Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas and Lucinda

We had such a nice Christmas. I always enjoy being home with my kids and they are always so well-behaved and sweet on Christmas day. We spent Christmas Eve with friends where we had Mexican food, reenacted the Nativity, and then sang the Messiah with laughter (at our ineptitude) and tears (at the beauty of the sentiments -- "Surely He hath borne our griefs" is so lovely). Then Santa came and -- oh, wait -- he didn't leave anything. The thing I ordered weeks ago hadn't come and when I finally got a hold of them a couple of days later, they said they weren't going to have it anytime soon. Were they going to tell me? I guess not. So finally on Monday morning I went out and bought the main Christmas present which was ----- Rock Band. Pros: the kids have been playing all together in one room happily for hours at a time; baby sits on his knees and bounces along to the beat. Cons: Lucy singing "Livin' on a Prayer" at dinner last night.

Lulu has been growing out her hair for years so that she could donate it to locks of love. Her hair grows slowly, but finally we took her in on Friday and her ponytail was 10 1/2 inches long! It would have been great to get a picture at the hair salon, but since my camera is apparently glued to the kitchen counter, I had to bring the hair home and then take it back later. She is also excited about her dangly earrings she got for Christmas. She got her ears pierced a couple of months ago and it was quite dramatic, as things in her life tend to be. She really wanted them pierced, I even had her wait a few weeks to be sure, she told everyone at school and church that she was doing it on a certain day, and then we get there and she starts screaming. I was kind of holding her down and telling them to just go ahead, but she was trying to get off the chair, and moving her head. The place where we were doing this is at the mall and they do it in a little window so the passerby can watch. As I am pinning her arms in place and trying to hold her head still I am sure that everyone walking by was thinking, "Why is that lady making her daughter get her ears pierced when she obviously doesn't want them pierced?" I don't really know. It didn't matter to me one way or another, but I knew she would regret it later if she had to go face everyone and nothing had happened. Finally it was over, but they made her sit in the chair for a while since she had been hyperventilating. I asked her if I did the right thing making her go ahead or should I have let her back out? She said she was so glad that I had not listened to her pleas to not do it. Then she laughed and said "Oh, that wasn't so bad." It wasn't??! Maybe for one of us.

"Lucy-locks" and Ibby got a trim, too.

Hats from Grandma Carolynn -- everyone has been wearing them for days! Baby found a candy cane and looks pretty pleased with himself! Not to mention all the cords and garland in this picture -- it is like an ad for how NOT to care for a baby. I think there is some broken glass and poisonous cleaning supplies right behind him.

Oh my aching back!

This is interesting for baby-wearing mommas -- mostly for Lisa.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Of Resolutions and Mottos

Last night for Family Home Evening we decided to write down our resolutions for the New Year. We sat down with pen and paper in hand and while most of us thoughtfully wrote down a few things, Charles added his customary flair and decided to see how many things he could write in three minutes. Ours are full of the usual things that we are always striving to do while his is filled with the extraordinary such as: get better aim on the toilet (he actually just wrote toilet, but he was in a hurry), eat 50 burritos, and write a book. Ibby was laughing so hard at his list that she decided she had better write down "Not laugh so hard" on her list. She had almost stopped breathing.

I have also wanted to have a family motto for quite some time so I brought that up last night and someone said that it should be, Be Quiet. One would think I say that a lot or something. I went along for a bit and suggested that we make a big banner for the wall that simply says "Shhhhhhhhh!" After a while I said that everyone ought to think about what our motto should be for a few days and then we will talk about it on Sunday. They all said, "I thought we already had a motto." What is it? Lucy said, "Give said the little stream." Huh? Where did that come from? And the older kids said, "Be Quiet." They then proceeded to compose a song, which was actually quite good, about being quiet and how we could sing it at every family event (they were singing quite loudly I might add). No. That motto is not what I had in mind. Ella looked at me and with perfect sincerity asked, "Is it just the wording that you don't like? But you want something along those same lines, right?" No. That is not at all what I would consider a good family motto. It does not even closely resemble what I was imagining. It is not even the third cousin twice removed of my vision. I was thinking of something with more gravity and resonance, something awe-inspiring, something enviable. Yes, I was thinking more in the direction of something that would make people stop and say, "Oh, my. Isn't that something! That is lovely. I wish I had thought of that. Mary, I hope you don't mind, but may I copy you and use that for my family motto?" And I would graciously bow, wave my hand, and reply, "But of course, of course." Perhaps if we write it pretty and put quotes around it. Oh -- and write it in latin. Maybe that will do.


You may all imitate our profundity if you would like. You don't even have to ask.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Ho, ho, ho!

A couple of weeks ago there was a man from the high council who spoke in our ward. He was talking about... well, I don't even remember what he was talking about, but suddenly from out of nowhere he says, "... when my 11 year old daughter found out that Santa Claus wasn't real..." and then went on like he hadn't just ruined Christmas!!! I gasped and looked at the bishop, wondering when he was going to get out his hook and yank that guy away from the microphone. I mean really! He let his daughter get to the ripe old age of 11, can't we let my five year old enjoy the magic for at least one more year? I looked around the congregation and saw loads of children. Did he not see them, too? What was he thinking? And then I looked around again, saw various blank faces, and realized that no one was even listening. Whew! That was close. However, not being completely assured that the false doctrine hadn't penetrated my daughter's brain, I was relieved to find out that Santa was coming to her class party. All the kids were taking turns and close to the end Ibby shyly walked up and sat on his lap. He asked what she wanted and she quietly said, "A stuffed animal." "What kind of stuffed animal?" "I want a duck." Well, this was the first I had had heard this, but I smiled as I realized how easily I could fulfill all of her dreams. How nice. When all the kids were finished, Santa looked at me and asked if the baby would like to sit on his lap. I said that I was quite sure that he really would not like that and then Santa proceeded to invite ME to sit on his lap. Umm. No thank you? I think I will just take the kids and slowly back away.

Merry Christmas Bedford Falls!

Monday, December 22, 2008


I have often wondered why people would want to live in Florida. Particularly when the weather gods seem to want to wipe it off of the face of the earth or when one experiences the horrible humidity firsthand, I think that people who choose to live there are a little bit loopy. I am here today to tell you that I take it all back. Oh Florida, you taunt me with your white sandy beaches and your 70˚ days, the palm trees swaying with the ocean breezes. Please forgive me. I am sure that you will with your warmhearted ways. The kids and I could jump in the car and be there by Wednesday. What is behind this change of tune? Can you say -10˚!?! It is quite chilly here. Last week we were walking from the parking lot to a building (and we got a good parking space!) and I thought the freezing rain pelting my face was going to kill me. I was outside for less than a minute! These moments always make me reflect on the Martin Handcart Company. How did they do it? This is not the first time I have thought about them. Last winter we went on a cruise. We had timed things down to the wire -- leave the house to get to the airport in Chicago to arrive in San Diego to leave the port on time. We didn't have much wiggle room so it was quite alarming to wake up to a horrible blizzard here. We normally wouldn't drive at all in such weather, but a cruise was on the line. So off we go, unable to see the roads at all and I am praying, praying, prayi... wait a minute! Is this really important? Oh, please help us get to the airport on time to make our flight that will take us across the country in two hours so that we can make it on our cruise to Mexico. We want to eat ice cream cones at any given moment and order cold soup and the cheese plate for dinner. We want to sit in the hot tub while listening to reggae, attend the midnight buffet, play bingo on the Lido Deck, and there are shows to attend every night! I am sure the members of the Martin Handcart company were praying. So I decided I needed to get some perspective and relax.

As you can see from the pictures, it is very icy here. Can you see the poor little birdies? Click on the photo for a closer look. It is sparkly and lovely and when the wind blows all the branches crinkle and crackle like thousands of tiny bells. Occasionally there is a louder rumble as a glacier slides off the roof generating momentary panic, but not enough to cause us to actually expose ourselves to the weather and investigate.

