December 31, 2008

Christmas Chaos

Are you ready for this? I certainly wasn't. Even with assembly help from my neighborly neighbors (who were quoted as saying "Why did you have to choose something with so many pieces?" Way to make me feel good...), I was up until the actual Christmas day (12:15 am to be exact) preparing for the morning. That is with all the presents pre-wrapped the week before. Perhaps having Big Boy as my elf was too distracting. Perhaps the 11:30 visit from Big Girl also threw me for a loop, but doing Santa without T was hard. I am still in recovery mode. But at least Santa was generous... as you shall see.
A couple 'before' photos:

We went downstairs to open the stockings. This year we invited Santa to hide them. Poor N had a hard time finding his, and we all had to wait for him before going upstairs to rip open presents.

A bit sleepy in the eyes still, but what a happy shot!

Showing off her new Hello Kitty Chapstick

"Actually I am a little hungry now" she's thinking (yes she eats it).

Big Girl looks happy!

He Looks happy too

This ought to make Mom happy in church

The last present

One happy dog

Little Girl isn't too happy. Being boxed in by Christmas is no fun.

December 23, 2008

A Winner

This weekend I looked inside to see if I was a winner. And I think I was.

I took the photograph of this club cracker box one day a couple weeks ago because Baby Girl, upon seeing the back of the box, pointed to the fellow athlete on the far right and proclaimed it was her father. "Daddy!" she exclaimed. I swear, I have never even met the guy. Don't know his name even. The only one I recognize is Kristi Yamaguchi, from Dancing With the Stars right? T does bear some resemblance to this handsome lucky winning man on the right. Feel free to tell me who he is if you know. He may like to know he owes me some child support. KIDDING!

Seriously though, weekends around here lately have been where I am at my worst. Kids fighting, causing me grief, etc. Patience not being a strong point for me, I have often lost it and then felt like... you know... not a winner.

I have often pondered of my dear friend SC's situation. Her husband deployed over a year ago. Knowing that deployment for T was a possibly in our future, I spoke to her about her experience. She is always wise. She said, "There were things we learned during D's deployment that we never could have learned any other way." Then I would take note when her kids pitched in like I had never seen before, sweeping floors, mixing up pancakes from scratch (serious), getting along with each other. I just thought it was SC and her amazingness. Or could it have been the things they went through? Anyways- they are winners.

This weekend I took the kids to the DC temple grounds to see the lights. For those of you who are familiar with this environment at Christmas time, you can now applaud for me. It is crowded and cold and there are lots of "no touchys" It felt like the crowds in Korea again. When T heard what I did he emailed me with this quote: "I remember those VC visits from years past - dragging the kids through the Creche exhibit - hoping they wouldn't touch anything, feeling my blood boil as they dart in & out of people - egads how did you do it by yourself- good job you're amazing. If I had pompoms, I'd be doing a Kelly cheer right now."

I showed up early before our friends. I was brave. I went through the nativity exhibit with a crying two year old. We froze outside while watching the live nativity. I lost a 2 year old behind a large tree with dolls from around the world. Then I endured the tantrum that ensued after telling her 'no'. It was a long tantrum. LONG! Perhaps it was the fact that I was in public that I didn't loose it. But the weird and new part for me was that I never once felt like losing it. In fact I felt like laughing at the situation. It was a laugh or cry situation. Did I mention the teenagers who didn't want to be there or the attack of sudden sickness? Both happened and both times I just smiled and did my best to fix things. I was like my mother used to be. My mother who was a saint and never lost it.   She was a winner. I am growing into something I don't think I could have become unless challenged in this way. Perhaps she gained her inner strength when she was a young widow with 5 children. Hard to say, but this weekend when I looked inside to see if I was a winner, I was!  I wonder what my prize will be?

December 21, 2008

Christmas Mourn

Christmas in Babylon

For me, Christmas Day is anti-climactic. So much that I usually slip into clinical depression for about 24 hours. I’m not sure when it started to be like that but I think it began around the time we started having children. “Oh sure, blame it on the kids” you say, but really, I think that’s when it began. And anyway, I’ll remind you that someone very wise and childless once wrote “there are no bad children, only bad parents.” To be sure, I enjoy the season- the anticipation, the decorations, the sights, smells, sounds, and tastes of Christmas. The shopping I could maybe do without but everything else I like. On Christmas Eve though, as we stuff the stockings, and barricade the tree with presents – that’s when it starts. It blooms in full the next morning - just after the kids have their melee of ripping open and pillaging the presents, when all that’s left are heaps and mounds of paper, instruction manuals, boxes, and warranty cards. I wade through the living room like it’s a battlefield, feeling a bit devastated and trying to decide what to do next. Then I surrender. I find that tin of cashews from my own stocking and start eating. I’ll usually make it half way through before I realize that I’m in a cashew-eating daze and standing like a statue in the middle of the room, clueless what to do. This forlorn feeling will find expression throughout the day in napping, more cashews, video games, and staring at the walls. I’ve reluctantly acquiesced to this phenomenon and even given it a name: “Christmas Mourn.” I don’t like it one bit and for years I wished it were different, though I’ve done nothing to change it.

