Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Science Fair Projects

It is the time of year that I'm not really thrilled about. Time when your (my) child hands you a paper from their teacher that they have had shoved in the bottom of their backpack for over a month that states that said child is expected to participate in the school science fair.

Now, if they had given me the paper when the teacher expected them to, it wouldn't be such a problem.

And if my husband wasn't a science guy/Biology major, it would still be okay because I could figure out a really quick and easy project for them to do--at this point going solely for credit and NOT to make a run for winning any prizes.

Last year the brilliant plan was to buy a bunch of baby mice, 2 cages for comparison, and feed one group regular mouse food and the other group sugared cereal. The plan sounded easy enough, but the mice in the cereal group ended up not being all that healthy to begin with and thus lost weight (which was not really what we were going for here).

And to top it off, once the project was over we were stuck with pet mice.

This year, my daughters chose their own project.

No animals involved, which was nice.

They decided to do a sleep deprivation project. The plan was to stay awake for 3 days and 2 nights, doing various activities such as a reading comprehension test at the beginning, middle, and end of the project; physical activities at those same times to judge coordination and stamina, etc.

This project started Sunday night.

They took at 4 hour nap in the middle of the first night.

Last night--night #2--...after I explained to them that 4 hours of sleeping does not a sleep deprivation case make...they fell asleep for another 4 hours.

Now, I am not going to stay up all night to help them stay awake just so they actually complete the project.

And 4 hours of sleep is actually normal some nights.

So now, after all that effort I am terrified that my husband is going to load the kids up in the car and take them out to purchase more items for a different project. Items with legs and hair and that breathe.

I know....maybe I can talk them into studying why a person can't leave their blog text colors alone....:)

In the mean time, I have 3 daughters and one of their friends who have had 8 hours of sleep in the last 48 or so hours...which means they probably don't have enough for a science fair project, but they definitely have enough to make for very ornery children.

It is like normal around here--but escalated. To much louder decibles.

So we have that going for us.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Backgrounds

If any of you have checked my blog over the last couple of days, you will have noticed that I am now on my 5th background.

I can't decide what I like best.

I started with the standard blogger background that I have had for over a year, then I moved to a lovely green. But when browsing a bit more I decided that I like the red and black and white colored backgrounds the best so I found one in those tones, but my mom didn't like the white text. So I changed to pink, and got comments like: "Well, it is pink." But you could tell they didn't mean that in a good way. So I went back to the red/black/white combo, but with a red background behind the text instead of black so that I didn't have to have white text.

But you'll notice that the background has the words "Happy New Year", which means that in a week or so I will be changing the background again.

One of these days I might break down and figure out how to do html stuff on my own and design my own background. That way everyone will have to zip it about their likes and dislikes because they will be trying to boost my ego and tell me how talented I am.

Or they will just be trying really hard to not hurt my feelings.

Either way works for me. :) When I don't design the background myself, it is easy to say that they aren't fond of the choice.

I just thought I would explain the multiple backgrounds lately. It all comes back to my lack of having a decision making gene. Not sure who I can blame for that one, but I'm trying really hard to not take it all on myself. Parents are lovely scapegoats. And as I am becoming my own children's scapegoats on their defects, I am getting good at talking them into blaming their grandparents too.

So mom, it is all your fault.

Whatever it is. :)

And we all thank you for it even when you actually have nothing at all to do with it.

Whatever that means.

(Are you sure you didn't like the pink?)

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Look! A Christmas entry that is actually ON Christmas.

That's huge.

I just wanted to wish everyone a Merry Christmas...Happy Holidays, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa...etc.

My Christmas has been good. I only have to return one item, so that is a bonus. And shockingly it isn't an item for my husband (picky guy), it is from my daughter (I *gasp* got her the wrong boots--so she is turning into picky teen :) )

At this time of year, as every Christmas lately, I am now at the point of trying to decide if losing weight is worth it or if I should just throw in the towel and see how large I can get. If I hadn't started exercise/eating right 3 weeks ago, I might have been able to break new weight records this year. :)

It is nice that all is normal in my world for the moment.

For the "reason for the season" comment in today's blog, I would implore you all to go read "The Living Christ" again. (For you non-LDS folk, you can see it here: The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles . I guess for even you LDS guys. Might make it easier to read it online than to get it off your wall or wherever you might have put your copy. It is a good reminder of our faith and our beliefs that He was born for us, He lived for us, and He died for us. Christians can all embrace that, regardless of denomination.

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season filled with friends and family and laughter--and little to no fruit cake.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

New Year's Resolutions for 2009

What the heck.

I write about Thanksgiving almost a month after the fact, why not write about resolutions--that may or may not be kept--before Christmas.

It all stems from Christmas anyway. The thoughts of resolutions that I really should have instigated years ago. I am reminded of these items usually on Christmas Eve when I am one of, well..more people than you would think, who are out doing beyond last minute Christmas shopping.

I am reminded that I should resolve to do my Christmas shopping early. Like maybe February. Sure my kids won't want a single item I buy for them that early in the Christmas shopping year, but since I put off buying gifts until everything they ask for is sold out anyway, why put myself through the headache? Either way they end up wondering why they bothered even handing over a Christmas list.

I am also reminded that I should probably resolve to have a more festive December. I never remember that one until January, and by the time December rolls around again that thought has definitely left the building. Part of the problem might be that I don't really have a secure grasp on what exactly I mean when I say 'a more festive December'. Maybe I should start there and move forward from that point...I might mean having more decorations, louder Christmas music playing in the house, more outside activities like playing in the snow, going to see Christmas lights, or hosting a party. But who knows? Any of that might make it more festive, but in order to do those things I would have to also resolve to write things down and follow through.

Speaking of which:

My husband asked me today if I could just appear to make an attempt at being more organized this year. I don't even really have to be all that organized--just have to look like I'm trying. I might be able to pull that one off. Maybe I should write that down....

Now, don't go thinking my husband was being rude. For the record he told me this as we were driving away from the house to go Christmas shopping. He had taken the day off work so we could get it all done. I knew it. He knew it. I had the kids' lists clutched in my hand. All he did was ask "Where to?", and I gave him a blank stare and probably said something really intelligent like, "Uh..."

You would think that in order to really get the most out of Christmas shopping--especially when it is 3 days before Christmas and up to that point we had done a total of ZERO minutes shopping--that I would have had nice orderly lists of what to buy, where to buy them, and maybe a detailed map with shortcuts, times allotted for each store, and color coded push pins to mark where we had been and if we had been successful, and a back up plan in case something was sold out.

But no. All I could come up with was the classic response of "Uh..."

So you can't blame the guy for asking if I could try to look more organized. He has given up on me actually BEING organized. He has, in the past, bought me calendars, planners, day timers, etc. all in an attempt to help me become organized.

I have found that you have to actually USE those items in order for them to work.

Keeping a calendar works for me...but only when I remember to look at it.

If I go back and look at all my past New Year's resolutions, getting more organized is usually on the list. This year, putting down that I need to LOOK more organized makes me think that I might actually accomplish the task. :) I'm pretty good at opening a day timer and flipping through pages and frowning in mock-concentration. I have an old day planner full of marvelous doodles. A few appointment dates and times. And doodles with captions--which I suppose could be categorized as comics except they aren't funny to anyone except me.

So we have a week or so before the new year. I would adore it if anyone reading this would leave a comment on something they are going to resolve to do in 2009.

(Yes, I used the word 'adore')

Come up with something fun, something good. Something funky.

I'm going to go practice looking efficiently organized....

Monday, December 15, 2008

Giving Thanks

I know most normal human beings would have taken the opportunity to talk about being thankful around, oh..I don't know...Thanksgiving maybe? But since I have never claimed to be normal, I wait until mid-December to mention anything about thanks.

Strangely enough, I will be chatting a bit about this past Thanksgiving.

Okay, not so strange...typical actually.

I'm also the type who thinks of really fantastic comebacks in arguments about 2 hours after the fact. Which is really annoying, and a totally different subject that I may or may not ever get back on.

So for Thanksgiving this year we travelled to Idaho to spend the holiday with my in-laws.

Lovely people, the in-laws.

My mother-in-law had a poster board taped to her refrigerator and a big pile of post-it notes next to it. Her brilliant idea for something to entertain our brood, was to have us all come up with 25 things each that we are thankful for. Once we had 25, we were able to get her special prize (which IS different than a major award...just in case you were paying attention to my earlier posts...).