We are busy with the finishing touches of Christmas. We heard about some girls that just arrived with a foster family with no toys or clothes so the girls are busily engaged getting some things ready for them. We are also trying to get the record label all squared away for a few days so that we can take a break. We were cleaning some things out in the basement the other day and found about 80 addressed envelopes for orders from June!!! I looked them up and only four of them had written to us asking where their orders were. So we sent them out last week. Won't they be surprised? It will be like a little Christmas miracle and I feel honored to have been a part of it. Yep, we are running a tight ship around here.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Secret Life of Me

I have been looking for a white noise machine and there are a lot of options out there. I find myself in need of such a contraption because despite all of my best efforts to get the baby used to sleeping through noise and disruptions, he has gotten used to napping while the children are all gone during the week and then has a lot of trouble getting adequate rest on the weekend. I would love to be the kind of mother who would let things like this slide off her back, but the problem is that while I am trying to get the baby to sleep I make plans. I fantasize about all of the things that I am going to accomplish once the baby is down -- I will sweep the floors, I will fold laundry that will stay folded for more than a moment, I will clear the sink of dirty dishes, I will comb my hair, I may even brush my teeth! Oh, the possibilities! I quiver with excitement, yet sit patiently and enjoy the quiet nursing time. Okay, finally dozing off, get up carefully, lay baby down gently, cover with blanket, make it nice and cozy, tiptoe soundlessly across the room, close the door with a soft click. Whew! Made it out, scurry down the stairs, start on my list and -- oh, no! One of the children was acting like a child -- the horror! He is awake. He is standing in the crib wailing. All of my well-laid plans are dashed. And I am not happy. And I cannot have an entire Christmas break like this. I have similar problems in other areas of my life -- a fantasy life, as it were. I tried to learn how to knit a couple of years ago so that I could have busy hands during waiting times. My good friend graciously taught me a basic stitch and I was off. Three rows into it and I am Walter Mitty, envisioning all of the gorgeous blankets and scarves that I create for all of my friends and family. "Oh Mary," they gush, "these are so beautiful, warm, and soft! You shouldn't have!" Well, I didn't. The long, warped, mess that I created could hardly be considered a gift for anyone. Then I thought I would try my hand at writing songs. As I drove around town I would think of little melodies and words, but of course before anything worthwhile came out of my brain, I had already decided what I would wear for my album cover! I took a drawing class and I could just see my studio with canvases lined up along the wall, me covered with paint and filled with enthusiasm as I bring my latest masterpiece to life and I am happy! Finding a new outfit -- ta, pukkuta, pukkuta -- won't that look lovely and won't I be happy? Shopping for dinner -- I could make a gourmet feast and won't I be happy. Every time I go jogging -- ta, pukkuta, pukkuta -- thirty pounds lighter and won't I be happy! Sending a birth announcement, writing a Christmas letter, starting a blog... I could go on and on -- oops, too late, already did. So should I get the noise machine that is also a clock? This is not merely for my benefit. He is only eight months old and needs sleep for pity's sake!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

My Bouncing Baby Boy

My baby is being so funny lately. Yesterday he was playing with something and I was sitting a couple of feet away from him. I called out to him and he kept playing. Maybe he didn't realize I was trying to get his attention, so I call again, "Phin -e-as," I see the back of his cheek go up as he smiles, but keeps playing. "Phin! Look at me!" He starts to giggle and keeps laughing every time I call his name, but won't look at me. He is totally ignoring me! And thinks it is hilarious to boot! I must say that I find that fairly sophisticated humor and it is pretty cute when you're eight months old, but not when you're eight years old -- just a little reminder for the other four children who pretend I am not talking on a regular basis.

He also is always jumping up and down. When there is a beat of any kind he goes bounce, bounce, bounce. Sometimes for no reason at all bounce, bounce, bounce. When I am holding him legs go kick, kick, kick. At diaper changes kick, kick, kick. And it isn't just his legs it is his whole body from shoulder through the torso and deep bends in the knees. He is a little difficult to keep a hold of and not get my chin knocked, but he is quite adorable, if I do say so myself.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Serenity now...

I received a new calling at church, but I get to keep my old one as well. I have to wonder, am I not projecting my stress well enough? I need to do better! My friend commented that I seem patient so I decided to respond here so that the other two people who read my blog can benefit from the exchange. I had to laugh because a few other people recently said similar things -- that I seem like a peaceful person, that I have it together, that they cannot imagine me yelling at my kids, etc. I have no idea how I exude this tranquil air, but I assure you it is false and misleading. And almost every little thing causes me anxiety. Take paper for instance. It seems innocuous enough -- thin, flimsy, perhaps a pretty color -- but when you have it floating in through the mailbox and waltzing merrily into the house via children's backpacks pretty soon you have piles and piles of paper overtaking every available surface and it becomes like the rope made up of lots of tiny strings, you could have broken one, but together they are too strong and it can strangle you! So I have an overabundance of paper and some of them require careful consideration, but my overtaxed brain cannot discriminate between what is important and what is not. The papers I like the least come from school. They are always filled to the brim with commands (it is REQUIRED that your child has an eye exam, a dental exam, 50,000 inoculations, but we will not do it here, we are giving you an errand, you need to look up the dentist's phone number, make an appointment, remember to write it down, remember to go, take their piece of paper, have the dentist sign it, return it to the school or else your child will not get their grades-- don't get me wrong, I do take my kids to the dentist, but on my own schedule and my own volition because I can be trusted to be their parent despite what the state of Illinois may think!) or entreaties (please, please, please purchase this for our fundraiser from a company that uses children to sell their overpriced rubbish so that your kids can have 5 % for their school) when all I really like to see coming home are their beautiful Thanksgiving vests made of brown construction paper. It is a small percentage I assure you. Okay, now I don't even remember what I was initially talking about. Oh, being calm. I guess I reserve my tirades for the privacy of my own home. I assume most people are like that so I am always taken aback when I see women completely losing it in more public settings. I just shake my head judgmentally (inside, of course -- I don't want them turning on me!) If they are acting like that in the grocery store where one might be more naturally reserved, what must they be like in private? Let's give them the benefit of the doubt and say that they either get really tense while shopping and are unusually stern or they are exhibitionists and save their performances for all of us. I digress yet again. Perhaps it is time to wrap this up and tie it with a little bow (to keep it tightly confined, don't untie it or it may burst all over you, like every time I open the cupboard and things slide out and something heavy hits my pinky toe just right).
Candis has a new blog and website that look so fun! The silhouettes featured on her blog are of my girls so go check it out stat!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Out with the old, in with the new

My friend Amy is doing a giveaway! Go on over and enter at Mommy and Beyond.

Our friends came for Thanksgiving and we had so much fun! I have lots of wonderful memories, but the most lasting outcome of the visit was... Brock fixed my kitchen cupboard door!!! Yea!!! Thank you, thank you! It makes me happy every time I walk by, or sometimes I don't even notice it and then I remember that it used to be a broken, gaping hole, and anyone could see everything spilling out of it, and the baby was constantly crawling in there and wreaking havoc, and that that one cupboard made me yearn for an entirely new kitchen, etc. etc. and a feeling of peace and joy overcomes me because I didn't notice the cupboard for the first time in three months! And by notice I mean grit my teeth, clench my jaw, and scream inside -- I really despise open cupboards at the best of times, but generally one can just shut them with a flip of the wrist and feel better immediately. So, yes, that has made me happy and when I recover from the uncontainable delight it derived it will also bring tranquility.