Babylon was the greatest city in the world at one time. The ruins of Babylon are located just south of my location here in Iraq. The scriptures use Babylon as a symbol of the great antagonist of the Lord’s Kingdom and even today the term “Babylon” is used to symbolize the World and worldliness. I’m no Babylon wonk but I know enough to realize that this smacks a little of poetic justice and irony. This Christmas, I am in Babylon. This year will bring none of the festivities to which I’m so accustomed. There will be for me no fetching of and trimming the tree, no caroling, no wassail, and no tradition. There will be no vicarious joy in seeing the children buzz with excitement on Christmas morning. There will be no staring deeply into the eyes of my beautiful wife. In short, there will be none of the romance of Christmas. I’ll spend Christmas this year in a war-torn land where for the locals, survival is the order of the day, depravity is everywhere, and all are in need of a miracle. The Army will try to feed me a Christmas meal, but it won’t be the same. The turkey served for Thanksgiving dinner was a perfectly-shaped disc, having been cut from a “tube o’ turkey”. I’m sure there will be an equivalent “tube o’ ________” on Dec 25th. Are you starting to feel sorry for me? Well don’t because I deserve it. After squandering so many Christmases at home, I needed a good slap-in-the-face wake-up call. Quite simply, Christmas has been boiled down to the basics this year and I’ve been compelled to return to its nucleus.

What have I found? Well, for one thing, I’ve found more gratitude. Gratitude for the supportive friends and family I left behind. Gratitude for a fantastic wife and five great children. Gratitude for the freedom we enjoy in America. Gratitude for our Founding Fathers who spent their lives in the service of God and Country. But those aren’t Christmas-y themes, you say?! Those are things one should be grateful for year-round, I know. Well, I’ve also found what the Grinch found after he stole Christmas and then it came anyway for the Whos down in Whoville; that you don’t need stuff for Christmas. But there’s more. Lots more. I figured out that Christmas at it’s core is about Christ. Always a little slow on the uptake, I realized that on the eve of His birth, there was no tree and there were no presents and there was no great feast – not even a turkey disc. Mary and Joseph must have known something of depravity and oppression for she gave birth in a Manger, in a land occupied by a foreign government. On the day of His birth, I’m sure Joseph didn’t walk about in a daze, eating cashews, wondering what’s next. He must have felt the magnitude of the great event, the Advent of the Savior of the World. They both must have been at once profoundly humbled and grateful, for to Mary had been born the great Miracle for all generations. They probably spent the day in wonder, awe, gratitude and not a little trepidation for the great task ahead of raising the Son of God. They probably looked forward that day with a renewed hope for the future of mankind.

Hopefully I will have learned my lesson this year and celebrate Christmas as intended. Hopefully, I will never return to Christmas in Babylon and there will never be another Christmas Mourn. - NTT.

December 19, 2008


So on to something new.... Sandwiches. In our family each child has dubbed a certain secret recipe on his or her own brand of favorite sandwich and named that sandwich after themselves. D had the D___-n-ator. A has the A____-n-ator. N has the N supreme. Fortunately for their mother I have avoided learning how to make these special order sandwiches and they each are their own personal chef for such culinary delights. D's sandwich consists of two slices of bread toasted and buttered with peanut butter on one slice and jelly on the other and then there is a slice of cheddar cheese in the middle. He makes it and eats it with delight.

A's sandwich is a peanut butter and cheese sandwich cut into finger shaped slices and has jelly on the side for her to dip it in. I am not as much in the know as to the older two boys' sandwich recipes. They may be under wraps. They may be wraps for all I know. Baby E has not yet been speaking long enough to declare her own sandwich but I do notice a tendency to want whatever Mom is currently eating. She has a strange relationship with food. Sit almost anything in front of her and she will cry at it for a few moments before deciding to give it a try, then she usually eats it all up. But lately after she seemed to enjoy my turkey, spinach and pickle sandwich, I have been making it for her and she recognizes and eats it without the crying warm up. So I am going to officially dub the turkey spinach with pickle baby E's anti melt-down sandwich. Bon appetite!

December 18, 2008

Efficiency vs Laziness

The other day my teenaged son and I were folding laundry on our ping pong table together. He has recently graduated from having his mom do his laundry to doing it himself. And as any loving mother would do, I corrected his technique from time to time. One technique I found, shall we say... interesting, was his start... stop... way of getting the job done. It could have had something to do with the fact that the television was on. Is there any other way to fold laundry then in front of the television I ask? It's one of the only times I allow myself to watch TV is while I fold.

