November 26, 2012

The Yellow Vests

I need to write about my weekend but I'm not sure where to start.  I guess it started when I saw this video posted on facebook by a friend in my ward.  Perhaps you've seen it.

When an opportunity arose to go with a large group of volunteers from our stake to be a part of this my heart was willing.  When I heard more details about the raw sewage in basements my flesh was weak, but I struggled on the fence wishing I were braver.  I encouraged my teenagers to get involved and at the same time I encouraged myself.  My husband was on board and I told myself that I'd stay home with the children while he represented us with my teenagers.  Then it became impossible for him to go due to a work conflict.  He is on call this month and would have to go in each morning over the Thanksgiving break.  We would need at least one of our teens to stay home with the younger girls while he went in, but the door was still open for me.  Then I saw an email asking for food helpers to volunteer.  All those volunteers would need to eat and they needed kitchen help.  I'm a kitchen helper! My youngest son has a willing heart and is a good worker.  I signed us both up.  I'm so glad I did.  Part of me did wish that I'd been a work crew person working directly with home owners.  Dealing directly with the storm victims was a humbling and wonderful part.  Another part of me was glad I hadn't signed up for that kind of duty when we showed up and smelled the sulphuric backed up sewage smell in the air.  I can't imagine what those poor people must feel like.  It could have been us unflooding our basement instead of them.  Mother nature makes that decision.

So we provided meals for the volunteers and for anyone else passing by who seemed to need food.  We talked to police officers and locals walking by, we walked down to the ocean to see the distruction, we looked into faces and tried to think of encouraging things to say.  One group of boys kept hanging around wanting food and they were told by the missionaries to put on yellow vests with us and collect trash in the streets for 30 minutes to earn a lunch.  We would have just given it to them, but perhaps the local missionaries knew them.  They were the cutest kids and were so proud of the 5 bags of trash they collected that they posed for photos.  Construction workers came by and took food, some polite, some not.  Overall it was a great experience that I would jump to do again.  My husband may go up next weekend if he can work out his work schedule.  I feel different upon my return.  More patient, more thankful, more loving.  However temporary this shot in the arm is I will take it.  I can't think of a better was to spend our Thanksgiving weekend than by showing thanks through giving.  The day after traditions will have to wait until next week.

These were the cute local trash collectors

My Little Boy and half a house

These dingy mini flags were in all the yards

A collection of shovels

Beach front property is no longer a priority for me

My boy and me

He was such a solid worker.  Never complained once.

November 14, 2012

Fun To Do To Do To Do

This morning there has been a malfunction with my Iphone. (the second self induced one this week!)  While updating the calendar I remembered something I wanted to be reminded of and went over to my list to add it.  I accidentally clicked on something new and must have done something wrong.  Suddenly all of the reminders I have ever put in there came back into the 'to do' section.  I figured that when I had checked that box on the left that they were forever gone.  Not so, and now I had retrieved them.  Now I had created a monster 'to do' list and a new 'to do'... delete all the old finished tasks from the past 367 days.  As I read over them memories of  cutting out snowflakes for a birthday party or getting ready for an anniversary vacation came flooding back.  One of my children is now away at school and I saw all the violin concerts and orthodontist appointments I had reminded myself to do on his behalf.  A tug on my heart strings.

Then another thought of how here was actual proof of all the things a mother does on a day to day basis for her loved ones.  I should read it to the next sassy teen who tells me I don't do anything around here.  Oh yeah?  I don't do anything?  Take a look at the long list on my iphone!  I bet you can't even sit still long enough to read them all! That doesn't even cover half of all the stuff I do for you kids!  Oh the stench of ingratitude.

Then another thought.  This is the stuff life is made up of.  Without it we would just be sitting there staring at walls all day.  It would be miserable right?  And some day when I have less kids to shuttle around, and feed, and throw parties for, I will miss this to do list.  Sometimes the things we think are bogging us down are what define us.  So we should really be filling it with good stuff.  Instead of resenting all the sign up sheets that go around we should be first in line to offer our time and talents.  I was glad to see that some of the things on my list were 'making dinner for Tiffany', 'volunteering at the school', 'muffins for the homeless shelter',  or 'bring strawberries to the RS meeting'.  Plenty were mundane like 'buy stamps' or 'pay speeding ticket'  but those things are part of what makes this family go right?  And without me who would buy the milk?  My wish is that I will be able to find reverence for those mundane activities as well, and that someday when my kids are in charge of their own to do lists that they will turn around and respectfully thank me for checking off that list when they were that person that needed that thing done for them.

PS lets blame that 'to do' list for my lack of blogging for the past month shall we?

September 15, 2012

The Eagle has Landed

No my title has nothing to do with the president touching ground in Air Force One.  In fact I intend to avoid everything political on this blog because I am so friggin' sick of politics at this point I could puke.    Instead my title refers to my eagle scout son who recently had his night in the sun (except being at night you could technically say his night in the moonlight) at his eagle court of honor and then we swiftly took him off to college where he landed safely in his apartment and then pretty much told us to scoot.

