December 26, 2011

Blessed Christmas

It's the day after Christmas and all through my house,
are things to be picked up by me and my spouse.
My new rule says kids must pick up their messes.
The darts from new dart guns, the games and doll dresses.

For the new plan clearly states,
that after I ask
by shouting "CLEAN SWEEP"
they must all start the task
of sweeping the room of their most beloved items.
Because if in my grasp?
Those things go bye bye *ahem*

It should be made known that I have several sacks,
full of old cast offs
for other folk's shacks.
You'll recall my post here,
were I clearly state,
that we have too much stuff
in our middle class estate (perhaps you relate?).

The donation pile grows as my children slack off,
and leave on the floor the undies and socks.
I'm showing some mercy when collecting such things,
as coats, violins, and brand new mood rings.
But I'm trying to use my best poker face,
when stating that everything must have it''s place,
and if it is left out- I've stated my case.
Some other kid's mom will have to make chase,
over things left on floors...The next tactic is mace.
(just kidding- don't call social services on me!)

But the day after Christmas is such a hard day,
for keeping things tidy.
Kids just want to play,
and moms are so tired and merciful too.
Parents are just happy the kids have stuff to do,
before toys get boring and they all cry boo hoo.

So I'm turning my gaze to more peaceful thoughts,
of how nice it is to have T home washing pots
For hugs from my oldest- Happy this year?
Seems someone put nice-boy-dust into his ear.
I'm grateful for kids who are healthy and sound.
For a cancer-free brother two feet on the ground.

Could be, this blessed day made my evil side flip.
Perhaps trials of others make me double dip,
and re-think the importance of a perfect clean house,
with crumbs much to small for the interest of mouse.

I'm just glad we're together under cold drafty roof,
playing apples to apples eating food that goes "poof" (as it disappears rapidly see?)
Happy for foot-rubs and good luvin' from Troy.
Grateful for each little safe girl and boy.
That is what trials in this life can do.
It can make you feel glad it ain't happenin' to you.

It can make your heart grow as you think of the stress
That others experience
and count yourself blessed.

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  We sure did : )

December 21, 2011

Mourning with Those Who Mourn

Tragic news yesterday evening.  Just as we were about to go ding dong ditching for Family Night I got a call from my Dad.  I was in the laundry room doing.... laundry when he called to tell me.  At first I thought it would be about my brother with cancer, but no.  My lifelong girlfriend with 11 children had found her 2 year old drowned in their family pool just that afternoon.  She has a 3 week old baby, it's 6 days before Christmas and now she has to bury her 2 yr old girl.  I let out a wail of sorrow for my friend.  My son came running to see what was the matter.

I tried to keep upbeat during our outing but every time my kids would exit the van to plant goodies on a neighbor's porch, I'd put my hand to my forehead and just feel helplessly sad.  I thought about calling her when we got home but I know she will be informing her family and talking to them the first day.  She is the youngest (along with a twin) of 12 children in their family.  So I sent her an email and ordered flowers for her.  I wish there was more I could do.  I want to ask my friends to facebook to pray for her, but somehow it feels like the wrong place to share such news.

I keep looking at my healthy children and being grateful for them (even my teenager).  I barked at my 4 yr old this morning and felt terrible right afterwards.  She knows I am upset and keeps giving me love this morning.  Such an intuitive child.

As I laid awake last night, thinking of my friend, I thought of her motherhood tasks ahead that will be hard.  Like looking at that pool, or folding her daughter's clothing as it comes through the wash.  Unwrapping her presents and returning them.  Seeing her sippy cups in the cupboard.  If I were her neighbor I would offer to come and take care of some of those tasks for her, but not until after I first gave her a huge hug.

I know that she will see her daughter again and that the atonement is real.  I know families are forever.  But this really sucks all the same.  Nobody gets through this life without trial.  It's just part of the deal, but for now I am angry and sad that this happened to my friend.  I wish I could make this better.  Not gonna happen.

December 20, 2011


I just had a sweet experience.  One of my primary students just knocked on my door with a handmade note telling me he was thankful for having had me as his teacher this past year.  He started to cry when I told him he would be missed in my class.  His mom and I teared up as well.  Man does it ever feel good to be appreciated!  I seem to have forgotten what that feels like.

Then, just now, I started musing about my own boys when they were young.  About a time when I revealed to Big Boy the truth about St Nicholas.  I was the teller of this secret to my son because he was getting to be an age where kids at school might tease his sweet believing soul.  He looked up at me and instead of the feeling of betrayal most kids might feel his was an expression of thanks.  "All that time it was you?" he said in amazement.  "Yep- I am Santa's helper" said I.  "Gee, Mom- THANKS!" was what came next out of his mouth, and then lots of questions about how on earth we could afford it.  Typical first child worries.

I need to remember that sweet guy in there.  I know he is still in there somewhere underneath all the hormones.  I'm glad my primary student came by today to remind me...

December 15, 2011

Are you Ready?

Are you ready for Christmas?  I almost am!  I still need to do a few small things like buy enough gift bags and send off my Christmas cards but I am about there.  Oh- I do have a sewing project to make but if that doesn't happen then I will just rejoice in the fact that I have a daughter with a birthday on Dec 31st!  Nothing like putting off something for another celebration and pretending you were totally on top of it.

This year my tendency to get it done early came back to bite me.  My husband was shopping with a couple kids for our family's secret Santa gift exchange and my oldest saw a book he has been pining for.  He had enough money to buy it for himself but my husband (knowing I had it in store for him for Christmas), would not let him buy it.  I am convinced more and more that the teenager stage is very similar to the terrible-two-tantrum stage, because the rest of the evening was just one big tantrum.  When he figured out why he couldn't buy his book he got super mad at me (of course me!) for always buying things too early.  I guess they should just call social services on me because I shop early.  Shame on me.

I really felt bad that I had a son who would have this illogical/spoiled reaction.  Telling me I ruin Christmas every year for him because I don't consider what he wants and give him enough time to come up with a wish list.  I am half tempted to give him nottin' for Christmas 'cause he ain't been nottin' but bad.  But part of me thinks that is just a revengeful thought.  We were just going to get him luggage for college but that seemed a bit sad so he had a few other real gifts... but now?  Not so sure...  Oh how I wish I had a magic 8 ball telling me what to do.

Another puzzle lately is Big Girl.  She just hasn't been herself lately.  I don't know if it's the anticipation of the holidays stressing her out, or a girl at school who has been a bit of a bully, or her big brothers teasing her but she is an emotional mess.  Maybe I am not so used to girls and their emotions.  She did have a bit of shell shock last week when cutting off all her hair to donate.  I thought that had worn off though.  This morning she was so blue I started getting worried.  The thought came to me while cleaning up the dishes that perhaps she just needs me to paint her nails with crackle nail polish.  She has been asking for some.  I have been meaning to get some.  But what she's really in need of isn't the manicure, it's the time with me.  It's my approval.  I hate the kinds of TV shows she chooses (Sonny with a Chance, Wizard's of Waverly Place),  and when I show my dislike for such shows claiming they are too mature for an 8 yr old she gets super offended.  Like I don't like her or something.  Should I give Sonny a chance? Or hold my ground here?  Not sure...

Before Big Cut

The look on her face says it all...
Now we just need to mail these braids to Locks of Love
Dear Santa what I really want this year for Christmas is the insight of my mother who is no longer here to ask advise from.  She'd know just how to fix these problems I keep having.  In the mean time I am off to buy crackle nail polish and try to paint my way back onto her good side today after school...

December 08, 2011

The Purge Before the Binge

So it all started when I was getting ready for a visit from a relative.  I'm wired to start organizing only when I know someone may be looking in these closets with a judgmental eye.  And really, who does that better than a visiting sister right?  So the linen closet and medicine cabinets got the once over.  Purging expired medication and other odds and ends I wasn't using felt liberating.  Our 40 yr old house wasn't build with roomy closets either so extra space is a blessed thing here.

