Sunday, August 31, 2008

A Memory Tag

20 Years ago...
1. I started my Senior year of High School at Tempe High.
2. I was working at the Dollar Theatre, dressed up like Rageddy Ann.
3. I recieved 2 Book of Mormons from 2 different guys that I did not date. They were both sort of thrown at me as they embarassingly bolted in the opposite direction. Very sweet. I still have both of them with their testimonies written in them.

15 Years ago (I'm adding this one because...)
1. I married Bill.
2. I started my Senior year at ASU.
3. I lived in Scottsdale and met some lifelong friends, the kind you don't have to call or talk to every day but when you do see them it feels like no time has passed. We love you mokemom!

10 Years ago...
1. Kyra was born!
2. I quit teaching and began the most challenging profession there is, motherhood.
3. I had been active in the church for about a year and received my first calling as a member of the Enrichment committee. (Well, back then it was Homemaking)

5 Years ago...
1. Kyra started Kindergarten and I was pregnant with Tasha.
2. I started tutoring reading privately.
3. Bill had been baptized for 3 years and was serving in the Elders Quorum Presidency. I had been serving in Young Women for almost 2 years.

3 Years ago...
1. Bill went back to school at the University of Phoenix.
2. Tasha was so young (1.5 years) and I was trying to work a few hours each morning which was tough. I wouldn't recommend it unless you have a very loving caregiver and really love what you do.
3. I was in the RS Presidency, had changed positions three times and served under a two presidents. Bill was teaching in the EQ.

1 Year ago...
1. Tasha started preschool.
2. Business was slow for me and Bill was about to begin working at U of Phoenix.
3. Bill and I were called to serve as Primary teachers. We have loved this challenge and the appreciation that the parents show us. I tear up just thinking about the faith they have in us to teach their children. (not that they really have a choice, but if the Lord trust us...)

This Year...
1. Bill graduated. He now officially has his BS. We'll be having a party in November when he walks.
2. I'm not really working. I'm lazy, unmotivated, and want to hone my canning and sewing skills.
3. We're still serving in primary, although we have another spunky group of 5-6 year olds. My testimony has grown SO much in the past 10 years and I LOVE to go to the temple.

1. Was a funky Saturday with not much on the calendar.
2. I spent an hour digging through our "extra" room searching for a magazine. Extra means the room that Kyra used to live in until she was banned from it because it is such a pig-sty.
3. I went to the temple and saw one of the Young Women I taught go through for the first time. I held it together until the Celestial room where I wept.

1. Bill made breakfast. (Bacon, eggs, pancakes)
2. We spent time with 2 seperate families of friends.
3. I took a 2 hour nap, woke up at 5:15pm, made a quick meal for a new mom, and now can't get to sleep.

1. Is Labor day and Billy's birthday. (he'll be 21!)
2. No school, no school, no work.
3. I hope to paint my hall.

Next Year...
1. Kyra will be 11.
2. Tasha will be 5.
3. And maybe I'll have learned to make plans for the future.

And finally, I tag anyone that was older than Kyra 10 years ago! Thanks Danielle for the jog down memory lane. It was interesting trying to put things on a timeline and remember what happened when.

Friday, August 29, 2008

A Ban on Blanching!

All I ever hear when it comes to canning peaches is that you have to blanch them to get the skins off. A few seconds in boiling water, then dip them into ice water. Another tip came in that you should cut a little X on the bottom so the skins will actually come off. Maybe this all works for other people but I just don't like cooking the peaches before I cook the peaches. They get all soggy and slippery and I feel like I have to be so careful when cutting and putting them in the jars. I know that the ice water is supposed to stop the cooking but it just doesn't work for me. So thank you to everyone that offered up you fryers, but I tried it on the stove to no avail. I'm pretty sure the potato peeler and I get along much better than the boiling water, 2 extra big pans and added heat to my already smoldering kitchen.

I hereby formally put a ban on blanching peaches in this house henceforth and forever! (Or until I change my mind again, which is my right as a woman.)

Frozen Fruit Cocktail

12-20 Peaches, peeled and diced

1 pound red grapes

1 can crushed pineapple, with the juice

1 1/2 cups orange juice

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup lemon juice

Combine all ingredients and place into containers for freezing. Freeze. (DUH!) Serve partially frozen. Yields up to 20 cups of cocktail with 20 peaches.

If you use individual serving sized containers it makes a nice freezer pack for a lunch box and then a nice treat for the lunch. YUM.

Ding, dong, the peaches are done!

5 Qts of Pineapple
28 qts of Peaches
18 cups of Frozen Fruit Cocktail
Isn't it pretty? What's not to love? All the labor, sweat, and peach-stained nails were well worth the effort. I just love to look at them! Funny thing is, I'm not a big fan of eating them. What a labor of love for my family.
I got into canning peaches in a roundabout way several years ago and I was instantly hooked. In fact, I started "My Home Canning Journal". Here's my first entry:
"To me it is amazing the joy and fulfillment that can be gained from canning your own food. The hours of standing, peeling, slicing, pitting, and cooking are hardly a drawback as I reap the rewards of our labors. I say "our" labors because I could not imagine doing this by myself, nor would I have begun on my own. Last year as pear boxes were being offered for sale through our ward I was inspired by Tami R. to buy and can 1 box. She supplied me the place, materials, and know how to get me through my meager beginnings. The rest is history...I am hooked!
My mother-in-law took Kyra and I strawberry picking when we were in New York for a visit in June 2001. She picked most of them and bought jars and pectin to make jam. I quickly jumped at the chance to take over her project and did. It was a very soft, smooth and subtle jam but one again, I am hooked!
The following pages will be a record of what I can each year along with prices and amounts so I can keep track. I hope to include recipes and stories that happen each year as my obsession grows.
Thanks to everyone who encourage, support, finance and even put up with those of us who home preserve for a greater purpose than something good to eat at a good price :) "
FYI, that first year (2001) I got a box of Lemon Alberta peaches for $19.00 a box.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Car Conversations...

