January 2001

(Lewis completes check ride and IOE for jet captain, house passes four way inspection and nailing inspection,  drywall, electricity, heat, phone lines, stairs, tile and doors, Sam notices mom’s belly “I have a Batman-Buzz-Light-year,” and offers to help get the baby out, ultrasound – it’s a girl!, Joseph earns Webelos and Faith in God award, Melanie: artwork and gymnastics, Sarah starting gymnastics and learning to read)

Greeting from the Bjork family.  We hope life is treating you well.  January was eventful and we’ve seen much progress in many areas.  Lewis finished jumping through all the necessary hoops at SkyWest, passed all his check rides and finished IOE – we are pleased.  House-wise we finally passed the four way inspection plus a nailing inspection and only have the final to go.  We have walls that you can’t see through and the house looks so different.  It is becoming beautiful.  Every day it just gets better.  We have plugs and switches that turn on real lights!  We’re getting prepared for painting.  We have electricity, heat, phone line, stairs, molding, window casings, some tile, and even doors!  Our little Samuel helped us decide to invest in doors now rather than waiting.  Everyone who has or has had a two your old understand the desirability of having a room with a door that can be closed.  Quiet.

Sam has noticed my growing belly with interest and I explained that I have a baby in there.  He stuck out his little tummy and said, “I have a Batman-Buzz-light-year.”  Another day when I mentioned that the baby was stuck in there he said, “I’ll help you,” and grabbed by stomach with both hands and tried to pull it off, sometimes he sticks a ball under his shirt for his baby.  Speaking of the new little one, we had an ultrasound done and it indicates that we will be having a little girl.

Joseph has been doing well in scouting.  He earned several awards including his Webelos and Faith in God awards.  We’re proud of him.  Melanie delights us with the stories she makes up and her fantastic artwork (she didn’t get that talent from me that’s for sure).  Gymnastics started up again after a break and Melanie and Sarah are in the same class.  Melanie just shines and Sarah is having fun too.  Sarah and I have been working for some time with letters and reading and just recently she made the connection that the sounds of the letters have something to do with the mysterious art of reading.  One day like a light switching from off to on, she began to read a few simple words on her own and I am so delighted.

I got to give a little presentation in primary for ward conference as I am still serving in the Stake Primary.  I’m going beyond my second consecutive year and fourth year total in this calling.  I’m still loving my book club and we’re doing a “family home evening lesson exchange” as well.

In the December Ensign there was an article about having one on one time with children and we have started making a point of doing that.  One child gets to stay up an extra half hour to play with mom or dad.  The children love and look forward to their “special night.”  We’ve played games, barbies, read stories – whatever they want.  We don’t do it every day. I promised only that each would get a turn at most once a week and at least once a month.

Lewis and I enjoyed a “super date” January 29th.  We went to dinner and attended a Billy Joel-Elton John concern at the Delta Center.  The tickets were part of our Christmas presents.  Our seats weren’t very good, but the music was great and it was awesome to be there.

February 2001

(house: phone in, tile in bathroom and entryway, paint, toilet, sink, tub, door knobs, light fixtures, secondhand carpet, Sarah gives her first solo primary talk, everyone sick, Stake Valentines Dance, chocolate shaped heart with “funny” box made of chocolate)

In February our house project progressed further, but we still don’t live there yet.  Our phone line is in over there, but now we don’t have a phone here which makes it difficult for people to contact us.  Lewis did a great job tiling the bathroom and entryway and he and Dave Oakeson painted.  Our color is “C3L3” and it looks bright and fresh.  We have a toilet that flushes, a sink and tub that work, door knobs some light fixtures, and secondhand carpet in the kids’ rooms.  We’re close, it will be soon and every new thing is so exciting.  Remember that the goal is zero house debt, and that means going slow, doing the work ourselves, and that things will be unfinished when we move in.  We’re trying to finish the minimum requirements to pass the city “final inspection.” It’s been over a year since we started this project, but it feels like forever.

Sarah gave a talk in primary by herself for the first time.  She’s come a long way from hiding her face behind her arms while mumbling – public speaking doesn’t come easy for her like it did for Melanie.  We’ve been struggling with illness.  It seems everyone is sick.  Samuel and Sarah both have ear infections.  Sarah cried and moaned with pain and it hurt to see her so miserable.  I’m so grateful that we have such wonderful things to help our children like Tylenol and antibiotics and priesthood blessings.  We’re not through it yet, but hopefully we’re on the mending end.

Lewis took me to the Stake Valentines’ Dance my favorite date of the year and we had so much fun.  He also gave me a chocolate shaped heart which was in a funny box.  I shared the chocolate heart and it was gone in no time.  Then Joseph asked if he could have the box.  I said, “Sure” with my usual warning about how I would throw it away if he left it on the floor anywhere.  He picked it up and said, “Mom, it’s made out of chocolate.”  “No it’s not,” “Yes, it is,” and he broke off a piece and ate it.  The box was far yummier than the heart inside so I recalled my gift and we split that up too.  The joke was on me for not being observant.  Oh well.

