Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Just a few Christmas memories I didn't want to forget:
1. Katie and Suzie singing their little hearts out to several of the Christmas carols being constantly played on the radio. The only carol that got a negative reaction was "Feliz Navidad." It utterly confused Suzie. Whenever it would come on she would say, "What's that song, Mommy? I don't like that song."
2. And the best rendition of a Christmas Carol sung by my girls was hands down "Angels We Have Heard on High." We were driving to a Christmas party and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir was singing it on the radio. They were at the "Gloooooooooria" part and all three of my girls decided to sing along. The only problem was none of them were on tune with the choir or with each other. It sounded like a chorus of cats. And there was no one else to enjoy this stirring 3 part "harmony" with me. Eric was at home and Finn was listening to his MP3 player, but I REALLY wish I could have recorded it.
3. On December 23rd I was going to run some errands. I was leaving Finn at home so I was going through the list of where I was going... ending with a trip to the post office. When I told him this he said, "Hey can you wait a minute? I need to write my letter to Santa." Now keep in mind Finn is almost 11 years old. But I love that he still believes. I think he keeps it on the DL because I'm pretty sure several of his friends don't. But in my mind I thought this was naive on several levels. Besides the obvious naivety, the fact that he thinks he can send his letter to Santa 2 days before Christmas and he will be able to get it and fill it in time. I mean I don't buy for every kid in the world and even I was done by December 23rd! But I took his letter anyway.
4. I always love going to look at Christmas lights, but the only other one in my family who shares this affinity with me is Katie. Everyone else just humors me. One night I was driving my kids around and after about 15 minutes even Suzie expressed her disgust with an exasperated, "I don't like Christmas lights. Mommy. I want to go home."
5. Another night even Eric was humoring me about looking at Christmas lights and we drove past Wheeler Farm. Eric said, "How about on Monday night we go see the light display they have there? Didn't we do that a few years ago and we went on a hayride and had hot chocolate? That was fun." To this I could only nod my head because I was speechless that he would even bring this up. Because according to my memory, he did not like doing this a few years ago and complained the whole time. It just goes to show that sometimes you just have to do what you think is important and not worry about everyone's reaction. Because the memory may be sweeter than the actual experience.
6. On Christmas Eve we always go to my uncle and aunt's house and we get to watch Santa bring a present to every kid. We are sitting in the dark when he comes and he supposedly doesn't see the 30 or so people in the room as he delivers presents. This may be a contributing factor as to why Finn still believes. But we can't make any noise or else it will scare Santa off. This year "Santa" was quite a thespian. He tip-toed very dramatically and would whip his head around at every little sound. He also either had a head-cold or was going through puberty because when he yelled "Merry Christmas" as he "drove out of sight" his voice cracked a little bit. Even still we loved our JJ Santa because there were presents for all!
7. When we were driving home from our visit with Santa the topic of conversation turned to coal and under what conditions one might receive coal. I was informed by my chidlren that I could very well be in danger of getting coal because I swear and I talk on the phone too much. No respect!
8. Apparently the previous night's conversation about coal must have resonated with Katie because on Christmas morning when she saw that there were presents for her she confided to Eric, "Dad, I got presents. I was so afraid Santa would bring me coal." (The guilty take the truth to be hard.:)
We all had a very Merry Christmas and hope you all did as well!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Truth in 5 year old Promises

I'm sure you've heard of truth in advertising. This is where companies must have proof that their products can do what they claim they can. My sister and I have joked about requiring Truth in Christmas Letter writing, where instead of hearing about vacations taken and glowing achievements of children you would read about how many hours of TV kids really watch and annoying habits of spouses. Well this week Katie taught me about Truth in 5 year old Promises. We were having one of those mornings where both Katie and Suzie where paying more attention to "Curious George" then their mother and complaining about everything from having to wear a coat when it is 20 degrees outside to wearing socks with their boots. I was trying to get out the door and had had it. So I shamelessly pulled out the Santa card and said, "I can't believe you guys are acting this way the week Santa is coming." My guilt-laced arrow must have hit its malleable mark because quite a bit later and out of the blue Katie said to me, "Mom, I might not whine when I have to make my bed today." I replied, dubiously, "You won't?" To which she honestly said, "Well, I probably won't."

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Katie's Christmastime Prayer

This prayer is in the same vein as Shel Silverstein's "Prayer of the Selfish Child" which if you are not familiar with goes like this:
Now I lay me down to sleep,
I pray the Lord my soul to keep,
And if I die before I wake,
I pray the Lord my toys to break.
So none of the other kids can use 'em...

Here's Katie's extended version:
"Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank thee for our family. Please bless us to love each other. Please bless us to be nice to each other. Please bless grandpa and grandma on a mission. Please bless that I will like Finn's present. Please bless that Annie will like my present. Please bless that Suzie will like Annie's present. Please bless that Finn will like Suzie's present. Please bless that Suzie will like Annie's second present. Please bless that Mom will like Finn's present. Please bless that Dad will like Finn's present. Please bless that Mom will like Annie's present. Please bless that Dad will like Annie's present. Please bless that I will like all my presents. In the name of... Oh wait- Please bless that we will be watched over and b-tected (protected). Please bless that we won't have any scary nightmares.

Last week our school had a "Santa Shop" they could buy presents from for their friends and families. So we discussed who was giving to who in our family this week multiple times. In case you didn't catch it from her altruistic prayer:
Finn is giving to Katie
Annie is giving to Suzie
Katie is giving to Annie
Suzie is giving to Finn.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall... I am my mother after all.

Just the fact that I titled this post that proves my point. My mother has a saying, song or ditty for every occassion, including the title of this post. For example, when we were young and would whine, "I'm thirsty", she would respond back without missing a beat, "Nice to meet you thirsty. I'm Friday. Why don't you come over Saturday and we can have a Sunday." Or if we were trying to find a space to sit on the couch she would sing, "Move over and make room for Kari. She doesn't take very much space..." And don't get me started on the vast repertoire of songs she had for all holidays. We heard endless songs about Peter Cottontail, witches flying through the air, what turkeys did the night before thanksgiving, snowflakes named Suzy and the like. Often my siblings and I catch ourselves doing the same thing. Even my brothers will bust out little sayings. However theirs usually have to do with passing gas- things like "the smellers the feller" or "Whoever did the first rhyme did the mischief." (That one is more of an inside joke.)

