Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sacrifice and Gratitude

I'm leaving for Trek in 28 hours.  If I'm being honest, I'll have to tell you I'm not ready.  Even more honest: I probably won't be ready in 28 hours either.

As is pretty much always the case, some of my ideas were bigger than reality.  There's several about which I'll have to cross my fingers and hope they don't turn out lame.  But in every case, I've thought and pondered and prayed for months... and saved all the work until the last minute.

One such example is of the 240 flour pouches that needed to be filled.  A ward in our stake offered to make them, and - excited by a tangible example of trail rations - I was totally on board.  On board, that is, until I received 240 flour pouches that needed to be filled.

I sent out an email for help, but I must have chosen a bad day/time (probably too close to Trek), and no one was able to come help me.  I sat down and did the first 10 in ten minutes.  At that ratio, it was a daunting four-hour task.  I considered my options and came to the only possible conclusion:

Child labor camp.

I expected resistance.  Instead, what I got was a living example of the types of sacrifice I'm hoping the teenagers will think of while they're on Trek.  I mean, what are we really asked to sacrifice these days?  Our time.  Our talents.   

I had four little boys who happily donated two hours of their afternoon to the floury cause.  Dylan handed the baggies to Ryan, who methodically measured and poured in 1/4 c. flour.  Did I mention Ryan is seven?  For two hours, he measured and poured, measured and poured.

I twisted the baggies and taped.  That station took a little more dexterity.  Adam cut off the excess baggie then passed the product to Alex who wrapped it in a handmade flour pouch.

The song says, "Pioneer children sang as they walked and walked and walked and walked."  Well, these children requested music while they worked.  Alex said, "Mom, I think I could work faster if I had a beat."  Thanks to Pandora, we quickly had a good working groove.

I could have had a terrible, lonely afternoon.  Instead I got to hear their imaginations invent a much more glamorous activity.  Did you know that we were really putting gold into coin pouches and giving them to kids with no money?  Somehow that story + the kids' favorite artist (Katy Perry) made me feel much less picked on.

I have all these Trek activities planned.  I've spent countless hours scouring the internet for touching stories and historically accurate research.  But today I think I learned more about sacrifice and felt more gratitude than in all the research hours combined.

Thanks to my boys (and Ry) for giving me their afternoon.  It made my day.

Monday, June 25, 2012

So You Want to Work for CASSCO...

My dad recently hired a couple new guys to replace his workers who are moving on to other things (like my brother moving on to his mission in Bolivia).  As is often the case, he's hired friends and acquaintances of mine.  As Kirk and I were talking about the guys who will be starting in the next few days, we thought it would be fun to put together a list of things every CASSCO employee should know. I brought up the idea last night around the game table, and between my dad, Jack, Chris Kennedy, Kirk, Michelle and me, we came up with a pretty decent list.  We also laughed.  A lot.  And told a lot of stories that wouldn't make sense to anyone else.

I know not everyone's going to laugh at this list, but enough of you out there have been a proud employee of CASSCO at one point or another.  If you can laugh at the words "smoke break," groan in remembrance of the Wheeler grime, or tell a story that starts, "Remember when so-and-so was driving the forklift," please enjoy the list and leave your additions in the comments!

So You Want to Work for CASSCO:

1. Rule #1: Don't fall.  Rule #2: If you fall, you're fired.

2. If you hold your hammer more than half-way up the handle, you'll be called a Canadian.

3. Don't put away Charlie's tools while he's still using them.

4. Definition of a hammer = whatever you can reach.

5. A morning shower is just a waste of time.  (And you might want to invest in some industrial cleaner.)

6. If you challenge Charlie, he will accept.  And he will win.

7. "All I hear is 'blah, blah, blah... I can drive anything."

8. There's always a way.  Get a bigger hammer.   "Hit it like it owes you money."

9. "Using what we like to call... the right way."

10. If you're not bleeding, you're not working.

Good luck to the new guys!  You're part of OUR family now... MWAHAHAHAHA!!!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I had certain expectations when the kids decided to try out for Oliver!  Most of those expectations were right on the money, but I've had plenty of surprises.