March 2001

(passed final inspection, moved in to new house, furnished with gifts and hand-me-downs, open house for neighbors)

We move in

On March 16th we passed the final inspection on our new home.  The inspector struggled a little bit, because our situation is unusual.  Usually when a home is built there are two separate entities inspecting and approving the project: one is the city, which is obligated to check for code compliance and safety and the second is the lending institution which expects the house to be finished and beautiful to ensure that their investment is protected.  Since we didn’t get a mortgage loan we only needed to meet the city code and inspection so it’s not finished like a regular house.  The city inspector had never experienced anything like that before, usually when he comes in the house is completely finished except for perhaps the basement.  As he walked around he said, “Well, it passes code, but it’s not finished.”  Yeah, we know.

We don’t have any flooring in the rooms, except one.  My parents bought us carpet for the living room as a house warming gift so we could have one room that looks finished.  All the rest of the rooms have exposed plywood subflooring.  We don’t have proper cabinets in the kitchen, but we do have some hand-me-down cupboards with a board on top that holds our hand-me-down sink.  All of our furniture is used and hand-me-down from neighbors and family members.  Many items (sinks, faucets, dishwasher, disposal, lighting fixtures, counter tops, and some throw rugs) came from other people’s demolition and remodeling projects which were salvaged for us by my contractor brother.  In other words, this house, although safe and up to code, would not pass a bank inspection because it is still very much under construction.  We invited our neighbors over for an open house and I’m sure many were surprised.  Several people asked, “So is this your dream home?” as we were building, and we answered, “Yes, but not in the usual sense.  Our dream is to be free from debt.” We saved, worked, and economized, but we didn’t quite make it to final inspection debt free.  We ran out of money and had to get a small loan which we will pay off as soon as we can.  It’s not a mortgage, but it’s still a loan.

Anyway, we are now thrilled to be inhabiting our ‘legally inhabitable’ house.  This project takes a lot of patience, but ironically sometimes patience is the fastest way to get what you really want.

April 2001

(hosted family dinner, book club, and piano recital, Disneyland and Sea World, we lose Sarah at Sea World,  epic chess, Easter, memorizing scriptures, no sugar for Linda (baby), plant grass in front yard, cleanup & lots of work on house, Lewis damages wing spar of Pitts)

Now that we are in our home, we have a place to host things which is so exciting for us since we haven’t had any place to invite visitors for such a long time.  Our guests have to come open minded, since everything is make shift and unfinished, but that’s the kind of people we want as friends anyway.  We invited Lewis’ family over for Sunday dinner, I hosted my book club for the first time, and held my little piano recital in my home.

We had promised the children long ago that when we finished the house we’d take them to Disneyland and Sea World if they saved up enough money to pay for their admission tickets.  Joseph found it especially difficult to see his savings disappear so instantly, but even he had fun in spite of his hardship.  We had a scare at Sea World when the children were playing in the playground and I lost sight of Sarah.  We searched frantically for 10 agonizing minutes before we found her again.  She was crying when we finally found each other.  So scary to lose a child.

We took the kids to a community Easter treat hunt.  That was the first time we’ve ever done that.  I always thought those sorts of things would be nightmarish with crazed children fighting for treats, but everyone was very considerate and people were friendly.  We’ve been trying to memorize a new scripture each week or so (depending how on the ball I am).  For Easter we learned Matthew 28:6 “He is not here; for he is risen…” It’s been fun as one of our scriptures come up in General Conference or at church on Sundays and the kids say, “Hey, I know that one.”

The newest member of our family is due to arrive in about 5 weeks or so and my midwife asked me to shun sugar during the final trimester to help keep the baby a reasonable size.  Easter was torture with treats treat everywhere and not a piece for me.  I think I will celebrate the new baby by eating a big bag of M&M’s.

With warmer weather, our attention has gone outdoors.  We’ve planted a little garden, raspberries, and grass for the front of the house.  Also we rented a dumpster to clean up which should make our neighbors happy as well as ourselves.  There’s so much to do it’s overwhelming.

Lewis has enjoyed the freedom to spend more time working on building his airplane project, but he had a little accident.  The drill got a little off track in one hole and although it looks like nothing it’s in a high stress area and he had to remove the damaged wing spar.  It will need to be replaced costing $1200 and an additional month of work. It was sad.

May 2001

Some home school group projects

(bought Taurus, Sam filmed at dentist’s office, Sam cut his hair, swimming, end of the year tests and reports)

We sold our camper and are currently trying to sell our truck and van because we bought a new-to-us 1995 Ford Taurus wagon a few days ago. (Yea!)  We’ve never had such a pretty vehicle, or such a recent model.  I hope it serves us well.  It didn’t come with the third seat in back so I called several car junk yards until I found what we needed.  Lewis installed it and life is good. I love it already.  I don’t feel so conspicuous driving down the road.

The children were overdue for a visit to the dentist and it was Sam’s first time.  Our pediatric dentist was filming an educational video that day and wanted some video footage of new patients.  They asked if they could film Sam.  I wanted to laugh.  I said they certainly had my permission and if he felt like it he could be an angel, but if Sam didn’t want to do something there was no power under heaven to make him cooperate.  Well, Sam decided it was scary and he wouldn’t sit on their chair or let anyone look at him.  Finally with three adults holding him kicking and screaming, the dentist tried to look at his mouth while he clenched his teeth and bit the instruments.  I chuckled and thought, put that in your video Dr. Stark.  Let’s show kids what going to the dentist is really like.  Later when we went back to the dentist we saw the video and found that they really did use the video footage of Sam in their movie.  They were talking about different medication options that would be best for different children.  Sarah was featured in the video as an example of a well behaved child who might only need laughing gas to have work done, while Samuel was featured kicking, screaming and biting as the prime example of a child who needs to be completely sedated before having dental work done.  I can’t say it was flattering, but it was pretty honest.