The only real rule was that it couldn't be a generic thankful note. You had to expound a bit on the thought.

My husband didn't get that part of the memo and rattled of 25 quick things he was thankful for, such as toilet paper and indoor plumbing. There is a theme there that no one should dwell on too deeply...

My daughter Victoria and son JD got into the spirit of the program and went to work immediately. They were the first two to complete the assignment.

My favorite of JD's was: I'm thankful for Kelly because she isn't always mean. Which, if you know my daughter Kelly you would agree that it is nice that she isn't always mean. Just mostly mean. :)

I, of course, did my duty too. I'm always up for a special prize. I was also hungry and hoping the prize had anything at all to do with chocolate. But the award was a two dollar bill for each person. Which is dandy, but I always feel like I should never spend them so I might as well have been given the stack of used post-its...

But I digress...

My list was well thought out. It was also worded very carefully because my in-laws are more straight-laced than I am, so I have to watch my phrasing. Which is good for me, probably. My kids always wonder why I give them the "Remember, they are called 'toots' at Grandma's house, not 'farts'," speech before we pull up to their house. And I won't mention the whole 'bottom/buttocks/bum' fiasco...

My list had lovely items such as, I am grateful for chocolate because it makes me less cranky: and, I am grateful for gas stations that are right off freeway exits so that we can coast on in and get gas when my husband pushes it way too far thinking he can get from SLC to Boise on one tank of gas in a car that only gets 9 mpg.

(and yes, that really happened this trip...adds excitement to the game...)

The whole idea was okay for a Thanksgiving project. I liked it more than how they usually play it by springing it all on us at the Thanksgiving table and going around taking turns saying what we are grateful for. Too much pressure on me for that one. I need more time to think of a brilliant answer that won't get me in too much trouble.

In those instances I usually end up either stammering or blushing (either is bad, and sometimes I get really lucky and do both simultaneously), and then saying something completely cheese-worthy like "I am grateful for my family. That we can all be here together today and eat this lovely dinner that mom-in-law has made--except for those stuffed celery stalk things, which I can't stand. Other than that, it is all good. Really." At which point I usually get a not-so-subtle kick under the table from my husband who is hoping my rambling will stop before I really start to embarrass myself.

(It's all good. My mother-in-law knows I hate the celery things. I've managed to inform her of that every single Thanksgiving that we spend together.)

So if I could sum up, I would say that even though it is the middle of December and I haven't done ANY Christmas shopping yet, I am thankful for a lot of things. I'm thankful for holidays that force us to think about being thankful. I'm thankful that that holiday is before Christmas so that a lot of thankful people are more giving because they have been reminded of all the things they are blessed with. And I'm thankful for family, good friends, good food (especially chocolate), and good times.

Because all of those things make for some pretty great memories.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Some Random Monday Musings

Okay, so I haven't written a Christmas story here like I said I would. I've started one. But then I had trouble getting it to post correctly, so it is in my drafts area waiting for me to get back to it.

I had the chance to post my part of the A.I. Christmas story and decided it didn't totally suck, so that's nice. And the lady who wrote after me did a fantastic job (she managed to pull in angels and a bit of Christmas magic...so all is well in my Christmas story world now :) ).

With all that out of the way I feel much better. I didn't screw it up--although to be 100% honest I was *this* close to writing that the main character woke up, relieved to find out that the first 8 chapters had been a bad dream.

I would have laughed, but I'm pretty sure the rest of the writing group would have killed me.

On the Christmas train of thought, I wanted to mention that the family left at 7 a.m. Saturday with 3 other families in our neighborhood to cut down our Christmas tree. We have done this for the past 5 years or so, and it is one of the few traditions we have that we are consistent on.

For $5, you get a permit and can cut down any tree you like in certain forests. Our permit is for trees around the Scofield Reservoir area near Price, Utah. Mainly because one of the men in the group is the one who started this neighborhood tradition and he and his wife are from that county.

We all drive in tandem, hike up a mountain, look at dozens of trees, and our family is usually the last one to choose a tree and get it back down the mountain. We also get the tallest tree, so it takes more to find just the right one.

We have 12 1/2 foot ceilings in our living room and always get a tree that goes all the way up. (Which means we over shoot and end up bringing a 20 foot tree home and complain about the 7 feet of tree we managed to drag down to the trailer...7 feet of tree is heavy, by the way).

Luckily we haven't had much snow to wade through for the last couple of years. The last time we had snow to deal with in our tree cutting expedition, was when my husband had just torn his ACL and was waiting for his surgery the next week. Because of his injury the neighbors had gone on their own the week before, so our family drove up alone and my husband sat in the suburban with the youngest 3 kids and they watched as me and the other 4 hiked through thigh deep snow, found a tree 'close' to the road and then took an hour dragging it back to the car.

That was NOT my favorite tree cutting trip.

My husband had the video camera and enjoyed filming our struggles. The rat. He even managed to film a couple of the times when one of the kids would lose their footing and get run over by the tree before we realized we had a rider down.

Good times, good times.

This is me and the kids in front of the tree we finally chose to cut down.

We have the kids take turns cutting the tree, so this year it was my son JD's turn. This is him getting the saw stuck. Again.

And this is my husband Doug (white cap) helping load the trees onto the trailer with our friend Jeff. I couldn't post the whole family and leave him out. Right?

And this is the finished product. I don't have the tree skirt around the bottom yet, and most of our ornaments are handmade ones that the kids did in school over the years..so it is a hodge podge type tree. But we like it.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Author's Incognito Christmas Story

I have decided that the reason why I sometimes go so long in between blogs, is that I keep waiting for me to come up with something funny and entertaining to write about--or at least something interesting.

Then I realized that I haven't done that at all up to this point, so why start now?

I might as well write constantly in the inane and humdrum style and hope that inspiration strikes at some point.

Like maybe my next life.

So today's blog will not be funny or entertaining or interesting. It probably won't be inspirational either. Humdrum though, I can pretty much guarantee. And thanks to my spell check, I will probably have very few spelling errors.

So we have that going for us.

It is the last day of November and my Yahoo group 'Author's Incognito' (a group of LDS Writers) have started a Christmas story. Each day someone new writes another chapter in the story and we see how it turns out on Christmas.

My day is this coming Saturday. December 6th.

I was looking forward to it in a going-to-the-in-laws kind of way (not too horrible, but you know that at some point disaster could strike without warning..), but now after reading the first couple of chapters I'm looking forward to it more in the 'going-to-the-dentist-for-a-root-canal' type way. I've had time to think about what I've gotten myself into--adding a chapter to authors who are actually published, instead of authors such as myself who write a bunch and WISH they were published. And where I was sort of hoping for an easy, cliche filled icky-sweet Christmas story, we have already had one woman flying to China, her husband in a hospital in Boise, and nary a single elf or Christmas miracle in sight.

At this point I'd be happy for a leg lamp and someone with their eye shot out with a bb gun...
(it's a major award...)

The good news is that I am early enough in the rotation that the skilled writing of the other authors can salvage whatever damage I might do to the story on my day.

I was hoping to gain a tiny bit of assurance in this whole scheme that I have a bit of talent and am not just fooling myself into a sense of skill, so the bad news is that is pretty much not going to happen.

Oh, well.

Since it isn't my next life yet (the life I am really starting to look forward to, by the way--I'm thinking that I'm going to be pretty darn amazing in my next life--brilliant, talented, "really, really good looking" (you have to say that like Zoolander, or it loses it in the translation...) :) ), I do have all power on December 6th. I can pretty much take the story to new highs...like maybe Des Moines. Who needs Boise, right? I just got back from there and it isn't anything to write home about. Or write a Christmas story about...

I'm starting to think more and more about every Christmas cliche out there, and I'm fairly certain I could take this story to a whole new level of hair-pulling frustration for the other authors.

Okay. I wouldn't do that. Not intentionally anyway. But I would have a lot of fun thinking about doing just that.

Instead, I will take my 24 hour time frame for writing and do my very best for what is given to me and hope that what I end up writing just helps make the flow easier for the next author in line.

Darn, I'm too nice.

Maybe I'll write my own Christmas story this month. I'll start tomorrow and go every day if possible. That way I will leave the serious book alone and the other A.I. writers won't hate me.

Be forewarned...I'm also restricting my diet and exercising more this coming month, so for the first week I'm going to be horrifically cranky. It will probably show up in my story. Sugar/chocolate withdrawals will do that to me.

