Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Fun!

We had a very nice Christmas, and as usual I am thoroughly enjoying having everyone home.  Archie hasn't bothered me once today at all!  Ibby and Phin are keeping him completely occupied.  We've been casually working on a puzzle for the past week and then people run off and play with new toys, or sneak to a quiet corner to read a book. 

 Matthew and I are starting a diet today, instead of waiting for the requisite New Year's Day resolution kickoff, since we feel disgusting after being gluttonous for too long.  I bought all kinds of appetizers that looked appealing at Sam's Club so we're feeling a little bit post-cruisy if you know what I mean.  We've been invited to a party on New Year's Eve so we're going to take that evening off, but otherwise we are going to do a full 30 day detox and see how we feel.  With eating too much junk and I've also finally weaned that big baby (sad), I've gained almost 15 pounds in the last couple of months!  I wish I didn't have to worry so much about my weight, or that I naturally didn't enjoy eating quite so much, but it is my trial in life -- and there are much worse ones, right?

We couldn't decide what to get for Charles for Christmas so we decided to take a little jaunt up to Chicago and let him choose the itinerary.  We kept checking on to see when it wouldn't be ridiculously freezing and horrible up there and we decided on last Friday and Saturday.  Initially it had said that it would be in the upper 20's and lower 30's, but that would still be better than any day the rest of Winter break so we went for it and it ended up being absolutely gorgeous!  Friday was around 40˚ and Saturday the sun was shining and it got up to 45˚ I think!  Charles decided to look up offbeat places to visit and we had a great time -- by far our favorite trip to Chicago yet!  On Friday we left a little late, but got up there around lunchtime.  We stopped at a little Polish diner and had borscht, goulash, and lots of other things that included sausage, potatoes, and cabbage.  Our next stop was the Vietnam Vets Art Museum and it was really great!  Oh my, the emotion, though!  Young boys sent off to a foreign jungle and deposited in what was basically hell.  War is so horrible!  Anyway, both of those places were tiny hole in the wall type locations that you would totally just pass by if you didn't know about them.  The museum especially!  We stopped because the GPS told us we had arrived, but we couldn't see anything anywhere!  So we got out and started walking around, but it turned out we were parked right in front of it!  Charles had a church on the list next, but I suggested that we go to the Sears Tower since we had never been up it before.  So we drove over there, parked, walked into the building, but the line was so long and tickets were so expensive we passed on that and drove over to H&M.  Dad stayed in the car with the little boys and soon texted me that he couldn't find his wallet!  We looked everywhere, but it never showed up so we've had to cancel our credit cards, etc.  He also had quite a bit of cash and some gift cards that we had bought ourselves to go out to eat.  Total bummer!  And I blame myself for bringing on bad karma once we veered from Charles' prescribed plan.  We had dinner at Giordano's and then went to a hotel.  It took them two hours to get our keys to work and bedding for the hide-a-beds so I was quite frustrated with the little boys not being able to go to bed.  The girls went swimming.  Saturday morning, Matthew and I woke up early and went to the temple.  He had called the bishop the night before to ask if we could call him early to talk to the temple president (since he had also lost his temple recommend with the wallet).  The session started at 7 -- we had arrived around 6:25 -- but Matthew didn't get in until 6:58.  They were a little grumpy in the dressing room, but I made sure they didn't close the doors and he made it!  It was very nice to spend time there and we chatted in the Celestial room for a while.  We had thought there would be breakfast at the hotel.  It did say hot breakfast, but we missed the not complimentary part.  So we stopped at McDonald's and then went to the next spot on Charles' to do list which was a thrift store called the Brown Elephant.  He didn't find anything, but I found the most amazing painting!  It is just a floral still life, but I swear I've been looking for one like it for years!  I always see great art from thrift stores in magazines, but I never see anything I like at Goodwill or even Estate Sales, so that was very exciting for me. 