One morning I was looking at the pictures of our children on the wall and thought Sam needed a new updated picture.  If he wakes up in a good mood, I’ll take him to the photographer today, I thought.  Well not long afterward my darling boy came bouncing in the kitchen and I screamed.  Somehow he found a pair of scissors and scalped himself.  I don’t know when, where or how.  So I had to give him a buzz cut to try to repair the damage and he looks like a different child.  Pictures will have to wait.  Oh Sam.

My other angels have been looking forward to the ceremonial opening of the local swimming pool and counting down the days.  We went twice over Memorial Day weekend and enjoy the summer tradition of swimming.  I didn’t put a suit on and enter the water however.  People would think I was a beached whale with my 9 month pregnant body.

We finished the school year by taking the stressful achievement tests which are worse on me than they are on the children and each child wrote a final research paper complete with outline and bibliography.   Since I also do the assignments that I give to the children I wrote a paper as well.  However, I gave myself some flexibility and wrote and essay about Charles Dickens’s Tale of Two Cities instead of a research paper.  It was kind of fun.  You don’t do a lot things like that after graduating school and it’s a good exercise to organize thoughts and put them onto paper.

June 2001

(Anna born in the car, Joseph finished Book of Mormon by his 10th birthday, Sam dental work – stops breathing, really scary, Joseph and Melanie dentist, Sarah loses her first tooth)

Our most exciting news for the month of June is the birth of our beautiful new daughter Anna Michelle Bjork, weighing 9 lbs 5 oz, and 21.5 inches long.  We had planned to have her born at home since our experience with Samuel’s home birth was so positive.  After several frustrating false starts, I was wondering if she would ever really be born.  Lewis had been out of town a lot for work.  Most of his assignments were 3 day trips and I was stressed because I really wanted him to be there for the birth, and if he’s gone on a trip I won’t be able to find where in the country he is to bring him home again.  So at 5 days overdue and Lewis leaving for another trip tomorrow, I was really hoping that the baby would come that day.  I started having contractions, but I was just not progressing.  After a long and disappointing day of fruitless labor, my midwife made a suggestion around 1 AM.   “Well we’re going to be a while and you’re tired.  Let’s go to the hospital and let you have an epidural so you can have a rest.”  It sounded like a good idea to me so arrangements were made to go to University Hospital.

So Lewis drove me to the hospital in our new station wagon with my midwife and her assistant followed in the car behind.  My mom had been supporting me throughout the day, and she came in the car with us.  We never actually made it to the hospital however because all of a sudden the baby decided to come.  Right now.  I’m glad my mom was there and was observant because I was too occupied to be able to say anything.  “Uh, Linda are you pushing? What are you doing? Lewis, pull over!”

My midwife, following in the car behind, also pulled over and asked why we had stopped.  “She pushing,” my mother told her.  “There’s no way, I checked her 10 minutes ago and she’s not even close to delivery,” she contradicted, but after taking a look at me, she quickly changed her mind and got ready to catch a baby.   So Anna was born in the car, in a parking lot of a “Central Park” hamburger drive-thru on 2100 South between State and Main streets.  Surprisingly, except for the unusual location, it wasn’t at all traumatic; in fact it was a welcome relief to be done.  I feel very blessed that it was fast (5 minutes of pushing), easy and I didn’t tear at all.  Anna was pink and perfect so we decided to head home again rather than complete the trip to the hospital. (Not before the commotion was noticed by a nearby drunk who wanted to come over and check things out, but the midwife shooed him away.  He left saying “Well, we have a 7-11 on one corner and a baby in the other.”)  We woke Joseph and let him trim the umbilical cord and tried to get some rest after an eventful night.  The children were disappointed in the morning to discover they missed it, but there was nothing we could do about that.  Even my mom missed it and she was there.  She was hunting for a flashlight and it was over by the time she found one.

After a short nap, Lewis decided to go to work and fly the three day trip as scheduled.  He figured the baby and I were  doing fine.  He mentioned to his co-pilot that he was a little tired, and the co-pilots’ jaw dropped as Lewis shared the adventures of the night.  (Just FYI for any new fathers out there, it probably would have been a better choice for Lewis to call in to work and help me at home rather than leaving me for a three day trip with a newborn and four other children – just sayin’)

News spread throughout the neighborhood of our adventure and I’ve never had so many visitors.  Many curious well-wishers brought food or gifts and everyone wanted to hear the story of the car-baby.  We’ve been spoiled and we’re grateful for caring (albeit mostly curious) neighbors.

Joseph turned 10 this same month and if that isn’t cause for reflection? When Anna is 10, Joseph won’t be here to help celebrate because he’ll be on his mission.  Wow!  It didn’t take that long to get here; will the next 10 years go as quickly?  Joseph informed me the night before his birthday that he thought he should have a party since 10 is a special age so Melanie started making invitations.  With a new baby and nothing planned I was rather nervous about the idea, but we worked it out and threw together a fun water-fight and pizza party celebration with his cousins.  Joseph had made a personal goal of finishing the Book or Mormon before he turned 10 because Joseph F. Smith had done that.  He’s been listening to the tapes to help him with his goal and he made it.  Just in time.  I’m so pleased that he made and reached this wonderful goal.

