December 30, 2009

Post-it notes from Santa

Well we had a lovely Christmas and I must report that I believe I successfully pulled of the goal of not overdoing it this Christmas. We kept warning the older kids not to expect much. I think Middle Boy was especially worried when he saw me stashing a bag away and I told him not to look, but he caught a glimpse of post-it notes and started to worry that by 'practical Christmas' we meant no toys at all. Visions of office supplies did not really dance in his head. So he was extra happy with his dart gun. And it is one large dart gun! He has been tormenting us with it since about 7:45am on the 25th of December.

I would give a run down of what everyone else got but I will save it for later. Pictures mean a thousand times more than my words do anyways. Especially when one spends nearly a thousand on a new Nikkon D90 for oneself for Christmas 2009-2015. Those photos in my last post were taken with that snazzy camera and I gotta say the snowflakes showed up amazingly well! They better, gosh dangit! Now I just have to figure how to make them nice and big for the blog. I think that is only for professionals though. My title alone sets me off as no professional. Still- expect better photos.

Next up we are planning a little vacation away from the cold. Someone recommended this place while we stay in Orlando....

It's called Gatorland and doesn't that little girl look like she is having the time of her life? I would be content to keep reliving my childhood by going to the Magic Kingdom over and over every 3-4 years with our kids, but when you have a 15 year old boy feeding live chickens to gators sounds more appealing. Poor Little and Baby Girls will have to suffer and have therapy over it one day I am certain. Also, T grew up camping (only) for vacations so he sees no real value in Disney. Once you have gone you have no need to go back ever again according to him. Whatever! I still get misty every time I see that blue castle up close and in real life. Of coarse that is especially when I have just had a baby and am really hormonal. TMI?

Wish me luck in Gatorland. I am sure to tell a gushinglly good tale when I return that will bring non-hormonal tears to one and all. Happy New Year!

(that ain't no post-it note)

December 23, 2009

A Quiet Storm

Dear Snow,
You were so welcomed on my street last Saturday. All 22 inches of you. Yes. I had 4 things on the calendar for the day. What I was wishing for was some quiet time at home with my family. Thanks to you, everything was cancelled and that's exactly what I got! Time to enjoy each other and slow things down without any hassles of the season beating down my door. So, thanks! Thanks for coming! And thanks for not taking the power out like during the big storm of '03. That was the year I brought my 2-day-old new baby girl home right as your flurries were just beginning. We were without power or plowing for several days. No heat with a newborn was not pleasant. Thanks to a good fireplace we survived just fine though.

Thanks for coming during a winter (and a weekend) when T was home to shovel, and shovel and shovel. Seriously- lots of shoveling! So glad we could enjoy the snow together, shoveling, making snow angels, sledding, etc. We then enjoyed a pay-per-view movie and hot cocoa. Well- enjoyed may be stating it a bit to strongly. It was the Pink Panther 2 and that was not the best movie, but the teenagers enjoyed it I guess. And when the teens are happy, the entire house is happier.

I hear you are coming back for a repeat performance on Chirstmas day. I will remember to get the milk and then you can come again any time! Now if I could just find a private place to start on the wrapping since the kids have been home from school for 3 days. I may have to set up shop in the garage.
Take care,

December 17, 2009

Holiday Ramble

I have been so busy lately that my head is spinning. I am waking up feeling stressed and disorganized and the last thing I should be doing is blogging. I need to get my thoughts out though. Just where to start is the problem... So I shall do as I have many times before on this blog and ramble until I feel like my mental itch has been scratched. Then I plan on taking a 10 minute power nap before the kids get home and I have to start baking a lot of goodies. My bet is that the kids will take precedence over the baking like the past 3 days, but we'll see....

On with my ramble-fest. My Christmas cards are in the works but the photo I ordered is pretty bad. The quality just isn't great. I hope those of you who are used to getting better from us will understand. It's hard to get a good shot every year. And as long as I am making excuses, the letter is not a masterpiece either. T is not motivated, and I am too busy. Sorry. I'm behind on sewing, photo album making, baking, and wrapping- you name it and I haven't done it yet.

Frustration with kids losing things seems to be the theme for our month. First Little Boy misplaced his violin bow. He accidentally left the violin at the elementary school overnight and when he brought it home the next day the bow was missing. Sigh! It's a rental too. Poor kid was so stressed out that I didn't have the heart to be upset with him. Especially not when I have lost my keys multiple times myself in the past two weeks. Luckily both have been found- bow and keys. Then Middle Boy reported that he lost his 100.00 calculator. The one they loan from the school that they make your parents sign a note saying it will be paid for if lost. Yes, that one. It's been looked for, prayed about, looked for some more- not found yet. Guess it's just going to test our faith- and possibly his pocketbook. I told him that may be what he gets for Christmas this year.

Big Boy just had to join us and lose his violin shoulder rest this week. The sad sad thing about this is that since September he has managed to lose or break two previous shoulder rests. I even bought him a new violin case that would hold the shoulder rest to avoid the problems we were having. I guess a new case won't instantly make him responsible enough to put the darn thing inside it though. So now we are on shoulder rest number 4 (an extra we had that he couldn't stand- he is no longer complaining about that one now-strange). I was seeing red over this last night. I would have been more sympathetic if he would have just stopped reading his book long enough to have a conversation with me about it. It's his second big mistake this week since he crashed my ancient ceramic nativity set during a pillow fight and tried to cover it up. Merry Christmas Mom! HELP me!

One piece of good violin news though is that Little Boy confided in me last night on our way to cub scouts, that he is really glad that he is taking violin lessons. He "really likes it." That is what a good teacher will do I suppose. The clerk at the violin rental store was right- "that teacher is worth every penny." And she gets a lot of our pennies- each month.

I have been working on a gift for T that has been so emotionally draining that I think I better stop and do something else for a few days. I have been cutting and pasting past emails from our family and T back and forth from when he was in Iraq for 6 months. Reading those emails is taking me back to last winter and how tough it was. I walk around like a zombie after reading, wondering how I ever did that. I am not alone this Christmas and still I feel totally swamped. I must have had heavenly help. Heaven knows there was no physical help around (at least not with the daily grind). My email novel Is 122 pages long! (That's a lotta love). I went for more ink today and we're about to go to press.

