Wednesday, December 24, 2008

When Fables Fail

This post has nothing to do with a jolly old elf who will be stopping by our house tonight. No, it's about another fairy who frequents our home.
Maurice the Midnight Hairdresser has become a regular at our house. He is the elf who is responsible for bedhead hair, and it is he who, if you leave gum in your mouth while you're sleeping, will ensure that it ends up in your hair.
We have regularly warned our children against sleeping with gum using Maurice as the reason why you shouldn't. In fact, after stepping in gum a while back, I officially banned gum from our house.
Well, one of Ellie's friends just brought a little gift for Ellie, and attached to the gift was a package of gum.
I very nearly took the gum off the present before anyone saw it, but decided that it was Christmas, and that I should go easy on the kiddos. I diligently warned them that if I saw the gum outside of their mouths I would confiscate it, but apparently my warning went unheeded.
I just discovered Sarah with a HUGE wad of gum stuck--nay, SMASHED on top of her head.
I asked her what on earth she was thinking and she replied "I was just trying to figure out what Clarice (aka Maurice) does when she (he) put gum in your hair at night."
All I can say is thank heaven for peanut butter. It is not the first time it has prevented a most unseemly haircut (and we get plenty of those around here without me wielding the scissors). Today's adventure took about two tablespoons of Jif creamy peanut butter, and although I wouldn't say it was taken care of in a "Jiff," I will say the end result was much better than pulling out the scissors.
So, for anyone who tells tales to their children in hopes of teaching a moral, I would like to remind you that there is always a chance that it will backfire, so be sure to have your peanut butter on hand!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Our "Christmas Card"


Here is my blog equivalent of a Christmas Letter including the highlights of our lives:
Greg-just found all of his Gameboy DS games--they were in the pocket of his fleece sweatshirt. YEAH Greg!
Heather-is very proud of herself for actually doing any kind of "Christmas Card" since there hasn't been one sent out since Becca's first Christmas.
Becca-has a loose tooth.
Ellie-loves tromping through the snow (unless she is wearing a skirt, in which case she has figured out that if she gets a "reminder" at school she doesn't have to go outside for recess...We have had a talk about that).
Sarah-is growing by leaps and bounds...I'm pretty sure she outweighs Becca and Ellie now.
Rachel-is very naughty (but SO CUTE). Not only does she continue to disobey my orders to "stay little" she has officially entered the "troublesome toddler" stage...Look forward to "Ellie-esque" blog posts about this little angel in the near future.

So there you have it--the shortest Christmas letter ever (but since this blog has more info. about our daily lives than anyone would care to read I'm pretty sure it's enough!)

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

My Potty Mouth

Today we celebrated Grandma Lavern's birthday. In keeping with tradition, we all went to her house for cake and goodies and to spend some quality time with the cousins. It was great until it came time to clean up the basement, which was a bit of a disaster by the time we got around to cleaning up. Fortunately the room was full of parents helping to clean the room, because my girls were tired and not being very cooperative with the cleaning efforts. Sarah grabbed a truck & dominoes Deanne was trying to clean up, and would NOT let go, then Becca refused to clean up another set of dominoes she was using to build a chain.
I told Becca it was time to clean up and she replied "Just a sec."
My response to her: "No, Becca. No Secs." Somehow it didn't sound the same way spoken aloud as it did in my head, and as you may recall the room was full of parents who were helping to clean. I now know why you should think before you speak.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Christmas Tea Party

Today we had a Christmas Tea Party for the Macaroni and Cheese club. The kids were so funny. I had set the table with fancy Christmas dishes and made cheese and crackers, apple slices, dino-nuggets, and green punch, but the girls all insisted that we have macaroni and cheese, too because they were after all the macaroni and cheese club. I couldn't refuse, so they got their wish. I have to say that today's party was the funniest tea party I have ever attended. The girls sat around the fancy table complete with lighted candles, and they would try to act like princesses. They would put their pinkies out as they drank their "holiday tea" and dab their faces with the napkins one minute, then they would have dinosaur wars with their chicken nuggets and scream "Ahh! My dinosaur lost its head!"" the next. Then they would be right back to acting like little angels. It was quite entertaining.
Following the luncheon, we made gingerbread houses out of graham crackers. I put icing in a bag for each of the girls, but they all just wanted the entire house covered with frosting in order to facilitate decorating. Let me tell you, I wish I had taken pictures because there were some great houses.
We also made ornaments, read Christmas stories, played "Pin the nose on the reindeer" and watched a little bit of the Nutcracker movie. I think the girls had a good time, but I'm sure I had more fun watching them than they did participating in the events.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Santa?!

Saturday was our ward Christmas party. Santa and Mrs. Claus came and the girls all sat on his lap. Rachel was a little nervous, but held out for the candy cane and picture.
When we got home, I asked the girls if they liked sitting on Santa's lap. Ellie responded, "Sure, I guess, but it wasn't the real Santa."
Becca on the other hand was convinced that he was "the real thing."
When the other girls had left, I asked Ellie why she thought that the Santa at the party wasn't real. "Well, he didn't know everyone's name, his beard wasn't real, and he just put on those clothes."
I asked her if she had ever met the real Santa and she said, "no."
I asked her about the Santa at the grocery store last year who had a real beard and knew her name.
"Nope, he wasn't real either."
I asked her why.
"I could just tell."
So, how much longer is she going to believe? I have a feeling she will find out before Becca (who heard some kids on the bus discussing the fact that Santa was fake & she said that she hoped Santa would still give them presents even though they didn't believe in him).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

When Christmas Comes Early

Today could have been December 25th and my kids couldn't have been happier. Monday we finally had a decent snow storm and so I went outside with the girls to build a snowman and go sledding down the hill in our yard (a very small hill for Sarah's sake). Then, today, Grandpa W. took all of the girls to Dollar Tree and let them each choose about 10 items for their Christmas present...not only that, but he let them keep/open them all today. Oh, yes, it was like the big day came early.
We got home from our shopping trip a little before 5:00, and I literally couldn't get dinner started until after 7:00 because the girls were so excited about their new gifts (and I felt the need to supervise most of the activities).
So, what did the girls get, you might ask...well, here is a list of the highlights:
  • Bubbles
  • Puzzles
  • Magic Tricks
  • Paintable Sun-Catchers
  • Candy (chocolate Santas, Pixie Stix Candy Canes, ornaments filled with chocolates, Bobble Head Santa & Reindeer attached to jars of bubble gum, Pez dispensers & candy etc.)
  • Silly Putty
  • Stress Relief Dogs that looked like they had swallowed bones--yep, that was a highlight
  • Stamp Pads and Stamps that looked like makeup
  • Lip Gloss and other Makeup
  • Dress up accessories (shoes, earrings, tiaras, etc.)
And, had they not been vetoed and discretely put back on the shelf . . . an inscribed shot glass and pink whistle attached to a hot pink necklace saying "Bachelorette loose" and a red velour heart-shaped pillow with some serious fringe around the edges.
Oh man did my girls ever have some fun today!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Happy Sinterklaas Day

I have no (or very little) Dutch blood; however, I like to claim a Dutch heritage. My great-great grandpa served missions in Holland, and my great grandma lived there as a little girl because of it. Every year growing up I received a chocolate "H" from my great grandma, Mimi, and I loved it. So now that Mimi is gone I have decided it is a tradition that I don't want to let go.
For the past few years I have set out a pair of wooden shoes my uncle, Richard, brought back from his mission to Holland for me on Sinterklass Day (December 5th). I let the girls put hay and carrots in the shoes and then replace them with homemade chocolate letters as a gift from St. Nicholas.
Then, I read a story I received from another set of great grandparents about "me" when I was younger and got to visit all the people who help Santa (St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, Babouscka etc.).
I was reading the story and telling the girls about Sinterklaas, who is also known as St. Nicholas, when Sarah looked at the picture and said, "That can't be St. Necklace. Look he isn't even wearing a Necklace!"
I now know what is missing from Santa's costume!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Stop and Smell the Roses

