Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas 2010 and classic kid stories

We had a great Christmas with all the usual memorable parties, nativities, visits from Santa, yummy food and family fun. I wanted to post some of the funny things my kids have said during the course of all this holiday merriment.

Finn- Finn has had several opportunites to share his newly acquired tuba talent this season. The latest was on Christmas Eve with Eric's family. We were having a little cousins talent show as part of our Christmas Eve program. Finn was practicing his tuba downstairs in front of a a few of his girl cousins. These cousins are about Annie's age. When Finn finished his song, they started clapping real slow and saying, "Good job." in a sarcastic tone. Finn turned to them and said, "I've been playing for a month, so shut it!"

Annie- Even with all the good cheerful that abounds during this time of year, I still find the occassional occassion that requires the use of a four-letter word on my part. I am trying to curb this habit, really I am, but Annie took it upon herself this week to create a "Swear Jar" for anyone who swears. If you swear you have to put a dollar in the jar. I asked her where the money went and she said all proceeds go to a charity. I asked her which charity and she said, "The charity of helping me get some jamberry nails." Jamberry nails are about $15 so I figure with all the kids being home next week, she will have reached her goal before she goes back to school!

Katie- As we have been driving back and forth to activities our girls, much to Finn's dismay, have loved singing along with all the fun Christmas songs on the radio. One night they strayed from the tradition Christmas carols and started singing another family favorite..."When Suzie was a Baby, a baby, a baby..." If you haven't heard this song before it a song that builds on itself as "Suzie" grows up. For example the first verse is- "When Suzie was a baby, a baby, a baby she went like this... waah, waah." Then the next verse is "When Suzie was a toddler, a toddler, a toddler she went like this... waah, waah. gimme a sucker." In each verse she gets a little older and another phrase is added to the end. Having a Suzie in our house, you can see why this is a family favorite. The kids like to substitute different family member's names in it and then make up verses that fit that person's personality. Katie decided to make a verse for Eric and I. My verse went like this-"When mommy was a mommy, a mommy, a mommy she went like this...(Katie scream-singing in a shrill, loud voice) Why do I have to clean up this mess all by myself!" Then she made a verse up for Eric that went like this-"When daddy was a daddy, a daddy, a daddy he went like this... (Katie speaking in a tired, slow voice) I don't care, whatever, go ahead." I wish I could say she was exagerrating for dramatic effect, but I can't. Her impersonations were spot-on.

Suzie- Suzie has a blanket she adores, especially the smell. For some reason she has a thing with smells. I could tell a myriad of stories about her obsession with smells, but I won't. I'll stick to the one at hand. Her grandpa likes to tease her by trying to get the blanket away from her or take it and say it is his. This gets Suzie all sorts of riled up. He does it to her almost everytime he sees her. Christmas Eve was no different. Except this time she stopped him in his tracks when she said to him, "For crying out loud Grandpa, quit teasing me!"

And with that, I'll leave you with "For crying out loud, I hope you all had a Merry Christmas."

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Now tell me again, Why do I do this to myself?!?

Since it was unseasonably warm on Monday night I thought we would go down to Temple Square to see the Christmas lights for FHE. We haven't gone down there to see the lights in a few years, so I thought it would be something everyone would enjoy. Boy, was I wrong.

Conversations had before we went:

Mom: Come on, everyone get your coats. We are going to see the lights on Temple Square for Family Home Evening.

Finn: What? Why are we going all the way down there just to see lights? They're just lights.

Katie:A square? How can we walk around in a square?

Mom: Just get your coats.

Conversations had while looking for a parking space:

Finn (while looking out the window at the the Church Office Building Plaza lights): Is that all? Is that all we came all the way down here for?

Dad: Yep, so soak it all in.

Mom: Holding her tongue and rolling her eyes.

Conversations we had while actually looking at the lights:

Finn: It's just a bunch of lights. What's the big deal?

Katie: This is lame.

Suzie: I WANT TO RIDE THE ESCALATOR! (Suzie had to go to the bathroom as soon as we got there and we made the mistake of going to the North Visitor Center, where they have an escalator, to take her to the bathroom. We told her we would go back at the end to ride the escalator, thinking she would be so mesmerized by the lights that she wouldn't even remember the escalator. But we were dead wrong. She cried the whole time about riding the escalator.)

Finn: I've been here like 3 times.

Mom: Trying to make it a meaningful experience by talking about what we were seeing- the temple, the nativities, the statues, etc. But finding no one is really listening and they are all moving onto the next thing to see without registering a thing she is saying.

Conversations we had in the car on the way home after being there for about 45 minutes:

Annie: We weren't there for very long.
Dad: We were there long enough.

Katie: We didn't even get to see any Jesus sets. ("Jesus sets" was how Katie referred to the nativities.)

Dad: Well if you had been paying attention you would have noticed that we passed by like 6 "Jesus sets."

Mom: Well. thank you for all making your mother happy by coming to see the lights on Temple Square so we can make a memory.

Annie: I loved it!

Katie: I had fun. (I'm not sure what she thought was lame earlier, but she seems to have forgotten it.)

Suzie: I rided the escalator!

So I guess maybe that is why I make myself vulnerable to "unsolicited" comments about what I plan so our family can create tradition and meaning. The "I loved it" and "I had fun" make it all worth it!

Can't you just see the "unsolicited comments" just oozing out of eric and Finn's faces!?! And notice Suzie is turned around, looking longingly back at the escalators I'm sure!