Without jinxing myself, I am hoping that the nightmarish drives in the car are at an end. Somehow I convinced Bill to switch his schedule and he now carpools with Kyra to get her to school. This alleviates a round trip headache of a trip for Tasha and I each morning. Now I only have to worry about pick-up and this week has gone well. Well enough in fact, that I have actually listened to my children with love in my heart and a keen ear for humor.

Tasha and I got in the van and drove to pick up Kyra from school. There is no talking going on at all until we hit Priest and Southern (about 5 minutes). Then Tasha pipes in, "So mom. If MoMo (my mom) took care of you, then who took care of her?" It is like the conversation we had a week ago had just continued today. She kindly acknowledged that I took care of her and asked who took care of me when I was a baby. That was the end of it then, so evidently she had been thinking that someone must have taken care of my mom at some point. Lesson one of family history, check! It is the "so mom..." or "so Kyra..." that has been a riot. Tasha will just do it on a whim. We will be sitting at dinner and out of the blue she will say, "So Dad, how was work today?" Good for her, because I seldom ask. Bad wife, bad.

Then we pick up Kyra and discuss the rest of our day. Sara is kindly going to take Tasha to gymnastics today so I can try to finish up some dumb quilt I started and never finished. Tasha tells Kyra that it is too bad that Kyra isn't in her same class with Lizzie so she can come. Speaking to the gymnastics and the Olympic athletes that we just watched, Kyra remarks, "Have you SEEN what they do on that bar? I can NOT do that!" Maybe you had to be there, but that was just so honest and sincere of an observation that I was cracking up.

I may appreciate my kids more these days, but I will dispel the perfect myth right now by saying I am still working on the rebuking in private. How much money do we have to pay the library before I can check out books without feeling like a thief?! Where are those dumb Clifford books that I never saw? Do I really want to own a Calliou DVD because the case was returned without the DVD in it? I'm sure I would be better off financially if we just took a monthly trip to Borders and each picked out an item.

Alles Wohl, "All is Well"

I am absolutely in love with President Uchtdorf. (Can you say that about a General Authority?!) There is nothing about this man that I don't like, admire, and respect. Elder Wirthlin gave a talk at conference titled "Concern for the One" in which he briefly comments on each new member of the First Presidency of the Church. Alles wohl is how he describes President Uchtdorf in his native German tongue. Those words will resonate with me as I try to bring and maintain peace in my home over the next few days and weeks. I appreciate Elder Wirthlin's words about our leaders, but it is the bulk of his talk that I am pondering on this morning.

I think that often times when we consider the concern for the one, the lost sheep, the person that is different, weary, or strayed we consider only how to bring them back to the fold. Because we all have free agency we believe that it is by choice alone that these people have left the herd and are faltering out in the big world by themselves. It is possible, but I don't believe that to be the case for most members who find themselves inactive. Generally speaking I don't believe it really is one isolated event that cases someone to falter; it is not one person's comment that offends; it is not one bad experience that pushes one to the point of inactivity. The one specific incident may be the breaking point, but I know that there is history to the feelings that keeps a member away from church. Elder Wirthlin touches on several of the reasons an individual might be lost. My challenge would be that we not read this talk with concern on how to bring those sheep back, but instead, we concern ourselves with how to keep them to begin with. I'm sure that when shepherds are watching their flocks they see pitfalls that their sheep might fall into; they recognize the baby that might stray and keep a more careful eye on it; they know which sheep does not respond well to criticism and is more thoughtful in the way they approach the herding of that sheep. (Notice how I switched there to make the sheep a little more human?) Shouldn't we be more like the shepherd and strive harder to prevent the loss of a member?

I worry that sometimes in the way we act, or the way we comment we exclude people and their beliefs. I worry that if we state an opinion too strongly, we intimidate people that don't feel the same way. I worry that there are delicate spirits out there that rely too heavily on a Sunday meeting to get them through the week and are overwhelmed by the pedestals that they place other members of the church on. I know that it is not our fault that someone believes we are perfect in all commandments, but what vibes are we putting out there that makes one believe this?! (Please restrain yourself from laughing hysterically at the thought that I am perfect!) Maybe I am a deviant because I find joy in knowing that other people are not perfect, but it is comforting to realize that we all have something to work on. Isn't that what perfecting the saints is all about? But my concern still is with those members who struggle to come to church, RS, and Enrichment events because they find it difficult to measure up to all the other women in the room.

Elder Wirthlin said, "Every Sunday in every meetinghouse throughout the world, we find mortal, imperfect men, women, and children who meet together in brotherhood and charity, striving to become better people, to learn of the Spirit, and to lend encouragement and support to others." I pray that we can all be those people at the end of the statement. I think this is the key element in making others feel welcome in a church where many are viewed as perfect. No, other people's insecurities are not our problem; yes, you should be focused on your own salvation and that of your family; but please, let's not DIScourage anyone because our actions and comments exclude those that may have different beliefs than us. We come from various homes, backgrounds, and childhoods so we inevitably have varying views on how to live the gospel. I worry that we alienate others by default as we proclaim our opinions. Sensitive souls will view those thoughts as mock-doctrine and although we never intended it to be so, the words did come from our mouths. We can say, "that's her problem" but really it's not, it's all of our problem because " all cases, let us ever be worthy of the name we take upon ourselves, even that of Jesus Christ."