Big Boy's court of honor should really have happened like a month before but we like to procrastinate around here I guess.  Trying to get all that done just before leaving was a note I will make to myself not to repeat with boy's 2 and 3.  He didn't really want the court of honor, but I felt it was something good to do for the younger boys in the troop to look up to.  We had a nifty cub scout display and I made an effort to invite those families with cub scout aged boys.  We got many positive remarks, especially over the white chocolate dipped Oreos with the trefoil scout emblems on them (60 was not enough)... Anyways I will spare you any more of the details but would like to say that I wish we could have had more involvement from the Eagle himself when planning this.  Not wanting it done he simply told me that I could do whatever and not to involve him.  When he started hearing whisperings about a slide show he sat me down for a talk.  He wanted to know what songs I'd chosen, what kind of photos were in there, etc.  Suddenly he was super interested.  I should have just sat him down and showed it to him but I feared that he would over-ride too much if it and make me have to start from scratch.  Instead he saw a glimpse of it while we were setting it up and had his melt down right then and there 10 min before we were to start the event.  Nice.  Troy somehow pulled off a miracle and replaced the 3-4 slides that most upset him ("I have a cold sore in that one!"  "I'm pulling a stupid face there!"), without messing up the timing too much.  I'm sorry, but if you want a photo of Big Boy where he's NOT pulling a silly face then you will be looking through a lot of silly faced photos to find a normal one.  I dare you to try and put together a slide show of BB without the silly showing through.  Not possible.  Here is one slide he didn't mind.  A Big Boy cartoon character drawn by his cousin....  

Awesome no?  Thanks Jarom!

So 4 days later we were on a plane to SLC and then a short visit with T's parents there before our 3.5hr drive to Rexburg.  On our way we stopped at a thrift store, a dollar store and a Walmart outside of town where it wouldn't be so crowded. We were like sleepy zombies walking down the isles trying to figure out what he would need.  We stopped when the rental car would hold no more.  We checked into the hotel and as BB was brushing his teeth he actually asked me, in all seriousness, if I could send him new toothbrushes when he texted me.  I logically answered that it would take several days for a toothbrush to get to him.  He graciously told me he could give me a few day's notice before his current toothbrush needed replacing.  I worried that this request meant he was not really ready for the real world.  And also that there was no time like the present for him to be pushed out of the nest.

By the time we left him we were ready to go and he was ready for us to go.  His manners where not the best and T and I were pretty upset as we drove back to Salt Lake.  This sense of entitlement and ingratitude made us feel like failures as parents.  It made saying good-bye fairly easy though I must say.  Then we had a bit of an ah ha moment on our long drive back.  He is a good kid.  He's making good choices.  He is where he needs to be.  He isn't perfect but neither are we.  We thought of some kids we know who are in much worse places right now than our son, and suddenly thought that perhaps we were the ungrateful ones.

On the ride to the airport I started thinking about my boy.  He must be getting ready for church.  Who would be waking him?  Would he find his cufflinks?  He might not find the iron, or matching socks.  Suddenly the tears started coming.  I'd been so strong up to this point.  Walking onto the plane- another mystery melt down.  I don't even know what I was thinking about at that point to bring it on.  The other passengers must have thought I was completely nuts.

At home without him there is an invisible hole where he used to be, and way too many cheese sticks in the fridge.  Being the oldest child, he had the tendency to always make his presence known.  It's quiet even though there are 4 kids left.  Weird.  I think it's going to be okay though.  Sniff.

August 28, 2012


Lately I have been so busy it's driving me crazy.  My house is a wreck and that always makes me edgy.  If I can't find stuff because of clutter I find that stressful beyond stressful.  Recently I have been asked to produce my kid's immunization records and due to a new purse purchase things have been moved around and relocated and now the records that I ALWAYS carry with me are lost.  I'm sure I have put them in a very safe place that I can't recall at the moment, but I think I may have to call in a hypnotist or something to recall where I safely put them away.  Nesting and purging hasn't produced them yet.  Today I tackle the playroom/office.  Say an extra prayer for me will ya?

I'm battling sinusitis again.  One germ comes through this house and most of the family ends up getting the sniffles and they are done in a few days. But for me, it ends in week long headaches and sleeplessness.  The added stress of getting a son ready for college has also been taking it's toll.  Throw in an eagle court of honor, a brother with re-occurring cancer, the recent death of a friend, and sinusitis and you've got quite the stress cocktail there!

I've been grinding my teeth and dreaming weird dreams.  School couldn't have started at a better time for me. It was yesterday! Yet each day I look at my to-do list and think "well- what am I going to be able to do here because I sure can't conquer it all."  I'm looking forward to one golden day soon that comes up on the calendar where nothing has to be done.  Where I can just think up something I want to do and do it!  We really need a new couch downstairs and we are in a position to purchase one too.  Like that doesn't happen too often right? But we have no time to shop for one.  Now that is sad.  Do I have you all feeling sorry for me yet?

I need to remember all the things I am blessed with and change my tune here.  I am typing with a migraine right now though so that makes it hard.

I am grateful that Little Girl went off to Kindergarten without much more than a nervous hand squeeze.  Today was day #2 and usually I would be back on the black top with her waving good-byes but my headache prevented that.  She was golden though with her big sister guardian taking her to her place in line for me.  I am so lucky to have Big Girl as my assistant.  She made her sister breakfast and labelled her T-shirt that had to be sent in with Little Girl's name in the tag with a sharpie.  So capable!
4th Grader and Kindergarten Baby
Sweet Sisters

Glad that Middle Boy has stopped complaining about cross country.  The team started practicing a couple weeks ago and getting him to go has been a struggle.  That boy likes things to come easily for him and when life just isn't like that he turns his back on life.  It's hard to see him like that.  But he's getting stronger and even ran faster then a usually faster friend of his yesterday.  That put a proud smirk on his face.  Little successes in life are sometimes the sweetest.

