Saturday, June 25, 2011

My husband and I had a chance to do Trek this month with the youth of our ward (for those of you unfamiliar with the event, Trek is usually a three-day camping/hiking/pioneering experience to gain a deeper appreciation for the pioneers who made the long journey from Iowa to SLC to find religious freedom). I confess that I was dreading the event a little... Really only because youth kind-of terrify me. Not because they're crazy hormonal teens (well, maybe a little that), but because I find myself getting awkward and self-conscious around them again--like being the high school wallflower nerd all over again! (Which in itself is funny, because that wasn't even me when I was in high school--nerd, yes, but certainly not a wallflower). Anyway, we went, and mixed with my trepidation was some genuine excitement for the weekend.

I was not disappointed. I was thrilled, actually! It was a weekend--an experience--to savor! And I did gain a deeper appreciation for the pioneers. I did one of these when I was a teenager myself (two, actually). But I think having children of my own made all the difference. This time, as I heard how the majority of the deaths in the Martin handcart company were the young, able men--men who were doing all the work and giving all their food to their wives and children--I imagined Chad plodding through the snow with little to no sustenance, falling exhausted beneath a wagon and letting the cold lull him into a permanent sleep. We kept little journals along the way, and I wrote about my thoughts in that somber place:

"I wonder whether I could bury my sweet, perfect husband here, beneath a few inches of snow; if I could discover his cold body beside me in the night and lay there next to him until morning. How I would cry for help from the neighboring tents, and there would be no answer--everyone sick from starvation and exhaustion, without even the energy to respond to one another's tragedy. If I could rally my...whatever it was--spark, courage, something--what little of it I had left, and gather Coren and Risa to me and press on.

"And thinking on that makes me start to see other inspiration that has come to me this weekend; inspiration that I didn't recognize as such at first. But I am seeing it now. I want to go home and hug my children tightly. I want to tickle Coren and make him laugh until he has a terrible case of hiccups. I want to wake up to his yelling "Mom-Mee!" from behind his bedroom door. I want to see Risa's cheesy gap-toothed grin and feel her bury her face against my shoulder. I want to tell them I love them often every day....until they're tired of it! I want to appreciate being with them every day, just being home with them every day. I want to never, never take my little family for granted."

It was a moving family experience for me....even missing half of my family, ironically (we left the kiddos with my uncle's family). It was worth the travel and the giving up of some of our vacation time and the schedule-rearranging and the broken-down van (yep) and more. It was a wonderful trek!

....Oh, and the teenagers were great, too. I loved them! And I think they loved me--when they saw me at church, they ran up to me yelling "Ma!" in one big mass.... It's nice to be loved.

Other highlights:
--Endless snacks (our "road trip #1" snack and "pre-lunch" snack and "midnight" snack and "post-snack" snack.....)
--"You have dysentery." (Yes, I got the flu one of the nights...just to make it more authentic, you know.)
--The wind nearly blowing down our tent--and demolishing the boys' tent--one of the nights.
--All the tender couple missionaries that made Chad and I decide we want to do our mission at Martin's Cove.
--Chad's red, tear-streaked face when we crested the top of the hill during the women's pull.
--The long road home--breaking down on the highway, the ride with the highway patrolman, the tow truck, the never-ending paperwork to rent a tow trailer, etc (which was also rather fitting for the experience, right?)
--The reverent quiet of the Cove itself....and how thirteen crazy, hormonal teenagers even recognized the reverence and walked through quietly, pondering.
--The river crossing, where I actually fell (yep, in knee-high water) and Chad carried me the rest of the way.
--The testimony meeting, and Emily's tearful looking into my face across the fire (tender!)
--The other, less reverent moments, where I was reminded that, oh yeah, they are crazy hormonal teenagers... and I could laugh along.
--The extremely precarious, giant, blazing bonfires built by our resident pyromaniac, Spencer.
--The peaceful sense of just being, out in the grass and brush, dressed in our thrift-store find pioneer garb, passing deer and antelope, without the noise of traffic or the distraction of endless media options, and enjoying the feeling of it.
--My new-found resolve to not take for granted the blessings that I enjoy so abundantly because of the bitter sacrifices others were willing to make before me... as one sister missionary said, "We are who we are because they were who they were."

Friday, June 10, 2011


I am discovering oddities in myself.
Yes, I know I have my OCD things. Those I've noted.
But these.... these have crept up on me the last few weeks.

After 28 years.
Shouldn't I have noticed them before?

Oddities like....
How I catch myself counting things that are absolutely inconsequential,
Like the number of cucumber slices I put in the salad.
Or the number of children's clothing articles I fold and put away.
Or the number of morning glory weeds I dig out of the planters.
What in the world am I cataloguing these things for??

 Oddities like....
My arranging of things precisely.
Which wouldn't be odd if I was a neat-freak in other areas of life as well.
No, just certain things.
Like how my tupperware is stacked on the lazy susan.
Or how the toiletries are lined up in the bathroom cupboard.
Or which kids toys go in which bins,
When there is no set toy system.
It's just how I like these certain things to fit.

Oddities like....
How I make lists of everything.
But then I forget about most of them.
Lists for grocery shopping I use. That's fairly normal.
But to-do lists that I never actually check off?
Lists of books that I want to read....that are already sitting in my bookcase!
Lists of names for children that are not yet born,
When I probably won't like most of them by the next child anyway.
Lists of letters I need to write, but never do.
Lists of songs I love.... why? for what?

 How were these oddities born?
And how did they sneak up on me?
After 28 years?!

How the Sorensens Roll....

Before I became a Brooks, I was a Sorensen.... and pretty much 1000% of my makeup declares that I still am a Sorensen. Of which I am grateful. We have our flaws (do we ever!), but life is fabulous as a Sorensen! For example, the way a Sorensen prepares for, and executes, vacation plans:

Monday, May 30, 12:43 pm: (Text from Tera to me)
"Hi girlie, we're in Cedar City for the day. If you're feeling crazy spontaneous you could meet up with us and come stay at our house for a couple weeks."

And around 8:30 the next morning, this Sorensen was off to New Mexico for a week with her sister, kids in tow.

That's how we roll. Prep time? Planning? Never heard of it!

And it was a lovely week. All of it. We fixed cars, celebrated birthdays, visited zoos and gardens, watched baseball games, swam in jacuzzis, ate food, watched movies, played Pictionary, took naps, went shopping, gave kids lots of naps, wished for naps ourselves, talked till 2 am, and let Megan dress/change/hold/feed/etc Risa all she wanted! We just had fun. I needed it. And I loved it.