And please remember the disclaimer at the beginning of this post. Humdrum I guarantee. Everything else is a crap shoot.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

As Long As We're Dreaming...

I think I have mentioned before about how one of my mom's favorite past times is to imagine herself winning the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes, and then proceed to figure out to the penny how she would spend the 10 million dollars...

If I have mentioned it, I might be repeating myself here...but this is where my rambling thoughts are taking me today, so if you read on it is your own fault. :)

My mom figures out how much money she will give to each of her kids. And then proceeds to worry about 'ruining' us with the gift and imagines us all (or most of us) blowing through the money in record time with nothing to show for it except maybe some photos of exotic vacations and a mortgage on a house we would no longer be able to afford. Of course, I'm sure she figures all the breadwinners in the family will have quit their jobs when given a cool million or two, so she will be worried that once we have no more funds we won't be easily employed.

Which is where the REAL nightmare starts, and she pictures all six of her kids, their respective spouses, and all 27 (?) grandkids move into her house with her and dad. Which means she goes back to her original 'How would I spend the money' thought and revises her dream home to include a lot more bedrooms and bathrooms to fit all of us.

Or she decides to not give us any money at all so that she avoids the whole ruining part of her dream. Which is nice.

What started out as a pleasant 'What if' dream, turns into an ulcer causing headache that just makes my mom glad she won't have the problem of making those decisions. Even though deep down (or maybe not so deep down) she would welcome the opportunity of finding out how it would really all work out.

Her talking about this usually makes me think about what I would do in that situation...what if I suddenly came into millions of dollars? What would I do? I mean besides be annoyed at suddenly finding myself popular--or suddenly meeting relatives I never knew existed, or getting phone calls not from bill collectors (they would be genuinely happy for me for a change ;) ), but from people expecting me to suddenly want to donate money to every cause known (and unknown) to man.

The 'what would you do with X amount of money' daydream is a fairly common one. It is one that helps me keep my husband awake on long driving trips--although now that we are older our answers are not as frivolous and are pretty boring, actually...education funds, wedding funds--with 5 daughters that is a worry for him--mission funds, retirement...My husband usually throws in a car just for kicks, but it isn't anything exciting like a Lotus Elise, but he wants a Mercedes diesel sedan that he gets with no mileage on it so he can keep it forever and drive it to a million miles...

So we have upped the daydream. Beyond money, we take it personal.

What would you imagine you being like if you could picture a perfect life? What would you change in your motivations and goals and life situation?

This discussion usually touches on money...I think most people assume that having money is a better option than not having money. So you wouldn't hear us say "Well, for one thing, we'd be dirt poor and living paycheck to paycheck". Sorry. Been there, done that. :)

Usually we just say that we have enough money for our needs, plus extra for saving and having the freedom to be able to do what we want without worry. Then we move on to other things...

Oh, and one big rule with this discussion--Never suggest what the other person could change to be better. Never, ever, ever. Not unless you want the silent treatment for the next three days.

We talk about physical changes. Like, I would--without the pain of surgery or dieting--be back to my pre-kids weight, but actually have a chest that needs no help from 'miracle' bras. (Can I say that outloud?)

We talk about personality changes. I would probably hope to be more outspoken and quicker to help others. I know my husband would rather I show more emotion--he actually complains that I am too even tempered. Ha. He has no idea how good he has it--until he sees one of his friend's wives throw a complete tantrum over something ridiculous, and then he is forever grateful and thanks me for not being a 'typical' female. Which I am sure I should be offended about that crack, but that would take actual energy... :)

We talk about spiritual changes. I would love to be a scriptorian. I, however, have a memory like a seive. Maybe in my next life....
Until then, we always discuss how we should read and study more, pray more sincerely. Etc. Things we really have the power to do and change, but as you'll see in the next category I am just not that good of a person yet.

We talk about habits--ones we need to gain, and ones we need to lose. I am stuck in the "ignorance is bliss" mode of life. I am fabulously skilled at ignoring the things I should be doing. I'm not proud of that fact. Usually. But I am good at it. If I could change habits--adding or subtracting them with the snap of my fingers--I would probably be a better time-manager. I seem to waste more time than I should. And I would be organized and "together". Although I would probably need a solid definition on "together" in order to really grasp that one.

We talk about professional choices. This can be hard if your spouse or you had a different vision of what his or her life would be like at this point. Annoyingly depressing, actually. So don't forget to keep a lighthearted backup plan ready to fire off if you see the eyes glaze over. For example when my husband starts off with "I always planned on being a doctor. It is what I studied for. It is what I went to school for. It is what I had as a goal since I was eight years old." It would be a good idea to throw out something like, "My high school career center test told me I should be a migrant tree farmer, but I think if I really applied myself it would be fun to be a rodeo clown." Just the shock factor if you can say that and keep a straight face, should be enough to pull the dramatics back about fifty notches and get him over the melodramatic hump.

I'll add a warning to this discussion, should you choose to bring it up with your spouse or a friend. Unless you keep it light, this can be a depressing topic. Not just the career part. And if you don't stick to the rule about not giving the other person suggestions for themselves to change, you will not enjoy this chat even a little. Even if you start your sentence with "We should", that is a dangerous direction to head. Because chances are you meant "You should"...not really "we" should.

So, as long as we are dreaming...what would my picture perfect life be like?

Kids who grow up as assets to society, who help others and are friends to the underdogs.
A husband who is a doctor. :) Or at least finally happy with who he really is so that it doesn't bother him anymore.
A family that enjoys spending time together and is well rounded and not caught up with the things of the world.
Good friends.
More time with extended family.
And an abundance of love to give and to receive.

Oh, and I'd look fabulous, be able to eat all the chocolate I want with no weight gain, and will have just won the Publisher's Clearinghouse Sweepstakes....

As long as we're dreaming. :)

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

What Kind of Family Are You?

Every once in a while, my husband and I will start talking about what kind of family we want to be.

The conversation usually starts after we have done something out of the ordinary but really enjoyed, like gone water skiing, or camping. Or when we have been talking with friends who have told us about some random family activity that they participate in, like one neighbor who has a daughter who is heavily involved in Jr. Rodeo, or another neighbor who always spends a lot of time during the winter with their family snow skiing.

My husband and I end up making a list of all the activities we used to enjoy before we had kids. Then we add to that list the things we always thought we would be doing with our kids.

Then we make a list of things we actually DO with our kids, and proceed to get a bit depressed at the lack of fun and excitement in our lives. :)

After the depression phase of our discussion, we pick at the list and work it down to what we really think we might do with the family. Our list would be longer if it were just the two of us, or if our kids were all older...but we work it and tweak it and do the best we can. Add the pros and cons, and then pretty much just move forward as always until the urge to make new lists hit us. Which is sad, really...

What we end up with is usually a list something like this:

1. Water skiing family--my dad has a ski boat, we have bought enough life-jackets and water tubes over the last couple of years for just our family to make it a good possibility. Negatives--pretty much the cost in gas lately. And my fear of the kids drowning. But I'm working on that last one.

We actually went water skiing this past summer at Jordanelle Resevoir. This is two of the kids on one of our tubes.

2. Snow skiing family--Only my husband snow skis--which is pretty much sacrilege since I grew up here in Utah and have only snow skied once. We both think it would be fun for the kids to learn. I am still fairly certain that until they put breaks on skis or snow becomes warm that I want nothing to do with this one...
This is all the kids with husband in the background...we haven't ever gone snow skiing together so the best I could do for a photo is this one when we went to cut our own Christmas tree last year...snow was involved, so I figured this counts.

3. Horse family--We live at a house with horse property. We have owned horses before. I start at this point remember that my 3rd daughter is allergic to alfalfa and unless we can work around that one, it bumps down the list..but you note that it is usually still on the list.

Somewhat embarrassing, but this is a photo of me and my horse Summer about 20 years ago. Nice hair I had then, huh?

4. Camping/Hiking family--Not as expensive as any of the other options, and being in Utah we are blessed with all kinds of fascinating places to hike and camp. The negative with this one is that our youngest are still too young to hike very far and I am sooo not going to carry anyone.

This is Kelly, Victoria, and JD on a hike this past summer in the Uintahs with their dad. The littles and Kady stayed home with me.

5. TV/Movie/Hang-out at Home family--oh, wait. We already do this one.

I had to add this photo...I like Aragorn. :) He's way hotter than Legolas...

