• Oct 4, 2010

Downtown Salt Lake City, Saturday night.

Balancing lime twists and hand-tossed pizzas, our waiter bustles from table to table filled with mothers, sisters, grandmas and children. It’s the Priesthood Session of General Conference where every Mormon male over age twelve puts on a shirt and tie to hear the Prophet’s counsel while the women do as they wish. Stores hold “Ladies’ Night” parties and extended families gather. I’ve had plenty of years when I just stayed home with the little ones and did the laundry, but these days we drive downtown and settle into their favorite restaurant.

Scanning the menus, Gabriel, Mary and Xander order quickly then dive into the crayons and the coloring books on the table. Eating out with the the littles is a pleasure and I usually get giggly and silly, coloring pictures on napkins and cracking lame jokes. But tonight I am worn and tired.

Fighting the impulse to check my phone for messages or emails, I lean against the padded booth and watch their blond heads bob as they connect the dot-to-dots, unscramble secret messages and fill in Suduko boards. At eleven and a half, it’s Xander’s last conference outing with us. Next time he’ll join the big boys in their own tradition– sitting in the padded seats at the Joseph Smith Building and going out to Dodo afterward for smoked turkey sandwiches and thick slices of pie.

As we wait, I contribute my blue Os to countless games of tic-tac-toe and quietly enjoy their cheerful chatter. I feel a bit guilty for my lack of spunk until Xander looks right into my eyes saying, “It’s just so fun to be with you mom.” Contentment spreads across my shoulders and trickles down my back.


I’ve decided that conference weekend rivals Christmas Day for sheer familial bliss. Our pace slows as we watch eight hours of televised messages. Crepes are always on the menu, filled with strawberries, Nuttella and cream for breakfast; ham, swiss, spinach and mushrooms for lunch. The entire bucket of Legos is dumped on the floor for two days as the boys piece increasingly intricate creations.


Sacrificing his fingers, Stefan helped me cut out a quilt for Mary’s bed while she scavenged the scraps for doll pillows stuffed with Kleenex and held together with tape.



Erik takes advantage of the lull by catching up on a week’s worth of shirts. He’s not mad, that’s just his ironing face.


Between sessions we alternate between long walks, more Legos and listening to Gabriel read Harry Potter out loud.


It’s eight-o’clock, Sunday night– time for Ben to head back to Provo. He sits on a barstool at the end of the counter a plate of decadent caramel bars at his left hand, his giant blue laundry bag full of freshly washed and folded clothes beside him (his doing, not mine). Nothing extraordinary is going on, just the rumble of Hans washing dishes, Gabriel chasing Mary around the room, a loud discussion between Xander and Stefan…

I smile at Ben and he shakes his head, “I don’t want to go.”

A few heartbeats later he walks out the front door in flurry of hugs and ‘see you soons.’ And I am glad, grateful, that home is such a sweet place to leave.

October 1, 2010
October 6, 2010



  1. Reply

    Anne Marie

    October 4, 2010

    Absolutely beautiful. Thank you for giving us a peek into the moments of your life. Thank you for your example.

  2. Reply


    October 4, 2010

    I love that last picture! Such a beautiful moment to have captured.
    I love all of your photographs and stories. That is what I wanted to say to you when I met you at the store the other day, but I was flustered, nervous, star-sruck. Hope you don’t think I’m some sort of crazy lady… 🙂

  3. Reply


    October 4, 2010

    Conference weekend rivals Christmas in our home too. The same – lots of favorite foods,and silent projects that keep us alert and listening. It’s heaven for me.

  4. Reply


    October 5, 2010

    Ooooh, I man who irons…HOT!

    Now, I said you could have my baby for awhile, but not with all of those teeny legos around.

  5. Reply


    October 5, 2010

    What a warm wonderful day it was. Your pictures capture the peace and happiness of your family perfectly. By the way…I love the fabric for Mary’s quilt. It was the inspiration for Olivia’s baby quilt. Great taste!

  6. Reply


    October 5, 2010

    My heart just aches reading this one. I can feel the love and hard it is to let him go again.

    Your week sounds so lovely.

  7. Reply

    martha corinna

    October 5, 2010

    That’s my ironing face too.

    I would love to get together when you come this way, let me know Michelle!

  8. Reply


    October 5, 2010

    Your home is one of the sweetest places on earth :). So sad we missed the crepes!
    love you

  9. Reply


    October 6, 2010

    I too want my home to be a place of comfort and peace for my children.

    I do have to tell you that at times like these when I’m not reading many blogs or even online as much, I still read yours. It is one of the few places that I leave feeling uplifted and hopeful. Your writing is beautiful. Your pictures are remarkable. Your experience is valuable.

    P.S. If you were to ever do a photography clinic, I would love to learn what is behind your pictures. I have never seen anyone capture life more beautifully.

  10. Reply


    October 6, 2010

    I also love Conference weekend. PJ’s, trail mix, pillows and legos were all over our floor, too. Perfect post.

  11. Reply


    October 8, 2010

    I have an ironing face too. And it’s a grumpy one.
    Love the Lego picture!

  12. Reply

    Jan Russell

    October 11, 2010

    The ironing face kills me! I am SO thankful that J. takes his shirts to the cleaners, you have no idea…my ironing face would be hostile…

    The floor covered in legos is so relatable – Graham has learned quickly not to eat them.