His next choice was a book store called "Bookman's Corner" and he hoped, hoped, hoped that it would have a ladder!  He wanted to climb up it and find the perfect old book, but alas!  It was closed!  I should've taken a picture of it because it was so amazing!  It had front windows that were full of toppling piles of books -- like they were mountains of garbage!  I was a little relieved that it wasn't open because I wouldn't have been surprised to see rats in there!  Next we drove over to a street that is famous for being a mecca for Indians.  Charles was really hoping there would be elephants wandering the streets and mosques calling people to prayer, but I'm sure that you can guess that once again he was in for disappointment.  There were tons of interesting shops -- hundreds of stores selling gorgeously beaded sari among them.  We wandered around a bit then had a spicy curry lunch.  Last, we drove over to Chinatown, bought some food at a very Japanese-y bakery, found some fun souvenirs, and learned more about k-pop!  

We drove home and arrived around 7 p.m. so that was nice to not have a late night. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

Love only requires one skill

This week has been better than last week, I suppose.  We whizzed through the stomach flu, but everyone has colds so no one feels very good.  Archie has some strange illness that I can't figure out.  He gets a fever in the afternoon and evening, but then it goes away without any medicine.  He just wants to sit in my lap so I watched an entire series, 16 hour long episodes, of another Korean drama.  It was so good!!!  But I felt very guilty about watching t.v. during the day.  I don't normally do that.

I'm teaching Charles' Sunday School class now and so I've taught two times so far.  They are a rough crowd!  They're either talking loudly and hitting each other or when I finally get their attention and ask a question they're all staring at me blankly.  Hello???  And there is a new curriculum that is very vague and strange because you're supposed to teach by the spirit.  I think the concept of teaching by the spirit is a good one, but a little direction would be so helpful for me -- especially because I have a hard time thinking on my feet.  I can have a conversation with someone for hours, but if I'm just standing up in front of people my mind goes blank and I'm barely coherent.  It's sad.  So there is a list of topics to choose from and the one I chose for yesterday was "Serving in the Church."  There are some great conference talks about that and a story from the Ensign this month so I was reading them things and asking questions.  At the end I gave them a plastic spoon with this story:

One day a man said to God, “God, I would like to know what Heaven and Hell are like.

God showed the man two doors. Inside the first one, in the middle of the room, was a large round table with a large pot of stew. It smelled delicious and made the man’s mouth water, but the people sitting around the table were thin and sickly. They appeared to be famished. They were holding spoons with very long handles and each found it possible to {mosimage}reach into the pot of stew and take a spoonful, but because the handle was longer than their arms, they could not get the spoons back into their mouths.

The man shuddered at the sight of their misery and suffering. God said, "You have seen Hell."

Behind the second door, the room appeared exactly the same. There was the large round table with the large pot of wonderful stew that made the man's mouth water. The people had the same long-handled spoons, but they were well nourished and plump, laughing and talking.

The man said, "I don't understand."

God smiled. “It is simple,” He said, “Love only requires one skill. These people learned early to feed one another. Those who are hungry are greedy people, and they think only of themselves.

But then the girls were flipping each other with the spoons!  I swear they are worse than the Sunbeams who at least are a little cowed by authority, sheesh!  But I just smiled, it really wasn't bothering me that much, and I loved that concept of just loving other people.  I've been thinking a lot about the scripture Moroni 7: 47-48 -- Charity doesn't come naturally to everyone so like other gifts, we have to pray for it.  I'm going to try to pray for it every day. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanks a lot!

We had an absolutely memorable Thanksgiving.  It started with Phin throwing up on Wednesday afternoon around 5 p.m.  I had just gotten back from seeing the second Hunger Games movie with Lucy and was trying to get everyone to clean up the house a little bit.  Phin wasn't doing anything and was just laying on the floor.  I thought he was just being lazy, but then he said "I feel like I'm going to throw up and I'm serious!"  So I told him to go throw up then and he did -- halfway to the bathroom, grrr.  So I cancelled our plans with the Thayn's.  He was sick until halfway through the next day, but then we were all feeling pretty good for our actual Thanksgiving dinner.  By that night Dad wasn't feeling well and at 1 in the morning Archie started puking.  He was every 30 minutes or so with us having to change all of his clothes and bedding every time then Ibby started at 3 with not quite making it down the attic stairs... that carpet did not look pretty.  By the next day Charles wasn't feeling very well either.  Around noon Phin comes upstairs and asks why water is coming down through the dining room light.  I run down there and the chandelier looks like a fountain!  Quite pretty, I suppose, but worrisome!  We call a plumber, but no one can come for a while since it is a holiday.  When he comes he says that something broke in the tub above (and they were over here fixing that all morning -- $700 we weren't planning on spending).  Then Lucy got sick Friday night and I was throwing up all day on Saturday so Dad's birthday was kind of a bust.  We celebrated yesterday, but everyone's tummies were still a little sensitive.  We have tons of leftovers since I still made everything and we didn't share nor did we eat very much.  How do you like that appetizing tale?