Happy that Big Boy has been less contentious as of late.  He and I are still learning how to navigate rough waters together.  He hates to be nagged by me but when there is A, B, C, D, and E to get done someone has to tell him about it.  As I am learning to let go more though, he seems to be coming around on some stuff on his own.  Weird how that happened the other day with Winter shoes.  He was convinced that he only needed his vans for Winters in Rexburg.  Would not be convinced otherwise.  My whisperings I'd heard before of having the "faith to let him fail" kept coming back to me.  I stopped arguing with him and told him it was his choice and I meant it.  A few hours later he came to his Dad and said he'd be taking his hiking shoes with tread and weatherproofing with him.  Now I ask you?  Why did he have to go to his Father and not me?  That would have been a sweet moment for me.  Oh well, can't win them all.
Big Boy's not above falling asleep on car rides

Little Boy continues to be a delight.  I am suspicious of him turning on me at any minute but will just enjoy him until then.

Well that is more than enough rambling on the blog.  I will go and do what I need to do- in spite of how I feel today.  Because that is just what we mothers do right?  Hope you are all well out there in the blogosphere.

July 20, 2012

Adventures in Utah

I am in the beehive state.  I needed dental work and have loss trust in my Maryland dentist so we decided to work in a family vacation around a gold crown on number 15.  It has been so great to connect with my many relatives here.  We also timed this so that I could possibly be here for the birth of my sister's baby.  She had it yesterday- Yeah!  I get to go down to Provo and meet him in about an hour.  I wisely decided to let the kids get some much needed rest this morning instead of waking them early to go go go as we have done done done all week week week.  My hint that this was needed was that my Big Girl said to me last night, "can we just have a day at Grandma's where we don't leave and we have nothing to do all day?"  Sounds boring to me but they just can't get enough of the suitcase full of old marbles and laundry scoopers she keeps for sorting.  Who needs LaGoon (a Utah amusement park) when you have a bunch of marbles?

Today our zoo plans have been changed to sleeping in and then going to see a new baby.  That sounds like a good swap.  Here's what we have done so far for anyone who's taking notes (and btw for all you stalkers who may be up to no good, my husband and two oldest boys are now home in Maryland so don't even think about home invasion).  What we've done in Utah (list style because details would only bore): LaGoon (disappointed in the lack of street shoot-outs in Pioneer Village but otherwise awesome).  A family reunion in the park with a 6 mile hike up the mountains and plenty of karaoke, paper airplane contests, ice-blocking and rain.  Get together with old friends from medical school days (twice! Meaning we met up with two different sets of friends).  This was a real highlight for me.  A family ice cream social with T's family-fun and fattening,  A visit to Utah lake where both boys got up on a wake board my husband skiied like a 20 yr old, I gave up on abusing my body trying to get up, and Little Boy's sunscreen failed him miserably.  That boy got an A for not giving up even when the life jacket was rubbing his poor armpits into abrasion status.  He was an inspiration to me.  Looking back I realized I forgot to use my old super duper gripping position that stops the handle from snapping out of my hands.  Next time for sure!  I better also keep doing my push-ups in cage fitness class.  There is still a Saturday left if I can corner my niece with a nice boat and bribe her somehow to take us inexperienced Easterners out on that filthy green lake of glass.  I'm afraid if Middle Boy hears that we went out again he without him he will be furious.  We also went swimming at a nice pool with water slides but way too many kids yesterday.  Afterwards we sampled the Utah Cafe Rio and made comparisons to the Olney one where we live.  About the same but with a whiter staff, tons more screaming kids, and a higher sneeze guard.  Then we went to the Iceburg malt shop and gorged on ice cream to the point of throwing the extra away.  Never had that happen before but we were without 3 of our best finishers.  All in all it's been busy but so fun.  I think I have T convinced that we need to do this annually.  We just need to plan for it. 

I was a bit worried because we left our oldest home alone for a week.  He showed all sorts of creativity when he ran out of gas money by filling his tank with our lawn mowing tanks.  Not surprisingly the lawn didn't get mowed.  But hey, at least the dog was alive upon T's return so that's saying something.  Maybe he will learn next time to not buy 10.00 headphones (when you only have 20.00 gas money) on his lunch hour at work just because he forgot his at home.  KIDS! 

June 29, 2012

Judge Not

I'll never forget the time I was visiting teaching CD and a phone call came from home.  Little Boy was upset.  The reason?  Oh no biggie, just that his two older brother's were about to kill one another.  "They are punching each other really hard Mom!"

I was in the middle of my spiritual thought, but after hanging up I was bluntly honest with CD.  I have little to no filter and was not really thinking too quickly on my feet when I said to her "I'm afraid we will have to cut this visit short today as my son's are in a fist fight at home right now."  She was ever so kind but I couldn't help but think she must be judging me right now.  How embarrassing!

I came home to find tempers raging and a black eye brewing on Middle Boy's face, and a few different versions of what happened being explained.  Sigh!

About a year later I was no longer CD's VT (visiting teacher), but our friendship had deepened.  She confided in me one day that her favorite visiting teaching moment with me was the time I had to leave to split up the fighting at home.  Wow, my messages must have really been unimpressive I thought.  She explained further.  That day she felt that I was not the perfect mother she had envisioned, and it made her feel relaxed I guess.  It made her feel all the more comfy with her position in parenthood.  Nobody's family is perfect.  She felt un-judged.