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I feel like I have spent the majority of this past week decorating for Christmas. I don't remember it being as long and drawn out as it has been this year. But I think I have finally got it all up. One of the things that makes the process so long is that I first have to clean my house because I am not about to set baby Jesus up among dust bunnies. Also my kids really like being part of the process- the putting decorations up process, not the cleaning the dust bunnies process.
I have found there are some things you do in parenthood that sound and seem a lot more quaint and charming before you actually do them with your kids. One of these things is baking with your 6 & 3 year olds. Another one is decorating with your 6&3 year olds. They go through the boxes all willy-nilly pulling out decorations and scattering them everywhere except where you actually want them to put the decoration. And because I have a 9 & 11 year old, I know this. So in the past I have learned to do the majority of the decorating while they are at school and save a few things for them to put up in their rooms and I do let them decorate the tree . But for some reason, that didn't work out this year. So I spent a lot of my time trying to keep Suzie out of the Christmas boxes or redoing her decorating choices. So this may have added to the lengthy decorating process.
But all this decorating reminded me of about 7 years ago when Finn was about 4 or 5 and we were putting up decorations. We had this little Christmas wreath that had a train that would travel around the wreath in a circle and make noises. He LOVED it and wanted to put it on his bedroom door. He asked if he could put it on his door but I told him I would figure it out later. Later in the day I walked by his room and saw the wreath hanging by a screw on his door. Eric hadn't been home between the time Finn asked me and the time I saw it hanging there. So Finn must have taken matters into his own hands and gotten a screw and hammer out of the toolbox and jimmy-rigged the wreath on the door. I was impressed by the resourcefulness of this little 5 year old. But I was also a bit ticked by the hole he put in the door. I told him I was glad he figured out how to solve his problem but that he had put a hole in the door! He didn't seem to get the permanence of the hole or the fact that I might be upset by the damage done to the door by driving a screw into it. He seemed to think he was doing himself and me a favor by thinking ahead because when I said, "Finn, you put a hole in the door!" he responded, "Yea, now I won't have to do it again next year."
Well, if that isn't a logical little man-in-training, I don't know what is!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Touchdown Jesus and the second closet I've come to having a heart attack.

Despite what the title of this post might imply, seeing touchdown jesus is not what caused me to come the second closest to having a heart attack. And it wasn't the fact that the utes suffered an embarrassing loss so close to touchdown jesus... I'm not that big of a ute fan. (Although it may have been the closest eric has ever been to having a heart attack when the utes gave up a touchdown within the first 13 seconds of the second half of the game that was so close to touchdown jesus.) I'm sure I have utterly confused you with the post, so I will back up a bit. First of all this is touchdown jesus:

And he is found on the Notre Dame college campus where eric and I went to watch the utes play on one of the most historic football fields in the country. We went for the 123 years of football tradition that is found on this college campus. We went to see the 11 national championships won by a college football team. We went to see the statue of the "Gipper"- the most winning football coach in college football history. We went to see the campus that "Rudy" walked on. What we didn't do was go to watch the utes lose. And to be perfectly honest here, I personally didn't go for any of those reasons at all. I mainly went for the yummy food I would be having in Chicago. But the point is we almost didn't go at all. And that makes for the second closest I've ever come to having a heart attack.

About two months ago eric came home with 4 tickets to the Utah vs. Notre Dame football game. He gave 2 to our friends who would be going with us and he kept the other 2 for us in an envelope which he set on the counter. I have this big, long counter that separates my kitchen from my family room and it is the catch-all for all kinds of things- receipts, backpacks, mail, magazines, notes from school, keys, cell phone chargers, etc. I'm sure you all have a space like it. Well eric put the tickets on the counter and they kept falling on the floor or being lost in a pile of mail or moved around to a different pile of stuff. So one day after I had picked them up off the floor for about the tenth time, I told eric, "You need to put these tickets in a safe place because I don't want to be responsible for losing them." Do you see any foreshadowing here? Anyway by proclaiming this I "washed my hands" of keeping track of them. But apparently what eric heard was "I'm going to put these tickets in a safe place so you don't have to be responsible for them." because on the morning of our flight about 10 minutes before we needed to leave he asked, "So where are the football tickets?" I replied, "I don't know." To which he replied, "Seriously, where are they?" To which I replied, "Seriously, I don't know. The last I saw them was on the counter." To which he then went into the kitchen to look for them and to which I proceeded to finish my hair thinking, "Silly man. Doesn't he remember I absolved myself of all responsibility concerning those tickets." To which after 5 minutes he comes in and tells me they aren't on the counter. To which I then go into the kitchen mumbling under my breath "He's as bad as the kids. He expects the tickets to reach out and grab his hand. Can't he just move a few papers around to look for them?" To which after 5 minutes of me moving papers and going through piles of mail and emptying out drawers I start having heart palpitations.
So after about 20 minutes of frantic searching all our usual and unusual piles, paperstacks, drawers, and crevices they were no where to be found. Eric decided to go check his office and I decided to pray- not to touchdown jesus, but to the real one. As if He cared, but I did receive a text during all this and for a split second thought that maybe the man upstairs had gone high-tech in answering prayers these days. Eric came home empty- handed and started making calls to the Utah chapter of the Notre Dame Association, where he had bought the tickets and the Notre Dame football ticket office. So suffice it to say we were able to get reprints of our tickets that would be waiting for us at will-call. Heart attack averted! We were able to enjoy the game and trip with these lovely, incredibly tall people- our friends Marcy and Andy. (eric and I are standing on bleachers, they are not!)

And coincidentally enough the absolute closest I have ever come to a heart attack involves Andy and his incredible tallness. But that is a story for another day!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

"Three dollars downtown at the newspaper"

The title of this post may make absolutely no sense to you if you haven't seen "Farley Family Reunion." "Farley Family Reunion" is one of my all time favorite movies and is probably the most often quoted one in my family... meaning my siblings and parents. It is a Mormon culture classic. I even had my non-Mormon friends quoting it in high school. It is a one man act by James Farley where he depicts all the stereotypical members of an extended family. The set-up is a program at a family reunion where different members of the family come up and report about their "doings" or perform a talent or give a family history report, etc. He nails every character from the annoyed teenager who has to do her baton twirling routine because her mother is forcing her to the Relief Society lady who tells pioneer stories while wearing her apron that turns into a bonnet to the old grandma who brings her x-rays to show what is wrong with her. The list goes on and on. And if you are a member of a LDS family and have ever been to a family reunion you will relate to at least one if not more of these characters. It is hilarous!