After a time I said to N, "look at how much laundry I have folded compared to you. It's because I am efficient."  I love efficiency btw. I used to be a dental assistant before going to hygiene school and loved passing off instruments in that efficient way. Anticipating the tool that the Dentist would need next and handing it over before being asked, saving that extra few seconds thrilled me. I loved reading the book 'Cheaper by the Dozen' where the father in the story is an efficiency expert. He knew just how to do everything (down to the minutest thing) in the fastest most efficient way. Buttoning one's vest from the bottom to the top is faster than from top to bottom was one thing I learnt from that book. Now if I only had more vests... If I can be doing two things at once I always do. Watching bathing children while cleaning a bathroom. Taking on the phone while doing dishes.  I will spare you what I do while sitting on the potty. (floss.... perhaps? Before the final stages of coarse!)

My kids are always being told that the way they are doing things is not the most time efficient way.  I am sure this is annoying to them.  Especially N who is already prone to argue with me these days.  So when I told him that he wasn't being efficient at laundry he told me that another word for 'efficiency' is 'lazy.'  Which made absolutely no sense at all to me.  His argument was that I wanted to be done with things in a hurry so that I could sit around and be lazy.  I must be afraid of a little work and taking my time to do it right.  Oh where have I gone wrong with this first born child!? How can he not see the beauty of getting things done quickly so there can be time for more work. Done efficiently.  

After a bit of thought, I realized that sometimes my methods of getting things done are a bit on the lazy side.  I push things into drawers so it looks tidy because I am too hurried (lazy) to be bothered to organize everything all the time.  My stack of junk mail is always heaping.  I'd rather things look neat than actually put everything in place.  Don't ask about my filing cabinet and the 'yearly purge.'

So I shared this theory of N's with some friends of mine while over at their place. I was helping them tidy up after dinner.  I thought they would find his analysis amusing.  

Then we got to the double broiler that needed hand washing.  Both pieces.  And the conversation went like this:  

Me: "What did you use this for?" I asked going over the menu items in my head.  Nope, no melted chocolate for dinner.

TC: "Oh, we used that to steam the corn"   

Me: "You mean the frozen corn we had?"

TC: "Yeah"

Me: "Hmm... that's fancy.  I usually just throw mine in a bowl with some water and nuke it in the microwave"  (Efficient I am thinking).

TC: "Well, my husband has this thing about the corn being steamed, he thinks it tastes better that way"

Me: "Yes but it's just frozen corn- and it takes you so much longer this way.  Does it really taste better?"

TC: "I am not sure- but he likes to go through the extra work, so I let him"

Then her husband went into a long explanation about the skins of the kernels staying intact, sealing in freshness, etc...

"Well" I teased "that's not very efficient..."

"Well" he teased back "Your way is just lazy!"

December 16, 2008

Letting things go

Tonight for brownies we went caroling in a very nice neighborhood of colonial homes. There were many nicely decorated homes looking perfect for the holidays. The host of the evening is a decorator herself and had lavish decor and fancy holiday things everywhere. A feast for the eyes. This year I have let the esthete in me relax a little and told the kids to decorate the tree while I baked in the kitchen. They did it together without a fuss and the only guidance given was to 'space things out' When it's dark and the lights are on it still looks lovely. But there are no other ornaments than the ones the kids have been given by Santa over the years. No theme other than 'omnium gathurum' (hodge podge). Paper colored decorations with pipe-cleaner for hangers adorn the very front and center space. Soccer playing Santa is actually on his head. Not sure how N managed that one. I will admit that there is an inner voice that creeps up every now and then saying "go decorate that tree better" but there are too many other pressing matters at hand and I am stretched too thin this year. I can't even get the laundry done or the bills paid. So why am sitting here blogging you ask? Good question- to which I have no good answer other than I feel a sense of connection and fulfillment when blogging, and I don't have to find those hooky-things to do this.

I found myself looking back to our house hunting days of last summer tonight as well- thinking 'why did we overlook this street when we looked for housing?' Probably it was too 'spensive... as Ricky (aka T) would say. (We pretend to be Ricky and Lucy Ricardo sometimes when it comes to money matters).

Then I was reminded how much worse we could have done when I looked over these gems (from houses we did look at) in my digital photo album.

I am glad that after all I was enough of an esthete to refuse to make due with valor raised wallpaper of half naked women in the main level bathroom. Sheesh!

We have a nice, yet unpretentious home for which I am grateful. And someday I hope to improve things in the kitchen....