And in case you don't know me well enough, or the subject has not come up in one of our online or late-night chats: not only was I a convert at age 18, but I was also inactive for almost 10 years after I joined the church. I'm sure it can all be blamed on my feelings of inadequacies, the comings and goings of an ASU singles ward, and boyfriends, but I was inactive non-the-less and it felt like nobody cared. I tried going back several times, both to the singles ward and the family ward once I got married but I never did feel like I fit in. I felt different, I was weary, and I strayed. There are a handful of members that I remember reaching out to me and an equal number of members that did or said things that pushed me away. I am grateful to my Father in Heaven for being close by me through those years and not letting me get too far off the path. And I am grateful that I can now say, "Alles wohl".

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

"I know that you know that I know"

Smart kids can make you crazy. I remember when Tasha was really little a parent told me that I needed to challenge her and stimulate this highly active part of her brain. This was a well educated, mother of 5 with really intelligent kids. They also had all the money and resources that they needed to create the best atmosphere for any child to grow up in. This mother also makes me crazy and sometimes I don't do what she says out of spite. Of course, the statement still nags at me like my mother telling me to eat my vegetables but this is all just insight into things I know. Tasha loves to do "homework" like her sister, we started full-part-time preschool as soon as she was able, and we're doing gymnastics to wear her out physically. I've tried "teaching" her but it is so hit and miss if she will respond positively or not that I've abandoned most of my attempts (again, a little out of spite).

One of the things that makes me crazy about Tasha is when she shuts down and won't talk. Much of the time I think she is just being a little kid with frustrations that she can't verbalize. But there have been several times in the past month that I have caught her telling stories. (Doesn't "telling stories" sound so much better than lying?) Honestly, I actually saw the turning point in her life when she started to fabricate some of the details of an event. I joined in the fun and made her story so ridiculous that we both laughed at it. The problems come when I don't really know the whole story and/or can't figure out the facts. This is especially difficult when we are trying to house train a puppy and Tasha continually takes her outside, brings her in, and wants to give her a treat for doing her business in the grass and not on our carpet.

Somehow, when the tables are turned and I actually have the upper hand, Tasha still finds a way to torment me. I discovered this tonight when I was relating a typical Tasha moment to Bill. There are times when Tasha will be talking or asking me something and she will stop mid-sentence and get all shy or pitch a fit. The shy moments are usually if we are with someone and I assume she is embarrassed. The pitch-a-fit-moments are saved for our home and occasionally in front of grandparents. Either way, there is usually a battle, a whine, or something else just as irritatingly nerve wracking, stress-inducing, and tension creating. Such is my life as Tasha's mom.

Now for the clarifying moment. The moment in my conversation with Bill that I realized I can gain the upper hand once again. Why she stops mid-sentence. The A-HA moment... Because I am the mom, quite often I know what she is going to say before she says it. Apparently this irritates her. Wouldn't it irritate you? I imagine that it is most irritating when she is asking a question and I am answering no before she finishes her sentence. Even when I don't actually say the words, I'm either shaking my head or getting the look that means "not a chance is this going to happen". I feel really bad now that I really know what I'm doing to this poor girl. The problem is going to be holding back my responses until she completes her thought. It is going to be especially difficult to keep a straight face as I listen intently thinking "I know that you know that I know", all the while picturing Joey from Friends trying really hard to figure out what that actually means. (Tasha really hates when I smile because I know what she is going to say and she is smart enough to know that I know. Oooh, she is really going to be trouble as she gets older!)

So, dear Tasha, I now know that you have figured out that I can read your thoughts. I now know that this irritates you. I now know that your reaction to this irritation is to lash out on me and irritate me back. But now that I know I'm going to try really hard not to do it anymore, and if and when I do do it I'm not going to get irritated, just to irritate you back. I can play this game too and possibly act even more child-like than you. Because...

"I know that you know that I know!"

Monday, August 25, 2008

FHE Cookies

My friend Chrissy posted a cookie recipe on her blog. She had named them "Bunko Cookies" because the first time she had them was at Bunko. Since I don't play Bunko, I had to rename them again. (Seriously, "Chocolate Butterscotch Cookies" is just too obvious) She has a great picture of them on her blog if you want to see them.

2 stick's of butter
1c sugar
1c brown sugar
2 eggs
1tsp salt
1tsp baking soda
1tsp vanilla
1 large DRY package of chocolate pudding
2 1/2 cups of flour

Mix it in that order and then add butterscotch chips. Bake at 350 for 12 min.

They didn't look done to me so I ended up cooking them for 20 minutes. The next day they were a bit dry but still tasty. The pudding is an interesting ingredient that makes them different from other cookies. I might try butterscotch pudding and chocolate chips the next time.

FHE: 2 down, 50 to go

Prequel to FHE included:
Both kids being sent to their room for talking back.
The dogs escaping the backyard and running to the park.
Tasha spilling her shredded Parmesan cheese all over the floor. (Prequel to that is that she didn't like what was for dinner)
Dogs returning and licking up said cheese.
Tasha having a fit back and forth between the kitchen, living room, and bedroom.


Post game show:
Let's just say I heard "I don't want to go to bed!" repeated over and over and over for almost half and hour. A half an hour after that I found myself sitting in the hallway reading so that Tasha wouldn't come out anymore. Tomorrow is going to be a long day. I guess I better go to the Temple in the morning.

La, la. I'm sure ONE of my kids will benefit from reading this when they are trying to bless their children's lives with FHE. I will just smile thoughtfully and try to sympathize, all the while knowing the torment they put me through.