This week has been “the week of the dentist.”  Samuel needed some major work done (four crowns in front and three additional fillings).  Because he is so young (and cranky) he needed to be asleep to be worked on.  The anesthesiologist afterwards said, “I can tell a few things about your son even though I’ve just met him.  With him it’s ‘my way or the highway’ isn’t it?”  He fought so hard that a normal dosage didn’t work and he ended up giving Samuel three times the normal dosage of anesthesia. Scary. At one point Sam quit breathing and for 15 minutes they breathed for him with an oxygen tank.  It took hours longer than normal to revive him while the anesthesiologist and I worked with him to wake him up.  It was horrible.  Of course I had baby Anna with me which made things even more interesting.  Sam finally revived enough that I could take him home and we watched our Samuel slowly emerge from his drugged state.  The next day he threw up several times.  It was indescribably awful.  The following day I had to return to the dentist again for Joseph and Melanie although their experience wasn’t nearly so traumatic. Sarah lost her first tooth and has another to come soon, the new ones are already up, in a second inner row like shark teeth.  It’s sad; her beautiful perfect smile of baby teeth is being replaced by a mess.  She’ll probably need braces. Enough already, sorry this is so long; it’s been an eventful month.

July 2001

(lost loved ones, baby blessing for Anna, Whitaker cabin, Sam sneaks out and nearly gets run over by tractor, we put childproof locks on doorknobs, cement front porch, clean basement, bought a piano, Lewis goes to Osh Kosh and another air show in Montana, Lewis takes older kids to Lagoon)

During July we mourned the deaths of three loved ones.  Two uncles and my cousin’s infant daughter.  It’s been an emotional time.

Lewis has been very busy with work lately and so I’ve played single mom a lot this past month.  At home it’s not so bad, but if we try to go anywhere… you can imagine.  I braved taking the children to our family cabin only because other extended family members were also coming who might help me.

In the ongoing “sagas with Samuel” – my little boy keeps going AWOL.  One evening late, the doorbell rang and it was my uncle bringing Samuel home.  I didn’t know he had escaped again.  Sam heard the sound of the tractor working the nearby fields by headlight and thinking this was an opportunity for a ride, he bolted outside, but was nearly run over since it was dark and they couldn’t see him.  Terrifying.  Another time I was ready to lock up for the night and he was missing… again and he’d gone next door to Grandma’s because he wanted a carrot.  What?  So now we have those childproof doorknobs on all the doors leading outside.  They’re inconvenient, but it’s helped a lot.  The world is just not as safe as a little 3 year old assumes it to be.

We now have a cement front porch – no more uneven dirt, weeds, and rebar to welcome our guests, and we are delighted.  There is so much more to do.  We hope to get cement in the garage next.  I’ve spent hours and hours cleaning our giant closet called the basement and actually found a floor.  It was amazing.  Now the children can ride scooters and roller blade downstairs and Lewis set up some exercise equipment so we can work out.

Also Lewis and I went shopping for a piano.  We’ve been using an old borrowed one for quite a while.  Anyway we’ve been looking on and off for years and certainly never bought anything new before, but there was a great sale on an electric piano with a solid cherry wood case and we took it home!  It is so fun to play.

Lewis went to an air show in Montana during a layover at work followed by the BIG air show in Osh Kosh, Wisconsin and said he doesn’t need to go to any more air shows for a while.  He also took our older children to our stake Lagoon day while I stayed home with the little ones and read a book.  It was a nice break.

August 2001

(fathers and sons camp out, Lewis, Melanie and Joseph hike up Mount Olympus, Sarah jumps off the diving board, Schuyler’s baptism and the chocolately, muddy, wet, buggy, bloody disaster on the way home, disastrous Sunday with 5 children and no husband, Joseph stung on the lip, Sarah cries at Parade of Homes, house appraisal, frustrations with business license and city)

Lewis took Joseph and Sam to a fathers and sons camp out.  He was delighted to spend some time with his boys.  Sam has such a fun sense of adventure and wonder and delights us with phrases like “the dark is all gone” when morning comes.  The stake has contests for the guys to participate in and Joseph won a hammering contest for the whole stake.

Lewis took Joseph and Melanie for a hike up Mt. Olympus.  They brought the cell phone and called me when they reached the top so I got to hear their shouts of exultation.  When they left I really didn’t expect them to make it all the way to the top.  I thought they’d hike until they got tired and then come back down.  Other hikers along the path were amazed as well and made comments like, “Wow, those are tough kids.”  The adventure was 10 hours round trip.  What a great experience.  They’ve already done something that I have not.

Sarah delighted us when she finally got the courage to jump off the diving board for the first time.  It was immediately followed by the second, third… tenth that first day.  She loves it and grins from ear to ear.  We took her to get a sundae to celebrate that rite of passage.   Another day at the pool, on one of those rare occasions where Lewis was around to care for Anna so I could actually have a turn in the water, I had a chance to play with my children and it was so fun.  Sam would jump from the side into my waiting arms and I would hold him and spin him around and he smiled and laughed.  It was one of those golden moments in time that help carry you through the day-to-day monotony of life.

