mom was taking pictures - but now, thank heavens that she did!  So, there's Beverly Cleary, signing my copy of Ellen Tibbits, and do you know what she wrote?  "To Rachel, who looks like Ramona."  Can you believe that?  The creator of one of my favorite characters of all time thought I looked like her.  What an honor.  At least, you'd think so.  At the time, I, much like Ramona, was quite jealous of my older sister and was horrified that I reminded Mrs. Cleary of the dreaded little sister.  I wanted to be the big sister, Beezus.  (Nickname for Beatrice, for those of you as yet unaquainted with the Quimby family.)  Anyway.  In my fury and shame at being yet again placed on the "little sister" shelf, look at what I did:

Dreadful.  And hilarious, I guess.  A keepsake, for sure.  I should probably frame the page along with the photo.  But only after I finish reading the book to the kids!  Well, dear Beverly, just so you know, I have always remembered the compliment you paid me that day and grew to appreciate my resemblance to your wonderfully awkward, getting-into-scrapes heroine.  I even named myself "Quimby" after her when I had to come up with a camp nickname for a summer.  You and Ramona are dearly loved by me and always will be. 

In Her Happy Place

Bitty.  Dancing.  Happy. 

Which makes the increasing price of her dance classes almost worth it.  I say "almost" because there were several weeks in the spring when she flatly refused to take part in the class at all and we thought about quitting.  Instead we just gave it a break for a month or two and now look. Joy!  I've been debating about what to do come fall - the busy girl will be starting soccer for the first time (a practice and a game every week) plus full-day school for the first time and I don't think I should tax her resources by adding one more thing to her schedule.  But then I saw these pictures Troy took of her last dance class of the summer and I'm heartsick thinking of not continuing with our beloved Miss Kim!  What to do!?!