Oh, if I only could. If anyone remembers my post, even before I was writing things I was thankful for, about being grateful for the ability to smell, I have now been without that ability for two weeks. I am also tasting very little and I must say it has been a very odd sensation. I decided to test my inability by chomping on a green onion and a piece of cilantro. The cilantro could have been lettuce as far as I could tell, and the green onion was very odd to eat because I could feel the slight burning that comes from onions, but I could neither smell nor taste anything "oniony."
Taking care of Rachel's dirty diapers has been an interesting experience as well. She has learned a new word "poopy" which is good, because otherwise I wouldn't ever think to changer her--I really can't smell ANYTHING! I even put the Vick's right up to my nose and couldn't smell a thing.
Bizarre!
It has made the actual changing of the pants a lot easier though! I just have to apologize in advance if I get sidetracked and don't take out a dirty diaper, or don't flush the toilet after my sometimes forgetful children, because I have always relied on my nose to remind me to do said jobs.
So for everyone with a working schnoz out there, remember to enjoy the smells...and tastes...around you!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Squish Squash

My kids have an unnatural love of gourds. It doesn't matter what kind I get, they love to eat squash. When they see squash in the grocery store they beg me to buy it. The other day, Ellie saw some spaghetti squash, and thinking it was "Yoshi fruit" (anyone who has played Mario will understand) begged me to buy it.
Now, how can a mother say no to a child begging her to buy squash? So, I bought it and just pulled it out of the oven. I put a little butter, salt and pepper on it, and went in the other room for a minute. When I came back, all four of my girls had their hand in the cookie jar...or should I say squash bowl. Rachel was eating the stuff two-fisted, Ellie had filled up a plastic cup with squash and was eating it like popcorn in front of the TV, and Becca and Sarah were chasing each other around the kitchen taking "squash breaks" to nibble a little from the bowl each time around.
Greg on the other hand is not much of a squash fan, so I don't buy it much, and we usually only eat it when he is out of town or as an after school snack.
Call me crazy, but it cracks me up that one of my kids' favorite after school snacks is squash (winter squash and spaghetti are their favorites though).

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Surprise!

Welcome December! I am unbelievably excited for the Christmas season. I love it! We have had such a wonderful fall that I can't be anything but happy to look forward to a new season....as long as winter doesn't bring a terrible inversion come January, anyway.
I am not one to leave buying Christmas presents to the last minute, so I am always wondering what to get Greg--he is a little bit like his father that if he wants something he will get it, and I often have to put anything released around Thanksgiving off-limits until after Christmas. But, even if I do come up with something, it is even harder to surprise him because I have to tell him-don't get that game or you will have two come Christmas.
Anyway, this year I came up with the perfect gift. We have a projector in our basement, and Greg eventually wants to move it over to our unfinished section, turning it into a full theater. However, even in the meantime, Greg has often looked longingly at the movie-theater style popcorn poppers, and has said many times that he would like one.
Well, I found one at Costco that fits on the counter top, and thought it would make a great Christmas present.
I ordered it online, the bill came to my email address, and I knew I had come up with a surprise that was sure to delight and would not be discovered.
However, in that I was mistaken.
The other day, the UPS man came to the door when Greg happened to be home, and the girls answered the door. I could hear them shouting from up in my bedroom "A POPCORN MAKER! A POPCORN MAKER!"
Yes, the popcorn popper was not only delivered when Greg was here, it also has a HUGE sticker on the outside of the plain brown box depicting its contents.
Well, as Greg put it, he was certainly surprised . . . just not on the day I was hoping he would be!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Google & My Girls

I had planned on only writing about my girls today, on this day of thanks, but upon entering Google, I knew that I had to write about my favorite search engine, too.
I love all of the artwork they put on Google--my favorite probably being the Olympic Rings that they had during the summer games. But as I saw today's festive Thanksgiving day decor, it brought a smile to my face.

OK, now on to the real post...Today I am thankful for my girls. Last night, Rachel proved that she was truly my daughter. She brought me a blanket and begged me to "bundle" "bundle" her up. Then, she found a book and begged me to read it. Yep, bundled up in a blankie with a good book...um they might all look like Greg, but that is MY girl!

Then, this morning, Sarah asked me to help her get dressed. I told her that I would as soon as I put in my contacts. She said, "Mom, you can see me without your contacts, right?"
I told her I could, and she said, "But you can see me even better with them in?"
Again I said yes.
"Wow, Mom...You are AMAZING!"

Yes, I love to be told I'm amazing, and if I can be amazing just from putting in my contacts, maybe I'll wait a few more years before I get my eyes fixed!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Health

As my health continues to creep slowly back into the realm of normalcy, I am more aware than I have been in a long time how wonderful it is to be blessed with good health.
I have had a cold that has knocked me out for over a week. Every night I go to bed early out of sheer exhaustion, and then wake up at 2:00 and 5:00 in a coughing frenzy...and that is with night-time cold medicine, Vick's and a heating pad soothing my aches and pains.
I have been getting up earlier than usual (5:00 is not the time I usually get up) but have had so little energy (plus the aches, pains and chills that accompany a fever and cold) that I only get the bare minimum done.
Today has been the first day that I have actually done a few "extras" (that being the laundry and bathrooms . . . it's amazing how few items made it to the "basics" list) and it feels so good to know that my house is once again coming to order.
A clean house equals a happy me, and when I am sick, I am probably not the best person to be around, so to everyone who has had to endure my presence for the past week (especially my kids), my most sincere apologies!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Soap!

Today's post is short and sweet (smelling).I am thankful for the smell of soaps and detergents. The kids and I took an outing to Costco and, lucky for me, several soaps were on my list. I love walking down the cleaning aisle. Greg...not so much. I LOVE the smell of laundry detergent (the good ones, not the blah generic ones), and I carefully go through all of the cleaners I am choosing for our house to find the ones that, in my opinion, smell the best.
At present, I am enjoying Pine Sol-Orange scent, Kirkland laundry detergent (the liquid or boxed variety are both fine, but the one in the plastic tub--not so great). I also love Tide, Mountain Fresh Fabric Softener (liquid or sheets) and Ajax brand dish soap. I know, Ajax isn't exactly the most beautiful smell, but it's the kind of dish soap my grandma always used, and when I smell it I think of her.
I know others would always buy unscented, and that's just fine with me...I haven't worn perfume for years because every time I did I got a headache (but I can wear body sprays without trouble) so I understand that everyone is different, but as for me...Bring on the smell of clean!

Monday, November 24, 2008

FHE

Every morning when we are eating breakfast, Sarah asks me what the day is. She knows that Tuesdays and Thursdays she gets to go to preschool, Friday we get to have "Sci-Fi Friday" Saturday Daddy doesn't have to go to work, Sunday we go to church and Monday is Family Night.
So this morning when I told her that today was Monday, she broke out in song, with a lovely rendition of:
"This is the night we waited for
Always a treat we get from the store [always a treat we have in store]
We love each other more and more
with every family night.
Stories and things [supposed to be games] for everyone
La, la, la gospel is so much fun [learning the gospel can be fun]
father and mother daughter daughter daughter daughter (the way we sing it)
together on family night."

She repeated the song over and over, dancing with Rachel as she sang.
How can I not be grateful for a night my kids love, when we can learn about the gospel in an informal, fun way?

So, today I am grateful for FHE (even if our lessons are usually less than 5 minutes long).

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Penance Brownies

When I look at my Beehives, I sometimes wonder if I was ever as silly as they are. I would like to think that for the most part I was a good, serious child; however, there is one memory that will forever burn in my mind the fact that I could be a complete dolt at times.

Growing up, Aunt Charlene made my favorite brownies. The brownie itself was yummy, but when they were almost cooked, she would put marshmallows on the top for the last 3 minutes of baking, let them cool, and frost them. They were delicious.

I, however have not ever made these brownies, until today, because they have a most embarrassing memory associated with them in my mind.

When I was in seventh grade, during spirit week, we had a Hawaiian day. My mom let me wear a necklace she picked up in Hawaii that had yellow birds on it. While walking home with a friend, the necklace broke, and the birds, and beads went flying down the road.

I loved the necklace and decided that it would only be appropriate to hold a funeral for the two birds that perished with the necklace.

While we were discussing funeral arrangements, a boy in my neighborhood happened to walk past. He asked what we were doing, and I told him we were preparing for the funeral of a bird I had loved, and told him he would be welcome to attend the services.

He came to the funeral, only to discover that he was attending funeral services for a necklace, and wasn't exactly thrilled to have to admit it.

My mom overheard the conversation, and happily smoothed things over with a batch of Aunt Charlene's brownies.