Monday, November 25, 2013

Hipster Sunday School

Hellooooo!  It is Janis' birthday today so sing her a little song in your heart.  I was released from the Primary Presidency a couple of weeks ago and now I'm going to be Charles' Sunday School teacher!  I am a little nervous, but excited, too.  Matthew is now the executive sec. again  and he told me that they called me because I'm so hip and cool and they just want the kids to have fun in that class.  Then the other kids told Charles that they all think I'm really nice.  Those were compliments that made me feel good, but made Charles and Lucy laugh so hard!!!  Charles told them to not make me mad and Lucy told me that if thinking I was cool helped me sleep at night then I could go on believing that. 

I have been walking at the mall with Clare since it has gotten so cold and then I sometimes find myself at Old Navy when it opens... so I went in today and there was Trent Windsor working there!  He was very friendly and  is leaving for Mesa, AZ on Dec. 18.  Ben Bakaitis is in that same mission. 

Sunday, November 17, 2013


We've had a crazy few days around here.  There was a tornado  here yesterday and it was hitting town around noon so they cancelled church.  Ibby yelled, "Pajama church!" and you wouldn't believe how quickly everyone had stripped off their Sunday clothes!  Phin had learned all about tornadoes from school so he was really scared and talking about how green the sky was and how we should all huddle down in the basement with our heads down.  We did go down there, but then had to look out the kitchen windows because it was so amazing!  Golf ball sized hail, wind whipping, tree branches flying around, tornado sirens going off... But by 1:00 it was an absolutely gorgeous, clear, and sunny day.  We could've gone to church, but Bro. Dibble said you can't really put the toothpaste back in the tube, right?  The eeriest thing was that it had climbed to about 72˚ when the sky was all green.  I guess the warm air and cold air hitting each other is what causes tornadoes and why they normally hit in the spring.  It is very strange November weather.  Anyhow, for the most part we were fine here in Bloomington, but in Washington the tornado hit the grounds and cut through a 1/4 mile swath of about 70 homes -- they were completely leveled!  It is so sad!  All the church member are fine and hopefully we can find ways to help in the upcoming days.

I gave a talk in church last week about the hand of God in our lives.  I recounted the story that Ella told us about going to that one family's house.

Saturday, November 2, 2013


Well, since we went to Wicked today -- I guess my second post will be that!  I feel so fortunate that we live close enough to a big city to attend the occasional Broadway musical.  There is something about live theater that just fills me up!  I wake up singing, "Dancing through life!"  and waltz around the house, "I think I'll try defying gravity!"  And I love visiting Chicago.  The tickets were bought several months ago, and I originally intended for Matthew to take Charles and the girls since I had already seen it a few years ago with Ella.  Unfortunately, the date happened to coincide with Charles' cross country sectionals meet so he couldn't go.  Also, that left us with no babysitter, but my lovely friend Clare was kind enough to watch the boys -- for over 11 hours!!!  Charles kept saying all week, "I can't believe you're missing the last race of my high school career!"  I hoped that he was wrong since he had very good chances of making state this year, but then a team that was supposed to make it didn't (seven runners not associated with a team can go to state -- we knew BHS wasn't going to make it -- but this other team had three runners faster than Charles, which he wasn't counting on) which put Charles in 10th place for those spots.  He did get a PR of 15:47 which is just amazing to me for a three mile time!  Long story long -- we did, in fact, miss the last race of his HS career -- fail!  But we saw Wicked!

I always love the randomly placed art in big cities -- it sparks the imagination!

And this stand held the MOST adorable little puppet show  -- great music and dancing starring a fawn puppy and a black cat!