Anyway, what that has to do with this post is in the movie there is a character who has won "three dollars downtown at the newspaper" for a story he has written and the proud parent tells everyone over and over and over how the kid won "three dollars downtown at the newspaper." Well in our family we also have an award winning writer. And even though Finn didn't win "three dollars downtown at the newspaper" he did win a free ticket to the city's Haunted Halloween trail, which is worth less than 3 dollars. But nevertheless he did get to read his Halloween story at the "spooky" storytellers evening at the park.

So in honor of this prestigious award, this proud parent is posting his "free ticket to the Haunted Halloween trail" winning story, complete with pictures and all.
The Three Mutant Alien Pigs

Once upon a time there were three Mutant Alien Pigs. Their names were Mario, Alfonzo and Jerry. They were too old to live with their mother so they got into their spaceship and flew to the Planet Eggplant. But before they left their mother told them to watch out for the Big Bad Mutant Space Wolf. They told her not to worry; then they left.
Mario was looking for a spot for his house when he saw a spot for his house. He saw a big box of Cracker Jacks just sitting there. He had a great idea. A hosue built from Cracker Jacks! So he did.
Alfonzo was doing the same when he saw a Big Orange selling little oranges. He had the same idea. (But with oranges.) So he built his house. Now I know what you are thinking. Houses made from food? Let's just say they aren't very smart.

Now onto the older, smarter Jerry. Jerry saw a metal store so he went inside and bought a 5000 lbs mix of titanium steel, and built his house from that. Then an unknown spaceship landed in Eggplant and out came a bounty hunter named "The Big Bad Mutant Space Wolf." He came to capture the pigs because they were on the F.B.I. most wanted list, and the F.B.I. sent the wolf to capture the pigs!
First he went to Mario's house. He knocked on the door. "Let me in you Mutant Alien Pig!", cried the wolf.
"Not for all the Cracker Jacks in my house!", shouted the pig.
"Then I'll throw a watermelon at your house.", said the wolf. And he did.
So Mario got in his hover craft and flew to Alfonzo's house. He told him everything. Then the wolf came along. The pigs didn't let him in. So he threw another melon and of course it broke the house. So Mario and Alfonzo flew to Jerry's house. They told him everything. Then along came the wolf. He did the whole watermelon thing. But this time it didn't work. So the wolf went down the chimney but Jerry tazed him. He was so scared he left Eggplant. He reported back to the police chief and was slapped across the face and sent to the deserted Planet Grapefruit never to be seen again.
P.S. The pigs are still on the lose.
Too proud of him to speak... but did I mention he won "a free ticket to the Haunted Halloween trail!" :)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

When the cats are away the mice will play.

Eric and Finn have been away on a "luxury" hunt over Halloween weekend, so we girls decided to "live it up" while they were gone... well as much as you can "live it up" with three little girls on Halloween anyway. I know my posts tend to be a little wordy, so this week it will mostly be a photo essay of all the activities we did. Here's what "partying" looks like for us:

Singing witchy songs

Walking in Halloween parades and playing "spooky" games like Halloween Bingo and Halloween musical chairs.

Going to the annual "Spooks" Party where we look like the catering/clean-up crew. And if you don't get our costumes, you have to check out this
Lunch Lady Link. You will be amazed how right we got this costume!

Enjoying the party hosted by this handsome couple More of the spooks Going to see the Witches at Gardner Village with friends Going trick or treating Eating ourselves into a candy stupor Painting our "witchy" fingersHaving a Halloween feast that includes:
a Mummy wrap
Dracula Bites Witch Wands -
incidentally my new culinary nemisis is caramel. Between
trying to make homemade caramel dip for Dracula's mouths and melting caramels for the Witch wands, caramel is getting the best of my cooking skills. I just can't seem to get it the right consistency. I think I am cooking it too long, because it is turning out way too hard. Ohh- that drives me crazy! "Bones" bread

Our "Witches Brew"

Here are some of the "witches" who enjoyed our Halloween feast and helped cap off our weekend of partying!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Night Snapshot

Before I begin today's post, a couple of people have asked for the recipe for the sweet rolls I mentioned in this post. And even though they have been officially called "marriage rolls" in my ward, (Yes, they this name was sanctioned by both our bishop and Young Men's President in BYC, no less.) I just don't feel it would be right for me to copy and rename them with a boyfriend's name on the recipe blog I belong to because they are the recipe of such a food blogging icon and pioneer. In fact they come from Pioneer Woman. So I am just providing the link to the recipe index page that has links to all three rolls recipes. She even has another recipe for Chocolate Chip sweet rolls that I think I need to make. So go make any of these rolls for someone you love. They will love you even more!
I really don't have any "stories" to tell this week, so i am unabashedly copying my friend, Kelly's idea of giving a snapshot of what everyone in my family is doing as I type this. So thanks Kelly!
Eric: Cleaning his guns. And that is no metaphor. He is literally cleaning his guns for an upcoming hunt. And with 3 girls, this is really something he will be doing on a regular basis on Friday and Saturday nights in about 5 years.
Kari: Remembering the cookies in the oven I was leaving in for just another minute. Unfortunately that was 5 minutes ago. So they are a little past golden brown. They will be perfect for dipping in milk. I wish I could say they were homemade, but they are from some frozen cookie dough I bought from the school fundraiser over a year ago. And since the next batch of fundraiser cookie dough is scheduled to arrive soon, I decided I better cook them.
Finn: Helping and learning the ways of cleaning a gun. Finn is going hunting with his dad and can barely contain himself about it. He is having trouble sleeping; he is so excited about it. I know some people might "frown upon" an 11 year old learning how to shoot and care for a gun. But the way I see it, I would rather have his own father teaching him the proper care of a gun and helping him develop a healthly respect for its power, than have some video game glorifying and glamourizing it.
Annie: Practicing the piano. Despite her occassional whining about practicing, Annie is doing very well in piano. It is fun to watch her grow up and focus all the crazy energy she had as a toddler into good endeavors like piano and school. She and whatever friend she can convince to come over have started a little school that meets afterschool and on the weekends. It is so cute because she will make nametags and folders with her students's names on them. (Her students are usually Suzie, Katie and whatever friend Katie can convince to come over.) They even have a "talking bear" they pass around during community circle time to distinguish whose turn it is to talk. They ask questions like, "What is your favorite color or food?" I would like to say her mother having been a teacher is what is inspiring this role-play, but I think her young, cute 4th grade teacher is more of the inspiration for this.
Katie: Working on her "Star of the Week" Poster. Usually I dread having to do these "Star of the Week" parent project posters. I have always tried to get my kids involved, but it always seems to be one more thing for me to do. But Katie's teacher has it figured out. She sends home a legal-size piece of paper that has all sorts of headings for the KID to fill out like "Favorite Food" or "Places I've been" or "Pets", etc. Then there are cartoon graphics the KID colors. The only thing I have to do is find a picture of Katie and our family to stick on it. It is so much better than having the pressure of making some cutsy, crafty poster. I'm also suppose to send in Katie's favorite treat to share with the class. i asked her what she wanted me to get and after some time thinking about it she said, "Oreos." Hmm... Did not know that. Especially since I can probably count on one hand how many times I have bought them.
Suzie: Watching "Rugrats" on Netflix. We have basic, basic cable, so we don't get a lot of channels. But we can stream movies and TV shows from Netflix to our TV. My kids have discovered the old episodes of "Rugrats" and they love them. I must admit they make me laugh too. "Those dumb babies!" And now Suzie just found the cooling cookies on the kitchen counter. I think I better go help her enjoy them.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Pumpkin Faces

