Sunday, August 18, 2013

Life at the Laundromat

I first want to thank Ed for writing about the car lot. That was a great post that brought tears to my eyes, and I can't wait to read more.

I was 18 when Mom and Dad moved to Overland Auto. The day they moved in was the day I moved out. Like many teenagers, I was not that helpful and mostly thought of myself. When Dad got after me for not helping out more with the move, I figured it was my time to exit.

With barely a goodbye, I took off for college in a car Grandma McEuen bought in order for me to use. It essentially became my car. I've always felt disappointed in the way I left and for not helping out more.

After living with Grandma Mc for a year, I was so excited to move back home for a summer, and it was me who was bawling when I had to leave that second time.

So that summer was about the only time I lived at Overland Auto, and I loved it.

If Ed moved into the car lot when he was about 6, the family moved into The Wash Tub Laundromat in Heyburn, Idaho, when I was age 4.

Before we lived in the Laundromat, we lived in a home on the Snake River. I loved that home. It was on a cul de sac, and the backyard was the river. But it was probably smart Mom and Dad moved from there, as I'm not sure how many of us would be alive today. I distinctly remember one night when Grandpa and Grandma McEuen were visiting, and Dad and Grandpa went down to the river to shoot some guns. I went down with them, or perhaps I followed them without telling anyone, but I was left down there. I tried climbing up the side of the embankment back to the house, but I kept slipping. Someone eventually saw that I was missing and helped me back. That's one of my oldest memories.

So my parents moved to the Laundromat. I think they moved to the Laundromat, because Mom could stay at home, while at the same time bring in a little income by running the Laundromat. Mom and Dad had an entrepreneurial spirit. In addition to running the Laundromat, Dad also ran a custodial job at nights. During the day he sold cars for Don Ovitt Chevrolet, and was quite successful, even winning a trip to Hawaii for him and Mom when he sold the most cars one year.

A nice home was connected to the Laundromat, and my parents remodeled the basement to have a big, 1970s looking spaceship fireplace.

There was the main floor with a living room, dining room, kitchen, and bathroom; an upstairs with two bedrooms and a bathroom; and a downstairs with a family room, two bedrooms, and a bathroom. A flight of stairs behind a door in the main area led people to the back area of the Laundromat. In the back area of the Laundromat is where we stored a lot of pop, and we always had plenty of Pepsi, so that Uncle Gail could come get some on a Sunday and not break the Sabbath.

At this time, Mary was "the baby of the family." (Note: Christensons' tell time by who the baby of the family is. "Let's see, Mary was the baby of the family, so it must have been around 1980.")

I have a ton of memories from the Laundromat. Talk about your magical places! This was before Nintendo, and even a little before Atari (or maybe the same time), and the Laundromat had a pinball machine and Space Invaders! And we had a snack machine and pop machine.

At night, we'd strap on our roller skates and skate around the washing machines.

But I think the Laundromat was also a lot of work. Sunday was Mom's only day off. Not only did owning the Laundromat entail the upkeep of washers and dryers, filling change machines, and stocking laundry detergent and food machines; but it also included doing laundry for local motels. Mom would drive around two or three days a week picking up big bags of laundry from local motels, bringing them back to the Laundromat, washing and folding them, then taking them back when she picked up the dirty ones.

And usually she did all this with three kids in tow: me, B.J., and Mary.

Amy, who was maybe about 11 or 12, became Mom's right-arm girl. She helped with the washing and folding. And when we did eventually sell the Laundromat, Amy was hired at the age of 12 by the new owner of the Laundromat to wash and fold laundry. So essentially, Amy's work ethic was born in that place, and now she's a high-powered attorney who still washes people's dirty laundry. (Bah, dum, bum.)

I started kindergarten at Mrs. Thaxton's in Burley, Idaho. This was before Idaho included kindergarten as part of a public education. Dad would drive me to Mrs. Thaxton's, and Mom would pick me up.

In the afternoon, Mom would make me take a nap, but I would sneak upstairs to watch her watch Donahue and The Edge of Night. This was also during the Luke and Laura years on General Hospital, my mom's favorite soap opera.