Computers, counting, and Coke

Computers: The line to the computer was not, I repeat NOT, severed by the puppy. I know you all were anxiously awaiting that information. This is good because I need to order some pictures and they are all on the laptop. No laptop= no pictures and Walgreen's just sent a code to get 50 pic's for $5. I told Tasha that I needed to work really quick because I didn't know how long the computer was going to work. I impressed upon her that she needed to not bug me, ask me a bunch of questions, and not fight with her sister. Then I asked her to repeat the information to her sister. Within 5 minutes Kyra was asking me if she could open the pretzels we just bought and Tasha was telling me that Dad didn't like her to read the book she was reading, but they weren't arguing. Such is life, I'm wondering if the wall is listening.

Counting: Tasha can count to 49 without help. Then I helped her get to 100. Then she gets mad and wants to know what is next. There is no explaining this concept to a 4 year old while driving. She got mad, yelled, and tells me to answer the question. Once she got over this and decided to count to 100 again and again it was sweet. This continual counting does not bug my migraine because it is just that, continual. Music doesn't bother it either. In fact, loud thumping noises tend to alleviate some of the pain.

Coke: Coca-cola seriously is my drug of choice. After a morning of migraine pain, rest, a chiropractic visit, and detension traction relief, I resorted to Coke. Tasha came home from school and I was still sitting in the dark with my eyes half-way closed when I realized she needed something to eat for lunch. We went to Costco for milk, grapes, and pizza. I broke all the rules today and instead of sharing a slice and a drink, we each got our own. OOOh, big spender. I really wanted stuff on my pizza and I didn't want to subject Tasha to Coke in her young and innocent days. Seriously...I wasn't even through my slice of pizza before the Coke took hold and the migraine was gone. I think I better put some Coke in my food storage.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

From C.S. Lewis

"When things go wrong, you'll find they usually go on getting worse for some time; but when things once start going right they often go on getting better and better."

The puppy just chewed through the computer line in one small nibble. I'm sure that is in the "getting worse" part. But the fact that I am laughing about that instead of dwelling on the misbehaviors of my children is in the "getting better" part. The fact that Bill went a little nuts-o in less than 24 hours with the kids makes me feel greatful that I have any sanity left.

Further getting betters include:
7 jars of pineapple
13 jars of peaches
a clean kitchen floor
a promise of a clean bathroom
a fabulous Girls Night Out
an even better full nights sleep

So I think I have to change the beginning of that slogan to work right:

"WHEN life comes at you hard, it will only get harder, but it will definately get better."

Friday, August 22, 2008

Because you didn't ask...

Tasha is still peeing in the backyard. I caught her bare-butted surfing for a spot yesterday. I believe this started up again once we got the puppy and had to take her outside every half hour, watch her pee, then bring her inside for a treat. Tasha isn't asking for a treat, butt...

Crying and praying are better ways than yelling to get your children to behave. It is more emotionally draining in the moment, but keeps the guilt away in the aftermath. It also seems to help them understand that their behavior does affect you.

I have a 4ft x 4ft kitchen island that is completely covered with stuff, 10 pineapples waiting to be canned, and 3 boxes of peaches on the way. I'm sitting at the computer avoiding the laundry that needs to be done, the bathrooms that need to be cleaned, and the above mentioned kitchen duties. Girls night out is tonight, I have no idea when Bill will be home, I need to pack the clothes that need to be washed and probably take a shower, but I already did my hair and makeup and don't want to do it again.

I have a new Target store. It is beautiful and when I drop off Kyra at school it is less than a mile away. In fact, it is a whole new shopping complex with so many stores and eating places I can't even count! Part of me feels sad that I can't support the city of Tempe by shopping at their store, but most of me doesn't really understand the financial responsibility that I have to purchase items within my city limits.

I need a cheap-o deep fryer to can my peaches. Instead of filling it with oil you fill it with water, put several peaches in the basket, "blanch" (I think that's the word) them for a few seconds, pull them out, and then the skins practically fall off. The fryer is much easier to use than a pot on the stove, sits by the sink so there is less mess, and comes with the handy basket. If someone has such an item please let me know...I searched Target and theirs are all too fancy. I'm resisting the trip to Walmart and will probably do it the hard way if I can't borrow one.

Walgreens periodically will email me a coupon for $5 off a $20 purchase. That is like 25% off stuff you already need, and it typically includes your photos too. (I'm not sure about prescriptions, Bill and I are med-free!)

Bill and I both need to get our eyes checked. Bill is in denial, I am too lazy to find out what our insurance covers and where to go. I also need someone to pick out my glass for me so I don't look like a big dork. Big dork complex is also the reason that Bill won't go.

Running to the Temple to escape your problems probably isn't the best solution but it is better than eating chocolate and inevitably saves a soul or 2, or 3, or 4... It also gives the Lord a chance to calm you down, give you some inspiration, and direct you somewhere other than the closest Circle K store.

I don't really like the way my blog looks but I can't figure out how to load a new template and all the blogger ones are old news. I wish I was more computer literate to know what all these funky terms are.

Tasha cut up 3 pieces of Kyra's jewelry yesterday (I assume on Bill's watch) but I think we've come to a solution and understanding between everyone. This had something to do with the crying and praying, Temple, inspiration, and the new Target store.

School for the kids is going great. I should do a whole post on it but we really are just taking it all in stride. Everyone is great, adapting, making new friends, and gaining new experiences.

There's a slogan that is coming to me as I write the post that goes something like: "Life comes at you hard..." is followed by a big thunk and then leads you to whatever product they are scamming. The life comes at you hard part is really resonating with me here, but I think we should finish it a little more appropriately. Does anyone have any suggestions?!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dear private bloggers,

Bloglines does not tell me when you have posted. I visit bloglines and look longingly for a new post to your site. Nothing. I am sad. I know nothing of what is going on in your little end of the world. There is a little [!] in red right next to your blog name and I have no idea why. Some of you I can't even get into my feeds so I randomly visit your site in hopes...hopes that there is life out there. And then there isn't. Not one visit, then another, then another...nothing. Oh, how sad. Do you see my sad little lip as it protrudes out from my upper lip. My eyes are droopy and a tear might just well up in the corner of my eye.