Friday, November 1, 2013

my baby

I've decided to start my thankful month with my sweet baby.  Archie is turning into such a character!  He makes me laugh -- and grind my teeth in frustration, but for the most part he is really a joy.  He is very good when I take him places and people are always commenting on how well behaved he is. And he talks very well.  Of course, I can't remember anything clearly, but I am pretty sure that he talks better than the other boys at his same age.  For a while he was saying, "yeah" to everything, but then he shifted to saying, "yesssssss" strong emphasis on the s, and now he says, "uh-HUH" all day long.  Should we go eat breakfast?  Uh huh!  And the not so cute is me saying, "Stop hitting me," and him yelling back, "I want hitting me!"  He asks me to "Hold you" whenever I walk down the stairs and his favorite show is Daniel Tiger's neighborhood.  He'll walk over to me, touch my shoulder, put his little head to the side and say, "Tiger, pwease?"  How can I resist? 
He is still nursing once or twice a day so I'm enjoying our snuggles, without it being too much and resenting him.  He also still likes to climb on my back and relax back there while I do things around the house.
 He insists on saying pretty much every family prayer and we all have to use steely control to not completely erupt in irreverent laughter.  He loves everyone in our family so much and likes to yell goodbye to the whole list every time we drive away from the house.  They all think he's pretty great, too.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween 2013

It had been super rainy all day so we were a little worried about whether trick or treating would be a total bust or not -- and then the heavens cleared, the clouds scooted, and it was actually quite pleasant!  I did miss the usual crunch, crunch, crunch of the leaves, but it could have been much worse.  One thing I kind of dread is the strange people that wind up on our street for Halloween.  For some reason, we are a very popular destination -- some theories include: first nice neighborhood heading east, no driveways so houses are closer together, very picturesque with old houses and big trees, most people are home so can get lots of candy... Regardless of the reason, it always bugs me a little because a.) we have to buy TONS of candy every year and b.) I get a little nervous with complete strangers around with it getting dark, etc.  One neighbor, who happens to be an actuary, has started keeping track of our visitors.  Last year we had 278 trick or treaters, and this year we hit 210 (probably because it started raining again).  So if you figure that we give each person two or three pieces each, that is almost 900 pieces that we have to buy!  I was complaining about it at our fall party last Saturday, but someone pointed out that they think of it as a small tax for living in such a lovely spot.  That helped change my perspective, for a moment, until we were out trick or treating and somehow got in step with the weirdest guy ever!  He would stay out by the sidewalk smoking and then say odd things to my kids when they would walk back to go to the next house.  Then, every once in a while he would add to the fun by donning a grotesque mask and growling at them! Even Ibby was disturbed, but Archie was especially dismayed.  He wouldn't let me put him down!  So after about 10 houses or so my friend looked at me and told me that I should use my energy to get rid of him (back story required here: I'm reading a book called "The Emotion Code" that is very interesting and talks about how our energy is more powerful than we realize -- like one can tell if someone enters the room in a bad mood, etc.).  I laughed, but then whispered really low and slow, "Gooooo awaaaaaaaay" and not two seconds later he called up to his daughter on the steps, "Come on!  Let's go over here!" and they promptly crossed the street.  It was just so random!  The people hadn't come to the door yet, we weren't to the end of the street -- it was truly a Halloween miracle!  And/or I have a hidden superpower!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

just another October Saturday...

We had a very fun weekend.  Matthew had bought four tickets to see Jim Gaffigan in Champaign -- I am not quite sure why he bought four -- I had thought it would be fun to just go on a date, but c'est la vie.  So the question was, who was going to get to go?  We sorted through all of the variables and had decided that I was going to go with Charles and the girls since it didn't seem fair to just take two of them and not the other.  But then! Charles wanted to go to a pasta party at Sam's before his meet so I got a babysitter for the boys and Matthew and I would go with the girls.  But then!  Phin came home early from school on Thursday (I had noticed he looked flushed and listless when I went in for his class party -- I had even set him up in the basement with a show and then he put himself in his bed... that is truly ill!) and threw up in the night so I didn't feel like I could leave him home with a babysitter so I called around and offered about 6 different people a free $40 ticket to see Jim Gaffigan! but no one would take me up on it.  We then tried to sell the ticket on Craig's list and had even gotten an email about it, but Charles came home and said that he would be happy to leave the pasta party early and watch the boys.  I told him that we could go back to the other plan of him coming to the show, but he thought his dad should go, wasn't that sweet?  Super long story, whew!  And not even terribly interesting or funny.  It was very fun!  There were a few dodgy parts, but overall perfectly appropriate for the little girls.
 Matthew was sitting on the other side and on the front row.  He said he would have enjoyed it more with us to laugh with him, haha!  Yes, I am notorious for making things more fun because I start laughing so hard about everything.  I inherited that from my own dear momma.