Anna is such a delight and everyone loves her “bunny fur hair.”  One Sunday as I let a friend held her, she confided, “There was a time when all I could think about was having a baby.  I wanted it more than anything, but I came to realize that even if I did get married, I am too old now and my health would not permit it.” (She is battling cancer) When she returned Anna to me so I could go feed her, I just cradled her and looked at her and tears of gratitude welled in my eyes.  She is mine.  I don’t have to ask anyone for permission to hold her, and care for her and love her.  I enjoy that blessing of motherhood which desire is overwhelming in women.  I am so fortunate.  I love my family with all my heart.

But even so, every day is not filled with sunshine and roses.  For example, one day when Lewis was out of town for work, I drove the children an hour to support an extended family member in a celebration.   Afterwards I wanted to get home before darkness fell so I rounded up the children and loaded them up in the car.  I didn’t even think about the chocolate candy bars that Melanie brought back with her until we had driven down the road for a while with Melanie and Sarah giggling in the back seat.  One of the girls asked for a diaper wipe and there weren’t any in the diaper bag.  I asked what they needed it for and turned to look at them.  They had melted chocolate covering their hands and arms and were laughing as they teased and smeared each other.  Instantly my mood changed.  I was angry.  A chocolate mess in our new car!  I needed some water to clean them up and didn’t have any with me.

There was a ditch at the side of the road and I thought that maybe they could get their hands wet there and then they could wipe them off with a dry towel or blanket in the car, so I pulled over.   To my dismay, as I opened the door to help them with their seatbelts a swarm of bugs immediately rushed inside the car.  Furthermore, as the girls tried to locate some clear water, they slipped in the mud along the banks.  This plan is backfiring horribly.  We’ve got to find a better way, time to get back in the car.  Now I had wet, muddy, chocolately kids in a bug filled car.  AAH!  I drove on until I reached a gas station where I hoped to clean everyone with a hose, but of course it was out of order.  However the sprinklers were on so I had them clean themselves off there.  Then we got back into the car and continued the long drive home.  A few seconds passed before they were asking for a tissue.  What do you need a tissue for?  Sarah has a bloody nose, with the dry summer heat, she gets them regularly. Oh great, now we have blood spatters to add to the other messes I get to clean.  I quickly found a pack of tissues and handed them to the back seat.  What a night.

Sunday morning came and it was my first experience with five children alone at church.  Lewis, of course, was still at work.  As we entered the chapel, Anna was crying with hunger, Samuel was crawling all over the place and I was trying to quickly and quietly get everyone seated.  I fumbled for a bottle to start feeding Anna, but Sarah loudly complained, “Mom you said I could feed Anna!”  “Just sit down,” I ordered.  Eventually we settled in for meetings, but later I had to leave because Anna was fussing so I took her and Samuel out to the mother’s room.  Joseph, Melanie and Sarah were on their own and immediately began bickering.  I came back as soon as I could and discovered that in my absence Sarah’s nose started bleeding again.  Of course I hadn’t been there to help.  The family sitting behind us gave Sarah a tissue, but not before blood smeared on her face and dress.  What a day!

After sacrament meeting ended I tried to take Samuel and Sarah to their classes while carrying Anna in one arm, the car seat and diaper bag in the other and a blanket draped wherever.  After I got the kids to their classes I went to my Sunday school class, but after sitting there for a few moments, I realized that I had misplaced the car seat somewhere in the church so I got up and retraced my steps carrying the baby, diaper bag and blanket until I finally located the car seat outside Sarah’s classroom.   Then I returned to Sunday School and soon realized that while I was walking the halls trying to find the missing car seat I somehow misplaced Anna’s blanket.  By this time I realized that Sunday School just wasn’t going to work today and I knew I was either going to laugh or start crying so I gathered all my things and took them into the primary room where I would be playing the piano during the last hour of church.  Then the hunt was on again since I somehow misplaced the blanket again.  A friend in the primary presidency helped me find the missing blanket and the rest of the meeting didn’t go too horribly.  Melanie held Anna during singing time so I could use two hands to play the piano.

In the evening we were invited to a friend’s house for dinner where Joseph was stung on the lip by a hornet and his poor lip swelled up like a balloon and looked as if it would burst.  We tried ice and a homeopathic remedy, but neither did much to help.  So we went home and gave him some Benadryl and by morning he was almost back to normal.

The annual Parade of Homes was held in August and Lewis and I had several dates looking at the different homes.  We let Joseph tend the others (except Anna of course who goes everywhere with me) and had them check in on the cell phone from time to time.  They called a lot, every few minutes or so and sometimes we could hear crying in the background as they struggled to get along without mom there to referee.  Once during a family drive we happened to pass one of the parade homes and decided to stop by.  We didn’t think the children would enjoy going inside, but I thought I could at least let the kids see the beautifully landscaped back yard and Sarah surprised me by bursting into tears!

“Why are you crying Sarah?”

“Their yard is so pretty and ours is so ugly.  All we have is dirt and weeds.  Why do they make pretty things that they know kids will like when they know they can’t have them?”

I was shocked.  This was certainly not the response I was looking for.  I promised her that we will plant grass (again, after our first failed attempt) and have a nicer yard eventually, but it would take some time.   I didn’t know that the state of our unfinished yard was painful for a little girl who likes nice things.  I immediately set aside a small section of the front yard as Sarah’s flower garden and began planting a few colorful flowers.  As I carefully tended Sarah’s garden and managed to get a few flowers to bloom, I asked her, “Do you like your garden?  Did I do a good job?”

