Thursday, December 23, 2010

ho ho hmmm

As I am wont to say, people are so funny.  Twice yesterday I heard people telling children, who were not their own I might add, that they better stop being so naughty or else they were going to call Santa and tell on them.  In both cases, the children were about three years old, maybe four, so the awareness was there, but not the emotional maturity to deal with someone threatening them like that.  One woman at the Dollar Tree, and yes I should remember where I was and take that into account before I get too critical, just went on and on to this one little boy and I can't believe his mother didn't just tell her to shut it.  The boy kept saying, "I'm not naughty!  I'm not!"  But the woman kept telling him he better stop being so bad or Santa wasn't bringing him anything.  I just thought it was so mean!  People!

I keep getting asked if I'm ready for Christmas.  Yes and no.  We try not to go overboard around here and that seems normal to me, but then I see what some people do and I am conflicted.  On the one hand I get a twinge of guilt that my kids Christmas isn't ever over the top and they might hear what Santa did other places, but usually I am just my typical self-righteous self and think that my way is much better because my kids really are always so happy and have never once been disappointed, bratty, or ungrateful.  Christmas morning is always a sweet peaceful event at our house.  So yes, I am ready with all of that.  I usually pick things up throughout the year -- my kids don't watch t.v. so they never know to ask for the latest thing -- and have adopted my friends' idea to get them four things: something to wear, something to read, something they want, and something they need.  I get to give them underwear and they receive something exciting (it's usually not the underwear that fits in that category) -- win, win!  The area in which I am not ready is Christmas cards, but I am going to do that today.  Yes I am.

It is hard to get too into things because Phin is sick this week.  He was vomiting on Monday and then now has croup and a severe viral sore throat.  When I asked if any of them were related, the doctor just laughed, implying that no, Phin is just very unlucky to have caught three separate illnesses at the same time.  That gives all of us a lottery, as it were, of what we might catch.  Yay! 

I hope that you are all enjoying the Holidays!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

sing along

I woke up this morning with a lovely bass solo from the Messiah rolling around my head.  Last night we (I should say "I" since Matthew hightails it to the basement) hosted our annual Christmas Messiah sing along.  I cannot believe how much I love it!  The first year we had a very talented pianist who sight read the entire score, but since then we have played an mp3 and follow along with our own music.  It is so nice to be reminded of the beautiful words and we try not to be too irreverent as we laugh uproariously at our slaughtered rendition of the trills.  At the end of each song we breathe a long sigh and count it a victory if we at least got the last note right.

I couldn't help thinking about the Provo Tabernacle as we were singing.  And it makes me cry that it burned down.  I cannot even count the number of times that I have heard the Messiah there.  My parents sang in a chorale and we not only would attend the performances, but my siblings and I would be given free rein of the building while they practiced.  Truly we were supposed to be doing our homework, but it wouldn't take long before we set down our books and started exploring and hide and seeking.  Up the spiral staircase and across the steep top aisle.  Up even higher into the topmost seats.  Over to the side to a little nook too small and hidden to be a comfortable spot for anyone.  Oh, a little door into the rafters!  Unfortunately always locked (shoulders sag).  Back down and across to the back stand and down the narrow little stairway in the very back.  I can smell it and hear the creaky floor, feel the smooth polished shine of the banisters and benches, see the light coming through the magnificent stained glass windows.   

We also always had stake conference there so twice a year I would insist that we sit in the center top balcony where I could have the best view of all of the people!  I would settle right in and commence gazing slowly and methodically around the entire audience -- a funny couple, unruly children, pretty dresses, cute boys...  Then I would count how many people I could see from my school.  Oh, and of course I listened intently to the speakers.

I cannot think of another building that I knew so well and I mourn.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

the cosmic joke

And... the Stac(i)e(y)'s have it!  I wasn't going to tell people so soon, but I'm not very good at keeping secrets at the best of times (think of the surprise lady on SNL rocking in the corner, "Oh my!  Oh my!!!)  but then 1. I feel a little bit like the Incredible Hulk with the way I'm already bursting out of my clothes so it was only a matter of time before we'd be getting the awkward glances.  I have tired of trying to find clothes in which I don't look too pregnant -- I was terribly worried about Stacey's party next week, so I would rather just let it hang out.  My body remembers too well how to do all of this, I'm afraid.  2. I'm constantly screaming "I"M PREGNANT" inside my head which makes it difficult to conduct a civil conversation, etc.  I guess the screaming in my head could be because of the pregnancy, being RS pres, my schizophrenia coming on (where does your mind drift when you're not thinking of anything else?  Not algebraic equations, not trying to find the cure for cancer, nor what can I do to help someone else today, just "Aaaaaaaaaaaagh!!!!"), hormones -- it is difficult to decipher.  And 3. I kind of don't feel very well and don't want everyone to think my very sour expression is just a bad attitude.

Yes, a few weeks ago, on the 15 of November, I took a pregnancy test right after Matthew left for his 6:30 a.m. meeting and then went back to lay in bed and mull things over.  We have our usual frenzied Sunday morning in which I try to get as much sleep as I can, let the kids sleep in a little, and still make it to 8:00 choir practice.  It rarely works.  This morning was no different as we rushed into the church, only this time as I careen through the foyer my husband is there and grabs my arm with a strange smirk on his face saying, "The bishop wants to talk to you."  And I just KNOW.  I quickly whisper, "I took a test and it was positive," hoping to give him -- the person who is supposed to be protecting me, the person who has probably known about this for a while -- a painful jab.  I don't look back, just march toward my doom, and soon break into hysterical laughter (I wonder how often the bishop gets that reaction?)  It was just too funny.  And I have since spent the last several weeks shaking my head at the cosmic joke the universe has served up.

I recently met a friend's mother-in-law and told her how many kids I have.  A few minutes later as we were talking more about her she told me that she has two kids and her daughter is pregnant with her fourth child.  After a pause, she added, "By CHOICE."  It seemed rehearsed, like something she feels it important to say to everyone, because surely they must be thinking that her daughter must not know how to prevent pregnancy, because no one in their right mind would have that many children.  Well, I am here to say that this pregnancy, too, is by choice.  Well, more of a mandate from heaven, but not an accident, as it were.  One major reason I was going to go ahead and ignore the very strong prompting was that I do not want one single, solitary person to ask me if I'm planning on having 20 kids, etc.  I just might have to kick them in the face and that my pull my groin or something.  Don't say it!