The neighbor stayed and jumped on the trampoline with my friend and me while my mom baked in the kitchen, but the longer I had to wait for the brownies, the more embarrassed I became that I actually invited a guy my age to come to a funeral for a fake bird.

Ever since that funeral, I have not been able to look a marshmallow brownie in the eye without remembering that fateful day when I decided to act like a moron for no apparent reason.

But today, I have decided that I have done enough penance for my actions, and I will be making the same brownies I loved as a girl.

So today, I am grateful for yummy brownies, grateful for the reminder that I could be silly too (so I should go easy on my girls) and I'm also grateful that my name isn't Max Hall....poor cougars :)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Education

Today I am grateful for education. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go to college. I had a wonderful experience there, learning, meeting new friends and figuring out how to solve life's problems to some degree.
I also enjoyed attending the different sporting events while in college, and today I get to watch a rivalry that is close to my heart. Since I attended both BYU and the U of U, I really love watching the games. I have known players on both teams and have enjoyed watching the rivalry unfold year after year.
Here is a little blurb about the Holy War from Wikipedia:

In the last 35 meetings, the record stands at 24-11 for BYU.But Utah has the longest winning streak on either sides at 26. BYU has won the last two matchups in 2006 and 2007. The last 20 meetings have been split evenly at 10 wins apiece. The largest point spread during the last 20 meetings was in 1989, when BYU won 70-31 (39 points).
So who am I cheering for?
Let's just watch the game...





but GO COUGARS!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Entertainment

Today I am grateful for entertainment. Today's specific entertainment was Ellie's kindergarten Mother Goose program. Obviously, most people were looking at their own children through most of the program, but when attention wandered, it was usually to Ellie. She was so funny. She was making faces at a little boy on the front row, who apparently claimed that the program was too boring, then, she would realize that everyone else had taken a prop out of their paper bags, and she would scramble to grab hers.
She didn't look at me once through the whole performance, but she had everyone else looking at her. I forgot to take my camera, but asked a neighbor to take some pictures of the program for me, so hopefully I will be able to post some before too long, but even if the pictures never come, it was a highly memorable program for me.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sleep

Some days I am grateful for things I have, and other days I am reminded to be grateful because it has been taken away.
Last night was not my best night of sleep. Rachel woke up several times in the night, as did I, because we were not feeling well. Then at 4:30, Rachel woke up again and was having trouble breathing. It was very odd. It was almost like she had been crying for a long time and was snuffling. She wasn't wheezing, had no cough or runny nose, but she just couldn't get a good breath. I woke Greg up, and she seemed to catch her breath, but we took her to a steamy bathroom just in case she was croupy.
She had no desire to go back to bed, and so we stayed up with her, and she seemed fine until about 8:00 in the morning when she had another episode. We decided to take her to the doctor, but they couldn't find anything wrong with her, and said that she sounded perfectly clear.
I am SO grateful that she seems to be just fine, but I am also grateful today for sleep.
I don't think about it unless I don't get it, but how nice is it to be able to sleep in a soft, cozy bed, in a climate-controlled environment.
Ahh, there is nothing better than a good-night's sleep (it's even better than a good book).

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Good Books & Good Friends

Oh the pleasure of a good book. I can't think of anything more relaxing than curling up with a good read.
Tonight I have a book club, and we read "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. It was a short read, but a good reminder to take advantage of the moment.
For anyone who doesn't know the circumstances, Randy wrote the book after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. He has since passed away, but his outlook on life as he neared the end helped me to remember my blessings.
I also enjoy the fact that I get to discuss a good book with the girls. It is refreshing to get together with friends and have a coherent conversation without interruptions for boo-boos, drinks, or the wiping of toddler bottoms--not that I don't love all those things, too, but today I am grateful for good books and good friends.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Hand-Me-Downs

Today I am grateful for hand-me-downs and for sisters-in-law who provide them and/or hunt out the uber-bargains for me.
Last night I was searching on E-bay for a Hartstrings sweater--just in case there was one that was to-die-for.
I saw one that looked just like a sweater that Laura found for me a couple years ago, and so I clicked on it. Sure enough, it was the same sweater, (she bought some for her girls, too) for sale by Laura.
I have been reflecting today on Greg's incredible family and how grateful I am for them and for all they do for me.
Today, Becca, Ellie and Sarah all happened to wear clothes passed down from Maureen, and they all got compliments on them (I would have taken a picture, but they have all since changed into dress-ups).
I am NOT a shopper, and so today I would like to pause to say thank you, not only for the clothes but also the friendship you give me.

I feel SO blessed to have such a great family on all sides.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Village People

Today I am thankful for the "Village People." Not these Village People:
although I am always up for a good round of YMCA! Today I am thankful for the people in the saying "it takes a village to raise a child."
Today Ellie came home from school happy as a clam because one of the teachers at school (who she couldn't identify) gave her one of the little wash cloths that is all scrunched up in a shrink-wrap package.
Apparently recess was a bit of an ordeal for her today. The girls she usually plays with said that they didn't want to be friends, so instead she was playing with a moth. Then, she didn't hear the whistle calling her inside and she was left all alone on the playground. When she realized she was alone, she tried to go in, but they lock the doors during the day for safety, so she sat down and cried until this teacher came and found her.
But, when she got home, she assured me that things would be better tomorrow as long as she got a good night's sleep tonight, and really, today was a good day, because she got the Care-Bear washcloth after her lousy recess.
So, once again, I am thankful for the "Village People" who look out for my kids and make things better when I can't be there to help.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Back to Basics & Redi-Whip

On Monday, Greg and I took the kids to the grocery store after FHE to pick out a treat. We decided on hot chocolate with Redi-Whip canned whipping cream. Since then, we have used the 88 cent can to top ice cream, and several rounds of hot chocolate. To me, nothing is better to warm up than a nice cup of cocoa, and this morning we had the best ever!
For Christmas a couple years ago, Greg bought me a "Back to Basics" Cocoa-Latte machine & it makes the creamiest, frothiest hot chocolate ever. Sadly, one day I wasn't thinking and I stuck the pitcher in the dishwasher & alas, it is not dishwasher safe. However, my sweet hubby bought me a new machine yesterday & now I am whippin' up some delicious cocoa!
We had some this morning topped with a squirt of Redi-Whip and some marshmallows, and my kids were in chocolate heaven.
So, today I am thankful for my Redi-Whip and new cocoa-latte machine....Thanks, Greg!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Celebrate!

I am thankful for celebrations. I love a party. Playing games, having fun and just relishing the moment. I also love it when my girls can find unusual things and ways to celebrate. Today has been a cleaning day--something else for which I am grateful--and they have been troopers.
The morning started with a trip to the church where we cleaned the building with two other families. The girls dusted classrooms, washed windows, and wiped out the drinking fountains without complaint and they did a great job.
Then, when we got home, I realized how dirty our own house was and told the girls they needed to help get it cleaned up.
Ellie fought the idea for a while, but eventually succumbed to the enticement that if she finished her bedroom she could go to the "popcorn store" (aka the hardware store).
Well, she was so excited to have her room cleaned up that she had an official "ribbon-cutting ceremony" to celebrate.



--Yep! It's toilet paper!

Friday, November 14, 2008

Laughter

This morning I was getting a little bit frustrated as I was trying to check my email. Sarah and Rachel were fighting over a size 2 shoe that doesn't fit either of them, and they have been at each other all morning. That was when I opened this message from Greg. It is from someone he works with who said that he wouldn't be surprised if this was actually one of our girls. I watched it and suddenly Sarah, Rachel and I were all watching and laughing together.
Isn't it amazing how quickly laughter can diffuse a tense situation?
I am very grateful today for laughter!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

McDonalds


Today I am thankful for McDonalds. The food is lousy and overpriced, it is always crowded, and I question the sanitary conditions every time we go, but truly, there is only one McDonalds and there is no substitute.
Growing up, visiting Mickey-D's was a rare privilege and it has remained so for my kids. I take my kids to the golden arches about four or five times a year and today happens to be one of those special times.
Greg is working at home on a presentation today and I'm supposed to get together with a friend, so, to facilitate a more quiet environment for Greg, I suggested the outing. To my satisfaction, we will be going after lunch and so I will be purchasing a cookie or ice cream rather than chicken nuggets or hamburger from the dollar menu.
Woo Hoo!
Don't worry, I will be packing the Purell (an item for which I am uber-grateful & which deserves its own blog post, but probably won't get one--poor Purell) and we will be taking baths tonight, but even if my kiddos do get sick, there just isn't a better spot to let the kids run and play on a rainy November afternoon!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Internet

How could I blog a month's worth of gratitude online without mention of the blessing of the Internet? Oh how easy it makes my life! How ever did I survive before using it?
Last night I wanted to make Chicken Marsala, and made a quick trip to a few of my favorite cooking sites before combining a few highly rated recipes to make something I knew my family would enjoy.
I have looked up ideas online for just about every aspect of my life...preschool, young women, cooking, cleaning, family home evening, books, movies, home decorating, you name it...the Internet has become my primary source of knowledge. It is also a great tool for shopping when I don't want to take my kids with me (most of this year's Christmas gifts for the kiddos was purchased online because it all comes in drab brown boxes and my kids know it's most likely computer paraphernalia.
I mean, think of Wikipedia alone..."Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information."--Michael Scott (the Office)

The Internet is also a great way for me to keep up on my own record keeping as well as the lives of my friends and family. How great is that?