Well that ought to brighten your day after reading all my woes! Hope you are all coping well with the stress of the season. I am going to try and slow down and enjoy it more. Happy holidays : )

December 12, 2009

Naughty or Nice?

During my recent visit to Utah for my sister's wedding I had the chance to be present during a priesthood blessing. My sister visited my parent's house the morning before her wedding day and asked my father for a blessing. It was nice. He is a good father and loves his children that is clear. I was happy for my sister. Then he did something that took me back more than one would expect. He came over to me, took my face in his hands and looked deep into my eyes. He then said to me in his most serious voice. "You are a good person." At forty years old I wouldn't have expected that to mean so much. Approval from one's parents at that point in time would seem like gravy and not the main dish. But I think a daughter always needs to hear that she is loved and approved of by her father. Especially when her political views have strayed from what he raised her to believe. So when he said this, I teared up a bit.

A few days later I sat at the kitchen table chatting about this and that with him. The conversation was nothing deep. It turned to his health and the recent diet shots he's been on to lose weight. He was proposing that he may suggest the shots to another sister who is overweight. Knowing him as I do, I know that his tact levels are low. Very low. So I merely suggested that he take care in how he suggested those shots. "Tell her how much you love her and want her to be healthy and happy- don't tell her she's looking like a fat cow." (She doesn't btw- I'm just making a point.) A point which my father did not appreciate. Perhaps my tact levels are low too. By the end of that conversation he had laid into me pretty hard about how a 40 year old doesn't know as much as an 80 year old and should not be giving such advice... yada, yada, yada. I wanted to cry now for another reason. But not really. I just felt misunderstood. Something my Dad probably feels quite often.

So I don't know what I am. Am I a good person? Am I a know it all who can't keep her mouth shut? I am not quite sure, but I know where I possibly learned both of these personality traits.

From my father.

December 09, 2009

Christmas Draft

(The following letter was not sent. It was a first attempt and when I went back to improve upon it I had lost it. Just found it tonight in my blog archives... Better late late then never I guess! Happy 2010)

Tagg Tales 2009

The big news for us this year was that T arrived home from Iraq in April 2009 after 6 months away. We have been so happy to be together as a complete family once again. I often remind myself when he is working late at night, that at least he is coming home. We grew in ways while he was away that could not have happened any other way, but we are glad it’s over. T says he has PTSD now, which in his case stands for pre-traumatic stress disorder. In other words, he never wants to have to deploy again. This makes it pretty easy for us to decide what to do when our commitment to the army is up in 2.5 years. We will be getting out of the military. So if you know of any job openings for a very nice neuro opthamologist, please let us know. While T was deployed, he worked out and ton and read books that he had always wanted to read. He now has big muscles and can quote from David Copperfield if you like. Perhaps we should put that on his resume.

Kelly: I am just doing the same Kelly things I do every year. This year I have added yoga to my list in order to remain calm and healthier as a busy mother of 5. I keep losing and gaining the same 4.5 lbs…. so rewarding!

Big Boy: is a sophomore at S______ high school and will soon be driving so that is really really scary for us all. We’d say come and visit us in DC but perhaps you should wait until he is a bit more experienced on the roads. Big Boy is still playing violin and running XC for his high school. He is a very nice young man. Big Boy got braces this year, after all this expense we think we will keep him. We love Big Boy.

Middle Boy: is 13. He is very cool. He has good friends. He smells great! He likes to skateboard and play lacrosse. He is good at predicting the weather, poking his brother during dinnertime, and rolling his eyes at most everything his sister says. He is learning Spanish. He hates walking the dog. However, we love him and will keep him too.

Little Boy: is'D____" at home but "A______" at school. We cannot explain this. He has some serious orthodontic work ahead. His skills include being funny with Big Boy, playing violin, doting on his baby sister and trying (usually unsuccessfully), to get the dog to obey his commands. He is a smarty-pants and it’s not bragging if you can back it up so just call his teacher if you don’t believe me. Little Boy also plays baseball, soccer and lacrosse. His mom makes him. We love our feisty red-headed #3 son!

Big GIrl: Feels things- deeply. She is our first girl so we are still learning how to deal with this. Sometimes we fail. Big Girl is adorable (see photo-not bragging). She likes doing things for people. She is starting to wear shirts that are bedazzled. Her mom finds this a little disturbing. She loves her family and is especially glad to have her Daddy home this year. She is a girl-scout and sells a mean tasting thin mint! Big Girl has a testimony. Big Girl is a crafty artist. We love her a big bunch! She wants me to add that she would like a Barbie styling head for Christmas. Pass it along!

Baby Girl. It’s a good thing Baby Girl is our last child because this letter is already too long and I hate to change font sizes. Baby Girl is a real entertainer. Everything she says is funny because she can’t say things well yet. She is a heart melter and a temper tantrum all rolled into one. She likes to be on the go. She will try most any food if you ignore her long enough- but try and convince her to eat and you are in for a long fight people. She is now potty trained and we are all very proud of that. She is an independent cutie and we are glad she found her way to our home. We adore her.

Merry Christmas and happy holidays to one and all! We can’t wait to hear from you.

Christmas Photos

Can you please help me choose a photo for our Christmas cards this year? Just tell me photo one, two, three, four or five...


December 06, 2009

It's Happened

It's happened... The day I dread in the Christmas Season. The day when, much too early, I receive the first Christmas card of the year. The day when from here on out I feel the pressure to get it done myself. I thought the first card of the season came a few days ago. As I took the mail from our box I saw the envelope and I cursed the skies. For heaven's sakes it's only the 2nd of December I cried! Turned out it was just a newsletter. Whew- that was a close one. But I knew this day was to come in short order because a friend from the past had requested my zip code on facebook. I thought about unfriending her for this vicious act of being so prompt, thus making us all feel the need to be on top of things as well. Instead I gave her my zip code.

And yes, it was her card that came today. It was a printed off sheet of photos of her twins doing all sorts of things from winning essay contests, catching fish, playing sports of all kinds and showing off the green motorcycle purchased by Jack (age 11?) himself. Oh won't that green machine make my kids green with envy. Almost as envious as their mother is over the fact that Janet is done with her cards and can forget about it from Dec 5th-25th. I am green I say. And not a festive goes-with-red green either!