In looking on the bright side, I have decided that it is better for me to  be pregnant while I have this calling than not pregnant because it will provide just the buffer I need for people to overlook my usual incompetence and shortcomings.  At the best of times I'm not extraordinarily organized, clear headed, or good with time.   And if someone is particularly whiny I can just look them over and say, really?  Really?  This same excuse should last the duration since I will have an infant for a while, too.  Brilliant!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

I'm not worthy!

Recently I made a green bean casserole and it turned out horribly.  Is there an easier casserole to make?  But I ruined it -- I used frozen beans so they were too crunchy, I used too much milk so it was too runny, and it just basically didn't taste very good at all.  Last night I had a dream that I had to take that casserole to someone and they couldn't believe the Relief Society President had made something so awful.  I guess this all means that I am having some anxiety about my new calling and having everyone see all of my weaknesses in glaring technicolor.  I know that I can do lots of things with mediocrity, but not a whole lot with excellence and I don't want anyone to get frustrated with me and I most certainly don't want anyone to tell me that I did something subpar because I just might cry.  Some people have told me that I probably knew this was coming since I was first counselor already, but I really didn't.  I felt quite confident that Heavenly Father knew that me being the RS president would not be in the best interests for the ward -- or for me and my family, for that matter.

I have been feeling quite overwhelmed, but that could be because I found something else out the very same day I was called.  Something funny.  What do you think would be the absolute funniest thing I could find out?  I'll let you think about it.

The worst thing is that now I have so many keys that my key ring rivals Matthew's and he keeps taking mine.  That is the worst thing, right?

Monday, December 6, 2010

subconscious phobias

There are moments when I am confronted by my psychoses, but usually they are just part of the random thoughts coursing through my brain -- mostly too swift to capture and really consider, so generally ignored.  I feel that I am a confident, well-adjusted person, but I do have my fair share of irrational fears that I don't recognize until the danger has passed.

For example, while we lived in Japan I was sure that there would be an earthquake to end all earthquakes during our sojourn -- because that would be my luck, and I guess it is better to expect it than to be surprised, right?  So every night, without thinking too much about it, I would be very careful about where I put my glasses -- yes, the thing I worried the absolute most about was not being able to see anything, not my children, although they did come in a very close second.  The reason for this is because my glasses would be shattered and I am basically blind and then how could I take care of anything?  I wouldn't be able to and everyone would suffer.  It is reasonable.  And every morning as I got ready I would think, "Will today be the day?"  On average, I think we felt about five earthquakes a month so I would always wonder as one started how bad it was going to get, even though I had been told that the big ones start big with a jolt, and these were mostly softer and rolling.  After we had been there a while it wasn't something I thought about purposefully, just more of something that was part of my rhythm, part of the daily jostle of thoughts.  When we were back in the U.S. living in New Hampshire was when the fear really became apparent because I would often be so overcome with relief that there was very little chance for a life changing earthquake each day.  A little bit loopy, I know.

This same thing happens to me every winter when it gets really cold outside.  Every time I get in the car I think, "Whew, there probably isn't a deranged killer hiding in my backseat waiting for the perfect time to slash me into pieces."  And as I rush to my back door late at night I tell myself how nice it is that there certainly couldn't possibly be an axe murderer waiting patiently in the bushes for my return -- because it is too bone chillingly glacial outside for even the crazies to be out.  But normally I don't even realize that I have those fears, that I am terrified to be out at night, that I hate to get into empty cars, that I am sure that will be the way that I die.  

Maybe I don't know quite how to explain it, but my phobias seem to be flighty little things that I hardly notice while their absence is more tangible and weighty and thus more noticeable to me.  I guess it is an okay way to be.  I still go on with my life, but am so happy and relieved when the threat is no longer present.  And the second item is one thing to like about winter.  I'm making a list, but it is slow going.  What are you afraid of?

Friday, December 3, 2010

it's tough getting stuff out of the garbage, but someone has to do it

I mentioned that I did something to my back a few weeks ago, and part of it was moving furniture around.  Said furniture was a couch and a love seat that I found in my neighbor's garbage pile.  I knew that I didn't really have a place for them, but after wracking my brain wondering who else might need them, and the imminent threat of a rain storm, I came upon the brilliant idea of squeezing them into my already more than amply supplied home.

::If you saw this this lovely upholstery wouldn't you just jump at the chance, too?
::here is a photo of our "library" before -- a room in which we also watch shows together on our computer (I love netflix!).  It is a little bit much squeezing two adults, two teenagers, and three littles on one loveseat and one chair.  I decided to move this loveseat up to the landing, but it stuck out too much so this came back down and the new one went up.
::the new arrangement in what I now call the "face off" room.  We can intertwine our legs across the aisle and the computer and t.v. now face off for our attention.  I went to Ikea and got white slipcovers for the new couch and loveseat and they fit almost perfectly!  The best $49 I ever spent.
::here is the landing before, but I have always wanted a window seat or something more comfy on which to sit and enjoy the western sunlight.
::not a fantastic photo, but you get the idea.  Matthew and Ella both think the space is too small to accommodate upholstered furniture of any sort, but Mittens definitely approves and spends most of her day here now.  This slipcover was only $11!
::one casualty at the moment is our dining room which is suffering a glut of chairs -- mostly because of the Christmas trees which displaced two chairs from the hallway and one from the living room, but then since the chess table landed there from the landing and the little rocking chair came from the library, we're starting to look a little scary.  I am not a hoarder!!!  
In the meantime Matthew is dying to know what else we can slip a white cover on.  I'll think of something.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

and the mother of the year award goes to...

Yesterday was a red letter day in which I definitely was in the running for Mother of the Year.  There are two incidents which stand out.

