Monday, October 3, 2016

Monday Memories - Summer Magic from A- Z

This summer Joe and Ande's family came and spent several weeks.  The Follett's and Abe and Grace's family came to spend time, too.  Here is the cliff notes version -- from A to Z -- of our wonderful month together.

Atlas and Aunt Tracy at the pirate party

Atlas Lincoln -- 3 years old.  If Atlas knows a ride in Grandpa's jeep is in his future, he will do anything happily.  Even take naps.  Atlas was a great little peacemaker.  He would play with whoever was alone and share what he had.  One day Ezra was swinging from the tramp trying to get down.  The chair that the boys used to climb up and down had been knocked over and Ezra was stuck.  He swung there and cried.  Atlas, who was playing with the hose, looked up and saw Ezra's dilemma and ran to him.  He tried to get the chair under him but Ezra’s swinging legs kept knocking it over.  Atlas looked around frantically for other solutions; he finally tried lifting him back up on the tramp. Nothing worked.  Cali went to both of their rescue and I believe Atlas was more relieved than Ezra.

Another time, Zeph couldn’t get in the back of the jeep.  First Atlas tried to pull him up, but when that didn't work then he jumped down and ran around and pushed him in from behind.

I watched both of these from the kitchen window and it felt as good as if the sunshine was warming my heart.  

Another time Henry couldn’t climb the haystack and was yelling at the top of his lungs “HELP!”  Atlas was clear over by the pig pen talking and walking with Grace, but he stopped and said, “Wait!  I need to go help Henry.”  He ran over and pushed Henry from behind.

The boy is named correctly.

Now it should be mentioned that Zeph got an enormous goose egg from Atlas throwing a car at him and Atlas also bit every single boy at least once, but when he was good, he was so very, very good!



Little Winnie was born June 24 and Joe gave her a name and blessing while they were here.  As Ande recorded, "'You'll be guided by your ancestors.  You'll have a keen intellect and a loving heart.' Happy blessing day Winifred.  It was a great day.  Your dad, Uncle Abe, Uncle Ray, Grandpa, and Bishop Knowles blessed you.  We were reminded again and again how special you are."

It was a special day for a special little girl.

Flower and Zeph

We got a new kitten while the kids were here, partly for them and partly for our mice.  Zeph immediately became the kitten's mother.  He spent all one day in the garage tending her.  He’d come in to give us updates on her, but she’d cry so he’d run right back out to her saying, ‘She needs me.”  Everybody needs to be needed.

Grandpa and Ezra

Living near a large dairy and a huge feedlot, we have lots and lots and lots of flies in the summer.  We try our best to keep them outside.  They're very annoying, even disgusting.  Earlier in the summer, Ray helped Calvin replace the sliding door in the dining room with a French door so that the grandkids would have an easier time opening and closing the door.  We also hoped it would help more flies outside..  

It did make it much easier for the kids to go in and out and that was very nice.  The flies?  Well, they liked the new door and came in as well, but Ezra loved to help Grandpa swat them.  A flyswatter and moving flies is better than any toy.

Ande and Ezra

Ezra Wilhelm - 21 months.   He was affectionately referred to as Pig-pen by his mother.  He was ALWAYS dirty.  He had no fears so he had no natural boundaries.  He usually had chicken manure between his toes (one time the older boys locked him in the chicken coop and I briefly considered it as a long-term holding pen for him so I didn’t have to fret over losing him in the canal) and his blonde, curly hair almost always had sand in it.  It was so fun to watch him freely explore.  

Ezra grunted to let us know he needed something.  He was a happy and willing buddy to Grandpa and, much to Grandpa's pleasure, even said "Grandpa" as one of his few words.  Grandpa and I affectionately called him “The Bruiser” because he would push, bite, or hit to get to the top of the pile.  He may have been the youngest little boy, but he doesn't know it and is determined to be a part. 

Ezra was such a fun little companion and I loved having him toddle along behind me and keep me company as we did chores or cleaned house.  He would shake his finger and grunt and that meant, "One more!”  One more swing, one more ride, one more candy, one more anything.  What a fun little boy.

Zeph in the blackberry patch

When the kids were hungry they'd pick carrots from the garden, blackberries from the patch, or apples from the garden and eat them.  Nobody said, "After you eat your supper" or "You didn't eat your breakfast," we just let the forage.

If I needed something for supper I'd describe what I needed from the garden and the little boys would go pick it for me.  It was pretty sweet seeing them run to the garden and then race each other back to the kitchen with their arms full.

I never had to gather eggs once while they were here, of course I didn't get many eggs either.  They loved to feed them to Dan or the kittens or take them out on the tramp while they jumped.

