My exciting life with a house full of boys

Monday, January 25, 2010

So...We're Indian

Latest TJism:

"Mom, do I look Italian?"

"NO. Why?"

"Four people asked me today if I'm Italian. Maybe it's my bushy eyebrows."

"Your eyebrows aren't bushy. Just dark. (He turns his hat backwards) Hmm Maybe you do look a little Italian"

"Where do we come from?"


"No. I mean where are we from?"

Taylor chimes in, "Aren't we German or something?"

TJ responds, "No, it's Austrian right?"

"You're about 1/16 Austrian. Really, you're from here. We've been here since the early 1600's"

With great enlightenment TJ responds, "Wait! So we're Indian!"

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Real Desert Dwellers Don't Need Umbrellas

Last night Spencer went to Walmart to buy an umbrella. Why, I'm not really sure since we typically get so little rain. But, it has been raining for a day and there is more in the forecast. This is a rare treat for us in the desert. We usually have a 5 minute fly by. A downpour for several minutes and then it's gone; blown away, not to be seen again for several months. I am sure that if a survey was taken of most desert dwellers, the only ones owning umbrellas would be snowbirds and Utah travelers.

Spencer parted with his $2.00 and placed the umbrella in the shopping bag. He then set out through the pounding rain, head ducked, dodging puddles, hurrying to the car. It was then he realized that only minutes ago he had purchased an umbrella that was securely in the dry protection of the shopping bag. Oh well. Maybe it will get used in the next storm.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Old Is Good. New Is Better.

This post is for the grandma and family that couldn't be here. The morning started out smoothly. I slept in, Bret took the twins to work for a quick job, Spencer and Taylor were still asleep and DAsh and Ellie were getting ready for the day. We had time. Until the phone rang. TJ's plane was arriving 45 minutes early. What! That doesn't happen in the airline business. We kicked it into gear and made it to the airport as his plane was landing. Then we waited. And waited. 50 minutes later they finally deplaned.

I don't think I've ever hugged him so hard or so long. Even when he left. It was a sweet reunion. His long time friend Mikey K was there along with his Grandma and Grandpa Branch and all of us. Grandma, Twins and Ellie all made signs to welcome him home. We set off to get his luggage. I was surprised it was in such great shape. Only one small pocket zipper was broken. He lugged 300 pound weights in this luggage through all of his transfers. Thank You Pomeroy's for a worthwhile purchase.

When we got to the car, he wanted to drive. He said he likes driving. The twins were scared. He of course got us home safely going just over 60 mph apparently still following mission rules. He kept commenting on how clean everything was and how nice the roads were. No pot holes here.

We went to the stake center to meet with the Stake President so that he could officially release TJ from his misson call, however he wasn't there yet so we gathered for a spontaneous family pic.

We then headed back to the house to wait to hear from Stake President. There was one problem. TJ had said that he was not going into the house until he road his bike. His loyal brothers dutifully responded to the situation and cleared a path from the garage to roll out the ride.

I am just sorry I didn't get a picture as he took off. One wheel on the ground, the other in the air. He pulled a wheelie half way down the street and the other way back up. Yes, he is still in his suit and tag and smiling ear to ear.

One thing to note. This is his only suit. In fact what he is wearing are the only articles of clothing that he brought home with the exception of his ties, 2 pair of basketball shoes, and souvenir t-shirts. $2600.00 worth of suits, coats, hats, gloves, scarves, clothing, bicycle, bedding and towels left. He says he wore it all to threads. If you remember his return from the Boy Scout Jamboree you know that we are accustomed to this. That time we had to throw it all away. This time it was at least left for the less fortunate to use. Thank goodness we kept his clothes from pre-mission
The twins were so excited about their t-shirts that they wore them to school today. TJ will be proud. Dallin loved teasing Hunter this morning, when he zipped up his jacket it looked like he was wearing a skirt. This of course ended up in a wrestle on the floor. Dallin had already decided he wasn't going to wear a jacket in order to avoid the skirt issue. I convinced them that they could still be warm if they left their jackets unzipped and they wouldn't look like they were wearing skirts. They agreed.

TJ had spent the night at the mission president's home. He and two other missionaries went to sleep about 1:00am only to awaken two hours later to prepare to go to the airport. We had a wonderful evening with food, family an friends stopping by to welcome Tee home. He decided to crash on the couch for the night (we don't know which room he wants to sleep in yet)around 10:30 pm. That's 12:30 Michigan time. He was exhausted. But this morning he got up with Bret and went to work. He's using a sledge hammer to break up a concrete floor. He was excited to return to some physical labor. To my most pleasant surprise, this is what I found

His bedding neatly folded along with his clothes from the day before.
This is new!
Throughout the day we had a wonderful time listening to some of his stories. I know there are hundreds yet to come. He kept asking me if there was something he could do.
This is new.
He found our guitars that know one can play and started playing a few songs.
This is new.
He went over to the piano and started playing songs that he made up.
This is new. (apparently he stole the mission electric piano from the mission home and tinkered around with it. Thank You Jenny D for your elementary years of training. Eventually the mission presidents wife stole it back but he enjoyed it while he had it.)
He saw a book I am reading on the counter, "Jesus the Christ" and asked where I was in it. He then explained that it's a hard read but it gets easier. "Hey, have your read the book Charly? It's sad. I didn't cry but my companion did. It's a really good book. You should read it." A Little while later conversation brought up another topic of which I brought out another book to show him. He excitedly took it from me and said, "Cool. Now I have my next read. Oh yeah Mom. I really like reading now."
This is new.
I am finding myself excited for him to come home from work today. I just want to look at him and listen to him talk and giggle and maybe find out what else it new. This is FUN!