Well I guess I better stop blogging and boo-hooing about it and get to work. All I can say (and I say this each year) is how are we going to top last year's letter? Too cocky? Sorry!

December 03, 2009

A Conversation With Saint Nick

I found myself in the mall at 11:00am today. I was returning items at Macy's. We passed the Christmas display and noticed that poor Santa was all alone waiting for some child's attention.

In the past my children have been even more than hesitant to sit on Santa's lap. My oldest child in his day even went so far as mispronounce Santa's name as 'Satan.' At 3yrs old I am quite certain he wasn't too familiar with that guy dressed in red. We have often fondly referred to Santa as Satan since then. Perhaps there-in lies our problems with Santa/Satan. Big Boy set quite the example for the rest of the kids to follow by screaming bloody murder and refusing to sit on the big guy's lap at the mall. (see photo above-man I was sure skinnier then...sigh!) So I have been wise never to stand in those long lines with hesitant children ever again.

We have cherished video of a breakfast table conversation with our first little Satan Hater back in 1995. "What will you do when you see Santa's gifts on Christmas morning?" I ask. "I will throw them in the trash!" Big Boy says with commitment. Two scenes later he is trying out his new trike and has forgotten his resolve to cast it aside. Classic!

So four kids later here I am with Little Girl at the mall, and there is no line (thus making it a perfect opportunity for me to test the waters without paying a price). We stroll our way to the gate and I start talking to the big guy in red. I put my head down close to Little Girl and ask if she'd like to say hello to Santa too. She looks nervous. I tell her she can let him know what she wants for Christmas. I am sure she will say a Barbie. She instead whispers to me "tell him I want a Barbie..." We start heading through the tunnel to his chair and she gets really anxious. So I back down and tell her we'll just send him a note. As he sees us walking away I explain to Santa that she's feeling shy. He slides a coloring book through the gate to us even though we never made it to his lap. A few minutes later as we make our way to Macy's, Little Girl has something to say to me. I put my head down to hear her better and she looks upset. Holding her book up to me she says "This not a Barbie..." Another childhood disappointment to add to our long standing tradition with hesitancy and general dislike of old St Nick (at least when up close and personal).

December 01, 2009

Things Get Ruined

Yes they do. Especially around here these days. I have been meaning to get this out on my blog ever since Little Boy, with his Hulkish strength opened a corner cupboard in an angry green fit and broke half the door off. Our corner cupboard now has cereal exposed to the kitchen air and it makes me a bit irritated every time I look at it. It is supposedly unfixable because the local hardware stores don't carry that kind of hinge. We needed new kitchen cupboards anyways. And while we are at it how about some new granite countertops? T promised when we bought this house 16 months ago that a re-do on the kitchen was in the near future. Our bank account just needs to catch up to our dream kitchen. So far we've invested in new appliances, so I am not complaining.

That same Hulk-like power was probably involved when my same aqua monster (Little Boy) broke the light fixture in his bedroom. I think there was a ball involved. I didn't look up to the ceiling fan and notice it until weeks after the incident. You gotta give the boys credit for some quick clean up and a lot of silence. That will be coming out of his allowance. Along with the cost to replace the ripped white shirts and split jeans that guy is going through...

The boring list goes on but not all of them can be blamed on Little Boy. I'm not sure who ruined our light switch downstairs. At least it's been fixed. Big Girl just ruined the stapler (after ripping apart her homework packet for the 2nd time in 10 minutes. Like a Big Girl she was trying to staple it back herself and somehow managed to jam it up requiring patience and a set of needle-nosed pliers from me to get it back in working order. I think six year olds are hard on staplers. Her teacher has several that are in the stapler hospital. Her comment, and this experience after school today has given me the perfect teacher gift idea this year. A gift card to staples with my 'reindeer food' this year. Never heard of reindeer food? In our home it's a combination of cereal, pretzels, nuts and M & M's covered in white chocolate, and it's actually for human consumption.

But back to the things. How could I leave out the kitchen chair that that Little Boy was "just touching" when one of the railings on the back just mysteriously broke in two?! The boy just doesn't know his own strength. Then there's the issue we now have with the dryer due to Big Boy's inattentive closing of sleeves in the door and leaving it to twist and twist until the pressure rips up the seal on the door in the drying/twisting process... ugh! We have also purchased multiple electric pencil sharpeners and more than our fair share of toasters and VCR/DVD players. It's like we have an unlucky cloud over our heads or something. Maybe for Christmas this year we should just buy each other things that are indestructible. Like bricks or anvils. But then I can see a lot of broken toes in our future and I just don't think I can take that.

November 25, 2009

Simplifying the Holidays

I say I am going to do it every year. My husband prods repeatedly "Let's just have a simple Christmas this year." Then what happens is that I start preparing early, forget the things I have purchased and squirreled away. Then on the night before Christmas I see all the stuff and get that sinking embarrassed feeling in the pit of my stomach. I glance nervously at my spouse and seek his approval with questions like "It isn't that much is it?" But I already know the answer. It's always too much. And when I look around the house and the crap we have sitting here piling up dust it's enough to make me nauseous. I think about the kids in the world who are happy on so much less. I think about Mary and Laura Ingels playing with an inflated pig bladder having the time of their lives. And I don't think my kids are the blessed ones. They are perhaps at a disadvantage having been given too much... So this year I am determined-things will be simple. Braces on two kids and expensive violin lessons have stretched our budget and I'm certain that this is a good thing.

We have been verbally warning the kids that this year will be 'practical.' No flashy things that will only be played with for a week. We are getting things that we need. We are making things instead of buying. Now if I only could buy some time in a bottle for the quilts I have in mind for the girls and the photo albums I plan to put together for the boys. I know... when you were a 13 year old boy you really craved a photo album catching up on the past 3 years didn't you? Not to worry- there will be legos. But no fancy race-tracks that break too soon, no telescopes or ipods.