One time, my dad somehow sold a car to someone or something, but we found a big truck outside our home with a trampoline on top.

We could not resist a trampoline on the back of a truck bed. Though dad told us not to jump on it, we of course climbed up there to jump. We all got spankings for doing so, and were told never to do that again.

But Doug and I decided we'd sleep up there in the middle of the night, and awake when the sun came up and no one would find out. And to this day no one has...doh!

I think my dad rented a trampoline for our family every summer we lived there. I remember the Jeppesens coming over, and we'd jump and pretend we were the Greatest American Hero.

"Believe it or not, I'm walking on air, I never thought I could feel so freeeeee. Flying away, a wing on a prayer. Who could it be? Believe it or not, it's just meeeee."
I remember jumping on the trampoline as a way to pass time waiting for my sister Hetty to be born, and how excited we were to meet her.

I've heard stories that my brother Brian jumped out of our home's second-story window onto the trampoline, but I can't confirm said stories. Jumping out of the second-story window was completely forbidden by Mom and Dad, so the likelihood that it happened is pretty high.

Another time at the Laundromat, there was a large potato-hauling truck outside. I have no idea why it was parked there. The truck had two wooden sides that would come down to make a flatbed. I don't think it had a back panel.

At any rate, B.J., Mary, and I decided it would be a great place to play. So Mary and B.J. managed to get into the back of the truck. Mary was leaning against one side of the panels, while I figured out what this chain thing did.


It looks like the chain thing undid the side panel, causing the side panel to swing down. And Mary with it. She landed right on her forehead on the hard rocks below.

I ran to get Mom, telling her I had no idea in the whole wide world how that panel came down. Mary had a large, purple bump forming in the middle of her head. Mom rushed her to the hospital. She looked like the child of Frankenstein, but no permanent damage remained (I hope).

But the Laundromat proved to be too much to handle, and Mom and Dad moved the family to the house on Q Street in Heyburn. We were all very sad. But it was probably a wise move.

The night before we moved, we were with all the cousins at Grandma Christenson's house in Heyburn. We were all protesting the move, because the cousins also liked visiting the Laundromat and being able to skate and play Space Invaders. I remember saying, "Maybe if I broke my leg, they wouldn't move." The logic of a child.

But wouldn't you know it? The next day while moving, Dad asked me to hold the door open for the movers as they transported our large, upright piano out of the house and down the front steps.

I did as a I was told, and the inept movers managed to lose their grip on the piano as it tumbled onto my foot and off our front steps, crashing on the yard below. Though I broke my leg, my parents still moved.

For my second grade year, and during the cold, Idaho winter, I experienced having a cast on my foot. And it wasn't one of these nice, new fancy casts. This cast was a 1980s-style cast that was heavy, and they cut out a section for my toes. And Mom's brilliant plan for walking to school in the snow on that cast was to put a Wonder Bread bag over the cast, followed by a wool sock. The snow somehow penetrated both the wool sock and the bionic powers of the Wonder Bread bag. I was miserable.


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Life at The Overland-Auto Pt 1

It has been mentioned on this blog that we are a family of two loving parents and 10 children.  We have now grown to be a miniature army of siblings, in-laws, grandchildren/nieces and nephews.

When I close my eyes and try to envision my family now, all I can pull up are pictures of chaos.  Young nieces and nephews barefoot in the middle of the road, children being snagged at the last second before a fall into water, a brother in-law taking an elbow to the eye to prove his worthiness to be in the family, and many more.  When I think of my family in any circumstance, I am plagued with the weeping disease that mostly plagues my sisters, but I too have been cursed to weep at the drop of a remember that one time?.... kind of moment.

You would think that being in a huge family is quite unique; however, where I live (Provo, Utah) it isn't.  I serve as a leader in my church and at a meeting one Sunday I asked a group of college aged men how many siblings they had.  Out of about 65 there were probably 15 of us with eight or more siblings and there were some men with a dozen.  In case you haven't connected the dots, I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and we stereotypically have very large families, and this group of young men helped confirm that stereotype.