Hazel Grace and Winifred Grace

These two little girls share the same middle name and they're both named after Grace:

Hazel Grace -- 10 months.  She has beefy little thighs that sit in the splits.  She has the biggest and cheesiest grin and 1 ½ teeth.  She likes real food more than baby food and drinks out of a sippy cup.  She eats cheerios and is happy to be held by others if her mom is out of the room, but if Grace is close by, Hazel only wants her.  Hazel can go long periods of time without nursing so Ande and I kept her while Abe and Grace went to Tri-Cities to do a temple session.  She is so easy going and such an easy keeper; she makes you feel like a million bucks because she smiles that grin whenever you look in her direction.

Winifred Grace -- 2 months.  It was fun to watch her grow and change in the month she was here. It was so gradual and amazing to watch. She came with little skinny cheeks and left with plump ones. She loves her arms to be swaddled tightly, and to be held close with a steady, firm pat on her bottom.  Like Hazel, she is happy to be held by others but prefers her mother.  At night, she slept on a blanket on the floor in the living room.  In the day, she slept wherever we could keep her from being stepped on.  Her natural smell is sweet and baby-like and so good.  She coos, smiles, twists her fingers, and sucks her fists. As a former finger sucker herself, Ande is hoping she finds her thumb or fingers soon.


Henry Calvin - 2 ½ years old.  He gets so excited about everything and runs everywhere on his tiptoes.  His enthusiasm is palpable.  He learned new tricks from his older cousins – he can now jump high on the trampoline and ride the scooters.  As he rode the scooter, he would stretch one leg back, stretch his face to the sky, and yell, “Seize the Day!”  He also has a sweet tooth that cannot be tamed.  The day his parents went to the temple he began to cry and I suggested we to inside and get a treat.  He wailed, “I neeeeeeeeeeed chocolate.”  He does love it and twice his fingers were caught in mousetraps as he tried to steal the chocolate chip from them.  

Henry is eager to make others happy.  His personality helped to smooth squabbles and make a compatible foursome with Levin, Zeph, and Atlas.  


The freezer was full of popsicles, fudgesicles, creamsicles and homemade yogurt pops.  The kids ate their fill daily.  (It helps we have a 22 foot chest freezer that they can reach into by themselves, though more than once I worried about a kitten getting stuck inside.)


This jeep is worth it's weight in gold.  It provides countless hours moving and still.  When it's not moving the kids play in it -- sometimes it's a tank, sometimes a boat, and other times a jeep.  Always they're on the lookout for "the key" that will start it on their own.

Nap time:  Henry, me, Zeph

a few days later

One morning we played Red Light, Green Light, One, Two, Three.  Atlas was having a good time controlling our movements by being in charge.  He put his arms down to his side signaling Green Light and our little herd of elephants thundered to him.  The look of sheer panic that went across his face was priceless and he turned and ran as fast as he could towards the orchard to keep from being trampled.  Levin, the rule-keeper, ran after him telling him, "That’s not how you play!"  He tackled him as he tried to tag him.  Zeph wasn’t far behind and he landed on top of the other two.  Ezra and Henry came up behind.  I pulled them all apart and suggested we play a “softer” game, i.e., Ring Around the Rosie.  On the second round, Zeph came up while I went down and I ended up with one humongous black eye.

Atlas and Levin

Levin - 5 years old.  Levin hums and sings to himself non-stop.  One day he hummed “Whistle While You Work” for an hour and a half as he played with Legos.  It reminds me of Grandpa Payne, Calvin's dad, who always hummed or whistled.  It's so pleasant to hear.  I always know where he is.

Levin has endless energy and a sensitive heart.  He also sets the pace.  When we went swimming in the canal, he was the first to jump in, the only one to duck his head and swim under the foot bridge and the one that was willing to explore the jungle weeds and look for alligators.  The little boys all look up to him and ask him to build them something with Legos.  He patiently builds them and then gives them back to him to play with.  He and Henry both patiently helped me to sort all of our legos by colors into little drawers (Cali's brilliant idea) so that they can more easily find parts and build real things instead of just miniature towers.

Levin will also eat anything.  He never fusses about food and makes meal time pleasant because he's always complimentary and willing.

It was also his idea to face paint the boys faces so they could be different characters in their games of pretend.  He loves imaginative play.

Levin pulling Ezra and Atlas in the wagon to get another load of sticks
Zeph pushing the wheelbarrow

Atlas putting the school supplies on the conveyor belt at WalMart

Several mornings we worked outside raking and hauling branches and leaves to the burn pile.  I told the boys that some people in the world didn’t have homes anymore because mean people had taken them away.  I explained the people either had to leave their countries or be killed so they went to live in other countries.  We talked about how they didn’t have clothes or food, color crayons, paper, or even a backpack so they could go to school and learn.  I suggested that we earn money to help the people.