I've had people in my home before who I definitely felt judged by.  My step-Mom judged me unfairly for years.  Perhaps that is why whenever someone comes into my home and finds my house less than tidy I get upset.  Whenever we are getting ready for guests I feel my stress level begin to rise. If I get a surprise pop in from a visitor, instead of dropping everything and focusing on the visit, I am picking things up right and left.  Like they didn't have time to see it there already.  The impression of my dirty kitchen counter has already been seen, but I still wipe away like they caught me in the act of doing my chores for the day.  I have a distant relative who I have heard to be quoted as saying "I assume you came to see me and not look at the dirty house."  Wish I could adopt that attitude.

I was over to a friends home yesterday who was doing the exact same thing I do. Apologizing for the state of her kitchen and laundry and cleaning up in front of me.  I knew just how she felt.  So I started straightening right along with her, brushing toast crumbs off the counter into my hand and flinging them into the sink.  I wonder if that made her feel better or worse?  I hope better.  I meant well.

Sometimes it's better to show our imperfect side to others.  It gives us all a chance to let our hair down.  And let our black eyes show through.


June 25, 2012

Hot Enough?

So my retired Fox-network-watching father has a habit of calling me whenever there is extreme weather of any kind in my area.  I reside in the East while he is in the West but mother nature and the weatherman keep us connected.  In fact if we do get a bit of bad weather and he doesn't call I start to worry.  He'll be a day or two late sometimes with his phone call and when he finally does call I'll say "Dad, we had a tornado warning and I was so worried.... what's that?  No the tornado wasn't the bad thing, it was that you didn't call and I figured you must be out lying dead by the side of the road who knows where, because you didn't pick up the phone to tell me it was windy outside!"

We had a heat wave out here recently (our summer's first), and I was organizing my pantry when the phone rang.  It was Dad.  "Hey I just thought I'd call and tell you that you all are dropping like flies out there" he says.  "What would I do without you?  I'd never know when it was humid or hot or cold or windy or anything!  I never notice these things until the phone rings and you tell me.  Thanks Pop."  Then there was more conversation about the dry heat vs the humid heat.  Like I didn't know the difference.  It's really actually kinda enchanting that he cares enough to call and tell me it's hot outside where I live.  When a hurricane comes through he calls to ask if I have a generator for when I lose power.  We talk about horsepower and gasoline supply.  Then we usually run out of things to say (unless he decides to get political on me), and we hang up until the next bit of weather decides to happen.  

This past time he called I shared some of the troubles I have been having with my teen.  He shared some of his wisdom and we moved on to other topics until it was time to say goodbye.  I always know when he is finished with me.  It's always "well I"ll let you go" or sometimes a quick jab at Obama care and a swift good-bye.  He has to get his opinions in there but has learned not to start a fight with me, bless his heart.  He is now 83.  Who knows how many phone calls we have left.  Our entire family has scheduled a trip to Utah this summer and we can all see him in person.  I can just imagine feeling the altitude getting to me in the dry July heat as we hike and fly paper airplanes and sing our traditional camp song "Bill Grogan's Goat."

Big Boy is refusing to go with us.  I purposely didn't buy him a ticket because he was looking for a summer job and we weren't sure how flexible his job would be.  Turns out, the job he ended up with  has a flexible boss who would let him go if he wanted to, but he is a teenager who knows everything and isn't interested in pleasing Mom.  He has decided he "has to" stay here and earn money for college/mission.  I am done arguing with him and think that perhaps a break from family for him right now might be best.  We need a dog walker anyways.  Maybe after a week's absence from us he'll learn some appreciation for a few things we do for him around here.  Maybe he'll long for a call from Utah telling him how hot it is outside today.  I just hope he isn't missing out on a last chance to be in the same dry heat as his Grandpa.  He'll regret that all the way down to the fiery furnace below if that happens.

(Joking!  I really don't think my teenager is headed for Hell just for refusing to go on a family vacation with us- it's for all the other disrespectful stuff he does that he'll earn that walk of shame-  KIDDING again!!!)

June 14, 2012

Leaving my Nest

Recently we had some baby birds nesting in our front yard.  I noticed the Momma bird coming and going during the nesting stage and knew that we'd have chirping babies soon enough.  My husband did not know what he was doing when he chopped up the climbing vine that they had nested in.  He just thought he was doing yard work, not nearly decapitating newly hatched robins.  When he discovered the exposed birds he felt horrible.  We watched with anticipation to see if the Mother bird would continue feeding the birds after our human invasion.  She kept up the good work alright.  Now we had a front row seat to nature and every once in a while I would peek my head over their nest to see the upturned open beaks begging to be fed.  I would watch that busy mother delivering her worms and think "I know just how you feel, these kids never stop eating do they?"
Aren't they sweet?!

Then a week or so later we were witnesses to an exciting event.  Just as I drove into our driveway I turned and saw two baby birds on the edge of jumping out of the nest.  I had been taking baby bird photos so I thought it would be cool to catch this momentous event on camera for my facebook friends to see.  I sent my oldest out with my iphone.  As soon as he started to get close enough for a picture I regretted my request.  What if he got so close that he scared them to leap before they felt ready.  Maybe they weren't really about to leap but looking for the Mother bird who had been late delivering worms.  Or maybe it was just a leg stretching opportunity, not a real jump/fly day.  Sure enough, my worst fear happened and it appeared that bird number one, in an attempt to get away from my son's paparazzi photo shoot, jumped to get away from him.  My window was down and I heard myself shout "STOP! You are not ready yet!!"  The bird fell to the ground and started hobbling through the grass and right into the street just in time for the mother bird to come back.  I could interpret the chirps she was making to mean "I leave you for 2 minutes and look what trouble you get into!?"