Oh blessed Internet!

...Hmm....now why isn't autosave working....this thing just isn't posting...where did all my pictures go?....

HA! Just kidding!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Phone Sweet Phone

Today I am thankful for my cell phone. It has been missing for a few weeks and I thought it was long gone, but last night Chris, our neighbor, came over and dropped his phone down our couch (yes the baby eating couch). He reached in to pull it out and brought mine up instead. I had looked under the couch cushions when it was first missing, but didn't delve into the depths of the couch, so I am so thankful today for Chris finding my phone.
I waited a long time before I finally got a cell phone, but decided that it would be good to have one once Becca was in school all day. I don't use it very often and just have a pre-paid plan, but when it is missing I really miss it.
Last night, just before my phone was found, our internet (and now that we are with Vonage our phone) croaked and I couldn't contact Greg to troubleshoot the issue. Now that my phone is back I feel reconnected to the world and life is good.
Oh blessed day!
Everyone give your cell phone the love it deserves--it doesn't take long to miss it when it's gone, I promise!

Rhyme Time

I always find it entertaining to hear kids rhyme when they are just learning the skill. They get so excited, and in my family at least, it never fails that a naughty word or two gets thrown in. For example, today Sarah decided to rhyme with the word "sucker."
MmmHmm, that's right, Sarah introduced the "F" word into our home today....along with "trucker, cucker, blucker, gucker, and ducker."
When Ellie was learning to rhyme she chose to do so at lunch when we were eating ham, and the"D-word" was repeated about 17 times in her rhyme chain
And when Becca first started rhyming, she chose to rhyme "Pretty" which gave us a certain "SH-word" that was admittedly quite humorous to hear a 3 year old say.
I would be interested to hear if anyone ever does anything about the toddler potty mouths. I never have said anything, and the events haven't ever been repeated (other than the fact that the choice words have been repeated a couple of times in their chain), but in my opinion, it's better not to let them see that there are words that could get a reaction out of me when they are three (I fear that Ellie knows that "doggy poo-poo" and "fart" get enough reaction from me that she uses them regularly).

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Quick Ellie Quote

My sister-in-law is pregnant (and I am SO excited for her!) and last night at dinner my mom was asking her if she had any names picked out. She said that they might use Gracie if it was a girl because she just loves that name.
At which point, Ellie chimed in with, "Well, if you like Gracie so much, how come you didn't name Annie (their first daughter) Gracie?"
Good question, Ellie!

Potty On! It's Potty Time!

Oh, how I love a flushable potty! This year for girls camp I went to a cabin with flush toilets. This was my tenth girls' camp and my first one with indoor plumbing. Every time I went in the bathroom I marveled at the excellence of not having to hold my nose while going about my buisness.
This is a blessing I take for granted most of the time--like when I have to scrub the bathrooms, or Rachel is playing in the toilet water; however, I can't tell you how happy I am to have the blessed convenience of running water and toilets that flush/work.
I was reminded today of a Thanksgiving day four years ago, before I started this blog, when Ellie, bless her heart, took all of my hot rollers and shoved them down the toilet.
Greg tried and tried to fix the toilet, but after about 4 attempts (and water still leaking into my laundry room) we finally called the plumber.
We were without a toilet in our bathroom for about a month (from first attempt to plumber coming) and when it was finally fixed I was about seven months pregnant with Sarah and was ever so grateful that I didn't have to run down the hall in the middle of the night when she thought my bladder was a trampoline.
Along with the convenience of a toilet, how can I ignore the blessing of a hot bath? There is nothing I like more than to sit in a hot tub and read a book. Whenever I have had a bad "mommy" day, Greg will grab the book I am currently reading (there almost always is one on my nightstand) and run me a hot bath in our "big tub." The big tub is in the basement right next door to the water heater, and sometimes as I soak I can hear the heater click on. When I do, I am grateful for the blessing of hot water that runs straight from my tap. Add a few bubbles and I am in a veritable heaven on earth!
Oh, how I love modern plumbing!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Serendipity

Serendipity: an aptitude for making desirable discoveries by accident...I'm thankful for serendipity. Isn't it fun to make a discovery out of nowhere?
Greg and Ben were just talking about someone that Greg knows & as he was trying to describe him, Ben said Oh, he sounds like that one guy....oh, what's his name....you know....and then he named the same person Greg was describing.
We laughed our heads off. There is something just fun about serendipitous discoveries, and in my opinion they don't happen often enough.

I am also a fan of the movie "Serendipity" but I haven't watched it for a while...maybe I should go watch it while I eat some cookies (yep, I resisted making them for 48 hours, but the oven is buzzing, and I have to go).

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Saturday is a Special Day!

Today being Saturday, I am thankful for Saturdays--and long weekends. I love not having to get up early to get my kids off to school, but knowing I can get up early to do something fun. I love having my family with me through the day...my house usually suffers from Saturdays, but in my opinion it's worth it!

Yesterday Greg came home from work a little bit early and we went to the local art museum and to the library. The art museum is free and they have a little corner just for the kids (or should I say aspiring artists) to express themselves. They have a "found art" section, an "abstract art" section, a section with books about art, and an easel/chalkboard with all sorts of tools. The kids didn't want to leave & all opted to donate the quarter Greg gave them instead of buying a gumball (for which I will confess to being relieved).

Because of our little outing yesterday it has felt like a long weekend & I am just relishing each moment of the laid-back day.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Cookies

Today I am thankful for cookies. I read a cute book a while ago called "Eat Cake." It was about a woman who turns to baking when she is dealt stress & obviously she bakes...cakes. If I was asked to state my favorite thing to bake I would have to say that cookies take the cake.
Tonight we went to Greg's parents for Sci-Fi Friday & Greg's mom made oatmeal raisin cookies. Mmm, good! I love cookies. Where to begin with this fine delicacy?
I am quite certain that a batch of cookies was the first thing I ever put into an oven on my own. I remember baking a batch of snickerdoodles with a friend & doubling the batch only to realize when we got down to the flour that it called for 6 cups. That's right--the first time I made Snickerdoodles it was overflowing in the mixer at a lofty 12 cups of flour. I am still a little wary of rolling cookies in cinnamon and sugar after that ordeal.
One of my favorite Christmas gifts I ever received was a cookbook from my grandma H. It was a Betty Crocker cookbook and I still own it and use it--my kids regularly ask me to make "eating play-doh."

I don't know that I need to say much else about cookies--chocolate chip cookies are Greg's favorite dessert (well, that and cheesecake) and who can blame him...I submit that there is little better than a freshly baked cookie.

peanut butter fingers....chocolate chip cookies...german chocolate cookies...sugar cookies...chocolate crinkles...oatmeal raisin cookies...pumpkin chocolate chip cookies...

something tells me I'm in for sweet dreams tonight!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Dishes

Greg & I made an agreement shortly after we were married essentially ensuring that we would never get a divorce. The agreement is simply, if we were ever to separate, I would take all of the computers (and computer parts) and Greg would take all of the dishes.

If this gives any perspective to the values we place on "things" dishes are at the top of my list. So here is today's gratitude list of reasons that I am thankful for dishes.

1. Dishes set the mood. I love cute paper plates at a casual setting just as much as I love pulling out the china for a fancy dinner. I love to mix and match dishes from the different sets I own to create a new place setting with a unique feeling.