6. Soccer family--Everyone in the family plays soccer. From husband, to me, to all the kids. Well, Victoria refuses to enjoy soccer anymore so that is a problem...but out of default I think we have to just have this one be one of our descriptions--otherwise the insane amount of time I spend coaching, watching, and playing soccer year round would be a waste.

This is my oldest daughter (in purple) playing for her high school soccer team this fall.

7. My kids want to be a 'Go to Every Disneyland in the World' family. Sounds good to me.

So what kind of family are you? What activities do you all do together? What do you wish you did? Or what did you think you would always do when you first got married and then found out that real life kind of snuck up on you and you let it go?

I guess as long as we are doing things together, it doesn't matter what "kind" of family we are. It would be nice to do more things together no matter what the activity. We are lucky that we still enjoy each others company--even with two teenagers and three pre-kindergarteners and two in between...
And now that I've taken waayy more time to write this blog than I planned, I am fairly certain that in about 5 minutes from now we are going to become a "Clean That Mess Up Right Now" kind of family.
Ah, togetherness.
Gotta love it. :)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Procrastination Pays Off

My whole life I have been a procrastinator.

That is NOT news to anyone who knows me.

From putting off homework all through school until the very last minute, to having to end up doing things myself because I put off asking someone to help out...I put things off with the best of them.

In college I remember having a major English paper due at the end of the quarter. I knew about it for a good month. A friend of mine had the same class and she very diligently studied and wrote her paper, completing it with two weeks to spare. She would ask me if I had written my paper yet and my answer was always "Um. No. I should probably start thinking about that."

The day before the paper was due, I spent 13 solid hours in the college library. I studied. I wrote. I turned my paper in the day it was due having finished the last draft about twenty minutes before class.

My friend who finished her paper two weeks early? She got a C+. Me? I got an A.

My friend was not happy with me.

I, however, was quite proud of myself. :)

Fast forward to this week.

Yesterday was Halloween. We still hadn't bought pumpkins for everyone to carve since I am the great putter-offer. So I loaded kids in the car as soon as school was out and we drove to two grocery stores--All pumpkins...Sold out. I'm thinking, "Crap, maybe I should start actually getting things early. My kids are going to kill me if I can't find a stinkin' pumpkin."

I drove over to a 'pick your own pumpkin' lot with my fingers crossed, and was thrilled to see their field still had a ton of pumpkins. The kids all picked one out (Remember I have 7 kids here...), and I went to pay asking "How much for these 7 pumpkins?"

The answer: "I'm dollaring them out today since it is Halloween. So that will be $7."

Woo hoo! :)

My procrastination saved me at least $14. If I had bought my pumpkins at WalMart at the start of last week like I considered briefly, they were selling for $3 each. Times 7 would have been $21. Plus tax.

That was huge.

I shouldn't really be proud of my procrastination bonuses, but sometimes it has paid off. And I won't be showing my kids this blog entry anytime soon since I keep hounding them about getting homework done early so they can relax and make fun of all the kids who are up late doing their projects at the last minute. I'm not thrilled with being a hypocrite on top of being a procrastinator, but that's what I'm looking at.

Someday I'll work on not putting things off. But not today. Maybe a week from next Tuesday...unless something comes up....

Thursday, October 30, 2008

8 Things About Me

8 Things I am Looking Forward To:

* Relieving my kids of Halloween candy that I am sure they won't like ;)
* Christmas
* My daughter's 16th birthday in January
* Finishing my first novel
* LDS Writer's Convention 2009
* School 2009-10 (all the kids will be in school)
* Winter TV season of Monk, Psych, and Burn Notice
* Summer :)

8 Things on my Wish List

* Being debt free
* Getting back 100% on FLY-lady
* Losing 30 pounds
* My husband figuring out a job that he actually enjoys before he is old enough to retire
* 2-week vacation to DisneyWorld
* To go back and visit my mission in Portugal
* To be more smarter
* To be a better neighbor

8 TV Shows I Like to Watch

* Monk
* Psych
* Burn Notice
* Ace of Cakes
* Iron Chef
* What Not to Wear
* The Office
* Law & Order: SVU

8 Things That Happened Yesterday

* High School soccer banquet for my daughter
* Forgot to pick my 14 y.0. up from school
* Son broke the front of my kitchen drawer completely off
* Daughter broke the arm of a dining room chair
* Vacuumed the stairs (trust me, that's something :) )
* Made caramel layer brownies
* Finally hit the downswing of the nasty headcold I've had
* Returned books to the library

8 People I am Tagging

Brian & Stephanie

Seriously, I don't have 8 people I know well enough to tag who have blogs. That is so sad and pitiful.

Thanks to Danyelle for the original tag. Way to help point out my lack of social grace in blog-land :)

Ukranian Ice Bath Video

I laughed out loud at this one...which probably has something to do with my slight sadistic streak and poor habit of laughing at other's misfortunes I suppose...and though some of you have seen it, I thought I would post it here for your viewing pleasure. >:)

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Trying to Get Over It

I have a problem.

I don't really see it as a huge problem, but it drives my husband crazy--and has for most of the 17 years we've been married.

And since I've had this problem for 17 years (more really), you would think that I would either get over it..or HE would.

But since that isn't happening, maybe if I purge my problems here and 'talk' it out, I might see this in a different way and be able to adjust my methods. Or I'll come up with a new argument for my husband that will let him see my madness in a better light. :)

So, here it is.

I cannot clean my house well when anyone is home.

Oh, I can straighten and vacuum with the best of them, but deep down clean? Not a chance. I hate it. (And that should be in capital letters...H-A-T-E)

I'm not fond of cleaning anyway. I don't know many who are. Although I admit I like and prefer it when everything IS clean, I just dislike everything about getting to that point.

When I was in college I would make all my roommates leave for a couple of hours so I could clean the apartment. I would turn my stereo up with a cassette tape of songs that I know all the words to so that I could sing along--usually a compilation I made myself with 80's hits (since...hello...this was back IN the 80's). I would clean, scrub, and mop. The apartment would sparkle and smell nice. My roommates would be more than happy to leave me to my madness since that would mean they wouldn't have to clean.

I think all of this is because I don't like cleaning when other people are around. I don't like it when they are watching me clean. I don't like it when they come through behind me and mess up what I just finished. I don't like it when I get interrupted in the middle of doing something to help out someone else or answer a question...

I also think I really just want 5 minutes at the end of my cleaning blitz to know that for that instant in time, my house/apartment is CLEAN. 5 min. That is all I ask.

My husband (and probably all of you reading this...) thinks I should just 'get over it'. And I should. But this is a long ingrained habit. My stomach actually tenses up at the thought of mopping the kitchen floor or cleaning a bathroom when all of my kids are home. Because I KNOW that 3.7 minutes into it, someone is going to start whining or fighting or demanding attention and I am going to lose it and get my evil-mom-scrunchy-face going.

Cleaning isn't fun anyway...but to clean with the knowledge that nothing I do is going to stay that way--my insane meter starts flashing warning signals. And if I clean too early in the day my husband will come home and wonder what I've been doing all day...sad, but true. I have to time my cleaning to coincide with when he walks in the door. That has been my compensation for him with my OCD response to cleaning with company. Clean just before he gets home and hope that at least ONE room in the house stays in some semblance of order long enough for him to appreciate the effort.

I know that if I just teach my kids to clean up better after themselves, or help out more in the actual cleaning that it would be better. But with all the patience I have in my body (which is actually quite a bit), the patience for cleaning is the shortest straw I have.

It's just me. I don't know why.

My husband refuses to take all the kids out for a couple of hours so I can clean--he is smarter and knows the importance of having the kids pitch in and help, but not smart enough to see that those 2 hours without everyone around would actually make his life better. What is that saying? "Happy wife, happy life"? I need to get that framed and stuck where he can see it daily. :)

My older kids, however are good at taking the younger ones to the park for an hour so I can get at least one room really clean. They know, as my roommates did, that getting out of the way meant them NOT having to clean. I am not raising stupid children.

Just messy ones.

And I have heard the "enjoy the time now, because one day your kids will be grown and you'll have all the time you never wanted to clean". Which is just a lovely thought (can you hear the violins in the background?), but until that time I still need to clean my house, the littles will be doing their best to keep me in business that way, and I'll still wish I could get my husband to take them out for a couple of hours so I can clean the way I need to clean.