My emotions about the whole thing surprised me.  I was really upset.  Beyond what I thought was appropriate for what had happened.  Tears went down my face as I tried to figure this reaction out. What were we humans doing to this poor bird family?!  First we sabotage their home then force them out of the nest prematurely.  Then we take photos for our viewing pleasure?!  I cried some more.  What was up with this reaction I thought?  Why did I seem to instinctively shout "NO!  It's not your time."  Then this photo shoot came to mind and it all made perfect sense.  

Thinking scholarly thoughts

What a stilly lookin hat

Glad to be outta dat building!

Happy Graduate!

Flying ahead of me already

My other graduate.  Her graduation fee was much less- thus the card-stock cap and lack of gown

May 15, 2012

Blog Tuesday

Today I am starting off the day with reading blogs, and writing a blog post.  I have allowed myself to be too involved in the land of blog before and recently I have been a nice break from the chains that bind me and make me read every blog I follow every time I sit down at the computer.  Moderation is good.  Real good.  But today is Tuesday and I feel like I have less going on on a Tuesday so I am officially making it blog Tuesday.  But as I type I have a request to make a lunch for someone for school, so you can see how well blog Tuesday is going so far.

Last night I had the rare opportunity of going to see a concert at the Kennedy Center.  I took my two sons who play violin to see Iszhak Perlman play.  We got a tip on some student-priced tickets from their violin teacher.  10.00 a ticket!  Can you believe that?  The subway ride down costs more.  I was amazed at that. I told my sons that they should not be wearing tennis shoes and jeans to see Iszhak Perlman at the Kennedy Center.  My older son can hardly be persuaded to do anything for me anymore.  He is so ready to be out on his own, and every day I am feeling those apron strings loosen a bit more and I like that freeing feeling.  I have a feeling that we will become closer when he is out of the nest.  So he left his jeans and tennis shoes on, and Little Boy put on church shoes and a polo shirt. . .  with his jeans.  It was classic.

A funny moment happened after we had taken in the view from the terrace at the Kennedy Center.  There was a large quote by JFK on the side of the building that we noticed while coming back into the hall of nations.  Then we looked left to see the over-sized bust of John F Kennedy.  Big Boy says "there are like JFK things all over this place!"  Then it dawned on him that we were at the "Kennedy" center!  We had a good laugh over that one.  So knowledgeable, yet so naive.

T told me a funny thing when I got home.  He said that they had played charades for family night and that he had to act out the words 'broken arm.'  He was doing his best to relay a painful radius/ulna when my 5yr old excitedly said "CANCER!  you have cancer!" So funny right?  My brother's cancer has been such a hot topic around here for a while now that she blurts out cancer during charades.  By the way, T does have basil cell carcinoma on his nose.  He goes in this month to have it removed.  We hope it won't be too disfiguring.  So she's right- he does have cancer, but not the bad kind.  I've had such bad luck in my family with cancer that I have to admit to some sleepless nights after he told me wondering where else the big 'C' might be lurking inside him.

On that happy note I will go make a pb and j for Big Girl's lunch.  I hope not to add anything carcinogenic...

May 13, 2012

A Poem for me from Little Boy

       Some Mothers are nice, and some Mothers are scary.
       Some Mothers are smooth, and some Mothers hairy.
       Mothers are there for healing our boo boos
       They cheer when we win win,
       They cry when we lose lose.
       Mothers tell us when to turn off our videos,
       They feed us good food like tacos and burritos
       Every person can mother if they just see a need,
       Any child can learn. Any woman can feed.
       Mother can help when we need her to drive,
       Without our Mothers, we would not be alive.
       My mother plays games like Scrabble and Uno
       She won’t admit to cheating but I know and you know.
       There is hope for our country if we value a Mother
       She is someone special, not like any other.
       When we need help, Mothers lend us a hand,
       Hip hip hooray, all Mothers are grand!

April 26, 2012

April Catch Up / Grooming

Well April has been quite a busy month in our household.  We started our spring break with a quick trip to Virginia Beach with the kids.  We hooked up with another military family from our ward and hung out with them for a couple days which was nice.  We went to Busch Gardens amusement park in Williamsburg Virginia.  Can I just say how much I love Mr Anheuser Busch for honoring military families by offering free admission to active duty members and their families once a year?  That's a 60.00 ticket x 7 for us.  Way to go Mr Busch, and not for your beer but for your generosity.  I salute you!  We will keep coming for as long as you're offering and probably beyond because we're hooked on your awesome roller coasters.
The Griffin- I totally went on it (screamed the entire time).
After that we quickly came home picked up cousin L at the airport and overloaded her with our 5 children while T and I went on a 20th anniversary trip to Pennsylvania.  She was the perfect girl for the job being both an elementary education teacher, a riverboat guide, and a certified EMT.  She didn't have to use her rafting skills as there are no rapids near our home, but she did to a lot of kid entertaining and she had to stop bleeding for at least one of my kids.  We are really indebted to her.  I'm sure I could not have done a better job.  More on Little Boy's loss of the pad on his right ring finger later.  It's a long story and this post is already a doozy.