2. Dishes trigger memories. When I was first married, I invited my parents and grandparents over for dinner. It was the first time I had used my china, and I spent way too long beaming at the plates glistening in the candlelight.
However, when I went to serve the food, I realized that I only had two fancy serving dishes, so I had to make due with other dishes that I had on hand. I apologized to everyone (not realizing at the time that dishes aren't as important to everyone else) that I was serving food from Christmas dishes & explained the situation.
The following week I happened to be up at my grandma's house and she called me into the kitchen. She then pulled out a series of silver serving dishes and told me that she had more than she could use, that they were just taking up space, and she would be thrilled if I would take some from her.
Now, every time I pull out those serving dishes I think of her, and I am reminded of her love for me.
3. Dishes create memories. In addition to me remembering special events when I see dishes, my kids do, too. When I pull out my Christmas dishes they remind me of various holiday parties we have had when we have used them, and when I pull a sippy cup out of the dishwasher they know if it was one that they used when they were little.
I remember my grandma having the little glass "cheese cups" and yellow plastic smiley face cups & she had a special cereal bowl I used when I would sleep over (it had a man on the bottom and I had to eat all my cereal to find him). All those dishes are long gone, but I will never forget them.

Today I am making my grandma's recipe for strawberry butter & I will put it in one of her dishes. I love thinking about her as I use the same dishes she did.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Costco

Today I am thankful for Costco. I have often referred to them as "My personal caterer" and today I get to do an interview with my bro-in-law about why I like Costco. Here are a few of my reasons:
1-The Double Cart--Wow! how nice is it to have a spacious place for all four of my kids to hang out while I shop. They are always better behaved in Costco than they are in the "car-cart" at the grocery store. Then again, maybe that has something to do with reason #2 that I like Costco.
2-The Samples--Yep, nothing better than heading over to a food aisle when the kids start getting a little grumpy to get them something to munch on. And I'm a fan, too. I mean, if you get enough free samples you can call it lunch, but if the samples aren't your favorite that day, there's always reason #3.
3-The Food Court--I love the fact that I can get my kids a hot dog and drink for about half the cost of a kids meal. They love it just as much and I don't have to deal with a toy that I'd rather not have in the first place.
4-SURPRISE!--I'm not a big "shopper," but I love browsing through all of the ever-changing displays that come in at Costco. I have been able to get a lot of my kids' Christmas gifts there at a fraction of the cost it would be somewhere else & since the merchandise comes in and out so quickly I rarely have them begging for the same things on repeated trips.
and last, but not least...
5-Size & Quality Matter--I love the fact that when I buy a box of Dino Nuggets it will actually last me a LONG time. I also love the quality of their food. I have not found frozen green beans, broccoli or berries to match the quality of Costco. Their produce is also ALWAYS fresh. I have yet to find a moldy strawberry when I buy them there.
So, boring as the post may be, I am thankful for my super-store and the ease it brings to my shopping days.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

I LOVE AMERICA!

Today, obviously, is voting day and I am SO grateful for the privilege it is to be able to choose our leaders. It is so easy to go online and find information about each candidate & their platform and values. What a blessing it is to be able to decide for ourselves the people we want to lead this land.
So, I highly recommend that everyone makes sure to take advantage of the opportunities that are ours. VOTE!! Make your voice heard! Fight those lines & take a stand (just don't do it between the hours of 9-11 because that's when I plan on going) just kidding! Go whenever you want to! Just VOTE!

On that vein, I am also thankful for political humor. Having watched a lot of the SNL political jabs, I find that it is a breath of fresh air to see the candidates in a more humorous light & to see the politicians on the show laughing along with their counterparts. To me, it makes them seem more human and reminds me how great it is to have the opportunity to choose for ourselves the leadership we want in our country.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Early to Bed & Early to Rise

Today I am trying to be thankful for the Daylight Saving Switch over. I am (first off) thankful that they bumped it back a week, so my kiddos could go trick-or-treating during daylight hours (and since we could essentially start an hour earlier, they didn't get rained on).
Then--although I'm not a fan of it getting dark by 5:00, I am grateful for the fact that we have a much easier time getting the girls to bed and getting them up in the morning since their bodies think it's an hour later than the clocks say it is.
This morning I was able to get a lot done with my kids before they headed off to school & yesterday they even slept in because we kept them up late on Saturday.
So, even though I wish we could have a little more sunshine in the afternoon, I am thankful for the positive aspects of this switch!

Sunday, November 02, 2008

I'm Grateful for Kiddie Shows

My girls turned on the TV this morning & although we usually try to make the girls watch "Sabbath Approved" shows, they had something else on when I came in to see them. Before I could turn it off I heard one line from the show:
"Did you know that 100 percent of all home accidents occur in the home?"
"Really? I didn't know that!"
"Yeah, well, it's not easy being a genius."

There are definitely some shows that I would turn off just because they are intellectually depressing to a 5 year old, but sometimes I am cracked up by the writing on those "children's" shows.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

I am Thankful for....

As we enter November, I want to add a little bit of gratitude to my blog each day. Today I have to say that I am grateful for fall. Here are some pictures of the kids playing in the leaves with their cousins. As Liesl said, "I think fall is just an excuse for kids to have fun."
Oh, how I love the crackle of leaves!

Happy Halloween


With all of the Halloween festivities it wasn't until Becca said, "Mom we haven't carved our pumpkins!" about two hours after the Halloween party that I even thought about them. So, knowing that I still needed to make dinner and get the girls ready for trick-or-treating I decided to take a page from Pottery Barn Kids (which by the way I saw AFTER I made my crow tree & saw their crows & trees for sale at $25 per crow & $130 per tree). They also had some build your own pumpkin kits with fabric pieces attached to dowels that you stick into the pumpkin. Well, since it was Halloween day, and their kits were $25 a piece I decided to just make my own 5 cent version out of bamboo skewers and construction paper. The whole thing took me less than ten minutes (with about 10 seconds to clean up) and my girls got to stab all the pieces in to make a kitty. This picture was taken after Sarah rolled the pumpkin down the lawn, too, so it was pretty durable.
Here are my little China Dolls ready to hit the road. They used Chinese paper lanterns to hold their candy and as you can see, Rachel was the most excited of everyone to head out.
Here is a picture of dinner--Ham & Pineapple pizza. I put the ham under the cheese & used a combination of Mozzarella and Colby Jack to make the pizza a little more orange than usual.

It was a great Halloween.

Candy Corn Quesadillas

I have had a couple requests for pictures of the candy corn quesadillas, and twice when I made them I set aside one of the triangles to take a picture, but by the time I got back with the camera they disappeared. So, I decided to try a google search and found this picture--apparently I'm not the first to create my lovely Halloween treat (not surprising). I didn't grate my cheese, though. I just sliced it thinly because I thought it was easier to keep the colors separated. I also didn't use American cheese (it's not my favorite) I used Colby Jack for my "yellow." But this gives a good idea of what they looked like.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Party

I forgot to take pictures of everyone while they were here--again! But, here are some pictures I took before the party. We had a repeat of a lot of the preschool things (the q-tip skeletons, bean bag toss etc.) but Liesl brought some fabulous activities--the kids got to hold a dry ice bubble "ghost" in their hands and she brought some goblin eggs that Becca has been playing with all afternoon and with a more casual atmosphere the kids were able to relax and play a little more.

Instead of doing anything elaborate (or wormy gross) I decided to make all the food orange and black.
I ordered orange bread from the bakery and bought a jack-o-lantern kit & cookie cutter to make these peanut butter and peach jelly pumpkin sandwiches. (I also put raisins on the tray to add a little bit of black [not to mention my kids love raisins]).
I thought these spiders turned out so cute! They were easy to make & all the kids could do it without help.
I decided to take one last picture of our trees before the storm blew in. The colors were so vibrant & now already most of the leaves have been blown off in the wind.

I will try to remember to take pictures of the kids in their costumes tonight, but knowing me I'll forget, so no promises on the pics.

Computing PSA: Please Backup!

Greg here in a random fit of posting - and please excuse the blog spam. No cute pictures or anything else - just a public service announcement. As most of you know I work with computers most every day of my life and countless times people have lost valuable data. If I could convince people to change one single aspect of their computing lifestyle it would be to make sure you are taking regular backups! I see it as a two step process: 1) actually start backing up your important data and 2) make sure your data is recoverable [i.e. test your backups].