In my mind I have always viewed large families as a scene of chaos that were poor, but I now know that stereotype isn't true.  I have had a chance to interview all these young men and only one has confirmed the fact with me that large families are a riled up ball of crazy.  All the others drove huge fancy vans, had big houses to fit everyone, and I imagine sat around singing songs and reading scriptures.  Essentially, my families opposite.

You may think by now that I view my family as a shaken up can of Redbull that has just been passed around to all my nephews to drink up (could you imagine Ty and Eddie under that influence).  It is like that at times, but overall it is a great adventure.

One of my favorite adventures my family has ever been apart of is the Overland-Auto.

The Overland-Auto was my dad's car dealership.  A few years after my dad opened up the Overland-Auto with his partner and friend, he found out that his partner had some shady business practices and that the car dealership was in crushing debt.  Instead of giving up, my very brave mom and dad decided to keep the business and remove my dad's partner from any further involvement.  My parents took an even braver step by deciding that they would take yet a bigger risk by selling their home and had their family move into the car dealerships main building.  My parents were left with no formal home, five children still living with them, the other children still in college or on LDS Missions, and as said before quite a heavy amount of debt.

This is actually not the first time our family lived in a business.  My older siblings and parents lived in a home in Heyburn Idaho that was also a laundromat.  This is a good time to mention that my dad was actually quite a successful entrepreneur and my mom supported him in all his endeavors.  The fact that we have lived in some of his businesses may seem like he wasn't, but he was, he was just a very humble charitable man.  I will get back to that idea in other posts.

The Overland-Auto may not seem like a great adventure, but if there is one thing my mom taught me is that everything can be an adventure.  I would like to talk more about my mom's adventuring spirit, but I'll save it for later.  This post is to introduce you to how my family ended up living in a car dealership which also had a junk yard of a about 20 cars. 

For a boy who was five, this was the best playground in the world.  I know that some of my older siblings were embarrassed of the fact that we lived on a car lot and probably still are, but when you are six and you want to impress other boy's or girls your age, the car lot couldn't have been better.  I got to take friends and run on old broken down cars, break things, pretend cars were spaceships, start driving by the age of 10, dig big holes, play deer.  I basically got to truly live the "dream".

Although my family moved out of Overland-Auto ending my greatest source of fun, I still find it magical.  It is a place that embodies the American spirit.  It is a place where my two parents said they will stand and work for a better life for themselves and their children.  It was a place where I learned about real charity, love, hard work and the importance of always having something to look forward to.  When I think of the Overland-Auto I can't help but get the weeping disease.  It is the place in my mind that embodies what it means to live in a big chaotic family that was poor in money, but rich in adventure and spirit.  The Overland-Auto series on this blog will chronicle the time that my family learned life's greatest lessons.  You can't tell the story of Karen and Norvel's Family without Overland Auto.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Mom's cooking

Our mom, Karen McEuen Christenson, was the kind of cook who you assumed loved to cook. When she was cooking, a calmness rested on the kitchen. She didn't seem harried or frenzied.

One of my favorite Food Network chefs is a woman named Ina Garten. One of the reasons I love watching her is because she's so happy and relaxed when she's cooking. The love for her husband, Jeffrey, comes out in her cooking.

That's how I feel about my mom. She showed her love through her cooking.

Mom was a busy school teacher, but I remember more nights than not we had family dinner. She had a few worn, tried-and-true recipes that she would retrieve from an old, green tin recipe box, a box she probably received as a wedding shower gift.

But most of her weekly meals were from memory. Typical weeknight meals at our house weren't necessarily special, but they were all very tasty. Spaghetti, egg salad sandwiches, baked chicken, potato bar.

We especially loved her tacos, which we thought were southern-California authentic tacos. Mom was raised in Montebello, California, in East Los Angelas County. She would mix rice with hamburger, and she would fry corn tortillas in hot oil for a few seconds on each side. And we always had green taco sauce with them. I still prefer tacos cooked this way more than any other way.

Sunday dinners were legendary, in my mind. Somehow her timing was perfect and everything was ready to eat not more than a half hour after church.

Nearly every Sunday Mom left a pot roast cooking while we attended church. Then we'd come home and Dad would help make the mash potatoes. Mom would make gravy from the pot roast drippings, and I have yet to make gravy as well as she did.

