Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Purging in Times of Desperation & Pregnancy

It doesn't happen often, but every once in awhile, I get the itch to do a closet purge. Maybe this time it's because I still have capris in my drawer... in December, or perhaps the fact that being five months pregnant has caught up with me, but truly, the catalyst was the mountain of laundry that is taking over an entire room. "Zackanista! - Enough!"

Now, I don't know about you, but for me there are two kinds of purges. The first is the benign, "Eh, this doesn't fit/I don't like it/I don't want to wear it anymore." This is a harmless purge. A happy purge! Its usually done when you are making room for something better, something new, - something you like. The second kind though is awful. It is the gut wrenching, ugly truth-telling, reality-check, kind of purge. And this is what I did today.

Fashionistas and Clutter Control agents alike will tell you that the easiest way to purge a closet is to:
A) Get rid of the trash - for severe clutter cases where Snickers wrappers and empty cd cases are stored in clothing closets.
B) Get rid of things you no longer like/wear. And,
C) For those things that you aren't sure about , turn the hanger backwards, and after six months, if you haven't worn it - and turned the hanger around, simply pitch it.

My brain knows these steps and agrees that others should follow and comply with them. For my own closet though... it is a different story. I don't rotate my closet by seasons, I basically have it all there, all the time. My mom taught me to buy quality items that will LAST, not cheapie stuff that you have to get rid of every season because it has worn out. Pendleton over PennySaver.

So - here it goes. The ugly truth part. I. Have. Clothes from High School. A beloved Benetton sweater that I paid $88 for back in 1980... something. I also have a gorgeous lined wool skirt with a kick pleat that I look ROCKIN' in, when I'm under 150lbs. I got that in my early 20's, and I get compliments on MY butt just about every time I wear it. Especially at the Air Force Base. So, that's an early '90s item.

Needless to say, purging my closet is not a casual affair. I don't just go through random clothes and decide, "pitch/stay." It is like trying to get rid of investments. But, sadly, it has come to this. I steeled myself and admitted some difficult truths as I started pulling clothes off hangers from the back of my closet: I will NOT be needing this karate outfit from that one semester of college - not even for Halloween. All my karate moves are on a VHS tape that got ditched three moves ago. Even though this is a nice red suit and jacket, I hate the way the skirt makes my thighs look fat and how I'm always trying to yank the skirt down all of the 3 times I've worn it.

This warm, and gifted-from-a-missionary ethnic sweater, though warm, makes me look like a fat, hibernating, caterpillar. So I never wear it - and no one EVER wants to borrow it. Not even in sub-degree weather. Eh, this skirt. Even if I WAS thin again, I would put this skirt on once, and then indulge in something better. And, ohhhh, forgive me mom. The orchestra skirt you made me. I wore it through college, and just don't see when I'm gonna wear it again. I've moved it from coast to coast for the past 12 years and haven't worn it once. Not once. *sigh*

This went on for AN HOUR! I winnowed out about 2/3 of my closet. No one will really notice, because I have not worn most of this stuff for years, and no one has ever begged to help me clean out my closet and pick up on some of my great stylin' clothes - from two decades ago.

I will be severely hurting come spring, but for right now, I know I've done the right thing in getting rid of the hot pink shirt that is not-so-hot, and was bought on sale. I am down to ONE denim shirt, and it is stained, but it is my favorite. The wire hangers are in a bundle, ready to bless the lives of someone else, and I have a solid plastic hanger closet. And now I am ready to go to the basement and haul up all my "expec-TENTS." They will go between my Benetton sweater and my green wool skirt.

Yes, I will need to have this baby, get the flu, diet for a long time, run the circumference of the earth, and develop a dislike for chocolate, learn to sweat, sweat and more sweat until the layers come off. Is it likely? Not really, but hey, the Red Sox won the series. It can happen! Just as soon as I shake this "Curse of the Bambinos!" But for now. I'll just be thankful that I survived a Defcon 2 Closet Purge.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Santa is a Woman...

SANTA SPOILER WARNING!

I know that the traditional view we take of Santa is a fat, old, jolly man, but I have come to believe, at least among my acquaintances, that Santa is a woman. Everything that Santa does requires rather feminine traits: Intense listening, plotting, and planning ahead - not to mention doing it all in one night with nothing but a few cookies to keep you going. That doesn't even touch the PR (Christmas Cards), Party Planning, (aka Getting the Tree and Ornaments up and various tchotcke up around the house), and Calendar Coordination - for the inevitable, "What are you doing for Christmas/New Year's Eve?"

But what is the point of perpetuating such a farce? Is it simply because our mom's did it for us? Since they gave us a belief in magic, the impossible, and a caring universe, we should at least do the same for our own kids, right? Perhaps. But as I look at my motives, I actually think it all goes back to the main Spirit of Christmas; an imitation of something ancient and wonderful.

It stems from the belief that a loving Father in Heaven really did plan ahead for us, got us our souls most sincere desire, and delivered it quietly and inconspicuously to all of mankind in one night. He knew very well what we wanted and needed - to return to Him again, so that each of us could be together as a family forever.

He didn't ask for a lot of credit, He just asked that we believe in the gift of His son; that it was what we wanted, and was sent with a desire for us to be supremely happy. It was the best thing he could think of; someone to save us from sin, set a good example, and bring a spirit of love back into the world.

Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, and the motive for doing so is found in a favorite Christmas carol, "It Came Upon the Midnight Clear:

For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophets seen of old,
When with the ever-circling years
Shall come the time foretold,
When the new heaven and earth shall own
The Prince of Peace, their King,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.