This weekend my in-laws had their second annual pumpkin carving contest. It is mostly a chance for the cousins to carve their pumkins all together, but a few of the adults take it a bit more seriously. Eric's brother, Gary, is an incredible self-taught artist and his talent is easily translated into professional-looking carved pumpkins. And despite my lobbying for Gary to be a category unto himself for our pumpkin carving contest, he won 1st place again. His is the first picture on this post, and I have to admit wholeheartedly he deserves it. Here are the pictures of my lil' pumpkins and their award winning pumpkin faces.
Finn won the "Most Original" award for his Sherlock Holmes pumpkin. Please note the top hat and pipe which make it most decidedly a Halloween nod to the famous detective. These days Finn and Eric are so into watching Sherlock Holmes on PBS, that Finn has even started reading the book.
Another thing Finn is into these days is the tuba. He started the before school band last week. Since he is the only kid who is playing the tuba, the band teacher has a tuba he can play at the school and another one he can bring home and practice. That way he doesn't have to lug the instrument back and forth. The morning after he brought his tuba home, Eric and I were still in bed when we heard the melodious honk of this "delicate" horn at 7:30am. I went downstairs and told Finn though I appreciated his enthusiasm for a musical instrument, he couldn't play it that early in the morning. He recounted the circumstance that led to his playing the tuba. He was trying to wake Annie up and she just wouldn't get up. So he resorted to getting his tuba out of its case and going to Annie's room to play it in her face. Who knew the tuba had a dual purpose. Not only does it provide the bass line in a band, it also can be a quite effective wake-up call. Just ask Annie. And speaking of Annie, here is her award-winning pumpkin:

She won 4th place for her Monster-Ghost, which was quite gracious of her to give herself the last place since she was the judge. (You might of noticed that there are varying awards in this contest-not only things like "Most Original" , but also 1st, 2nd, etc. It happens when there are 9 year old judges and so many pumpkins to judge.) I would love to give an update here on Annie, but I have been forbidden from sharing any stories about her on my blog. So for the time being, I'm respecting those wishes. Although I can't guarantee this Annie-story moratorium will last long.

Katie won "Cutest" for her witch pumpkin. This past Sunday Katie was doing a church related word search during sacrament meeting. I was truly amazed when she found words like 'clean' and 'white' written backward in the search. Then I noticed she was finding words like 'covenant' and 'worthy' without checking the spelling of them on the words to find list. "Wow. She is really smart" is what I thought. And then I saw she wasn't crossing any of the words off as she was finding them. I pointed this out to her and she acted surprised that there was even a list of words to find. At this point I got suspicious. Katie is a smart girl, but she is only 6 and words like 'accountable' and 'commandments' aren't in her sight word repetoire yet. I then looked more closely at the words to find list and saw an answer key on the bottom of the page. Katie was looking at the answer key and then finding the words to circle by location rather then by the actual words. I leaned over and told this to Eric. He whispered back, "So you went from 'She's brilliant' to 'She's a cheater.' in a matter of seconds." Yeah, pretty much. But like Eric said, at least the optimism of a mother saw the positive first rather than the realism of the hard truth.Here is Suzie with her rendition of the "Cat in the Hat" pumpkin. (Sorry I can't get the picture to turn the right way.) "Cat in the Hat" is her new favorite PBS cartoon. She wouldn't show her face because she was BEING the cat in the hat. Suzie, as Julie pointed out this week, is such a little mother. We went to the cabin this weekend and when we first got there it was cold. So Eric decided to build a fire instead of turning in the heat. As Eric was getting the fire started, Suzie went upstairs to claim her bed and get into her pjs. She came back downstairs about 10 minutes later and stood in front of the barely burning fire with her hands on her hips and asked, "So is this going well?"

She also told her friend, Quinci, that "She (Quinci) shouldn't talk when she (Suzie) is talking." But she also peed outside by a tree at the cabin because she didn't want to take the time to come back inside. So either she is a resourceful little mother or just a resourceful little 3 year old.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Call me ugly, call me stupid, but don't call me late for dinner

So I love food. I am entertained watching others prepare food. I am entertained trying new food. I enjoy reading about food. I, at times, enjoy planning out and preparing my food. I will get giddy with excitement anticipating a good meal. My brother use to make fun of me because I would watch cooking shows and infomercials about things like the Ronco Food Dehydrator before the Food Network was born. I believe there is power in food.