When I asked Big Boy last night what he desired most for Christmas his response was "I can tell you what I don't want this year... my very own nativity. That totally sucked as a gift last year..." He just won't let that go. Which is even more reason I am determined. The spoilage needs to end. Just like T's family used to say when he was a boy. "We're going to have a lot of love this year for Christmas." I must admit the cockles of my heart really warmed towards Little Boy when I asked him the same question I asked of his brother and he said "How about a new mattress for my bed" Now that really shows those practical wheels have been turning. Something he needs and will put to good use every dang night! His Christmas wish just might come true. If he's really really good.

November 21, 2009

My Morning

It's Saturday. About 8:15 am eastern time. I feel like I have already had a full day. Perhaps because Big Girl was up several times last night peeing nervously. Turns out what we thought was a UTI is really just stress related peeing. Didn't I just post about all the pressure she is under? I did! She is also under a lot of strain at home with 3 older brothers who no longer find her cute. They adore 2 year old Little Girl but 6 year olds don't hold the same charms of word mispronunciation. 6 year olds just get on their nerves, and dinner time is an eye-roll-fest each and every time. It would seem that my constant requests of "just be nice to you sister" fall on deaf ears. But now I have a pediatrician to back me up. "You guys have tortured her into a fake UTI! You should be ashamed of yourselves!" So things have been a bit better and I actually overheard Big Boy giving her bully advise in the playroom yesterday. He offered to come and put that pushy Taylor into her place the next time she tried to make Audrey be her paper-cat-maker for her.

So on with my morning (since that is the title of the post I better stick to it). At 6:00 am T and the Older boys had to rise and shine to head for a local food shelter for a Young Men's activity. They won't be back until 11:00 but the really important thing here is that they woke up Little Girl. No service to me -thanks. Little Girl has an odd obsession with wanting to be dressed from the moment she wakes up. I think she thinks the world will pass her by if she's not dressed for it. It even bugs her a little bit if she sees me lounging around in my PJs for too long in the morning. She also likes to lay out her clothes the night before like she sees her school-aged siblings doing. The problem here is that she has no sense of fashion or any idea what matches, but her opinions are strong none the less. And she also has a father who doesn't have the foresight at bedtime to see a problem with letting her lay out neon floral leggings a red heart T-shirt, jean overalls, AND a brown printed knit dress that she will at some future point (6:15 am today) want to wear all at the same time. T just smiled at me while zipping up his jacket and wished me luck with that. I must have used the words "they don't match" to her one too many times because at breakfast when I poured milk over her Life cereal she told me her spoon didn't match her bowl. Just her little way of getting back I guess. Instead of crying I laughed good and long at that, then got her a plastic spoon to match her plastic bowl and she was satisfied.

Now the kids are playing nicely at my feet with Legos miraculously not begging for TV and all is well. When there are 2 less of us (kid wise) in the house it seems like the eye of a tornado (which is calm and peaceful btw). Little Boy made me laugh pretty hard at these word play things he drew on his white board last night. Some of them are Little Boy originals. See if you can find his (clip on tie) and his older brother did the 'seven seas.' Just one more affirmation to myself that motherhood can be really great sometimes... Now it's off to the showers. OH my L-O-L... Baby Girl just asked me if I was going to take a "baby shower" no- not a baby shower, a big girl shower. I threw that baby shower a month ago!

look for I understand, high chair, banana split and skating on thin ice...

November 15, 2009

Three Cups of Tea

I really shouldn't be blogging right now because I need to finish my book club book. The book is one that I actually chose and so I will be hosting our group for the month. I often come to book club having only read half of the book. But this time I have to lead the discussion and it will look pretty stupid if I don't know what to talk about. I just did the math and I have to read 30.5 pages each day to get it finished in time. I don't know what it is lately but I seem to have a serious problem with distraction while reading. I bring my book to violin lessons. I have a full 30 minutes to read sitting there on her slouchy love-seat while my boy plays violin. But I am so distracted by the playing that I maybe get 2 paragraphs read if I am lucky. Maybe it's all the asides this book seems to take that make me lose interest. I just want a good story with a plot I think. Maybe my IQ is going down as I age. (Just had that birthday you know).

The story of the book is quite admirable though and I feel myself warming up to it. It's the story of Greg Mortenson. He's a mountain climber who's life is saved when he stumbles down from K2 into the village of Korphe in Pakistan. They save his life, make him drink stinky tea and he, in turn, falls in love with these poor people and promises to build them a school. After many trials he finally gets it done. That's it in a nutshell. I do recommend the book. I just don't recommend reading it in a houseful of noisy children.

The humanitarian nature of Greg M is inspiring. It reminds me of my brother E. He is a DDS in Provo and has an organization called Share a Smile. They have traveled far and wide providing dental care for the poverty ridden. I was lucky enough to be able to go with them on their last trip to Morocco. I think about that trip often. It was life changing for me. Several of my family members are in the dental field and a few if them were there for this trip, but it was a first for me.

The day we arrived I recall being overwhelmed by the poverty. The begging children in the streets were heartbreaking. After dinner in our hotel, we walked across the road to buy bottled water at this hole-in-the-wall shop. The children swarmed around us asking for coins. Suddenly my eyes filled and I was so emotional. I was completely overwhelmed. How is it that we are dealt the hand we are dealt in this life? My sister understood my feelings and told me it was the same for her on her first Share a Smile trip. "You get used to it" she told me.

By the end of our week in Zagora I was amazed at my change of attitude. These people were poor, but not poor in spirit. They had been opening up slowly to us and it was beautiful to see. In the beginning of our week you could see the hesitance when they would look at us. But as we worked hard providing care they began to warm, especially the children. We'd teach them "head shoulders knees and toes" and they'd sing it back followed by another english word they knew "bullshit!" So touching.... By mid-week we had a long lunch hour to shop at their local market. I still remember the baskets made out of old tires. Brilliant! I bought some fruit from a vendor for my lunch.

At our departure it was amazing to see the happy smiling waves out the windows of our bus. It was like we'd made a village full of BFFs. Then I spotted in the street the man who'd sold my sister and I bananas on the previous Wednesday. He called out to us "I sold you a banana!" and it made us feel like rock stars. If I'd had a sharpie I would have signed that banana peel for him. I hope I get to go back some day. For now I will just read about Greg Mortenson and think about what to make for book club refreshments this Thursday. Maybe in remembrance of my market friend, some banana bread...