After we worked, Grandpa paid us money out of his change can on the top of his dresser.  On the last day, we went to WalMart and bought supplies.  I took the boys in twos.  They picked out crayons, paints, a lunchbox, glue, pencils, rulers, Kleenexes, and a backpack.  The boys handed the cashier their dimes and quarters (we got the same cashier each time) and told her, "These are for the poor people.  The bad men took their houses and they don’t have any money and can’t go to school.”

It was a great little activity.  I was proud of them.  I want to do a service activity with them every year.

Atlas, Zeph, Levin, and Henry watching a movie  (Hazel and Winnie are in their beds)

Calvin took Grace, Ande, and Cali out to dinner one night while I stayed home with the kids.   

I wanted to whisper to Calvin before they left, "Have meaningful conversation while you're gone. You only have so many uninterrupted opportunities with the girls," but I forgot.

A few hours later, after most of the kids were asleep, Calvin and the girls came in the door laughing and lighthearted.  Their conversations had not been meaningful -- Calvin picked the topic -- but it had rejuvenated and bound them all even more tightly together.  And that is but one reason, sometimes you just need to leave the mom home!   

me, Atlas, Hazel, Winnie, Henry

At times it was utter chaos as 5 little boys and two little girl babies cried to have their needs met.   But in the middle of all that bedlam, there were such sweet little moments:

~little boys riding their scooters so fast and fearlessly outside on the cement.  I never tired of watching them or ceased to be amazed, and grateful, that they didn’t crash or maim each other

~swimming in the canal and watching the boys get braver and braver in the cold water and then lie in the sand to warm up

~watching the little girls lying on the blanket in the grass mesmerized by the sunshine coming through the fluttering leaves overhead

~rocking, rocking, and rocking each grandchild -- sometimes through the night, sometimes in the early morning, sometimes in the evening

~reading scriptures and having family night with such enthusiastic learners

When the chaos would get really chaotic, you could find Cali sitting in a lawn chair at the corner of the house where she could keep tabs on the kids and crocheting wildly, or find Grace hidden back in the family room folding piles and piles of laundry. We each had to find a zen place at some point in the day.

Walking the Plank:  Zeph, Aunt Melanie, Levin, and Atlas

Ray’s sisters, Tracy and Melanie put on a pirate party for the kids – complete with jagged-edged pants, striped shirts, bandannas, pirate tattoos, eye patches, telescopes, keys, earrings, sashes, swords, weapons.  It was just the best.  They turned the jeep into the pirate ship, walked the plank, bombed the bad pirates with water balloons, hunted for treasure, popped bubbles with swords, pinned the eye-patch on the pirate, and ate cheese/crackers/meat/ and blue jello with gummy fish and octopi.  Tracy wore a red velvet wench dress and Melanie carried a stuffed parrot around on her shoulder.  It was an incredible party.  Such love and fun those two women gave  not only to their nephews, but all of us and it was greatly appreciated.  


We had plenty of both and they were needed to build the trust and companionship and influence that we wanted.

Hazel, Grace, Winnie, Ande, Cali, Tracy, Melanie, Zoe, Abby, Emily, Hannah, Jenny, Donna

Cali organized a Family and Friends-that-are-like-family retreat in Snohomish.  We had a wonderful, wonderful time.  It was restorative and healing, energizing and fulfilling.  Some of the highlights of that retreat were:

1.     Favorite things swap.  Each woman brought three copies of their favorite thing.  For example, Jenny brought 3 wooden boxes she’d made.  Then we drew names out of a bowl and got 3 items from different people in the room.  It was so fun to learn from each other about ourselves and go home with some new items to enjoy.

2.    The meaningful conversation.  We took turns preparing the meals.  We sat and ate as a group and answered a question such as:  high light and low light of the year, or a place you’d like to travel to.

3.    Watching the women share and learn from each other.  There was a lot of giving and taking advice/helping each other with projects or babies/listening to stories and events from each other’s lives.

4.    Working on projects and spending time being creative.

While the women were at the retreat, Calvin, Ray, and Abe cared for Zeph, Levin, Atlas, Henry and Ezra.  They were incredible and if we had pictures of their activities they would be of Calvin, Ray, Zeph, Atlas, and Levin at the Ellensburg Fair, and Abe, Henry, Ezra, and my great-nephew Austin touring Fort Lewis and learning about Army life.  These men gave us a wonderful gift to socialize and create and rest.