  1. First I was having trouble with my several years old pre-lit Christmas tree.  Last year the very top strand of lights was no longer working so I added one string and then this year hardly any were working so on Tuesday I ran out and bought a few more boxes and instead of taking off the non-working lights (I tried, but they are really tightly wound around the branches) I just wrapped more on and plugged them all together.  Yesterday morning I noticed that about half of them were off again so I was fiddling with all of the wires and putting way too many into one outlet, but they were all on again so I was happy... until I heard a popping and fizzing sound and looked and saw that the lights were all smoking!!!  So I almost burned my house down because I like shiny lights.  I'm just glad I was still standing right there.  I hate how disposable and cheap the lights and everything are, but I suppose I'm not ready to go back to candles.
  2. The second thing is much, much worse.  I put Phin down for a nap before I went to pick up Ella for her voice lesson and told Matthew, who was working in the basement, that I was leaving.  I had dropped Ella off and ran to the very conveniently located Goodwill and was in there for about half an hour when my phone rang.  It was my neighbor.  She asked, "Where are you?"  "I'm at Goodwill."  "Who is home with Phin?" "Matthew."  Well, she found him screaming, screaming, screaming in her backyard and she thinks he had been back there for a while because she had heard her screen door five minutes before she found him, and he was in his socks and no coat -- there was snow on the ground and it was below 20˚ and he was all wet, but she now had him wrapped in a blanket sitting on her couch.  I felt so terrible!  And the outcome could have been so much worse!  There is a very busy street three houses down so he could have been run over or kidnapped, or he could have been outside for a lot longer, or wandered somewhere farther away and gotten lost -- people get their kids taken away for things like this!  I even thought about locking my back door because I know he can open it, but I knew the girls would be home about 10 minutes before me and they don't have a key so I didn't do it.  We will have to come up with a better solution, unless he learned something from the experience, which I doubt.  When I told Ella what happened she responded, "He is just as stupid as Mittens"  -- our cat who also really thinks it would be amazing to go outside and then upon discovering the cold temperatures immediately changes her tune only to discover that she can't open the door.  The similarities are eery.

Monday, November 29, 2010

speech pathology

I've mentioned before that we have been slightly concerned with the delay in Phin's verbal progress, but as long as he was making small but steady improvements I had decided not to worry about it too much.  A couple of months ago he really started to take off with the full parroting stage and now I have the pleasure of arguing with him about everything!  

me: Go get your alligator.
him: That's a dinosaur.

me: Would you like a clementine?
him: No, I want a gunkin (pumpkin)!

me: There's Santa on your pajamas, ho, ho, ho!
him: That's Grandpa!  No ho ho.

me: Oh, you sneezed!
him: No!  I burped!

He has also decided to randomly add the "ch" sound to all sorts of things.  There's chochit (chocolate) of course and the chitchen (kitchen) where we eat chunch (lunch) and he calls himself Chin and all little animals (baby bears, penguins, puppies, what have you) are also Chin.  Whenever it is time to say a prayer, we try to quietly ask someone and starts before he realizes or else it is always, "Chin's turn!  Garble, garble, garble, daddy, garble, .... (sometimes short, sometimes really long) garble, garble AMEN!"

Some other cute things he says are die, for goodbye, so we tell everyone he is cursing them, and doom for moon.  Anytime he sees the moon in the sky even in the middle of the afternoon, he says, "Night night doom!"  He's obviously a bit of a fatalist.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

it's been awhile

There has been so much going on lately and a lot of laying around at the same time.  I did something to my back and I couldn't even sit at my computer desk!  I know -- the tragedy!  I am not quite sure what happened, but I imagine rather than it being just one thing it was a combination of raking, leaning over Phin, moving furniture all over kingdom come, and never forget the infernal laundry!  So my back was hurting and then add in a combined about 7 hours of sitting in the fiendish church pews (I am sorry, but those benches can be wretched after prolonged exposure) over the course of a few days because of various meetings and I was completely laid out last Sunday afternoon.  The following week consisted of me taking the kids to seminary, laying on my bed, taking kids to school, laying on my bed, moving all of the dishes to the edge of the counter then kneeling to put them in the dishwasher, laying on my bed, going to the chiropractor, laying on my bed, vacuuming, laying on my bed, teaching my class, laying on my bed, being in charge of RS meeting, laying on my bed -- I'm sure you get the idea.  Then on Friday, after I had gotten a back brace and was feeling a teensy bit better, I caught the virulent stomach bug that has been mowing down the entire city (Lucy, Phin, Ibby, and I got the vomiting part and the other three members of my family just feel yucky and wiped out) so spent a couple of more days in my bed.  I do have a pretty comfortable bed so that is good. 

Our friend just left with the greeting, "Have fun celebrating the genocide of this country's indigenous people."  Okay.  And don't forget the raising and subsequent slaughter of millions of top heavy turkeys.  Let's all go enjoy that, shall we?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Last Thursday night it froze so everything not winter hardy turned black!  Fortunately I was out in the dark gathering up the green tomatoes, peppers, zinnias, and some lovely dinner plate dahlias (that had to fend for themselves since I'm too lackluster to stake anything).

I even dug up the bulbs to save for next year so we'll see if I'm capable of letting them exist that long.  I also pulled up the rest of the garden and gathered the zinnia tops for seeds.

Another Halloween picture -- we went to our first ever Murder Mystery party.  I was Madame Garlique and Matthew was Balihi the RodgersandHammerstein monster.  I already owned everything that made up my costume (except the garlic I had to buy), who knew I was so bohemian?  And we found Matthew's seersucker suit at an estate sale that morning for one dolla'.  And really, I must insist that people take my picture from above only!  That chin = not good.
And I think I need this for Christmas:
I promise that I would use it to go to the store!  As long as it wasn't too hot or too cold (basically for about two weeks out of the year).

Monday, November 1, 2010

lions, and glenda, and flamenco dancers -- oh my!

Another crazy weekend!  The kids didn't have school on Friday so the insanity started a little earlier than usual with free scary face pancakes at IHOP, a trip to the library for a costume parade, taking Ella to the school for Madrigal practice while I conferenced with some teachers, shopping for some last minute Halloween items, taking Charles to a carb fest at Avanti's then upon finding we were at the wrong location scurrying across town to the other restaurant, getting everyone ready for the trunk or treat at the church, and dance practice. Saturday started bright and early with the girls and I going to Chicago and the boys going to Peoria for cross country sectionals and ended with Matthew at stake conference, Ella at a teen party, me and the little girls at a neighborhood party, and Charles holding down the fort with sleeping Phin and taking notes on the "Rally to Restore Sanity/and or Fear" for us.