My sister came and went, and I'm not sure we slowed down long enough for her to look inside any of my medicine cabinets, but it felt good knowing they were cleared out.  On November 29th I felt the need to purge again due to a truck picking up donations in my neighborhood the following day.  Alas I read the date wrong and what I thought read Nov 30th was actually Nov 03.  So 8 bags of stuff from my playroom now sit in the corner waiting to be asked to the prom (just kidding- I am aware that there is no prom for discarded playroom toys, I just liked saying that).  That's a lot of toys that I now have to keep secret from my children until the next pick up.  Big Boy is the most sentimental of all of my kids and he has already unloaded one trash bag full of stuffed animals.  Some have not been played with for 4-5 years.  Maybe he will find some room in that new Samsonite luggage of his for the 4 ft stuffed alligator he loves so much.

My purging has not stopped with the toy room.  For the better part of a day I spent my time sweating over the stuff of my laundry room all the while thinking of stuff I could be putting in this place instead.  Food storage instead of leaky air mattresses.  New camping gear instead of outgrown snow boots.  I even got rid of all the unmatched solo mittens.  I tell ya, nothing (almost) feels better than getting rid of unused items just taking up space.  To me it even beats bringing home something new.  So now I have several trash bags taking up space just waiting to be donated.  My husband may have to help me load up the van on his next day off.  I'm used to moving every 3-4 years with the military, which forces one to do this sort of thing.  It looks as if we are here for a while though so I need to force-purge.

So all this getting rid of stuff comes before the Christmas Holiday where we will accumulate more stuff to fill those empty spaces, but I am figuring something out this year, something new.  When I see the things that go unused (some of which are gifts from last year still unopened!)  I tell myself to slow down and be more thoughtful about what I get.  We don't really need stuff do we?  What we really need is more time together.  Time to enjoy one another.  Experiences mean more to me than things.  So this year as I wade through the stuff of Christmas pasts, I am hoping to make my gifts more thoughtful and meaningful and less.  Just less stuff.  Even the stocking stuffers I am purchasing with more sense of purpose.  Maybe nobody will notice my emphasis this year.  Maybe by the 24th it will end up being the same overload of things.  Still I feel like this purging has given me a bit of perspective.  It's like the Grinch learned on Christmas morning... that Christmas doesn't come from a store.

Merry Christmas to you!  Hope you don't get too much this year : )

December 04, 2011

Long Time No Blog

Hi Blog!
I will tell you a reason I have been a blog-slacker lately.  My Silver Bullet died.  The Silver Bullet was my laptop that sat at the kitchen table and it was old.  Silver Bullet was a misnomer because it was the slowest of our 3 computers.  It was silver though... sigh, I will miss her.  She was the most accessible being in the kitchen and since she was old I didn't bother worrying about eating while serving the web on her.  The cord tripped me and bent so badly coming out of the S. Bullet that it is not repairable.  Since the computer was on it's last legs anyways, it's probably best just to let her rest in peace.  I miss her though.  The playroom is just too far away to go to unless there is something I really need to do.  The other computer has an uncomfortable stool you sit on in a cramped space and makes me feel icky when I sit at it for too long.  This is where I sit now and my lower back begs for me to quit.  Let's hope Santa is generous this year and I get a replacement.  One can't be too hopeful though since I did get the newest iphone for my birthday last month.  It's pretty much replaced Silver Bullet and then some.  Love that Siri feature!!

Anyhow, I am blogging tonight about my Christmas preparations.... boring?  Maybe but I thought it worth mentioning that I have a son (Little Boy) who is so quirky and he is asking for some crazy stuff from me this year.  He is 12 and a 7th grader this year- so keep that in mind.  Most kids grow out of the 'toy' stage and want video games or clothes or phones, etc.  He has asked me for a mini fridge.  Yes- it's true, a mini fridge.  Maybe that isn't so out there because what kid wouldn't want cold soda in their room?  He's not getting a mini fridge.  Nor does he get a lot of soda.  I just think it's odd that he thinks he has a chance at one.  He knows how I feel about eating outside of the kitchen.  This doesn't mean he follows this rule, but he knows.  The other thing he has asked for is a U-shaped travel pillow.  The kind you use to take a nap when flying somewhere.  He is by no means a frequent flyer.  I have no idea why he wants this.  He then added another item to his wish list today.  The boy wants a stop watch.  "The circular kind they use in the movies that you hang on a chain" I am beginning to think he might be an old man, possibly the man from the game Monopoly...  Next he will be asking for a top hat and a monocle.

The other observation I have is my 4 yr old seems to have a keen eye for what people may want/need for Christmas gifts.  I believe she may have inherited this from me!  No lie- I am an observer and take note when people express an interest in something.... and then I give it to them!  Doesn't that make you want me for a friend?  Well the reason I think she also has my gift is that when I asked her what she thought Grandpa T would like for Christmas she stated that Grandpa would like marbles.  When I asked why she said "he collects them."  Then I remembered our visit there in October when Grandma T got out a box of marbles that she told us where Grandpas when he was a boy.  I then asked what she thought I should buy for her Father and she said pajama tops because he only has the bottoms.  Know what?  She is exactly right on that!  My husband prefers his undershirt to pajama tops.  She must be a super observer like her older brother Middle Boy....  (who's name she happened to pick for Secret Santa and she wants to replace his deceased hamster with a new one. So thoughtful!)

Well, I think I need a back massage now as this stool is killing me-this writing spot is not my happy place.

Here's hoping that your holiday shopping is going as well as possible!!  If you need any tips just let Little Girl know, she has all the answers.

November 24, 2011

Blogging instead of Brining

I got up early to brine the Turkey.  I am now distracted by the internet, and I'm thinking I may have missed the brining boat anyways.  As I recall it didn't make a huge difference last year so I am not going to cry big salty tears over it.  Although, now that I think about it... huge salty kosher tears may help tender my bird a bit.  Perhaps I should think of something sad while giving him his sink bath and paper towel pat down.  It wouldn't take much to make me cry as I am a crier by nature.  I cry these days when thinking about my poor suffering brother.  I cry over a misunderstanding I have recently had with someone, I cry while listening to This American Life, I cry when I think about my oldest leaving the nest.  Well... for that last one maybe I just get misty.  He can still be a teenager you know.

But on this Thanksgiving morning I should not be thinking about sad things.  I should be focusing on what I have to be thankful for.  For I truly believe that when you are down, all you need to do is make a list of what is good in your life and things will start to look up.  It's a tried and tested theory in my life.  And giving thanks IS my love language after all.  So here goes!

Lately I have been thankful for my body.  I know- weird right?  But as I progress in years I look at my mortality a bit more and think about what I can do to make this vehicle last for the long haul and not have it get in my way by slowing me down with problems.  So for totally selfish reasons I have started working out with more regularity.  I've stopped making excuses like "my bed is too comfy this morning" and I have been walking with some friends (about 3 miles) each morning.  I tried running but my body just isn't there yet.  I get ankle and foot pain that tells me to stop.  And yes, I have good shoes.  I have also been taking an intense 'cage fitness' class on Tuesdays.  I like telling people that "I am training to be a cage fighter" and then I watch for signs of a Napoleon Dynamite fan.  It's a good litmus test for coolness.  So the fun part has been seeing myself progress.  It has been good and I am proud of myself.  I have now lost 10 lbs due to this and eating better.  So I can say that I am thankful for my body this Thanksgiving.  Then I can eat with careless abandon and feel sick afterwards!  (Seriously- I tried eating pizza and fries the other day for my birthday and I about vomited afterwards.  I think my body was rebelling..... what's up with that?!)