I expected at least a few nights of reminding them that they made a commitment and needed to go to rehearsal.
But never once did either of them complain, and I never heard as single groan or "I don't want to go tonight."  Even last week when they spent over 22 hours in rehearsal over a six-day period.  Once, even though he had permission to miss for his baseball game, Adam almost chose to go to rehearsal because he didn't want to miss the new choreography.

I expected Adam to struggle to keep up with the choreography. 
Instead, the choreographer has told me that Adam is her rock.  He has consistently come home with prizes for being the kid with the most energy on stage, for making his entrances on time, or for being the one who remembered the dance the best.  I'm so proud of him for being a leader in a group of older kids.
I expected Alex to drive the cast crazy.
But they love him!  I can't walk into the theater without being told how cute he is.  One of the men told me his wife would love to take him home.  Even though he exhausts me, he's charmed them, and I thank every one of them for that.
I expected the logistics of the show to overwhelm my "little" kids.  
Will they be able to make their entrances?  Can they remember to change their own costumes?  Will Adam be able to handle looking out for himself and his little brother?  I think I needn't have worried.  When Adam says, "No, Mom, I'll be able to get my shoes tied in time.  'Consider Yourself' isn't until Scene 5... that means I have three whole scenes to get my shoes on..." I figure I've just got to trust that he's got it under control.
I expected that we'd leave the show behind with pictures and memories as souvenirs.
Instead, Adam got a new lizard (caught in the desert by his cousin Colton), and the boys collaborated to name it Oliver.  I think that's a pretty high compliment to the show; while it has been fairly all-consuming for the month of June, the boys enjoy it enough to want to continue the fun at home.

We've learned some lessons about being the parents of little actors, and I'm certain the performances will bring a few more surprises, but I think my kids are ready to take the stage by storm.

Come see Oliver! (the show, not the lizard) June 22 - July 21 (Fri, Sat, Mon) and see if Adam and Alex surpass your expectations.  (Tickets during the first two weekends are buy-one-get-one-free if you say "Oom Pah Pah.")  Really, who would want to miss this...

Friday, June 8, 2012

His Name Is Al

We named him Alexander.  Somewhat on a whim.  We'd held the name "Alexis" in reserve for a potential daughter, but - unable to agree on the daily name of "Alex" or "Lexi" - decided we'd be just as happy naming our newly identified son "Alex."

The ensuing conversation went something like this: "Well, as long as we're going to name him 'Alex,' we might as well name him 'Alexander," which is Kirk's middle name.

Sidenote: We recently discovered that "Alexander Fife" is quite the family name.  Kirk knew his middle name came from a great-grandfather, but he didn't know that there was an Alexander Fife in nearly every generation dating all the way back to the 1600's (which was as far as we were able to trace it on the LDS church history site, FamilySearch).

So we named him "Alexander" just because and with every intention to call him "Alex."

But we don't.  We call him Al.  We've recently discussed how much that nickname, dutifully credited to his Aunt Marie, seems to have stuck.  We rarely bother with the second syllable, but not out of laziness, and not with a nickname-ish quality.

I think his name is Al.

I could never have set out to name him Al.  I mean, let's be honest.  Al is a lumberjack name.  Or... well, it's the name of this guy...  And, though I loved Home Improvement as much as the next child of the 80's, I could never have set out to name him Al.

But Al he is.  So much so that I'm thinking of asking his Kindergarten teachers to please call him Al.  Better than having to be Alex F. his whole life, thanks to parents who unabashedly bestowed upon him a traditionally top 10 boys name, right?  

But am I okay with that?
A quick Google search for famous Al's turned up:

1. Capone    2. Franken     3. Gore        4. Green         5. Hirschfeld
6. Jolson       7. Pacino       8. Roker      9. Sharpton    10. Yankovic

Interesting company, to be sure.  Al Fife.  Six little letters to convey such a huge personality.

But as I sit here, listening to Grandma Casdorph help him stay focused through their game of Spiderman Sorry, I frequently hear, "It's your turn, Al," and - like it or not...

I think his name is Al.