November 12, 2009

It's My Birthday Too Yeah!

I turned 41 today. I know- really! The nice thing about this year is that my husband was home to celebrate with me. Last year he had just deployed to Iraq and that kinda sucked for me (and him). This year he had the day off even (he always does being in the military). We went to celebrate at my favorite pancake house for breakfast. I haven't been there since we were residents back 5 years or so ago. Still tasted great! It's called the Original Pancake House. I was so full I haven't eaten much the rest of the day. T had to leave for a young men's activity at the temple tonight, so we will have a birthday dinner tomorrow with cake. My presents were modest but nice. I don't feel so guilty now about the leaf blower I got for T in August. I got wool socks, two kinds of lip gloss from my girly girls, glass canisters to store our sugar and flour so I can stop scooping directly from the bags thankyouverymuch. I didn't feel that the wife of a neuro-opthamologist veteran should be stooping to such levels every time she made snickerdoodles. Does that seem cocky? Sorry! Also we have an ant problem from time to time, so I am glad he got me what I asked for. I also wanted a certain cook book that the store was sold out of so he got me another one. I am happy that they tried and it does look like a nice cook book, but I think I will be returning it and ordering on Amazon. Snotty again! I know! But it is my birthday and I will be using this cook book to serve a family that deserves the very best right? And actually the one I wanted is cheaper T says- so double score!

I got 36 (but who's counting) happy birthday wishes on facebook making me feel ultra popular. One lesser known high school acquaintance sent me a male belly dancer birthday video. I am thinking of putting it on the blog. I got a lot of calls from family and a couple friends so that was nice. One friend who I have known since before kindergarten was texting me while delivering a baby. She had her 10th baby on my birthday at around 4:00pm. So nice of her! I just hope she doesn't name the baby Gemma. Pronounced like gem, but still, you know what people are going to call her. You just shouldn't do that to someone with a veteran's day birthday, you know?

Here's a bit of trivia, I was born on Veteran's day, my due date was actually Halloween, and my mother found out she was expecting me on April Fools Day. Which I am thinking makes the date of conception probably close to Valentines Day.... Yes, and you thought it was a jolly holiday with Mary Poppins didn't you? There should be another version written with lyrics like "It's a jolly holiday with Kelly, Kelly makes your blah blah blah..." What do you think? If they ever do a sequel I hope it will be considered.

And one last bit of birthday information for you... While running errands with my T today (11/11) in the Crayola isle at 11:11 (and 11 seconds) we kissed. For it was my birthday after all. I hope the security cameras caught it.

Hope 41 will be a banner year!

November 10, 2009

Wild Things

It was Big Girl's night out with her parents last Saturday. We take turns with the kids so they can have some alone time with their parents once every 5 weeks. It's a real treat! She wanted to go to the movies. So we took her to see Where the Wild Things Are. I think I have told you that every time I see the trailers for this movie I start to cry. I don't really get it myself. I listened to a radio show (or the tail end of one) with Diane Rehm interviewing a couple guests who were talking about Maurice Sendak's works and the upcoming movie. During the interview, on the drive home, I was again a sobbing mess. The book is timeless. The illustrations perfect. My favorite pages may be the ones without words. Where one can make sound effects to the wild rumpus if one desires. Where the child decides when it's time to turn the page. It's a story of unconditional love. A story of being just a bit afraid of one's own wild side. A tale of a child's boundless imagination. And it makes me cry. Maybe I am remembering a time when my own mother read this book to me. A mother who in my early twenties abandoned me when she passed away. Leaving me mad and wild. Maybe I am internally longing for my own childhood. Maybe I am afraid of my own wild things at home and the fear that is under that wild behavior.

Anyways, watching the movie really did remind me of the dark and sad side I sometimes see in my own children. And it reminded me of a great truth. One that I have always known but somehow it slips away consistently. That when your kids act wild it is usually because they have fear. They fear loss of your attentions and acceptance. They crave validation and act out to get you to look in their direction again. When we feed them the attention and love they crave, it soothes the savage inside.

I think that Spike Jonez did a great job of capturing the emotions of childhood in this movie. Childhood fears of abandonment, being ignored, and left out. Childhood wildness, danger, love, humor, and imagination. I cried several times and went through 2 tissues during the movie. I also am feeling a bit raw after a week in bed with the flu though, so that could have been an contributing factor.

When I spoke with a friend on the phone last night and told her my thoughts on the movie she agreed and told me that several of her friends have said how bored they were with it. Bored? Are you serious? That is so weak! Did they not see the symbolism? It was deep and funny and sad and in the end happy. What's not to like!? I know that everyone has different tastes. But for the record Where the Wild Things are tasted just fine to me!

November 08, 2009


Poor Big Girl... She's the shortest in her class. She is the last to loose her teeth as well. I didn't truly appreciate the gravity of the situation until I had my first time visit to her classroom the other day. There's a lot of pressure in first grade. Pressure to do your own work, pressure to be big, pressure to learn all those slap-hand rhymes about your 'boyfriend behind a magazine' and the 'local law enforcement in Mexico peeing in the streets.' Pressure!

Pressure to lose teeth didn't cross my mind, but when I thoughtfully noticed that Samantha has a horizontally positioned upper central incisor (it looked like it wasn't mobile and needed an extraction- I'll leave that good news for her next dental visit), the response of this girl to my "you have a tooth that's trying to come out" surprised me. "I am already on the top teeth-your daughter is still working on the bottom!" Now I could have gone into a lecture about how lessening the length of exposure is actually a good thing in the mouth. The longer a permanent tooth has to be exposed to the damage of poor oral hygiene and sugar the more likely that tooth will be to develop dental caries. Instead I just said "every one's different Samantha." And took mental note to avoid play dates with that kid.

I was also I bit surprised by my daughter telling us to please please please pull her tooth. "I don't care about the blood and I will even clean it up" she said. Was that the girly inclination to be tidy talking or the desperation to be like everyone else? Maybe a bit of both. Anyways- here is her happy happy end to the story. And a bit of good news- we didn't have any blood stains to clean up!