I am thankful for the Gospel in my life.  I look around at the things of the world and all it's madness and I am so grateful for the guidance I have.  I am so glad I was raised the way I was -in a religious home.  For things that just come naturally to me, like eating meals together, spending time together as a family, praying and reading scriptures as a family.  Those things have made a huge difference in my life and I hope to pass it on.  My church means everything to me.

I am thankful (every day) that we have enough money.  Things have been tight in the past and I am grateful for those times too and for the lessons that struggle brings.  This year, however, I am thankful for the abundance we have been blessed with.  All those years in school and residency were worth it.  Now don't get crazy thinking we are rich.  We aren't.  But I am thankful we can give our children braces and music lessons with out sweating it too much.  Now I am thinking we need to pay it forward and bless someone else.  What a better way to show gratitude than to help someone else?

Well now it's almost 8:00 am and I'm thinking it's time to roast the mushrooms for the stuffing.  Can't miss that boat! (the mushroom boat- ha!)  Here's to hoping that Big Boy won't even notice them in the mix.

Happy Thanksgiving to my bloggy friends!!!

November 21, 2011

Samsonite vs Superman

This year for Christmas I am fully expecting my oldest son to be disappointed.  The reason being that he will be getting no fun stuff for the holidays.  We need to outfit this baby bird for leaving the nest soon and that means getting things like bedding for a dorm room, a plastic trash can, a cheap full-length mirror, a year supply of Ramen, possibly a laptop, and his own luggage.

I recently found a good deal on some Samsonite luggage, so I bought him two suitcases online.  When the packages arrived outside my door I wondered where I could hide such big boxes until December 25th.  I decided to shelf them in the garage and hoped that all the other clutter would camouflage the existence of my practical surprise.  I tried turning the box so that the word 'Samsonite' would not be so obvious.  Unfortunately the advertising appears on more than one side of the box.  I knew that my oldest would be none the wiser.  However, my second child has super observation powers, and I mentioned to my husband that it would probably take less than 3 hours before he would start questioning us.  I think I was pretty much dead on.  Middle Boy asked my husband in the car "what does Samsonite stand for?"  My husband said "I'm pretty sure that's something your mother wants to be kept a secret- but I am also sure it won't take you long to figure it out..." The challenge was on.

A few days later my sweetheart and I  had a small getaway opportunity thanks to a visiting sister.  We had to get our luggage out from under the stairs. As soon as the brand on our luggage was noticed by our 2nd son we heard him moan "So that's what's in the boxes!  I was hoping for something more fun than that!"  Sorry to disappoint.  Also sorry to say that they are not for him.  This time the word Samsonite was brought up again in the company of my 12 yr old boy (Little Boy).  He walked in totally unaware (as is his norm) and spoke up with the statement "Isn't Samsonite the thing that weakens Superman?"  We all had a good laugh at that one.

Big Boy is still clueless about what is inside those mystery boxes in plain sight.  Let's hope it stays that way for a bit longer.  If only my nemesis can keep his big mouth shut.

October 31, 2011


October has been a whirlwind.  To cap it off we ended with our first snow of the season two days before Halloween.  We have had some challenges this month.  I had two weeks worth of headaches that ended in an emergency root canal.  Hate having a root canal, but love having no more headaches.  Luckily we figured out the problem on the day before we had tickets to see Les Miserables at the Kennedy Center.  Otherwise I would have been one miserables audience member.  My appointment with the endodontist was quite the event.  Because of the emergency situation I had to bring my two youngest with me and they weren't able to come back in the room during my proceedure.  I cringed when I saw the lack of child friendly items in their waiting room.  However with the help of Big Girl and her awesome imagination, they played 'where did I hide the hair-clip on my body' for an hour and a half.  The receptionist was super impressed.

T has been quite busy at work this month.  November will be a welcome break.  We even have a relative coming to spare us for an over-night-escape.  We still need to plan where we will go, but it won't matter as long as we are alone and in love : ) And I truly love that man.  I remember how I used to fret when he'd be gone for work too much, but now I seem to take it in stride knowing that at least when he is here, he is all here.  He spends his time devoted to us, not sitting in front of the computer or the TV.  It also helps knowing that he does not wish to be away.  It's just as hard for him to be away from us as it is for me to fly solo when he isn't here.  I wish I had learned this lesson back in residency.  I would have been happier.  Perhaps the deployment has helped me gain this mature perspective.

Middle Boy had a birthday on 10-10.  He made me a list of things he wanted.  He then rated the wanted items with a '1' or a '2' based on the amount of desire he had for said items.  Here was his list... Psyche (season 5)-1, a set of nun chucks-2 (yeah right!), a cool ping pong paddle-1 (the boys are obsessed with this game lately), a Hollister sweatshirt-2, money-1, video game (Prince of Persia)-2, a cool tie-1 (this kid is into fashion), moccasins-1, head phones-2, paint ball gun-1 (another yeah right!).  What can I say? The boy dreams big.  Here are some photos of what he did score on his big 15 yr old day...
A slick new paddle we'll call the Black Mambaaaaaa!

He loves Phyche... He also has brilliant powers of observation just like the main character from the sitcom.
Ah, the smell of money!  He loves money too.

We found his missing cell phone earlier this day so we wrapped it up as a surprise.

He was thrilled and instantly went into txt mode

October 23, 2011

Sharing an Appreciation

Hello dusty blog that I have not written in for so long.  How are things?  I have been absent for what seems like a while but really, it's been less than a week.  Sometimes I try and stay away from blogging and focus on the important stuff.  Then an idea will come to me that I feel just needs to be written down.  Life gets in the way sometimes too.  That is what has been happening to me lately.  A lot of life.  But it's time to get back on the horse.

I was in charge of a relief society meeting this month.  My area of focus was marital and family relations.  I called upon LDS social services to recommend a therapist to speak to us.  After a lot of phone tag and schedule re-arranging, I had a speaker.  She did a great job.  Since it was Halloween I tried to throw in a spooky theme.  Some may have not appreciated my flyer, but overall I had a good response...

Relationships Can Be Scary!

Come to this month’s Relief Society meeting to keep things on the right track.

It was odd that a new family moved into the ward the same week as my announcement was posted all over the church with the last name of Adams.  

So since our session with the marriage and family therapist we have a new way of speaking to one another in my home.  We ask "may I have a discussion with you?" permission is (sometimes) granted, and then we proceed with "when you did _______ it made me feel_______" this is then repeated back by the listener.  As cheesy as it might sound it has helped work out a few differences where I thought no resolution was in clear sight.  

There is also the even funnier "may I show an appreciation for you?"  "yes you may"  "I admire your sense of style" or "I like the way you make dinner" etc etc.  The problem with the wording of this one is that my smart alec son likes to say that 'sharing an appreciation' is sharing information about something monetary that has gone up in value recently.  Cheeky!  

So readers, may I share an appreciation with you?  Thanks for reading and commenting on my slow moving blog.  It makes me feel validated and listened to.  Thank you!

October 18, 2011

SO grateful!

I have had the most stressed out day.  Today was the day of my brother's surgery for a racquetball sized tumor that had been found in the right side of his face.  He has been at the Mayo clinic receiving treatment. He has 8 children.  He is one of the most good natured people you will ever EVER encounter.  I was pretty upset with God for choosing someone as great as my brother to do this sort of thing to.  First He took my nearly perfect mother 22 years ago (cancer) and now my even more perfect brother!  Not FAIR!  I found myself killing ants the day after I heard this awful news about Eric and as I smashed them with my angry thumb I thought to myself "this is what God does.... he says 'I'm taking you, and now you, and you're next... smash smash smash'"  It took me a few days to simmer down but once I humbled myself a bit I started in asking for forgiveness first and for favors next.  Eric and his family have been the subject of much fasting and prayer around here.  I've been so worried at times that I have unloaded my bad new on unsuspecting check-out clerks, walking buddies, and today on a pre-school teacher who wasn't even my kid's teacher.  We were just sitting on the bench together watching the kids play outside on the playground  and the next thing you knew I was spilling it out for her.  I mentioned my name to her upon parting.  Poor lady must have thought I was losing it.  I am.