Then I randomly click on your blog because it has been so long that I don't even remember what the last thing is that you've posted. YIKES! Look at all I've been missing. Look at all the cute pictures you've put up. Look at everything that has been going on in your life that I am missing out on. You have such great thoughts and such great insight. I love to hear from you. I love to read your stuff. But there is too much!!! I'm overwhelmed by weeks worth of entries and I don't know where to start. AAAH!

So I will pace myself and try to catch up throughout the next few days. Here a little, there a little. Maybe I'll go in order, maybe I'll randomly choose. I don't know. I'm just happy you are out there. Sad that you are private. Understand why you are. My head is a little higher now, the lip is back in it's proper place, and I've wiped away the tear. Welcome back my dear friends. I'll check on you often.


Ripped from the headlines

"Judge sentences man convicted in LA-area commuter train deaths to 11 consecutive life terms...
A man convicted of causing a deadly commuter rail crash that he blamed on an attempt to commit suicide was sentenced Wednesday to 11 consecutive life terms by a judge who denounced him as a remorseless killer."

I saw this headline and couldn't believe it. I swear this was a Law and Order episode, except that it took place in New York. I'm sure Law and Order took some liberties with the details of the how, but so much was similar that you can't deny this is what the episode was based on. Right down to the SUV, last minute change of heart, desperate attempt to gain the attention of his ex-wife, it was all the same. So much for their disclaimer that any similarities are merely a coincidence. (I did see them say it was based on a real life situation once. Maybe I missed it on this one.)

I just can't wait until I'm on a jury someday and can say, "I know this case, I saw it on Law and Order." Then I can be the jury fore(wo)man and tell everyone how to vote because I know what Jack McCoy says is right. HaHa.



Monday, August 18, 2008

FHE: 1 down, 51 to go

Yep. As a family, we absolutely, positively, hit rock bottom at holding a "regular" family home evening. To say we do it when we can, if we can, sparadically, or even on occassion would be stretching the truth. On the flip side, to say that we have never done it would also be a stretch. I was pleased to know that Tasha at least had an idea as to what it was, and Kyra definately has memories (mostly of times she would share a lesson). Tasha and I planned to teach it together this afternoon and when I was talking to her later about holding family home evening tonight she said, "oh yeah, I like to do that." Well, whatever happened to that excited spirit must have stayed in the car, 'cuz when it was go time that girl had up and gone. It all came flooding back to me... all the reasons, all about 4 1/2 years old, on why it is a really miserable time trying to hold a FHE in our home. With treats, without treats, during dinner, at the table, in the living room, with the TV on, (and of course with it off!)... we've tried it all through the years and yet again tonight, misery! Threats, rewards, participation, lecturing, game playing, recitation...blah, blah, blah. NOTHING works!

So even as I am reminded of all the things we've tried and not tried. Even as I rehash all the whining, complaining, crying (on my part, I actually shed a few before we even started), tantrums, and running out of the room. This is my final stance and the exact words that I forcably said as Bill suggested that maybe it just isn't worth it:

"We're gonna do it, and we're gonna keep doing it, because it's a stupid commandment!"

Who Sucked the Life out of my Summer?

I realize that summer in the Valley of the Sun is just that...sunny...and plenty hot, to say the least. I hate it. I hate the heat. I hate the stickiness. I hate running (OK, walking briskly) from shady car place to air conditioned store, back to shady car place to air conditioned home, etc. I don't like that I have to keep my living room curtains closed for fear that the slightest bit of sunshine will bring the temperature up 5 degrees within a 30 minute period of time. I hate that my pathetic truffula tree in the backyard is leaning so far to the ground that certain leaves of certain branches are touching the ground but I refuse to cut off any branches because that is valuable shade! I hate that I have to put the dog's water dish in the shade with a drizzling of hose water running continually or else their poor little tongues will scorch in the boiling water. Blah, blah. I hate a lot of things about the summer in Tempe, but my real concern right now is where in the heck did my summer go to?!

Does anyone remember when school used to start the week after labor day? You know, in September?! I visualize calendars with watermelons and picnics pictured in August and the school bus, pencils and smiling children in September. You can't just move that picture from September to August because there are no smiling children when they have to start school on August 4th! Or August 13th! Sheesh. Who sucked the life out of our summers? Whose bright idea was it to move the start date up a week, then 2 weeks, then 3 weeks, and now finally a whole month?! Who on earth thought this would be a good idea?!

I know, let's bring all the students back to school right when things are getting really hot. Let's turn the air conditioning on in these great big schools right when it will cost the most money. Let's bring a bunch of kids together with their tempers flaring and not even let them run around outside because it is too stinking hot to go outside! This is a grand plan. But the best idea of all, the thing that makes the most sense, the best reason to start school early is this: it forces all the parents to stay in town, endure the heat, beat themselves up for not planning a earlier vacation, and finally...feel really guilty for sitting in the pick-up lane with the air conditioning running for any length of time because their younger child doesn't want to park and get out and walk because it is too stinking hot, we are all cranky, and we should all still be at home, lazing around, eating watermelon in our air conditioned homes, occasionally venturing outside maybe for a dip in the pool or a run through the sprinklers.

Let's face it, whoever had the bright idea of starting school early and having a fall break, then start even earlier so we could have an extending fall break was, quite frankly, a moron.