My new frustration, because I needed a new one to replace the old one, is beautiful fake candles. We cannot seem to manage to put up Christmas lights. I really like tastefully done Christmas lights and would love to live in a house that had them, but it is beyond us. So I bought the candles that look really nice in all of the windows of a symmetrically laid out old house because I happen to live in one. I had about 18 of them with brand new batteries and they lasted approximately 10.5 hours. How completely nice! I see other people have them in their windows. I have tried this before, but thought I got the wrong kind. This time I spent a little more, but no. I will do some research and see if it is the light bulbs, the batteries, the whole candle, or just me!

Friday, November 21, 2008

"Nothing more than feelings!"

So the first point in my parenting book is to not deny your children's feelings. I thought, 'Oh, I don't do that. I let them feel everything to the max.' And then I started listening to myself. I am always telling them that they're not mad, they're not bored, they're ready for bed, they need to use the bathroom, stop crying, don't be frustrated, deny, deny, deny! That seems to be a primary goal of each day. I am trying to practice this week. Last night we went to a program at the girls' school. The baby was crawling on the wood floor of the gym, lost his balance, and face planted right into the floor. I quickly scooped him up, patted his back, and said, "You're okay, you're okay..." I suddenly broke off and thought, 'Wait, he is not okay. It is not okay to smack your face into the floor. How would I feel if that had happened to me?' So I suddenly switched gears and said, "Oh, that really hurts. Your face does not feel good. That hurts, that hurts." I need to learn an entirely new language!

Charles has a scout campout tonight and the low is going to be 15˚. He kept asking all afternoon if I had received any phone calls with cancellation news. Alas, no. I feel bad that he has to go, but if he complained to me my initial response would probably be, "You're not cold."

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Parent Trap

I am beginning to perceive that I seem to be in some sort of parenting crisis lately. I just finished reading "How To Talk So Kids Will Listen" and it was a wealth of knowledge and wisdom. I just love recognizing myself as the person in all of the bad examples -- especially when they are things that I was sure was the right thing. Like telling my kids that how they're doing something is wrong and showing them the right way to do it because if I don't do it, who will? Well, it hasn't really been working and lo and behold I am crushing their self-confidence right and left. The world is full of people who will tell them when they're not measuring up and I just need to confirm their rightness. It feels so much better. The other books on my shelf are "Raising Self-Reliant Children" and "Parenting with Love and Logic," and I just ordered "How to Talk so Kids Will Learn." For the most part I feel like we are a happy functioning family, but there are moments when my kids leave me completely baffled. I feel like I am getting a handle on younger kids and think I am a better mommy than I was a few years ago, but my poor oldest kids get a rookie mom every year. I have never had a 5, 10, 12, 14 year old! And on it goes. I just want them to grow up to be happy, healthy, and confident and I am afraid that instead of nurturing I chip away too often. I will try to do better and trust in God for the rest. I also want to really know my kids before they're off and away. My oldest will be gone in less than 4 years and I want her to want to come back! As I was chatting with my friend Julie this past weekend I found two more books that I went ahead and ordered -- "The People Code" and "Delivered from Distraction." They're on their way and I am confident that all of these tools will help me unlock the mysteries of motherhood and we will, of course, then go on to live happily ever after.

Oh, Julie it was funny that we were talking about the color code and then I was reading seriously so blessed (very funny blog, but occasionally a smidge over the line) and she was talking about how she is not a red. I was laughing because that is just what we were talking about - that reds never recognize themselves -- ha, ha, ha. But I am certainly not red.

Monday, November 17, 2008


It is Monday again -- kids off to school √ , laundry in washing machine √, renewed dedication to diet √, writing in blog √, reading all my friend's blogs √, round of word challenge √. I guess I need to make a list of all of the important things I should be doing.

We had a whirlwind weekend trip over to Nauvoo. It was really nice that the gas prices are so low!!! Can you believe it? Every time I pass the gas station I want to pull in and buy some and am disappointed when my tank is full. So it was a good time to go for a long drive. It is always crazy how much preparation is required to stay over one night. You might as well go for a week as for a day. I am sure our hosts were glad we didn't come for a week. We stayed the night at our friend's house. They were so hospitable and kind, we felt very welcome and comfortable. We knew the Stout's in Japan and it is so nice how easy it is to slip back into familiarity -- even the kids who had never really met! They all just woke up and started playing with no awkwardness. I love it! Matthew took all of the older kids to do baptisms and then he and I went to a session. It was really nice to go to the temple. I hadn't been since before the baby. It was lovely, calm, and peaceful. I always feel renewed -- until I lose my temper in the car on the way home. Oops! So THANK YOU Julie, Brock and fam! I appreciate you watching the kids, yummy food, good conversation, etc. etc. You have a beautiful home and family.

I got a new camera. It is always an agonizing process for me. I look on ebay for good deals, but inevitably miss the end of the auction. I search the web for the lowest price then my husband comes along and tells me the cheapest place also scams people. I eventually just went to a store in town which is just a little too simple for the way I operate. As I was researching what to get, Charles asked, "Were you going to buy a new camera before I was playing around with yours and the next time you picked it up it didn't turn on?" Actually, that is not exactly what he said. My reply was, "No I was not even considering getting a new camera!" But I can't miss baby moments and Charles seems to be changing as much as the baby is. He is suddenly so big and tall I am surprised he isn't in pain! So I have a new one and here is the inaugural pic and one from the car.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Serving With Smiles

My niece, Liz Jeffrey, has started an service organization for kids. I think it is a wonderful idea. You can check it out here.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Full-fledged autumn

There is a curious lightness about fall that I always forget about. It is kind of like when you rearrange the furniture in a room and it all looks fresh and unfamiliar. There were some very gusty days last week and it seemed like in one afternoon our trees turned yellow and dropped their millions of leaves. We do, as always, have one stubborn tree that likes to stay green until it snows. Every year we get to go out a try to rake the sodden (sodding!) mess so our grass won't die. My theory on why this particular tree is so late is that it is directly behind our dryer vent and since I do so much laundry I have created my own little micro-climate out there. Who knows. Back to light. I must say that by March I am quite tired of the bare sticks that are trees, but in November they are strangely lovely. Everything looks decluttered and simplified, the earth refashions itself in monochromatic grays and tans with a little of that dark autumn green thrown in, and the light in my house changes. My living room is filled with early afternoon sun that is blocked during the summer and there is a sunny spot on my landing that makes me want to curl up and take a nap -- oh where is my chaise lounge? So even though I hate to see the long, warm days come to an end, it is always nice to have a change, eat a warm dinner in a bright room surrounded by comforting darkness, and stock up on hot chocolate.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


Our internet modem went out sometime Tuesday night and I was completely unconnected to the outside world all day yesterday. I know! I actually survived, but it was strange to realize how dependent I am. I kept thinking of things I wanted to look up, or people I needed to e-mail and I couldn't. I did, however, get a lot of other things done. How strange is that? It has obviously been fixed now, thank goodness!

Also on Tuesday I went to download our pictures from Halloween and also take yet another adorable photo of my Phin doing something darling and my camera wouldn't turn on. Will the destruction and mayhem ever stop? I am tired of having to spend money on things I thought I already owned.

Monday, November 3, 2008


We have been incredibly busy for the last two weeks. We finally got the cd that we have been waiting for since June so there has been a lot of the packing, sealing, addressing, etc. going on. Last week we took about 7,000 domestic packages to the post office and my challenge this week is to get the huge amount of international orders out. Matthew has been overseeing all of that plus his tenure documentation was due last Friday. The kids didn't have school that day so I sent Lulu downstairs to get something (that's what I do when they're home -- secure their services), she came up and asked if there was something wrong with daddy. "I don't know," I replied, "what is he doing?" "He is walking around the basement saying 'Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh." 'Hmmm,' thought I, 'Perhaps we should vacate the premises.' So we left him to his stress and visited the annual box maze. This thing is amazing. A local church builds a huge maze out of boxes complete with slides, dead ends, etc. It is completely dark in there, but if you get really stuck someone will come along with a light to help you find your way. They relate it to the gospel of Christ and it is nice and fun. Then we got ready for Halloween and went to a friendly friend's house for dinner which was totally nice of them. It was all around a completely insane day.