Today, on surgery day, as I thought about how mangled my brother's new face might look, I forgot to bring a field trip permission slip along with 6.00 that was due.  I asked for a new one.  I went home, showered, looked up gross facial reconstruction photos on the internet, stressed out, went grocery shopping and tried not to tear up in public as I went through the self check out.  I was in a hurry to pick up Little Girl from pre-school and forgot to pay for a gift card...  When I realized, (in the parking lot) my mistake, I looked up to the heavens and promised that I would be honest and return to pay if He would grant a miracle on the surgical table today.  He must really care about that 15.00 I owed Safeway because a miracle was granted (and yes I did return and pay).  I don't even care that I had to humble myself (again!) and ask for a 2nd field trip permission form in front of the one lady at pre-school who annoys me.  Eric's surgery went great!  So much better than we had thought.  You can read about it here.  He started his blog as an update for family but he is such a great writer that you might just want to scan back and start from the beginning.  You will see why I am so inspired by this perfect brother of mine.  Thank you to all of you who have been praying for him and his family.
Eric and almost all of his family before leaving for his surgery.

October 01, 2011

Right Now

Right now there is laundry to do, a flower girl dress to sew, sleep to be had, and a chocolate bar in the cupboard calling my name repeatedly.  'NO Hershey!' I shout back to it.  So I type on my blog instead to vent-my-thoughts.  Here is what is boaring holes in my brain tonight.
1-My perfect brother Eric has cancer and it's pretty bad...
2-My teenager is being a teenager.  Bad teenager Bad!
3-I need to finish sewing Little Girl's flower girl dress in the next 5 days before we head to Provo for my sister's wedding.
4-I seem to be coming down with another cold just before our flight and that really makes me mad!
5-My bad teenager gave me this cold (same as last time).  I want to put a safety bubble between us from now on.  Perhaps this bubble could have multiple purposes....  less germs, less arguing.  I love him, but he's killing me.  Killing me softly.
6-I am amazed that there is not a single slip to be purchased in the area.  I wanted to get the puffy kind to wear under the dresses for the flower girls (Big & Little Girl are both in the wedding).  When I asked the salesman if they had petticoats he showed me something like this:
Yes, a petite coat indeed.  Not a petticoat though.  That man had no business working in a little girl's dress shop.  Either that or I need to pronounce things better.  Even the bridal shop with fancy little girl's dresses had no such thing as a petticoat.  Is this the reason for the decline in morals in our society?  I know my step mom used to get a bit worked up if we pre-teens didn't wear our slips.  Perhaps I should write my congressman and let him know.  Life goes on.  Luckily you can buy things on the internet.  I am proof of that I tell ya!  Unluckily I sometimes get things wrong when ordering online.  I click things twice and get double what I wanted.  I misjudge sizes, I imagine things better then they really are in real life.  I then put these unwanted items in the closet with the intent of mailing them back.  Sometimes  my closet works like the Bermuda Triangle though and I forget all about them.  I bet I have quite a bit of money saved up in returns right there.  You could look at the bright side and say that when I do get around to returning them, that my Christmas savings will have been right there in the closet the entire year!  

I guess that is all the rambling I will do for tonight.  Please pray for my brother.  I think I will go get that chocolate bar now.


September 26, 2011

A Question of Taste

I watch Project Runway.  I love to sew but hardly find time it seems.  Too busy watching reality TV I suppose.  This season there are some real jerks on the show making for great drama.  I have also been fired up at the way the judges are so condescending and say rude things about 'pureeing the squash in that blouse'  I puree things!  Nina Garcia loves to question everyone's taste levels.   I question her pureeing skills!  Good thing I love Tim Gund.  He makes it work!

I have to wonder about some of my family member's taste levels.  My Little Boy picks the most terrible outfits to wear to school.  Orange and red mixes (not in a good way).  Baggy, ill fitting hand-me-downs.  Where is his pride?  Luckily he is still at an age where he will listen to my advise and change his horrible outfits.  Big Boy would not be so easily persuaded.  He might actually listen and alter his choices later, but to change just after my suggestion would be giving me too much power.  But oh how I long for him to "lose" that green Orlando T-shirt he owns.  Yes, the one with the hole in the armpit.  The one I wasn't around to pick out.  I believe it came home from a business trip my husband went on.  Just ask my esthetically savvy girls about their Dad's business trip T-shirt selection.  The blue T-shirt with the Canadian moose embroidered on the front went straight into the "grubby" category for Little Girl.  She wears it over her nice shirts when she paints.  I think Big Girl uses her over-sized red Canadian T with a backpacking, flag holding Teddy bear on it to sleep in.  But only when every other set of PJs is in the wash.

The other day I heard Big Girl complimenting Middle Boy's new school back pack.  It's black with trendy neon trim.  The week before, Big Boy was saying how awful he thought his brother's choice of back pack was. We all see things a bit differently I guess.  But I am noticing more and more that some of my kids know what looks cool and some do not.  For instance, this morning Little Boy is wearing his new cross country, coach-issued-yesterday sports jersey to school.... as a shirt.  His reasoning is that he has practice today...  so that's one less thing to have to change.  I asked if other kids did this with their sports jerseys.  He couldn't be sure.  Not the type to notice I guess.  I am really smiling inside at his lack of fashion sense.  He's like the character Rowley from Diary of a Wimpy Kid showing up on the first day of school wearing his Mexican surappe (blanket poncho).  But you got to respect the fact that he just doesn't care what his peers think, and like Rowley that makes him likable by one and all.  I can't say the same for Nina Garcia.

September 16, 2011


This morning I awoke at around 4:40.  My arm was cold.  Why did we have the fan on anyways?  I can feel the new season approaching.  I love the Fall.  My husband's alarm went off.  I treated myself (and him) to some snuggling. His alarm goes off too early for my taste.  He works out at this hour so that he doesn't take away from his time with us.  How he is consistently staying up late and getting up early I do not know.  My body would rebel.

Due to a head cold I have been battling I could not get back to sleep.  So after some time had passed, I went to scratch Middle Boy's back until he was lucid enough to talk to me.  It was time for him to get up for seminary.  We discussed some of the details of the weekend.  A camp out, a XC meet, a pasta dinner with his team.  He got up gladly and I fed him pancakes.  I also approached my 17 yr old.  I tried humor to wake him.  He didn't respond as well as his brother.  Maybe I should have gone with back scratching.  I wish I could change the friction that is between myself and my oldest.  Alas, he is a teenager and I am his mother.  He crossly informed me that I was waking him way too early.  I told him I needed to chat with him about a couple things before school.  Then as I went on (about 3 minutes in) he crossly informed me that I was making him late with all this talking.  Sigh.  I told him  that if he could make his bed this morning, that I would make him a nice sack lunch (they usually do this for themselves-is this mean?).  He informed me that I could make him lunch if I liked but he had no time to clean the room.  I made his younger brother a lunch and then thought about what to do for Big Boy.  If I made him lunch then I wouldn't be following through with what I had said now would I?  But where is the love there?  So I made him a sack of "snacks" instead.  No sandwich!  Just chips fruit and a cheese stick.  That'll teach that little whipper snapper!

