Yesterday I attended the funeral of a friend I have known since childhood.
Bryce is the clown.
Bryce Winterbottom died at 29 years old. I remember the Winterbottoms entering my life about the time I hit second grade. Their family had five kids and so did ours. Their second oldest, Brian was my age and Bryce, the middle child was two years younger than me. Every week at church they were there sitting on the front row with books, pencils and paper and all manner of interesting things to entertain them. Being a Winterbottom looked pretty fun from our view on the side of the chapel. The Winterbottoms and the Leavitts used to co-host Halloween costume parties. One was in our basement and another was held in the Winterbottom's barn. Those Halloween parties were a big highlight of my childhood. When my parents bought some land out of town and built a house on it, the Winterbottoms bought the lot across the street and moved into their new home a few months later. The move put us into a new ward and the first week we walked in to see the Winterbottoms sitting in the front row. I remember cool Sunday evenings when the Winterbottom kids would make their way over to our house to jump on the trampoline with us. Our mothers hired a friend to come give us kids drawing lessons and we switched weeks hosting in our dining rooms. One summer our brave mothers even took all ten of us kids, plus another friend and her son to the beach for a week. Two years after I left for college the Winterbottoms moved away and I didn't see them for years. Last year I signed the boys up for swimming lessons. A few days after they started I noticed that Bryce's wife Mandy was there with her four children. We sat together chatting and sweating every day for nearly a month while our children learned to swim. A lot of what Mandy would talk about was Bryce, and through her I started to get to know him again. She talked about how he would pan for gold with his uncle, go pick blackberries for his family in the summer and how he wanted to own his own plane. I was surprised when she told me she felt bad he didn't have as much time to do these things he loved now that he was working full time. It was about this time I passed Bryce's old Subaru one day while shuttling my kids around town. When I wave at people I haven't seen in a long time, I try to play it cool and just do a little wave because who knows if they are even going to recognize you. Bryce didn't do that at all. Instead, he started waving his hand furiously like he was a tween at a Justin Beiber concert. He had a huge smile on his face. Feeling a little silly, I raised my hand and gave him a huge wave too. Then I laughed pretty much the rest of the day. A few months later I got to introduce Zach to Bryce and Zach started to see him around work and visit. Zach would come home and tell me how smart Bryce was. Last Saturday, I heard from my sister that Bryce died in a plane crash. My whole body shook when I heard the news. During the past week, I have spent a lot of time grieving for his parents, brothers and sisters and his wife and children. Bryce's family held a beautiful memorial service for him and it made me feel inspired to reach out to friends and to seek out adventures that make life rich and meaningful. Bryce's friends started a memorial fund for Mandy online and it has been a huge comfort for me to see lots of people reaching out to help her. I wish she didn't have to face this difficult transition at all, but I know she doesn't have to face it alone and I know that Mandy is a smart, capable woman and a wonderful mother. I hope she knows that I will be cheering for her.
Hi! I'm still here. Just wanted to share a little update about the boys when they turned six. Which was four months ago! I'm keeping up pretty well aren't I? First up: Grant.
So here are some things that are important to know about the six year old version of Grant. He lost three teeth this year. He decided he wanted to be Zurg for Halloween but refused the Disney costumes I found on eBay. He said I could make something better. Here is my attempt: I made the costume out of my purple high school graduation robe. So I guess that justifies the fact that it sat in my parents basement untouched for over a decade. Zach made the gun. It was awesome. The dang thing lit up! Grant was disappointed because it didn't shoot little ping pong balls like in the movie. That is Grant. He has big dreams. Big dreams and big expectations. He makes an adorable villain, no?
Grant started Kindergarten this year. He is learning to read and write. Also, he runs all recess long. For fun. Except he and his friends don't call it running. They call it "Transformers" or "Chicken Run" or "Bad Guys". Some of it sounds fun, but it is all running. If Grant has a mega talent I would have to say it is his knack for learning new vocabulary. He is always asking me what words mean. Words that I use every day and really have no idea how to describe their meaning. Basically he has better vocabulary than this whole blog. He uses words like "peculiar" and "indelible" in context. Do you know what indelible even means? I do. Now. Thank you, kindergarten.