Morning Blues

This morning Baby Girl has the blues. She woke up doing one of her favorite things actually. She put on a pair of socks. She doesn't just put them on any old way. She pulls them up as high as one possibly can. The likes them high on the thigh if possible. So you can imagine her happy pleasure when she found how high a pair of Big Girls socks on her could go today. Next she went for some of Big Girl's sandals. The ones with a slight cork heel. Big Girl commented that she shouldn't be wearing these because they make her trip. I decided not to fight with my nearly two year old girl and let her take her chances in them for the morning. During the morning's flurry to get kids ready for school Little Girl actually did take a few spills in the heels. For reals! (just rhyming). But alas, busy mom still wasn't as much into safety as I was into getting kids out the door in a hurry. Plus taking them off at this point would mean tantrum time, something I didn't feel we needed to get into right now. Good thing she's so close to the floor I told myself. I did ask her to take off the big shoes and she determinedly screeched "NO!"

So there we were at the top of our split level foyer ready for morning prayer before leaving to pick up our carpool girl up the street, when I saw it coming. Baby Girl was headed for the steps in her heels. Luckily Both Little Boy and I caught her in time before another fall this season. She did start wailing out of fright or disruption. And she didn't really stop crying for several minutes. However at the end of this ordeal she did something we all found delightful. Having no kleenex handy to wipe her eyes free of tears, she reached into my purse and found a receipt from Target and wiped her eyes on each side. And now as I post this she sits by me with lunch in front of her, and a post-sleep look on her face, seeming completely at a loss for what to do next. "Would you like me to rock you?" "NO!" "Would you like some TV?" "NO!" "Would you like a hug?" "NO!" "Would you like a story?" "NO!" "What would you like?" "NO!"

Maybe a pair of longish socks and some high heel sandals... Dare I ask?

December 14, 2008

Christmas Letter on the Scrapping Table

Just so you know this attempt never made the cut, so there is no spoiler alert needed for those of you who actually get our Christmas card.  As is our usual, I try then T says 'nice try' and comes up with something way better.  This version is good enough for the blog though- and hey, it did take me a whole 15 min to write- so now no time is wasted!  Enjoy : )
Christmas letter attempt #1: Milestones

Well hello folks. It’s been a crazy year at our home and we just can’t wait to share every detail with you. Let’s start with the day Baby Girl uttered her first words. She looked up at me and said, “I love Mom.” Then Little Boy lost 3 teeth in one day. He likes to pull them himself. Big girl got a new bike this year and it wasn’t even pink. Big Boy started High School and ran Xcountry. Middle Boy has started wearing cologne and- WAIT I interrupt the writing of this letter to make a serious announcement. Big Girl just came up to me and told me that Little Girl did pee pee on the potty for the first time- she is not yet 2! Could this be our Christmas miracle I have been praying for? Big Girl says she took care of it for me, no evidence in sight. Sometimes Big Girl likes to tell me things for the shock and awe effect and truth isn’t actually necessary every time…. Hmm. I am gonna choose to believe. Because that is what Christmas is about. Believing.

Christmas letter attempt #2 Poetry

Twas 22 nights before Christmas and all through the suite
Many creatures were stirring for something to eat.
A rustle can be heard from the pantry beneath
I wonder if I will find my favorite wreath (and hang it up today)…
Mom should make some dinner before scouts tonight
Instead she is typing by very dim light.
T’s in Iraq now bundled up in his CHU (pronounced choo, stands for cruddy housing unit)
Tomorrow he will have to find something to do.
We love and appreciate our Daddy dear
In March or April he’ll magically appear (after a long airplane ride).
So here’s hoping I make it without much of a fight (with my teenagers)
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Christmas letter attempt #3 'Jus gettin her dun'

N 14yrs- Ran track this year; learning to do things like saw the end of Christmas trees; Likes Homestar; Sometimes angry; Plays violin;
E 12yrs- Got the priesthood; made a good friend; helps his mom; loves candy. Is calm most of the time; Walks to school; Handsome;
D 9yrs- Very smart; firey personality; takes good care of Little Girl; likes to be silly; Loves the dog; Very capable; Started the violin; Believes in things;
A 5yrs- Has a love/hate relationship with Kindergarten; Loves her mom; An artist; Rides a bike (not pink but red!); Makes up songs; Has a testimony; Puts goldfish crackers in a drink of water as a snack. (Just happened- not kidding).
E 23 months- Got stitches the week dad left; Started talking; Gives long kisses on the mouth; Smells great after a bath; Has enough hair now for pigtails; Everyone dotes on E;

Best Wishes From our Family to Yours!