So, we Santas of the world, send back to God His angelic song. Peace at home, good will to our friends and families, and a sense of wonder and magic that was first shown to us. We celebrate the spirit of the impossible, the magic and wonder of a generous soul who knows us by name, our deeds, and also who gives, who loves, and does not ask for perpetual credit, but rather asks that we be happy with what He chooses to send us. We are learning and imitating our Pere Noel, Father Christmas, Pai Natal, our Father in Heaven, and trying to become just like Him. All while eating some cookies. :D

So whether you are male or female, to me, if you don the traits of that Cloaked Man, then you send back that song first brought to us by a wondrous being. God who, daily, tries to send us gifts in quiet, anonymous ways. So, this year, I hope that we may take all the gifts given daily from our invisible benefactor, and send back to Him the same. In anonymous acts of love, silent prayers, and faith in Christ who wanted us to know that the future is bright. This is Christmas. And there is a Santa, for anyone who would try to be one.

Merry Christmas to all, and know that we send to you our love, gratitude and Christmas magic. Please, come on over and have a cookie!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

New Calendar

I bought a new calendar today. 2010 "God Bless America." As obligations start bleeding into the new year, I'm running out of space for notes on my current calendar. The "Butter my Butt" one was *not* an option at Wal-Mart, but if anyone finds it, let me know how much it is.

There are two french sayings that I think of when plotting out a new year. The first one is a New Year's toast that says, "In the year to come, if there aren't any more of us, let there not be any less." I love New Calendar Day. A brand new chance for a brand new year. While perusing the $5 variety at Wal-Mart, the family was trying to decide between the beauties of America, tropical beaches, flowers, or Old Nauvoo. America won out on awesome photography and general consensus. Abigail made a push for Chihuahuas, Labradors and DEER. "But mom! You always point out the deer when we're driving!" Not in MY kitchen you don't. I'll take Mt. Rushmore and a salty bridge over a whole year of looking at dumb ole deer ANY day.

As I transition between years, I have to think if this is a freak-out year. Have we hit any certain milestones with expectations unmet; is it now too late to do something by a certain age? Nothing comes to mind. I got gray hairs and earned every one of 'em! I flip through the old tattered calendar, which like a pair of well worn shoes - the kind that is starting to rip and tear in places, and has definitely lost its glimmer - is looking really sad - especially when paired with the shiney new calendar. I flip through the months; good days, bad days, VT days, scouts, callings, short weekends, the endless house "to do" lists, and a sprinkling of doctor, dentist, and eye appts.

Each year, I'm handed a years worth of time, and it seems like so much. Then it gets eaten away with grocery trips, breakfast, lunch, dinner, laundry and sleeping. Some years less than others, but still. It's only when I step back from the rigmarole that I see that little by little, my kids have changed; I have changed. And it all happened in about a year's time. Kids lose that baby look, I can't seem to lose the baby fat, and I seem to be ever searching for when I can "just get a minute!" And it happens every year. Which reminds me of my second French phrase: Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. The more things change the more they stay the same.

So, here's to a fantastic 2010. One day at a time, and full to the brim. And if you are planning on having a baby, getting married, or having a significant event that you need me for, say so now - the calendar is filling up!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Not All Advice is Sound

You gotta love this ad from the 1930's that says that starting your child early on cola will ensure their acceptance into mainstream America!

Despite the Cola industry's claim that soda can do wonders for your health, I am sad to discover that it can't remove the burnt-on popcorn from the bottom of my stainless steel pot. Aggie Mackenzie, from "How Clean is Your House" fame, said that if you boiled some soda in a ruined, blackened pot, that it would magically take it off. So I tried it. The bottom still looks like an areal view of London after a WWII bombing raid.

Why was I making popcorn in a pot? Well, you see, Alton Brown had said that the best popcorn didn't come from a microwave, but rather from your own stove top - experimenting with all kinds of kernels from "white" to "golden harvest." He failed to mention that when you see fluffy white popcorn bursting on the top, you might ALSO be burning the fluffy white popcorn on the bottom into unrecognizable pocks of yuck that won't come of the bottom of your pan. Not even with soda. Any advice? I have a blackened pot and now I'm out of soda. I'm afraid to tell you which one I am more sad about...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

May I Have a Card Please...

This is my latest endeavor: putting genealogy on playing cards. I have been wanting to do it for awhile, but just... well, had this great idea, and no direction.

Now, thanks to a M.L.M. aka Multi-Level Marketing company (yes, I acknowledge all your boos and hisses), I found a place that sells playing cards that you can put ANYTHING on. Well, one pic on the back of the deck, and anything you want on the front of the cards. I went to a Heritage Studio party (yes, again, boos and hisses), and saw the deck of cards that had a family reunion pic on the back. Cue light bulb above the head.

Instead of face cards with the four suits, I am doing four generations on each side of our family. I've never seen it done before, and I am so excited for my kids to get to know their heritage. Each family branch gets their own colored background; Dad's side - red, Mom's - yellow and their children(my siblings) get.... ORANGE! :D Because red+yellow=orange. Okay, maybe too kitschy, but you get the idea.

What you see is my Dad's "Grandpapa," with a pic of his business card. I still need to add something about him being a sailor. I know that he had tons of tattoos including one of a ship that covered his whole front torso. If the family asked, he would flex his pecs to make the ship's flag "wave." I'm just not sure that I would... be able to put that on there - but what teenager couldn't relate to THAT ancestor! And NO, you may NOT have a tattoo.