But it is funny the ideas we have about our parents when we are little. They seem to be larger than life and were the best at everything. I loved to color when I was little and my mom would color with me. I was always amazed at how well she colored. She would do fancy things like stay in the lines and add shading. In fact I think she still colors better than me. Not that we have had any coloring contests lately, but she does have a psychological edge on me being my mother and all. And my Dad owned a standard four-door sedan when we wear young, but we all thought it was a sports car because it had a stick-shift. And my Dad never corrected us. He would feed into our illusion even more by telling us that the car would sprout wings and fly if it went over 60 mph. So when we would reach 55 mph we would encourage him to go faster so we could reach 60. He would push the gas down until 59 mph and then come up with some excuse as to why it couldn't go up to 60 mph. I can imagine my dad was proud of his tall-tale telling abilites although I'm not sure he should be. I also believed my older sister when she told me that Santa travels by limo with his reindeers sticking out of the sunroof when I expressed my concern about not having any snow because we lived in Florida. Apparently I was a naive child.
Anyway to say my mother is creative and artsy is an understatement. Even my childhood friend, Lisa, who I still keep in contact with-can remember the personalized smiley face chore charts we had or the Robbins nest banner we had in our family room or the pillow cases with each of our hand-drawn faces on them-all of which she made. During Christmas she hung stockings she made that had a child on them that looked like each of us. My older sister and I have continued this tradition. Although we have only made them under the careful tutelage of our mother. She would design them, tell us what to do and we would do it. So using mostly my mothers creative abilites I have made the following 3 stockings:

Finn the fisherman

Christmas Annie holding a gingergread cookie

Katie the ballerina
And that is as far as I got with my mother's help. Suzie's first Christmas I didn't make her one because I subscribe to the theory that they won't remember they didn't have a Christmas stocking when they are young so I have a few more years to come up with another one. (This fact alone says so much about my mothering style.) Then Suzie's 2nd Christmas my mom was one her mission so that was reason enough for me not to make it. But this Christmas is Suzie's 3rd one and I'm pretty sure she will notice if she doesn't have one. But here's the rub- my mom is still out of the country. So what is a creative-dependent daughter to do? She bucks up and realizes she has enough know-how do to it herself. So with some inspiration from my sister, Michelle- she gave me the idea- this is what I made for Susie's stocking.
Drum roll please.....
An adorable- if I do say so myself- cheerleader with rosy cheeks and heart lips just like mom use to make. Please note the small details- like the shoelaces, bobby socks with a pom-pom, the multi-colored skirt, the "C" for either Christmas or Christensen and the pom-poms in her ponytail.
All I have to say for myself is "Who is up for coloring contest now?!?"

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sometimes I think I am so funny.

Even though our household bleeds "UTAH RED" most of the year, this Saturday is the one time I have to go against the "party line" and cheer for the BYU Cougs. This is much to my husband's chagrin, but I'm pretty sure it is in the fine print of my degree from BYU. Incidentally it is also a clause in the Honor Code-right next to the paragraph about how long your shorts can be.
Last year I got invited to the BYU- Utah tailgate party and it caused quite a fashion dilemma for me. The game was at the U of U and we were smack dab in the middle of campus. I didn't want to wear red because I wasn't cheering for the Utes. But I didn't want to wear blue either because let's face it -Ute fans can be mean. I didn't want the "3rd quarter crazy lady" to get me. For those who aren't familiar with Ute football cheering practices... there is a 50 something "crazy lady" who gets up at the end of the 3rd quarter and shakes her thang in time with the band. The "Muss"- the student section of the Utes stadium- goes wild when she does this. Although fun and a bit gimmicky, I have found that a lady who is willing to do this would have no problem kicking my trash if she saw me wearing BYU blue while tapping my toes to "I am a Utah man, sir, and I live across the green" during the pre-game pep rally. So I wimped out and just wore green with a denim jacket over it. I felt like a traitor to my alma mater and felt I had to do something. So being a bit gimmicky myself this is what I came up with to wear while I am sitting in the Utes section of the Lavell Edwards Stadium at the BYU-UTAH game on Saturday afternoon.


I think it shows an appropriate amount of support for both UTAH and BYU. I have a fine line to walk, you know. I do have to remember where my bread is buttered... from a HUGE Ute fan's bank account!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I Love Saturdays When....

...the TV never goes on! I wish we had more Saturdays like this!

Also I know several of my current friends know I also post recipes on a recipe blog, but many of my older friends from high school and college many not know that when I do I always name them after guys I've dated. (Thanks to my cousin, Keith who shared the idea with me. He has no idea the beast he unleashed with this idea!) I also include a little story about why I name the recipe after a certain guy. So I thought many of my old friends, seeing as they knew many of these guys, would get a kick out of recipes such as:

"Robert Hales was Such a Turkey" Meatloaf
So you can click on these links and read these previous posted ones, but I am also going to add a little gadget to sidebar with my latest recipe and dish-naming victim. The blog is called Tried and True and they really are good recipes from several friends that are as the name suggests tried and true. It is a great recipe site if you are interested!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Some pretty spooky pictures

We have some pretty spooky pictures to share from Halloween. This year all of our costumes we homemade and I'm not really sure if making the costumes costs any less than if you buy them all ready to go, unless of course you just use stuff you already have but that would be too easy.
Finn is a nerd, complete with taped glasses and a pocket protector. Suzie is a fairy skunk or a fairy princess or Cinderella- depending on what day you asked her. She is more or less what I could round up from around the house because by the time I got to her I was tired of putting together costumes. Annie is an old lady with a baby on her back- her being the baby. This was definitely the most original costume she has ever requested. She saw it in a Halloween book and it was surprisingly easy to put together after I rounded up all the parts which wasn't easy at all. And finally, Katie is a bumble bee. We had the sparkly, striped leotard giving to us as a hand-me -down and I was able to make a tutu skirt and antennae. Unfortunately I forgot the wings until it was too late, but Katie didn't seem to notice.

The night of Halloween Finn went trick or treating with his cousin, Michael, who was a cereal killer. Now there's a smart, low cost costume. I guess that is what happens when you, like my sister Michelle, have 6 boys. You learn to streamline.

And Annie, Katie, Suzie and I all went trick or treating with Annie's friends Gwen and Lauren and Gwen's mom, Lori. The best was when we went to the older girls' piano teacher who promises a big candy bar for all her students if they come trick or treating to her house. Their teacher thought Suzie was so cute so she just kept sticking candy bars in her bag and Suzie kept taking them from me and Lori. All told, Suzie ended up with 5 big Snickers bars in her bag! She wasn't born yesterday you know.
Now the next pictures weren't taken on Halloween but they are incredibly spooky. I felt bad that I didn't really do a whole post on my Texas trip and if you are really all that interested Julie's blog has a good summary. And I can't record my memories in a normal way, so I chose to show you what 6 mothers with a combined total of 30 children do when they are away from said 30 children. They play the "Shaky-Face"game. So let me introduce you to some of my favorite people via the "Shaky-Face" game.

# of children: 5 of her own and 2 she has "adopted"
Color-code: Yellow
Bringer of the "Shaky-Face"game and any other crazy thing we do. This girl knows how to have a good time and you can't help but have a good time too when she is around. She is one of the most genuine, inclusive, big-hearted people I know. I am amazed at how she gets people to come of out their shell. My life and many others would be very different without her.
#of children: 6
Color Code: White
Despite looking a bit stoned in this picture, Katrina is one of the happiest, upbeat people you'll ever meet. She is always looking out for others and can talk to just about anyone. You just can't be in a bad mood around her. We are also working on making it to the Varsity soccer team together. So you know we got each other's back.
#of children: 5
Color Code: White
Kjirsten is honestly so strikingly beautiful- inside and out . I mean look, she can't even take a bad shaky-face picture. She looks like she is doing a Pantene commercial instead of looking like she is drunk like you are suppose to look in this game. I would hate her if I didn't adore her so much! I have know her for 17 years, but I haven't seen her in 8. But we picked up right where we left off and friends like that are rare.
# of children: 4
Color Code: Blue
Before this trip I would say Mandy was an acquaintance. We knew a lot of the same people, but never really hung out. But I can now officially say she is friend and a great one at that. We are very similar so if I say how awesome she is am I really just complimenting myself?!? Seriously she is a lot of fun and seems like she can handle just about anything that is thrown at her. Plus she can put Julie in her place and I respect that!
# of children:6
Color code: yellow
I so love this girl. She has a fantastic laugh and can make anything you do fun. Before I really knew her I thought she was one way- read: sweet and innocent. But man does this girl have depth. She can be very mischievious and she isn't afraid to be who she is. Plus she makes you feel like you the most incredible person she has ever met and who wouldn't want to be around a person like that!
Yours truly
# of children: 4
Color Code: Blue
I have posted plenty of embarassing pictures of myself on my blog so this shouldn't come as a big surprise. I just hope my Texas buddies will forgive me for posting theirs. I think they are all beautiful and I'm proud to call them my friends.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Way too much information.