As I sat at my computer in the darkness, I thought about my week.  It's been a dark one.  I've been sick, I watched a sad move, 9-11 was remembered.  Nothing too bright.  I am a bounce back kind of person and don't like to be stuck in the muck.  But sometimes I do take a trip on the downward spiral and have to find my way back to the top- the sooner the better.  Reading my scriptures always helps me.  Remembering my many blessings is another key.  I thought about yesterday afternoon.  We had a small miracle.  Big Girl has been pining away for the loss of her ipod.  It's an old ipod that has been passed down through a few of us (lest you think I spoil my 8yr old).  I recently put a bunch of her favorite songs on it before a road trip.  Her friend gave her a snazzy cover and charger that she wasn't using anymore. She couldn't have been more trilled with the decorative cherries.  Then in the chaos of coming home and unpacking it was lost.  It's been lost for over a week now.  Every day she asks if anyone has seen it.  She spent one Saturday afternoon making "missing ipod" fliers and passed them out to all of us.  

The words read "She has cherries, she is gray!"

Fransisca was helping me that day (please bless that we can always afford help around here-it makes me so sane).  I told Big Girl Fransisca would be the perfect person to ask if she had seen it.  Fransicia got our hopes up by saying she had seen it in her room on her desk.  Then she recalled that it was another kids desk in another home she just cleaned.  Rats!  Where's the miracle?  Just wait!  

So yesterday I tried to act sympathetic as she worried once again about her missing prize.  She verbally went through where she had been when it was last seen with me.  I suggested places she might look.  Under couch cushions, in drawers, etc.  Then she suggested she should probably pray and ask for help.  I told her that was an excellent idea.  To my surprise she dropped right then and there on her knees in the dining room and said her silent prayer.  She got up, wandered around for about 5 minutes and then asked if she could climb on the counter top and look on top of the fridge. " Why not?" was my response.  Would you believe that was right where it was!?  She said the idea just popped into her head.  Amazing! She dropped down in the same spot for a prayer of thanks.  There are good things in this world after all!

And as I finish this post and look out the window- the sun is rising most beautifully.  

Man's Inhumanity to Man

Since our family decided to cut off the cable I get most of our news in my car.  New announcements about killings in Afghanistan or shootings nearby fly through the airways and ring in my ears.  My reaction is almost always the same.  I tilt my head to the right and my eyes flit in the direction of the the radio.  My brow furrows, my body language says 'did I just hear you correctly!?' Then I go back to thinking about my grocery list.  I commit about 30 seconds of my thoughts to the sadness and loss... and then I move on.  I like to think I am a compassionate person who has empathy for others and their pain.  I have been through loss and pain in my lifetime.  I get it.  But I am also a practical person who has to get through her day.  I may mention something about whatever bad news I have heard that day to my husband over dinner or chat about it with a girlfriend on the phone.  But who is that really helping other than myself?  Maybe I am not as good as I would hope.

Recently I watched a movie that got me thinking.  I love it when movies do that to me.  It was called The Conspirator directed by Robert Redford.  It tells the story of Mary Surratt and her trial.  She is called into question after her son and a group, including John Wilkes Boothe, plan and then assassinate President Lincoln.  Because she ran a boarding house, and rented to some in the group, she is charged with conspiracy.  The trial was unconstitutional due to the fact that she was not allowed a trial in front of a jury of her peers.  Generals from the North decided her fate.  She was a Southern woman and feelings between the North and the South were still raw from the civil war.  I did not know my US history well enough to remember what the outcome would be as I watched this movie.  I couldn't believe the result of her trial.  I couldn't believe her son hid in safety and let his mother pay for his crimes.  My hat is off to Mr Redford for a job well done in directing this movie.  He made me cry like a baby (but that isn't hard).

My first thoughts after watching The Conspirator were that people of that day were so misguided and let prejudice blind their judgement.  How glad I am to live in a country today that is not so divided.  Then my thoughts turned to all the stories I had heard over the 911 weekend.  One in particular stood out.  Several Muslims in the San Diego area were interviewed about how they were treated just after the September eleventh attacks.  These people attended the same mosque as the men who flew the airplanes on 9-11.  They told stories of the hatred and disdain they felt from their community.  They endured the mistreatment of their children and threats to their lives,  and what did they do?  Endured.  They kept the doors to their mosque open.  They still hold community outreach programs for the public.  I really admire that strength.

Today as I dropped of some tennis shoes for my forgetful teen so that he could run with the cross country team after school, I caught a bit of the morning announcements.  I heard this: "The gay and lesbian awareness club will be meeting in a new location at lunch today... room 314, all are welcome"  My son overheard me remarking about this to a friend on the phone this afternoon.  When I hung up, he made the comment that he didn't even hear that announcement and he was glad he didn't.  I chose my next words carefully. "God loves all his children equally- I expect you to try and do the same."  

It is this hatred of one another that gets us riled up and makes us crash into buildings... Makes us rush to judgement.  Makes us invade countries.  Make unkind comments.  I am not sure what to do about the inhumane acts I hear about on the radio, but I know that in my home I will try my very hardest to teach humanity.  Hopefully by my example.  

I was proud to hear my kids playing nicely this afternoon (even though an hour earlier there were tears).  Middle Boy helped his sister build a killer fort.  When she then asked him if he would please help her find her missing ipod (an old hand-me-down she has been missing and making wanted posters for),  his reply was classic.  "I will help you with that tomorrow- only one nice thing per day."  It would seem we still have some work to do at our house.

September 11, 2011

911 Remembered

As we are all aware, the tenth anniversary of Sept 11th is today.  It's a pretty somber occasion to recall. I recently went to the Newseum with my sons and got pretty choked up at the 911 display.  They have one of the actual radio towers there for you to see and soak in.  Hardly anyone who has lived through that day can leave the exhibit with dry eyes.

I will never forget the moment I saw the towers being hit live on the air during The Today Show.  I was on the phone with my neighbor Crystal and we were discussing the first crash and weather it was an accident or not when the suddenly second plane hit.  To say we were shocked would be a understatement.  I was grateful to have a good friend on the phone with me when it happened.  The next phone call I made was to another friend in the area who's husband was in the military with my own husband.  I brought up the elephant sized question on both of our minds.  "What do you think this will mean for our husbands?"  I mean whoever did this was surely starting a war.  We tried to console ourselves with the fact that most likely whatever war we got ourselves into would probably be over by the time our husbands were out of residency.  We couldn't have been more wrong.  Both of our husbands have deployed since then.

My husband just signed on for more time with Uncle Sam putting him at risk for deployment for another decade.  I am not going to even speculate on the possibilities of our troops getting out of this mess (and yes I believe it's a mess) in the next decade.  Sadly many American's actually believe that we are in Iraq because of 911.  I am not one of those Americans.  But that is a post for another day.

After the Pentagon was hit I decided I had better get my children out of their school.   I walked to the elementary school pushing my baby boy in his stroller.  I thought I saw glimpses of smoke.  I stood in line for what seemed like forever to sign my two older boys out of their classrooms.  I wasn't the only parent with the bright idea of keeping their loved ones close for the rest of the day.  A fellow mother-in-line turned to me and asked how I was doing.  Tears welled up for both of us and she answered her own question with the response of "I know, you're just as bad off as I am aren't you?"

The tricky part of that day, and the upcoming days that followed, was knowing how to react in front of children.  What to say or not say.  My kids were 7, 4, and 1.  My 4 year old was especially  quick to pick things, not easily distracted.  I wonder now how this event shaped them into the people they are today.  Could this be one of the reasons my oldest loves the comforts of home so much?  Possibly the reason that my middle son is so into weaponry?  Who can say...

In Feb 2003 they were starting to deploy soldiers.  I was recovering from the delivery of my first daughter in a military hospital.  I had to get a shot before they would release me.  I sat in my wheelchair next to a very young man who would be one of the fist ones out to Afghanistan.  He was getting a whole slew of shots himself.  That really rattled me to think someone so young could be gone for good in another month.  I tried to keep things light by asking for his opinions on a name for my first daughter.  He helped us cast the deciding vote.  I hope he is still alive and voting today....