I'll put a hole punch in the corner and string them all to a clamp so that they don't get lost, and then let the kids look through them for church. Or maybe when we're waiting in line for something, or when I tell a story about one of the ancestors,

"Your Great-Great Gramma "Momps" said, 'If there are TWO jobs in this town, I will have one of them!'"

She taught herself how to run a printing press when they were low on funds. My kids should know that about their ancestors.

The surprise in all of this has been to trace family resemblances through the photos. I'm trying to get pics of each ancestor in about their 20s, so you can clearly see "that Danish forehead" in each succeeding generation. I'm adding a flag for country of origin, and toying with an outline of the country as well.

The scary thing is that this has never been done before, and I am worried that I will think of a better way to do it AFTER I've pushed "print." Fifteen bucks down the drain. So, if you have any ideas, post 'em, and if you want to do your own, here is my upline -who will give me free things for your business-: Heidi Arave, heidi@storiesthatlive.com 1.801.491.0966

Yes, yes, BOOO HISSSSSS. You don't have to do it. You can do what I first did and try printing your cards on paper and then taking it to the copy store to hard laminate it. You'll still spend the same. I'm just trying to make my genealogy look a little "classier" on a deck of face cards. Hmmm. I wonder if my staunch Mormon ancestors would approve of me putting their images on a face card. Too late now! And, no, you still may not get a tattoo. Grandpa was at sea when he did that and his mom wasn't there to say "NO!"

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Finally Famous

For those who don't know yet... I've been published! Well, that is to say, this blog has been published in "Raising Arizona Kids!" Okay, okay, just a post from my blog regarding medical binders has been published. For those wishing to skip past my anniversary photos, Baby's First Haircut, and sarcastic posts, you can click here to go straight to the post: Tuesday, April 28, 2009

For those who can't believe that anything in my blog actually got published somewhere... well, I don't blame you either. But here's the proof: Getting Control of All That Medical Information Ahhhh, I do believe it's time to get my spray tan and glue-on nails... possibly a wax, so I can greet my public! Enjoy. ;D

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Not Dead... Just Resting!

In a family favorite film, "Ishtar," our heroes are in the desert, facing imminent destruction by dehydration - and the vultures are circling. Lyle says to a vulture, "Are you kidding! I'm still movin'!" And so am I. Not dead, noooot dead... just resting!

So what have I been doing for the past month? Well. Lots. Lots of family, lots of summery things, lots of screaming, and lots of plate spinning.

There are things, I have noticed, that impose themselves on a daily routine. Some are expected, like dental appointments, oil changes, laundry, and Visiting Teaching, and some are not. For things that were expected, you knew it was coming, and you just glance at the calendar and realize - oh, I guess that is today.

Then there are things that unhinge a day that weren't on the schedule, but need to find a way to be worked in. Like cleaning the fridge, or the car. You open and shut that door how many times in a day and think, "oh, not today... probably not tomorrow either." I tackled one of them today. It was a toss up between the windows in the van, or the fridge. Fridge is cool on a hot day, so it won.

I open the door to see white film covering everything, including the jam spill congealed in a very back corner and the crumbs from who-knows-what beginning to form a nice Mesozoic layer under the bins. I have been staring at such a mess for too long. The culprit is a leaky gallon of milk that managed to hit/leak on every surface level of the fridge as I moved two gallons around trying to figure out where the leak was. All I got was a jug holder bin filled with milk. GAAAAH!

So, today was the day to take everything out. I hate doing it. Bleh. Messy, cold, and always involving shelves that do not fit in my sink, but which need a de-crusting SOMEHOW. I am annoyed as I'm scrubbing, rubbing, and ultimately taking a bath in the back-n-forth transfers of shelves and bins.

After the inside is deemed respectable, the outside seems to scream "FILTHY!" So, I take another rag and start getting the fingerprints, dirt and I-don't-know-what off the door. The "piece de resistance" is the bottom gutter fan. That part UNDER the doors but above the floor. It has spots, it has grime, it has unspeakable layers of yuck. If I clean it off, I'll also end up doing the floor. Well. Not today. Probably not tomorrow. It's time to pick up the preschooler and prepare for a husband who wants to know what I did with all my free time. Are you kidding me! I haven't been just laying around, I'm still movin'! Nooot dead, not dead! Just resting.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Half, One, Two!



Now you know the secret to a HOST of divine cookies.

1/2 C oil
1 cake mix
2 eggs

Cook: 350 for 10-12 min.

My Sis-in-law Lisa made these with me, and oh YUM! I didn't know such wonderful recipes existed! And so fast! We did a lemon cake mix, with powdered sugar on top, but you can do that strudel topping, or frosting! You can make chocolate ones (add a cup of choc chips to make it worth it), strawberry ones, ginger-y ones! If it's a cake mix, you can make it into a batch of cookies in no time flat! Awesome for fits of PMS. ;D

And, with all of the time you save, you can get real creative, put two together with frosting, ice cream, peanut butter, anything you can think of! Enjoy my little secret, and have fun with it too. I don't think I've had a pink strawberry cookie, but I know I will soon! :D

Daddy's Little Girl...

Sometimes something comes across your vision and you are suddenly surprised at what you are viewing. This happened today as I was sitting in the elementary school library, and a little girl walks into the area. She was probably no more than three. And the more I looked at this little creature, the more I wanted to see who she belonged to. She was wearing light pink cowboy boots, a low slung diaper, and a top that might have looked like a dress to hasty eyes... except that it only really covered her belly button, and had breakfast all over it.