December 11, 2008

Letter from Hubby


Dearest Friend. I hope this email finds you well rested and happy. I hope you had a good morning with the kids. As I write this it is about 2am on the 11th of December (your time). It has been 2 months today since I left you and the children standing on the walk, watching me go. It seems like much, much longer than that. I've included a picture of that event from my (Little Boy's) camera that Dave took. I don't know if you've been following any of the email on my AKO (army) account thats been coming through but the commander here has approved my tour curtailment (recall that my orders say I'll be here for 1 year.) Walter Reed sent them a memo officially stating that they were sending Dr. H to replace me. That's really good news. I don't think he has his orders yet, so I don't know yet when I expect to leave here. Hopefully that's something I'll find out in the coming weeks though it may be a bit longer.
I'm doing OK. I have to fight to keep myself from feeling completely marginalized by the Army. I've been here at COP Z for about 1 week and I've seen all of 4 patients. These were for basic things like diarrhea, runny nose, etc. One of the locals brought in an 18 month-old after she drank motor oil. There was nothing I could do except reassure them and tell them to go to the local hospital. She'll probably be fine except for some indigestion. The day they came in was Ede (?sp) which is one of the holiest days of the year for muslims. They claimed that no hospitals in all of Iraq were open. I found this highly suspect and said so. I suggested a few hospitals in the area to which they said they would not go because the father was Sunni and feared for his security. They took the baby and left. There was nothing I could do in my little aid station.
So how do I spend my spare time you ask? Well, you'll be glad to know that each morning I start by making my bed. And I think of you each time I do. It really gives me a sense of pride and well-being. After that, I get dressed. I usually then lace up my boots (which I quite look forward to). You may be asking yourself if lacing of the boots is not part of getting dressed. Well, some may consider it so but I take so much satisfaction in the lacing of my boots (for what else have I to do?) that it's much of like the dessert of getting dressed. I usually then take a breakfast of cold cereal (raisin bran crunch mostly - eaten with soy milk as there is no cow milk available). Next I start reading. Usually I start with the Book of Mormon, then Jesus the Christ or another churchy book. I may listen to my ipod for a while after that. I then try to do some professional reading (neuro-ophth textbook). By this time, lunch has rolled around. For lunch I have an MRE or some other pre-made delicacy. After lunch I may try to read for pleasure but often find myself in need of a nap due the vigorous schedule of the morning. In the afternoon I may run on the treadmill or do some more reading. I also usually shower in the mid-afternoon because by then it's warm enough outside to counter the physiologic effects of an ice-cold shower. Sometime throughout the day I try to check the internet for email, news, etc. I do more reading until dinner at 6pm. By around 7pm, I start checking the phones to find one available. If there's not one available, I may wait until very late to call you. By about 9pm, I'm starting to think about turning in and write a few lines in my journal. I usually watch 1 or 2 episodes of the West Wing before turning in for the night. I try not to watch TV/Movies during the day because I have a tendency to go overboard - as evidenced the other day when I watched most of the 7 parts of the John Adams series in 1 day (it was uplifting though - very good). There are, of course, exceptions to this rule and sometimes I indulge in 3 or 4 consecutive episodes of the West Wing.
I'm struggling to find purpose and meaning for my being here. At the same time, I'm glad the combat tempo is slow enough that the soldiers are not getting hurt (for the most part). I feel strongly that the Lord is aware of me and I hope to be of service in some way. I keep telling myself that it's by the small and simple things that great things are brought to pass.
Well, my dear. I love thee. I truly hope you are doing well. I miss you more than words can say. I can't wait to hold you in my arms, kiss your beautiful lips, hear your cheerful laugh, and see your bright smiling face. I can't wait to be reunited with the children as well. The words "I'm tumming mommy" often run through my mind. I'm sure I will hardly recognize the baby. But I get ahead of myself. I still have 2/3 of the deployment ahead of me. One can hope, though right?
Take care sweet heart. Tell the kids I love them.


December 10, 2008

Whoopsy Daisies

A little accident happened outside our house today. I had some yard workers come to clean out the gutters and one of the employees made a bad judgement call and jumped from the roof down onto our porch covering that looks like this

So that it now has a hole in it like this...

He apologized and asked that I not hold his employer responsible. That it was his fault... nice of him eh? Although he didn't sound so nice before when he was cursing and arguing with his boss outside our kitchen window. He also mentioned words like 'dry-rot' and 'needing a replacement anyways'

That's when my sneakster radar went on and I thought I might be going for a ride somewhere (he taking me that is). He also said that he wasn't covered under his employer's insurance and that he thought he'd broken a finger. This was just him trying to distract me- his finger looked fine. Under his breath he mentioned that his boss did tell him to get up there and he was the one taking forever to come and get him after the ladder fell. Hmm...

So now what I am wondering is this. Although Mikey promised to come help fix it for us in the spring, do you think I will actually ever see that come true? And do you think I should get a quick estimate on the roof before paying for the yard work?

Honey, if you are reading this you wanna weigh in here?

Matt- if you read this post you wanna tell me what one of these porch covers might cost? Just give me the Provo Ut cost and I'll adjust for the east coast.  You do that and I will forgive you for making me fall that one time at Classic Skate.  


December 06, 2008

A with a Camera

This is what happens when you let your five year old play with the camera for an afternoon. Interesting perspective I think.

A favorite Pony

That inspired a drawing

Where the magic happens

After a closer look at my foot

Don't mess with Big Girl! She's a Real Wild One!