Well, about a year ago I signed up for a free online backup service (limited to 2GB of storage with the free account) and I have placed a variety of important word documents and other things under their care (but no pictures). Having used them for more than a year I can vouch for their reliability and the overall quality of the system. I have even restored some of my important documents at work, so they are certainly recoverable from about anywhere! As a side-note, in the last year I have used a cumulative 48MB of storage space (about 2% of my available space) so I think the free account has been well worth it - though you may only want to use it to backup documents to stay under the 2GB limit. Most backup software has very friendly options to help you select what you would like to backup.

The service I ultimately chose was none other than a locally operated Utah company: Mozy. My reasons for selecting them were really quite simple: Online, excellent encryption options, background updates each day (or set schedule), easy recovery. One of the more impressive features is they will even mail you recovery DVDs in the case of a disaster and you don't want to wait for all 300GB of photos, music and videos to restore over the internet.

Really I don't care what service you use, or how you do your backups - just please make sure they are being done! That being said, right now Mozy is running a special where if you sign up they will give you (and me - full disclosure) an extra half a gigabyte of storage FOR FREE. Please do yourself a favor and download and install Mozy today and start your online backup: http://mozy.com/?ref=L7HC85

Note: If it asks for a referral code, use L7HC85 - though just clicking the above link should work.

Breathe in...Breathe out

A couple weeks ago, Greg asked me if I would get some cleaner for the glass in our fireplace. When I was at Ace, I found some industrial glass cleaner and thought I would give that a shot. It works pretty well, and I just used it on my stove as well, but every time I use it I am taken back in time. Back in my paid-to-work days, I worked in an office that had a black laminate front desk. It was very nice, but always left fingerprints, and one of my friends who also worked there was anal when it came to keeping it clean. I had forgotten until I bought my own that the preferred choice to get rid of the prints was the same industrial glass cleaner I purchased. The label has changed, but I will never forget the smell.
As I was reminiscing, I thought about the number of memories that are triggered by the 5 senses, and a lot of my "flashbacks" are triggered by smell. Bread baking, different soaps and perfumes, the change of seasons, my kids coming in smelling like "recess" and countless others, and it made me think of someone else I know who can't smell. A member of my bishopric a while ago took a hard fall while playing basketball & hit his head. He had a severe concussion and was dizzy for a while, but the longest symptom he had was the lack of smell and consequently taste.
At the time I didn't think that was too bad--and even now I think when I have kids with dirty diapers/illnesses it isn't all bad--but I couldn't imagine not being able to smell all the wonderful things in the world.
So today's challenge for anyone reading this--take a big whiff of the Halloween candy tonight (especially if you have trick-or-treaters going out) and see if it triggers any memories of Halloweens gone by. And then, just be grateful for all five senses. They are truly a blessing.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Privacy--What's that?

I was folding laundry in my bedroom this morning with my kids when I had to use the potty. The lock to my bathroom is broken, but I thought I could be in and out of the baƱo without interruption...I was wrong. Both of my stay-home girls were in the bathroom with me moments after I had closed the door. I am not sure what causes this phenomenon. However, I learned my lesson and used a different bathroom a moment ago (one with a lock) only to find both of the girls standing next to each other right outside the door when I opened it.
My question is--what do they think I am doing in there that needs an audience? (because I'm pretty sure I don't)
Rachel is now screaming at my side because I came here to type my thoughts rather than picking her up when I was finished, so I'd better end my post, but for anyone who gets to use the potty in privacy, may I say, enjoy it!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Ode to a Day Out

Greg came home from work early yesterday and took the family to the afternoon showing of Wall-E at the Dollar Theater. The movie was really cute & since there were only about 10 people in the theater (including our 6), and two of the other 4 were a toddler & baby, I decided it would be acceptable to forgo a little bit of theater etiquette and I let Rachel run up and down the aisle next to me.
She had a ball, it kept her quiet, and with the exception of when I had to turn around (because she liked to run one row past me then come back) I was able to see the movie, too!
I have to say that like unto many of the other Pixar films, I think I liked the short at the beginning of the movie just as much as the feature-length film (for anyone who can't remember it's Presto the magician and his hungry rabbit).
Following the movie, we went to my brother's house, where they graciously offered us pumpkin chocolate chip cookies (one of my favorite fall treats) and the fellowship of their daughter (which I think my girls liked even more than the cookies).
We pulled up the street at 8:00 (a little later than usual bedtime) and Greg dropped me off at the neighbor's house for our ward book club while he put the girls to bed.
Wow! What a great day!


OK--So now that you know that I REALLY did have a GREAT day, I have one funny story to tell. After the movie, we decided to run to Wendy's to get the girls some chicken nuggets for dinner, but since we were right next to a sub shop, we decided to grab a turkey sandwich to split for us rather than a burger.

I was the only person in the sub shop, and was quietly pleased that I would be able to be in and out of the store quickly. So, I ordered my sandwich and paid for it, and the girl at the cashier called another employee from the back room to make the sandwich.

Apparently, not only was this the girl's first day of work, mine was her Very First Sandwich. Now, I'm not just saying that--she told me (about 15 times during the 10 minutes it took to make the sandwich) that this was the first time she'd made a sandwich.

I was very kind & smiling on the outside, but inside my smile was more of a laugh. By the time the sandwich was done, half of the bread was a crumbled mess and the manager had to put the toppings back on and roll the sandwich up in the paper to before giving it to me because my poor sandwich maker let everything spill out when she tried to roll it up.

I was also a little worried because I said that I wanted salt and pepper and mustard on top, and there was a LOT of pepper and mustard. Fortunately, other than being a little strong on mustard, you couldn't really tell (because I wasn't about to say that there was too much--could you please make a new one).

Anyway, as I said before, my day was great and the sandwich experience was really just comic relief for me (I don't know if Greg out in the car with the girls would agree).

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Call Me Abby

For anyone who has seen Young Frankenstein, I am afraid that somehow, (I'm pretty sure it was during one of my epidurals) I was given young Abby Normal's brain.
Sarah had her preschool party today, and it was a hoot. I took my camera in my purse so I could get plenty of pictures to share, and while we were there one of the other moms took pictures, we talked about blogs, and I didn't think about my camera until we were home and I put my purse on the counter and thought "Oh, I should put the camera away."
Who does that?
Oh well!
The party was darling! The kids made Q-Tip skeletons:

played "boo-sical chairs" made the famous ghost suckers, played spider toss (I bought it on clearance from Pottery Barn Kids & it's really cute) had toilet paper mummy races, and ate hot dog mummies

and peanut butter eyeballs--you can use the "Peanut Butter Egg" recipe I posted earlier and just dip them in white chocolate instead of milk & frost on the eyes.

I have to give a big thanks to everyone who made the party so darling--It really was fun! (and I plan on reusing many of these for the party on Friday, so don't expect much different entertainment--but maybe I'll remember to take pictures!!!)

How to Eat Fried Worms

I have been trying to make some fun "Halloween" meals for my family as we have drawn closer to All Hallow's Eve. So far, my favorite (and my kids' favorite) has been candy corn quesadillas. To make them, I took mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, and Colby Jack cheese and arranged them in rings around a tortilla. Then, I just microwaved them and cut them into triangles to turn them into "candy corns." I found that slicing the cheese worked better than grating it because the colors stayed in their rows better, but my kids thought it was great.

Last night, I went with a more greusome food choice--fried worms (actually they were boiled). I took a package of hot dogs and cut them length wise into strips, boiled them until they curled up and served them on a bun. I even served them with bbq sauce instead of ketchup and the result was a little too realistic, but the kids thought it was great being permitted to talk about gross things at the dinner table. Greg was kind enough to take a picture of the all-too-realistic food.



Monday, October 27, 2008

Whew!