Her hair was completely disheveled - like she'd just climbed out of bed, and the single back button of her top was flopping around looking very forgotten. With some cute shorts, and a bow, this would have been an adorable outfit! It was so funny, I had to wonder. What happened to Mom this morning? So I watched her wander around, and ultimately gravitate to... her dad. *Bing!* It all made sense.

Dad came around the corner looking for the librarian. I got up my courage and said, "Did she pick out her outfit herself today?".
"Yeah."
And he looked at me, and he looked at the little girl - trying to figure out what was so amusing. Clearly, to him, it had passed muster. She had clothes on. She had matching shoes on. It's good! I bet he was questioning himself as he left the house this morning, "Why do women make it so hard? Just put some clothes on the kid and go to the library - it's not that hard!" He went about looking for the librarian, and I continued my search as well.

I looked to see if he had any others with him -ooop yep. That little boy with the bedhead, wrinkly shirt and mismatched shorts must belong. And I'm guessing that this little girl who was looking a little unkempt was part of the set too. Yep, they're all hanging around together. The surprise was his oldest.

Probably a girl of about 9. Matched clothes, clean, tidy, appropriate shoes, and combed hair. Oh yeah. She has caught the vision. You may be Daddy's girl, but when it comes to going out in public, we use Mommy's standards. Made me laugh.... to myself.. not out loud. There are just some things that we don't do in public!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Summertime Summertime...

I love Country Time Lemonade Commercials. The wooden sign, the sun ripened, just-picked-fresh lemons, and the kid in denim overalls pedaling through the summer wheat fields on his red bike with his black dog running alongside.

While old geezers sit laughing on the wrap-around wooden porch sporting suspenders, hats and old-timey glasses, a vibrant grandma in a dress and bunned up hair welcomes our rider back with a tall, cold glass of lemonade. They share an affectionate hug and big smiles while he slurps around the big ice cubes.

And then they tell you that there are only so many days left of summer. How you better slow down and enjoy it. It makes me crave summer. And a leisurely bike ride through wheat fields with a dog.

Something struck me as odd though recently, and I've only just put my finger on it: that is not my summer at all! Summer, with an 8,4 and 1 year old involves a cacophony of crying - A LOT of crying! I started keeping track and realized that it's like the white noise of my summer,
"He hit me..." "She's in my room!" "S/he took my toy/changed the channel/*insert tattling*!"
and it always starts with the siren wail, "Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaam!" There isn't a moments peace. And as for laughing, well, it's only because they caught me, threw me in a straight jacket and a padded room!

Clinging to my idyllic commercial summer, I try to send the kids out for some happy summer memories riding through the asphalt, concrete and dirt. They go out, but then come right back in. Not only can't you go on a bike ride anymore without a helmet - but the nearest wheat field and red bicycle are miles away. And they're hot! And there's bugs.

"Why aren't you outside playing?" The answers are pretty pat.

Well, So and so is at their gramma's (probably with a red bike and wheat field!), and so and so has soccer, and the last-kid play-date option has gone on vacation. There's nothing to dooooOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo. Mom, can I watch Phineas and Ferb, or Dexter's Laboratory?"

"NO! Cartoons are NOT summer! Summer is overalls and outside! Go! Swing! Play! Ride!"

Then comes the knock at the door from an angry man in a mini-van, "Your kids are throwing rocks (crab apples if you look closely) at my car! You need to keep better track of your kids!"

"GET IN THE HOUSE THIS MINUTE!"

I didn't have time to greet them at the door with the tall glasses of lemonade and hugs because the regular household routine is punctuated with more changes of clothes and swimwear, otter pops dripping through the beige carpet, and mysterious messes that "I don't know" keeps making.

That's not to say that I'm not rushing to the door. Apparently ding-dong-ditching is big here. But we're on a hill, and the computer sits in the bay window right next to the door. Even though the kids have learned to pull up their t-shirt up around their nose as a disguise -I can still see them approaching AND running away when I'm on the computer.

I can tell it's those kids from two houses up & I don't bother to open the door to give them the satisfaction. I'm like an old geezer, and am just waiting to hear that my house has been deemed "haunted" or that some "old witch" lives here as I'm tempted to holler out at them, "You darn blasted kids stay outta my yard!"
Summer feels like it is dragging on FOREVER. When is this OVER!

I feel like Ralphie Parker who discovers the truth about his Annie decoder pen,
"BE SURE TO DRINK YOUR OVALTINE.... Ovaltine?"
"It's a crummy commercial?! Son of a b*****!"

And I too leave the world a sadder, yet wiser mom. Crummy commercial...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

Today marks our 11th Anniversary. At this time 11 years ago, I was winding up the California coast in my wedding dress with a hot groom in a two seater Honda CR-X. It had been a long day, a bit overcast, but perfect for photos. We had family and grandparents with us at our sealing in Oakland Temple, and dear dear dear friends. Since then, we've spent quite a few anniversaries apart, so it's nice to have one together this year. The children and I all went out to Thanksgiving Point to have a picnic with Matthew between rain and hail storms. And that about summarizes our first decade. Grab the good times while you can, it looks like hail!

In 11 years, we've racked up some amazing tallies. We have:
Lived in 5 different states
Attended school in two
Moved our family at least 12 times
Have three kids - each one about 4 years apart
Together visited Europe, and Matthew went to South America,
and we have more friends than we can count.