Today is marvelously gorgeous outside -- the skies are the amazing bright blue of autumn which coordinates so nicely with the gold and vermilion leaves. And it is my absolute favorite temperature -- 68˚, what's yours?

seven months

I just think it is so cute when he is sitting back on
his chubby little knees -- I can hardly stand it!

Monday, October 27, 2008


Would anyone please like to tell me where October has gone? I usually put up decorations and the other day I thought, "Why didn't I put up my Halloween decorations yet? Oh, I didn't realize it was October!" And did I feel better after I answered my question? No, not really because obviously I have lost my mind! So the next question is, is it worth getting them out and putting them up now?

What I did not forget to do, however, is buy candy. Apparently, chocolate is critical and witches are not. I bought the nice big bag of chocolate yummies. On the front of the package, all of the candy bars get equal billing, but when you open the bag (which I would, of course, never do) there is a serious ratio inconsistency when it comes to Almond Joy! In fact, right at the moment, I think there are none at all in my bag. Spooky!

Friday, October 24, 2008


Matthew was rushing to print out some papers for his tenure documentation. As is his tradition, he was running a little behind schedule which caused a surplus of panic when the printer would. not. print. Of course. So we spent some time researching printers then proceeded to the store. Sales guy: "What kind of printer do you have now?" "How long have you had it?" Me: "We've only had it about eight years." SG: "Really? That long!!! That must be a really good printer to have lasted that long. I have to buy a new one every year or so." WHAT!!! When we bought our printer if felt like we were going all out. To have a real inkjet printer in our house that could print pictures and color, wow! It has had its moments of acting up, jamming, disobedience. It has required its fair share of expenses in the way of new ink. Just another member of our family. It cost enough that I thought it could keep on going, but apparently it was like 106 in printer years! The sales guy's comments did not instill confidence in me. Do I really want to buy Consumer Reports best printer ever if it isn't made to last? Why can't they make things that will last 20 years? This is my problem with vacuums, too. I was replacing one every two years until I finally spent some more money. Why make garbage? If it is disposable, then don't charge $200 for it. And don't sell it to me. I don't want it.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Oh no -- I forgot the camera!

This is a familiar refrain in my life. We went down to Champaign last weekend -- a beautiful autumn afternoon spent at an apple orchard and tooling through Amish towns. The little girls rode a pony for the first time, they traversed a bouncy obstacle course, everyone went through a maze, we saw my totally gorgeous niece, Miriam, and her family. Her boys are adorable and she is due to have a baby any minute. The kids all played great and we had a delightful visit. But will we remember these details to the extent that they deserve? No. Because we didn't have the camera. It is not documented. And we all know what a sieve our brains are. Unh uh, it is not good. This morning, Ella and Lucy went to their first sewing class. They did really well and had a great time with their lovely, fun, kind, and patient teacher, Sister Syndy. As Lucy threaded her first bobbin and sewed her first perfect stitches, I thought how nice it would have been to capture the moment with a photo. But no, no, no -- not happening. I have one picture of Lucy's baptism, and none -- zero! -- of the baby's blessing day. Of course, I had just given birth so maybe someone else should have thought about pictures!!! But I am not upset. Most of our photos are taken at home because that is where the camera is. If only the newfangled thing were a little more portable... Now wouldn't that be a wonderful idea!

About sewing class, I even learned a few things this morning. My mother and my sisters all sew and I don't know quite what happened with me. It seems like growing up you kind of had to figure things out yourself and I wasn't interested enough. (And that is how I treat my kids, not showing them how to do things because no one ever showed me, but that is a completely different subject...) I have had bouts of sewing mania, but they are always accompanied by copious amounts of frustration with tangled threads, missed cuts, burned fabric, and general brain malfunctions. I sat in the room with them while they sewed and started getting excited about sewing again. I have three unfinished quilt tops in my attic, some fabric for curtains in the closet, and more fabric just lying around waiting for inspiration to hit. My last project was five years ago when I made a slipcover for my couch. It was nice at first, but didn't last. And it wasn't fun to make. Perhaps it just isn't my thing, but I hope not.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Ten Things I've Learned From My Babies for 10/10

1. Smile -- when you smile at people they will usually smile back and you've brightened their day.
2. Get enough sleep -- or you will be peevish
3. Try new things -- you'll never know if you can do it if you don't try
4. Don't give up -- everything takes a little bit of practice
5. Be delighted by simple things -- a chattering squirrel; the movement of a cat's tail
6. When someone pats your back, reciprocate and pat theirs
7. Love yourself -- look in the mirror and smile; be amazed at what your hands can do!
8. Sparkly things are fab
9. Tolerate peculiarity -- a nonjudgemental blank stare will usually suffice (this is generally reserved for older siblings and when mommy is dancing)
10. Listen to your body -- eat when you're hungry, stop when you're full, sleep when you're tired...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

As much as I may seem to be a honking professional (see previous post), I sadly am not. Yesterday I saw one of my students and her husband on the street so I got all excited and started waving and wanted to honk to get her attention, but it didn't work. I kept pressing the steering wheel and waving and driving, then finally when I was past her the horn sounded and I could see her in my rearview mirror looking around wondering who on Earth was honking at her. Did not go well. And then other times I simply touch the steering wheel lightly and will honk accidentally and then I have to smile and look super friendly so people won't think I am one of those overbearing people who think they are better than everyone.

Speaking of being better than everyone, why can't people drive while they are talking on the phone? Inevitably when I see people whose driving leaves something to be desired I observe that they are often talking on their phones! They don't notice the light has changed, they can't turn normally, they are being irritating in a general way... I, on the other hand, can drive perfectly well while I am on the phone and it is my time of choice for catching up on all of my calls. After all, I am just sitting there, and it usually, but not always, distracts me from becoming too annoyed with everyone else around me.

And speaking of being distracted, my friend found me on Facebook the other day and I didn't even know I was signed up! I don't know how she found me because I pride myself on being un-findable, what with my anonymous name and everything. I thought she was just being friendly and e-mailing me to be her friend so I decided to mosey on over there and they wouldn't let me sign up because there already was someone with my e-mail. Hmmm. So I worked really hard at finding what my password would be and realized that this had all transpired in July when I was looking for a new cell phone and had taken a cell phone quiz on Facebook. I know, pretty boring really, but there you go, my life really isn't that interesting, I am merely commenting on it.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


The dangers of not having a cupboard door! I found a very busy boy after turning around for one second! And no those are not virtual smudges on your computer screen, just real ones in my kitchen. It's shibui, ne?  The last eggplants from our garden -- we made the yummy eggplant casserole (recipe link on sidebar) and everyone loved it!

Monday, October 6, 2008

conference, ice skating

We had a wonderful weekend and for once managed to watch all the sessions of conference. I loved so much of it -- especially Elder Eyring and Elder Holland, and of course, Pres. Monson. There were so many good things and I always vow to do better, but then we couldn't even quite make it through dinner without contention -- wait, we couldn't even get through most of the talks without something going on. We were giving the kids candy for answering questions and being reverent, how's that for choosing the better part? The little girls played quietly and were serving us pretend tea and cakes, drawing, and playing with barbies. Ella worked on friendship bracelets. Baby was delightful to watch as he would go back and forth from one person to another making funny noises and perfecting crawling over legs. Charles was having a little harder time -- wanting to draw, but instead throwing pens at people's heads; wanting to hand out candy, but instead throwing candy at people's heads; wanting to play with cars, but instead... There was definitely a theme in his activities. We also had the inspired idea to put together the incomparable "Cansolidator" that I bought for our food storage, but that wasn't conducive for listening very well so we put it off for the breaks and I just have to say that it was as much fun as those things usually turn out to be. It still isn't quite finished.