::shopping on Michigan Avenue

::eating at the Melting Pot -- mmmmm
::going to the Lion King -- I'm not a huge fan of the movie (or the story, or even the music necessarily), but the costumes, dancing, and singing were fabulous!
::lovin' the city!
::always playing
::Charlie running -- look at that great form!
::Happy Halloween!
::he may not be able to see us, but we can see that he's pretty cute!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

one thing leads to another

I just spent $25 on the ugliest can of paint ever and it was, not surprisingly, very unsatisfying.  You may wonder why I would buy a color that I dislike intensely, to put it mildly -- it is because I can't afford to gut my kitchen.  Our favorite zen statement from Matthew's Japanese mentor while he was working on his PhD is: Everything is interconnected.  Ponder that for a moment and you will soon see how true that is.  My bathroom for instance:  the wallpaper bears a striking resemblance to wedding wrapping paper and I have had friends comment that they cannot believe that I haven't ripped it off the wall, but if I tore it down then one might notice that the wall is crumbling behind the toilet where there was a small leak; that the floor tile is slightly discolored; that there is dark wood stained cabinets and vanity, but a white wood medicine cabinet, corner shelf, and trim; that the sink and counter are cream marble, but the toilet and bathtub are white porcelain... need I go on?  Can you believe I can stand it?  But I have to and the wallpaper distracts one from the surrounding discord -- ooh, shiny!  See why I can't do something as simple as remove wallpaper?  It would just start a domino effect.  

My kitchen is kind of in the same boat.  At some point in its 92 years of life someone decided it would be great to modernize it -- fun!  This must have happened in the late 60's or 70's and we had some great wallpaper which my mother thought was very cheery, but put me in mind of Gilman's short story, The Yellow Wallpaper, and was taken down in an attempt to prevent madness.  The other elements were not quite so disposable so because of the permanence and abundance of the harvest gold tile, the harvest gold sink, etc. we have chosen to live with the dented cupboards and the rippling countertops because how could one go to the trouble and expense of replacing those and yet leave the tile and that FLOOR!  It has its own amazing qualities and while I don't know if it will ever really be stylish, it does generally look pretty clean which is no small feat around here.  The wood trim around the kitchen and down the back stairs is all painted to match the tile and it is so nicked up and not cleanable -- it probably hasn't been painted for 50 years -- that something needed to be done.  I couldn't decide whether to go with a color I like and let the tile stand out more; try to "do away" with the tile entirely, taking the risk that the plaster wall behind it might completely fall apart, and as long as we're doing that just do everything else that needs to be done, or simply buy the most awful color in the whole store, Earthy Ecru to be exact (and here I thought my kitchen was yellow -- very dirty yellow, I guess).  I bit the bullet and made the hard choice of the $25 can of paint instead of the $50,000 kitchen redo.  Yesterday afternoon I painted away, the whole time thinking how I didn't like the color and I hate painting anyway and it is no fun to be painting something a color you won't even think looks better and how I am such a horrible painter!  I have paint everywhere: my hands covered, in my hair, my painting clothes are a visual history of every painting project I've ever done, it is all over the floor... why do I even try to make improvements?  I've had friends ask me to help them paint and I have to laugh because they must not know what I'm really like.  Usually I'll try to do something innocuous like put up tape, but I can even bungle that by not doing it completely flush with the edge which creates its own mess.  

Well, look at that.  It does look better.  Much more serene without all of those peeling off places and wood showing through.  I suppose I will keep going.

I did paint my back door blue last week.  I like blue doors.  
It looks more blue in reality and hey you can see my beautiful floor.  Do you think it will come back in style?  Was it ever haute couture?  I doubt it.  My friend's daughter used to not like coming to our house because she thought our kitchen floor was haunted.  Yes, it's bad.

Friday, October 22, 2010

quotes of the day

One of my regrets in life, and yes there are oh so many of those, but I will focus on one today, is that I didn't write more of the cute and funny things that my kids would say all the time.  My two oldest would always combine words like: cindebrella (for umbrella), fooderator (refrigerator), dinosword (sword), just to name a few that I just happen to remember.  I don't remember the others doing it, but that could just be: my poor memory, I wasn't very blown away, or I simply wasn't paying any attention to them -- all feasible possibilities.  Oh, and Charles used to come up with the most amazing little gems like, well now I can't quite remember because I didn't write it down, but something along the lines of: would infinity seconds be the same as infinity minutes?  We really wanted to write a book entitled, "Charles' Deep Thoughts," but that would have, of course, required notation of some sort or other.  At any rate, I have decided I should write some of the things that they say now so I will always remember how sweet they are.  Here are some of the things I was told directly this week.

Ella: Mom, your hair looks really nice today.
Me: Thank you so much!
Ella: Yeah, usually it looks like a hot mess.
Me: Um, well, thanks again, I guess?

Charles: You have definitely made better spaghetti!
Me: ...okay?

And this was texted to me yesterday afternoon:
Lucy: R u gone or am i missing something?
Me: I am at voice lessons with Ella.  Daddy is home.  Is Phin awake?
Lucy: Phin is still asleep as far as i'm concerned.