And she said, “No,”

“Why not?” I replied feeling hurt.

“Because you don’t let me pick them,” she replied.  Sigh.  So I learned that I had to let her pick whatever flowers grew.  I’ll get it right some day.

This week has been very stressful.  The new school year started Monday and I’m homeschooling for the fifth year now.  But that in itself isn’t a big deal; it’s the other stuff I’m dealing with.  We received a notice for property taxes and they assessed our new home at a really high price, much higher than the amount our appraiser calculated.  If the state had any idea how unfinished the house is inside, they would know that their appraisal is ridiculous, but I’m not inviting them in.  I had to go before the board of equalization to present my case and hope for some reprieve, they denied my case.  Of course Lewis was out of town and I got to do it myself.  Oh joy.

However that is nothing compared to my frustration with the City.  For some time now I’ve been debating about getting a business license for teaching piano lessons.  I only have a few students and the whole issue seems rather stupid, but the city sends newsletters occasionally and one said that it you’re conducting any business in your home, even piano lessons, you need to have a license so now I feel guilty, so I figured I’d better go apply for a business license, but we’ve had such a horrible experience every time I try to work with the city that I dreaded it.   This visit was no exception, and as I turned in my paperwork and paid my fees, the woman at the counter saw my name and said, “Are you Lewis Bjork’s wife?”

Surprised I answered, “Yes I am.”

“I understand that he’s running a business in his home without a license,” she accused.

“He’s not running a business from our home,” I countered.  But it looked quite obvious to me that she doesn’t believe me, and she finished her business with me with a tight lipped frown.  I went home shaking and furious, as much as I had been dreading this and as horrible as I thought it would be… it was worse.  The situation is this:  my neighbor Dennis Rogers wants to have a cabinet shop so he went to the city to apply for a permit.  They turned him down saying the noise and dust would change the nature of the neighborhood.  He got upset and said, “My neighbor in the back yard has a shop and a license, why can’t I?” Well we do have a “shop” (aka garage) where Lewis is building an airplane, however, we are not running any business, it’s personal and not for profit, and we do not have any license.  So the city is now thinking that we’re running some kind of a business illegally and knows the name well enough to recognize it when I went in for an entirely different matter.

To obtain a business license for piano lessons, I have to plead my case before the planning commission, but now I fear it will be more of an inquisition where I have to prove myself innocent of the charges.  I am so stressed that an ugly cold sore popped out on my upper lip.  My mom stopped by and asked how I was doing and I explained the situation.  Her response was that I never should have gone to them in the first place, it’s none of their business.  I don’t have that many students anyway, and she wished we had never been incorporated as a city as they were too invasive as it was etc.  All of this is true of course and are all things that I have thought many times, however it was not at all helpful.  It’s too late.  If it was a mistake to go to the city, I’ve already done it and the ball is in motion.  I can’t back down now or they’ll say I’m “running a business without a license” and I’ll be in trouble.  I was just trying to obey our laws even if I think they are moronic.  My hearing is on September 11th at 7 PM and chances are that Lewis will be working and I’ll have to deal with the issue myself… again.

September 2001

(hearing before City, terrorist attack on 9/11, Melanie turns 8 and is baptized, Sarah turns 6, anniversary, primary program, neighbors robbed again, cement in garage, barn coming down, Anna’s first laugh, Sam’s tantrum)

I had been dreading September 11th because that was the day I had a hearing before the city for a business license for teaching piano lessons.  They were demanding that I pave my driveway before granting permission which would cost thousands of dollars, additionally they wrongfully accused me on two other matters and I was upset at being treated like a villain.  Lewis was out of town flying for the airlines and I was on my own again.  When he called me in the morning I was ready to vent my worries and frustrations, but he stopped me by saying, “Turn on the TV.”  Terrorists had attacked New York and Washington DC and put my concerns into perspective.  They were silly and insignificant compared to the drama taking place in our nation.  Lewis was flying en route when the attacks occurred.  Instantly all flights everywhere were grounded and wherever you landed you had to stay.  Fortunately for us, he was landing in Salt Lake, so he was able to come home.  Otherwise he would have been gone for many more days until commercial flying was allowed again.  As an airline pilot, the attacks affected his job immediately.  Prior to 9/11 pilots were trained to comply with high jackers’ demands and to rely on law enforcement agencies to handle the situation on the ground.  After 9/11 security doors with locks were added to airplanes to separate the pilots from the passengers to prevent high jackers from gaining control of the airplane, training was altered, and security heightened.

Incidentally my hearing with the city for the business permit went fine.  I carefully prepared a speech addressing the city’s concerns/accusations and giving further insight.  The council listened respectfully, laughed at my jokes, and were fully persuaded by my arguments.   They unanimously voted to grant permission and waived the requirement for pavement.  I even had the satisfaction of seeing one of my wrongful accusers get his hand slapped – it was rather delicious.

September is always a full month for our family.  Melanie turned 8 and was baptized.  Sarah turned 6 and Lewis and I celebrated our 12th anniversary.