I took the girls and baby ice skating while the boys went to the priesthood session Saturday night. They did so well! The little girls had never been and both did great. Lucy has roller blades so that obviously helped a lot. Ibby came in and out, but seemed to enjoy herself. I sat under the heater and chatted with some friends so we all won.

My mom turned 75 yesterday (she doesn't even dye her hair!) and I tried not to think too much about everyone having a party without me. I really miss being close to my family at times like that. It seemed even worse yesterday because I always want to get together with family on Conference weekend anyway. I think my parents are amazing. Everyone is always surprised when I tell them their ages. When asked what my mom would like to be doing in ten years she said that she hoped she wouldn't be here, but I really hope she is. You're still going strong, mom! I love you and Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Indiscriminate thoughts...

Hurrah, our new washing machine was delivered this morning! It is very shiny and sparkly and I cannot wait to use it. I have been pondering which items in my house I want to wash first. I guess it should be my workout clothes which I am still wearing hours later. I ran on the treadmill this morning and it is never easy to get myself going. I think I have been running for so long and then I look, what four minutes? And I have burned 25 calories? That must be about one cheerio! I guess I'll keep going. I try to see how long I can go without looking at the time, don't look, don't look! Oh, I have to look, 25 more seconds have passed... Buying things always leads to needing (okay, not needing, thinking you need) more things because I really need a fan and a flat screen t.v. down there to help pass the time. Not going to happen.

Our library was waiving everyone's fines during September so I thought I had better hightail it over there since the summertime was bad in that department. Five people checking out piles of books on a regular basis -- there were bound to be some casualties. I went yesterday and I checked out "1776" and sat down in the afternoon to read while I nursed. Oh, that must be why I haven't been reading much!!! That baby reached behind him with his chubby little fingers waving back and forth to scrunch, grab, rip, snatch, yank, bend, etc. I think I should get large print and lay it on the couch next to me, hmmm. I am reading that particular book for our book club this month. By default, I am the leader of our little band so I decided I should try to drum up some more members by making a little sign (which is really too grand a word for what it is) for a bulletin board in the church hallway. Now this sheet of paper is not fancy, it is plain white with black lettering. I did, however, use two different fonts and I managed to pick out books through the month of May. This is an unprecedented show of forethought on my part as well as follow through with actually getting the piece of paper to church. I felt a lot like Elder Uchtdorf. He said that his wife is a wonderful cook and always finds something wrong with the meals she prepares, but since he doesn't cook much he is very proud of anything that he can concoct. I am so mediocre at so many things that I can be terribly proud of even the smallest of accomplishments.

We have an alley behind our house. It is very narrow, but everyone uses it to go out to the street. Sometimes people have to cooperate and pull in someone's driveway to let someone pass, etc. I had pulled out and saw a car coming so I turned into another driveway. It was awkward and I accidentally hit the horn. I hoped my neighbor wouldn't think I was mad at her and she didn't look over as she passed. I pulled back out and then saw that she had a backpack on the roof of her car. I started honking over and over, but she didn't stop. Then I saw it fall off, so I honked again and then jumped out of my car, picked up the pack, and then started to run down the alley yelling and waving it in the air. She never acknowledged me, but must have thought I was psycho for repeatedly honking at her. I then looked over and my neighbor's father who had just arrived from Hungary that morning was staring at me. It figures that I would have witnesses, crazy american! Not twenty minutes later I saw a car pass me on another street that had a pair of shoes on the top of their car. I started honking again, but then just stopped because I have learned that such things are useless and simply lead to misunderstandings regarding ones mental health.

Monday, September 29, 2008


I really like to read, but lately I haven't been able to indulge as much as I would like. There is always so much to do! Last year at this time I was going through books like wildfire, but I was pregnant. So I wonder how much I was accomplishing around the house because not only was I generally recumbent, I was moving in slow motion while upright. Now I feel like I am manic all day and still nothing is getting done. The moral? I don't know, but it doesn't look good for efficiency. I have a very long list of books that I would like to read and perhaps I might start a sidebar in their honor -- mostly to help me remember them. My sister (and other friends, but I am afraid she is the winner) sends me her reviews from Goodreads and I always want to read all the books she recommends.

Last Friday I went to Goodwill for the first time in months. For me that is truly astonishing. I have often driven by and made myself turn the other way because I do not have the time, the money, nor the space which is required. I had to drop some things off (see, I am getting rid of things!) so I thought I would just run in for a minute because I needed to find a coat for the baby. Oh, I found so many great things. I bought two nice skirts that Ella and I wore to church yesterday, some Halloween costumes, and the best thing was that just as I was remembering the coat and visualizing it in my mind, I turned around and there it was -- innocently hanging there as if waiting just for me. It is totally hip and even has fluff around the hood. Cool.

We have been suffering through a lingering cold at our house. It isn't horrible, but enough to make one feel lethargic, achy, out of sorts, and my worst symptom of all -- I cannot taste! I hate it. There were a couple of days when I couldn't taste anything and I didn't really want to eat. I came to the realization that I do not eat merely for nutrition -- to stay alive for heaven's sake. No, I just want to relish the magnificent flavors of delicious food. Mmmm. I think that if I lost that sense I would try to find some foods that were highly nutritious, low calorie, and texturally interesting. But it would be a terrible loss. I would deeply lament one of life's greatest pleasures. On Friday I went to a friend's house and everyone had brought appetizers to share. I thought I would be fine not eating anything, but everything looked so delectable. Finally, I asked her if I could take some Sudafed and sure enough in 30 minutes I could taste and it was so wonderful! I just tried not to think about the fact that Sudafed dries up my milk whilst drying out other things. "He won't get much milk if I don't eat anything either." I rationalized quietly to myself.

I was given another chance to overeat on tasty little tidbits at the dessert buffet sponsored by our Relief Society preceding the Women's General Broadcast. I tried to watch my intake all day and then make reasonably good choices while there ("I won't take some of the carrot cake," I think self-righteously as I surreptitiously grab a brownie, a raspberry topped cookie, some puppy chow, and some apple crisp, hoping my sanctimonious self won't notice the relapse). I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with everyone and then loved, loved, loved the messages given. Sister Beck reminded me that I do have faith and strength and everything will be okay. Elder Uchtdorf assuaged my guilty feelings at leaving my family for my art class by insisting that all of us deep down yearn to be creative. It always astounds me that at Conference they are talking to me. Little old me! There was so much discussed that I have been pondering lately! I cannot wait for this coming weekend and hope that we can all be mellow and enjoy it. Usually, almost always, without fail, we all get grumpy with one another. Is it -- Satan? (said like church lady, bien sur).

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Well, we do need to get a new washing machine. Um, yea? So I have spent the better part of the week researching as is my wont prior to a large purchase. I think we have decided what we want, but no one in town seems to carry it. We will have to order. In the meantime, my old one is chugging along, albeit not with its former exuberance. Baby is in scratchy paper for the moment. He is sleeping right now. I love when he naps, but it also freaks me out. I'll think, "Was that him? No, that was the cat. Oh, he has been asleep for awhile. How nice. Unless... he has burrowed under something and is smothering and can't breathe and I am just sitting down here enjoying the peace and quiet while he is upstairs and the unthinkable has happened!!! Oh, he is crying. Phew, what a relief. Dang, I wasn't quite finished with what I was doing." This is my thought process every single time that boy goes down for a snooze. I am surprised I haven't keeled over with heart failure yet.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The appliance repair guy said he would come at 11:30. I had to go be a bus, but I hurried everywhere and was making good time. Finally at the last place, I dropped off the boy, hurriedly told the lady in front I couldn't chat, ran to my car, buckled in the baby (without hitting his head even!), got behind the wheel and ... nothing. Car won't start. Try, try, try. Nothing. Run in to tell the daycare that my car is blocking their driveway and run home ( live a couple of blocks away), but I was a little late, so maybe I missed him. Isn't that ironic considering I was just blathering on about things not working? Don't you think it's funny? Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, huh, hmm. And baby just wet on my bed. I know!!!