This photo shoot is dedicated to our Dad, T

December 04, 2008

the jolly: thumpety thump

I just thought this was worth reading.  Have a nice laugh....

the jolly: thumpety thump

December 03, 2008

Writing the yearly letter

It was ‘Almost Heaven in 2007’. Now we are ‘Doing Great in 2008’. Can’t wait to be ‘Feelin fine in 2009’. But seriously- this years’ is a hard Christmas letter to write. The year of 2008 has had its ups and downs. Chronologically speaking the year started out great. We were thriving in Iowa. The winter was bleak but the sun finally came out to greet us. Troy finished up his fellowship in Iowa City and we got our next assignment to Washington DC with Troy being assigned as staff at his place of residency, Walter Reed. So we loaded up the truck and we moved to Ole DC. Capital Hill that is (no swimming pools or movie stars- I will be quitting that now). We moved in July and then in September the news came. Troy would be deploying to Iraq for 6 months. Sigh! So now we are about 1/3 the way through his being gone, and I have no one to nag about writing the Christmas letter. Not a problem you say? Wrong you would be! Like Yoda I am speaking....

Here is our yearly card completion ritual. I orchestrate the taking of photos. Every other year the adults are featured in with the kids. This year is an exception. Since T was leaving we had another nice photo this year. I pick out the cards, buy the stamps, make up the list and then- want that monkey off my back asap so I can enjoy the letters coming in knowing that they got mine first and therefore have to comment in their card about how great it was to hear from me. This never really happens because Troy feels that nothing motivates his creativity in Christmas card writing better than the 11th hour deadline. I can write a pretty good letter or even the occasional poem that is acceptable (to me) and he will shoot it down because it just isn’t quite what he was going for. But he won’t know what he was going for until around Dec 18th or so. Now we are apart for Christmas and that is sad, but there is no one to bicker about the card with. Sometimes there is a silver lining-less bickering.

So please forgive if our letter’s not up to standard this year (the pressure your yearly compliments add to our plate!) and know that I had complete creative control and accept complete criticism and blame. Troy says he is going to write a letter this year from Iraq and email it to me, but without me to nag him- I don’t really see that happening…. Does his reading my blog count as nagging? I’ve done the first 4 steps- it’s your turn sweetie. Turn on the letter writing juice and pretend it’s Dec 20th.
On a side note I have never and most likely never will use the headlines 'Doing Great in 2008', 'Feeling fine in 2009' and so on and so forth.

December 02, 2008

Pocket Treasures

Well it's that time of year again. The time where your fleece or denim jacket just isn't going to cut it for warmth outside. So I got out my parka that is starting to look kinda sad (hint to Santa), and found these items in my pockets. When you move as much as we do this is a serious trip down memory lane. And also a sad reminder that I use my pockets as trash receptacles. I do it with my pants pockets as well. Perhaps I learned this trick at 5th grade camp. They told us to 'sock it in your pocket' as opposed to throwing our laffy tafffy wrappers out there on the planet's surface to decompose at shockingly slow rates. So when I go about straightening up rooms I often sock it in my pocket. At the end of the day, should I remember to empty before bed I can have a pretty interesting collection on my dresser. At which point I could start a whole new organization process, putting away Legos and Polly pocket dresses, etc. Or depending on my state of tiredness, I will just head for the trash, and hope no one looks in there as I put some piece of trash on top to cover up my crime. It's all so deviant, and lazy, and efficient. (more on lazy vs efficiency: conversations with my teenager in a future post).

Well as I look over these stashed away items of my 2007 winter in Iowa City I am reminded how much warmer 2008 winter is bound to be comparatively. I am sad to know that I can no longer go to Fareway to shop for groceries. A store with the best meat dept and customer service in the land. I am reminded that I did in fact get that print I had been eyeing at Hobby Lobby, even though they were out the first time I shopped the sale. I am also made aware of the fact that we aren't taking our kids on individual dates like we used to, where each kid always preferred to go to the new Sonic that opened up on the Coralville 'Strip' (like the Vegas Strip but with less traffic, lights and hookers). I also ask myself if it's okay to eat a year old chocolate kiss and why did it survive in the first place? I think I will leave the Cheerios alone. And THERE is that missing sock! I can't wait to try on my brown church-coat and hunt for treasure!

November 28, 2008


Thanks for reading my blog today. It makes me feel connected. Thanks to the C family for having 6 kids for my 5 to hang out with over at their lovely home today. There's someone for everybody. The food was awesome and the kids played night games outside in the cul-de-sac until 7:30pm.

Thanks for the people who help me with things that I cannot do myself. For JL who gives my big boy a ride to seminary each morning. For the home teacher who looks under the hood of my van to check for the possibility of low steering fluid. For the couple who came and stayed with my kids so I could go to the movies with my girlfriends- thanks! For the family who came over and shared the most delicious brownies with us for family home evening. Those were really good-thanks!