What does that even mean, "as far as I'm concerned," did she even check?  So there you go.  Those should keep me warm in my old age.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I ordered this slipcover from Target to go on this free and somewhat tattered love seat and received it last week.  It feels so much fresher and matches better with the chair that I already had jerry-rigged (I just looked up that word and it was originally jury-rigged, but so many people said it wrong that jerry-rigged is now in the dictionary, isn't that fascinating?) an Ikea cover for, except that -- it seems to be jinxed.  I put it on last week and on Sunday Phin spilled red punch on it, then exactly 15 seconds after I put it back on after cleaning it on Monday he bled on it.  That is its own story in which Charles dropped one of my favorite plates, failed to sweep up all of the tiny pieces with one such piece wriggling its way into Phin's little foot.  Well, he had neglected to cry about it so I didn't know he was gushing blood when I set him on the couch so instead of being suitably sympathetic toward his injury I was kind of just rolling my eyes and laughing at the timing of it all.  Back it goes in the wash, but on the way to the laundry room I decided to grab my water bottle and accidentally knocked a glass of water off the counter in the process.  Since there was blood on the cover and cold water on the floor I did what any efficiency minded housewife would do and decided to wipe up the spilt water with the bloody cloth and kill two birds with one stone, as it were.  What I didn't realize was that there was dried up green food coloring on the floor, from when Ella made cookies last week, which had now been reconstituted to its former glory and proceeded to fulfill the measure of its creation by coloring my brand spanking new gleaming white slipcover green.  Deep breath.  I scrubbed out the blood and the food coloring on Tuesday and decided to wait a few hours to replace the cover again.  I teach my class tonight and we watch videos in the library (the fancy term we use for our "office" and where the lovely love seat resides) so I put the cover back on this morning, left the room and came back to hear, "I'm wet," from the wee one.  What???  He really has not been wetting his pants (he has been doing the other and yesterday the "other" involved smearing "that" and peppermint foot lotion all over my room, down the back stairs, a stop in the kitchen to try to clean it up himself with a hand towel, more smearing through the dining room and up the front stairs before I noticed what was happening -- never in all of my days...!  This occurrence was due, I am sure, in large part to the fact that I blogged about him being potty trained - jinx!) and it was really so, so, so ironic that when he did decide to ignore his body's promptings that it would be on the freshly cleaned, and only moments before replaced, slipcover.   Some of you may be thinking that I deserve it for trying to have a white slipcover in my house, but I have had the one on the chair for about a year and have only had to throw it in the wash about three times.  It is now hanging on the line outside, but I am a little hesitant to tempt the fates further with this.  I suppose I will persevere.  Personally I think the last fiasco was bound to happen because he was wearing his own item that is jinxed: the Thomas the Tank underwear.  It never lasts more than a couple of hours for one reason or another.  You can never beat a double jinx.

Do you own anything that is just bad news?

Monday, October 18, 2010

funky field trip

Last week my fantastically stupendous friend offered to take Phin so I could go on a field trip and have all the Ibby time I needed.  We went to a nature center at Funk's Grove just a few miles out of town so I thought I would be able to handle the short school bus voyage.  Not so much.  It took hours to recover and was a powerful reminder not to be doing that.  I cuddled with my girl and closed my eyes to try to make the time go faster and ended up eavesdropping on the little boys behind me.  "My dad has an AK 47."  "My brother has a machine gun."  !?!!!?  What?!  Why does a 7 year old even know what an AK 47 is?  I surreptitiously stole a peek between the seats.  They were sweet and innocent on the surface, but they know too much.  It amazes me how people who reside within a few miles of me are living such completely different lives.  They went on,  "I have like 15 brothers."  "Me too!  I have like 20."  I was reminded of helping in Charlie's class in the past and being there for birthday parties.  The teacher would have the kids stand up and answer questions about themselves and on a few different occasions they were asked how many siblings they had and they didn't even know! "Ummm, I think I have about 9 sisters and, umm, some brothers?"  That seems pretty basic and these kids don't even have that foundation because their parents lives are so chaotic.  I don't know if all kids do this, but my children have always organized everything in terms of their family.  When they discovered their hands the fingers would be designated as mommy, daddy, brother, sister, and baby; food on their plates would become different people; and lately every book we read has a Phin, three sisters, and a brother.  I think our families are important in our development and set the groundwork for who we become and I want to do more to help some of these kids who don't have very much stability.

Oh, and the field trip was great -- gorgeous weather, beautiful scenery, friendly and knowledgeable teachers, fun playing in the discovery grove, and Ibby even pet a snake!

Friday, October 15, 2010

the customer is never right

Last night I stopped at Panera to pick up some bagels for seminary this morning.  My daughter expressly requested the cinnamon chip kind so when I saw that there were four left I said, "I will definitely take all of those!"  And then apathetically filled in the other nine with second choices.  The girl helping me was friendly and talkative so a few minutes had passed since I told her what I wanted when another cashier walked over and took three of the cinnamon bagels.  
"Oh," says the gabby clerk,"she just took your bagels."  
"Well, get them back," says I, the disgruntled customer.  
"She's already cutting them, sorry."  
"Didn't I say I wanted them long before that guy even came in?"  
"I know, but sorry.  What else would you like?"  
"Nothing else.  That was what I wanted."
"We open at six.  Do you want to come tomorrow?"
"No.  I am here now and I have to have them at a place by 5:50."
"Well, sorry," she listlessly repeats.  "Pick three more now."
I wanted to growl at her.  The only ones left were the ones that cost less, because they are so boring and horrible and no one wants them, and yet I still had to pay the same price because I was getting the package deal.  Come on -- help me out.  Offer me some free bagels or something to make me feel better!  No?  Nothing.  Sorry with a smile seems to be adequate around here.

Perhaps I was more bothered than usual because it was 7:30 and no one had eaten dinner yet because of volleyball and dance.  Or it could be because something equally exasperating had already happened earlier in the day.  I had been to the children's consignment store to pick up a few more things for fall and if you use your credit from selling things everything will be essentially 10% more discounted.  I told the cashier my consignee number, she repeated it, I said it again, she checked the computer and said, "No.  You are at zero."  This surprised me a little since I had taken so many things in at the end of summer, but fine, I'll just go ahead and buy what I had chosen.  Some background on the cashier: when I first met her about a year ago I asked where she was from and she replied, "Why do you ask?"
"Because of your accent."
"I don't have an accent," she assured me, "I am from Poland, but I have lived here for a long time."
That is fine, whatever, I have lived in other countries and have always been so grateful when people were kind and patient with me, but she is a little difficult to understand.  So I pay for the items with my credit card then think to try the boots on Phin and realize that they don't fit him.  So one minute after my purchase I tell her that I don't want them after all.  She says that they can't do returns to a credit card, but she can credit the cost to my account.  I tell her my number again, 57.  She then says the name on that account and it isn't mine.  She then asks to check under my name.  "Oh my goodness!  There are a lot of Smiths!  And there are so many Mary Smiths!"  Yes, yes, yes, I know!  That is why I didn't have you look it up under my name and besides, I know my number thank you very much. She gets a worried look on her face and tells me that the computer messed something up, she is having trouble fixing it, and do I mind if she helps the people in line behind me because I don't have anything else to do, right?  Fine.  I am nice.  Phin goes to the bathroom a couple of times, I wander around the store for awhile, she calls me back and says that it is all fine now and I actually have $60 in my account.  She had put in the number 507 because that is 50 and 7, right?  I tell her that I want it all off of my credit, but no, that is not possible because they don't do returns.  But this is totally your mistake!  There was nothing wrong with the computer, I said the right number, I have waited for over 15 minutes -- I want some token to acknowledge my trouble.  Sorry.  Sorry.  All I get is sorry, with a side of sheepish grin.  