She also always had Jello, keeping that Mormon stereotype alive in our home. I remember Kathy liking to help make the Jello.

For dessert, almost every single Sunday, we had chocolate cake. My dad's favorite food is probably chocolate cake. Mom made the frosting with real butter (a MUST for my dad) and Hershey's cocoa. I yearn for it even now. My dad liked to eat his cake in a bowl with milk over the top. Sometimes I would follow suit.

She knew the value of bringing our large family around the table. We didn't actually all fit around the table. At least two or three had to sit at the counter, but we all took turns setting the table and helping get dinner on the table.

Mom taught me at a young age how to properly set a table with the fork on the left side, the knife and spoon on the right side, and the glass above the knife.

 A few dinners she made stick out in my mind as real highlights.

Some good friends of my parents, the Olavasons, were visiting from Menan, Idaho. Wayne Olavason was a good cook in his own right. I remember the first time I ever had steak was at the Olavason's house. Steak was usually reserved for the adults, but Wayne made sure to grill a lot of steak, and even the kids got to have some. I was in heaven.

Perhaps because of Wayne's generosity when we'd visit them in Menan, Mom decided she would have a nice meal when they visited us. So mom made barbecue ribs. It was the first time I'd ever had them, and I thought they were truly the best thing on earth.

Another time I remember was when Doug, our oldest brother, returned from his mission in Germany. He lived with us and attended the College of Southern Idaho in Twin Falls.

Mom decided to experiment with making some German dishes. Each night was a taste explosion in my mouth.

I specifically remember her making a dish called rouladine that was flank stank stuffed with bacon and onions and rolled up and cooked on a very low setting. I only remember her making that once, but I loved it so much.

She also made cabbage rolls, and I loved those as well. Really, there was almost nothing Mom did wrong.

Well, there was this one time I remember that Mom took my absolute favorite dish as a child, which was spaghetti, and turned it into Mexican spaghetti by adding cumin and other spices. I was heartbroken and refused to eat it. I was sent to bed hungry for my ingratitude. Today, I think I would like it. But at the time, I must have been a purist, especially when it came to my favorite dish.

In high school my friends and I formed a club where we would watch movies set around a theme. It was my turn to host the party, and the theme was all things British. We would be watching Monty Python movies.

Mom drove to Albertson's, her favorite grocery store, and bought some crumpets and tea to serve at my British party. Mom was always good to think of little details that would make parties special. I'm not sure I've had crumpets since that party. (Like most British food I've tasted, not all that impressed.)

Mom was especially known for her rolls, pies, and Christmas candies. She made divinity, caramels, and fudge every Christmas to give to neighbors, family, and friends. Her fudge recipe came from a woman who liked Mom and only shared the recipe after Mom swore she wouldn't share it with anyone else. (I'm pretty sure she'll share it with you if you ask.)

For all of our weddings, Mom made these cute little mints we all loved. And because I married a Hawaiian, Mom made some delicious pina colada drinks for my wedding reception that even my Hawaiian in-laws loved.

I wish I had more pictures of Mom cooking. Here is one I took from my sister-in-law Amanda's Facebook account.

This is long overdue, and I know I didn't show it nearly enough while growing up, but I am so grateful for mom instilling a love of food in me. There's few things better in life than sharing a good meal with people you love. Mom understood that value.

And it didn't hurt that it was a delicious lesson to learn.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Great Norvak

A biography of Norvel Christenson as written to the best of her memory by his daughter Cindy. More stories to come from other of his children.
It was 69 years ago that the great Norvak, son of Minnie Neona (nie Christensen) and William Burr Christenson, was born. Actually, his name was Norvel, but his alter-ego, Norvak, would be entertained by 10s, if not 100s, of people the world over.
He was born at home in Heyburn, Idaho, in a home that bordered J.R. Simplot's potato processing plant and the Heyburn/Burley Highway. He was the baby of the family for a solid six years until a little sister, Norma, was born later. He was the eighth child.
Norvel's father was a mechanic and school bus driver. Neona was a homemaker who had her hands full, especially with Norvel.
Neona and Bill had one hard-and-fast rule: no breaking of the Sabbath. But Norvel and his brother Marvin and their friend, Wally Bradshaw, loved to fish. So they would wait until midnight following Sunday nights to go fishing.
Norvel grew up in the wilds of southern Idaho. He can remember when you could catch Salmon on the Snake River. His mother would constantly warn the children of the dangerous undercurrents of the Snake River. Like all good mothers of that generation, fear was the best instigator to get children to behave.
From the time he was a young boy, Norvel loved to sing. He had dreams of being a singer like Elvis Presley. He would sing to his 5th grade class at Heyburn Elementary School. 