There are several things I could post about. Since my last post I have celebrated my 35th birthday and my friend, Lara, tells me that according to astrology our life cycles every 7 years. So I am at the beginning of my 5th cycle and all I have to say about that is, "Thank goodness" by the stars I should be starting something new and different! But I celebrated in Moab with my family and it was so fun.

Isn't this picture so cute? Don't be surprised if you see it on a Christmas card sometime soon. And I do have one quick story to tell from that trip. On my birthday morning, Eric said to Annie, "We should go out to eat for mom's birthday. What does she like to eat?" After contemplating this for a minute, she responded, "She likes lettuce and water." Finn overheard this and quickly concurred, "Yeah, that is what she eats." So even though my kids think I am a rabbit, we enjoyed a fabulous, meat-filled meal at "Pasta Jay's" in Moab. But that isn't what I wanted to post about.I could also post about another incredibly fun trip I took to Texas with these ladies to visit some dear friends- one being my college roommate, Kj- the one to the left of me, who I haven't seen for 8 years. We of course ate way too much, laughed way too much and stayed up way too late. But isn't that the definition of a fun trip?!? But that isn't what inspired this post either. This is what inspired this post:
Pumpkin Pie. I absolutely love pumpkin pie, even more than I love lettuce and water. It is hands down my favorite dessert. I would take pumpkin pie over cake on my birthday anytime. (In fact I bought some and took it down to Moab with us just in case we couldn't find any in Moab.) I hope they serve pumpkin pie at my funeral. And because of this people tend to think that I love all things pumpkin. But that is far from the truth. I am a pumpkin pie purist. I don't like pumpkin rolls or pumpkin bread and don't get me started on pumpkin cookies. I mean I will eat all these things if they are in front of me because kind-hearted, thoughtful people will make then for me thinking I must love them because I love pumpkin pie. But to my tastes, they just don't compete.
All this came to mind tonight when I was making and tasting a pumpkin pie bar recipe I found online. And sometimes I even forget my love for pure, unadulterated pumpkin pie when I see a recipe like this and try it thinking it will fulfill my pumpkin pie need. But after I made it and tasted it, I was again disappointed. I can't put my finger on it. It was just lacking something. In fact after I tasted it I went back and checked the recipe to make sure I hadn't left anything out. The only thing I left out was the bourbon it called for and since it was Sunday and I didn't want to break the sabbath and the Word of Wisdom together, I didn't go out and get it. Although I have broken both these commandments separately. Which reminds me I don't think I have posted the story about when I bought beer and it was discovered by my kids in my downstairs fridge. Now that is a good story, but it will have to wait for another post!
I don't know why I feel so passionate about sharing my thoughts about pumpkin pie in a post, but it just felt like the right time and sometimes timing is everything. So as I continued to dwell on my love of pumpkin pie, I came to a few more conclusions. I am a pumpkin pie snob. I don't like just any pumpkin pie. It generally has to be homemade, with a homemade crust and fresh whipped cream. ABSOLUTELY NO COOL WHIP! I know that was a bit harsh, but this point cannot be over-emphasized. You might as well put a dollup of cow manure on it if you're going to put Cool Whip on it. There are a few stores/restaurants I will accept pumpkin pie from. Marie Callendars and Costco make the grade, but very few others do. And those $4.99 pies you see on tables at grocery stores... well I wouldn't feed those to my worst enemy or to the dogs. And if you're my daughter, Annie, that is one and the same! And I can somewhat handle when someone tries to doctor up a basic pumpkin pie recipe like having a gingersnap crust or adding a layer of chocolate to the pie. (Truth be told I ate a whole pumpkin cheesecake from Costco when I was pregnant with Suzie so I guess I can "handle" some slight alterations better than others!) But honestly my very favorite pumpkin pie is the one my mom makes and it has been way too long since I have had one of her pies. So maybe this whole post was just a round-about way to say I really miss my mom. I think I just had a break-through because I'm getting a little misty-eyed as I type this. So mom, when you read this- know I miss you and love you. (You too, dad. And when I want to pontificate about the virtues of Wheat Chex I'll be sure to give you a shout-out.) I think I just discovered the missing ingredient, besides bourbon, in those pumpkin bars-love. (Collective "Awwwwww.")
I know I have expressed some pretty harsh opinions about pumpkin pie and I apologize in advance for anyone who plans on serving me something pumpkin this season. I've probably scared the kind-hearted, thoughtfulness right out of you. But know it is more of a manifestation of a need for my mother rather than a reflection of your pumpkin -making abilities. And the more I think about it I do think pumpkin waffles with cinnamon syrup are amazing and Pumkpin spice cremes from Starbucks are definitely worth the risk of someone thinking you are breaking the Word of Wisdom by coming out of their coffee shop with those cool cups.
Did I really just do a whole post on pumpkin pie? I know Julie, I know. I'm a nerd and I didn't even have any notes for this post.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Suzie the Hamster Killer

I mentioned in my last post that Eric is putty in his girls' hands and even though I'm sure he doesn't want me sharing this with the whole world, he really is. A few months ago he thought Suzie's hair was long enough for sponge curlers, so he embarked on a Saturday night sponge curler session with her. (Raise your hand if you had these sessions on Saturday nights and got to watch "The Love Boat" and "Fantasy Island" during them like me.) Anyway here is physical proof that despite the hard, crunchy shell, Eric is nothing but soft nougat and caramel inside. (Please excuse the candy references. I'm on a no candy diet for a year and it is starting to mess with me especially with all the Halloween candy in stores since August when I started this blasted bet.)
I had told my parents about this and they didn't believe that Suzie's hair was long enough to be curled. So here is the big reveal:

I know its no "Mufasa" like we use to call my sister's mane of curly hair, but it is leaps and bounds for our Suzie who didn't have any hair to shake a stick at when she turned 2.