T and I escaped to the Omni Resort Spa in Bedford Springs, PA which seemed like a great place to start.  We were super impressed with the vintage feel of the place and the beautiful surroundings.  I loved the facial I got and when I mentioned to the lady doing it that it was my anniversary I think it took about 20 minutes for the chocolate dipped strawberries to arrive in our room accented by a chocolate ribbon with gold writing on it wishing us a "happy anniversary".
De Lish
In fact almost every time we'd leave the room another mystery visitor would leave us something like fresh water bottles and ice, or an HBO guide on a freshly made bed with the TV left on.  They must have an army of minions watching for when guests leave your room lending them an opportunity to offer another gesture of good will.  In the end we were a bit creeped out by it.  In one of their lobbies we did a very intricate baseball-themed puzzle made by a tricky puzzle artist.  We looked up the cost of such a puzzle since we had such fun putting it together.  Most of them were super expensive- like $1000.00!  The cheapest was about $200.00.  Crazy!  We took a photo instead.
Took us a couple hours!  The other guests were impressed.
We continued our trip with a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright home tours which were fascinating.  We spent a couple nights in Pittsburgh and went on a walking tour of the city in very windy weather.  We wanted to bike the Allegheny but found the weather uncooperative.  All in all it was a relaxing good time to be had.  Such a great way to celebrate our 20 years of happiness together.  Below we are in the sculpture garden at one of the house tours we took.
We are under arrest....(for loving)
The next 4 days were spent touring around DC with my niece L.  We had a great time.  Even though no laundry got done, we did discover an underground African American art museum and this lovely beaded VW at the Native American Museum.  If I live here 100 yrs I will never see it all in this city.
That's over 200 pounds of bead work done by 2 families.  It took like 9,000 hrs to complete!
The next week has been a blur of activities including: making pom poms for Big Girl's variety show yearbook photos, shopping for prom wear for Big Boy, getting him ready for his eagle board of review (crazy!), making cheesecakes for both the scout fund-raising spaghetti dinner and for a Mormon prom group date (that Big Boy wouldn't even make it to due the over-the-top board of review process).  I ask you, does it prove you are eagle-worthy material if you can stand up to a panel of grown-ups with a strange overboard affinity for scouting, grilling you like there's no tomorrow?  Some of them need to chat with Mr Miagi about balance...

Mr. Miyagi say:
“Lesson not just karate only.
Lesson for whole life.
Whole life have a balance.
Everything be better. Understand?
Go-Find Balance!”

I think many of them are doing a great job, but a fair number are way overdoing the whole scouting thing (in my humble opinion).  

Now I should really find some of that balance in my own life, because shortly after the prom I threw another big birthday party for my 13yr old.  It was an amazing-race-themed party and I overdid things a bit that day and threw out my back.  How I was wishing for a Mr Miyagi hand thunder-clapping heat massage that night!  Three days later I am feeling better thanks to a little help from our friend and seminary teacher who just happens to also be a chiropractor.  I'm still not 100% better but I will take the improvement.  
It's edible paper- isn't that amazing?
Yesterday was my actual anniversary and it was so great.  T took the day off and told me to wipe my calendar clean.  I'm so lucky to have him!  He let me sleep in and he took the kids to seminary.  He brought me home a lemon-filled donut (my fav) then took me to my favorite pancake house.  It was a lot of calories but I have been married a lot of years-so...  I got a huge bouquet of flowers, a card & some good lovin'. It was a great day!  
Its the biggest one he's ever given me.  The size of a small toddler really.

We went to a matinee movie I wanted to see.  It was Disney's Chimpanzee- (A frickin' mazing!)  Loved the photography, loved the story, cutest chimp ever.  The most surprising thing to find out was that they eat monkeys.  Yeah- monkeys eating monkeys (!).  Although, I just looked it up and Chimps don't have tails making them more like humans than monkeys.  Still... it seemed odd.  But the thing that struck home for me was the concept of grooming.   This was what I originally sat down to blog about, but just got caught up in all the details of catching up.  (If you have actually read this far I congratulate you.  Blame it on my friend Kathryn who left me a very flattering voicemail today telling me what a great writer I am on my blog.  Now I'm just all cocky and long-winded).  But back to the grooming....  The main chimp family you follow is headed up by an alpha male they have named Freddie.  In Freddie's group they do a lot of bonding through grooming.  When they groom they basically look through each other's fur for bugs, foliage, etc and remove such things for you.  It goes into details about why, saying that through grooming one another they trust each other more and it actually helps strengthen them as a group making them better fighters when defending their turf.  The rival group ends up losing a battle even though they have stronger males mostly due to their lack of trust (and not enough grooming?).  While I watched I thought of the turmoil in my own family.  Perhaps if we took more time to do caring service-related acts for each other then we'd be strengthened and win our fight against our biggest enemy these days- contention.  Today was one of the most contentious days.  I hate it when I have to break up physical fights between my boys.  It rarely happens but when it does I am sick for days and I start  thinking we need family therapy.  Possibly grooming therapy.  Yesterday when I came home from the movie I went up to the boy who has been seeming the heaviest of heart lately and gave him a proper chimpanzee greeting and started searching through his hair for bugs to eat.  It didn't help much I guess, because he was the one threatening his little brother for over an hour today, throwing his stuff out the window, etc.  I think that boy needs emotional grooming.  If only he'd accept.  I also had the thought that I need to be home when that boy comes through the door after school.  I was off playing with a friend today and didn't get back before they did.  This chimp needs his mom to hug him and ask about his day.  He needs grooming.  Don't we all?

March 30, 2012

Brick By Brick

Second day in a row and here I am typing out another post.  Miracles never cease.