Norvel at age 10 or 11.
Norvel is in the bottom center. From left to right, clockwise spiral: Larry, Loretta, Gladys, Darwin, Neona, Norvel, Willian, LaVaugn, and Marvin 

Norvel also loved cars. His first car was given to him at the age of 15. His siblings thought him spoiled. He loved his first car.
Norvel graduated from Minico High School in 1962 and served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Eastern States Mission (Washington D.C. area) from 1963-1965. He would play football on the Washington Memorial lawn on P-Day.
When he returned home to Idaho, someone in his ward (I'm not clear on the story) advised him to go to college at BYU. He decided to go, and that's when he met Karen McEuen from Montebello, California.
Karen was Norvel's California Girl. They married on September 9, 1966, in the Los Angeles Temple. Norvel and Karen had their first child, Doug, while at BYU. They finished BYU with goals to be teachers.

Karen, Norvel, and little Doug outside the Abraham Smoot Building on BYU Campus
Their first teaching assignments were in Lewisville, Idaho, at a junior high. I'm not sure what Norvel taught. It was either P.E., science, or something. I know he also taught driver's education courses.

Karen taught science or English or something.

Their family grew. Amy and Brian were born in Lewisville. Soon Norvel was thinking he needed a better job to support his family.

The family moved back to Heyburn, where Norvel found a job selling fertilizer and working with his brother in a small sign business.

He was later offered a job by Don Ovitt of Don Ovitt Chevrolet to be a car dealer. Norvel loved being a car salesman. He was good at it, and he loved finding people a car.

He even won an all-expenses-paid trip to Hawaii for selling the most cars in 1981 (or was it '82). The children were dispersed out to friends and family for the week, so Karen and Norvel could take their one-and-only no-kids trip.

Don Ovitt's sold the Chevrolet dealership, so Norvel decided to go into business on his own with a partner. They opened Tri-Auto Sales, that later moved to a big building on Overland Avenue in Burley. They renamed their dealership Overland Auto.

During this time, Norvel and Karen continued to have children. In total, they had 10 children: Doug, Amy, Brian, Kathy, Cindy, B.J., Mary, Hetty, Wayne, and Edward.

To help augment the family's finances, Norvel started a janitorial business. At first he hired local youth from church. His employees became family friends. Bill Route and Joel Anderson, two of his employees, would also babysit for the bulging-at-the-seams family.

As the children grew older, Norvel would bring them into the family business. He wanted a way to teach his children about work, much like working on his small family farm did for his upbringing.

Norvel was fond of using one-line sentences to raise his children.
  • "Work builds character."
  • "Like river rocks, be smoothed by adversity."
  • "Always have something to look forward to."
  • "I'll give you something to cry about."
  • "There's always someone who has it worse than you."
  • "The works not done until we're all done."
Norvel also enjoyed spending time with his children by taking them fishing every Memorial Day, or going swimming at the hot springs in Oakley, Idaho. On trips to anywhere, he'd stop at a gas station and let all the children choose one treat.

One the favorite stopping places was a Flying J gas station in Snowville, Utah, where the family would stop on their way to visit relatives in Utah County. One son, Wayne, assumed that every where they went there'd be Snowville, which started a family saying: All roads lead to Snowville.

Norvel loved BYU football, and when Karen's brother Fred generously offered the large family some tickets to a game, Norvel would excitedly load up the family and head to Provo.

