I question my own intelligence pretty much every day of the week– when I bake brownies and leave out the eggs or drop at child off at a lesson but neglect to pick them up or place the milk jug in the pantry next to the cereal boxes. And let’s not even talk about keeping tabs on my cell phone and car keys. When I put Mary’s bike together last week and didn’t tighten half the screws Erik nicknamed me the “junior apprentice incompetent mechanic.”

But the collective intelligence of my family? That I’m willing to bet on. Together we are a pretty clever group. Except for yesterday.

I came home from a late meeting to find shredded paper spread across the kitchen counter and table as Erik and the boys frantically sorted pieces and taped strips together.

“Ben got answered!” Gabe cried.

Now, if you’re not from Utah, please allow me to introduce one of our cultural oddities. High schoolers don’t simply ask someone to a dance. Nah, that would be way too easy. An invitation to Homecoming or Christmas Formal or Prom must be done elaborately, with balloons and puzzles and scavenger hunts and really bad puns. The more fuss the better.

Last week Ben asked a girl by delivering a giant cupcake to her house with the letters of his name hidden inside (I can’t reveal her name, but I can tell you she has the most amazing waist length thick golden naturally curly hair I’ve ever seen. The first time I met her I said, “Your hair is AWESOME.” Ben found that completely embarrassing.).

She replied with a big poster reading “I hear you can shred it on the ski slopes Ben, but how about the dance floor?” and a giant plastic bag filled with shredded paper.

And so, my cute family rifled through the bag, separated blank strips from those with drawings and writing and them organized them into piles according to color. By the time I came home the sorting was complete and they were dutifully matching up strips and taping them together. The completed pages were doodles, crayon drawings of flowers and silly little love notes to her mother: “mom you are so amazing, when you walk by the cows stop grazing.

As the night stretched on and the little ones started to droop, I complained, “Ben, it’s not supposed to be this hard. We’re doing something wrong!

“Besides,” I argued. “you know the answer will be yes.” (‘no’ answers are done quietly and without fuss).

But he persisted and we sorted and matched and tape well past bedtime. Finally, Ben picked up the phone and called ‘the girl.’

“You’re piecing the shredded pages together?” she asked.

“Um, yeah. But we can’t find an answer.”

“Okaaaaaaaaaaaay,” she began to laugh, “why don’t you go look again for a little blue piece of paper.”

Here it is. Ben refused to pose with it.

My favorite part was when Erik kept taping paper shreds together even after the answer was found, “I’m so close to finishing this page,” he picked up a slice of paper and squinted at it’s design, “I can’t stop now!”

p.s. Miss Mary started school today which means I have a high school senior, a kindergartner and everything in between. Now don’t start shedding any tears for me or expecting me to complete a master’s degree. With afternoon kindergarten and the high school schedule I have 7.25 childfree hours a week.

September 6, 2009



  1. duchess

    September 9, 2009

    How cute is that? Makes me want to move to Utah even more.

  2. Blue

    September 9, 2009

    7.25?! Woot!

  3. Chelle

    September 9, 2009

    That is hilarious. I am LOL-ing right now. : D

  4. Jeanelle

    September 9, 2009

    Boys are so silly…I can’t believe they taped everything together without noticing the “yes.” Enjoy your 7.25 hours. Love the pics of Mary and hoping she loves kindergarten.

  5. jennie w.

    September 9, 2009

    I have 8 hours child-free. Too bad we’re not in the same state; we could do lunch!

  6. Annie

    September 9, 2009

    oh, I miss that! No one asks in creative ways here but my kids love our stories about creative invitations and answering.

    I’m with Jennie: I want to meet you for lunch for a couple of those hours!

  7. Tracy

    September 9, 2009

    Digging the Reagan tee…NOT. xoxo,t

  8. Christie

    September 9, 2009

    I am so happy for you and your 7.25 hours. Please tell me you will spend some of them reading in a quiet corner, seeing movies, and lunching like a lady?

    That’s how I try to spend some of my time anyway.

  9. Selwyn

    September 9, 2009

    That is a LOT of effort! Does it ever scale down? (If not, I can’t imagine what proposals are like!)

    Enjoy your time “off” (HA!) – like the other ladies, I hope you take the time to do stuff for yourself.

    (And I loved Erik’s continuing on!)

  10. Sage

    September 9, 2009

    I loved the Reagan tee. Really. And laughed that they had to keep piecing everything together.

    Childfree hours! Do naps count?

  11. Linn

    September 10, 2009

    I grew up in Utah. Ridiculous, yet amusing, tradition. I married the man that I asked to a girls’ choice dance by buying a gigantic can of garbanzo beans and finding a way to put small pieces of paper inside with the question. I thought I had made the paper waterproof. I didn’t. I’m thinking he had to call me to figure it out, but I’m not sure. Tell Ben to watch out. Almost eleven years and four children later, it all started with a crazy invitation to a dance.

  12. Danielle

    September 10, 2009

    that is fantastic – I love it! how fun!!!! Miss Mary looks gorgeous, by the way.

    Oh and I also want the Reagan shirt. 🙂

  13. jendoop

    September 10, 2009

    Your family is so fun. We had craziness asking for dances too – slurping jello out of a coke bottle once. An ‘ES’ after the ‘Y’ on the mountain in Provo as an answer to BYU preference, that was the best. It is all so fun the dance itself can be a letdown!

    I love the Reagan T too!

  14. Claudia

    September 10, 2009

    I am still laughing at Erik! His shirt rocks. It’s so him!

    Keep an eye on my girls Benny boy. Make sure a Book of Mormon fits in between during those slow dances.

    And M, I think you should have highlighted and capitalized 7.25 per WEEK. Don’t people know that averages out to a little more than an hour per day. And that doesn’t even account for shower time. HA!

  15. Denise

    September 10, 2009

    You guys make me laugh.

  16. Kira

    September 10, 2009

    7.25!!! Yahoooo!!!! I love that they kept piecing them together!

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