May we never forget the sacrifices made for our country and remember our troops/ local service men and women on 911.

August 29, 2011

Back to School 2011

Ah the first day of school.  I am in that window of time when my two high-schoolers have been gone for an hour, my middle schooler just started his walk up the street to start his day and I have about 10 min of down time before I need to wake a sleepy 3rd grader.  Then it will be 'just-you-and-me-time-baby' for me and Little Girl.  We use that you-and-me phrase a lot.  It will probably be exciting for her for about 15 minutes and then she will be bored.  Because I do boring stuff like laundry and picking up the house. Perhaps we can work some fun in there today, play-dough if she's lucky.  She will be lonely until the kids get home I am sure.

So to re-cap on what has been going on, we just escaped death two times this past week.  First there was Tuesday's earthquake then the hurricane.  The earthquake was the largest quake for this area for something like 100 years.  That is how we roll.  When we lived in Iowa we experienced the worst flooding in over 500 years.  Then in Korea there was all kinds of havoc being flung upon us by the North Koreans with their 'test' missiles.  It would seem that where ever we live there are catastrophes afoot- yet we manage to come through okay.  How about that Irene?  As wide as Europe- are you kidding me?  I tell ya, we must be living right because all we experienced from Irene was a couple hours without power.  From 2:00 to 4:00 in the morning.  Big Girl immediately blamed her sister for turning out the hall light and the bickering woke the parents up.  T commented on my amazing patience with her.  I have a tendency to be... well... extra cranky when you wake me up unnecessarily.  I have been known to bite off a few heads and hardly remember it come morning time.  I think I was feeling sorry for Big Girl.  She has exhibited some symptoms of anxiety lately and I have had to sit the boys down and give them the 'what-for' about teasing and pushing her to her limits.  That girl carries the world on her shoulders.  And if you've seen her then you know her shoulders are pretty small.  I'm not quite sure what to do for her, or if there is anything I can do.  This may just be her lot in life.

Our end-of-summer vacation plans changed at the last minute due to the storms, but we enjoyed ourselves anyways.  We went inland to a water park resort town called Massanutten VA.  We also went to Charlottesville VA to Thomas Jefferson's estate Monticello.  T and I had gone there for an anniversary some 9 yrs ago as a couple.  We found out it's much different when you take a family of 5 kids with you, especially when you take the 3:00pm estate tour right when your youngest girl is ready for a nap and not ready for a tour of our 3rd president's home.  Even though she said quite loudly in front of the tour guide "I want to go home" we made do.  We noted that Thomas Jefferson and Little Boy have a lot in common.  Both red heads, both played violin, both have April birthdays, both very high achieving smarty-pants types.  My son even chose TJ as his famous American character to represent in school 4 yrs ago...   We ate at a great BBQ place with the stickiest floor ever.  We rented movies, we played in the jacuzzi tub, we floated down the lazy river at the water park, we had bad fajitas at Chilis, we bought a generator, we drove through a lot of rain and made it home before the hurricane.  Then it looked as if a hurricane hit the inside of my house for a couple days.  Now it is the calm after the storm as all the kids are at their first day of school.  No I don't miss them yet.  As Little Boy left this morning for his 10 min walk to middle school I called out to him "remember who you are" and his reply was "yes- I am Thomas Jefferson."  Let's just hope he stays away from girls named Sally H.  He's only 14.

August 26, 2011

Misc. Letters

Dear 'I Can't Believe it's Not Butter' I beg to differ.  I totally believe you are not butter.  I believe it with all my taste buds.  When my husband is sent to shop for groceries he always buys you claiming that you spread better.  I see his point but would like to say that I think taste should rate higher than spread ability.  The fact that you take so long to melt into my toast makes me suspicious of you.  I would rather die of heart disease (sudden, over) from butter, than from cancer (long, slow) due to whatever plastic-type ingredients that are in imitation butter spread.  So thanks, but no thanks on the ICBINB.

Dear Hurricane Irene, you have spoiled our end of summer vacation plans.  I am okay with our alternate plans and just hope to see my house standing (and not standing in a puddle of water) when I get back.  Thank goodness we recently paid the outstanding 10.00 somehow left unpaid on our flood insurance.   Earthquakes, hurricanes, what's next?  Maybe I shouldn't be asking this.  Please pray for my dog who we did not bring with us.

Dear Parents, thank you for thoughtfully calling me within minutes after the 5.9 earthquake hit our area.  That was nice to hear from someone.  We were just fine hanging out for 45 seconds under our dining room table.  Our funny neighbors confused earthquake with tornado and ran to their basement.  What I didn't appreciate was the crack made about Mother Nature not liking our president and trying to strike back.  I would have thought if anyone needed a spanking by Mother Nature it would have been members of congress or possibly the Tea Party wackos.  I guess we are all entitled to our own opinions- just keep them to yourself.

Dear Family Members, please stop fighting with each other on our vacation.  You are giving me a headache.

Dear Big Boy,  I hope you can get your non-fiction first-person summer reading assignment finished and your essay written before school starts on Monday.  Procrastination is a bummer in the end.  I speak from experience.

Dear Readers, I am sorry for not blogging so much lately.  Not sure if you care really but in addition to not blogging I also have not been reading or commenting and we all like it when we get comments... so sorry.  I am probably not deserving of your kind comments, but leave them anyways if your so inclined.  If not- I totally get it!



August 18, 2011

The 5-7-5 On Us

Please see Emily's blog where I got this idea.  She is brilliant.

Little Girl is cute
 Though her self-chopped hair has grown
to a length that's sad...

Big Girl is stressed
or is it just boredom that 
makes her pluck her brows?

Little Boy likes girls
But can't seem to talk to them.
He choses to wave.

Middle Boy threw up
three times on the track Monday
at his first practice.

Big Boy eats food-stuffs
all day and all night it seems,
I guess he'll still grow.

I am awake (sigh!)
thinking thoughts that upset me
like starting to run.

T is the 1st prize
in a game I call 'My Life.'
So glad I found him.

That was fun.... now do try this at home.

August 16, 2011

Love Loss and Success...

Today in the grocery store as I stood in the check out line my eyes did what they always tend to do... they scanned all the scandalous headlines on the smutty magazine covers.  Hypocritically, I wouldn't be caught dead with one of these magazines in my home, but I feel quite up to date on who is divorcing or cheating or sporting a new baby bump after my weekly wait in the line at Giant Foods.  Today one caught my eye with a typical headline about an interview within the magazine's pages from the smokey eyed actress from Glee, Dianna Agron.  The actress who plays Quinn Fabray talks about love, loss and success or so it says on the cover right above 'what my va jay jay is dying to tell me.'  So Cosmopolitan.

I don't mean to seem condescending here.  I don't know everything about love loss and success but I am willing to bet that after 42 years of living my life (and nearly 20 years married) I bet I know more about these subjects than little miss Dianna.  So I had to do a bit of an eye-roll at this headline.  Now that I sit down to blog I ask myself what do I know?  And why isn't cosmopolitan knocking down my door to ask me?  Probably because I am not on a popular trend setting sit-com.  I am just a housewife with 5 kids and a busy husband.  But here is what I have learned so far about L L and S.  (that's Love Loss and Success...)

LOVE:  Love is never having to say you're sorry.  Love is about forgiveness as well.  Love is commitment.  Love is sharing the last piece of peanut butter pie.  Love is going through a deployment and not only staying faithful but growing closer.  Love is about putting yourself 2nd.  Love is about setting a budget, and trying to stick to it, but sometimes not.  Love is seeing the best in your partner and trying to be better because of them.  Love is accepting someone even after the baby bump doesn't ever completely disappear.

LOSS:  I have learned the most in my life because of what I have lost.  You never know how much you have unless you lose sometimes.  The big thing you learn from loss is from what happens after you fall.  Do you get back up?  Do you give up?  Who do you blame?  All important things yes?