Our Suzie has numerous nicknames- Suzie-Q, Suz, Suz-a-phone, Snooz, strawberry,etc. But don't let this sweet, innocent face fool you. Her newest nickname is Suzie the Hamster Killer. The incident wherein she earned this name occured a few months ago but I felt the need to "be accurate. It's for posterity- you know." (Name that movie-one of my favorites) and get it written down. We have to go back to June when Annie had her 8th birthday. She got a good chunk of change from her Grandpa and Grandma Christensen and instead of put it in her college account like I'm sure they wanted her to, she decided to flex her "responsibility" muscles in a different way. She took the first step toward child pet ownership and got a hamster. Finn, already having this charge of pet propriety with a hamster of his own, helped her research online the best kind of cage to get. Then Eric took her to Petsmart and got her a Winter White Dwarf hamster with all the gear- cage, ball, food, bedding, toys and water bottle. I tell ya- pet ownership is no small thing which is why you need the wisdom of 8 years and the funds from the celebration of so many years to even think of taking on this kind of obligation. Annie, along with several "helping hands" in Dad, Finn, Katie, Suzie, Kalian- the neighbor and Summer- the friend, got "Chocolate" all settled in its new home. It was given the name Chocolate because Finn's hamster's name is Chip and they thought the two names went well together and I must say I agree. I won't go into the naming process and the conversations that ensued between Finn, Annie and Katie concerning what to name Annie's hamster. But let's just say Eric and I didn't have as hard a time or as heated a discussion in naming our children as those three had in coming up with a name for a rodent.
So fast forward about 6 weeks, Chocolate is acclimatized to its new environment and Annie finds her new responsiblity is like taking candy from a baby. (Sorry- did I mention it is Fast Sunday AND i'm on a no candy diet.) In her fastidious zeal to take care of her pet she put Chocolate in its ball, blocked off the stairs so it won't fall down them, closed all the doors to all the bedrooms upstairs and starts to clean out its cage. And in my apparent not so fastidious zeal in being a parent at that moment, I pay no attention to the hamster or Suzie during this process. I'm more concerned with Annie not getting bedding all over the counter and floor so I tell her to clean it outside and then I go about doing something else. About ten minutes later Annie comes back in and asks where Chocolate is. I tell her I have no idea. She goes around looking for it. A few minutes later she yells out, "Mom, there's something wrong with Chocolate." Now my girls have been known to be a tinsy bit dramatic so the first yell usually doesn't send me running. She senses my apathy and thrusts the yellow hamster ball in my face. I look inside and what I see is kind of disturbing. Chocolate is flat on its back, little paws and feet sprawled out and breathing quite shallow. Now I'm no doctor or veterinarian but I'm pretty sure Chocolate has suffered some kind of violent event and in the throes of death. I think the poor thing has broken its back and no matter how I try to revive it, it won't move. But it is still alive and breathing which is even more disturbing to me and Annie. She starts to get very emotional. Finn was over at a neighbor's house, but Annie seems to think he can do something so I call him and ask him to come home to check out the hamster. Finn comes in and Annie starts wailing, "Chocolate is going to die!" Now Finn has been a brother to his 3 sisters for 8 years and the first wail doesn't send him running either and he responds quite glibly, "Oh he is not." But then like me, his response changes when he sees Chocolate to "Oh, maybe he is." Since Finn couldn't really do anything we call the other man in our life- Dad. Eric says just to put it back in its cage and he will "take care of it" when he gets home. And what he meant by "take care of it" we are not really sure, but we have all agreed to a "don't ask; don't tell" policy when it comes to the euthanasia of an animal.
In the midst of all this Annie and I are trying to figure out what has happened to cause such trauma to a hamster. It hadn't fallen down the stairs since Annie had blocked them off and Katie assured us that she never picked the ball up. As I'm holding the ball with the lifeless, limp form of Chocolate in it, Suzie come up and innocently says, "I kick it." She tries to take the ball from me and again says, "I kick it." And all the puzzle pieces fall into place. Suzie thought the hamster ball was a soccer ball and had been kicking it around while Annie was cleaning the cage and I was "otherwise engaged." Poor Chocolate was no match to the fastidious zeal of a two year old playing with a ball. Chocolate, may he rest in peace, has been replaced by another Dwarf hamster named "Gus-Gus." And now not only does Annie have fastidious zeal when cleaning out its cage, so does her mother by keeping Suzie the Hamster Killer away from that enticing yellow ball that can move on its own until you kick it as hard as you can against the wall.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Happy Birthday, Conquering fears and Sufficiently Amused

This is our "Katie-bug" and she turned 5 recently. About 6 weeks before her birthday, Eric asked her what she wanted for her birthday. She responded, like any 4 and 3/4 year old (this is the age she gave herself up until the day she turned five) would, that she wanted to go to Disneyland. And Eric, despite the tough-guy exterior, is complete putty in his girls' hands and made it happen. So we took the kids out of school during the first week of school-no less- and spent 2 and 1/2 days in sunny Southern CA with several other hundreds of people celebrating birthdays in Disneyland. This year Disney has a "Celebrate" theme and they are encouraging their patrons to come celebrate whatever occassion with them. And of course Disney celebrates right.. for a price! :) But Katie had an unforgettable birthday and I've decided that having a handful of fingers to hold up when someone asks you how old you are matches a five year old's personality perfectly. It was so cute to watch Katie proudly hold out her hand with all five fingers spread wide whenever someone asked her how old she was turning on her birthday. But Eric may just have to be careful, for her 6th birthday Katie may just ask for a pony!

Besides celebrating birthdays in Disneyland, we also worked on some pretty significant fears. Katie is terrified of fireworks and Disney does a firework show every night. We were dog-tired every night we were there so we never made it to the 9:30pm showing of the fireworks in the park. But we could see them from the RV parking lot we were staying at. The first night Katie refused to come out because as she explained it, "Fireworks are made of fire and they burn people and they burn houses." Well I couldn't really argue with that logic, so she just stayed inside while we enjoyed the show. The second night her curiousity got the best of her and she poked her head out of the RV for a few minutes and then decided she could watch them from the safety of Dad's arms. On the last night I was cleaning up the dinner dishes about a half hour before the show and I overheard Annie say to Katie while they were taking a shower, "I bet everyone is already watching the fireworks." And Katie responded, "Well we need to hurry so we don't miss the fireworks." What a difference 2 days makes!
Another fear we worked on is Finn's fear of roller-coasters. He really hates them. Annie, on the other hand, can't get enough of them and this really speaks to the difference in their personalities. When Finn was about 4 and Annie was 2, I took them to the aquarium. There were crabs you could touch there. Finn wouldn't get near them, but Annie kept putting her pudgy two year old fingers right up to them. This freaked Finn out and he kept telling me to not let Annie touch them because of their "pinchers." Anyway, luckily for Finn most of the roller coasters in Disneyland are pretty benign. They go fast, but tend to not have a lot of steep drops or chances to be upside down which is what he doesn't like about them. We started with Matterhorn which even Suzie can ride and worked our way up. The best was when Eric took Finn on Splash Mountain. I don't know if this next picture can be blown up, but if you want a good laugh- try to make it bigger and look at Finn's face. It is pure terror. There is absolutely no joy in his face whatsoever. And Eric and I, being the sympathetic, sensitive parents that we are have laughed and laughed about this picture every time we look at it. When Eric saw it he just couldn't pass up having hard evidence of why Finn doesn't like roller coasters. And what's even better is before they saw this picture, Finn said to Eric, "I wasn't expecting that drop at the end." Really?!?
One final note about "amusement parks." As fun as they are I can't help but wonder if the "amuse" in "amusement" means for parents having to tell your kids "No, we are not buying souvenirs until the last day" 100 times or feeling violated by having to pay $4.00 for a 12 oz soda or trying to keep both a 2 year old and a 10 year old happy at all times or dealing with mid-day meltdowns because we are all hot, hungry and have stayed up too late and gotten up to earlier. Well if it does- then yes, we have been sufficiently "amused!"