This morning was one of those AAGGHH! mornings--have you ever had one? Rachel woke up around 5:00, and went back down at 6:00 (after smothering me in my bed for an hour), so I thought I would just "rest" for 30 minutes or so until my alarm went off. The next thing I knew I was dreaming that I was taking pictures of the fall leaves with a camera in one hand, a hand grenade (a small one) in my other, and binoculars around my neck. Which, naturally, is when the neighbors drove by. Then, Greg was shaking me telling me it was almost 8:00. Which meant that I had about 20 minutes to get my girls up, dressed, fed, and ready to go.
We got the essentials done when I remembered that Becca's homework was due and she still had two pages of math left.
We burned through that (with me giving more than one hint, I'll admit [for example: If 5+5=10, and 6 is 1 more than 5, what is 5+6?]) and I put in in her backpack only to realize that I hadn't packed her a lunch.
Now, on a morning like this last year, I would have just told Becca to have school lunch for the day, but for anyone who doesn't know, we have been having a few issues with the school lunch program. Namely, before I could put any more money on Becca's account (we had about 70 cents left over from last year) I received notice that Becca's lunch account was negative and "she would not be allowed to have school lunch again until the account had been settled."
I asked Becca if she had eaten school lunch for some reason, but I was pretty sure she hadn't since her home lunches had been eaten every day. She said "no" so I tried to contact the school to straighten it out.
Instead, I got another note & Greg got an email saying taht she was now 2 meals in the hole. I tried calling again, and sent an email without response.
We have now had 3 meals charged to Becca's lunch account, and I have refused to put money in until the account is settled. Which means I get to pack a lunch whether we have had a nice relaxing morning or an AAGGHH! morning.

But....Da da da da! (cue the trumpets) I got her lunch packed in under 30 seconds because I have come up with the greatest lunch ever for AAGGHH! mornings.

Becca LOVES Uncrustables. I first bought them at NPS (for anyone who lives around here and doesn't know that store tell me and I will share my wealth of knowledge) where they were about 5 cents per sandwich, and I couldn't pass it up. However, if I want to buy them now, they are around 50 cents a sandwich at Costco (on sale sometimes for about 25-30 cents) but for a PBJ I find that a little expensive still--we have already gone over my frugality...I come by it rightly, just ask my mom.

So instead, I go to the bread store, buy a couple loaves of bread, get a jar of peanut butter, a jar of homemade strawberry jam (Becca's favorite) and make my own.

So, coupled with some baby carrots and a fruit leather, here are the easy to follow directions for anyone who is interested in a really easy packed lunch:

1-Put peanut butter on BOTH sides of the bread (to prevent a jam soggy mess)--learned that one from Uncrustables
2-Put a little dollop of jam/jelly in the middle of one slice of bread & top with second slice.
3-This part is what I do because Becca likes the "UN" in Uncrustables. I get a nice big plastic cup that has a wide lip at the top and smash it on the sandwich (verses a thin-lipped cup that would cut the sandwich). Then I peel the crust away from the smashed edge and violla! I Have a sealed sandwich without any crust!

They freeze really well ( I just stick them in individual baggies and throw them back in the bread sack), and Becca likes them just as well as the "real thing."

The only sad thing is that I think that they cost about 5 cents a sandwich, which if I could find them at NPS every time would save me the hassle of actually Making them. But! You can't always have your uncrustable and eat it too, right?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

L,M,N,O,P-cock


Yesterday we tried to take the girls up to "Boo at the Zoo." We got the girls all dressed up in their Halloween costumes and headed up only to turn around when we saw the insane number of vehicles parked all up and down the road. Somehow, we determined it wasn't worth the hike just to get in only to have that many people inside. Therefore, we opted for a much quieter morning at the "little zoo" (also known as the Aviary). The girls loved looking at all of the birds, and Sarah was especially enamored with the free range peacocks roaming around the park.
She yelled "Hi Azul!" (the peacock from Barbie as the Island Princess) every time she saw one. So Greg decided to test her knowledge of what type of bird "Azul" is. He said, "Azul is a Pea-"
and Sarah filled in--"PEA-RANAH!"
We all got a good laugh at that, then a few minutes later Ellie decided to help. She asked Sarah if Azul was an "O" cock, or a "P" cock.

The Aviary was great. We had the whole thing basically to ourselves (with the exception of a little boy's birthday party where the guests cornered one of the peacocks and forced it to fly onto the roof of a nearby roost).

Following the Aviary, we went to the grocery store where the girls got to make bat puppets and go "trick-or-treating" in the deli.

The girls were thrilled that they got to have as much candy as they wanted, and they got plenty of attention for their costumes since they were the only little China dolls around.

And Greg and I were thrilled that we didn't have to keep track of our little bananas in the crowds of the zoo.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vomitrocious!

I love the word Muffy (from Arthur) coined! Happily, today could be called "not vomitrocious," and I am hoping that my serious investment in Lysol products helps to keep it that way (My apologies for any inside trading opportunities lost because I didn't announce sooner--I'm pretty sure their stock went up after my purchases).

I feel like I need to have a little timer on the side of the blog that says X number of days since anyone has thrown up around here. The only problem being that I am well aware that when we had another "episode" updating the timer would be the furthest thing from my mind.

I have to apologize to everyone who got sick because of my family down in Zion. I had no idea that we were sick--Becca had thrown up 3 days before we left and Sarah 5 days earlier, but we had NO symptoms until the second day of our trip, and since then we have had a "Clean up on aisle--I mean bedroom--X ever since. I thought on Tuesday that our woes were over, but Rachel woke up on Wednesday in a pungent smelling room.

Happily (I think) today, although her room was definitely on the pungent side when I entered, it was all from the other end--she decided to be a poo-artist (and I'm not talking about the bear).

So, once again her room got the once-over with the Lysol, and my hands and forearms are reeking of Ethyl Alcohol, thanks to the miracle of Purell. Oh, how I love Purell.

And now, let the timer begin, because I am crossing my fingers that we are done puking for the rest of the season (because there is ALWAYS room for wishful thinking).

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Boo-tiful Decor for pennies!

I think Halloween is a great kid-friendly holiday, and I wanted to decorate my house this year in celebration, but I had no desire to spend a fortune on things that are going to be manhandled by my kids, so here is my house this year

Here is my favorite room. I found these crows at Dollar tree and couldn't resist their Halloween charm, so I brought them home, sawed off some dead branches from a tree in my yard, spray-painted them black, and stuck them in a black vase. Now Rachel begs me to let her see the "birdies" every time we're in the family room.
I also love to "decorate" with seasonal books. I only have a couple of Halloween books at my disposal, and even fewer that are presentable, but I love this Pumpkin Soup book, so I thought I would incorporate it. (I also love how you can see my ghost--a grocery bag stuffed with newspaper, taped on the top of a lamp and covered with muslin) reflected in the mirror. The spider votive candles and paper lanterns were also Dollar Tree finds. No sense spending the big bucks for punching bags (that are sitting on the floor right now because Rachel just came in the room, by the way).

On to the dining room! I found this pumpkin candle wreath at DI for 5o cents and couldn't pass it up. I wrapped it with some berries that were on clearance at Michaels and put a real pumpkin in the middle.

I rarely splurge, but I bought this tablecloth a couple years ago for a friend's birthday only to discover that she had purchased a square table. Well, I couldn't bear to return it so I got her another gift and I am now the lucky owner! I love the fact that my centerpiece is a basket of apples from our tree in the backyard. My girls eat them like crazy, but I didn't have to pay for them, and they are a nice, healthy snack!


I usually put my girls' artwork up here, but I was lazy this year and put up some cute prints I found instead. (OK really they are just treat bags that I got at Dollar Tree, but where else can you find 20 prints for a buck?)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We got back on Sunday from our trip to Zion National Park. The drive home was long and dry, but we made it home without pulling over to let anyone throw-up. Hallelujah!
As we neared home the leaves were bright red and orange and in contrast to the wheat colored scenery we had seen for hours on end and I was thrilled beyond words to see some variety in color and altitude.
The colors on the trees were so vivid it really almost took my breath away. I LOVE the changing seasons! (I also love sleeping in my own bed--but not as much as Rachel loves sleeping in hers!)

Here are some pictures of the kids on our trip. Ellie got sick while we were there so I stayed back at the cabin with her (and Rachel) so if you notice a lack of pictures with those two, you'll know why.

Sarah loving life as a cowgirl--but I think she liked the petting zoo that was right next to the stables almost as much as riding horses.

The cousins playing in the water inside the park.

Ellie demonstrating her favorite "I'm getting my picture taken" pose.

Ellie was a little nervous to be on her own with the horse, I think, but she put on a brave face.

All of the cousins in terrible lighting but on a GREAT rock for playing!

Rachel was the most excited of anyone on the trip to ride the horses. She didn't even flinch when she had to saddle up with a cowboy she'd never met before. Talk about being in heaven!

Sarah trying to smile into the sun. Mmm. Blessed sun in October!