Ezra, Henry, Atlas, Levin and Zeph


Each morning for the week that all of the kids were here together, I planned a different activity.  The first morning was in the sand pile.  It’s big enough, and we had enough small trucks, they could play without much incident (except sand throwing – that always seems to happen).  Levin suggested they play Construction and that I be the boss.  I said I didn’t want to be the boss, so he suggested I be the master instead and they would be the slaves (they had been reading about Joseph in Egypt in their family scripture study).  I said that was worse and that I would rather be the boss.  I was hired.

I asked what a boss did and he said I should fire them if they didn’t do things right.  A little later Atlas did something he shouldn’t so I said, “Atlas, you’re FIRED!”  He did not like being fired.  He was good and mad.  We made him sit on the ground until we counted to 10 and then he could join the work crew again. Later in the day, and even throughout the week, when Atlas would be guilty of something he'd say, “Don’t fire me, ‘k Grandma?”

He did get fired a few more times, but sitting and counting to 10 always seemed to fix the little problems I was in charge of solving.


Our home is modest - 3 bedrooms and 1 1/2 bathrooms.  Our yard is immense.  In the summer a tent makes up for the lack of bedrooms.  I was amazed at the kids' lack of fear.  Zeph would go out to the tent by himself in the dark with a flashlight, climb into bed and read.  Perhaps equally amazing was that we could send Zeph and Atlas out to bed together and they wouldn't goof off, but would read books by flashlight and then go to sleep.  Cali and I would join them later.

The tent was warm . . . and breezy . . . and a great place to build memories and have some good conversations.  


I'll let you imagine the amount of laundry we had!  Luckily, we have good laundresses in the family and they stayed on top of it.


There was one big hole in our summer and that was Ty, Michelle, Afton, Eliza, and Kathryn weren't here.  They had lots of exciting things happening in Michelle's family (a wedding, a missionary homecoming, and two family reunions) and their time and travel funds were exhausted, but we definitely missed them and it felt vacant without them.

Clockwise:  Zeph, Levin, Atlas, Ezra

Inside this huddle is a bucket of wooly worms -- for 10 minutes a bucket of wooly worms is better than any video game.

Ezra checking on the pigs.

Chickens, pigs, steers, cats, Dan (the dog), Ezra, Zeph, Hazel, Henry, Winnie, Atlas, and Levin.  They all got along famously and entertained each other.

Joe and Ezra

Joe was able to join Ande and the kids the last week they were here.  Ezra would not leave his side. 

While Joe was here, he saw many of our tomatoes rotting on the vine in the garden.  He took it upon himself to pick, roast, and cook those tomatoes down into a wonderful pasta/pizza/marinara sauce. He made 4 large batches which means close to 70 quarts.  Not only is the sauce very, very good and sweet with the taste of garden fresh tomatoes, but his kindness makes it even sweeter.  Every time I see it on the shelf or cook with it, I smile remembering his work in our behalf.


Joseph Carl IV or Zeph - 4 years old.  He laughs easily and quickly.  He also argues or tells you something exciting with a stutter.   He is anybody's best friend and accomplice.  He taught Levin how to play Captain Hook in the orchard, helped Atlas learn to go to the tent by himself in the dark, and helped Henry conquer the scooter.  He can talk the hind-leg off a mule and it usually involves him trying to convince you why his idea is the way to do things.  It makes me and Calvin laugh to hear him.  We raised one just like him.  Since he's gone home, we find ourselves repeating Zeph-isms like: "I know, I know, I know, I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," and "Hey, I got a great idea; how 'bout you just say 'Sure!'"

Zeph likes companionship and gets lonely without it, he also likes to do chores.  Having a happy little buddy help cut and core apples, do the dishes, or feed the pigs was satisfying.  His book of choice was Go Dog Go and meal of choice noodles-n-broth.  Zeph liked familiarity and after being here a few weeks, he had wormed his way into familiarity with everyone.

It was a wonderful month of summer and family.


Michelle said...

Oh what a wonderful post! We so missed being there with everyone this summer. But reading this and seeing the pictures made me feel more a part, and filled some of the vacancy that I felt by not being there. I look forward to the next time we can all be together very much!

Rachel said...

That WAS a great post. It's fun to see how your family interacts and enjoys one another.

Kay Scott said...

Sounds like heaven on earth to me. You have a wonderful, beautiful family!!

Moses Lake Temple Project said...

Thank you Kay. Thank you very much. I still remember, and appreciate, you praying for our family many summers ago. How is your family doing?

Moses Lake Temple Project said...

Thank you Rachel! I love you.

Moses Lake Temple Project said...

Thank you Michelle. Bi love you and we missed you!