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'll Smile 'Till Wednesday

I need to give some background. Several months ago I received a call from Elder Branch that his wallet had possibly been stolen and he needed me to cancel his bank card and reorder his AZ driver's license. I cancelled the card immediately but put off the driver's license reorder. Okay - so I forgot. A week later I received and e-mail from him telling me that he found the wallet. It had been somewhere in his apartment. I didn't need to reorder the driver's license after all however, I wasn't able to reorder his bank card. He would have to do that himself. He never did. This left him without access to his account unless he went into a bank branch, which he never thought to do.

Fast forward to today. I sent him an e-mail to let him know how much money was in his account. Today is his last P day (preparation day), and I thought that he might want to get a few things before he heads home on Wednesday. I told him that he would need to walk into a Bank of America and show them his ID. About 8:00 I receive a phone call. The conversation went like this:

"Mom, hey I got your e-mail. I'm at the bank. What do I do?"

"Tell them you would like to make a withdrawal but you don't know your account
number and you had previously cancelled your card. You'll need to show them your driver's license."

"Okay. Thanks. Bye. Oh Yeah. See you Wednesday!"

Even though I know I'll see him in a little more than 48 hours (I'm not counting), it made me smile ear to ear and get a tear in my eye just to hear his voice.

The phone rang again. It was Elder Branch. The conversation went like this:

"Mom, what's my social? I know it starts with a X but I don't remember the rest of it."

"It's XXX-XX-XXXX. Who is that giggling so hard in the background?"

"The bank lady. I guess she thinks it's funny that I'm almost 22 and I have to call my mom for my number. (giggles himself) Thanks Mom. See you in a couple days. I love you"

"Call me if you need something else. Love ya, Bye"

I haven't heard back so I am assuming he got what he needed. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has more than 13 million members. Many have been taught by boys/men just like this. It's not the boy that converts. It's the simplicity of the spirit that they have and the power of the Holy Ghost that they share. He may not know his social but he knows his Savior. And he knows the fullness and truthfulness of what he has taught. He has a strong testimony and believes it with all he's got. what more could a mother ask for. I'll be smiling 'till Wednesday.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

He's Almost Home!

I can't believe that our missionary is almost home. Elder Timothy Jackson Branch returns from the Michigan, Detroit Mission next Wednesday at 10:15am. I remember the day he left. I thought my heart would break. I figured it wouldn't be as hard as it was when our first son left but it was. For the first year I would find myself tearing up as I saw something that reminded me of him. Holidays and trips left us feeling the hole that was there. The first year seemed like it would never pass.
But then Danny became sick and we were able to focus our time and energy on him. It was a blessing really, knowing that TJ was where he was supposed to be, doing the things he was supposed to do, and being carefully watched over by a parent greater than ourselves. I didn't need to worry about him. The second year flew by. Now I find myself with mixed emotions. I am asked quite often, "Aren't your getting excited?" My answer is of course, "Yes!" But the honest answer is, "I don't know". Yes, I've missed him. A ton. I miss his giggle, his help, his absent minded "blond" moments, his adventures, his very presence.

BUT. I will miss having a missionary. I will miss the spirit that it brings to our family. I will miss the blessings that it has brought. I don't want that to end.
AND. I know TJ. I know that he has grown and that he has matured. But I also know that he is still the sometimes absent minded adventurer who will indeed bring more "excitement" into our life. I know that he is now an adult. Not my teen aged boy. I don't know that I am excited for the adjustment that is coming. But it is coming. He is coming. Hopefully he has grown out of his messes and learned to fold his own laundry.

I do know that he has been a great missionary. He has stayed focused on his purpose and his call. He has loved the people that he has met. He has been obedient and has been blessed because of that obedience. He has taught many. He has baptised some. He has learned to lead others in a positive way. He has learned to read fluently. He has learned to really love his family. But most importantly, his testimony of the savior has grown. And that is what I am most excited to see.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Year Supply Collecting Does Not Equal Preparedness

I have a theory. I hate to cook and I am not very good at it. If the need ever arises and necessities are hard to come by and I have things others want, I mean really want, then maybe I could have some bartering power for a loaf of bread or a good meal. I have taken pride in the fact that I have an overly ample supply of sugar, cocoa, tampons and toilet paper. But then the dreaded day came.

Nine people go through a lot of toilet paper and then to have two house guests for the weekend really increases the quantity used. I store my TP in the attic - out of the way - but very inaccessible, especially in the cold of night. So we resorted to other means. Unfortunately we were short these items as well and some tend to result in the need of a plunger or a good plumber. Thank goodness I have both. You would think that with all the drivers in my house that someone would have had the time to run to the nearest Walgreens or even climb up an retrieve the "I am prepared" attic TP. Not the case. Eventually the following day, late afternoon, we headed to Costco to purchase our modern day convenience.

I must say that I was shocked to see that the price of this luxury has risen over the year from $11.99 to a whopping $17.99. Perhaps with the economy the way that it is I should plant my own garden of lambs ear.

Moral of the story: Being prepared is not always enough.