Friday, August 15, 2008

An Email from Taiwan

I have a nephew serving a mission in Taipei. There are too many typographical errors to correct so you are just going to have to read through the mistakes. He's a kid, on a mission, with an hour to frantically send messages to his loved ones, and he's been speaking a foreign language for half of a year. Give him a break, and listen to the message:

"What a great blessing it is to experience the feelings from the Holy Ghost. We are able to receive answers to all types of questions. We are fortunate members as we have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost so as we live worthily the Lord has promised the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. It may not be that burning sensation all the time, but you will know that you have it, especially once it goes away. Which brings me to a story..

So this past Monday we had Zone Conference and it was amazing, we learned alot and the spirit was strong. After which we were on the way home and got on a bus. We sat down in the back of the bus as there were two open seats for us to sit in, so we sat down and then I started to study Chinese as i usually do. We were in Taipei city making our way back to our home and in Taipei it was pretty crowded with cars, so traffic was really slow. As we stopped i looked out the window and saw two guys fighting on the sidewalk. I had no idea why they were fighting (that werent very good fighters, thats for sure). But i saw them figh, which lasted for like 40 seconds then after i just felt terrible. I felt like i had just like found out a relative was dead or something. It was just an awful feeling. I realized at the moment that the spirit had left me. That it was with me before and because of me watching that fight the spirit was gone. Now there was nothing that i could possible do abou the fight as we are not supposed to become involved in that kind of stuff. But still, i felt that because i love the Taiwan people soo much that my soul literally ached for those two. That kind of violence i havent seen for a while, probably since UFC. I realized that they obviously hated eachother and that really broke my heart. The entire bus ride home i felt almost sick to my stomach becasue i realized how lost some people really are.

I guess the biggest lesson that i learned from that experience is to be careful with what you do say watch or listen to. The spirit will dwell with you and then in a matter of seconds it will be gone. And that feeling of not having the spirit is the worst. It made me realized that i need to do all i can to constantly have the spirit with me, that is most important as i am on 'duty' at all times! ...that experience really made me realize how sensitive the spirit is. So we must be careful to not force it away."

Monday, August 11, 2008

School of Rock

A friend gave me School of Rock to watch a few weeks ago. I sat down with my girls one Monday night while Bill was in school to watch it. It's been a while since I've watched much more than cartoons with my kids, so parts of this show were eye-opening (or jaw-dropping) to say the least. Kyra gives me the eye. The one where she's saying, "is this OK?" while at the same time smiling and resisting a chuckle. Tasha's not sure what's going on but we have to enforce the fact that, "we don't talk like that"..."or that"... It was lighthearted, we were laughing, and I haven't heard any of those words repeated yet. I do have two concerns:

1. We watched it once. Then we watched it with Bill. As the scene began that included the first swear word (the one that I didn't even acknowledge) Tasha bolts over to Bill's ear and whispers, "Dad, Dad. He's going to say a bad word but we say butt." Are you kidding me, she remembered that from a week ago? Hmm. Trouble I tell you, trouble.

2. The final scene includes some serious rocking out. Tasha was wired for like an hour after watching it, and dancing to it, and singing with it, and jumping all around the living room. She did it both times. It was on last night again so we turned it off well before any rockin' began. This is a kid that is really affected by music. I've seen it before in other kids, just never my own.

I guess my concerns really should be more observations and I should harness the awareness that I have. Maybe, just maybe, seeing and hearing the right things will stick just as well as the bad. And maybe I can find the kinds of music that harness her energy, focuses her feelings and calms her intensity. That would be really nice. Cool Jazz seems to not make her mad, but that's all I know for sure.

On a completely unrelated note... Men's gymnastics is just amazing. I haven't seen the Olympic team in like 4 years or something (haha), but they are just awesome! Of course I'm smitten with the USA team and even know a couple of their names. (Horton hears a Who, and Justin somebody) On a critical note I will say this about the American team: 1. they pretty much clunk it out on the floor exercise (the Chinese are much more graceful!); 2. Listening to Horton's pep talk was a little like listening to President Bush (he's from Houston); 3. None of them are as impressive as Mitch Gaylord was back in the day.

Compulsive Hoarding

I thought I had a clutter problem. I thought it and I know it to be true. I've watched those shows where the organizing people come in and gut a room, sell stuff, dump stuff, and end up with a beautiful space. I even had my friend come over and help me organize a space. She was thrilled because that is what she does. We made quite a bit of progress, I still know where all that stuff is, but sadly part of the space has become cluttered again because I have new stuff to put there. I envy the person without all the stuff, the one that can resist the sale, and the one that doesn't have to save something because, "what if"...I need it someday. Anyway, I have a lot of issues, I've made a lot of progress lately, but at least I'm not a compulsive hoarder!

I took a nap with Tasha this afternoon so I'm not really ready for bed and am trying to kill some time while waiting for the new Army Wives episode to come on. Every time I switch to the Olympics there is a commercial and I'm sick of watching Olympic athletes sell their souls by doing McDonald's commercials. I read a lengthy article on morality and laughed at the idea of throwing a fat man in front of a train to stop the train from hitting 5 men. But now I've channel surfed and found a show titled, "Help! I'm a Hoarder."

Oooh, part of me wants to hold this poor woman and let her know that everything is going to be OK, the other part of me wants to strangle her and scream, "just let it go!!!" To listen to her talk in her baby-like-fake-sing-song-analytical voice is going to drive me up a wall. And to say, "here is a pile of laundry but I don't have the money to wash it" while talking toan organizing specialist that she meets with weekly seems a little off to me. Her counselor points out that she was abused as a child and she notes that when she sees things on the street she has to rescue them. Seven years earlier the state brought a dumpster to the apartment and completely emptied her place. Her comment was that she was "completely disoriented in space." (while circling her hands around her head and looking to the sky) As the show continues to unfold I get the feeling that the state is paying for all the therapy and specialists but I'm not sure because she just got an eviction notice.