A few weeks ago I was teaching the Young Women in my ward how to make sweet rolls. I was showing how you could make 3 kinds of rolls from one dough- Cinnamon Rolls, Caramel Apple Sweet rolls and Orange Marmalade rolls. Each girl got to take home a pan of rolls and the recipes. But I forgot one of the recipes. So when I was passing out the missing recipe on Sunday, I jokingly mentioned that they weren't allowed to make these rolls for boys until they were 21. Because if they did, the boy would immediately propose marriage. One of the girl's eyes got big and she said outloud, "It's true!" She later told me she had given her pan to a boy and that night he talked to her for hours. I smiled knowingly and said, "Now you know the power of these rolls. So don't use that power unless you want the attention it will produce!"
I also think food can communicate love. I can easily turn down a store bought treat in a second. But I if someone takes the time and effort to make a homemade goodie, I consider it a slap in the face to not try one because "I am on a diet" or "I am trying to cut back." People often talk about things being made with love or the secret ingredient in their dishes being love and I believe this is a real thing. Not just something you say to be cute. Often when I make something specific for someone I will try to create something that I know they like or have mentioned it being a favorite. For my brother-in-law, JJ's birthday I made bean burritos that he ate at my house and raved about. They can be frozen and eaten over several meals. I told Eric this and he said, "Did JJ one time offhand say that he liked them and now you are making him a whole batch?" I replied, "No, he didn't 'offhand' mention it. He has told me several times how much he likes them and wishes he had some more."
Which brings me to another point about food. Just like frequently a prophet is not revered in his own land, a cook isn't always appreciated in her own kitchen. I am part of a cooking club and not to toot my own horn, but I have been told by some of my fellow cooking clubbers that they would like me to prepare their last meal. I, mistakenly, mentioned this to Eric and he said, "Well, you're a pretty good cook." WHAT?!? Pretty good?!? I politely told him that in some circles I am revered for my cooking. He just sort of raised his eyebrows at that. And I'm constantly being told by my kids that I make weird things. But honestly there is nothing that breaks my heart more than telling me you don't like my cooking. Although I suppose every Rocky needs his Mickey to tell him where he needs to improve and Eric and my kids are Mickey to my cooking Rocky. I guess my everyday kitchen can be my training boxing ring where I can experiment, make mistakes and have failures. Just as long as I come out fighting to have some winning dishes I can showcase in the championship ring.
So in honor of all this cooking talk I am going to post one of my winning, most requested recipes on the cooking blog I am a part of- Tried and True. It is the spaghetti sauce I can every fall because Eric won't eat store-bought spaghetti sauce. I am naming it "The Spaghetti Sauce that isn't quite as famous as James Dashner but almost" because James Dashner is the most famous person I have ever dated. He was my first date and he wasn't famous then but he is getting to be famous now. He is the author of the book "The Maze Runner" and the sequel to that book- "The Scorch Trials" comes out this week, so it seems especially fitting that a recipe be named after him now. So if you want the recipe just click on the name above. And remember- "Call me ugly, call me stupid, but don't call me a bad cook."

Monday, October 4, 2010

36 and counting

I had a hard time deciding what I should blog about this weekend. At first I thought I should write about how I feel like a squirrel preparing for winter because of all the case lot sales and canning that has been going around here.

Then I considered writing about the Dirty Dash I ran last weekend with some crazy ladies! Or should I write about the beautiful, yet still hot change of seasons that is going on right now.
But ultimately I am going to write about my birthday- and ironically I don't have any pictures of that... yet! Saturday was my 36th birthday. Birthdays are a funny thing. They are a unique balance of owning your expectations, expressing your expectations and having fulfilled other's birthday expectations. Some years I have planned my own party and other years we have gone on vacation (The picture at the top of my blog was taken last year on my 35th birthday at Arches National Park.) But this year was a little quieter and I was just fine with that.
Last week I was talking to a girl at the gym I go to about her turning 30 recently. She was having a hard time turning 30 and I was explaining to her that I have loved my 30s so much better than my 20s. She wanted to know why because other people have said that to her and she just didn't get it. I told her, "Well, I think I am more confident in my 30s and I don't feel the need to compare myself to or please others as much. I figure if you like me- great, if you don't -I'm not going to worry about it." She replied, "I have always been that way, so I guess I just feel old." And I can understand what she means because I remember when I turned 30 it freaked my out because I can remember my own mother being in her 30s. But I left the conversation feeling like there was more to it, but I couldn't quite put my finger on what it was that made my 30s better. But then something happened on my birthday that helped me put it into words.
We haven't had a family picture taken for two years, so for my birthday I decided I would schedule to have one taken. Then the day of my birthday I told my kids that their birthday present to me was to not complain about having to take pictures, wearing what I want them to wear and letting me do their hair the way I want them to. Incidentally, after I told my kids this, Annie proceeded to tell me that on HER birthday I had to wear what she wanted me to wear and I had to do my hair the way she wanted me to do it. I told her if this made her happy, then I would gladly do it. So if you happen to see me on June 8th next year and I look sort of "special", you'll know why.
Now you would think that this would be a fairly easy request for my kids. But it did require some initial tongue-biting, especially from Finn. He absolutely hates getting pictures taken, especially professional ones. He insists that our camera does just as good a job. I knew his opinions and I didn't want to hear them on my birthday and at first he did a good job of keeping them to himself. But then the hour of the photo shoot drew near and a friend called to ask if he could hang out. Eric was with me when Finn approached to ask if he could go. I reminded Finn that we had pictures to get ready for. Finn started grumbling. Eric immediately stopped him and said, "Hey, that's not part of the deal." But Finn continued, "I'm not complaining, I just think..." To which Eric interrupted, "You were complaining and it doesn't matter what you think because we are getting pictures taken." I didn't have to say a thing. This honestly meant so much to me because truth be told, Eric hates getting professional pictures taken too. But he respected me and my birthday request enough to support me and take on the criticism himself. He really could have turned to me and said, "Happy Birthday" without giving me anything and I would have been happy. So I've concluded that another reason why I like my 30s so much better is because it doesn't take near as much to make me content. Things aren't nearly as important to me as people. Now don't get me wrong I'm not ready to give up all my material possessions and live a monk-like life. A gift is always well-received. But relationships and doing the little things that make them work are more meaningful to me than big gestures of monetary value. And that brings a lot of satisfaction to my closer to 40 than 30 year old soul.
Another funny event from my birthday was the presentation of gifts from my children. Eric had taken them to the Dollar Store so they could use their allowances to buy me presents. They came home and Finn walks into my room and hands me his unwrapped present and a card with no envelope and nothing written inside. I thanked him for the present, handed the card back to him and said with a sly smile that he forgot to sign his name and tell me how he feels about me in the card. He took it back with a grin and put his John Hancock and an "I love you." in it. At this point Annie walks in with her present all wrapped and her enveloped card with a signature and a "You are the best mom ever!" written inside. What a difference that extra X chromosome makes!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Sophomoric Pranks