Yesterday was a frustrating and unusually unlucky day.  I don't know who placed that black rain-cloud over my head but I hope they release it from it's duty today.  I've had a large amount of things on my plate lately.  Getting ready for two back to back trips, thinking up what I can do for T for our anniversary.  (No pressure there, it's just 20 years right?), visiting teaching (will I never learn to do it earlier in the month?), field trip volunteering, laundry, food, etc, etc.  On top of this I had play tickets for Little Girl and I at the Olney Theater.  Little Red Riding hood, one hour, just the 5 yr old and me.  It was her official 'date night' (only it was day). The date night where we take one kid at a time out on a date each weekend.  In a family my size it's pretty darn special and so she was requiring a smoothy from me afterwards.  But first I had to do major grocery shopping.  The play started at 10:00 am, so you can imagine my rush to the car from the grocery store at 9 something, making the decision not to take the food home before the play and betting that the chilly morning weather would protect my hamburger meat and low-fat milk.

I must have not been paying close enough attention to detail as I pressed forward to the van and noticed, too late, that a car was backing up right into my daughter.  Luckily the hasty man's windows were down a crack and despite his blue tooth conversation he was having he heard my screams.  He was obviously in a hurry too, parked askew in the handicapped spot, not displaying any handicap that I saw (except the inability to look behind you before bolting out of your parking spot).  He stopped just short of hitting her.  I felt an instant lump in my throat.  When I got safely to the other side of his car I stated in my firm voice "you just about ran over my 5 year old."  He heard me.  I was visibly shaken, and he did stop to apologize. I told him I appreciated his apology and then did my best not to have a crying breakdown in front of my daughter in the car.  I thought about all the 'things' on my mind that just about didn't matter one bit any more.  A seriously injured 5 year old is not what I wanted to get for T for our anniversary.

The rest of the days chaos included going to three places in search of smoothies, losing a cell phone, tripping up stairs and hurting my wrists, forgetting hash browns from the grocery store, getting a call from T insisting that we get the brakes on the van serviced before our trip in two days, about 5 loads of laundry, a toilet overflowing, spilled shampoo all over the bathroom floor, a ruined (new) roll of toilet paper caused by a non shower-curtain-closer, a broken lawn mower, a late night trip to Home Depot, and a fixed lawn mover, a very large and somewhat unexpected bill from our landscaper who refused repeatedly to give me a ball park figure (THAT's what we are now getting each other for our anniversary), a tick on the dog, guilt over not giving the dog her monthly frontline meds, judgmental stares from the vet receptionist, a call to my vet sister, and omelets for dinner.  One silver lining?  I got Little Boy to and from lacrosse practice on TIME!  No waiting in the car with his coach.  With all that was on my calendar and all that came up that day that is nothing short of amazing.  Another amazing thing was this awesome dixie up Wall of China that Little Girl made on the sly all by herself.  I'm so glad she was alive to do it! And so glad I got her those 200 Dixie cups at the store that day. And I'm pretty sure she did this one cup at a time just like I am going to get through all that I have to do today- one step at a time.  Looking very cautiously before I step.

Pretty Darn Amazing

March 29, 2012

Leaving the Nest

I have no idea what to write today but I need to get back into the blogging swing of things so here goes.  I read over some ancient blog posts of mine the other day.  Way back to when my family and I used to live in Korea in 2007.  It was fun to read over some of our adventures.  Like the time I snipped off my infants thumbs while clipping her nails in a post titled "First Blood" or the time my son was yelling at his new video game during a bus tour in down town Japan.  The lady said "here at this restaurant you can purchase a nice plate of food for around 15.00 American dollars" and he shouts out "WHAT?"  Good times.

I hope we are on our way to more good times this upcoming week. Today would be the last day of school before Spring Break.  It's a bit sad for me because it will be the last Spring Break where we are all together as a family.  Big Boy is heading off to college next fall (BYUI).  I am already thinking about how we are going to get a good family Christmas-card-photo of us this summer because. . . sniff. . . he will not be here in October when we usually get the thing done.  Do I even schedule a family photo shoot this year?  I need advice.  We are still a family without him right?  It's just another stage with one less.  So do we keep taking professional family photos just without my oldest? That is what seems logical to me, but sending out cards without my oldest duck seems wrong still.  Maybe it seems weird because he is still in the nest.

He is making my job of clipping the apron strings easier by occasionally being a big stinker.  Like last night when a new pair of much-needed dress shoes came in the mail.  I have to mail order shoes for him because of his size.  It's almost impossible to find a 7.5 in the men's section.  I tried my darndest to find the exact shoe he is currently wearing.  He's given me the go ahead before to just pick something for him, so that's what I did.  When I confessed and showed him a photo online of the Eccos I picked out, he took one fast glance from across the room and gave them a big thumbs down.  Seriously?  Does he know what a pain they will be to return?  They came yesterday and try as we might we couldn't even get him to try them on.  He sounds really particular I know, but I am convinced it's not that.  He just doesn't think he needs new ones and resents still being told by his Mommy what to do.  This turning 18 thing has been his license to turn his back even more on everything we offer or suggest.  Growing up is a painful process.  For all of us.

He usually buys his own casual clothes and we get the church stuff.  I told him last night that he would be getting his own this time.  Another cut of the apron string.  Maybe when he sees what a hassle it is he will appreciate my efforts more.  Maybe sometime in the distant future, and in a galaxy far far away.  Now I need to try not to look when he keeps wearing his old scuffed up hot messes to church.  He doesn't care in the least.  Should that make me happy?  It doesn't really.

And now I am off to take care of my other ducks.  Speaking of ducks take a look at this cute video.

March 24, 2012

Gettin' Old.

I know I am getting older.  I know  because I recently placed a bid on Ebay for a soup tureen and I got all excited.  I'm classy enough now to know several good soup recipes.  And I have officially decided that serving soup to my guests (when I have them) directly from the pot is beneath me.  Snotty?  Older?  Maybe both.  Mind you, it depends on the guests I'm serving soup to.  19 yr old missionaries who come over once a month may not even notice/appreciate a soup tureen.  So having them over may not warrant a soup transfer.