One of the fondest memories all the children have of Norvel was his bedtime routine of singing, "Good Night Ladies." Norvel would tuck in the children and then sing the song, and then at the end, he would act like he was leaving the room and then run into the door, which would cause him to run into a wall, which would cause him to fall onto the bed. It was great slapstick that would have the kids rolling with laughter.

The lyrics to the song go like this:

"Goodnight ladies; farewell gentlemen,
So long everyone....I'm going to leave you now.
Whup, whup. whup, merrily we roll along, roll along, roll along,
Merrily we roll along, that's a good time, too.
Goodnight, goodnight, goodnight...Woah!"

It wasn't until the children were older and performing the act for their own children that they realized how physical and tiring that one-act show was.

Norvel also served faithfully in various callings in church. He believed in never working on Sunday, just as his parents taught him in his youth, so he kept his business closed on Sundays. He's not sure he ever received any financial blessings from that decision. His dealership wasn't the most successful. Mom would say that if he'd sold cars to people who could have afforded them he would have done much better.

Norvel never gave up on his singing. He and Mom were always a part of the ward choir. For one ward activity, Norvel donned his alter-ego, Norvak, and he and Mom entertained audiences with "The Great Norvak" routine.

His assistant, Mom, would hand Norvak an envelope that would have a punchline written very small in the corner. He'd say the punchline to the audience, and then open the envelope and read the joke. It was a routine borrowed from Johnny Carson. Dad never had great sight. Ever since he was a boy he suffered from being legally blind in one eye, so he couldn't always read the punchline in the small lettering. So when he couldn't read it, Mom would try to whisper it to him without the audience noticing. Audiences loved it.

The fear of having to work for Dad the rest of their lives put a fire in all the children to leave home and get college educations. All 10 of his children have college degrees.

Norvel retired from the car business, and he and Karen served a mission for the LDS church in Texas. Texas and Norvel went together like barbecue and beans. He even managed to find the home of his idol, Chuck Norris.

So much more can be written, and will be written, on this blog about our paterfamilias (only, we're of Danish descent and Mormon, so I guess we would call him our patriarch). Words can't express how much we love him. He wouldn't want that anyhow. He'd rather us show our love by doing the dishes, mowing the lawn, washing the windows, or some other act of service.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

My Dad and one time I wrecked a car

There was a time when we, the Christensons, lived at my dad's place of business. I'm not exactly sure of all the details on why we had to live there, so that may be a story for someone else to write. We moved there when I was 8 years old. My dad sold used cars, and he had just built a very large new office/sales building on the lot, and we moved our residence into the empty offices. The details about the car lot are not important to this story. All that is important is that it was a car lot. So growing up from eight years old on, I was surrounded by cars.

My childhood chores revolved around taking care of cars. Sometimes I would have to go put keys in all the cars in the morning in case people wanted to come test drive them, or sometimes I would have to go get the keys in the evening. Sometimes I would have to put little plastic flags on the car antennas. Sometimes I would have to dust off the dash boards in the cars or clean the windows, and as I got older my responsibilities increased.

One thing I learned very fast was that I should NEVER scratch, dent, or scuff the cars. My sister, Hetty, and I got into very serious trouble when we smashed the windshield of what we thought to be an old useless clunker that was in the back of the lot. Apparently the car had been saved for its windshield or something. We also got in huge trouble for writing words in the dust on old cars because apparently that scratches the paint. Anyway, it was made very clear to us that the cars were very important, and if we caused any harm to befall the cars, then it would be returned to us ten fold.

Well once I had reached the very sound age of 12, my dad decided that I was old enough and responsible enough to begin driving the cars into the garage to wash them. It really shouldn't have been to hard. Driving really isn't all that complicated, so I surely would be able to do a simple thing like pull one into a garage, and back it out again later. But I was twelve, and the garage was full of immigrants my dad would hire, and they always spoke in Spanish, and were really intimidating to me. Every time I pulled into the garage with a car, I felt like the mechanics would stop what they were doing to watch me. I felt like they were waiting for me to make a complete fool of myself so they could have a good laugh, and joke about me in Spanish. It was always a nerve racking experience in my 12 year old mind.