Saturday was a little crazy.  We left quite early to see Charles run in Metamora.  It was a beautiful, crisp fall day and the drive was pretty.  The interminable wind made it a little uncomfortable, but it was still nice.  Phin doesn't ever like to go so he stayed home with Lucy and we had our little outing with Ibby and Archie.  They're pleasant companions.  Charles got a pr of 15:56 so that was really good.  I was praying so hard for him because he hasn't done as well as he had hoped this season, but this time should help him qualify for a college team.  Now his grades came in the mail yesterday and are a completely different story, grrrrr.  That kid frustrates me to no end.  Just turn in your blasted homework!  So maybe he can become a plumber.  Yes, I'm back to that.  

Next on our agenda was a quick lunch and then Ibby's last volleyball game.  She is doing so well this year and even serving the ball over the net!  I love watching her concentrate and really focus on what she is doing.  She is so earnest!  After the game we ran home and got costumes on for our neighborhood block party.  It is always nice to visit with friends, eat some yummy chili, and let the kids run around with wild abandon!  The boys particularly loved the pinata -- who doesn't like to smack something and then get candy for it?  We then came home and carved pumpkins.  

 Not the best pics in the world, but hey! 

Saturday, July 27, 2013


We left Ammon, ID early Thursday morning so that we could get to Lagoon by the time it opened at 11:00.  The older kids went off on their own and we had a pleasant time in the kiddie area with the little boys.  Archie wouldn't go on anything at all!  But he was happy and liked looking around at everything and everyone.  About halfway through the day we went to the pool for a few hours.  We always have such a good time there -- it is one of our favorite amusement parks!


Friday, July 26, 2013


We left Yellowstone and instead of driving the 1 1/2 hours to Rexburg from West Yellowstone, MT we decided to drive the 7 hour scenic route through the beautiful Tetons and back up through Jackson Hole and some gorgeous parts of Idaho.  We couldn't pick up Ella until the next day anyway, so why not?  We got to Aunt Karen's house after dinner and got all settled in.  She was so gracious and hospitable!  The next morning we woke up early to go get our girl and she was so happy to see us! She said that she had been extra homesick for the last few weeks.  She was pretty much done cleaning her apartment and everything when we got there, but we had some glitches getting her computer turned in since it was Pioneer Day.  You would think that they would have limited business hours since it was the end of the semester, but oh well!  So we had to take the computer and then ship it back to Rexburg.  We also didn't have room for all of her stuff (and she had given away most of the items that I had spent so much money on just a few months ago...) so we had to run to UPS and ship a lot of her things to our house in Illinois.  Once we had the worked out we spent some time wandering around campus and visiting the places where Ella ate burritos with her "friends." 

 And the kids played at the park while Matthew and I went to Deseret book.  We then went to Idaho Falls to see the temple and have a pizza picnic along the river.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Old Faithful

Another day into and out of the park -- we started becoming quite familiar with the twists and turns and lovely vistas!  We visited the lower geyser basin and waited in vain for one to erupt -- it wasn't very faithful.  And then we drove to the upper geyser basin to see Old Faithful.  Charles didn't want to see the museum or the film, so he and Archie saved us some front row seats.

 Waiting, waiting, waiting...
And there it is!  It was worth the wait!  The whole time I was in the park I tried to imagine what it must have been like for the first explorers when they stumbled across some of the hot pools, sizzling fountains, and exploding geysers -- I would've thought the world was ending!  
Here is our pic at the sign, but my lens had something on it so this is as good as it gets.

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