Ours is a house divided. And there is no other time during the year that that is more evident then during football season. I am a BYU Cougar and Eric is a Utah Man. Although I constantly like to remind him that I am the only one with a degree from the university I cheer for! But I must say that I am not one of those pushy, obnoxious fans who is always antagonizing or referring back to the glory days of the Cougars. For the most part our children are being raised as Utah fans and I feel just fine about that. I like cheering for the U as well, especially over the past few years when their star has been rising so fast and high. But every once in awhile I like to assert where my true loyal lies.

I attended BYU in the early 90's and absolutely loved it. When I look back at my formative years, I can say I had fun in high school now but I'm not sure I could say that while I was going through it. But I can say with assurance that I knew I was having a good time in college while I was going through it. I think even while I was in my "Provo Bubble" I was oblivious to the true, full nature of the BYU-UTAH rivalry. I knew they were a foe but back then BYU was generally the dominant team. So I took pride in being the winning team without losing a lot of sleep of what the U of U students thought of me. Since my years at BYU I have since discovered the at times over-simplified, generic stereotypes that some fans from both sides like to place on each other. I won't go into those now because I don't want to perpetuate groups of people being painted with a broad brush. But needless to say there are a lot of both Ute and Cougar fans whom I love and adore.
But like I said, my children are inundated with a whole lot of Ute propoganda and paraphenalia. We have Ute blankets, t-shirts, sweatshirts, magnets, rugs, Christmas decorations, footballs, foam #1 hands, hats, pencils, banana chairs, flags, stickers, license plates, beads, pajamas, etc. And I am so not exagerrating. We have every single on of those items in our house and not one Y to be found. Well last weekend I decided to remedy that situation. Eric was at a scout camp overnighter with Finn. Friday afternoon a young guy knocked on my door offering to paint my house address on my curb. I had just recently had it done so I wasn't interested, but then a lightning bolt struck my head. I asked him if he painted letters too, like so many Y and U fans have on their curbs. I explained the college rivalry situation in our household and asked if he could paint a royal blue Y next to my house number. He said he could but he would have to come back tomorrow because he didn't have the paint or stencils. He thought it was so funny that he was happy to come back the next day. I warned him that he had to come in the morning because if my husband caught him, he would for sure stop him. So at about 9am Saturday morning he showed up with a buddy to paint this beauty on my curb:

After he was done, he had me come admire his work and told me he would come back in a month to see if it was still there. He even offered to later paint a U on the other side, free of charge, because he thought it was such a great joke.
Now the trick was waiting for Finn and Eric to get home and see how long it took them to notice. I made my girls swear not to tell them. Remember they have been indoctrinated too, so I pretty much had to threaten them with their lives to keep their "Utah Man" song holes shut! But when they did come home the girls kept saying things to them like , "Notice anything different?" or "What has changed around here?" But luckily the men in my home are use to vague, probing questions made by females in a vain attempt to get attention; that it didn't even faze them. So Saturday passed by with no reaction. Then Sunday nothing, and Monday the same. But Tuesday Finn and Eric needed to mow the lawn before the garbage man came on Wednesday. It was during a pass with the lawnmower down the front park strip that Finn noticed the inconspicuous Y on the curb. He immediately called Eric over to take a look at it. After which Eric marched right in to me, while I was in the bathroom no less and demanded, "Was that you or Harold who put that Y on my curb?" Now I must say here that Harold is a neighbor of ours who is a devoted BYU fan and an avid reader of my blog. So, Harold, I want you to know that I exonerated your name and took full responsibility. But I was curious to know why he thought it was you so I asked him. He responded, "Because that seems like the kind of sophomoric prank he would pull." So I'm sorry you got pulled into our household rivalry!
Eric informed me that evening that the Y would be gone by morning, but I am proud to say that it is still there. This probably due to laziness rather than any newly developed sympathetic leanings toward the Y. But I did find this on my front window the next morning as I was driving my kids to school:
I commented to Eric on the subtlety of his U response to my Y. But I think that just speaks to U fans... they are kind of loud, obvious, in your face people whereas Y fans are a bit more refined and soft-spoken. In fact I think the term I'm searching for is "meek." ;) Oh, did I say I was going to stay away from stereotypes? Well I just couldn't help myself. But if you would like to help me continue these sophomoric pranks, I am up to suggestions. I have a few ideas ruminating in my brain, but I could always use more. After all we still have 3 more months of college football to go!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Ahh... School pictures

This week in honor of having school pictures taken, I am going to share some of my own classic school pictures.