Remind you of anyone...?

I think Zach thinks this looks like me, but I can't decide.

"For behold the land is cursed, and all things are become slippery"

I do like to possess things, but oftentimes things are a burden. Everything in my house is breaking. There is something new every day. Charles went around the house and took some pictures of some broken things for me, but this is not even the half of it. One day recently the cat jumped off of a sill and broke a bowl of flowers that I had there. When I went into the kitchen to get the broom, I noticed that the stove clock was not working. Upon further inspection, nothing along that whole wall was working -- garbage disposal, dishwasher, lights, etc. I went and did whatever one does with the breaker switch, to no avail. The next day the electrician came and said that our hot water doohickey attached to our sink was shorting everything out. So we did what we usually do and decided we could live without it. But there are some things that you kind of have to fix. We replaced the rain gutters this summer because pieces of them were literally falling off of the roof. Every day there is a new cupboard in the kitchen hanging forlornly by its hinges and door knobs often detach themselves from the doors. The garage door has a long piece of rubber dangling down from it (that has been so long that there are now spider webs wafting in the breeze) and can only close with someone holding it down for the duration. Our back screen door won't close all the way,not just a little, but about 45ยบ. Matthew's car has been on its last leg for a few years and don't even get me started on my phone which is dropped on a regular basis. A few days ago our beloved rice cooker gave up the ghost. RIP. But yesterday, yesterday! Oh, I don't know if I can even talk about it. My washing machine protested mightily when I put in the third load of the day and finally just refused to do one more thing. I stared at it with consternation. I am obsessed with laundry. I do it every day. I do not like having any dirty linen in the house. It is already starting to pile up and it has only been a few hours. I cloth diaper a baby! I have five kids!! Some of them require more than one outfit a day!!! I made an emergency call to our appliance guy and he is coming today. I don't know what he will say and am wondering if I need to scour Consumer Reports for the next best thing. It is kind of elderly and it may just be its time. Oh, oh, the dishwasher is running unnaturally loudly this morning...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

My Meadow

I took some pictures of the baby on the lawn yesterday. The lawn is so full of plants that are not grass it probably doesn't deserve the name "lawn" anymore. Meadow might be more appropriate. And we would then use our Meadow Mower to cut it. I like it. I adore the one of him checking out the grass. You have to imagine his chubby fingers going back and forth. Where are the Harry Potter photos when you need them? And, of course, the ubiquitous hostas.

Never Forget!

This morning I had cottage cheese with tomatoes, chives, and shiso from my garden. I love running out and picking fresh food -- you can almost feel the life still coursing through. Alas, it smells like fall out there. In actuality, I adore Autumn -- the crisp air, the brilliant blue of October skies contrasting with the golds and crimsons down below. However, I know that part of it is the need to cherish every temperate moment before... WINTER. I like parts of winter -- cozying up in a blanket, wearing sweaters, ice crystals shimmering from every branch and stem, a blanket of snow. But all the coats, scarves, mittens everywhere everywhere. Not fitting in car seats, slipping on the ice, the fierce bite of wind as you race frantically to your unattached garage. I think I have post-traumatic stress from last winter. I was in a parking lot yesterday and I thought, 'It is SO nice that I am at a completely comfortable body temperature as I walk from the store to my car.' It is September 11th and I have not forgotten.

One of my students had her baby yesterday. She was 26 weeks along and the baby weighed 2 pounds. She had been in labor since Saturday, so I was relieved to hear that the baby had made it this far, but it is still so scary. Hopefully, all will be well.

I just returned from a consignment store for children called "Cute as a Button." I used to love this store, but now I am officially boycotting it. They used to make appointments for taking clothes, then they said bring it any day, then they said call before they open and they will take the first 12 callers, but then people just started lining up before it opened so they just take those people. Lining up before a store opens is distasteful to me. Even trying to be one of the first callers is not my favorite thing, but it is certainly better than scrambling to the store with a boxful of discards, vying for the owners attention, "Pick me! Pick me!" However, my basement needs to be emptied so I decided to swallow my pride and try to get there this morning. I got there right as it was opening and they said I was too late, rewarding only the really obnoxious people who somehow have the time to wait there for an hour! Consequently, I now do not like them. I think it is bad business to humiliate your customer base. I might have to resort to Ebay. I know I shouldn't be so worried about clothes, but it is part of my job, as it were, to try to save money and if I can get a little bit back from their old clothes, it can go toward their new clothes which they will inevitably be needing. (Okay, some they will need and the rest is bonus).

While I was out I swung by the chiropractor and they did not spurn me. I felt much more welcome. My back has been killing since I had the audacity to exercise last week, but after five visits since last Thursday I am now right as rain. I love my chiropractor! Maybe I can find a bumper sticker.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

S(n)ide Remarks

My friend said I should be a writer -- oh, but I am! I have my very own column and it is on the INTERNET!

I love to nuzzle my warm, snuggly, roly-poly, baby boy -- There is nothing better! He still curls up his legs and tries to burrow into my neck, and when I lay him down he flips right over ('cause he's gotta practice, of course) and lifts up his little head to take in the world. Nnh, honey, it is like a drug.

A couple of comments I wanted to remember. First, while I was in Relief Society at my mom's ward in Utah I got up to take my bairn out into the hall as he was being quite disruptive. I heard one lady stage whisper to her neighbor (they are getting a little long in the tooth, as it were), "Aren't you glad we're past that stage in our life?" It made me smile because it was so perfect. I was so happy to hear that she is content with where she is in life. I worry about missing my kids being little when I am older. I had that thought while I was in labor with Ella, strangely enough. It was also nice to know that when I looked inward, I know that I am also content with where I am, this phase that will pass quickly enough. I suspect, as well, that she just doesn't remember how lovely it was to get slobbery kisses every morning and have her mirrors covered with fingerprints. God's gift for helping us move on and enjoy the present.

Now, lest I get too sentimental about being a mom, I need to remember the next comment from Ella. I read a book a few months ago that I really enjoyed, "I Capture the Castle." While I read it, I kept thinking that my daughter would really like it. It is set in England and the main character is a teenage girl. I bought the book for her, she read it, and wasn't as keen on it as I had hoped. I recommended the book to my sister-in-law so while in Utah we were all talking about it. Jill said, "I really liked it and the main character reminded me of you, Mary." Ella, "Oh, no wonder I thought she was so annoying." !!!@!!?? I laughed and laughed. So amusing.

"The Baby wakes, the peacefulness flees..."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Boxed In

There are a lot of boxes in my front hallway. We took some boxes to UPS the other day and Tom (the UPS guy) said, "I saw that you got 40 boxes of padded envelopes delivered to your house this morning." "You know where I live?" I replied flabbergastedly. "Yes," he said, "At this computer, I've got my fingers on the pulse of this town." He probably knows about my penchant for buying $.75 books on I guess it isn't too bad since I know his name and quite a bit about him. I also know most of the workers at the post office, but I don't think they know where I live.

Ibby is doing better. She started to cry on Tuesday morning, but recovered before getting to the school. Wednesday we talked a lot about her happy face and as she got out of the car she said, "Won't my teacher be glad to see my happy face this morning?" Yes, I am sure that she will.