I don't see me getting over it. I don't see my husband ever understanding it. So I guess we'll just keep going on like we are, and I will actually look forward to when all the kids are in school so I can have those couple of hours. It is just one more year. One more year of trying to keep evil-mom-scrunchy-face out of the picture. Trying to keep the house passable enough to appease my husband. Trying to teach the kids that cleaning will not kill them...I might, but cleaning won't...and trying to keep in mind that cliche or not, I really will be sad when no one interrupts me anymore. When the messes get smaller, the kids get bigger, and when I wake up and realize that what I thought was evil-mom-scrunchy-face is actually my real face and I have no more excuses.

What a mess.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Monday Rambling on Sarcasm. Great.

I've been thinking a bit about sarcasm.

The whole concept of that method of communication...the skill one needs in order to be sarcastic and not make everyone around them angry. Or sad. Or take it completely personally and have any of a dozen reactions.

To me, sarcasm is an ornery sense of humor. It is usually a bit (a lot) negative, and it is a huge mockery of any given situation.

It is also usually used in my family way too much. My kids grow up with a strong sarcasm streak. Which is actually fine in some situations, but we have found that other people's children don't 'get' sarcasm. My kids end up saying something that would make an adult chuckle, but makes a peer of theirs frown.

Comedy is a big part of our family life and we have treated our kids as real people instead of "babies", so they seem to have picked up a good grasp of adult humor (fortunately not anything risque...but anything else doesn't get past them very often). We have had comments from teachers about all of our kids and their sense of humor...i.e. a first grade teacher telling us that she would make an "inside joke" in her lessons that she was sure would go over all of her student's heads, but would look up and see one of my kids laughing. She would at that point have to be more careful with her humoring herself in class when she found out that my kids 'got' her jokes.

So my kids are funny. They just are. Just last night we had home teachers over and the man giving the lesson asked what is "Be One". My nine year old son immediately popped off with "A number in bingo".

And then he laughed and laughed. (1. I need to be quicker, because honestly when he said that it took me a minute to figure out what he was talking about...and 2. I should also work on having the kids not laugh at their own jokes..they work better that way :) )

Sarcasm, however, is a whole different ball of wax. When you use sarcasm in a situation with people who appreciate a good sarcastic comment, it is great. When you use sarcasm around people who aren't good at picking up on sarcasm...or when you think you are being sarcastic but don't use the right intonations so it sounds like an insult and not a sarcastic comment--well, that can just be awkward.

My 14-year old daughter is my most sarcastic child. She has friends who appreciate it. And she has distant acquaintances who think she is rude. We need to work a bit on her delivery and timing with people like the latter...or get her to find her "off" switch so she can be a normal human with people who don't understand sarcasm or who haven't really been around it before.

I can see her sarcasm coming a mile away. If you know what to look for with her, you know to take the next phrase out of her mouth with a grain of salt. Her eyes narrow and she usually uses a slight hand gesture. And the sentence coming out usually begins with "Uh, ya...".

I've seen her make kids cry because of a sentence that started with those two words.

That usually means she failed in either the delivery or her ability to assess whether or not the person she was talking with could handle some sarcasm.

I will admit that I've never seen her use sarcasm on anyone undeserving of a little shake-up. But still. She needs to find a kind and gentle use for her sarcasm.

Good time to use sarcasm for her: Helping her sister learn how to make mac & cheese on her own...

"Uh, ya....some people probably like macaroni and cheese soup, but the rest of us read the directions on the back of the box and pay attention to the part right here that says "DRAIN"."

Bad time for her to use sarcasm: During a close soccer game after the other team scores a goal on us...to the goalie...

"Uh, ya...I think you were supposed to NOT let the ball go in the net. But maybe that's just me."

(Goalies don't have much of a sense of humor after they have to walk back and take a ball out of the net...but besides that, our goalie outweighs Kelly by 50 pounds and has a good 7 inches on her...you'd think self-preservation alone would keep her from yapping. But no).

Sarcasm is practically an art-form. You have to use the right tone with your voice, you have to try to quickly judge the situation and the people involved and hopefully be able to pull the sarcasm back if you find yourself wanting to say something but realize it would be a bad idea. It is subtle and blatant all at the same time.

Whatever that means.

Uh, ya...nice try on waxing philosophical with sarcasm. Good one. Really.

Friday, September 26, 2008

20 Year Reunions and the Sneetches

My twenty-year high school reunion was a couple of years ago. I know I try to avoid blogging about things that age me, but there you have it.

I attended my 5-year reunion with a date. Everyone after five years still seemed the same. Same groups of people hanging out and talking about the other groups, no one losing their hair yet. Most still looking young and fit. It was held at the high school, and honestly if they had thrown up some tacky banners and more streamers, hired a photographer whose skill lay in taking the worst photos possible with a disco-ball thrown in for good measure, it would have felt like we'd never left. It would have been a high school 'stomp', but with better refreshments.

I attended my 10-year reunion with my husband. I had gone with him the year before to his 10-year reunion and had high hopes for fun and reminiscing--his reunion was fun and I didn't know anyone there at all. Mine was still filled with some clicks that refused to go away, and someone had the bright idea of showing the video montage of our senior year in high school for the highlight of the program. Apparently it was the idea of the people who were in every single scene. Not really the all encompassing love and feel-good situation for the majority of the folks who had paid money for a lousy dinner and lame entertainment. So, after 10 years people were still a little young. Still focused on self. But there were some balding heads and protruding bellies, which thrilled me--so you can see there that I was still my shallow self. :) The good news is that they held it in a resort instead of at the high school...but it did make it hard for the materialistic people to show off the make and model of car they drove up for the occasion....

There was no 15-year reunion--thank goodness.

For my 20-year reunion life had changed. For almost everyone. Suddenly who you were or who you knew didn't matter so much. A lot of people had to look at the name tag to place the face. Some looked the same as they did in high school. The rats. :)

But we could all sit at random tables--not knowing who you were sitting next to until you checked their name tag...and even then you might still not have a clue who they were...and it didn't matter. We could talk, converse, listen. We could share high school stories that even if they weren't directly involved, they understood and appreciated. They had been there. But it didn't matter if they were 'jocks', 'stoners', 'cowboys'...etc. back then. Today they are men and women who happened to have graduated from the same high school the same year I did. They have jobs and responsibilities. Kids. Spouses. Mortgages.

The whole evening was eye opening. I thought about my own kids who at the time would be starting high school in the very near future and thought that if I could teach them anything that would help them enjoy high school more, it would be for them to grasp the concept that clicks don't matter. People matter. If you see someone who needs a friend, BE a friend. It shouldn't matter if they wear a cowboy hat or have multiple piercings. Because in 20 years, these same people will look a lot like you. The clicks will be gone. But they will remember a friend.

In my "deep" pondering I realized Dr. Seuss was a genius. (And in looking for a picture online, I found that I wasn't the only one to think of this line...confirming that I'm NOT all that deep and philosophical...) I'm talking about his story about the Sneetches--you know the one. Star-bellied sneetches and those without "stars on thars"...They all thought having a star on their belly made them better than those without. Until the Mr. McBean and his machine came along and put stars on the bellies of those who didn't have them before, which made the star-bellied sneetches upset so they had theirs removed--and the cycle continued until no one could remember who had a star and who didn't. (Well, and they ran out of money...so they couldn't continue the insanity :) )

But they realized that star or no star, they were really a lot alike. They could accept each other as is. Star. No star.

It is like high school. The goths aren't bad people. The nerds are worth getting to know for more than homework help. The jocks can actually carry a conversation with real words and not just grunts and sports plays. The "in" crowd has down moments just like every other kid on the planet. In other words, star or no star, we all have thoughts, feelings, wants, and needs. And we all need a friendly face and someone who will accept us for who we are.

Because 20 years from now the 'stars' won't matter.

If I could teach that to my kids now, it wouldn't take 20 years for them to figure that out. I can't imagine that being a bad thing.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Power of Pudding

As I type this blog, I am taking five minutes out of my housecleaning schedule to test a theory.

The theory? What are three four-year olds willing to do for a Snack Pack pudding?

All of my older kids are in school, so I get to try to keep the littles busy/entertained/exhausted in order to keep them out of trouble. Or attempt that seemingly impossible task anyway.

So I have just informed them that if they clean the tv room, they can have a pudding.