You don't really know Grant until you have heard him try to persuade you into something. Where did he get this skill? I forsee this being part of his future career. I love to think about what he will be when he grows up but I wish i could push it out for another decade or so. Grant, we love you! Please stay six for a few more years!
Last year I made a New Year's resolution to read six books. I know, soooo ambitious, right? It is for someone who is suffering from Pinterest-induced ADD. And I acheived it. Are you amazed? Actually, I kind of cheated. I started downloading books to listen to in the car. It turns out I drive, like, all the time, so I think I listened to about six books just driving the kids around. OK, half of them were Harry Potter books but the kids need something to enjoy too, right?
For the most part I really enjoy reading, but I have a tough time finding books I love so sometimes I just stop reading beacause I've lost the will to keep searching for new books. Basically, if I don't go to the library with something specific in mind, I pretty much don't get anything. I want to start sharing the books I read here on my blog. If you have any you like, you can share them with me in the comments. Or you can tell me what you think of the books I'm reading. It won't hurt my feelings. I didn't write them. It's like an online book club, but you don't have any meetings to forget about. Awesome!
Here is the first book I read this year:
David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell. I don't think Malcolm Gladwell's writing will ever dissappoint me. He has a talent for changing the way you see things. He starts by showing how we can look at David and Goliath in a different light it starts to look like David has the advantage over Goliath.
The rest of his book is a series of stories that seem random but he weaves them together to show a connecting theme about struggles and the positive effect they have on some people. In David and Goliath Gladwell convinces us that going to a less-prestigious college, having dyslexia, experiencing a difficult childhood and a experiencing oppression and other random, seemingly disconnected examples can help people have extraordinary success in life. My favorite point he makes in the book is that even though we wouldn't wish crushing hardships on anyone, society may need people who have struggled and fought for everything they have. They learn to make things better when everything is working against them.
The book is sometimes emotional and upsetting but Malcolm Gladwell usually puts a positive spin on things. He makes me see the world differently and even changes my ideas about how I want to raise my children. On a scale of 1-10 I give it a 10 because Malcolm Gladwell can do no wrong. Please read it. If you want to. And tell me if you like it!
It's that time of year again when over half the family have birthdays in just three days. Yay Webbs! I wanted to take a little time to honor the birthday boys here on my blog, starting with Zach. Here are some fun things you might not know about Zach:
-Zach's favorite movies are the Bourne trilogy movies. He informed me that the Bourne movies are not his favorite because he thinks Jason Bourne is awesome, but because the entire male gender actually believe that they could probably definitely do what Jason Bourne does.
-I think Zach looks awesome with a beard. Sadly, certain officials have asked him to shave. Also, I think he got tired of me refusing to kiss him with the beard. It hurts.
-When we were expecting Claire, but before we knew she was a girl, Zach decided we were going to name the baby David Webb, which is Jason Bourne's actual name before he joins the CIA and magically gets amnesia. What? You didn't know that?
-When Zach and I first met, I had traveled to Europe and Africa and much of the United States (also Canada, but who really counts that?) Zach had gone to Honduras for a mission, but other than that he hadn't traveled much (except I think to Canada, but who really counts that?) Then, my passport expired while Zach traveled all over the world for work. In one year he visited China, India, El Salvador, Italy and Mexico on top of lots of traveling he was doing in the states. It was funny watching him travel the world and become picky about restaurants and hotels while I stayed home eating mac n' cheese with the kids. Sadly, it is hard to enjoy eating out at nice restaurants on the company dime and staying in neat hotels when you don't have anyone to enjoy it with, so Zach took a job where he doesn't have to travel. Sometimes I miss the (vicarious) adventure and the endless award miles, but having the whole family together for dinner every night is pretty much my favorite.
- Zach's top drawer in his office desk has an envelope full of foreign bills from his traveling days. I am pretty sure it's only worth about 30 bucks tops but it really looks like a chunk of change. I'm not sure why he keeps it but I think it might be part of the fantasy about being Jason Bourne? I've yet to find any foreign passports in there...
-Zach started wearing glasses about two years ago because he is getting older and his vision has withered to 23/20 or something like that. I want to have those glasses surgically attached to his head because I tell you what those things are ALWAYS lost.