Why, oh why, am I investing time in this show? Maybe because I feel a little less crazy for the piles of clothes on top of my dresser that don't fit Tasha any more. Maybe because I feel a little better that my clutter is fairly contained to one room and a few dump zones in various rooms. I do notice that my anxiety level has gone up over the last hour and I feel overwhelmed by the piles I need to get through. Tomorrow is another day and I imagine that I have a trip to Good Will in store for myself after a hefty heave-ho of a bunch of junk. Maybe I have hoarding behaviors, maybe I don't...but I'm pretty sure I'm not quite compulsive.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I saw Ryan eating Cookies!

They weren't even good cookies either. They were stupid store bought Chips Ahoy cookies. What the heck? It was the strangest thing I think I've ever seen. Ryan eating cookies? And what was his response to this shocking observation..."well, someone took the watermelon away!" Yes, ladies and gentleman, he was happily snacking on the fruit, the fruit left with it's rightful owner, and then he was stuck with the cookies. This is the same man that I saw giving his son cherry tomatoes while saying, "here's some candy". La, la, la.

It's all quite now. All the children have left my house. All the adults have left. My 2 children have been banished to their rooms for fighting at the computer. The living room is tidy but I need to mop the floor. (good thing I didn't do that before 40 kids came tromping through) I want a little snack. Alas! There are stupid cookies on the table and a bowl of chocolate that someone conveniently left behind. But wait! I have a small bowl of strawberries and blueberries in my fridge that didn't fit on the dessert. For one fleeting moment I feel bad that I didn't offer them to Ryan. It was a brief, very brief moment. Then I thought, "his skinny butt can eat the cookies, I want the fruit!" La, la, la.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Kyra turns the big 1-0!

Me: So how does it feel to be in double digits?

K: It is amazing.

Me: Really? You will never get to go back to single digits?

K: I know. There are only 9 numbers and years that you can do that, but there's like a whole lot of double digit numbers.

Me: (Like I don't know that!) Ya-a! So this is the very last year that you will ever get to be a single digit number on your birthday. The very last time that you only get to use one number. Aren't you a little bit sad?

K: (Thinks a little, then looks at the clock) What time was I born?

Me: 4:30...ish.

K: Well, I'll be 9 for about 4 more hours.

Birthday Traditions

We were asked a week or two ago if our family had any traditions that we would like to share with the ward. I thought a bit and didn't come up with anything I hadn't told people about before. I also thought about the traditions that my mom tried to start after we had started our own families, but were short lived. Somehow traditions just fall in our lap and those are the really good ones. Here's what happens on your birthday if you live in our house...

1. In honor of Harry Potter fans and the-need-to-shut-the-kids-up-about-when-they-get-to-open-their-presents: Birthday children wake up to see their "lot" of presents at the foot of their beds, just like happens in the HP movies. (It doesn't happen like that in the books, but visions of the kids ravenging and throwing paper in the air really brings a smile to my face.) This solves the problems of: when to open them; too much pressure to be excited about something that might really suck; being on display as you hoard your stuff; getting several moments to really enjoy your stuff after you've ransacked the lot. It really has become fun the 2 times that we have done it and already the kids are talking about their birthday morning. (Oh, and the presents do tend to be fairly small but needed items and the kids are more grateful for the surprise in the a.m. than they are the actual present)

2. We sing to the birthday person all day on their birthday. We will just burst into the Happy Birthday song on a whim. By about noon the birthday person is going crazy and rolling their eyes, but at the same time loving every minute of it. By nighttime they are quite done listening to it. It ends if there is a cake and we sing one last time. (Notice I used the word IF there, cake is optional in this house. Cheesecake would be preferred by most, and candles are off limits for 2 of us!) Bill and I also can't help busting out with "You say it's your birthday? bu-nu-nu-nu...It's my birthday too!" even though that's the only part of the song we know. Who doesn't love a little Anthony Michael Hall and Sixteen Candles reenactment?!

3. Thanks to Crystal and her what-can-you-get-for-free-on-your-birthday post, I'm sure we will spend most of these days spending more money than necessary to get that free something for the birthday person. Something is fun about telling a complete stranger it's your birthday and they give you something for it. Weird, huh?

That's it. That's all I've got in the way of traditions. See me again in December for St. Nicholas night. (I can never remember if it is the 6th or the 7th, something about D-Day being the same day or a different day has really thrown me for a loop, and some Germans even celebrate on the 5th. What a mess!)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Isn't Watermelon Yummy?

It is amazing to me that God created watermelon to be ripe in the summer right when you really need it. Right when your AC stops working and it is 84 degrees in your house and you really don't like the heat. (unlike some crazy people that keep the temp. set at 84 degrees) The AC is better now, the repair people are coming in the morning, and the watermelon is all gone. Tomorrow is Kyra's 10th birthday so I better go get a wrappin'...