This is first picture was taken in 4th grade. What is so great is I think it was the first time my mom let me do my own hair for my pictures. "Feathering" was all the rage back in 1983. I'm not sure if I didn't use enough hairspray on the right side of my hair or if I played dodgeball extra hard during recess, but somehow only one side of my hair stayed "feathered." Which I was probably mad about when I got my school pictures back, but now I think it tells a story about what I was like when I was that age. I'm glad my mom didn't insist on me getting a retake so my hair could look perfect. That wouldn't be near as interesting. And speaking of retakes, this is another one of my favorite school pictures.This was a year later, in 5th grade. Apparently I got the feathered look down, but not the keeping my eyes open look-because this was a retake. And even though this was my second and last attempt at a good 5th grade picture, I'm once again glad that my mom didn't destroy the picture because it wasn't perfect. Something I just noticed about these pictures is that in both of them I am wearing a button-down shirt with a sweater. I was living in Georgia during this time and I assume they took pictures in the fall back then like they do now. I can imagine I was hotter than hades in my sweater and button-down shirt in the southern heat and humidity. No wonder one side of my hair fell flat!
Needless to say, I have carried on the tradition of not requiring that pictures of my kids look perfect. I absolutely adore pictures of screaming kids on Santa's lap. Not that I enjoy making my kids scream, but what I like is that it accurately reflects the experience they had at that age. Last year I was out of town when my kids had school pictures taken. Before I even saw them, I decided I would keep them no matter what they looked like. I was very interested to see how they would look when their dad got them ready for school and especially on school picture day. And I was pleasantly surprised:

Sure they don't have bows, braids or curls in their hair and it looks like Katie and Annie have some static-y hair goin' on and could have used a quick comb-through but for the most part they look pretty good. I mean this is a more accurate reflection of what they look like day in and day out at school than any other school picture. Now don't get me wrong I did plenty to get them picture ready this year- Finn got a haircut the day before, I blew dry Annie's hair and Katie got braids but I think we should say no to retakes and let our kids' childhood shine through. I mean what says childhood more than big glasses, big-gaped teeth, half down hair and half open eyes!

P.S.- I got a little BYU/Utah rivalry experiment going on in my house right now. I'll let you in on the joke as soon as the intended targets figure it out!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Silly Bands and other Silly Stories

Really. She hasn't posted in close to two months and she is going to post about silly bands?!? I know that is what you are thinking. And my answer to that is ... "Why, yes. Yes, I am." See over the past two months I have had plenty to post about but nothing has really written itself in my mind. I know this sounds weird but often when I post a story the story has already written itself in my head. Sometimes the telling of the story will take a different turn when I go to write it, but I usually have a general idea of what they story will be like. But I've had a bit of a blogger's block over the past months and nothing has formed itself. Then today I had a lesson on journals in church and it inspired me to blog again even if the story isn't there to begin with. So my new goal is to post every Sunday and it may be a recall of events from the week or it may be my recording a past event or just my musings. Either way I trust that for good or bad some story will present itself. So in the name of recording our family's history of both the significant and the mundane this week's post is about the all important Silly Bands. If you don't have a 1st-6th grader you may not know what these are. So here is a picture of them along with the most Silly Band obsessed member of our family.

They are little jelly/rubbery bands (I like how they are named "bands", not "bracelets" so as to not be gender specific and thus exclude the profits from the allowances of half the elementary age population). Kids wear multiples of them at a time and of course trade them. When they are on their wrists they look like most bands except they are a little more wavy. But then when you take them off they take the shape of all kinds of things... animals, crowns, wands, hearts, stars, lips, looney tunes characters, automobiles, etc.
What really struck me about these things is how quickly they became a pop culture sensation/kid fad. Katie got some for her birthday the first week of school; this being the first time I had seen them. Then within a week Annie was coming home from school begging for me to take her to the store so she can spend her allowance on them. Before i knew it every kid I saw was wearing them. It got me thinking what makes these fads and who decides them. It seems like a few years ago pokemon cards were the big thing. And I remember when i was in elementary school trading stickers on the bus. I even had a photo album I stored them in so I could see all my prized possessions at once. And of course the scratch and sniff stickers were like the Snickers in your Halloween loot, meaning they were the most sought after. Annie has informed me that the Tie-Dye silly bands are the Scratch and Sniff of the silly band world and that the simple ones like an ice cream or a heart are like the Bit O Honey of the Halloween loot, meaning they will take them because they are technically candy but they won't be happy about it. So my purpose in recording all this is maybe one day twenty years from now Annie will read this and say, "Oh, yea! I forgot how much I loved those silly bands."

I also wanted to tell another funny story about Annie. When Annie was little I was chalk full of "Annie" stories. She was such a character and everyone loved hearing about her antics. This was all during the pre-blogging era and I tried to write them down but I don't think I got this one down. When Annie was about 3 or 4 years old we were down in St. George with my family- meaning my parents and siblings. My sister was the only other one with kids and we decided to take them to McDonalds for ice cream. When we got there my nephew, Jeffrey, decided he wanted french fries. So we gave everyone, including Annie, the option of having ice cream or fries. Annie said she wanted ice cream so that is what she got. But then when everyone got their order Annie experienced 3 year old buyer's remorse. She really wanted fries once she saw Jeffrey's. But being the mean mom I am I told her she had to have her ice cream because that is what she told me she wanted. And I wasn't even offering to get her fries if she ate all her ice cream because I am that mean and that cheap! It was eat your ice cream or eat nothing. Well Annie relented and finally started eating her ice cream. But between her pathetic, weak licks at her ice cream she kept casting jealous glances at Jeffrey's fries. It was hilarous to watch because you knew exactly what she was thinking without her saying a word. Her look spoke loud and clear "I don't want this stupid ice cream. I really, really wish I could have those fries." So now when me and my sisters make a decision and then realize we made the wrong choice and start coveting the choice we should have made, we pretend we are licking an ice cream with a frown on our face that says, "I really wish I could have those fries."

Monday, July 26, 2010

Can I get a Witness?

I have heard it said that what most of us need and want from life is a witness. Someone who we can tell our "stories" to right after they happen. Someone who we can nudge when we see something cool. Someone we can call when we think, "Have a thought, must share." I am very fortunate to have several of these witnesses in my life, and I am grateful for each of them. But one of my main "witnesses" is my older sister, Michelle. And since it is her birthday today I thought it only appropriate that I express how grateful I am that she is my witness.