We are truly blessed this season with all of our needs being met. The graciousness of others is very humbling. It is teaching me how to be when I am on the other side of this mess. I just had to take the photo of these turkey blow up lawn decorations that we passed on the way home from Thanksgiving dinner. I think that one turkey is injured and the other one is carrying it on it's back into the woods and to safety. Much like my many friends helping me out at this challenging time in my life. What did you think they were doing? I know I know- but I don't think that's how turkeys do it. I could be wrong. Maybe it's just the inflatable turkeys. Oh I am so off track with this post now....

I wish you the best of everything this Thanksgiving day. A shout out to my dearest T! Love you babe!

D is looking nervous in the tree at the C's.  He wouldn't come down and later fell asleep up there....

Eliza wants to swing, or as she would say "go Wee!" referring of coarse to what she would say not what she would do in her diaper if put in the swing. But maybe it's both.... hmmm.

November 26, 2008

I want to share with you

This touched me so much today....

November 25, 2008


As if I don't blog enough already right?  But I feel like I have been treating my blog like a writing contest and that gets lengthy.  Just something to snack on this time...

A list of updates:
1-A is grounded from markers- for life.  She leaves them out for Baby Girl to get and we currently have markers on bedspreads, markers on hardwoods, markers on babies.  It is bad.

2-Middle Boy may have an ulcer.  He complains of stomach pain a lot.  He may also be trying to dodge school because he is letting his grades slide.  Not good.

3-Little Boy has a snaggle tooth (pegged lateral for my dental friends) coming in.  It's tooth #7 (or the one right from center for my non-dental friends).  It looks funny, can we do a veneer on a 9 year old?  How about a flipper?

4-Baby Girl is talking in sentences and taking off her own diaper to sit on her potty.  She is still over a month from turning 2.  Time goes by too fast!

5-N has his appetite back.  We are letting the medications slide a bit since he is now a trained puppy getting himself up and out the door at the unGodly hour of 5:00am.  He comes home giddy and hungry.  His grades are seemingly okay so far, so we shall see.  I am anxious to see him put some weight back on.  He looks anorexic!

6-I thought it would be non-stressful to have a family over last night for FHE (family home evening for my non LDS friends; Latter Day Saints also also); but even though they did the thought and brought delicious brownies I spent the entire day cleaning house for them.  Too stressful!  The boys were made to help me quite a bit and N mentioned in front of this family that the house is clean due to Mom's henchmen.  Where is he picking up these things?

7-This was still lengthy.  Sorry english majors out there.  T says I need to say things without so many words.  I am going to end now and get kids off to school.

November 24, 2008

Middle Boy

Here you see my Middle Boy 'E'.  At the risk of sounding pompous in my blog I would like to devote this post to him and only him.  The other kids will come later on sometime.  This one is all about E.  Being a middle boy, sometimes it's easy to feel looked over.  I know E has felt this way before because he used to pull his baby brother's hair in an act of jealousy every time someone mentioned Little Boy's lovely red curly locks.  E wouldn't just pull it, he would twist it up around his finger a few times and give it a good yank upwards.  It was then when we (his parents) would look at each other and know that we needed to pay E a bit more attention.  

E likes sports.  He used to spot basketball hoops in people's front driveways as we drove around town.  "Hoops!" our 2 year old would verbalize almost before saying "Ma Ma and Da Da." E likes cars.  He is the best in our family at recognizing and defining moving vehicles from a distance.  We always know there is a nice sports car around when we hear Evan's voice from the back seat saying "sweeeet!"

E is sensitive.  He has taken his Dad's deployment the hardest.  E is my 'finder of things'.  He is serious.  He wants to achieve things.  He always has a good argument up his sleeve.  He loves money.  He loves having a goal and working for it (usually something he is saving his money for). Incidentally he has earned a lot of money finding things for me.  He loves animals, especially dogs.  E is handsome and has his great grandma Fronk's beautiful blue eyes.  He is shy around girls and they are not shy around him. (trouble!)  He has a mean jump shot but is unfortunately very short.  I love E's low giggly laugh.  He likes to goof around with his older brother.  Little boy wants to be just like E.  E is slow to anger but when his fuse finally runs out- you better watch out!  He is good to his baby sister.  He is good to his mother.  He misses his Father.

 I love E!

November 21, 2008

the Underdogs

The other day T treated a 5-6 year old girl with 2nd degree burns over 30-35 % of her body.  Her name is Bon, and she has been in our prayers constantly.  The girl was close to our daughter's age and he said thoughts of her have been with him every since the incident.  Not only was this girl a victim of accidental burning but then the following day a 2 year old boy came in with a similar wound from 'sitting in boiling milk' (?!)  Maybe over a low cooking spot I assume.  T was much more prepared for this one.   Both burnings were probably due to neglect.  Both within a day of each other.  Neither child was with a parent when brought to the gates of the base.  