-Zach does not work for the CIA... unless he has a really good cover. However, if he did I wouldn't know anything more about what he does at work because he never talks about it. I met Zach's bosses' wife and asked her if her husband talks about work. She said he flat out refuses, so maybe this isn't really that uncommon? Or maybe they are both in the CIA.
Claire is two. It's pretty awesome. And funny. She makes me laugh every day. Especially when I remember to laugh when things get difficult. Because sometimes, she gets difficult. But I don't take it personally. Tantrums are signs of progress and opportunities to learn and also, a good sign that it is nap time. Overall we are all really crazy about Claire and here is why:
-She is obsessed with Mickey Mouse and Mickey Bow right now. Mickey Bow is Minnie mouse. Clearly. Claire knows all the Disney characters' names like Daisy and Donald, but she refuses to call Minnie anything but Mickey Bow.
-Have you ever wondered what it is like to be really beautiful? Everywhere Claire goes people stop me and compliment her or give her free things (I would not make this up) because, well, she is really beautiful. And I totally think so too, but I am also nervous that all of these people are turning her into a tiny narcissist. On Sunday she walked up to someone, pointed her toes at him and shouted "Shoes!" She was totally fishing for a compliment on her footwear, which she received.
It's the curls I think that draw people in. Yeah, definitely the curls.
-I love how two-year-olds speak. Claire's favorite phrases are Thank you (Dank oo) which she will say so sweetly even if she was having a tantrum seconds before, "I did it", and "Mama, Watch!"
-Claire adores Grant (Gant) and Collin (Caw Caw). She waves goodbye to them each morning as their bus leaves and she is right there playing with them each day. Also, she likes to stand in front of the toilet with them as they pee. She lacks the equipment but it's okay because she holds her outie belly button and makes a peeing sound.
-Claire sleeps with an army of stuffed animals in her bed. She hasn't been smothered yet, so I think she'll be ok.
-Claire shouts "kisses!" and "hugs" each morning as Zach is getting ready to leave for work and if he doesn't leave soon after she gets them she demands them some more. She also acts like it is the best part of her day when he comes home. Zach says it's nice to walk through the door and feel like a rock star.
At my brother's wedding Claire insisted on holding a bouquet and posing with her Dad.
-Claire loves to eat cheese, yogurt, grapes and goldfish. Have you tried gold fish. They remind me a lot of dog food. Also, she demands water all of the time, but it has to have ice in it. I think that is really funny because I craved ice water constantly when I was pregnant with her.
-Claire is obsessed with her cousin "Baby Aubrey" and requests to see her constantly. Thank goodness for face time. When Claire gets sad she will sometimes take a deep breath, look at me and say very earnestly "Baby Aubrey" and then she is instantly happy. I think this is her best skill.
-Claire can be shy. Sometimes she refuses to make eye contact with people and she buries her head on my shoulder to avoid them. We took her to a restaurant where she saw another baby and was so bashful she tried to jump out of her high chair to avoid looking at the baby. I loved that.
In conclusion: Claire is cute and she she should be forbidden from growing up.
My boys are about to start Kindergarten .... Kindergarten! It makes me feel nostalgic. Last year I ran into my Kindergarten teacher Mrs. Jenkins for the first time in - a long time. She rode a bright orange corvette and wore her hair in a black bouffant. My six-year-old self adored her. I even told my parents I wished they drove an orange corvette. She recognized me and even remembered some specifics things about me and my family. Amazing. What I remember a lot about Kindergarten is this.
We sat in groups arranged by alphabetical order. I sat by Jake Leachman. I was painfully shy. I was feeling sick. I stood up and whispered to the substitute teacher that I didn't feel well. I was hoping she would send me to the little bathroom in the back of the classroom so I could throw up in the miniature sized toilet. She sent me back to my desk. I threw up. My lunch spread not only on my desk but on all the desks around me. It was humiliating.
After first grade my family moved and I didn't see my Kindergarten classmates until we all landed at the same high school. My journalism class was arranged in alphabetical order, so that put me right next to Jake Leachman. He looked at me and said "I know you, you puked on my desk in Kindergarten." Instafriends. The moral of the story: I learned puking on someone's desk doesn't make you a social outcast
for life. Also, my looks haven't changed since Kindergarten.