Sunday, August 23, 2009

100th post

Yes, this is my 100th post and I know that is kind of sad given I have had this blog for nearly 2 years. But in honor of this momentous albeit long-time coming post I have written a "life list" with 100 things I want to do before I die. I started this list a few months ago when I saw I was getting close to the 100 milestone and have realized it is harder than I thought to come up with 100 things, therefore some of them I have already done. So if you want to know what I want to accomplish with my life- read on. But please be kind with your comments. Some of these are very personal. But I figure the universe will help them happen if I release them to the world.

1. Visit every state in the United States. (Already been to- Georgia, Florida, North & South Carolina, Montana, Utah, California, Neveda, Arizona, Illinois, Idaho, Kansas, Colorado, Wyoming, Washington D.C., New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Virginia, Tennesee)
2. Go on a cruise.
3. Watch my children get married.
4. Watch my grandchildren get married.
5. Learn to snowboard.
6. Learn to slalom in water-skiing.
7. Become fluent in another language.
8. Visit Italy.
9. Experience natural childbirth- Done June 2001
10. Hike to the bottom of the Grand Canyon.
11. Do a triathlon.
12. Watch a sunrise from a mountain top.
13. Go snorkeling- Done May 2008.
14. Go parasailing- Done May 2008.
15. Learn to scuba-dive.
16. Pick my son up from his mission.
17. Travel by train.
18. Watch a Broadway play in New York.
19. Watch a Broadway play in New York with my daughters.
20. Have a couples' massage with my husband.
21. Donate my hair to "Locks of Love." Done July 2012
22. Learn the names of constellations and be able to pick them out.
23. Publish a book.
24. Hike Mt. Timpanogos.
25. Hike to the "Y". I, unfortunately, never did this as a student at BYU, but still think I need to.
26. Learn to make a pie crust. Done
27. Attend a "Messiah" sing-a-long.
28. Make my Wii fit age younger than my real age.
29. Visit Norway- one of the lands of my ancestors.
30. See a Cirque-du-Soilel performance.
31. Be in a soccer league- Done summers of 2007, 2008, 2009.
32. Be on TV.
33. Read Charles Dickens.
34. Read Jane Austen.
35. Read all the Newbery Award books.
36. Sleep in a yurt. Done August 2009.
37. Change a tire.
38. Ride in a gondola.
39. Learn to knit.
40. Knit something recognizable.
41. Read C.S. Lewis.
42. Waterski at Lake Powell.
43. See edelweiss in person.
44. Attend a session in every temple in Utah.
45. Be an answer to someone's prayer.
46. Visit all the National Parks in Utah.
47. Run a 1/2 marathon in under 2 hours.
48. Have a caricature drawn of me.
49. Have my friend, Lara, do a "soul" painting of me.
50. Scrapbook my whole life.
51. Scrapbook my kids' lives.
52. Learn how to use a compass.
53. Go geocaching.
54. Go without candy for a year- Done August 2010
55. Yell, scream and go crazy at a sporting event or concert. I always want to but feel self-conscious, but I want to get over that.
56. Try a pilates class.
57. Try a yoga class. Done March 2009. And I love it so much that I have some new goals that relate to yoga.
58. Do and hold a headstand in yoga.
59. Do and hold the "crow" position in yoga without falling over.
60. Manage to not kill houseplants and actually have some real plants in my house.
61. Teach my daughters homemaking skills like cooking, sewing, cleaning, etc.
62. Have a fun sock collection.
63. Go ice-fishing. (IF my husband ever reads this-this one will shock him.)
64. See a Sundance film festival film in Park City during the festival.
65. Go on a mission with my husband.
66. Take my kids to Washington D.C.
67. Break 100 in bowling.- I really stink in bowling. Done July 23, 2012
68. Do the Wasatch Back. Done June 2011
69. Beat Julie in some sort of athletic event. Done August 2010- I can beat her at the Butterfly stroke.  We figured this out during our cooking club girls' retreat to St George
70. See the Northern Lights.
71. Visit Yellowstone in the winter.
72. Learn the names of and recognize wildflowers in Utah.
73. Try oysters.
74. Try Rocky Mountain oysters.
75. Buy real art and hang it in my house.
76. Learn to shoot a gun.
77. Learn to drive Eula May.
78. Swim with dolphins.
79. Be the kind of mom who will stop what she is doing to have fun with her kids- like make a snowman when it is snowing or fly a kite when it is windy.
80. Get a good quality camera and take a photography class to learn how to use it properly.
81. Take a cake decorating class.
82. Do a pull-up and not the wimpy kind.
83. Own a convertible.
84. Sleep on the beach overnight.
85. Sleep in a hammock overnight.
86. Buy a Jon Schmidt piano book and learn to play his pieces.
87. Go to an airshow.
88. See 4th of July fireworks at a really cool place like Washington D.C. or Boston.
89. Learn to play chess.
90. Learn to cook ribs.
91. Do more country dancing.
92. Attend the Shakespearan Festival in Utah.Done Summer 2010 & 2011
93. Learn to garden during the off-season or extended season- like knowing what vegetables I can plant in cool weather.
94. Learn to compost.
95. Be the first to say hello, give a hug, express gratitude, give a compliment, etc.
96. Help my kids discover who they were meant to be.
97. Let my kids know they are enough already.
98. Learn how to do family history.
99. Know that I am enough.
100. Turn this blog into a book one day that my family can read and know a bit more about their mother.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

The ingenuity of Summer

I just love the ingenuity of summer. It almost makes me sad that it is just about over. Almost.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Classic Finn

I have some stories that are so classically Finn that I had to write about them. Finn is 10 and about 6 months ago he started to hit his stride as a "tweener"- with attitude , eye rolling and full blown sarcasm. This has kind of taken me by surprise because he was such an easy baby, toddler and kid. He has always been obedient and sweet- rarely giving me any trouble. Don't get me wrong, he still is a sweet, good boy- but he has gotten more vocal and opinionated about our family, his role in it and the way I run it. I know this is all normal for his age and it will probably get worse before it gets better. But it is also fun to watch his personality develop as he becomes his own person. So on to the stories.
Last week we went to the Oquirrih Mountain Temple Open house. I was taking my 4 kids alone and didn't want to chance swearing in the temple so I had arranged a babysitter for Suzie. My brother and his wife live just minutes from the new temple, so I called and asked my sister-in-law, Amber to watch Suzie. They have a little girl, Emma, who Annie and Katie love to play with. So when my kids asked who was watching Suzie and I told them she was going to Emma's house, Annie said, "I want to go to Emma's house." I said, "No, Annie you are going to the temple." To which she complained, "But I don't want to go to the temple." Finn, overhearing this, piped in (and I'm pretty sure with an eye-roll thrown in for good measure) ,"None of us do, Annie."