Another sign of my age is the fact that some of the quirky glass-decorative items I received for wedding presents are now starting to appeal to me (weird!).  We received a lot of platters that I scoffed at when I was 23.  I was just wishing that we could just afford a vacuum cleaner.  I have an entirely new relationship with all those platters now.  They come in so handy at birthdays or ward functions.  We are on our 3rd vacuum cleaner, and I'd prefer not to use it if possible (old).

We have a temporary satellite radio feature that came with my husband's new car.  It's called Sirius.  Serious!  The free trial period is about to expire and I have enjoyed it so.  The main thing I love is all the 80's music I get to listen to.  Why oh why did I not discover the 1st Wave station sooner?  It expires in less than a month and I am tempted to just sit out there and listen to the radio instead of cooking, cleaning and doing laundry.  I'd feel free as a bird just like I used to in my youth with my sony walkman plugged into my ears listening to one of my two cassette tapes: OMD crush or Aha Hunting High and Low.  I didn't have a care in the world.  We'd be on a family vacation and I wouldn't even mind all the driving.  I was busy memorizing the lyrics to a mixed tape my friend made me.  It's amazing how listening to that stuff can take me right back to those days of careless bliss.  Alphaville's Forever Young came on this morning as I drove back from dropping my daughter at school, and I felt forever young!

I guess that's what they say right?  You only as young as you feel.  My outside might be wrinkling but my inside feels the same.  I'm trying to be more active lately and I can feel myself getting stronger.  That is so appealing to a woman of my age.  Yet my knee keeps bothering me as a painful reminder of the truth.  Youth is wasted on the young is another saying.  Looking back I'd say that is somewhat true.  You don't appreciate your youth until you are on the downward slope.  Don't get me wrong.  I don't think I am old yet.  43 feels pretty good.  I'm just aware of an awakening of sorts as to what is important in life.  I'm on the brink of pushing my birdies out of the nest and it's a solemn thought provoking stage.

The other day I was dealing with my younger girls doing our morning ritual of getting ready for school.  My older daughter was dressed and I was dressing my younger one (something this 5 yr old can do but prefers my help with).  Big Girl said to me "Mommy, can you stop helping E and come pour me some cereal?"  When I asked E if she could dress herself the rest of the way she said "No" I then asked A if she could pour her own cereal (she can).  She claimed otherwise.  I had both kids reverting in age and ability both wanting a piece of me.  A frustrating feeling that most mothers can relate to.  I made a joke and said "You can't put on your shoes?  You can't pour Cheerios?  What is this Baby Camp?!"  I had two totally different reactions.  Little Girl laughed herself silly repeating "Baby Camp!?" over and over.  And Big Girl cried. . . like a baby.

February 29, 2012

Where There's a Will, There's a Way

T and I are about to celebrate 20 years of happy marriage together.  It's a good thing I didn't kill him after he didn't come back for 5 and a half hours on his bike the other day, or we wouldn't have made it to this milestone.  That, and I would have probably had to clean up a big mess.  I hate messes.

We had talked about the possibility of going on a cruise somewhere.  When you consider some of the deals out there a cruise seems pretty cost friendly.  However I do get carsick and I'd hate to spend our trip puking off the side of the ship.  Doesn't sound that sexy to me, and again -messy.  When the news hit of the recent cruise ship sinking, that settled it for us.  We wouldn't be doing a cruise.

Then there was the tiny issue of what to do with our kids while we were away.  Just a small hurdle really.  Our first thought was to call in T's parents.  But they are awaiting a mission call for our church right now and their availability was uncertain.  My parents are too old and tired.  I tried a sister, but no luck there either.  Her work schedule wouldn't allow it.  It was looking as if our 20 yr celebration may look like any other Friday night date.  Dinner and a movie.

Then I was hit with another idea of who to ask.  My niece!  She's perfect.  She's finished with school, between jobs, and home from and LDS mission.  She has a degree in elementary ed even!  You know, just in case my elementary school kid needs some help while she is here.  SO I asked and she agreed and she's coming here for ten days in April. Yeah!  And she knows how to use a GPS.  It's all you really need to know when watching my kids.  Because driving them around is all I do practically.

Now we needed to decided where to go.  T and I looked at several options and here is what we came up with. . .  Behold the Omni Resort in Bedford Springs, PA.  Rated as a top 10 resort spa by Travel and Leisure magazine.  Hot spring mineral water pools, messages, facials, outdoor fire pits with s'more kits, and deluxe cupcakes delivered to your room with cold milk!  I couldn't resist.

Then we plan on touring a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright homes.
Kentucky Knob House

Falling Water House
Next we head to Pittsburgh.  There's a bike tour that we plan on taking where I hope they rent a bicycle built for two since it's 22 miles.  You bike one way, turn in your bike and canoe back to your starting point.  I'm hoping for some great views and ice cream stops along the way!  What better way to say I love you and thanks for hanging in there with me for 20 years than a double bike, a canoe and ice cream stops?  And since I've recently lost 15 lbs I think I deserve a treat don't you?

We also plan to see the Andy Warhol museum.  His work fascinates me.  

And because T loves me he will pretend to enjoy the art museum I'm sure.  Much like he has compromised and put me first for our entire 20 years of married life together.  One of our mottos is "I'm first after you."

So it just goes to show that you should never give up on your dreams of spending your anniversary away from your kids doing stuff you enjoy together.  I'm sure we won't regret it.