SUCCESS:  What do I know about success?  Not much.  As my husband's grandparents used to say... "when we were married we had nothing, and we still got it!" I guess it all depends on what someone means by success.  Material success?  Success with your family? Successful baking?  Fame?  I'm still working on all these things.  With the exception of fame.  Who wants to be famous?  I'll settle for a famous blog with nearly 40 followers.  Maybe I should consider getting a Dianne Agron "Shab".  It's the hottest haircut this summer so 'they' say.

August 11, 2011

Summer Wind Down

We have just 18 days left of Summer at this typing.  We are at the point in our Summer where I look back and think, did we do everything we wanted to?  Or did we just watch too much television and play that silly new video game too much?  I had the entire family doing good deeds and weeding bad weeds to collectively earn a new Wii game called animal crossing.  They are collectively all addicted to playing this game and all good deeds and weeding time have gone straight out the window.  They are completely focused on catching and selling fish to the local store, writing one another mail, shaking trees to see what will come out (hey Little Boy got a used massage chair that way!), and digging holes to find or bury stuff.  I am happy that they are not shooting anything in this game, but I am not happy about having to regulate how long they play each day.  It makes us all cranky.  So what I decided this week was that we were going to get out there and enjoy some stuff.  I would pick a child or two to take on an outing each day of the week.  Monday I took Middle and Little Boy to the Newseum.  It was awesome!  I have been there twice and loved it both times.  At first Middle Boy was wishing his best friend would have been able to come and seemed a bit down, but he perked right up at all the sights to see there.  The next day I took Big Boy to the air and space museum to see the IMAX movie about the Hubble telescope.  It was so inspiring I have vowed to take the rest of the family to see it asap.  We have plans next week to see the sculpture museum or perhaps the portrait gallery with Big Girl and the zoo with Little Girl.  At some point I will get to the laundry.  Then we have a beach trip scheduled and it's back to school.  I hope I won't miss them too much. My youngest starts pre-school this year leaving me all alone 3 days a week.  That ought to be different for me.

Looking back on my summer I would have to say that the highlight was having my parents drive out for a visit.  I was pretty worried about an 82 yr old man driving his motor home cross country but he managed to do okay.  I still haven't pinned him down to tell me the story of accidentally driving into a ditch but I will.  While he was here with his new wife I managed to get them down to see the Vietnam Memorial where Thelma's first husband's name is.  They were only married for 2 years when he lost his life.  She was pregnant with their second daughter at the time.  I asked her afterwards if the memories were too sad and she told me all the sweet memories outweighed the bad ones.  That answer is classic Thelma.  Here are some photos of that day.

I was so honored to be able to make this happen for them.  My Dad drives well, but walking around in the extreme heat he doesn't enjoy.  Parking in DC with a motor home ain't easy, so I drove them there early on a Sunday morning.  I think I impressed him with my slick city parallel parking skills. We walked slow and took breaks.  When we finally got there and the guide looked up where Thelma's 1st husband's name would be, clucked his tongue and said we'd have a hard time reaching his name for a rubbing.  It was indeed too high for us to reach.  Thelma declared that if she could just touch it that it would be enough.  So I gave her a boost and she reached for his name.  A nice couple from the South (with heavy accents) helped out and boosted her even better.  Then the woman said in her southern drawl.  "Let my husband help y'all out with that rubbin' he's got some tall on 'im"  So we handed him our paper and he went to town.  He left the R off of ROBERT.  He tried again.  Sadly I brought the wrong thing for a rubbing.  Note to self: graphite not pastel.  We thanked the Southern couple and they left. Thelma was telling me it was just fine that it didn't turn out when suddenly the tour guide showed up with his fanny pack full of paper and graphite to save the day for us.  He was super tall and I told him as he rubbed that he was the perfect height for this job.  He gave me a great one liner about putting his 'tall legs on' when he got dressed that morning.  I wondered how many times he used that line and admired him all the more for it.  It was a great summer memory.

August 06, 2011

The Welcome Mat

For the past 22 years my father was married to a woman who, for the most part was good to us, but sadly due to her insecurities could never fully embrace us kids as hers.  Oh I know she tried.  She was handy with a needle and thread and she'd whip out a cross stitched bookmark for your child's baptism in nothing flat.  She'd also give you a framed cross stitch work of art with your child's birthday and birth weight when you had a new baby.  I always felt a bit awkward accepting these treasures she'd created because to me it seemed a bit like her proof that she was being good to us hanging there on the nursery wall, but the actions she showed didn't quite match up.  She had a wicked tongue and never held back criticism.  Sad but true.

My Step mother passed away last summer and about 6 months later my Dad re-married.  The good news is that this time he married a real gem.  I have been hearing stories of her settling into the house and making changes that to me, represent her spreading out the welcome mat.  When I recently visited I was able to see for myself.  She turned one of the downstairs bedrooms into a 'teenager hangout' with good books and movies to watch (almost all VHS... awesome!)  there is a desk with paper and markers to do artwork.  She pointed out some career choice books to my 17yr old who is thinking about his future a lot lately.  So nice. The best part of the room is a large white fur rug that she will suggest you take your shoes and socks off and walk on.  So plush!  And so not something JoAnn would have done.  Thelma is just fun.  I was touched as she showed me where she re-hung our family photos back on the walls.  They were taken down after my mother passed and placed in a dark corner of the house on the floor to collect dust.

We went out for Chinese food with my parents and here is just another example of her desire to please.  Big Boy wanted to order the soup.  He also had a hankering for some orange chicken, so he asked me to order it so he could taste some from my plate.  I was still full from our pizza lunch at The Pie in Salt Lake earlier so I told him I would be ordering light.  I ordered a side dish.  When Thelma caught on to the situation (late in the ordering) she jumped out of her seat and rushed back to the kitchen to change her order to orange chicken so that my son could get some.  My Dad protested but she insisted.  It was a good thing too, because he hated his soup.  I was super touched.

Yes- I'd say the welcome mat is officially out.

July 27, 2011

The Frosting

Well I'm home from Utah.  My oldest son and I took a 4 day trip to my home state to check out colleges for him.  He would like to attend BYU but if he can't get in (it's very competitive) then he will look elsewhere.  The other two colleges we toured were University of Utah and also Utah State University.  They each had their own flavor and it was funny to see how we felt after each tour.  They are pretty sly about putting the most outgoing attractive students to head up their tours.  U of U had more ethnically diverse guides who were edgy and cool.  BYU's tour guide was a typical clean cut returned missionary with a sense of humor and a way of working in a spiritual thought with every other stop.  But I think they pulled out all the stops with the cute peppy blond tour guide at Utah State.  Yes she was married (at 22), but she seemed to be the whisper of promise about the kind of girl Big Boy would like to date at Utah State.  Pretty sneaky USU.

We also attended a wedding for my sister.  It's a third marriage for her and it was very simple and sweet.  It was held in the church's cultural hall.  The ceremony was nice.  Before the ceremony she had a close friend give a short speech which begs to be blogged about....  Perhaps I shouldn't, but I just cannot resist.  Here goes.  Her friend told us all that this analogy had come to her the night before.  She told us that marriage was like a cake.  That there were many ingredients in a cake that make it good.  Then she went down the list of cake ingredients and made comparisons.  The eggs, for instance are the two living things in a cake and so the two eggs represented the bride and groom.  The vanilla and salt represented the spice in a cake and thus the spice in your marriage which, she said, meant the dating that needed to continue even after the wedding day.  The baking soda represented the ingredient that makes everything rise and so it was compared to prayer and scripture study which you should do as a married couple.  (I thought that one was good).  I must have zoned out during the flour part but it represented something I can't remember.  I was wide awake however when she mentioned the last ingredient, the frosting on your cake.  The best sweetest part of marriage.  The frosting was compared to the intimacy in your marriage.  She went on to explain that the frosting doesn't always turn out right the first time you try and frost the cake.... but with practice you can frost your cake with perfection.  Even my perfect brother Eric was snickering along with me on that line.  You know, it was really sound advice but the setting was perhaps not the best for such a speech.