After going through the temple, we were walking out and surprise, surprise my girls had to go to the bathroom. There were some port-a-potties outside that we used. As we were coming out there was a boy about 8 years old crying on the sidewalk. I went up to him and asked him what was wrong. He replied that he couldn't find his mom. So I told him I would help find her. We were walking back to find someone official to help us and I asked him, "What does your mom look like?" He paused for a second then desperately said, "I don't know. I can see her in my mind but I can't tell you." We found a security officer who helped him find his mom. As we were driving home I was smiling about how that little boy knew what his mom looked like but couldn't describe her. So I asked my kids, "If someone asked you what your mom looked like, what would you say?" I got answers like, "She's tall." "She has brown short, hair." and "She has blue eyes." Then I, fishing for compliments, said, "Would you say she's pretty?" Finn looked at me slyly and said, "Maybe." Then egging him on said, "Would you say she's skinny?" Then Finn looking at me sideways said again, "Maybe." Then laying it on even thicker I asked, "Would you say she has a smile that lights up a room?" Then Finn, without missing a beat and with a gleam in his eye said, "Maybe if she brushed her teeth every once in awhile." Ahh that's my boy!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Annie's Happy to You

This post is brought to you by my awesome friend Kamille- who is a computer genius- and showed me that you can actually just put your camera card into one of those tiny slots in your hard drive and you can download your pictures from there. I must say that I felt a wee-bit retarded when she showed me this, since I consider myself one of the more computer savvy woman in my family- which doesn't say so much about me, but rather it speaks volumes about how much my mom and older sister know about the computer. (Love you guys:) Anyway I started this post back in June and never finished it because that is when I discovered I had a missing camera cord. So get ready for an onslaught of posts from the summer! (Really- who are we kidding here- maybe like one or two...if I'm lucky!)
Annie turned 8 this month and when Suzie woke up the morning of her birthday and saw the balloons and sign hanging up, she said, "Annie's Happy to you!" with such excitement and endearing innocence that I hereby proclaim birthdays in our family referred to as "Happy to Yous" henceforth and forever. So let it written, so let it be said. Note: You can only wield this kind of birthday changing power if you are the mother. In relation to birthdays, dad has the slightly less powerful task of paying for all the festivities. And festivities we had. Here is a recap:
Annie getting ready to eat her "8" pancake.
For her party we rented a bounce house and snow cone machine and I am under a sister-contractual agreement to mention here that I copied my older sister- Michelle's- idea for a birthday party. She had this exact same birthday for her boys back in May.

All the party girls!

We also had a pinata- again just like my sister. I included this picture because it makes me laugh. Suzie is really showing that pinata whose boss with those broom bristles. It s a good thing she is blindfolded or that pinata might be swept to death.

And of course the pinnacle of Annie's 8th Birthday- her baptism.

We are so proud of her and her decision to be baptized. She is a beautiful girl inside and out. Our family wouldn't be the same without our Annie-bananie!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A quick camera cord update

So we got home from our Yellowstone trip tonight and Eric was looking at the pictures we took on our trip. He was sitting at the computer less than an hour after we walked in the door and asked, "Hey, Kari - have you found the cord to the camera yet?" I paused for dramatic effect- pretending like I really had to think about whether I had found it or not- then responded disappointedly, "Oh no- not yet." He just nodded his head, but I'm pretty sure a seed has been planted in fertile soil. We just have to wait and see what I can reap. Do I know my husband or what!?!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Summertime Dinner Conversation

I know I haven't blogged in awhile and its not because we haven't done anything. Its because I can't find the cord that hooks my camera up to my computer and it just isn't as fun to read about our summertime festivities without the accompanying photos. I figure this problem will be remedied when one of two things happens- either I randomly find the cord in a place like the meat and cheese drawer in my fridge where most likely Suzie has put it- OR- I can somehow make this Eric's problem so he will see the urgency of the situation. When I presented my dilemma to him his response was, "Well, it has to be there somewhere." Besides stating the obvious he hasn't been too helpful. But when we get home from our Yellowstone trip next week and he wants to download the pictures he took of elk and moose, he may just have a bit more motivation to help me. It has taken me 12 years, but I am slowly but surely learning how to "turn my head." (See "My Big, Fat, Greek Wedding" where the mom says, "The man is the head of the household, but the woman is the neck and she can turn the head any way she wants.")
Anyway in the meantime I thought I would give you a little slice of the type of dinner conversation we have at our house. Tonight I made breakfast for dinner. I made up a plate for Suzie with a waffle, eggs and a little curled up piece of bacon.
Annie looked at it and said, "Look, Suzie's bacon is in a spiral."
To which Finn responded, "Annie, you don't have to use those brainy words. It's summer you know."
Man, it is so annoying when you are trying to dumb down your brain for the summer and someone keeps trying to make you think by using big, brainy words like "spiral."

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Boring Sunday Afternoon

On Sundays I try to not let my kids watch TV. I do this because I like Sunday to have a different feel than any other day during the week. I'm not a sabbath-day nazi or anything- but I just like a day without having the noise and distraction of TV. Consequently Sundays are the days my kids are the most creative. They make forts or pull each other around on blankets all over our wood floor or play board games. This past Sunday I was downstairs wrapping a present for a family birthday party when Annie came down and said, "We are playing hide n' seek and Finn wants you to come find him." So after I finished the present I went upstairs. I immediately noticed that all the appliances and bread were taken out of my "appliance hutch" or "bread box." In case you don't know what that is- here is a picture of it on my counter. I wondered why everything was taken out, so I opened it to find this:

Yes, that is my 80 lb ,nearing 5'2" son scrunched inside the bread box with his church clothes still on. I asked him what made him decide to get inside it. He said he was getting out some bread to make a sandwich and got curious about what was inside so he pulled it all out. Then when he saw it empty he wondered if he could fit inside. And low and behold he could. Finn has a very sublime goal of not sleeping in his bed the whole summer. So far he has slept on the floor, on the couch, in the guest bed, outside in our playhouse and at his cousin's house. I told him if he runs out of places to sleep, now the bread box can be a choice. Or maybe we can use it as a form of punishment like the "chokey" in Matilda. Either way once my other kids saw Finn do this, they all wanted a turn getting in the bread box.

I even gave it a try, but because I have the flexibility of a tree branch I couldn't quite get my legs in with my body. Finn took a picture but because of the angle he took it from it looks a little like I'm giving birth so I decided against sharing it with everyone.
But oh the joys of Sunday afternoons. Maybe next week we'll see if we can fit in the dryer!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Maryland is very lucky.

This is my friend Amber. Most people would probably be upset at me for posting a picture like this of them on their public blog. But not Amber, because that is the type of person and friend she is. We all have different friends and acquaintances that we have varying levels of comfort with. In just three short years Amber has become one of my closest and most comfortable friends. And since she is moving all the way to Maryland in less than 3 days, I wanted to proclaim to the world the kind of friend she is:
She's the kind of friend who...
*I can pick my wedgie out in front of.
*knows my daily/weekly schedule, so she knows when she can call to chat or to babysit!:)
*knows all my secrets and loves me not only in spite of them but maybe because of them too.
*knows exactly how much she can tease or make fun of me.
*can match my wit text for text.
*loves my children.
*will defend me to the end... even to 80 year old VTing supervisors.
*I can talk to about anything.
*will force me to have a Snickers ice cream bar to keep myself from buying a bikini.
*shares her treats with me almost ever time she makes them.
*always has the ingredient I am looking for when I need to borrow one.
*will be goofy/dorky with me and then make fun of me for it.
*will drop everything to have lunch together.
*will let me swear in church and tell me I must be right because I didn't get struck down.
*allow me to become another sister in her family without having to marry any of her brothers.
*makes me laugh when I am crying.
*lets me cry.
*toilet papers my house.
*shares recipes with me.
*lets me rummage through her cupboards looking for treats.
Basically Amber has become like another sister to me and I feel like a little piece of my heart will be broken when she leaves on Monday. But my one saving grace is- like I said before- I feel like I have become a member of her family and when she comes to visit or they go to visit her- I had better be included! I have all the benefits of the family without all the obligation! Its great! I really do love you Amber and am so grateful for all you've done and brought to my life. I truly believe that the Lord moves us in and out of each other's lives just when we need them. And I don't doubt for a minute why you have been part of my life the past three years. The Lord knew I needed you. Now my only question is this: If the Lord feels like you are suppose to be in Maryland, what does that mean for my life?!?:) Because you know it really is all about me and my needs. Seriously, sisters/friends like you are rare to find and I will have a hard time finding someone to fill your shoes. But in case anyone wants to know Julie and I are accepting Sister/BFF applications for anyone who wants to apply.
I love you Amber! Maryland is indeed very lucky.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

