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.