During a Sunday lesson, someone read this quote by Anna Quindlen that I have read before:
There’s one picture of my three children sitting on the grass on a quilt in the shadow of a swing, set on a summer day ages 6, 4 and 1, and I wish I could remember what we ate and what we talked about and how they sounded and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing; dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more, and the getting it done a little less.

Fine. It is totally sweet and it even brought out some tears. However, the more I thought about it the more dismayed I became. It is hard enough for me to get dinner on the table and everyone in bed at a reasonable hour without someone trying to make me feel bad about it! You still have to get it all done! Okay, that is just a rant because I feel the bittersweet-ness of motherhood intensely lately. I miss my kids while they are at school, but then don't enjoy the post-school transition time very much. I don't remember so much of their baby time. The baby I do have changes every day and I know that he will be leaving for a mission soon. Cry, cry, cry.

Bon Anniversaire.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Stomach Complaint

I was just switching a load of laundry which consisted mostly of towels. "Oh," thought I, "I should throw in a fabric softening sheet. Or, I shouldn't, because I read that blog that said that dryer sheets are terrible and contain ingredients that become carcinogenic when heated. But, I really don't know what the ingredients are, or what they do, and I really like soft towels..." So transpires the life of a half-wit, torn between two things of which she knows nothing, tid-bits of knowledge ricocheting through the gray matter, authority on nothing, alarmed by plenty.

The phantom illness struck again. It is an odd thing to be sure. Three weeks ago, Lucy felt sick after sacrament meeting. She laid on me during Sunday School and then I took her home early. Later that evening she literally got sick, to put it politely. I waited apprehensively to see if anyone else would catch her germs, but by Wednesday felt like we had dodged that bullet. Sunday again, Ibby played happily all morning, ate breakfast and lunch, then said she felt sick right as we were leaving. Ella was giving a talk in church so I tried to gauge how sick she felt and decided that we would go listen to the talk and then take stock. Didn't make it to church. Dropped off the kids, worried how they would sit alone (Daddy is always on the stand), came home to bathe girl and clean out car. How strange that they both got sick a week apart with eerily similar symptoms... Saturday evening. We have managed to bring home and assemble the heaviest treadmill that was ever created. The box was too heavy for us to lift so we pushed it end over end across the back walkway, down the stairs, and through the basement where we proceeded to assemble it with much too much ado. Matthew says, "I don't feel very well." The beginning of a very sick evening and night for him. Sunday night I feel sick, but since I like to hold on to things, it lasts a couple of days. Well, that was curious that we were sick three weeks in a row. Another Sunday, we all make it to church. Ella isn't hungry for dinner, gets worse as the evening progresses, and then is sick for most of Monday so no end of summer swimming for her. Amazing. Four weeks in a row, the exact same malady, but not really close enough together. So Charles is the last man standing. It must be bizarre to know that you are going to have the stomach flu in a few days and not be able to do anything about it.

I wished that I had been sick a week later because I have paid my money to join the "Biggest Loser" contest that Jenn, my niece-in-law, is doing. I wanted to weigh as much as possible for my first weigh in so, since I didn't eat at all the first couple of days of last week, I had to make up for it later. I know, it is stupid! But that is just the way I am. We went out for lunch and dinner on our anniversary and then all weekend I was trying to come up with the most fattening things I won't be able to eat for the next 12 weeks. I finally weighed in yesterday evening after our ward Labor Day picnic. I think -- I hope! -- I ate enough. I had to send in before photos!!! I always thought "they" made people frown for their before photos because you just look worse when you are not smiling. I realized yesterday that "they" do not have to make you do anything! I was almost crying it was such an awful experience and I almost don't want to win so that no one will ever see those pictures. Except, I do want to win. The pot is at $1500! Plus, I don't feel like myself at this weight. Plus, I don't want to buy any more clothes this size. Plus, I already feel better because I exercised this morning. Plus, I bought a 500,000 pound treadmill. Matthew wants me to win, too. He made me an excel sheet with how much I need to lose each week to be a serious contender (based on the percentage of weight lost by the previous winner, taking into account that this one can only be more competitive). He is sweet and knows how upset I was by the before pictures. He had to take them and I was snapping at him peevishly the whole time.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Separation Anxiety

Ibby does not like to go to school at all.
Friday: clinging to me at the bus stop, but still hadn't ridden the bus, so wiped away tears and got on with Lucy's arm around her; bus driver giving me a look of panic; I cry on the way home.
Monday: crying on the way to the bus stop, refuses to get on bus; Matthew drives them to school and leaves her whimpering with the teacher, after making another boy cry as he realizes that he is sad as well .
Tuesday: Matthew drives them to school and takes baby (because I was SO sick, but that is another story) so uses that as an excuse to not walk in with her.
Wednesday: Lucy forgets she has homework so no bus again; I drive them to school and make her get out of the car and walk in; she is crying, I get dirty looks from teachers; Lucy says later that Ibby cried in the hallway for a long time.
Thursday: she starts with the not wanting to go about an hour before the bus comes; clinging to me in my bedroom; Matthew takes her hand and I hear her wailing all the way to the car; they pray on the way and try to talk about happy things while she moans; she refuses to get out of the car; Matthew walks her in; she is left screaming at the top of her lungs with the teacher.
Okay, okay, we get it! You don't want to go to school! But then, she comes home as happy as a lark, barely can say hello to me, shows me all the things she did at school, tells me about her friends and her art class. So it is heart wrenching, but she seems to be fine, so I don't know what to think every morning. I asked my friend google and it told me, "Remember: Separation anxiety means that a strong and loving bond exists between you and your child." Hmmm, then why didn't any of my other children ever go through this?!?? We must not be bonded. Something else to fret about.

Oh, and Happy Anniversary to me and my far superior other half! And Happy five month birthday to Phin -- so big!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I am not an addict

Not to be negative, but... I hate the first day of school! I always cry, but I have to hide it and be all happy so the kids don't hate school. I took pictures of the little girls and we all put on our best face for the occasion. Ibby has not been wanting to go to school at all. My other kids were all ready and excited to start kindergarten so this has been a new experience for me. She knows there are other options out there so whenever anyone has asked her if she is excited to start school, she keeps saying, "I haven't decided if I am going yet." So I have really had to talk it up (whilst biting the proverbial fingernails -- 'Should I be pushing her away when she seems to need me more than ever? Will it really be what she needs to get away from the house, make new friends, learn new things?') and shush Charles who is over in the corner muttering things like, "If you do that at school, they'll put you in detention." Thank you, oh, so helpful! But she went this morning with me and we checked out her room, locker, desk, etc. She was totally fine while we were there, but then has been making wishy washy remarks since our return. It was hard for me with the other kids as well. Ella started High School, crazy! Charles was thrown back to the wolves, but fortunately there are always a lot of police officers on hand -- so reassuring for when one is hit over the head with a food tray. Lulu is in 3rd grade which seems like the beginning of not being little. It is all so terrifically sad!!!