What a wild ride! And its not over yet. Hang on darling, we've got another decade ahead...
It's overwhelming - almost to tears - to select pictures over this time frame and realize how much we've done together. Matthew is my best friend. He's a wonderful provider, an excellent father, and someone you want in the foxhole with you.

Cheers darling, I love you!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dealing with Anger...

Is it wrong to get angry? For my lesson to the 4 and 5 year olds this week, there is a Q&A summary at the back of the lesson that has you ask the children, "Why do you think Nephi did not complain to Heavenly Father while he was tied up? [during the boat journey with his rotten no-good-shoulda-left-them-behind brothers].

I don't know the answer to that. And there is no answer given in the book. So I asked around to some people that I respect, and here are some of the answers I got:

Anon 1: Nephi saw that there was already plenty of contention, and that it only led to disaster and getting lost, so he just let it go. He knew that it was supremely important that he get, and keep, control of his emotions.

Anon 2: Just cuz the scriptures don't mention it specifically doesn't mean that it didn't happen. I mean, he wrote that probably months or years after it happened. History is kind to us when we write it ourselves. :D

Anon 3: Nephi is superhuman; he was "born that way." The Lord knew that he'd need someone patient who wouldn't complain in order to lead this whole troop across the water. Nephi just had a kinda "natural faith" that always saw the eternal perspective.

Anon 4: Nephi knew that they were only suffering from the effects of his bad, and somewhat rancid, cooking. Mad cow disease - or maybe Mad Camel Disease.

Anon 5: Nephi really struggled with being ticked off and wanted to toss them off the boat. He probably had the muscles to do it as he was strong and had just built a boat for gosh sakes! But he prayed for strength beyond his capabilities to deal with a bunch of idiots who just weren't going to change, angels, floods or otherwise. He just figured, "We're all in the same boat." Literally.

It seems that the definitions fall into one of two groups: Some people are just born with natural patience - its in their DNA, OR patience is a virtue that you can, and should, develop until you can just about drown with your family without complaining.

Maybe it's just that I tend to be an angry person - or rather, I have a more generous definition of what is worth getting mad about; but I just feel at a loss as to what to tell these kids about anger, and complaining. Maybe the art of "sucking it up in silence" is just becoming a lost art? I dunno. But while you're thinking about it, please pick up your shoes and put your laundry away, I've already asked you twice and I'm gettin' a little fed up with the mess!!!

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Clean Bathroom

I love a clean bathroom - I seriously do. I didn't have this fetish as a kid, but I have begun to appreciate more and more just a clean mirror, a spotless toilette, and a clean floor. The only thing that should be yellow in a bathroom is a rubber ducky. Like the upscale hotels look - shiny fixtures, little packets of fun stuff, and 20 plushy towels for each person. The idea of relaxing and just having a good time is so appealing. Aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh.

You can't relax in a stinky room though. Smell is a major factor; I love a bathroom that smells like fresh linens, a tinge of bleach and just fresh fresh fresh. Almost minty. Not like what you smell at a truck stop. Or your gramma's bathroom.

I have nightmares of those bathrooms that are so overwhelmingly perfumed with "rose" or anything gagalicous that makes you have to hold your breath so you won't be nauseous. Bleeeh. After I clean my bathroom I spray my favorite perfume over the light bulbs - a little light and airy touch. Back when we had tile, I'd also use mouthwash to scrub it down. Tastes nasty, smells wonderful, and minty fresh.

The bane though would have to be the floors. Between my long hair and a drippy 4 yr old boy, I just hate dealing with the floor. I've found a way around it though: vacuum. I vacuum the tile before I clean it, and it's so delightful to see spare tissue and hair go straight up the tube. MUCH easier than broom and pan. Our current bathroom is so small that I can use the spray bleach and a rag and just hand wipe the floor in less than two minutes (timing is everything - I don't want to be doing this FOREVER...), and the dirty rags go straight in the wash. It's the last thing I do before replacing everything back in the tub and on the counters.

Afterwards, I lean in the doorway with such satisfaction, enjoying my spotless bathroom. It will only last until someone leaves a glob of toothpaste or puddle of shampoo, but for a little bit, it's just like a ritzy hotel. Aaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Hate cleaning, but for 20 minutes of work, it's nearly a week of "worth it."

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Sam's First Haircut

It's just hardened keratin, that's all hair is. But today it is the difference between my baby and my toddler. It was time for a cut - I drug it out as long as I could, holding out for his first birthday. I could actually put a ponytail on top of his head, and people were asking me, "What's her name?," but knowing all that still did not help me when the clippers came out and the first curls hit the floor. My knees about buckled and I had to say to myself, "He is a boy." The hairstylist looked at me to gauge my likelihood of fainting to the floor which prompted me to ask, "Do you get women who cry?"

"Oh yeah..."

It's just hair, it will grow, but we have crossed the Rubicon. I wonder if this is my last First Haircut, and how I feel about losing my baby. How much longer can I scoop him up, nuzzle him and smother him with kisses? I wouldn't keep him small forever, and this is not wholly unexpected, but sometimes it just takes my breath away how fast it's here and gone. [Except the fat - the baby fat sticks around FOREVER!] - I notice it even more so since I've been able to sleep through the night.

The accouterments of babyhood are falling away. He walks on his own, wears shoes and is feeding himself whatever is within his grasp. It's hard to see it come, but that doesn't stop it from coming. Next stop - getting rid of bottles - oh Baby Sam.

Monday, May 11, 2009

If you give a mom a vacation....


If you give a mom a vacation - she will have something to look forward to. She will call her husband an "angel" and tell everyone about how wonderful he is. She will smile mischievously at each thought of leaving him with the munchkins. She will plan and plot with her sisters and skip merrily out the door.