Our neighbors, the Rogers (who bought our house) were robbed… again.  In less than an hour someone(s) took about $5000 worth of stuff.  It seems very likely that it was the same people who did it the first time and we suspect a neighbor might be involved, but have no proof.  It is frightening and infuriating.  The Rogers were even talking about moving and I don’t blame them.  Joseph, Melanie and Sarah each cleared out their piggy banks and donated everything they’d saved to Dennis pleading with them not to move.  They were so sweet.   Later, Dennis and Marie came over with the envelopes the children had given them and returned their money with an extra dollar each to thank them for their thoughtfulness.

Those events prompted us to get a garage door to increase our security.  Lewis also built a lean-to section to his shop.  The children and I cleaned out the old hay barn, and then Lewis and Uncle Hyrum (and his tractor) pulled it down (hooray!!!).   Today I worked on cleaning up the massive pile of rubble and loading it into a dumpster, Lewis is out of town for work, but he’ll help when he returns.  There is so much work to be done.

Anna smiles now and laughed for the first time on Sarah’s birthday.  It was like angels singing.  She and the other children light up my life!  But, as the scriptures say there must be opposition in all things and the dearies can also bring frustration.  One day as part of a spectacular temper tantrum, Samuel not only ripped all the covers and sheets off his and Joseph’s bunk beds, he pulled off the mattresses for emphasis as well.  The cause of this?  He asked me to blow up a balloon for him, which I did, but I tied a knot on the end and apparently he wanted it left open so he could let go and have it blow around the room.  Sheesh.

October 2001

(old barn gone, lots of tilling, soffit and fascia, Linda minor car accident, Joseph cardboard derby in scouts, Sarah rides a bike, Lewis describes what it’s like to be welcomed home from work, Halloween, Lewis describes changes in the airlines since 9/11)

[written by Lewis]

We’ve been working on the yard some more.  The old barn is completely gone and the yard looks so much better.  We picked up two truckloads of mulch and three loads of manure and tilled, tilled, tilled trying to help our poor barren ground be ready for life in the spring.  We hired Linda’s brother Lowell to install soffit and fascia on the house and it is looking good.

Linda got in a car accident on the 15th.  No one was hurt, but Melanie and Sarah who were with her, were a bit nervous driving for while afterwards.

All of a sudden, on the morning of the 20th, Sarah rode a bike.  Thereafter, she would neither stop grinning nor get off the bike.  Later that day, she and I rode clear around the block.  What a delight.

Linda runs our household with such good humor and capability when I am gone away to work.  Coming home is wonderful.  She fills me in on all the events of the day and the children pounce on me, running in from all over the house.  Sam usually tackles one of my legs and hangs on as I walk around. Today they filled my hands with candy they’d collected from trick-or-treating.  Sam is still dressed as the Boy Wonder.  Joseph was Batman, Melanie a witch and Sarah was a “white gloved lady,” which I supposed looked like someone headed to a ball.

Tonight, only bits of their facial make-up remained of their costumes.  I catch little details here and there about life at home, when I am not, and it sounds delightful.  I could count great blessings my whole life and Linda tops the list – she is amazing.

Airline work is going fine.  We are well positioned for and cutbacks in the industry and the company is actually growing as the major airlines diminish their service.  We now include Dallas as a hub and fly from there into Pensacola, FL and up into Charlotte, NC, among a great many other destination.  The flying has some procedural differences with respect to the terrorist threat particularly in our response to an on-board threat, which make it VERY difficult to hijack an airplane now.  Perhaps the greatest deterrent is a wary group of passengers in the back that would now take action against anyone.  The company recently requested its pilots to study up on military intercept procedures.  Airport security has increased considerably, but still has a way to go. There is help all over the place if something happens, and people are taking things very seriously.

November 2001

(Lewis working on Sundays, Linda faux painted the kitchen floor, Lewis working on framing and wiring in basement, soffit and fascia, Linda administers first aid for broken leg at skating rink, Melanie in achievement days)

Joseph is already into cars.  His Cub Scout group replaced the pine-wood derby with cardboard. Each boy made a vehicle out of cardboard that could be worn around the waist.  (Joseph built a tank, complete with a little turret and gun) They donned driving goggles and raced a mad cap pattern around the cultural hall, making various assigned pit stops.  The pit stops included a tire change (take off a shoe and sock turn the sock inside out and put everything back on), a windshield cleaning (someone sprayed them in the face with water and then wiped their goggles), a fuel stop (they had to drink a cup of water through a straw) and finally a blown engine (they relinquished the car to their father or sibling to run the final lap).  Melanie ran as Joseph’s spare and won the race.

During November Lewis had to be gone for work every Sunday, and boy is his absence felt.  Church is really hard without him.  For December I get him on Sundays but may not have him Christmas day.  Oh, well, the children won’t complain if they get to open their presents a day early.

When Lewis painted our home in preparation to move in, everything was painted the same color – white.  The walls, the ceiling and the unfinished floors were all painted white.  It’s a little like living inside a cloud.  The floors did not stay white for long, now they’re varying shades of dirty gray from use.  So I practiced faux painting on the kitchen floor (subfloor) and it looks somewhat better.  Our goal remains the same – no house debt, so we can only work on the house as we earn money.  Each payday inches the progress forward, but it’s so slow.  The reality timetable of finishing our home does not match the fantasy one and it will be a while before cabinets and flooring can be installed.  But we are making progress a little at a time.  We had hoped to have the driveway paved before the snow fell, but since the city decided we need to have soffit and fascia first we didn’t make that goal.  I hope we don’t get stuck this winter or spring… too often.  Lewis is working on some framing, and wiring in the basement. Yea!