Becca and Sarah on their hike while the rest of us gals were home in the cabin (but no complaints from me--Rachel napped, Ellie didn't throw-up once and I read an entire book--sheer bliss!)

Becca's turn on the horses. She loves riding, and considers herself to be Calamity Becca-Jane.

Tarzan, Meet Becca-Jane. (Oh, man did we ever give her the right middle name!)

If you can't tell, the highlight of the trip for our girls was THE COUSINS!

Oh, yes, and more time with the cousins!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Help Chris get a costume!


My neighbor is here and needs a good super hero or villain costume. He goes all out, and needs something great. I have a few suggestions on the side of the blog, but if you have any other ideas, feel welcome to post. Here is a picture to help you get ideas!

By the way, Greg also suggested Dr. Horrible and Captain Hammer--let me know if you recognize these great characters.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Letters to Santa '08

When the girls woke up to 6 inches of snow on the ground Sunday, they naturally assumed that Christmas was right around the corner, and decided it would be a good idea to make their lists to Santa.
Being one to enjoy getting the Christmas shopping done early (and knowing that the letters are sent and it is impossible to change the list) I was all for the early writing.
I thought that once again I would post the letters because it really cracks me up to see the various personalities shining through the letters.
So here they are: The requests to Santa--

Dear Santa,
Thank you for the presents you gave me last year. I love my doll, and I keep her on my bed. I also loved the box of activities. My favorite activity in the box was painting the little squares. I also liked playing with the play foam. The Polly Pocket Movie was really good, too!
This year, I would like a tea set, but not glass please. I would like a little stuffed lady bug, and some Easy Bake Oven mixes (especially a white cake with frosting and sprinkles, please).
You always give me nice things in my stocking. Thank you for all of the nice things.
Love,
Rebecca

Dear Santa,
Thank you for all my presents. You gave me Barbie Island, but not Tika. Thank you for my dolly house. I want a Snow White, and a Tika, too, and a cushie.
I’m getting’ a pillow for Christmas. A sparkle one with rainbows.
From,
Sarah

Dear Santa,
Thank you Santa for the last presents from the last Christmas. This year I want my makeup cell phone and my pretend real cell phone that makes sounds and the things in my stocking and thanks for the letter. Oh, yeah, and my dress up. And I love my Easter Bunny that you didn’t give me.
Love,
Ellie

Monday, October 13, 2008

7 random things about me:

I got tagged with the 7 random things tag, and so here is more information than you ever needed to know about me:

1. When I think of people who give their children Bible names I think of home-birthin' bonnet-wearin' fundamentalists somewhere out in the Midwest, but I have 4 "Bible-named" girls. In fact, when my OB found out that we didn't have a name for Rachel, he asked me what my other girls' names were. When I told him he said, "Oh, so are you looking for Bible names?" and I was bugged that he would consider me to be "that kind" of person.

2. I am not a picky person, and will eat just about anything, but I really do NOT like eclairs.

3. I love it when things are clean and hate it when they are messy, but I can only think of a handful of times when I have felt like my whole house was CLEAN (not just straightened, tidied etc.)

4. I love talking about my kids, but really don't enjoy talking about myself. You might notice there are VERY few pictures of me on here. I'm just not a fan of the camera.

5. Despite my lack of desire to be in the limelight, I have no problem speaking in public. I have spoken in Stake Conference, Stake Women's Conference etc. and I enjoy it.

6. I love to write and blog, but I am terrible at keeping an actual "journal." When I reread my journals they never sound sincere and I feel like I come across as a self-righteous prick (and I desperately hope I don't act like that in person)

7. I am a terrible klutz. I am always bruised on my shins from running into things, and paper could be considered a weapon against me (I'm a paper cut magnet). I actually thought of writing a book called "Paper-Cut Problems" when I worked in an office because I would come home at the end of the day with hundreds of paper cuts, and those things hurt like the Dickens!

Where did you get your red hair?

We have had a couple of very long nights, and last night was no exception. Over the course of the night, Rachel woke up three times, Becca woke up once (and climbed in our bed), Ellie woke up once (and climbed in our bed) and Sarah woke up four times, threw up, and climbed in our bed.
Sarah was smart enough to avoid throwing up in her own bed, and instead climbed up in Ellie's when she got sick, so we let Ellie stay in our bed.
When she woke up this morning, Ellie was smiling the grin of someone who got an unexpected reward (I usually deposit all children I find in my bed back in their own beds).
I was pretty groggy, but I had to laugh as she had the following conversation with Greg.
Greg: "Who is this little red-head in my bed?"
Ellie: "It's me, Daddy!"
Greg: "Who has the prettiest red hair in our family?"
Ellie: "ME!"
Greg: "Where did you get your red hair, Ellie?"
Ellie: "My grandpa."
Greg: "But Grandpa's hair isn't very red anymore."
Ellie: "Of course not! He gave it to me!"

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Jekyll and Hyde

I wonder if Robert Louis Stevenson had a toddler when he wrote Jekyll and Hyde. I sometimes feel like I am living with my own 3 year old version of the affliction--the difference being that I am well aware of the reasons and cure for the child-sized version. For the past month or two, Sarah has been my own personal version of Jekyll & Hyde. She will wake up one morning in hysterics, ornery as an old mule, and acting like a spoiled baby (and I really don't believe in spoiling my kids), then the next morning she will be a sweet little angel; giggling, helpful, and sweet as sugar, Sugar. In fact, some days she will even go around singing "Sugar, Sugar."
The difference?
SLEEP!
And I'm not talking about hours difference. Two minutes of sleep could mean the difference between Jekyll and Hyde at our house. If I accidentally wake Sarah up when I am getting the older girls up, I can rest assured it is going to be a LONG day. Sarah hasn't taken a regular nap for about 2 years, and she hasn't had an accidental nap in over a year.I have tried, unsuccessfully, to figure out a way to get her to take one--especially when it is desperately needed.
However, some mornings (like today), she will wake up all on her own and she is a little ray of sunshine.
Right now it is pretty funny to see the sleep-deprived split personality, but I am hoping that by the time she starts kindergarten it will have cured itself.
Otherwise, I will have to petition the district for a medical release on days when she is exhibiting symptoms of Hyditis.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Musical Interest

A really quick entry:
Ellie just informed me that she wants to be a musician when she is bigger. Apparently, she wants to play the Sarah-neck (Clarinet).
Then she figured out her own joke and started playing Sarah's neck.
Silly girl!

A "Pear" of Stories

Today I had preschool at my house again, and our letter of the day was "F" so today we talked all about Fire. We talked about fire safety, talked about ways to put out fires, including with Foam-and I let them build a Jell-O fire, then put it out with Ready Whip cream,


Then we talked about putting fire out with water, and the kids all got a turn to put on the fire fighter coat and hat, and extinguish a candle with the water hose.


(My "fire hydrant" in the background is a little lopsided because Sarah was the last one to be the firefighter and it was only made out of construction paper)

Now, for those of you who put up with the trivial moments of my preschool, here is the second story in the "pear."

My grandpa called to see if we would be interested in picking some pears from his tree. The girls had long since picked all the fruit from our own tiny tree, so I told him I would LOVE some. When we got there he told me that he had picked some of the lower branches, and so if I wanted more than the remaining low-hanging fruit that I should just shake the tree and pick up whatever fell. He has always given me sound advice, so I decided to follow his counsel. I picked all the low-hanging branches, then decided to give the trunk a good shake. After the first shake I got one pear off--and it landed directly on my head. I won't say it was the worst pain I've ever felt, but it didn't really feel good, either. So, I repositioned myself, looked high up into the tree, and thinking I was safe, gave the tree another shake. This time, two pears fell. One was a bug-infested, bird-eaten half of a pear, and the other must have ripened weeks ago, for it was dark brown, inside and out. I know it was brown on the inside because I saw the insides when I wiped them from the back of my neck! Yep! I thought for a moment a bird had done its business on my head, but in fact, what used to be a piece of fruit landed on my ponytail, slid its way down my neck and down my shirt. Mm, Mm, Good!
I laughed so hard my sides started hurting, and as I told my grandpa, "I think it was a practical joke sent straight from heaven" because ALL the pears on that tree were just starting to ripen. Every single one I could see (other than said brown beast) was just gorgeous, waiting to be picked.
Well, needless to say, I gave up on the high branches, and called my bounty "good-enough!" But, my grandpa, after hearing my story, offered to share his harvest with me. Thanks Grandpa!