Of course, neither of these episodes are earth shattering or important in any way -- simply  aggravating and I seem to have taken the bait.  I also think it says something about the larger question of customer service and do you even want my business?  I do not have to come back and I can tell all of my friends about you, so watch it!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

potty talk

I have recently had the pleasure of toilet training another human being for the fifth time and it really wasn't so terrible.  I always dread it and must admit that the thought of that endeavor alone has given me pause through the years as to whether to expand our family or not.  My first forays into the "no more diapers" enterprise were an unqualified disaster.  I had no idea what I was doing, so I initially decided to wait until my eldest was ready and took the initiative for herself.  Waiting, waiting.  That did not ever happen.  And I resent all of you whose children just decided to go one day and that was that.  I really do.  I am not kidding.  On her third birthday I figured I had waited quite long enough and proceeded to buy a snazzy potty chair and some sparkly underwear.  I won't bore you with the details, which may or may not include twisty, yellow slides at family reunions miles from home and a change of clothes, but months of frustration followed and no matter how patient I tried to be, there was a fair amount of vexation involved.  When it came time for the subsequent go round, I again found myself putting it off, but for different reasons.  If it was that difficult with my first who was easy going and cooperative in pretty much every way, what horror awaited with the wild, headstrong, and independent soul that is my second child? 

***We interrupt this post to take care of a slight "setback."***  That was ironic.

Well, we were in Japan, but an American friend loaned me the book entitled "Toilet Training In Less Than a Day."  It sounded too good to be true, but even if it could cut the time in half, to about three months, it would be worth trying.  Well, it worked!  I was flabbergasted that within a few days he was completely trained.  With the next two I decided to not wait until they were too old so that they would be even more malleable and the girls thought it was great fun, which took even less time.  So here we were to Phin.  It was his half birthday last Monday so it seemed as good a time as any.  I ran out to the store to buy all the goodies that he never gets in real life -- sugar cereal, three kinds of bite size cookies, potato chips, donuts -- anything to make him really thirsty, accompanied by a kajillion different drinks that he could gulp to his heart's delight.  I, of course, had failed to review the book beforehand so off his diaper goes, we start training a little doll, proceed to sample all of the sugary and/or salty delights, all the while I'm both keeping an eye on his dry pants and riffling through the book, correcting the things I'm doing wrong.  #1. Don't do anything else while training -- only pay attention to the child and only talk about toileting.  Hmm, I guess I should put the book down.  I'll just read a few more pages.  Uh?  Oh, no!  He peed on the floor.  Quickly look in the book, what am I supposed to do now?  Practice, teach the doll, try to get him to drink so he'll need to go again.  I'm really pushing the liquids and treats.  Dang it!  He peed on the floor again.  Now it has only been about an hour, but he has gone through four pairs of training pants and refuses to eat or drink anything else!  Apple cider?  Soda?  I know, chocolate milk?  We know it is his favorite thing because out of his vocabulary of about ten words, two are chocolate and milk.  You can never say no to that!  He did.  What!?  Okay, gatorade?  Maple syrup?  Grenadine?  Olive oil?  Come on, anything!  By about 1:00 he hadn't gone on the potty one time, we had no more underwear, he would always pee right after standing up, and I was laying in a ball on the kitchen floor.  Why did I try to do this?  Nothing is getting through.  What was I thinking?  He wasn't even showing any signs.  I look over at him and he runs over to the potty and pees.  And didn't have another accident that day.  The next day he had one when I wasn't paying attention and begged me to put on his diaper again -- he brought me a cloth one and then a disposable, but has had very few problems since.  The third day we ran some errands and he told me when he needed to go.  I can tell the whole thing is causing him a little bit of stress, but he is doing remarkably, astonishingly, shockingly well.  Matthew kept saying he didn't think Phin was capable.  See?  He isn't so slow after all.  I'd like to bear my testimony of this book.  If you've had problems in the past, it won't let you down.

Friday, September 17, 2010


I inevitably forget my camera when we go out, but thanks to our cool new phones, (we got the most amazing deal on a new phone plan which was very exciting because some kids wanted phones, some kids wanted texting -- can you believe we made it so long without it?  And it is already causing trouble...) I was able to take some pictures while we were out last weekend.  They're not the best, but they will do.

We went down to Springfield to see Charles run in his third cross country meet.  He is doing really well and got 13th out of over 90 kids.  He was very excited because they gave the first 20 a medal.  I have no pictures of him, not that he would've let me, so I suppose since I didn't even think of it he obviously has conditioned me.  He rode home on the bus so we took the three youngest over to New Salem.  It is so beautiful there and they happened to be having a bluegrass festival.  Matthew sat and listened to some great music while the kids and I visited some of the little dwellings.  And by little I mean minuscule-y tiny.  Some of those families had 9 or 10 kids with only one room!  We think we have it so bad sometimes and we in all actuality absolutely do not.  We came home and thought our house was so spacious and had a lot more rooms than we actually need.  A separate kitchen and indoor toilet are merely luxuries.  We also decided that what we do need is a family bluegrass band, doesn't everyone?  There were people playing the banjo, the ukulele, the dulcimer, the bucket (?), apparently anything goes -- now I know what we're getting for Christmas...

After New Salem we missed an important turn, but decided that we were perfectly capable of finding the freeway by taking country roads in the correct general direction.  Normally our rule is to never turn around or backtrack, but  we ran into this:
And a whole lot of this:

And had basically decided that the new rule was that yellow lines on the road were mandatory when we ran into this:
Can you see that rusty car in the silo?  It was amazing and must have happened during a tornado years ago!  And to think that we might have gone through our whole life without seeing it just because it is on an extremely remote Illinois back road -- that was a close call!

Monday, September 13, 2010

blood, sweat, and tears

I haven't had much gumption for writing in the ole' blog recently and I don't quite know why.  I suppose I'm just busy with the regular business of living, but I don't understand how all of those mommies are writing novels, sewing, painting, etc.  (Sigh) Someday!  Let's see what I've been doing.  

Reading:  I had sort of stopped reading so much in the last couple of years, but in the last few weeks I've read an embarrassing number of novels -- mostly young adult, and almost all excellent.  