May Tinkling of the Ivories

For as long as I have been involved with piano, May has always been the month for recitals. And this May was no different, except Finn was one the doing the playing. So here is Finn's stunning rendition of "Willie the Whale." This really is for Grandpa and Grandma in Prague who couldn't come to the recital, but if you ask me, this is the best way to support a recital. Only one song to listen to played by one of your favorite people. Oh and sorry about the shaky camera- work. I must have been having some sort of caffeine- withdrawals or something like that!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

The best compliment I've gotten all week

I was outside playing basketball with Finn and my 9 year old nephew, Michael. I wasn't asked to play by any means, but joined their game anyway. After a few minutes of showing them by ball stealing and lay-up skills, I heard Michael ask Finn, "Has your mom played basketball before?"
Finn: "I don't know. Why?"
Michael: "Because it seems like she played in high school or something."
Does playing church-ball for 3 years and scoring a total of 2 points all three years count as "playing" in high school? Either way- thanks for recognizing Michael.

Michael, the one who knows talent when he sees it, is the one on the far left.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Partied like I was having a mid-life crisis!

Yep! That's what I did last night and this is who I did it with:
In case you can't tell who this is- its Eagles-early 70s rock band who each band member went on to have fairly successful solo careers until they reunited in 1994. Thank you Wikipedia.

And I must say there are a few things that surprised me about this whole event. First of all these guys didn't look nearly as cool and suave last night as they do in this picture. They looked like they had just finished a day of working in the yard and then decided they would go put on a concert for thousands of people. They looked seriously old. At one point one guitar player, Joe Walsh, looked extremely confused like he was either low on oxygen or high on something else. But I have learned- again Wikipedia- that he is a teetotaller. Which means he practices the practice and promotion of abstinence from alcohol. And guess what- same-same! I am a teetotaller too. But I didn't realize it had such a cool name and I'm pretty sure Joe Walsh hasn't been one his whole life- like myself. Which is one of the reasons why I could only party like I was having a mid-life crisis as opposed to partying like an early, twenty-something who doesn't know who she is! Anyway- once I got past the fact that they looked like they had current subscriptions to AARP and that they dressed like my Dad- I realized they still put on a good show. Not that I have ever been to their concert before- I mean c'mon I was in diapers during the height of their popularity- but I was amazed at the number of their songs I knew very well. It was interesting to see the range in ages of the people there- people I could have taught in elementary school, people who could be my parents or grandparents and people who teach my daughter in preschool-(That's a little shout-out to Katie's preschool teacher-Ms. Lorie who we saw on the FRONT ROW with her husband! I'm pretty sure she had been to one of their concerts before.) Anyway it was a fun and entertaining concert to attend and thanks to Amber who helped me release my inner fifty year old!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Birth Order Revised

I'm sure many of you have read the email titled "Birth Order" that describes the progressive declining behavior/anal-ness of parents as they have more children. I think this email is hilarious because like most things that are funny- it rings very true- especially for me. I have posted it here for your reading pleasure. I have also added a few more that I have discovered as the number of my offspring has increased and the expectations I have for them and myself has decreased.

1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your OB/GYN confirms your pregnancy.

2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.

3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.

Preparing for the Birth:

1st baby: You practice your breathing religiously.

2nd baby: You don't bother because you remember that last time, breathing didn't do a thing.

3rd baby: You ask for an epidural in your eighth month.

The Layette:

1st baby: You pre-wash newborn's clothes, color-coordinate them, and fold them neatly in the baby's little bureau.

2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only the ones with the darkest stains.

3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can't they?


1st baby: At the first sign of distress--a whimper, a frown--you pick up the baby.

2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your firstborn.

3rd baby: You teach your three-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.


1st baby: If the pacifier falls on the floor, you put it away until you can go home and wash and boil it.

2nd baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you squirt it off with some juice from the baby's bottle.

3rd baby: You wipe it off on your shirt and pop it back in.


1st baby: You change your baby's diapers every hour, whether they need it or not.

2nd baby: You change their diaper every two to three hours, if needed.

3rd baby: You try to change their diaper before others start to complain about the smell or you see it sagging to their knees.


1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby Story Hour.

2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.

3 rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaner.

Going Out:

1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home five times.

2nd baby : Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number where you can be reached.

3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees blood.

At Home:

1st baby: You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.

2nd baby: You spend a bit of everyday watching to be sure your older child isn't squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby

3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the children.

Swallowing Coins:

1st child: When first child swallows a coin, you rush the child to the hospital and demand x-rays.

2nd child: When second child swallows a coin, you carefully watch for the coin to pass.

3rd child: When third child swallows a coin, you deduct it from his allowance!______________________________________________________
Here is where my own begin:
Bath time:
1st child: Bath time is a special daily bonding time with all kinds of toys and extreme monitoring of temperature.
2nd child: Baths are an every other day occurence with whatever toys haven't been lost yet.
3rd child: 3 times a week is plenty for baths and the temperature is only checked when someone yells, "Its too hot, Mom!"
4th child: Saturday night baths for sure and the 4th child knows how start their own bath, undress themselves and find their own toys to put in.

Dealing with owwies:
1st child: Lots of hugs, anti-septic wipes, band-aids with characters and kissing of the owwie.
2nd child: A hug, a character band-aid and a kiss.
3rd child: A plain band-aid (You've wised up to the fact that if you buy band-aids with characters, they are used for everything but their intended purpose.) and a kiss
4th child: Kisses their own owwie better.

TV viewing
1st child: Very strict control and no more than the recommended 2 hours a day.
2nd child: Allowed to earn more TV time by playing outside and can watch the occassional movie.
3rd child: Can watch as much as they want as long as it is on PBS.
4th child: Can work the DVD player at 2.

1st child: Consult everyone, read all the books and have all sorts of incentives and motivators. Purchasing the "big boy pants" or "big girl panties" is a day that is heralded as a monumental benchmark in childhood- right up there with the first lost tooth or even graduation.
2nd child: "I know I read a book about potty-training- what was it again?" Throw some underwear in the cart next time you're at Target.
3rd child: By now you know the signs of the child being ready to potty-train and only start when you see them. Oh wait, you forgot to buy new underwear. Guess it'll have to wait until next week.
4th child: Hold out a used pair of holey underwear and tell/threaten your toddler that they can wear these if they promise the training won't take more than a day.