And the jokes about frosting just kept coming all evening long.  They served cake after the wedding, and my 17 yr old son said that he probably ought to take a piece that didn't have too much frosting since he wasn't married yet.  I told him I wanted a corner piece.  We went over by some relatives and commented on how good the frosting was.  That someone must have really practiced a lot before decorating that cake.  So smooth...  so white... okay I have gone too far, I realize this.  I need help!  But even my 82 yr old father said rather loudly after they kissed as man and wife "They need to practice that."  Perhaps the apple doesn't fall far from the tree....

July 22, 2011

Utah Bound

I think it is safe to say that my children need me.  It has taken us the last 4 hours to pack for our trip to Utah.  Just for me and Big Boy!  He had to wash shirts to bring (told him to do it yesterday), couldn't find his wallet (under a towel in the bathroom).  I had to re-pack all his pants (he took them out looking for his wallet).  While he was putting away (per-mom's-request) the violin that had been left out for a second damaging this month I asked "what will you do when you are away from home and don't have me telling you what to do all the time?" His response was that he guessed he'd have to suddenly grow up and move on.  As if he could...  What a sec, maybe he could but he doesn't because I am always here reminding him to do stuff.  It's an interesting thought to ponder anyways.

This time when we go to Utah I am going to have to view the mountains with a different perspective.  Our family just signed on the dotted line to stay in the military.  This means we won't be moving back to Utah any time soon.  I have always been okay with that. Although it would be nice to be closer to family, the longer we have been away, the more we like our independence.  That may sound harsh, but we enjoy the diversity here, we like the schools, we don't have to be so involved in family dramas, and we vote however we want to.  Our kids are strong in the church even though they are in the minority.  Or is it because they are in the minority- who knows.  Whatever the case I have come to believe that it's not where you live but how you live that matters the most.

I used to dislike it when Easterners would come to BYU for college in my home town of Provo and dislike everything about it.  No one hates that kind of critical talk more than the locals.  Now I find myself seeing the little weird things that only I seem to notice.  I am sure my family dislikes it when I point these Utahisms out to them.  I will try and hold my tongue this time.  Utah is a great place.  It's THE place I hear.  I love many many things about it.  But I guess I have changed so much since I lived there that I don't really fit in there anymore.  Not blonde, do recycle, make green salad and hate Jello, not outraged at Obama.

I always love books or movies that show change (hope and change even more-ha!) in a character.  Now I've turned (somewhat) into one of those East coast people who I disliked once upon a time. Talk about weird!  Now all I want is love and acceptance from my family members who just don't get me now.  Or at least less ribbing from them.  I wonder how they will take the news of us signing on for more military time.  Probably not well.  I will have to borrow Big Boy's line about finally growing up and moving on.  Nope, That's not insulting at all :  )

July 19, 2011

Do They Need Me?

I have had so many things run through my head that I want to blog about, but alas I've had no time to do it.  Yesterday I spent over 6 hours in the car.  I drove my 14 yr old and his buddy to EFY in Virginia, had lunch with them and then drove home.  I listened to an entire book on tape (Al Capone does my shirts- I recommend it!), chewed a whole pack of gum (yes my jaw is sore today), worried about the kids left at home without me, nearly got into an accident and then worried all the more for the rest of the drive home.  What would my family do if I died in a car crash? Strangely T had the same thoughts at work yesterday.  "What if she were in a fatal car accident?"  Thank goodness I made it home safe but cranky.  I don't really like driving that much in one day by myself.  I certainly hope Middle Boy has a lot of spiritual experiences at EFY to make it all worth it.  Buena Vista is the town he is in.  It is a pretty small town.  Dropping them off at their dorm room where they will be spending an entire week brought back a lot of memories of when my parents dropped me in a similar dorm in a similar small Colorado town many years ago.  Then they took me to lunch just as I did with my son.  Middle Boy wondered aloud about his potential room mates.  He is with his friend but there are also two more boys in his room with him.  I was glad to have a chance to speak to him last night and find out that they were nice.

Upon returning I expected to find that the house had been turned upside down.  I thought probably nothing much happened outside of video games and movies, but that wasn't the case.  I have been hearing tales of sprinklers and squirt gun fights in the back yard, painting, dog walking, swim team practice,  & dishes done (sorta).  Maybe they don't need a mom as much as I thought...

Ah yes, there is fighting going on in the next room.  I believe I am needed after all : )

*ps to this post... Middle Boy has been home for 4 days and reports that he LOVED EFY.  When I asked what he loved the most he said that he loved meeting new people, the testimony meeting and the medley they sang as a group.... I was stunned and asked my husband later on the phone where the real Middle Boy was.  "medley singing" isn't a usual favorite of his...

July 15, 2011

Milano Memories

Today I had my new-driver-son drive me to the library.  He needs driving hours and since our local library is being renovated it's a good 20 minutes out to the next closest one.  I thought it was a pretty easy straight shot that wouldn't stress him (or me) out too much.  I thought wrong.  I could see my life pass before my eyes at least 3 different times.  Since I have no filter I utter every worried thought that comes into my head. His confidence must suffer when he drives with me.  I cherish the stop lights during our drives.  It's when I let my knuckles relax from the death grip I have on the armrest.  I was literally kissing our driveway when we got home for good this afternoon.

When we arrived at the library I let out a huge sigh.  Half way there, I thought.  On the way in we got a look at a new baby in nothing but his diaper kicking back in his infant car seat.  His eyes were bothered by the afternoon sun and his mother didn't bother to turn him around.  "Cute baby" I told her admiring all the rolls of fat and remembering the same rolls I used to squeeze on my babies.  On the way out we saw some vending machines.  I felt the need for some chocolate to make it through the drive home.  Twix was my drug of choice.  Big Boy chose milano cookies.  I told him I thought I knew why he liked those so much and his reply was "is it because I am your son?"  ha ha. So. dang. funny.  "No actually it's because when you were about that baby's age I used them on you more than once to calm you in the car."  It's true.  Even though I knew the rules about introducing solid foods to babies of a certain age, in moments of desperation I succumbed and gave a 2 month old cookies.  I had read the baby books.  But my new parent ears could not really stand the sound of my son's cries in the car.  I had bought a case of sucrose water from the pharmacy before we left Utah and moved to the Bay Area.  That is what the nurses in the infant nursery at the hospital used, who was I to question their techniques?  He loved the stuff and it was quite soother for stress in the car.  When the case of sugar water ran out, I asked my pediatrician where I could get more and he thought I was nuts and told me I didn't need that at all.  Don't you just love being criticized by a pediatrician? Yeah, me too.  So I smartly went with milanos and didn't mention it to the doctor at his next visit.  I weighed the two evils and went with possible food allergies and a quiet car.  It was (ironically) my newness to driving in a crowded area with actual traffic on El Camino that stressed me to the point of such bad parenting.  But as I held the cookie in his mouth while driving,  I watched him gum down his biscuit cookie smearing a messy chocolate center all over his happy face, calming down beautifully.  I probably told him how good it was.  That Pepperidge Farms really knows what they are doing.

We are now in the process of searching for a college for Big Boy to attend.  He has taken the ACT and met with his counselor at school.  We are headed west for some college visits at the end of the month.  This is the big time!  It has been interesting to see him spread his wings a bit.  Taking on his eagle project and playing the boss for a Saturday morning of trail clearing.  I am not sure how ready I am for this next step.  Perhaps I will need a bag of mint milano cookies to sooth me while I think it over.