November 05, 2009

Hand Sanitizer Let Me Down

I've been sick with flu-like symptoms for 5 days now. Tried the garlic, honey, cayenne pepper remedy Ginger- and all I can say is-yuck! It sure added gagging and nausea to my symptoms. Maybe if I'd used the raw honey instead of the Giant-brand honey that comes in a bear it would have been more bearable (ha!). I have no idea if it helped. Somehow I just felt I smelled more of garlic.

Despite copious amounts of hand sanitizer use in the last month, I still got the bug that has been my biggest fear. You know what the upside was? Suddenly I could kiss and hug my two year old who I'd been keeping at arms length when she came down with a cough. We snuggled in bed and watched lots of TV. By the way I don't recommend watching the movie 'Outbreak' with Dustin Hoffmin when you are sick in bed with the flu.

Another upside? (I'm always an pessimistic-optimist), Now I don't have to live in fear of getting this swine flu (if that is what it was) ever again. Whoops- since I'm not sure what it was, maybe I do have to live in fear still... It's funny because in the beginning I kept saying to myself 'this isn't the swine flu because I have no fever and it's just a small tickle in my throat.' Then as I got worse and felt like a truck ran over me, I hoped it was the swine flu so that I could have it and be done with it. Never had a fever, but I googled symptoms and found out fever isn't a criteria. Well I am going to choose to believe that I have had it already. And I was given the nasal mist for the seasonal flu, so I'm good right? Can I hear ya say "right!?" NO more getting sick this year.

During the week, at times I felt pretty sorry for myself. I kept thinking of a resident's wife I know of who got this same bug and her husband (in his residency mind-you) had the balls to tell my husband (his chief) that he would be taking a couple days off to care for her. This couple days off he granted himself sure made for some longer hours for my husband and his family to deal with. Did I get that kind royal treatment? Let me hear you say "no!" Not a two way street there my friends.

Lets just all be reminded that life is not fair. And when the primary program is coming and things need to be done, a flu-like symptom week just cannot get in the way. Laundry still needs to be done, milk still needs to be bought, teens still need to be put in their place. Breathe in breathe out.... Let enough time pass and eventually normalcy will find it's way back again. I saw a glimpse of normalcy today. I can't wait for her to come back. In the meantime my hands need lots of Curel for all the symptoms of dryness caused by useless hand sanitizer.

November 02, 2009

Field of Dreams

I am home from church today with a cough. AMC was running the movie Field of Dreams. What a great movie. I decided it was an uplifting spiritual movie and totally Sunday appropriate. l love that we lived in Iowa (and we've seen the actual field in Dyersville). I find the corn fields so beautiful. The sky in that movie is so inspiring! Big Iowa sky! I was so taken by the sky and not Kevin Costner that I noticed the inconsistency of the clouds when they cut from scene to scene. I miss that sky!

When I left to Utah for my sister's wedding and saw the mountains again I realized how I missed those too.

But they don't have the sky that is present in the midwest. They don't have the massive trees that exist here in Maryland either. When I returned to the east after my trip I was struck by all the fall colors that were only starting to change when I left. My gosh the trees are spectacular here! Poor Utahns and Iowans don't got nothing when it comes to the trees in fall out here. Sorry! I'm so glad to have lived in places where I have come to appreciate nature's beauty in all forms. Maybe if I blog about it you will come.....

And on that note I am going to take a nap.

November 01, 2009

Halloween 2009 in Photos

Her 'parade wave.'

His 'parade scowl'
What a poser!
Little Boy and his little scarecrow.
Big Girl and our Big scarecrow 'Joe' (real name used).
Big Girl is all about Peace (notice her pumpkin is the symbol for peace).
Baby Girl has been taking pointers from her sister on how to pose... I suppose. (ha!)
An asian princess, Cat in the Hat and a fortune teller!
A mad scientist (truly!)
His first potion of the night! (Water mixed with leftover grape juice).
Hey, he's a Mac!
Middle Boy as a skeleton in the hood. After wearing this mask for about one second he claimed an urgent need to go and brush his teeth before leaving home. That really made us laugh!
Middle Boy and his loot. That kid really loves candy!
Only one Twix! What a rip off.
Chowing down (and posing) before bedtime.

October 30, 2009

Scary Feeling

I have had a nagging bloggy block this past week. I know that there is something I want to say, but thoughts elude me when I sit down to type. Also life is so crazy right now. How on earth did I do this alone for 6 months? I must have had angels on every side of me. Because with two parents home we are struggling to keep our heads above water most of the time. Yesterday I had a moment where I just snapped while looking for something in the pantry. That place had gotten so out of order it was disppppicable! (said like Sylvester the cat).

I started organizing and didn't stop until it was Martha Stewart ready. Then I had the kids test me later blindfolded pointing in the direction of whatever item they called out. Pedialyte? Right there! Baked beans? Down there! They were impressed to tears. (Well almost). Now if I could just work the same magic on my linen and coat closets that would really be something!

So with that one organized space behind me I think I have the strength to go on with the many tasks before me today. Frosting cupcakes, attending kid Halloween parties, making chilli, painting faces, helping at the ward party, and trying to ignore the fact that I am getting sick. Should be a blast. Even though it's way busy, I love Halloween so much! I am sitting here now trying to convince my 8th grade son to at least spike his hair before going to school. Maybe just a handle bar mustache to show enthusiasm for the hallowed day. He's a big 'no' on both ideas. But he did just perk up at the idea that it's a weekend and he can play Wii today. Sigh! Long gone are the days when I could dress him up as a teddy bear.

So this year our family costumes are as follows:

Baby Girl: a Korean Princess (I had the dress from when we lived there-she's gonna rock with a white face and chopsticks in her hair)

Big Girl: A fortune teller. She was sold on the idea when I told her she could pretend to read people's palms and tell them the end is near- she's got a dark side that one....

Little Boy: A mad scientist inspired by the Dr Horrible sing a long blog. Please check it out if you are unfamiliar- it's a classic! His father has agreed to go as Dr Horrible's nemeses Captain Hammer.

Middle Boy: Undecided (see above). He and a friend are doing "something" together....