Michelle and I are two years apart and some people think I am older and some people think she is my mother. (Note: If you don't want to be on Michelle's "list" don't ever ask if either of her younger sisters are her daughters.) And more often then not people are very surprised when they find out we are sisters. We don't look anything alike and our personalities and interests are quite different. Some of the things we do share are the same heritage, similar sense of humor, mannerisms and stage of life. It is the perfect combination to make our relationship work so well. Our differences allow us to strengthen each other and learn from each other and our similarities allow us to relate to and appreciate each other. Michelle is one of my very favorite people to tell a story to. Because our humor is so much the same, I know she will laugh the hardest when I have a funny story to tell. She always has as what we call "the script." She knows what to say to make me feel better or to validate my feelings. I don't think there is a detail about my life she doesn't know and vice versa. And because we are so close, some of our different interests and talents have become the other one's talents and interests just because we are willing to try them because the other one does them.
When we were growing up we weren't all that close. I was the annoying little sister who always wanted to tag along with her and her friends and she was the bossy older sister who never let me borrow her clothes. She may still have the physical scars of my fingernails on her back and I'm pretty sure I still have the emotional scars from being locked in the bathroom multiple times even though I was assured by her everytime that she wouldn't lock me in this time. (Have I mentioned before that I was a gullible kid? and Michelle took full advantage of this!) I'm sure my mother worried about us growing up but we have grown to be each other's biggest supporter and defender.
One of the things I admire the most about Michelle is she knows who she is. She doesn't downplay her strengths and she doesn't make any excuses for her weaknesses. She is who she is and you can take her or leave her. I prefer to take her because I think she is a wonderful sister and person. She is extremely loyal to those she loves and would do anything for them (as long as it doesn't fall between 9:00 and 11:30 am when she is at the gym everyday !:) See the great thing about our relationship is I can tease her like that and she knows I do it in love and fun. It is part of our charm, so we think! So Happy Birthday Missy! Thank you for being my greatest cheerleader and witness. I love you!

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Summer Of . . .

I realized we are a little over halfway through the summer and i haven't posted anything about what we have been doing. We haven't been on any big vacations this summer since "Tuition" has been rented out for most of the summer. "Tuition" is the name I gave to the motorhome we bought a little over a year ago. I christened the RV "Tuition" because instead of saving for our kids' college tuition we decided to buy an RV. But this year decided it might be a little more financially prudent to actually have some money in the bank when it is time for our kids' higher education, so through a vacation rental business that one of Eric's friends owns we have been renting out "Tuition" and actually saving for tuition at the same time. It is what Stephen Covey would call a "win-win."

Anyway I have noticed that sometimes there are certain events that can define a summer. Things like a certain song (think "Summer of "69) or a movie- like I remember seeing "Back to the Future" in the summer of '89. So in that vein, here are some of the things that have defined the Summer of '10 for our family.
*Car games- In our travels back and forth to the pool or to the store or to friends' houses, my kids have created an amalgamation of several different car games which include "Slugbug", "Bingo", "Mustang, motorcycle, convertible" to name a few. Basically they look for certain cars and try to "call" them before anyone else and then reward themselves points for them. For example if you see a motorcycle you get one point. If you see a "bingo"(yellow) mustang you get two points. And the piece de resistance is a bingo slugbug convertible with the top off. Of course they don't keep track of the points and make the rules up at will and it sometimes causes one of those highly intelligent arguments that my kids are famous for. But it does keep them entertained and it can be highly entertaining for me to listen to. The best is when Katie is talking to me and doesn't even take a breath or miss a beat in her sentence to call out a car she has seen. "Mom, I really want to play with motorcycle! Sarah because I haven't mustang convertible! played with her in a long time." And the only way to end the game is if you see missionaries because they are worth like a million points.
*The Drive-In movie- We have discovered the drive-in movie this summer and we are never going back. It is the only way to see a movie in the summer with young kids. It is much cheaper because kids under 10 are only $1 and we can bring our own treats. Plus when Suzie gets bored about 2/3 into the movie which she almost inevitably does she can move around more without disturbing other people. The only draws backs are the late start time- 9:30pm and getting pulled over at 11:45pm with all your girls in the backseat. But that's a post of a different color!

*My flower-pots actually surviving and thriving. I have grown a garden for years and seem to manage a pretty healthy harvest. But my flower pots are another story altogether. Usually they look like this: And this year they actually look like this:
Although I do have to say that when I started to type this I remembered I hadn't watered them today so I had to stop and go do that. My inability to consistently remember to do this may have something to do with their early demise every year.
*The Norwegian Pancake Pan- My ancestry comes from Norway and so does one of our favorite breakfast foods- Norwegian pancakes. My mom made them, her mom made them, her grandma made them, etc. They are similiar to crepes and my kids love them covered in butter and syrup. A few years ago my mom tried to find authentic Norwegian Pancake pans to give to all her children and couldn't. But she did find this pan:
I think it is suppose to be for making tortillas and it does a good job of making other ethnic fare like Norwegian pancakes too. But this summer it has been our go to pan not only for pancakes but also for grilled cheese, cheese quesadillas, etc. It can't be washed with soap, but almost everyday I am scraping it clean.
I do have a funny story related to this pan. A few weeks ago we had my very honest, very adorable 6 year old nephew, Easton, over for a sleepover. I was making Norwegian pancakes for breakfast. My sister, his mom, also makes these pancakes and Easton was bragging that he could eat 5 Norwegian pancakes. We make them basically the same way but I do one thing different. I use whole wheat flour instead of white flour because it is a way to get whole grains in my kids when they don't know it. I didn't think it made much difference in the taste, but my nephew proved me wrong. After eating just one pancake he proclaimed he was done. I questioned his earlier claim and said, "But I thought you could eat 5?!?" He responded, "Yeah, that's at home where they're good." Oh, I see!
*Lofty Goals- I make lofty goals for my kids in the summer about things like reading, working on math facts, learning a new skill, etc. But like I said, these are goals I make, not them. They make goals like not sleeping in their bed the whole summer. Finn accomplished this last summer and is working on it again this year and so far he is rockin' it. He sleeps on the coach mostly but sometimes he makes a fort or sleeps outside with a cousin. And isn't that one of the secrets to being successful at a goal... make it one that is attainable so you don't get frustrated and give up. Who needs a goal like reading 10 books in the summer when you accomplish another one and not have a bed to make in the morning? Now that is what Finn would call a "win-win!"