Canning:  this is where the blood, sweat, and tears comes in.  There wasn't actually any blood, which is rather surprising since I was using a sharp knife to both peel and slice the peaches.  The opportunity was undoubtedly present.  There were, however, a couple of somewhat serious burns from my very spazzy removal of the jars from the hot water bath, with boiling water splattering my front -- instant blisters!  I told a friend and she asked if I was wearing any clothes.  Hmmm, that is quite an image...  Why yes indeed, I was wearing several layers, truth be told, and after this experience I certainly will never be trying the nude canning and recommend that none of you do either.  We got a very good deal on a box of local peaches at the farmer's market so that and the satisfaction of rows of lovely jars of peaches more than makes up for the hours of labor, the terrific mess, and the resulting scars I am sure.  

Chauffeuring to seminary:  I am suffering from chronic lack of sleep and no amount of yoga shoulder standing will make up for that.  I will use this as the current excuse for my inability to think straight. 

Dressing my truth: I have been OB-sessed with the website and watching every single thing they have.  I have also ordered some things from their website and when I saw the charge on my credit card bill, it said, "Dressing your truth, disco"  Disco?  Did I order a disco ball and/or some funky music?  Think, think, think.  Oh!  It is short for "Discover your beauty profile."  I thought it was amusing.  I also thought it was funny that I have been trying so hard to look a little better and went a whole hour walking with a friend before she looked over and said, "Your shirt is on inside out."  Their truly is very little hope when I can't even master the simple basics of dressing.  

Being plagued by deadly pestilence(s): two different children at two different times in the past week have had, respectively, pinworm and lice!  Both were thwarted before spreading to any other family member (knocking on wood).

Losing weight:  Last, but not least, I have lost the same five pounds about three times this month.

What have you been up to?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

our prodigy

You might not think it is very funny, but we have a little running joke about our youngest being a little bit on the slow side.  He didn't walk until about 16 months, he still doesn't talk much, and when you tell him to give something to someone in the family he will probably throw it in the garbage more often than not.  When another Finn moved into our ward last summer we teased that people will distinguish them by labeling them the smart Finn and the other one.  I really am not that worried about his taking his time with things, he is the fifth child after all, but when he does something even the slightest bit precocious I get really excited.  Yesterday I was quickly trying to vacuum the main level before we went on an errand.  I told him to go get his shoes, which he did (yea!) and brought them back to me.  I then told him I was going to finish up and then I would help him.  Two minutes later he came back with them on and I was astonished!  I couldn't he believe he had had the coordination to put on his own shoes and proceeded to do a little dance, sing a lively song about how awesome that was and we both clapped for joy.  While I finished up the vacuuming I was daydreaming about how I would blog about my kids all getting so big when even my baby could put on his own shoes, zipped around the dining room, then backed into the library and ran right into someone.  Aaack!  Ella -- I didn't hear you come home.  How long have you been here?  Did you by any chance put Phin's shoes on him?  Complete deflation.  Yes, of course he didn't put on his own shoes.  It was so funny!  She said that she could hear me the whole time being so elated, but I couldn't hear her trying to tell me I was mistaken over the roar of the vacuum.

Today at our RS presidency meeting my friend said that she saw my husband and the littles at the library last night during my class.  She was so gratified that Phin knew her now.  I turned to him and said, "Do you know Miss Clare?  Where is she?"  And he pointed to the dog.  Oh, well.  I'm sure it will soon be his time to blossom.

Matthew just took him to his office for a little bit.  He adores his daddy and was happy to say goodbye to me, but first he needed to give me a big smooch --  that pucker is something he has mastered and no one would want to miss.

Monday, August 30, 2010


The tempo of my days has changed and I seem to have more time than I did when we didn't have much to do.  Getting up at 5:30 has its perks indeed ~~ I've been so productive before it's even 9 a.m.!  Ella was questioning this yesterday when we wondered why no one got any Personal Progress or Duty to God goals done this summer:  there wasn't anything pressing and thus nothing was actually accomplished.  Now when everyone has so much to do with schoolwork and what have you, the rest of our lives are clicking into place as well.  I was anxious about school starting again, but having a more concrete schedule is definitely an improvement from what my natural tendencies seem to be.

I know I've mentioned this before, but I  really like using cloth diapers which is something I didn't expect.  I was one day horrified by the idea of how big a mountain of disposable diapers just my family had created and so I switched when my fourth was a baby.  There were also the advantages of not using bleached paper, not buying a huge package of diapers every two weeks, not running out in a pinch, and many more that aren't coming to mind right at the moment, but there were also some unforeseen bonuses: such as right away I became aware of her natural rhythms in a way that had been impossible before and I felt more in tune and closer to her.  I have discussed this phenomenon with other cloth diapering moms and they have felt it, too.  

The sun is moving south.  I wouldn't have even been aware of it if I weren't hanging out my clothes to dry, but the spot where I liked to hang my whites to get really sparkly has diminished to a small piece of line for a tiny window of time because of where my biggest trees are and I have to move my diaper drying rack onto the driveway to get any nifty sun bleaching action at all.  I know this happens every year, but I couldn't tell you exactly what happens with the sun and the moon.  I must not have been paying attention.  Does everyone know all of these things already and I'm just out of touch?  I have always been intrigued by the amount of knowledge that our ancestors had about the movement of the sun, weather predictors, plant knowledge, etc.  Where did they get all of their information without so much as an encyclopedia or google in sight?  It was from experience and necessity and we have lost so much by moving indoors, our reliance on technology, and only buying whatever "they" are selling to us.  The light moved slowly at first, but now as the equinox approaches there are huge differences every afternoon.  I am in awe ~~ of the sun, the earth, and of how much that I don't know or understand.

Like why are bubbles so totally awesome and circular?  We're going to go blow some in the kitchen before I mop and Phin will dance around in delight popping as many as he can.  What amazes you?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

good morning, good morning!