If you give a mom a vacation, she will start to phone home after awhile to see how you're handling her job, and laugh when you say that you gave the baby 3 bottles full of soda; not because it's so funny, but because YOU will be up with that kid tonight. She will hope that with all that extra time at home you are fixing the water softner and cleaning the kids toy closet. She will not be surprised that you forgot to run the ONE errand she gave you.

After she gets home, she will want to hug and kiss her children, who are now glad to see her, but she will be slightly appalled at the stuff left out as you explain to her how it's SO much better than it was, and how there were just too many dishes to run. She will see two pots in the dishwasher and 45 bowls in the sink and realize that you also gave out popcorn which is insidiously crunching everywhere under your feet.

She will listen to your tales of adventure and woe of having the kids all to yourself, and not plan on doing much the next day. She will give you some left over Olive Garden and start sucking up the popcorn and rolling through laundry.

If you give your wife a vacation, she will smile as you scuttle gratefully off to work, clutching your briefcase with relief, and silently laughing that your car got left outside because you couldn't pull the van in tight enough for both cars to fit. She will wave to you as you pull away, refreshed and able to tackle the daily grind left behind. After nights of girlfriend therapy and sleeping in, she'll be able to pick it up again.

But then she'll want another vacation...

Monday, May 4, 2009

I'm The Drummer



















"You are the drummer.
You're the backbone,
The timekeeper.
You can't let a tepid reaction from one matinee house affect your dedication to the band."

I have been thinking about this quote from "That Thing You Do," as my day has fallen apart, just like Guy "Shades" watches his band go to pieces and fumble through a song in front of a packed audience - if the drummer isn't "on" the whole thing is off. It has truly hit home today that Mom sets the beat in this house. Mom's morning prep sets the tone and tenor of the day. I think that's why I have such a hard time going to sleep at night. I'm thinking about all of the things that need to go right, right away. From food set up, clean up, buy it up, to laundry pick it up, fold it up, clean it up, there has to be a rhythm to my day. If there is a hiccup in my day, it is so hard to recover that rhythm. You can go from domestic "palace" to "pit" just like *snap* THAT!

And its not just getting the family rolling, it's being prepared for the things that come at you sideways, like unexpected visits, or sudden agenda busters such as, "Your scout is supposed to bring two dozen cookies to pack meeting" or "your child has a project due..." or, the fear inducing situation of a poopy baby. Far from supplies with either no diapers, no wipes, OR BOTH.

For today's disaster, I have been playing catch up instead of being one step ahead of the game. Instead of snapping on the radio for some classical music to get everyone roused for scripture study and breakfast, I was snapping at kids and tossing them a "Gogurt" on their way to school. Actually, after trying to jump in the shower while Matthew was searching for what backed up the kids toilet, I got a phone call from the school; one child ended up at school who doesn't even have school today.

*UGH!!* I know that I still have a lot to learn - and I would appreciate any advice all y'all might have for two night owls trying to get it together. Until then we are just gonna have to practice, practice, practice. Sorry kids - the drummer lost the beat today. But I'm totally dedicated to this band.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gifts

April has been a crazy month with birthdays and events. Now we are staring down the barell of May with Mother's Day next week. It has me thinking a lot about gifts. I think that we are rather impractical, as a people, at gift giving. Give mom breakfast in bed, and a mess in the kitchen that everyone is absolutely dumbfounded as to how to clean up. Nope. Not a gift.

We give each other stuff that we don't need. For example: My sis-in-law went to a bridal shower of an 18 yr old, where all of the gifts had a heart theme. Heart shaped ice tray, measuring cups, throw rugs, car mats etc. Heart, heart heart! It will come as no surprise that this girl probably should have graduated High School (at least!) before getting married, and gotten herself an education as she is now divorced with a bunch of heart paraphernalia.

So, here are some ideas of what I think should be gifted for:

Mother's Day:
*Dad should teach himself, and each child a new skill. "Look mom! I have figured out how to put my shoes away when I come home! Tommy can make his bed and Suzy can now scrub the toilet..."
*Dinner out - with no one. Just alone.
*Dad comes home at 10 am, on a Tuesday, and asks, "What can I fix for you around the house? Leave me a list, the kids, and go window shopping - here's a $20. I don't want to see it when you get back..."
*The receipt for the expensive jewelry he bought at the last second. Then mom can return it and get something that she really wants. Like an attachment for the Bosch, or a new 1/4 ton of laundry detergent so it can stop eating into the food budget.

Marriage:
*$250 in counseling. Go on, I dare you to deny it!
*A calendar for the groom that marks off her cycle. He can start planning on being in the dog house well in advance.
*A metal ladder. It will last longer than the hymn book with their name on it.
*Coupon organizer
*Vacuum - which will get more of a workout than the lacy nightie.
*Bulk Laundry Detergent - not very sexy, but it will get used more than the vacuum.
*A case of tp and 72 hr kits - "Love is all you need" until you run out of tp.
*Cooking lessons. Not the kind where you cook a gourmet meal, but rather, "How to feed a family of 5 for 4 weeks on 3 dollars" variety.

New Baby:
*A case of Baby Tylenol and Ibuprofen.
*Carpet Cleaner - industrial strength - one that can remove organic stains and red liquid baby Tylenol.
*A pallet of wipes.
*Stock in Huggies/Pampers and Enfamil; might as well try to get rich while you're in the poor house!
*Gift cards towards car seats. Just when you recover from the new addition's first seat, it's time to buy that little bum a new car seat!
*Something to childproof your computer from little fingers that want to hit the "shut down" button.
*Mega toilet plunger. You will be amazed at what goes down there and then STICKS.