Big Boy: Always a good sport when I come up with the right thing for him, this year he is being the actor from the iMac commercials. The cool young one, not the guy who is the PC. Easiest costume ever- blue hooded sweatshirt with light blue T-shirt under. We'll see if he covers up his red hair with the awesome black straight wig I bought him. I think it's essential. He argues otherwise. Surprised that I have a 15 year old who argues? Don't be.

Me: I am going as the Cat in the Hat, which I am tickled to tell you totally delights the daylights out of Baby Girl every time we talk about it. Please never grow up Baby Girl! I will keep dressing up for you forever...

Well now it's 15 minutes until show time when the busy day begins. Wish me luck my friends! Photos to follow!

October 25, 2009

What a Difference a Week Makes

Since my return to Maryland I have noticed some changes in my children. My two year old Baby Girl now says "never-mind" and "actually" with regularity. My Big Girl is well on her way to losing her second tooth. My Little Boy has a new classroom crush. My Middle Boy has changed his mind about being a leprechaun for Halloween (thank goodness; I think the nerd factor there was pretty high), and my Big Boy has grown to a height above my five feet four inches. Seesh! It's true what they say about blinking and missing the growing up process. What's a mom to do? Have more children? Not likely. Start binding their feet to stop the growing? Sounds like some form of abuse. Or just try and enjoy them as much as possible. Probably a good plan.

October 23, 2009

Back from Utah

Yes I am back from my break in Utah and it was so lovely. I had a wonderful time at my sister's wedding. She was a beautiful bride and I just loved stepping in as an escort for her and dressing her in the bride's room of the Mt Timanogos Temple, just the two of us, on a Tuesday when no other brides were there. It was supposed to rain but we got lucky with just a bit of wind instead. I know my mother in heaven was helping us out there. I felt her near at least once. It was so great to see my sister so happy. It was also great to see the fall colors and the mountains that I adore.

While in Utah for 5 days I noticed the following

1-Utah county drivers are totally aggressive and rude.
2-Pregnant women at every turn (not a surprise).
3-More people buying beer and smoking than there used to be (surprise!).
4-I missed being around people of color. Coming home to the Baltimore airport was like coming home to my peeps. I love extroverted black people.

The best ever was coming home to my sweet husband who took time off from work to stay at home with the 5 kids. His comments to me were like the best turn on ever. (too much?). He said this to me: "Wow the laundry stacks up like crazy around here doesn't it? Oh and we need more laundry detergent stat!" He also said that he would be making a much better effort to be home early enough to have dinner together. Since I have been gone he has a new appreciation for how crazy the dinner hour can be and also how nice it is to sit down for a meal together. The things I have been complaining to him about now have new meaning since our roles were reversed for a week. And to think that before this he was actually thinking that it would be nice to take a break from the stress of work to be at home relaxing. Ha! I just love it when a man realizes how right his wife is.

Totally great!!!

I wish the same good fortune for my sister the bride.

October 16, 2009

Just Breathe

Have you ever been so busy it seems like there's no time to catch your breath? That is what life with 5 active kids and a busy husband has been like for me lately. I look at my super full calendar each night before I go to bed and just wonder how I am going to get everything done on the next day. I see things like soccer, early morning seminary, orthodontist, violin, cross country, brownies, meetings, babysitting, appointments, carpooling, volunteering, etc.... Miraculously it all seems to fall together every day. Even when the kids have to wait for me to pick them up after XC for twenty minutes on occasion.

Traffic seems to be a big issue in making me insane. When T's commitment is finished with the army (2.5 yrs from now), I am hoping he goes for a job at the unprestigious crap hospital down the street from us just for the 5 min commute. Wouldn't that be dreamy? We've already seen they are advertising for a neurologist. I think he could take it sight unseen just so we could have dinner together again regularly.

At night when T and I get 5-10 minutes to talk before we doze, we brainstorm for ideas on how to streamline the paperwork process at work for him. Can he bring a lap top home to do notes? Can he get down on his knees and beg for an assistant so they can stop paying a fellowship trained neuro-opthamologist to scan and send the x-rays and other tedious paperwork? Can he just walk away when the clock hits 5:00? Can he shift some of his temporary chief duties to someone else? They gave him that position because of the huge "sucker" sign he has plastered on his forehead I think.

The army, sadly, isn't about one of my favorite things (efficiency). But life goes on. And I keep reminding myself that even when it's nearly 8:00 and he hasn't walked through that door that at least he is not in harm's way and I will see him at some point. AND OH! The homecoming scene when he returns is nothing short of an LDS commercial. One can have a job that is shorter on hours but it doesn't much matter if he just comes home at watches the news for endless amounts of time. He is not one of these guys who comes home to engage himself with the internet, the remote control or the newspaper. When he got home late last night, he pulled a tooth out for Big Girl (who btw is absolutely thrilled to be finally losing her first tooth at 6.5 yrs she was just giddy!), he stressed out with me over falling grades for he in our home who will no be named (not Voldemort). He stood up for me with sassy teenagers, downloaded the videos off my flip camera, helped me balance the checkbook, and we went over things that will be important for him to know while I am out of town for 5 days (Utah here I come- oh mountains precious mountains take me away!), and then we watched 15 minutes of a cheesy movie that I rented- I am so canceling our Netflix. We have no time to update our que to get the good movies coming, let alone get around to watching the dang things. Yes, it's time to cut the fat. Prioritize and limit ourselves to doing just the good stuff. Like loving, serving, and oh yes- breathing.

October 08, 2009

Scary Pants

This morning my son couldn't find any pants. After searching the drawers and coming up empty we consigned ourselves to looking through the dirty clothes. Hey, I am the first to admit to sending my kids to school in less than perfect clothing. What's a grass stain or two under the desk between friends in school? Alas the stains were too prevalent to go to school. So I suggested the dryer. I just know I did laundry for that kid like yesterday. Still no dice. Only girl clothing in there. There was no time to wash more clothes so I directed him to his brother's pants drawer. Score! As it turns out Little Boy is closing in on Middle Boy's size. Middle Boy seems to be at a stall growth wise. Ask the orthodontist. Middle Boy has lost less teeth than his little brother. I'm glad he doesn't seem upset by this news. I however wonder if I should be concerned. It would not be the first time with Middle Boy. When he was a toddler the pediatrician had us bringing him in for weight checks. My husband was in medical school at the time and suffered from an overly anxious imagination while studying all the pediatric diseases out there. He was sure Middle Boy had some sort of growth disorder.