Yesterday I was stressed out. It all started with a dead mouse greeting me at the bottom of my stairs. Thank you so very much, Mittens. I screamed so loudly, but when I asked Matthew later if he had heard me, he said he thought I was just yelling at the kids again. Gotta live up to my reputation. Charles was so incredibly sweet and took the dead animal outside without anyone asking. I was trying to get the house clean because I started a new Bradley series last night and I also was worried because I was starting my new job as a bus. I didn't campaign for this position, but my neighbor asked me if I could pick her son up from preschool and take him to daycare. Sure, as a favor (according to working moms, why not? I am just sitting at home doing nothing after all) I would do it for her. Well, three other moms have the same problem and suddenly I am a bus. They wanted me to do it every day, but I just couldn't commit so I am doing it twice a week and charging more than I probably should. I have to get a baby in and out of a carseat several times! Okay, so I was worried about those things and then I also have the 6,000 orders hanging over my head. So, all afternoon as I yawned and worried I told myself that I could get a Dr. Pepper before my class. It would perk me up, I had a headache (pulling out the medicinal excuse), and I thought it would make me feel better. I wish I didn't like soda, but I do. I keep it to a minimum -- I am not addicted -- but I really, really wanted one yesterday. Not everyone has Dr. Pepper so I had to go to a special place. There was an accident on the way and I got stuck in traffic, then there was nowhere to park. Finally, I got inside and filled up my cup. As I was making my way to the counter, I turned too quickly and gored my cup with a shelf. The whole thing burst and flooded everywhere! I was soaking wet and very embarrassed, but the lady who worked there was very nice and started to clean it up. I went back to get another cup. I put in the ice, filled it up just so, got a lid, put in the straw, stood in line, paid the money, got back in my car, took one sip, and then a block down the road, my straw poked a hole in the bottom of the cup and it started spewing all over me, all over the car, I was screaming, people were staring. I just drove home, grumpy and dejected, no caffeine for me. Was it a sign?

We are getting new gutters on our house today so the background of my day is bad music on a subpar radio, men yelling at one another, and the aroma of cigarettes wafting in through the windows. Heaven.

You Are Kayaking

You have a competitive spirit, but you don't like to compete alone.

You do well in a partnership, where you can feed off the other person's energy.

If you have the right partner, nothing can stop you. Your energy is infinite!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Last night I had a hankering for a blueberry smoothie so I went to google a recipe, but got stuck on the internet again.  I ran into a post about jogging that was so funny! click here. A few weeks ago I went jogging with my two oldest. Ella: "Mom, you are going to ruin the bottom of your new shoes." (Yes, I was so serious about this that I had shelled out $6 for the clearance at Payless.) "Oh, you mean they are getting dirty?" "No, you aren't picking up your feet." Rude! I was so picking up my feet, just not very high. You've got to pace yourself. I also found another blog.  You should all look at this. Look at August 5th. Did you see it? Gaston? Are you kidding me? I literally almost died!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Yesterday I ran out of time so I will try to grab some today... My sister Ellen and her daughter Crystal came up to Utah while we were there and it was so fun to see them as well as her son Austin who I didn't even get to see last year!  Jenn also came over to my parents house to represent Andrew who had too much schoolwork to come -- we lived it up for him.  My kids really enjoy their company so we stayed up late night after night playing games with them.  They are all so funny and smart, it was just really fun.

One game we played a couple of times was Cranium.  In my real life no one wants to play it with me.  I have only played a few times and I like it so much because I am actually good at it!  Who knew that I could draw something legible with my eyes closed (perhaps better than with them open), spell words backward, and hum a recognizable tune?  Lest I sound like I am bragging, I fear that being good at the skills required for Cranium mean nothing in the real world.  I keep coming upon mommies who have actual, concrete talents like writing, painting, sewing, taking wonderful photos...  and they are all out there creating marvelous things.  I feel something inside me that wants to come out, but I don't know how.  

"There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you."  -Maya Angelou 

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

That's my line!

It has been so long since I have written I am sure that anyone who has read my meager posts in the past have long since given up on me... I have missed writing, and we have been terribly busy trying to get our lives back on track, so I will try to jot something down quickly.  

The weeks leading up to our westward trek were crazy busy with record label deadlines.  We had the whole child labor thing going on with everyone (including guests unfortunate enough to show up) involved in burning, labeling, packaging, etc. cds for promos.  Then we were off.  I *love* the mountains.  It is always so nice to go home.  We started off with a bang by stopping at Downeast Home on the afternoon of our arrival.  We found a perfectly lovely duvet cover for Ella's room.  It had been eluding us for months, but we found it.  Speaking of elusive, we borrowed "The Scarlet Pimpernel" from my sister during our visit and I had forgotten how great it is.  And speaking of shopping, I did a lot of it.  I didn't mean to, but you really can dress for less at Ross.  And I was looking for some religious art.  It is spoken of often in conference talks, but Matthew and I are always looking for things that are different.  I didn't find what I was looking for on our trip so I spent the other night looking for temple pictures online.  It is amazing how lost one can get on the internet (people's blogs...)! 

Sunday brought my first anecdote.  I was at church nursing in the mother's lounge and in walked a woman with a chubby baby boy.  I am quite partial so I asked about his birthday and so on.  He was born a week before my baby, but was due after.  "What is his name?"  I inquired innocently.  "Phineas, but we call him Phin."  What!!??  Pardon me, madam, but that is my line!  I went off on my tangent about searching for names that are not super common and she then said that she had had the same problem with her older daughter's name -- Isabella!  Oh, it was funny!  I must say that I was more amused than the other mother.  We could probably be great friends since we obviously have the same taste.  My father was right when he said that I would be cursing the world by using the name Phineas since by using it I would be assuring that it would be on the road to popularity and triteness in due order.  Who would have thought?

We went to Lagoon while we were there and had such a great time!  We even went back the next day, which I knew I would regret, but it turned out okay.  The kids were so well behaved.  No whining or complaining.  They are game for anything and don't even need to stop to eat.  My friend, Christine, met us the first day so that was really nice being with another adult.  

I have to hurry since baby is waking up.  We had a wonderful time seeing family and friends.  I really think people who are there all the time take it for granted.  Maybe not.  I just know that I enjoy reconnecting so much.  I went on a little tour of everyone's houses.  Jake and Candis have an enchanting old house and she has made me want a parterre for my own front yard (two peach trees on the corners and a fountain, bliss).  Paul and Rebecca have a new house with a backyard that is full of trees, backs up to a hill, and a creek flowing by -- very feng shui.  Rachel and Chad have added on to their house and it is so amazing.  I admire the vision that that takes.  We spent quite a bit of time at Steve and Jill's playing with Max and the girls.  And we LOVED being with my parents.  They are always so hospitable.  I am sure that we are annoying at times (we irritate myself!) and sometimes I feel like we are Pigpen walking around like human tornadoes, but they only make us feel lovable and amusing and I can only hope to help those around me feel as special as they make us feel.

Back to reality.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy Independence Day!

It is a beautiful morning here in Illinois.  Not too humid -- I even went out for a run this morning, but now my hips hurt, woe is me!  I always miss the Freedom Festival in Provo this time of year.  I love to start out the week with the spirit at the Marriott Center and then end the week with the balloons, the parade, a family party, and the wonderful fireworks.  It is different here, but fun.  I live on a wonderful street.  It is red brick and has grass growing up through the pavers in the summer.  The neighborhood has a lot of get-togethers throughout the year and today is one of them.  They ask the city to barricade the street so that we can play in it.  First, we meet at 11:00 with decorated bikes and wagons for a small parade.  One man on the street leads the parade with a truck blaring patriotic music.  Then an old fire truck drives up with the siren wailing.  All the kids and adults climb aboard for a fun ride through town.  He takes several tours so we can usually go a couple of times.  Next, we all join for a picnic on the boulevard and then set up a slippery slide, kiddie pool, etc.  Later, we are going to join some people from church at State Farm park.  For all of you who have State Farm insurance, you should see the amazing park that you helped pay for.  We normally aren't privileged enough to be allowed entrance, but our friends our getting us in today.  My boy is still at camp, so Matthew is driving up there this evening and spending the night and then driving a crew home tomorrow.  I cannot wait until he is home and safe again.

I read the book "John Adams" this spring and it was so wonderful.  I love history and have read a lot about the founding of our country, but this book made it even more real to me.  Abigail Adams said to her husband that their posterity would never really understand what people went through to procure freedom and liberty.  She is so right.  I don't think we do, but I hope today we can think about them and honor them.  I am so grateful to have the life that I do!

Now I must go, because we haven't even adorned the tricycle!  
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