Child's Birthday:
*Something for mom, like a massage, "This is so your parents will keep you!"
*For teens: A week in a 3rd world country.
*For tweens: everything you got on YOUR birthday at their age


I feel a bit scroogish with my suggestions, but in another real way, I know I'm right. No one would "ooooh" and "aaahhhh" when these gifts were opened, especially by the recipients, but everyone who's been there would say, "Wow, that's a smart gift!"

Let me know if I've left anything out...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Medical Binder 101

Wow - I have always admired the wisdom of those who seek out my opinion, and for Meredith, here is a snapshot of my family's medical binder system. It's easy to do, and oh-so-helpful. You will need:

*A binder - I get the sturdiest 2 - 3" money can buy, Heavy Duty with a clear plastic insert front. Each of my kids have a different color.
*A nylon binder pencil case.
*A binder folder. It's just a binder velcro-closure folder that holds loose information that won't fit in the pencil case. (It's that light green plastic you see in the photo...)
* Plastic sheet protectors. I buy them by the gross from Costco.
* 8x10 picture of my child. I like head shots myself...
* Pretty scrapbook paper - this is just if you're in the mood, or want to color code each child, or just have a "cohesive" look for your binders...


1. Assemble all of your pages. From back to front insert plenty of plastic sheets, binder folder, then the pencil case.
2. Assemble your medical docs in chronological order. If it's an important two-sided page, you can put one page in the clear plastic. But if it's not, I do two faces of documents per page so I can see the pertinent info. If it's a packet, like, "What to do when you're TWO!", I just stick the whole thing in one page protector.

You can try and do sections, but Dr.s usually ask questions that start with "When was the last time you..."

3. Immunization card and pens go in the pencil case.
[ Note: When getting shots for kids I have the nurse fill out the information FIRST and give the shot SECOND so that I can take my wailing kid out post haste. If Matthew is there with me (...it happened with the first two kids), I'll send him out to make the next appointment while the nurse is filling out the Immunization card.] Slick as snot.
4. Put the oldest documents and information at the back.
5. Copy of Birth Certificate on top.
6. Picture of child on front cover with all pertinent Dr.s information taped to the picture.
7. Map of the directions to your pediatrician. This is for those who move a lot, or have a terrible memory, or have their husband take the kids to their appointments, or all of the above.

You see a picture of Benjamin's folder with the business cards of heart specialists, eye specialist, every pediatrician he's ever seen, pharmacies where Rx are sent, dentist info, nurse-on-call numbers, and school info (so you can call the school when you are doing a Drs appt). He was a preemie, and his medical record has been copied AT LEAST eight times. Now, it's a one stop shop. Since all information is on the cover, you can glance at the info you need without searching all over the place for numbers, faxes or addresses.

Now, some would disagree with my method for "identity theft" information purposes, and I acknowledge their wisdom, and yet still do it my own way. I have yet to hear that, "They robbed us and took the medical binders!" So, I keep an original birth certificate in the velcro binder folder as well as the kids SS card. Usually when I need one, I also need the other. I also keep their Congratulations from the White House, and collectible stamps there as well. You could also store finger print information, locks of hair, whatever your heart desires. It's all in one place.

For "worst case scenario" purposes, there is an additional copy of their birth certificate in our "House-Burning-Down-Grab-It-Case." All of our "sensitive" information is in an accessible Suze Orman brief case. It will be moved over to a safety deposit box... some day. Just not today. I have to trust that you won't rob me...

So, there you have it! It doesn't take much time to set up if you have all of your materials ready, and it is just as easy to do all of your kids at once than to get stuff ready separately. Any time you go to the Drs office, grab the Dr.s business card and tape it RIGHT THERE to your kids pic.

If you are taking your binder with you to their appointments, there is no reason not to take 5 seconds and ask, "Do you have a piece of tape?" If you can say it faster than that, then it takes even less time! I have never been turned down yet for tape, and the appointment people are usually impressed that you have "so together." Just don't forget to bring the binder home with you. ;D

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Samlet!

video
Happy Birthday to my darling Baby Sam. It has been such a wonderful and adventurous year. At one year old Sam can:
Scream when he wants action from someone
Click his tongue
Laugh
Call out for "Maaahm"
Call out for "Dada"
Slide independently off the bed and couch, sometimes landing on his feet, sometimes on his butt.
Blow Raspberries
Smile
Walk
Find something hidden under the covers (if he sees you put it there...)
Pull my hair
Pull Benjamin's hair
Operate the remote control. He can turn it off RIGHT when you are in the middle of something interesting.
Dial China
Put in the mysterious key combination that will reprogram your computer, boot you off your page and send the whole system into shut down.
Clap
Read facial cues
Understand routine
Sleep through the night.
Hold his own bottle
Request a shower
Play in a toilet
Pull things out of a small drawer
Eat just about anything
Resist getting buckled in his car seat
Identify chocolate, find it, eat it, smear it all over...
Anticipate tickling
Play
Understand "no" and completely ignores it





Can you identify this look alike?

I love this darling boy. He truly is a joy, and I love to cuddle him. For his first birthday, we are putting him in shoes. We'll have to see how that goes. Party tonight at Aunt Reagan's! Love you Samlet.

And the pic? That's my mom. ;D

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Overcompensating....