They are now "folding" blankets and picking up their toys. (To be 100% honest, they are doing those things between bouts of throwing plastic toys at each other--thus the pause in cleaning while they cry and come tell me about it--whining, and using the bathroom).

Apparently I have not only taught them how to clean, but how to do anything else EXCEPT clean. (My typing here is proof of that...I'm avoiding it too)

Let me update their progress and get back to you............

Um. Maybe this wasn't such a good idea.

The youngest 4 year old has just jammed a video into the VCR the wrong way. The oldest 4 year old is gazing longingly at the pudding in the pantry. And the middle 4 year old is back in the bathroom hoping for a longer break in the action.

[sigh] I guess that means I get to go help them finish the job.

It was a good theory. They did their best, and it kept them out of major trouble (well, unless I can't get the video unstuck....).

I will have to stock up on the pudding and we'll keep at it until they either get the whole idea of keeping things clean--or they grow out of the pudding bribery stage and move on to cold hard cash....

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Unneeded background info: I coach a competition soccer team (girls U14) and drive my daughter and three other girls to practice each week.

Point of the background: During these drives, undoubtedly the girls will get into an arguement about which actor is the "hottest".

Why? One of the girls is a H-U-G-E fan of Johnny Depp, and another of the girls thinks Depp is the exact opposite of hot. I think they all get a kick out of the one defending Johnny and the other bashing him openly.

Now, in all fairness for this war, the one who doesn't like Johnny Depp is a superheros fan--she likes all actors who played Superman, Spiderman, etc. And the Depp stalker thinks that anyone who would wear tights to his job needs some serious help. (She does admit though that should Johnny wear tights, she would be more than fine with that. :) )

The conversation this past Tuesday turned to "Well, if you don't like Johnny Depp (or Christopher Reeve, etc.) who DO you like?

The girls all named some guys who surprised me (guys I agreed with) and some who I had never heard of (which made me feel old).

Surprisingly, the superhero fan mentioned one of my all time favorites..and it surprised me because of the fact that this guy is older than MY time, so I didn't think an even younger generation would mention him. But in thinking it over I realized that some actors are just flat out classics. Timeless. Some come and go, but others are going to always be revered as someone a little special. Who can make hearts beat a little faster long after they have passed on.

Here he is. I don't think I need to mention his name.

Favorite movies? I love 'An Affair to Remember', 'Bringing Up Baby', 'The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer'....

I will watch any movie he is in.

Some people say that George Clooney is the new Cary Grant.

I like George just fine.

But there is no one like Cary Grant.

If you have any timeless actors you'd like to add, please leave a comment. Current actors, actors who have passed on...

I'm fairly certain my 15 y.o. daughter would add Harrison Ford, and my mom would probably add Elvis to the mix.

But scroll back up and look at that face. Remember a movie you have seen him in.



Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Moving Siblings

I am the oldest of six kids. All of us were fairly close--there is a span of only 7 years between me and my youngest sister--and we all basically ended up married and living in the same general valley where we grew up.

Before marrying, four of us went away to college--our first living away from home scenario.

Those same four also served missions for our church, so we had the opportunity to get out of our valley and taste a bit of independence before we found our respective spouses and married.

When my 2nd sister moved out of State with her husband for her work, I was happy for her because she was one who stayed in the valley for college and didn't serve a mission. So I knew that even though she has always been the more mature sister--even 3 years younger than me--I knew that getting away from the valley with her husband would be a good move for them. It would help her grow and learn things you can only learn when you leave the comfort of your extended family and have to rely more on yourself and your spouse to make things work.

She has since moved back to our State and lives about 15 minutes away from our mom and dad.

Same thing happened when the sister who is 19 months younger than I am moved to the other end of the State...far enough away to learn those same things--she moved to the town where the other four of us went to college, so I was also a bit jealous of that move. I love it where she moved. Now she lives in a different State even further away than before, and because of the type of work her husband does, I don't see her moving back to this State. Which is a bummer if truth be told. It's weird, because even if she lived in the same town I do it wouldn't guarantee I'd see her more often. I'd like to think I would, but life gets crazy. I think it would only make me feel better because I would know that we COULD see each other if we wanted. I could sign her up and make her play soccer with me so I'm not the only old fart playing co-ed soccer...:)

One of my youngest sisters moved out of State a couple of years ago and that was weird because even though she is 7 years younger than me--which actually makes her a bonafide adult to the rest of the world--I still think of her and her twin sister as 14, so for her to be married and the mom of four kids is shocking enough without adding in the bonus of her actually having the nerve to move 6 hours away.

And now as of a couple of weeks ago, my dearest onliest brother has taken his cute family and moved not only out of State, but across the country. He is proof that if a sibling lives in your same town it doesn't guarantee you'll ever really see them...they had been living not even 5 minutes from me and we really only saw each other when passing on info. etc. from our parents. Which is sad, really.

And the saddest part is that it shows that cliches are cliches for a reason--no one would say "You don't know what you've got 'til it's gone" unless millions of us do exactly that.

So now my brother and two of my sisters live out of State. And while I'm happy for them since the moves seem to be the best for them, I'm bummed for myself. (Since it is really all about me ;) )

Taking advantage of having family around is something I apparently haven't learned--even after going away to college and serving a mission. Taking people you love for granted isn't a very nice thing for me to do. I do the same thing with friends...so my family doesn't need to feel that kind of special. I'm lame on all sorts of levels.

I don't really think about siblings being out of reach until we have family gatherings or events and I catch myself looking around my mom's house wondering where so-and-so are and then realizing that they actually won't be there.

They will miss out on Mom's early Thanksgiving dinner of roast, having all the cousins getting to know each other, catching up on the mountains of meaningless gossip and sometimes inappropriate topics of conversation (I'll save that explanation for a different blog--something to look forward to :) )...

And we (I) will miss out on seeing their kids grow, having them have any idea who we really are...my kids will hear about a cousin of theirs and ask "Who is that?". Granted, with mom having 28 grandkids, my kids might say that anyway...but still. I'm trying to make a point here. We will miss out on their special occasions, and they will probably not actually miss the meaningless gossip and inappropriate conversations.

I'm going to have to actually put myself out and be a normal human being who remembers birthdays and sends Christmas cards in order to stay connected to my siblings. It will probably be good for me. Make me grow and progress into becoming someone decent.

So thanks for moving and making me be a better person. (Because remember--it really IS all about me...)

But if you don't mind, I'll keep on missing you guys anyway.

And that has nothing to do with me, and everything to do with what great people you guys are.

I love you.

(Even Brian ) :)

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Things I Wish

I wish chocolate was a diet food. Man, I would look smokin' hot....

I wish my house was always as clean as it is when I know I'm having company stay over. Enough said.

I wish my kids minded me the first time. Not the twenty-third time--if I'm lucky.

I wish I had snappy comebacks for all occasions. Not snappy comebacks an hour after it would have been useful.

I wish I were as funny as I think I am...but I'm positive real comedians probably don't make themselves laugh harder than those hearing the jokes....

I wish I were more smarter. :)

I wish my suburban got 36 miles to the gallon. Instead of 36 miles to the tank.

I wish I had a better memory--but then I would probably hold grudges, so I'll have to think about that one for awhile...

I wish there really were time machines. But there were wacky restrictions, like you could only use it three (round trip) times in your lifetime and couldn't change anything major...it would be fun to go make different choices now with hindsight and all. You couldn't change life or death situations, but maybe you could go be nicer to someone who you find out later has a difficult life. Or maybe work a little harder on your mission, or grades, or friendships. Or maybe just go back to re-live something that was perfect but that you aren't 100% clear on anymore, like your wedding day or a family vacation, or whatever.

I wish I knew where the book I'm trying to write is going. I really should work harder on that.

I wish this blog wasn't so lame. I am in something of a rut I guess, but that's what wishes are for, right?

Just some ramblings for you.

I am consistent. Remember that. :)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Crazy Family Ramblings Today

I won't apologize for my ramblings today...mostly because I don't feel like apologizing.

So there. :)

First up for the big ramble is that today my newest nephew Dylan had heart surgery yesterday. He was born on August 1st and is a doll. He was born with truncus (sp??) and if you go to my sister Cindy's blog site you can see photos of him and figure out what his heart issue is. Go there. To her site. He is a cute baby and she will probably keep everyone updated...

So yesterday was a worry day. Which is probably why I'm in full ramble mode.