1st child: Great lengths are taken to teach the ABCs taking into account the potential learning modalities of the child- tactical tracing, songs, computer games, books,art activites all about each letter.
2nd child: "I know I bought some books about each letter- Where are they?"
3rd child: It counts as being read to if the 1st child reads to the 3rd child- right?!?
4th child: Can sing this without you being able to recall ever teaching it to them:

1st child: Vast repertoire of lullabies sung to the child at bedtime or anytime.
2nd child: Sing a song or two at bedtime.
3rd child: Sing themselves to sleep.
4th child: Sings this instead of lullabies:

In case you can't make this out- that is our two year old singing the chorus to "We Will Rock You" by Queen- complete with the sound effect of the percussions-"bump, bump, pish". We're so proud!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Teaching Moments

There is an infamous story in my family about when my Dad gave my brother THE TALK. We were living in Georgia, the month was May, the year was when my brother was 12- conditions were perfect for my Dad to give my brother the big talk. I'm sure my Dad had prepared a well-researched, age appropriate talk with properly timed analogies and pauses- allowing for the inevitable questions that such a sublime talk would illict. Thus my Dad proceeds to give his oldest son the talk on a sunny, southern (read:humid) May afternoon upstairs in the boy's bedroom- where of course he feels comfortable- part of the genius of the well-planned talk. After my Dad finishes his speech he lovingly and knowingly asks, "Now son, do you have any questions?"- being fully prepared for any follow-up inquires about such a sensitive matter. My brother says, "Yea." Now I wasn't there, but I can imagine- because I am a parent myself now and I know my Dad pretty well, that my Dad sat up a little straighter thinking that his primed arrow had reached its target because the boy now has a question. My brother then says, "When can we turn on the air conditioning?" Again I wasn't there, but if I was and I had super-sonic hearing, I think I would have heard a little "pwoooo" as the air went out of my Dad's ego.
I tell this story because I had a similar experience yesterday with Annie. I didn't give her THE talk and my teaching moment wasn't so well-planned. Rather it was quite spontaneous- but that only added to the pleasure I originally took in it because all the "experts" say you should turn regular, everyday moments into teaching moments. So the equation for this situation was suppose to look like this:
Everyday occurance + imparting my pearls' of wisdom on my children = the fabulous mother that I am.
We were driving home from Easter dinner at my aunt's house when at a stop sign an older lady approached my window. I could tell she was trying to ask me something so I rolled down my window. With a thick accent she asked in broken English if the road was 39th South. I said yes and she continued to ask something else but I couldn't understand her. She sensed this and finally said, "You give me ride?" I asked where she needed a ride to and she said "39th and Highland." I told her yes and she climbed in the front seat. From our limited conversation I got that she had called her daughter several times but was unable to reach her and she had waited and waited for the bus which never came. I told her it was probably because of the Easter holiday- although this was mostly likely lost on her because I'm pretty sure she had no idea what Easter was. After we dropped her off at her destination, my kids had all kinds of questions: "Who was she?", "What was her name?", "Why couldn't we understand her when she talked?", "Why didn't her daughter pick her up?", "What's her daughter's name?", "Why did you pick up a stranger when you tell us not to talk to strangers?" This last question caused a big discussion about why it was okay for me to pick her up. I talked about things like the fact that I am an adult and she was an old woman who mostly likely wouldn't hurt me. Plus she also seemed like she really needed help. Now I know that all these things could have been a ruse and she could have really hurt me if she wanted to, but I felt fine about helping her and never had any sense of danger. I decided to turn this discussion into a gospel-centered one. So I said, "I also have one thing that can help me in dangerous situations. Do you know what that is?"
Annie answers, "Pepper spray?"
Although a smart item to carry with me, this was not the answer I was looking for.
"No, the Holy Ghost." And from there I launch into a mini-impromptu sermon about how the Holy Ghost can give you a feel of peace about a decision or it can warn you if there is danger. And of course in my Grandma Sarah style, I throw in a "how grateful I am for this blessing." At the conclusion of my little oration I have the inevitable pregnant pause- where I am waiting for the follow-up gospel-centered questions to pour forth from my children. Things like "How else has the Holy Ghost helped you?", "What does it feel like when the Holy Ghost speaks to you?", "Can the Holy Ghost help us?" Unfortunately all I got was, "Mom, can you drive faster? I really have to go to the bathroom!"
"Pwoooooo." Did anyone else hear that?

Friday, April 3, 2009

When Spring break lasts 4 days too long...

...drastic measures must be taken!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Reasons Why I Love March

Now that March is almost over I thought I would expound upon why I love the month of March. These aren't listed in order of importance or significance to me, but rather in chronological order.

1. Girl scout cookies. They arrive at the beginning of the March just when you have forgotten that you have ordered them. Nothing makes your day more than getting a boatload of Girl Scout cookies you ordered back in January. I am fortunate to have a Girl Scout live across the street from me. The year I moved into this house my neighbor brought a welcome basket that contained among other things a box of thin mints. I asked her where she got the thin mints and she told me her daughter was a girl scout. I must have had a very visceral reaction to this information because every year since then, I am the first person she comes to sell to.

2."My annual proving to myself that I am physically stronger than I thought" or the Moab Canyonlands Half Marathon. I have done this three times with my family and each year I surprise myself that I can in fact run 13.1 miles and not die. I have even improved my time every year. I do not consider myself very athletic or sporty and one of my biggest regrets from high school is that I quit the cross-country team after about 2 weeks. I wonder if I had been more self- disciplined in the physical department when I was young, I could be more athletically inclined now. But that is water under the bridge and I am hear to tell all you non-runners, if I can do it ANYONE can! There really is something fulfilling about training and finishing a race like this. There really are many life lessons you can learn from running. One I learned about myself is that I am not the fastest or most competitive runner out there. But I am consistent. I don't start out really fast or really sprint at the end or run for while then walk. I begin at a good even pace and I can keep it up the entire race. I believe that this is reflected in my personality and character. I'm not flashy or an all or nothing person. But I am dependable and I can keep my head down and finish the race. I think this trait is very much needed in my life right now.
Anyway it was a fun weekend and one I needed. There is no one I laugh more with than my family. We collectively found out that running loosens up several parts of your body- from your mouth on down!

3. Celebration of the day I became a mother. Finn made me a mother 10 years ago on March 22nd. It blows me away that I have a 10 year old son. I have very vivid memories of being 10 so I better be careful about what I say and do! It is so rewarding and fun to watch Finn turn into a young man. He has always been responsible and he is incredibly helpful. But recently his sense of humor has really been developing and he is coming out if his shell. It is also fun to watch him forming his own opinions and making connections. For example last week we were watching Biggest Loser and it was weigh-in time. Finn and Annie were talking about who the contestants reminded them of- family or friends. It was Filipe's turn to weigh-in and they were asking him how he felt. He said something about being grateful for his blessings. Then after his weigh-in when he hadn't lost very much weight the host again asked him how he felt about it. He responded that he has to look for the sunshine where he can find it. After this I told Finn and Annie that Filipe and Sion were members of the same church as us. Finn exclaimed, "I knew it!" I said, "How did you know it?" He said, "Because he was talking about sunshine and blessings and being grateful, stuff you hear in church talks." Then later in the show Filipe again was talking about following your heart. After this comment, Finn again piped up, "See Mormons are always talking about their hearts!" Very true.
4. Besides my firstborn, there are many people who are near and dear to me that celebrate their birthdays in March. So Happy Birthday to Susan, Amber, Jessica and Julie. I hope you love the month of March as much as I do.
5. Julie's sister-in-law, Jackie, changed my cell phone so I have predictive text... it has literally changed my life and made my texting response time a notch above slower than molasses!