Mar 21, 2014

Words of Wisdom

This is another post about my mom. Sorry. I'm not a very fun blogger these days. Sucks to be you! But I promise this will be the last post about death for awhile! (maybe.)

My mom died at 12:18 a.m. on March 21st, 2013.  We thought maybe she held out for 18 minutes because she wanted to die on the first day of spring.  (Sometimes you try to find solace and meaning in the meaningless when terrible things happen.)  Unfortunately, the first day of Spring last year came early.  It was March 20th.  Some weird calendar anomaly. She missed it by 18 minutes.

Also, I want to note that she did not die with a smile on her face, nor did she make a rainbow appear over her house the day she died. It was just a normal, stupid, ugly, cold, gray, Utah winter day. (Months before she died, I demanded she make a rainbow appear for me since she subjected me to the depressing song "I'll Build You a Rainbow" multiple times throughout my childhood. Alas, no rainbow.)

Her death was not pretty. It wasn't quick. It wasn't painless. It wasn't quiet or peaceful.  It wasn't easy on her. Or us. And it wasn't (at least for me) a spiritual experience.  It was just terrible. The days leading up to it?  Pretty terrible too.  Everything that came after?  Terrible.  I'm just going to go ahead and emphasize again that it sucked and we don't even say "suck" in our family.  (Okay, fine.  I do.)

FORTUNATELY, when I think of my mom, I don't (usually) think of her death.  Fortunately, I have many more pleasant things to remember her by.  Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the 'words of wisdom' she left implanted in my brain.  These are a few of her common sayings that come readily to mind:

"Everything looks brighter in the morning."
I spent many nights as a kid curled up in her bed crying my eyes out about the injustices of the world.  She would listen patiently, try to get me to calm down, and remind me that everything always looks brighter in the morning.  She was (usually) right.

"Waste not, want not"
Her parents lived through the depression and she absorbed their thrifty habits and fear of debt.  I remember her cleaning out jars of food with a spatula so as not to waste a drop.  She told us how her dad would add a little bit of water to the ketchup bottle to get all of it out.  And I don't think she ever threw away a butter wrapper (on the rare occasions we had real butter) without first scraping it off with a butter knife.  (Oh, and she always ate her sandwich crusts.  Gross.)

Okay, this one doesn't actually fit into the "Words of Wisdom" category. I just heard it A LOT.  But I could never take her seriously, because she was always half-laughing while chastising me!  P.S.  My sister Jenny started calling her Fae in High School--I was just following her example.

"It takes two to fight"
She said this to me each and every time I tattled on Jenny. So I probably heard it 10,000 times.

"The cure for despair is action!"
She got this one from Dr. Laura, and repeated it to me often when I was a teenager. I firmly believe that SOMETIMES, the cure for despair is a nap.  Just my opinion though...

"I love you the most!"
When I was little she'd hold her fingers close together and say "I love you this much!" while slowly spreading them out until her arms were outstretched.  Then she'd give me a hug and let me know that she would always, ALWAYS love me the most.

"Say three nice things!!!"
My mom was a huge proponent of healthy self-esteem.  If she ever caught you insulting someone, she demanded you immediately say three nice things about the person "to repair the damage to their psyche".  (Brandon always avoided this consequence by muttering insults to me just under her hearing level.  She was pretty deaf...!)  She was such a great person.

{It makes me think of what I repeat to my kids:
"Quit being obnoxious!"
"Stop wrestling!"
"Quit being annoying!!!"
Is this what I want them to hear when they think of me?  Absolutely not. Clearly, I have some work to do if I'm going to live up to her standard. }

I know there are a bunch more of her sayings that I'm forgetting, but these are some of the classics.
And there are things she didn't have to say that I just knew about her.  She had great faith and loved her Savior.  She was constantly serving people. And she loved, LOVED her kids and grandkids and husband more than anything.

Love you Mommy!  You're my idol and I miss you every day!
I need to go say three nice things to my boys now.

Mar 17, 2014

Book Review: Montmorency by Eleanor Updale

Back in 2012, Max got a recommendation from our librarian to check out a book called "Montmorency" by Eleanor Updale.  It was the first in a series and he read it and loved it.  

Max loved it so much he convinced Doug to read it, Doug loved it and told me to read it.  
We were all hooked.  
We subsequently checked out the next three books in the series only to discover Book 4, "Montmorency's Revenge" ended in a major cliff-hanger, and (horror!) there was no fifth book.  In desperation, I wrote this e-mail:

Hello Ms. Updale!
My husband, 10-year-old son and I recently discovered and read your Montmorency series.  We're big fans and after the cliff-hanger at the end of book four, went straight to the Internet to find out when book 5 will be published.  Please tell me there will be a book 5?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?  You can't leave Montmorency...(edited to prevent spoilers)!  How about a short story?  A novella?  A single chapter?  A blog post?  We'll take anything we can get!!!

Emily Warner and Maxwell 

Amazingly, SHE WROTE BACK and let me know she was having problems with the publisher but was working on getting book five out!

A few weeks ago, we heard from her again--this time with exciting news!!

Well, at last it’s out.  The fifth Montmorency book, Montmorency Returns is now available to buy as an ebook or as a paperback, but only from Amazon.  The good news is that the paperback has better paper and better print than any of the previous editions, and all the previous books are available in a similar format, so it is possible to buy the whole series in a matching edition.
Thank you so much for your patience.  The delay in publication has been as annoying for me as it was for you, and I do hope that your love of Montmorency has not gone off the boil in the meantime.
You can buy the ebook here,
And the paperback here:
I’d be really grateful if you could spread the word about the new book.  You can find out more about it on my website
Very best wishes,
Eleanor Updale
I love that there are authors out there who take the time to connect with their fans! I went straight to Amazon and am now the proud owner of the complete series in a matching set. I love matching sets!  

If you're looking for a fun adventure set in England, this is the series for you.  Although Max read these when he was 10, I would probably recommend them for 12+.  But you can read them first and be the judge of whether you want your (younger) kids to read them.  I remember them being very clean, but it's been a few years.

Here's a description from the author's website:
Montmorency is set between 1875 and 1880. This is the story of a small-time crook whose life is transformed after an accident that nearly kills him. An ambitious doctor (Robert Farcett) takes on the task of rebuilding his body, and shows him off at meetings of a scientific society. At those meetings, Montmorency learns about the new underground network of sewers under London. In prison, he plans a new life, stealing things all over London, and getting away through the smelly underground passageways. When he is released, he takes on two identities: Scarper in the Dark underground world, and Montmorency in high society. The book is all about his struggle to prevent each of his identities spoiling everything for the other.