My other worry yesterday was my 15 y.o. daughter trying out for the high school soccer team. She made first cuts and yesterday was the last day to tryout before final cuts and then the roster getting posted. Luckily for everyone involved, tryouts ended at 5:30 and the coach was going to post the results online around 7, so with travel time back home and then my daughter showering, we only had to fret for about an hour before she got the good news that she made the team.

My daughter squeals when she is excited. At a really high pitched frequency. I had no idea.

I'm glad I don't have to find out what would have happened if she hadn't made the team this go around...

For tonight, I had my second to last DCFS training class (for foster care licensing). Hallelujah. 32 hours of training is not my idea of a good time. Not when you realize that if you had just kept your license current--even if you didn't want to foster for a bit--that I would have only had to take 12 hours of training spread out over 12 months instead of 32 hours jammed into one month.

So I sit through the classes that I have already taken before and listen to random people make comments to the teacher just to hear themselves speak. And of course I am thinking the whole time that if they would just shut their yap we could get out early and still get full credit. Which then starts my mind wandering through the comedian Brian Regan's routines and I have to force myself to not laugh out loud for no apparent reason.

Of course, being the crazy one in class might have benefits...I should have figured that out on the first day instead of waiting until the end...:)

So to end my rambling, here is some Brian Regan for you to enjoy. I'm not smart enough to figure out how to post the youtube directly here, so check out the link and then do yourself a favor and take the time to watch some of his other clips:


Friday, August 1, 2008

Who Knew What Making a Sandwich Means?

I have created a monster.

My 4 1/2 year old daughter asked me the other day if she could make her own peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Make it all by herself. Because she is fairly certain that she is a 'big girl now'.

So, what the heck. Right? I let her make her own sandwich. She did a lovely job. Only got a few streaks of peanut butter on the table...and the side of the jar...and her hair...but overall quite well done for a rookie sandwich maker.

The problem?

She is now convinced that she IS a big girl. After all, if you can provide sustenance for yourself without relying on an adult, that must mean something.

Now she is asking me all day long if she can make herself a pb&j sandwich. Breakfast, lunch and dinner.

And she tells me she is certain she can now walk to the park by herself. You know, because she is big now.

And--this is my personal favorite-- calling to me from the bathroom and saying "Hey Mom! Since I'm a big girl now, I'm pretty sure I can wipe my own bottom."

'Pretty sure' isn't very settling in the minds of this mother....and for good reason, but I won't go into that here. (you can thank me for that later).

Until this week, I had no idea that being able to make your own peanut butter and jelly sandwich meant so much.

It means a few more messes for me to clean up while she learns and becomes more confident.

It means having a little girl bursting with happiness at something as simple as making sure the jelly gets all the way to the edges of the bread. Practically a work of art.

It means wishing sometimes that a little girl would stay little just awhile longer.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Everyone Should Experience the 4th of July in Evanston, WY

At least once.

Why? That's a hard question to answer in a simple manner. So I'll stick to what I know and ramble through the answer. :)

To start the story I need to begin a few days before the 4th. My husband was excited that he would have Friday off for the 4th so we had a long weekend ahead of us. He wasn't excited about the fact that we had no plans at all for anything out of the ordinary to do over the long weekend, so he told the family that we should discuss amongst ourselves some ideas and we would hold a family meeting when he got off of work that night and decide what to do together.

The littles like anything, so we didn't ask their opinion. My 15 year old simply didn't want to go out on the boat again--for reasons we still don't understand. And everyone else was pretty much up for anything that involved not having to stay home to weed or mow the lawn.

After some debate we finally decided that we would go to Evanston, Wyoming to see their rodeo on the 4th and catch a fireworks show afterwards.

Why a rodeo? Because I told my husband that when I was younger my dad used to always take us to rodeos and I loved them, but we had only been to maybe two rodeos in the whole 17 years of marriage. Our 8 year old and the younger kids have never been to a rodeo, and our 10 year old was too young when she went to remember anything about a rodeo at all.

Why Evanston? Honestly, because all of the local rodeos were already sold out.

Evanston is only 70 miles outside of Salt Lake City, so it wouldn't be a long drive. We called ahead and got a hotel reservation, packed up the car, loaded in the kids, dropped the poodles off at my folks house and then started on our way.

Here is what we learned as a side bonus: My 15 year old daughter has the capacity to practically inhale the largest fajita burrito I have ever seen in my life. I was impressed. We had unloaded the car at the hotel and then left to find a place to eat dinner. Don Pedro's Family Mexican Restaurant was conveniently located just across the street from the rodeo grounds and they served excellent food.

After eating we made our way over to the rodeo. I won't go into a lot of detail about the rodeo at this time, but I will say that my 8 year old is NOT good at the 'Chicken Run'--he can't catch a chicken to save his life. It does make for some good comedy though. Maybe not for the chicken..

Now. To get to the 4th of July experience in Wyoming, let me preface it by reminding you (or letting you know) that Wyoming has completely different fireworks laws than most States. The big "illegal" fireworks are not illegal in Wyoming.

While watching the rodeo we were on the top bleachers facing toward the hills and a small subdivision that lay just past the rodeo grounds. Behind us was the city of Evanston.

The people in the subdivision began setting off fireworks about an hour or so before dark. So we pleasantly enjoyed watching calf roping, bull riding, and bronc bustin', while also being treated to a lovely fireworks display.

During this time I began to wonder where we were going to have to go to see the actual fireworks show after the rodeo.

The answer to that? Just turn around and look at Evanston. Anywhere in Evanston.

The entire town purchased tons of fireworks. It was the most amazing sight I have seen in a long, long time. Everywhere you looked fireworks were shimmering and popping. The whole valley was one giant fireworks display. The colors and flash surrounded the city. When we ran inside Walmart to grab some beverages, you could hear the booming sounds of the fireworks. When we went outside into the Walmart parking lot, we saw cars parked there with people standing outside their vehicles simply to get a better view--and many of those cars had out of state license plates, so we aren't unique in choosing Evanston as a July 4th destination.

Neighborhoods were lined on every street with people in their lawn chairs both watching the light show and adding to it.

Church parking lots were full, and whole congregations sat on the lawns watching as they all set off fireworks and more fireworks.

When every street in a town has dozens of large fireworks going off, you can't help but be impressed with the magnitude of the exhibition. It was like one giant fireworks show finale that lasted more than two hours.

It was breathtaking.

So much so that we are already planning on going there again next year. And this time we will shake out of our fireworks stupor and get the camera out of the bag and take photos.

The next morning as we passed back through town on our way home, we saw people sweeping and shoveling up piles and piles of spent fireworks. Dumpsters were full. Kids were working hard to clean up the aftermath. But no one seemed to mind the work.

Trust me...after the show we saw, it would be well worth a few hours of clean up the next morning.

If any of you find yourselves wanting to do something different for the 4th of July, I recommend a trip to Wyoming. Not something I ever thought I would actually say to anyone, to be honest. But this was an amazing discovery. A beautiful end to a patriotic day of celebration for our country.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Blog Book Tour For You All to Check Out

My friend Danyelle has written a blog interview with author J. Scott Savage on her blogsite.

If you go here you will see the post in its entirety AND will see where you have a chance to enter her contest at a shot at a free copy of his new YA novel.

Go look. It is worth the effort. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Food Network Idea

So as I was scrounging through my pantry looking for something to make for dinner, I had a brilliant idea...

(And if this is already something they have done, ignore my post and move on please...)

What if the Food Channel had a show entitled "Iron Chef Joe Shmoe" (or the equivalent). It would be a series where two people who have absolutely ZERO training in the culinary skills compete against each other for an hour long battle.

No actual Iron Chefs would be used...the series would be for a set number of weeks and the winner of the night would move on to the next week to face another challenger. OR, they could run it like a tournament and have winners compete against winners until there is an ultimate Iron Chef Joe Shmoe for that season.

One of the keys here would be that the items available for their use would be everyday items a normal (read non-cordon bleu chef) would have in their cupboards...canned vegetables, boxed mac and cheese, Velveeta...you get the idea. Don't forget the microwave as a must-have. A grill to barbecue with--not the grill on the range, because what fun is it in that?, maybe a dutch oven or two...

The only thing the contestant couldn't do that you would normally see in an everyday situation, is order pizza or other take-out items and have them delivered to the studio. Trust me. That one has to be in the contract or someone will pull that one.