I can't help but think of another burn victim who's story I have been following along with thousands of other bloggers like myself.  Stephanie Neileson's case is a different one though.  She has the support of her family and the support of the bloggosphere.  I read an article about her that related her waking up experiences with her husband by her side cheering her on.  He had also been in the plane crash that caused her injuries and suffered less severe burning. But he  could help her, comfort her, let her know that he knew how it felt to wake up to this new and overwhelming truth.  His mother had been there for him when it was his waking up time.  Stephanie is a wonderful person who I am moved to tears about almost every day.  But there are lots of wonderful people.  Lots of victims.  Lots...

Who will be there for these poor Iraqi children?  Will they even get the kind of care they need?  Will it be enough?  How is it that some are blessed with so much and others are seemingly left uncared for?  I know that life is unfair and that things have a way of working out for everyone.  I just am sometimes left to wonder, and then I wonder what I will do about it.  I, who have been given much...

I believe that God has a plan for each of us.  That he loves us each individually and the same.  I had a loving mother who taught me this truth through her example.  When there was a less lovely, less popular, less designer-clad woman sitting alone in church, it was my mother who would seek this woman out in relief society and sit with her.  

I was present at my mother's side no doubt listening in to what was going on, when she told a peddler at the door that God loves us all.  He had been going door to door asking people for any kind of work to put money in his pocket.  He was Tongan I believe and had said something about not being as good as us.  My mother hugged him, and told him it wasn't so.  I will never forget that.  

Sometimes I get angry at the populars of the world who seem to have everything handed to them.  It's a problem I sometimes think I need to work on.  When I was a teenager and was cute but shy and didn't get too many dates (due to shyness and I think being labeled as stuck-up... not due to uncuteness btw), I had the horrible experience of being lined up on a blind date for my Jr prom.  My best friend was also lined up and we doubled.  The dates were relatives of my Mia Maid advisor from church.  They were handsome and a bit grabby.  When they saw who had been announced prom queen they also had the wonderful quality of asking us "Why her? she's not that great..."  What they didn't know was that she was popular by association with her big-deal family.  She was also very nice, but the big deal that was made about her was pretty overdone.  And still continues to this day... Do I sound bitter?  I just don't understand why we don't get that everyone is special in their own way.  We should be reaching out to the less-haves and giving less praise and attention to those who already have a lot going for them.  

When I told T that I had bought some expensive purses from and online auction benefitting the Nielsons he was okay with that, but he also pointed out to me that there are lots of burn victims out there without blogs who weren't big-deals beforehand.  "Wonder where their online auctions are being held at?" was his comment.  I knew there was a reason I loved this man so much.  Like my mother- he gets it.

November 20, 2008

Want to waste some time?

Press Here  Don't press the image of the dot on my blog.  That will get you the image only.  I see not many of you have been doing this right instead press the link I have placed at the beginning of this paragraph.  Sillies!

November 19, 2008

Wink, blink, nod

Well the good Lord above must have known I needed a boost today because I got not one, not two but three compliments (of sorts) today lifting my ego considerably. Now I am no looker, but I had it when I needed it. Nothing to recoil at either mind you, just holding my own and still a bit vain, so you can see why these three things meant so much to me.

The first incident was when I was volunteering in A's class and a young 5 year old boy clearly winked at me. Directly.... with impact! I sometimes will wink at the kids and he must have picked up on it- winking at the winker. At the time of 'the wink', the class was participating in quite the congo-line of squirrels. I guess they are starting a new unit of squirrel study and they were pretending to be squirrels marching, eating nuts, and wagging their bushy tails around the two connecting classrooms. I thought it was funny how the teacher reminded them repeatedly that 'squirrels do NOT talk.' Apparently they do wink. I was touched.

The second flirtation (and it should be called such for it was nothing less than flirting) happened outside the school where there was a construction worker standing on the sidewalk. He saw me coming and I smiled and said "hello." I guess I was rather charming because the man who I shall describe as an African American male in his early 50s with a slight Caribbean accent then greeted me with a "look at dis beautiful woman walkin by, hello to you" I smiled and nodded and wondered a bit if I should be so friendly. Don't want to raise his hopes up too high. I thought about telling him I was taken mahn, but I was halfway to the car by then and didn't really think it wise to turn around. Still it made me feel sorta admired and nervous at the same time.

Then the last thing that happened was that while I was in line at the grocery store. A female store manager said when addressing the clerk checking out my groceries (or was that all he was checking out... hmm), "when you are finished helping this nice young woman you can take your break" Yes folks, she called me young woman. Did she know that I just turned 40? That probably would have surprised her. It wouldn't have been the first person to be surprised by the news.  Myself included.

So I was walking tall today with all these attentions. I must be doing something right!