Well, the good news is that I have a really good blender -- yippee!  The bad news is that I just blended the rubber stopper thing from the blender lid into our peanut butter, yogurt, spinach breakfast smoothie this morning.  I didn't even notice!  First, I thought it seemed to be having a harder time than usual to blend up the ice and even recalled for a moment the amusing story my friend Julie told me about blending up her little plastic stopper -- hilarious!  Then I idly wondered where my stopper was and bent down into the cupboard and did the thorough yet efficient hand sweep in the dark thing.  Next, I lovingly poured the jewel green nutritious deliciousness into everyone's glasses and demanded that they drink it all up or else!  I drank a little and noted absently that the flax seeds I had added seemed especially tenacious.  Wait a minute, that's not a flax seed, that is plastic.  Oh ~~ the lightbulb illuminates above my head ~~ that's where the stopper went.  I hurriedly yanked everyone's glasses out of their hands, scooped out the black plastic chunks, mournfully poured the rest of the "breakfast that actually wasn't cold cereal" down the drain, and got out the bowls with resignation.

In other morning news, Charles woke up at 5:38 which happens to be exactly two minutes before we leave for seminary -- and we were still on time!!!  I was looking all over for him in the basement, then was going to check if he was still in bed when I ran into him groggily making his way down the stairs.  After a promise that we could run back home before school, he put on his shoes and walked out the door.  Amazing.

Phin has a little cold, didn't sleep at all well, and is wiping snot on the couch at the moment.  Oh, now he has fallen asleep and looks super sweet.

How is your day going so far?

Thursday, August 19, 2010

first day of fall depression

School started today and it makes me so sad.  Did the summer go faster than usual for everyone?  I can hardly stand it and I certainly wasn't taking any pictures of the big day.  It isn't really celebratory for me at all.  My friend, Lisa, was writing on facebook about all of her homeschool preparations and I suddenly started to rethink that whole topic, but then did what I usually do which is go with the flow.  This morning, however, the girls were annoying me quite a bit and the thought quickly crossed my mind that it might actually be nice to have them gone until I realized that they were only bugging me because they weren't getting ready for school and that contention is virtually nonexistent during summer vacation.  Perhaps you should brush your hair?  Did you brush your hair??  Have you brushed your hair yet???  Oh and the homework battles!  Just shoot me now.  It also means that the winter will be here soon.  My stomach hurts.

We did have a great summer.  There was a lot of hanging out and visiting; a few projects accomplished; no big exhausting voyages; and not even one single box of macaroni or package of ramen consumed = success!

Now I just need to think of some things to keep me busy.  Heaven knows there is plenty of neglected corners around here to keep me occupied through the dark days ahead.  I know --  I'll do something really fun like reorganize our files!

Oh, and did you brush your hair?

Monday, August 2, 2010

midsummer malaise

I never write in my blog.  I never take any photos.  One day slips into the next and summer will soon be over.  August!  really?  It slides by so quickly while I clutch at it uselessly -- wait!  Did we go swimming enough?  Have we learned anything?  Have we struck the balance between a nice break from the too-busy school year and not going completely into a humidity induced coma?  The kids keep very busy with this and that and I love having them all around me.  Two more years with all of us.  I guess I won't go there.  Cry, cry.

I have been able to read a lot.  I just finished Animal, Vegetable, Miracle then watched Food Inc. last night, both of which put me in a complete stupor -- what do I do now???  It will be okay, slow baby steps to organic righteousness.  I recently saw someone comment on how they hate the term "green" and at first I took a rather negative view of that opinion, but it definitely started me thinking about how the term really has become very trite and now has certain baggage, if you will.  Every article on the subject touts the same idealistic measures and pretends that it is all new and fresh.  (Don't even get me started on the How to Save Money articles ~ "#1. Stop getting $6 lattes every morning and you will save 5 million dollars a year."  But what if I don't buy lattes?)  I get all excited about organic and green things which makes me want to immediately buy some of the cool and amazing products and I wind up finding myself on some website and ordering things which a. is not saving me any green and b. doesn't seem very environmental when you take into account the planes, trains, and brown trucks required to bring me the overly packaged green products.  Why just a couple of weeks ago I joyfully opened my box of three Gorgeously Green books (if I bought all three I got free shipping on Amazon -- the savings just add up like that!) and then I got my box full of organic shampoos and other toiletries, but there must be a better way.

I also just finished The Lacuna, also by Barbara Kingsolver, (thanks mom!) and I loved it, but it made me all cranky about politics and people in general.  It did provide some insight about why people are all hesitant to be helpful and loving since I suppose that has the taint of communism.  Why can't people, on both sides of any issue, just follow the golden rule and be logical with regards to food, immigration, welfare, what have you?  That is all I ask.  Maybe I should stop reading and just watch BBC productions.  There is a lot less angst for me the farther one goes back in history and the more fictional the story.  Although, some of the things going on around us do seem to smack of science-fiction.

To calm myself down, I am reading Yearning for the Living God and it does all that and more.  Story after story of miracles and faith.  It does the heart good.  I need to be better, and I can with a little help.

So that is that.  The cicadas are loudly serenading me outside the window, the girls just got back from a bike ride, the boys are in the basement keeping cool, the husband is tying up the loose ends of a sabbatical year, and I suppose I should go buy some school supplies.  I don't want to.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

reunited and it feels so good

Hooowhee -- it has been a long time since I've had a chance to write in the ole' blog.  We have been having fun with family!  First my parents came to visit and we had a great time divided pretty evenly between chilling and activity.  We went on walks, visited the Lincoln museum in Springfield (just as good the second time around!), swam, talked, languished in the heat...  Overall it was a wonderful visit and I wish so much that I could see them more often than once a year!  

The afternoon they left was followed by the arrival of 12 members of Matthew's family.  We had a very full house on one of the hottest days of the year and I was terribly worried about whether anyone could possibly get comfortable in our un-air conditoned house.  I think it was okay (crossed fingers).  The next morning we went to a steamy (humid, not sensual) rendition of As You Like It at the Illinois Shakespeare festival and marveled at the cast romping around in full costume and make-up without seeming to break a sweat.  Then lunch and the long trek to Nauvoo for three days.  It was also hot and busy there, but went by too quickly.  I was a little tense hoping everything would run smoothly, but kept telling myself to relax and just enjoy being together.  It was so fun seeing the cousins playing so easily together and I wish so much that we could see them more often than once every who knows how often!  We need to work on that.

So now we are back to just us getting the house back in order and enjoying the cooler weather that none of our guests had the pleasure of experiencing -- it's almost like God doesn't want more people moving to Illinois.
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