I went roller-skating with the kids early in the month and a man fell and broke his leg.  The teenagers who were working there really didn’t know what to do and the guy’s wife was sort of in shock so I ended up in charge of first aid, decision making, transporting, giving assignments and so on.  I’ve never done anything like that and the rest of the day it kept going through my mind as I wondered if I had done everything right.  I hope so.

I enjoyed a mother/daughter date with Melanie for achievement days and now Lewis and I are working with the Webelos scouts.  We’re getting ready for Christmas and doing fine.

December 2001

(Christmas parties, graham cracker houses, Melanie: passed off articles of faith, earned Gospel in Action award, earned medal in gymnastics, advanced a level in gymnastics, activity days, won national art contest and earned $100 and had her art made into Christmas cards; Joseph: great helper, scouts, play station, entered art contest, started tumbling class, got a footlocker to have a “Samuel proof” place for treasures; Sarah: carries lip gloss to freshen up, earned medal in gymnastics, entered art contest; Samuel:  thinks Joseph stole his Christmas present bow-and-arrow-Robin-Hood, he is “yellow Batman,” Anna almost ready to sit up; Lewis: works on planes in the garage and the basement and works every holiday; Linda pulled over by police; new freezer for Christmas; Lewis mission molas famed; painting living room, kitchen, bathroom)

Happy New Year!  The holiday season was joyful in our home and we look forward to a wonderful new year!  We enjoyed our annual tradition of making graham cracker houses, and lots of Christmas parties.  At Lewis’ work party we visited with a co-worker whose baby was shaken at daycare and it was a sad story.  The baby was temporarily blind and has brain damage.  These little ones are so precious and fragile.  It would break my heart if someone hurt one of my children.

Our little Melanie enjoyed a “golden” week mid-December.  First she passed off all of the articles of faith in primary and earned her Gospel in Action award, earned a medal in her gymnastics show and was the only one in her class to be advanced to the next level, enjoyed a fun achievement day activity, had a sleepover, and won $100 in an interstate art contest sponsored by our credit union.  Her art work was made into Christmas cards for the credit union.  They sent us only one and that will go into her scrapbook.  We are very proud of her.

Joseph is such a wonderful helper; I would be lost without him.  He’s enjoying scouts and making some new friends, whipping everyone on our new play station (there’s something about 10 year old boys having a natural ability at those things), received some nice pens and a thank you for his drawing for the credit union Christmas card contest (plus $5 from us to soften the blow that Melanie won), and after watching the girls perform at their gymnastics show he thought he’d like to try that too, so he’s starting tumbling with a class full of boys his age.  For Christmas he got a footlocker with a lock so he’d have a “Samuel proof” place to put some of his treasures.

Princess Sarah caries her new Mary Kay lip gloss case with lip brush with her everywhere so she can “freshen up” wherever she is.  She earned a medal at her gymnastics show and some pens and a thank you for her Christmas card drawing (plus $5 from us).  She looks forward to turning eight and enjoying her turn in the limelight.

Samuel was so patient waiting for Christmas.  Melanie got him a little bow and arrow set and he knew which present it was under the tree and he talked about his “bow-and-arrow-Robin-Hood” every day, but he didn’t sneak it out or open it when no one was looking.  I was proud of him for that.  At our family Christmas party Joseph got a little bow and arrow set from Santa and Samuel thought Joseph had taken his precious present and we almost had a war.  Melanie saved us by allowing him open her present a little early to reassure him and so the boys could play together.  He is “yellow Bat Man” regardless if the cape is red, black, or green and he is rarely without one.

Anna is a little tardy on her Christmas present to me.  I asked her to sit up for me for Christmas (she’s 6 months old now) and she can if you prop her up just so.  She’ll get the hang of it soon.  She is pleasant and lovable.  When we were at Temple Square looking at the Christmas lights a sister missionary stopped me and said, “I saw you earlier downstairs and I fell in love with your baby!”  Anna recently discovered the joy of gumming crackers into a slobbery mess and once after I retrieved a too-big piece she was gagging on, Melanie commented, “Babies make moms do disgusting things.”  How true, but they’re so worth it, even though she gets up way too much during the night.

Lewis has been working with Dave Oakeson on their plane in the garage and now also in the basement.  He was away for work the evening of Christmas Eve, the Morning of Christmas day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and most of the other days as well.  I’m grateful to have a job and appreciate all he does for us.

I was pulled over by a police car for the first time in my life.  I saw the lights behind me and pulled over to let him pass and to my surprise he stopped behind me instead.  He just informed me that I had a tail light out and let me go, but it was eerie to wait for him and have him shine his flashlight through the windows and check if everyone was in car seats and seat belts.

I got a freezer for Christmas (thank you Lewis) and I took the molas (Central American sewing artwork) that Lewis brought home from his mission and had it framed as a present to Lewis.  That added a vibrant splash of color to our walls, which started a chain reaction.  Since then we painted the bathroom, living room, kitchen-great room, and there’s still more to do.  So it was a present to me too (grin).  We have actual color in the house.  Whoot!

Click here for link to previous year (2000)

Click here for link to next year (2002)