One day I nervously pulled a car into the garage as per usual, and I felt like I had done a pretty good job driving the car in. I felt like I had been doing pretty good that day. I was pulling cars in and out of the garage like a pro. After I finished washing this particular car, I got inside and noticed through my rearview mirror that someone had the shop vacuum out near the garage door. I made a mental note to avoid the vacuum because that would be super embarrassing if I ran over the vacuum. I put the car in reverse, and turned the wheel to avoid the vacuum. I kept my eye on the vacuum because I sure wasn't going to hit it. I should've kept my eye on the other side of the garage entrance because before I knew it, I had swiped the side of the car into the garage entrance.

All of the mechanics stopped what they were doing, and looked over at a 12 year old boy hopping out of a car and panicing in sheer terror. When I saw the car jammed into the wall with a huge dent on the panel, I felt like my insides had melted. I knew my dad would be more than furious. I knew that this meant I would never have friends because I would be eternally grounded to my room, and I would be washing off cars for the rest of my life to pay for the damage I'd done. I couldn't even imagine how much money it would cost to repair the damage. There was no way to hide what I had done. I had to face my father.

I slowly walked into his office, and I began sobbing immediately. I can't remember what I said, but I remember that my dad didn't explode into an angry ball of rage. I can't remember what my dad said, but I remember that even though he was disappointed he forgave me. I think up until this point in my life, my dad had always responded to mistakes that I made with the quick and stern rebuke that we often give to children. I think this marked the point in which my dad started using the mistakes I made to teach me important lessons rather than just punish me and scold me for being a dingbat. To be sure, there were still plenty of dingbat moments after, but at this moment, my dad showed compassion and mercy when I needed it most. I don't know if he ever understood the trepidation, anxiety, and fear I had about being around his mechanics, but I think he understood how terrible I felt for damaging a car, and I think he saw that I had punished myself enough over it.

I can't imagine, looking back now, how stressful it must have been for my mom and dad while we were living at the car lot. I am amazed at how much patience, and forgiveness my dad had for me. To be sure, there were plenty of times my dad lost his patience, but at this moment he kept his cool, and it really meant a lot to me.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Our Family Blog...Now Write!

Today I received a phone call from a missionary companion of Uncle Fred's. He found my name through my blog, looked up my name in the phonebook, and found me, so I then helped him get a hold of Uncle Fred.

All because of my little blog.

The world is getting smaller and our family is getting bigger.

If we don't write this stuff down, people, we'll forget, and the stories will be lost.


Don't we want out grandkids to know that we loved each other, but also hated each other at times, like all good siblings in a family?

Don't we want our posterity to know about such infamous stories as:
  • Dad and Mom doing the African Dance Ritual at a Lewisville Junior High pep rally and Mom losing her serong in the process.
  • Doug being the leader of the Minico High School Marching Band when they threw down their instruments and played their kazoos?
  • Amy wrecking her car while making-out with "Elder Smedley?"
  • Brian breaking his bones falling into Cauldron Linn?
  • Kathy wrecking the family car seconds before our annual fishing trip to Silver Creek, and Dad somehow blaming it on B.J.?
  • Cindy ruining not one, not two, but three cars over the years from driving backwards while under the age.
  • B.J. using the trampoline and the teeter-totter to launch himself over the tree and breaking his arm in a ZZ Top formation?
  • Mary spending her senior year in Germany?
  • Hetty taking care of the three-legged cat?
  • Wayne giving the Convocation address at the Burley High School non-denominational high school graduation celebration?
  • Edward living alone with Mom and Dad and the animals?
As discussed at the bi-annual family reunion, I have been commissioned to start our official family blog. I can't wait to hear your stories from your points of view.

And include pictures, like the following:

Competitors in the Spudman, July 2012
The grandkids, all 23 of them.
Kathy, Sadie, and Dad

The middle children: 5, 6, 7, 8, and Chrystel

Finding your first best friend in your cousin: Lehua and Kembrie.

Mom and Dad with all the kids.

Mom and Dad with the boys.

Brian in his Wildcats Spudman outfit.

Mom, Amanda, and Cindy prepare for the swim.

Doug goes shirtless before the swim.

Mom, Amanda, and Amy waiting nervously for their wave to start.
More to come...eventually.