(Funny, I had a great post in my head on the way home from a great seminar but then I read all of my friends great stuff and completely lost track of my mind. Where is my mind again?)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

"The Doctor is In"

I felt like Charlie Brown talking to Lucy today. After yet another hideous attempt to drive someplace with both of my children in the van, I dumped them both at 2 separate destinations and then went searching for chocolate. I ended up at the Marble Slab Creamery on Ray Road and I10 (I had just left Kyra at our dentist out there). The kind owner, Scott, inquired as to how I was doing. Poor guy. It was a simple question and I said, "not good, or I wouldn't be here." Somehow I think this man's wife and/or daughters have gone through some emotional times because he was quite sympathetic to my plea. Even after I just shook my head in frustration he said, "no really, tell me about it" as he placed both hands on his glass counter top and tilted his head in that friendly I'm-listening-and-I-care sort of way. Visions of bartenders cleaning out their glasses and patting poor drunk souls on the back as they usher them into cabs flashed before my eyes. We joked about this ice cream bar therapy and I finally blurted out:

"I just want to be able to get my kids in the car without any screaming and any fighting and I want to be able to drive without having to turn around and break up an argument. I dread going anyplace with them and I stayed home all last week because of it. We didn't get to do anything fun and they missed out on some great stuff that I really wanted to do all because I have such anxiety about even getting to the car with them, let alone driving anywhere! I yell at the stupid drivers on the road and yell at the kids because I'm yelling at the drivers! ...and I bet you can't even guess how old they are?!"

That was the question that should have lead to the answer to send me over the top. I was sure he would think they were both in preschool or younger and that they were certainly not at the age of accountability. But no, this blessed man shot back with, "Oh, they could be any age. My kids were doing that until they were 20, especially the girls." AMEN! The choir of angels have sung, chimes are ringing, and maybe I'm not insane!

So, although Charlie Brown never did get any really good advice from Lucy, he usually did walk away feeling better. My price tag was a little stiffer than a nickle, but hey, for $5 not only did I get a little therapy, he topped it off with a white chocolate raspberry sundae in a waffle cone.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

What is it about Bookstores?

I went in to Borders to buy a boxed set of the Chronicles of Narnia. Kyra's birthday is Thursday, we just saw the movie, she is an avid reader, and heck, I need to read them for MY book club. The set is all together but it's wrapped up in plastic wrap which really makes it less appealing to me. I looked at the individual ones and was tempted. The covers were so smooth. The pages had not been bent. It was a story just waiting to be told, just to me, nobody else. But I went for the set, so the set I bought.

On the way out I considered the buy 1, get 1 half price table. More books with fresh covers. Some had raised lettering, some had pictures, one had a whole in the cover revealing the picture on the next page. Ooh, it has been so long since I purchased a fresh book! And look, there are titles I've heard of. Ones that have been recommended and/or are now movies that I will never go see. Marty and Me, Wicked, Atonement, Those Who Save Us, ...and several others that I can't recall. I want them all! Novels with no purpose other than sheer enjoyment and interest to me. I even think about the many dollars that I owe the library and consider that buying these books might even save me money in the long run. Hmm.

So what is it about bookstores that make you yearn to have these precious new editions of books that you will only read once and then maybe pass on to a friend? Books you are sure your friends own and will loan you, or that you can get much cheaper on Amazon. Books that you know you don't have time to read and might just sit around for a year gathering dust until you finally get to them.

My mother-in-law loved to read. I think she read everything that was ever written if that is possible. If it was on Oprah's list, she had it. If it was a NY Times best seller, she'd read it. I can only imagine her at a bookstore. I can't believe I never went to one with her! I would have left with treasures galore or the promise of, "you can borrow that, I have it at home." Bill's mom was the one that bought Billy all the Harry Potter books as they were written. She had them delivered the day they came out and he was so excited. It was her influence that got me to pre-order the last one.

Nothing sat on mom's shelf unread but she understood when it sat on mine. She was the most understanding and non-judgemental person I think I've ever met. She was inquisitive and could talk to just about anyone about just about any subject. She was a housewife with a high school diploma and a drinking problem, and she was one of the greatest women that I have ever known. She cared about you and your friends and she loved to hear what was going on in your life. I think she really would have loved to talk books with Jaylee and Tori, home births with Crystal, education with April, crocheting with Bridget, politics with Amanda, piano with Sara, mothering with Rachel, Native American traditions with Monique...and the list goes on! She would have taken it all in and loved you all!

So I ask again, what is it about bookstores? What is it that makes you miss people so much?!


Puppies are really, really cute. They have cute puppy breath, can't you just smell it?
They are especially cute when they are frolicking in the backyard with their brothers and sisters after they have done all of their business outside (as opposed to INside).
Puppies are cute when they fall asleep on full tummies and lay with their legs like little froggies and their little heads on their paws.
Puppies are NOT cute at 4 in the morning when they are whining and there is pee and poo all over the bathroom floor. It also doesn't smell very cute.

Friday, August 1, 2008

The American Girl

I took 3 kids to the movie today to see Kitt Kittredge in action. They had all read the book so it was a reward, although they didn't really need a reward for reading :) It was a fabulous movie, I cried about 3 times, and was impressed by the cast. I don't know the names of any of the actors except for Chris O'Donnel, but I'm sure you could look them up on if you really care to. Oh, Joan Cusack was another bit part that made the movie as she usually does. But this is not the reason for the post. You should go see the movie, with your kids, but here's what happened after the movie...

The characters are Me (played by me), and 3 kids who will remain annoymous (K1, K2, K3).

The last line of the movie is said, the credits barely get a chance to start rolling and before the lights start to brighten:

K2: I really need to go to the bathroom.

Exit, rear stage, sharp right and directly to the ladies. K1 and K2 enter restroom, K3 and I wait outside.

Wait, wait, wait. K3 decides to go to the bathroom.

Finally, K1 and K2 exit together.

Me: Sheesh, what took you so long?
K1: I was waiting for (K2).
K2: Ya, I took a while. I had to do two things.
Me: (smiling) Oh, I see.
K1 and K2 giggle.
K1: Well...
K2: Well, I really had to do 3 things.
Me: 3 things?
K2: Ya, um... (giggling)
Me: I don't even want to know.
K1: Ya, you don't.

The End

Does anyone have a clue as to what "3 things" could mean?! I still don't know. Silly kids.