So now that they wear the same pants all kinds of opportunities to avoid folding laundry are coming my way! Yeah!

Then in my haste to get dressed myself for the 4 minute drive to school I accidentally grabbed my husband's jeans and pulled them up. Half way to my destination (my waist) I realized my mistake. My first thought was this: If I pull up these pants and they don't fit I will feel like crap. My second thought was this: You knew this day was coming sweetie. I have been the one popping out children over the past 15 years. I'm the one who inherited my mother's apple body. It's not that un-natural to have a pooch at 40. It's just there is this little imaginary world in which I tend to place myself where I am not as fat as I really am. I see myself in a department store mirror and go "oh who is that poor woman-whoops it's me!" Then other days I'm like, "oh who is that cutie? Yeah it's me!!" It all depends on the day (and the outfit).

So it's too late to back out of the pulling-up-pants move (we were late). Up go the pants. They fit. Not loosely, but they fit. I walked out and showed my 15 yr old and... here's where things fall into perspective... I say "look, these are Dad's jeans and he says something like "Aren't you proud that you fit into them?" And I was like. "No- I'm sad that we are so close to the same size that I can wear his pants! In my mind I would have been glad to keep imagining that we are not the same size at all, but that I am still the 115 lb bride that he married.

Yes it was a scary pants day indeed.... Very scary.

October 04, 2009

Why I Like These Guys

Aren't they the cutest? Well I think so. Tonight I was watching a movie where the main characters are in Paris and I swooned. Baby girl noticed my admiration of Paris and asked me where they were. I answered her that they were in a beautiful city called Paris and she asked if we could go there. I said we could. I hope she takes me up on it someday. My mind fast forwarded to our future where she and I could sit on a sidewalk cafe somewhere eating pan d`aux chocolate together.

Then yesterday Big Girl made the most beautiful marker drawing of flowers. She did the background just like a Monet painting. I swear! How could she know how much I love the impressionists? She couldn't I guess but I made such a big deal over her drawing that I notice she keeps slipping it under my nose for no apparent reason except she knows it makes me happy. If only she didn't make so many messes all over the house. Maybe it's the artist in her.

Tonight Little Boy had an afghan that he had slipped each of his fingers through and told me that his hands were claws that had once been made for good but that they had somehow turned evil. And I watched helplessly as they attacked him. This made watching conference on TV today so much more entertaining.

Some days motherhood is the best.

October 02, 2009

A Look Back

This time of year one year ago I had my emotional wind knocked out of me. We had just 3 weeks notice and T would be gone to Iraq. Possibly gone for good. Perish the thought. Perish it forever I say! That was some growing experience indeed. One I wouldn't wish upon my worst enemy. Although it made us stronger as a family. That is one thing I am grateful for I guess. Time has made me relax though. I have been forgetful lately. Forgetful of my blessings. Forgetting all the service that was rendered on my behalf.

The other day I was reminded. We needed to get dinner on the table fast due to evening activities and I needed "all hands on deck." I used that term a lot while I was 'single' for six months. "All hands on deck" meant everyone had to be moving together helping out, moving us in the same direction to get things done together. The kids learned to do or die. It was awesome how we sometimes gelled and got things done that one would have thought less likely to happen (impossible is indeed too strong a word). So when Dad was working late and the quesadillas needed flipping and the table needed setting and the clock was ticking, we all worked together and I looked over at my 15 year old young man and said "doesn't this remind you of when Dad was gone and we worked together all the time?" He agreed that it was a lot like that.

Then a friend had a birthday and I didn't remember it until 2 weeks after the fact. I recalled how on my last birthday that same friend (who was even less familiar then) took me out to lunch on my birthday. She knew it would be a hard day for me celebrating it without T. I was thinking about that today again. I told her I should have taken her out on her day! She just smiled.

I guess the only way to repay a favor like that is to pay it forward. So I am off this afternoon to bake something for a friend who is having surgery. Will it be enough? What else can I do, for who? Who's bucket is low? It will likely be mine tomorrow, so I better start stock piling good deeds in my favor.

September 30, 2009

Dental Ramble

Some of you may know that I am a dental hygienist. Some of you may not, but now you do. So my Little Boy needs some serious intervention with his skeletal class 3 with a double sided crossbite. In layman's terms he has a messed up mouth. I have been to 4 different orthodontists and received 4 differing opinions about how to handle his difficult case. I am taking all kinds of things into account here. Driving distance being a big part of the deal. Just my luck that the cheapest guy who is a 5 minute drive away is also the least aggressive and probably a bit too out there for my taste. I need someone who will loose sleep over my son's awkward bite. Help!

September 28, 2009

1000 bow holds

"Are you keeping track of your bow holds?"

My son's new expensive violin teacher asked him on his second lesson.

"No" was his reply.

She then explained how important it was to keep tack because once a student reaches 1000 bow holds your name goes up on the yellow sheet of paper she has hanging in her studio. He didn't look too excited, but when she mentioned that parents sometimes like to give some incentive like a popcorn party to encourage their kids, I saw the wheels turning in his little red headed head.

Mini Ninjas has been the nagging request as of late. They have the cash to buy it, it's rated 'E' it's the latest game for the Wii (hard to find in stores even), and the parents in our household have told them that another video game would be valued as much as a hole in all of our heads at this point. "No" had been the answer for a few days now. Much to everyones dis-belief. That's right "NO."

So we made a deal, when both of the violin students in the house made it to 1000 correct bow holds that Mini Ninjas would be theirs for the buying (with their own money).

I thought it would take a month, maybe two. Well two days, and lots of circling the floor in our basement later we have 1000 holds under our belts (x2 both boys did it together). Little Boy was sporting a blister on his thumb for a day. The teacher was stunned! I was proud, and mini ninjas has been a distraction from practicing ever since.

In fact, dare I admit this on the blog? We actually went out for about an hour, with the entire family belted in the van, lost in the hot momentum of pursuing the Best Buy in town that had this game in stock! When upon our arrival at home we realized a sad fact. Big Boy's group lesson had been about 30 minutes ago and we'd forgotten to attend. Sigh!