I think it would be a hilarious show. Can you imagine the faces on the judges when they get some mystery meat placed in front of them? Or the shudders as they try something no sane human would put near their mouth? Of course, there would also be the hugely surprised look as they bite into something green and unidentifiable and find it tastes quite good.

And speaking of the judges...they couldn't be actual food critics. The Joe Shmoes know they aren't top chefs and don't need some snooty person telling them that while they admire their ingenuity, they couldn't possibly score higher than a 1 because those spices were never meant to be in the same dish. Blah, blah, blah.

Nope. The judges should be 3 fold--the first guy (or gal) should be some (un)lucky passer-by in the street or in the studio audience...the second person should be any celebrity that is crazy enough to accept the job, likable, and is preferably a bit larger around the middle--someone like Kevin James. Not a health conscious type. That would be just as bad as a food critic. You need someone who will actually EAT the food. The third person could be a viewer who won the opportunity to taste potentially lethal food on tv.

I think it would be a big hit. I would watch it. I love watching Iron Chef and Iron Chef America, and sometimes think it would be fun to try some of their dishes...but seriously. Who in everyday-America uses fois gras to feed their family?

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Tagged! A Closer Look...

Okay. I knew I shouldn't have looked at Danyelle's site. She even warned me that she tagged me...

1. My Kitchen Sink
We just finished dinner, and I am totally out of dish washing detergent--so if I waited until tomorrow morning it would look even worse than this...

2. Inside My Fridge

Not a lot to look at. I need to go grocery shopping too, but we just got back in town late last night and I haven't had a chance to restock. Note the KFC bucket though. I figure that makes a nice, colorful touch...

3. My Favorite Shoes

If Danyelle can choose more than one pair, so can I...The shoes on the left aren't much to look at--just scuffed worn black loafers, but I got them on my mission and they are both comfortable and sentimental. The middle are my newest addition, and the shoes on the right are my indoor soccer shoes.

4. My Closet--and 5. My Laundry Pile
Okay, I admit to more cheating here...this is my closet, and on the floor is my laundry pile. I refuse to take a photo of the laundry pile in my laundry room. I have a door to my laundry room for the express purpose of being able to shut it and not have anyone see it. :) If you don't let this pass go, I'll take a photo of the laundry room on Tuesday after I've had a couple more days to find the floor....:) For those of you who I tag at the end of this...go to Danyelle's site and see the way it is supposed to look...

6. What My Kids Are Doing Right Now

The top photo is of the three littles running through the front sprinklers--which I actually was unaware was happening until I took the camera and went looking for them.

The bottom photo is the rest of the gang--including my husband on the one couch, and one of the poodles on the back of the chair. They are all watching "I Am Legend".

7.My Favorite Room

Sort of another cheat. I like my living room. I like my new main light we just put in above the entry there. I like the dark (brick) red paint we painted that wall, and the white trim. It is a comfortable room. However, this room is the 'catch-all' after our trip and I haven't put everything away yet, so showing you the rest of the room--couches, coffee table, etc.--is out of the question. Seriously. I'm not even sure you could find the couch at this point....

8. My Recent Purchase

This is in my outside fridge. We bought a case of water on the way home from our trip yesterday.

9. My Fantasy Vacation

WITH kids, I'd take them back to DisneyWorld for two weeks this time, and throw in the Disney Cruise. We LOVE DisneyWorld.

With just my hubby, we've talked about going to Iceland...warm water springs, Icelandic horses, geysers, beautiful scenery...and you don't hear about a ton of people going there. They DO go there...but it isn't the typical vacation spot for most people I know.

10. A Self-Portrait

Note the new hairstyle. I guess if you don't know the OLD hairstyle, this photo means nothing to you. :) Just add 8 inches and a straightening iron, and you've got it.

Now--I get to tag :) This is the fun part.
I choose Cindy, Stacey, and Aimee :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What We Perceive

I'm getting my haircut today. I will be leaving in a short while to drive 45 minutes to get my haircut by a nice Argentine man named Oscar, because 1. Oscar is a most excellent hairdresser, and 2. My mom is tired enough of looking at my mess of a current hairstyle that she is willing to pay Oscar's outrageous prices for me. (Which is why I haven't cut my hair for over a year--I don't trust a lot of stylists, but I can't justify Oscar's pricing very often--and my hair hasn't bugged my mom enough until now for her to volunteer. :) )

My whole build-up for this blog is to reflect a bit on what we perceive as reality, and what actually IS.

For example, today I am fully optimistic that Oscar will take me into his skilled hands and work miracles with his scissors. I will come out looking younger and thinner. And that is him just working on my hair--no scissor work anywhere else. ;)

In reality, I will come out of his overpriced salon with my mom poorer and my head lighter. I might lose weight in there, but it will be because of the volume of hair he removes. NOT because I would be in need of a new wardrobe to fit my now-svelte body. If Oscar could really make people look younger and thinner with a haircut, he could charge ten times what he does and still have a line around the block with women wanting to sit in his chair.

Have you ever looked in the mirror after going to a little extra trouble with your makeup and clothing and thought "Man, I look good." Maybe fought the urge to give yourself the 'gun' and a wink...?

I have. Okay, maybe not the gun and the wink part--but certainly a turning of the head to catch different angles and make sure I wasn't missing something.

And then, have you had someone take your photo and you see it and suddenly you wonder if you have trick mirrors in your bathroom because you are certain you didn't look like that 5 minutes ago when you had your finger on the trigger and were forcing back the wink that you are fairly sure would have looked more like a twitch if the photo is anything to go by?

Where did that extra weight come from? Someone let me leave the house wearing THAT?

Gun, shmun...someone shoot me now.

Not only do I get caught thinking that I'm more attractive than reality would show, but I also have a youth complex.

I see someone who is younger than I am and I am sure I don't look that old.

Hint to those with teenagers....DON'T ask them if you look older or younger than someone you think must look older. You'll actually get the truth. Well, if you have my daughter you will get a deer-in-the-headlights look as she wonders frantically if telling you the truth will dock her allowance or get her grounded...but the result is the same.

So you see why I am now convinced that I will go into Oscar's chair with too high of expectations and come out briefly thinking that I have gained what all vain women want--youth and beauty--I will think people are checking me out. Wishing that they looked this good.

Then I will get home to reality, where the best comment will be "Your hair is shorter". I will try my hardest to remember to let it go at that and not press for more data.

I like my fantasy.

Reality pops up frequently enough to keep me humble and a bit cranky, but in another flash of dreaming I will just chalk the crankiness up to 'unpredictable' or 'mysterious' and then stay away from mirrors and cameras--and 15 year old daughters--for the rest of the day.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Jinx of the 'Know-It-All' Parent

You know what I'm talking about, don't you?

The jinx where, when you are young and have no children you are quick to judge a person's parenting ability--"When I have kids, MY child will NEVER behave like that", or "Did you see what they are feeding their kid?? Don't they care at all about health and nutrition?".

And then, suddenly you find yourself married with children. Sitting in a church pew trying to look nonchalant as your out-of-control (or, rambunctious if you prefer...and I think I do) child is climbing over the back, making faces at the congregation behind you and throwing crayons 12 rows back--while you shove the 4th dum-dum sucker into the mouth of the crying baby and vow to never say anything bad about the parenting skills of others ever, ever again.

From that point on, you still judge. It is human nature. You just do it less vocally and hope (pray) that the jinx won't come back to haunt you.

Why? Because now that you are a young mother you focus your attention to parents with teenagers. In your mind you see the boy who refuses to go to scout camps or youth conferences and you wonder why the parent won't insist--because you know that those activities will undoubtedly have experiences that will strengthen the testimony of that boy. Or you see the parent who is thrilled that their fifteen year old daughter has a boyfriend, and you vow--in your head as you look frantically around for wood to knock--that YOUR daughter will not be serious with a boy until she is 25. And if by some jinxed reason she does fall madly in love at 17 and thinks she is old enough to be married, you swear you will be more likely to lock her in her room until said age of 25 instead of welcoming the idea with a genuine smile.

I watch happenings around me...parenting issues of people I know and those of strangers...and I get genuinely frightened of the future.

Not because I don't think my kids will make correct choices--I always give them the benefit of the doubt, and while I know mistakes will be made I am mostly confident that they will prevail--But because I have thought the opposite and am terrified that I have just jinxed them all to a life of horrible mistakes that will come back to haunt me.

And because I will probably end up giving younger mothers a whole truckload of something to jinx their own children with. :)