Did you know that they have been mislabeling bras? I am so annoyed, especially after my latest bra adventure. For those of you struggling with your size and self-esteem, let me show it to you from the "too big" girls end. Yes, yes, it's true. Could anything exist - yes, and could my "C and greater" girlfriends, please give me an "amen," and feel free to chime in here.

I muster up the courage to go bra shopping at Lane Bryant, which is for chubby girls, and I get myself a lovely "sugar" colored bra. It's my waist size with some D's after it. I hate buying a bra. In younger years, it was a delight to see all of the cute prints with mickey mouse, plaid, and sweet colored lacy things. Front hook, back hook, whatever suits you. A few kids later and I have now moved into the Industrial Strength, over-the-shoulder-boulder-holder genre.

If you're not sure which category you are in, just check the hooks. If you have more than three, and your bra is named after an ugly Russian woman, (I.E. THE HELGA, or THE UBER-MAGDA), and if you have double row stitching, and rivets; OR the thread used to stitch it could also sew a button on your couch, ~ then yes, you have left "adorable land," and are fighting now to keep those "girls" off your waist... or knee caps. Your color choices are WHITE, BLACK and BEIGE. Though I understand that you can get hot pink and purple in certain areas of South Harlem...

So, imagine my dismay when, after only ONE washing, the seam ruptures under the cup. NO NO NO NONONOOOOOOOO! I do NOT want to go bra shopping again! No, I think I'll slink back in to the Lane Bryant and toss the defective product in a paper bag on the counter and just swap it out. Which I did. They showed me (held high so EVERYONE in the store could see) two of what seemed like similar bras, and I just pointed to the one that looked closest so they could pop it in the bag and I could get the heck out of there.

Would you believe that it was a plunge PADDED bra!!! The first time I tried it on at home, I had muffin top. My bussies popping up OVER the top of my bra! I took the darn thing off and realized that there were these air pockety plastic things concealed inside the bra. IN A DD BRA! WHO IN THE HECK IS SUPPLEMENTING A DD BRA! I took out the pockets and tried to get used to the plunge effect. It was so bad, so awful, I just knew that I would be trekking back to take back my "take back" bra. Which I did out of panic and mortification, not courage.

The overly cheery sales lady looked at my receipt and proceeded to help me out. "Yah, these run a little small...." Well, that explains the seam popping. I thought that first bra was a little tight, but like a new pair of shoes it needed to be broken in... So she measures me -in the middle of the store with onlooking shoppers - and advised me that in THIS brand, I could get a "G" for good coverage ( I LIE NOT ) or go up in waist size to compensate for a smaller cup. WHAT THE WHAT! Come to find out, this is all a marketing ploy to help smaller busted women salvage their self-esteem while simultaneously making the rest of us feel like circus freaks! I tried on a bra, shook my head at the size I was trekking home, and resolved to find a place that would see me for my true bra size.

So, if you are somewhere in the "B" range, wanting to be a luscious DD, and want it padded with air pockets so that you can sneeze in your cleavage, why not try out Lane Bryant? Apparently, it's not just for chubby "girls" anymore. Then we'll do lunch. Me in my DD, and you in yours. :D Perfect!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Out of Small and Simple Things...

The world is a harsh place for some of us. Especially the unemployed older woman from a small, nowhere town, who lives with her cat "Pebbles" and admits that she's never been married, or kissed.

But if ever song and situation came together, it is here. "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Miserables. A song of a girl who's life has not turned out the way she'd hoped. And Susan Boyle singing it makes me want to cry, and stand up and cheer.

It is what I imagine heaven to be; where the love and approval that has been wanting comes with thunderous applause and standing ovation. She hoped to rock an audience, and she is currently rocking the world. You go girl! May your brass ring be grasped and rattled. A privilege to hear and see.

Susan Boyle Rocks "Britain's Got Talent"

Sorry to make you follow a link - my skills are low this morning. But I'm feeling so much better about my day. :D

Friday, April 3, 2009

My Girl Scout

Well, Abigail has survived her first cookie season as an official Brownie scout. Not only did she sell cookies door-to-door, but she also went outside the local Smith's grocery store to vend her wares. There are 12 boxes to a case, and after 5 hours, she and her fellow scouts sold over 15 cases. Here is some of the things they said,
"Girl Scout Cookies! Last Chance of the Season!"
"Come and Get 'em! 3 Flavors left!"
"Here today, gone tomorrow!"

It was fun - except for the awkward situation where someone bought the last box of Thin Mints while another customer was coming up breathlessly with the cash, "Here! My mom wants all the Thin Mints you have!" I hope that guy really relished the last box of Troop 1063 for the season!

April Snows...

If April Showers bring May flowers, what do April snows bring? These pics were taken outside our place just moments ago. It is overcast and blowing snow. I feel like I'm in a "7 Brides for 7 Brothers" set. Still sweeping snow off the porch in April. I mean, come ON! It's even on the calendar that it's supposed to be spring. So, hopefully you're a little sunnier than we are here.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

You're Invited...





What have I been doing lately? A lot of invites, actually. They can be done late at night, on the computer, in my jammas after all of the kids have gone to bed. Some of the things I've made are:

Girl Scout Banquet, RS Birthday Dinner, Sam and Piper's Birthday party, Baby Shower, and Ward MTC. The hilarious thing is that they are all within 30 days of each other. So, now you know what I've been up to. Tons of planning. I'm actually almost late for scouts - I'm bringing my camera to corner unsuspecting families for my OTHER responsibility - ward photo directory. Shhhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeeeoooot.