Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Dear Pam,

Thanks for coming over this mid-morning and catching me playing hearts on my computer in my pj's. Clearly it was late enough that I should have been off my booty and doing some work. Clearly my children should not have been on the couch eating Chex mix for breakfast while watching TV. This is what visiting teachers are for... to bust you.

See, it's all in what you said about Christmas deco bugging you. I knew it was irritating me to have my tree still up, but I was dragging my feet. I just didn't want to tackle it. But something snapped after you left and I lost miserably at hearts. I showered, fed the kids, and took that sucker down. I feel better already.

In fact, I think I've done more this afternoon than I have in the last 2 days. Thanks for that brief visit and let this be a lesson to all you visiting teachers out there... the last day of the month is never too late to drop by, you never know what you will find or how you will affect the one you visit.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

"For What It's Worth"

Buffalo Springfield "Somethings Happening Here"...

(From Wikipedia) While the song has come to symbolize worldwide turbulence and confrontational feelings arising from events during the 1960s (particularly the Vietnam War), Stills reportedly wrote the song in reaction to escalating unrest between law enforcement and young club-goers related to the closing of Pandora's Box, a club on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, California. The song's title appears nowhere in its lyrics; it is more easily remembered by the first line of chorus: "Stop, children, what's that sound? Everybody look what's going down."

There's something happening here
What it is ain't exactly clear
There's a man with a gun over there
Telling me I got to beware
I think it's time we stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
There's battle lines being drawn
Nobody's right if everybody's wrong
Young people speaking their minds
Getting so much resistance from behind
I think it's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
What a field-day for the heat
A thousand people in the street
Singing songs and carrying signs
Mostly say, hooray for our side
It's time we stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Paranoia strikes deep
Into your life it will creep
It starts when you're always afraid
You step out of line, the man come and take you away
We better stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, hey, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, now, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down
Stop, children, what's that sound
Everybody look what's going down

NTS: Be more Humble

"And inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time." (D&C 1:28)

I could use a little knowledge at any time.


We've been doing FHE regularly, as in each week. Yeah for us! It's going so well in fact, that this is what went down yesterday afternoon about 3 or 4 pm ...

(a phone call between myself and Bill)

Me: Hey, I don't have energy to prepare a lesson, can you do it?

Bill: Yeah, no problem.

He came home with cutouts and everything. I quickly matched up a song to his lesson, and Tasha put her chocolate covered cherries out for the treat. It was a good, quick, and effective night.

Thank goodness for men with slow jobs and Internet connections!

I Was Going to Let it Go...

I had started a post about the expression "Happy Holidays", but then decided I would just let it go. Then I read this article by Robert Knight (because I can't just skip over the dang thing) and my blood is just boiling again. I know, I know, people hate the expression "Happy Holidays" because it takes the reason for the season out of Christmas. I get it. I understand that many people want to hear "Merry Christmas". I even have Jewish friends that say it and receive it with grace and understanding. I'll give and get back a "Happy Hanukkah" will equal acceptance. But that is because I know these people. I know their faith and what they will be doing this holiday season. I would not assume that of just any stranger I met on the street or in a store. What about Kwanzaa? Should I be walking up to every African-American I know and saying, "Happy Kwanzaa"? I don't think so.

I guess that the big deal is that retailers are shying away from the Christ part of Christmas by removing "Merry Christmas" from their banners, ads, and employee greetings. But really, does "Merry Christmas" really assume an understanding that Christ was born in Bethlehem? Robert Knight writes: "The whole idea of gift giving at Christmas comes from acknowledging that God gave His Son as a gift to all people, and expects us to treat each other accordingly. Retailers who refuse to call it Christmas but still want Christmas dollars are betting that Americans will continue to give extravagantly, forever, without the deeper reason. They think that they can remove the heart without harming the patient."

I would argue that "God gave His Son as a gift to all people" is not the motivation for many people to be purchasing gifts during the holiday season. If we all really wanted to give that kind of gift to all people, the kind of gift that God would give, would we really be purchasing those gifts on Black Friday with mobs of people fighting over the best deals at a store that won't even say "Merry Christmas"? And hey, I'm the first to admit that I LOVE Black Friday shopping. I didn't go this year, but it certainly rings in the holiday season for me. And by that I don't mean, "I come closer to Christ by seeking the best deals at retail stores so that I can give gifts unto my children." I just like to shop and save money.

So what is the motivation for the gift giving? You know who I'm going to imply here, don't you? And I'm not saying that this is true for everyone, just some. In fact, most of my friends avoid this subject with their own children, as do I. But I love him, I believe in him, I think Santa has done wonders for good people all over the world. Not as much good as Christ, but good none the less. Knight even tries to imply that getting Macy's on board with a good old fashioned "Merry Christmas" is a triumph over the dark side. The dark side of what? Yes, most people associate Macy's with Miracle on 34th Street, a classic Christmas movie that now has several versions available for watching. But what is this Christmas movie about? SANTA CLAUS!!! I'm sorry folks, but if you think that the miracle in this movie has anything to do with Christ's birth, you are sadly mistaken. Yes, there are implications as to a higher being in the newer version ("in God we trust"), but this show is about getting people to believe... believe in Santa.

All I'm saying here is that "Happy Holidays" means the same thing to me as "Merry Christmas". Mostly because society has polluted the meaning of Christmas. I don't think that many people, especially store clerks and retailers, mean "enjoy a season of giving as you celebrate the birth of our Savior" when they say "Merry Christmas". The true meaning of Christmas is felt by our interactions with others, not the simple words said to each other in passing.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

My Husband Has A Drinking Problem...

I went to bed with a clear counter and woke up to this:

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Christmas Eve

The way to do Christmas Eve, when you have a young family, is to bring the family to you. I don't know how I became the host of the Eve festivities, but I sure am grateful that I did. I'm also smart enough to do things on my time frame, which also leaves plenty of time for younger people to hoopla afterwards if they wish. This means that dinner is served between 5 and 6. Yep, the typical dinner time for my kids so we can keep things as normal as possible. Tamales and chili have always been a standard, my mom added a green chili egg casserole a couple of years ago, and next year I will have to include cheese quesadillas if I want Tasha to eat anything and she hasn't expanded her food repritoire. This year, in addition to the typical red meat tamales, I added some green corn. YUM! Also, I had the vegetarians bring the chili which meant that I had some delish eatings that I did not have to fix. Double yum!

It was a great time with sprinklings from both sides of our family represented: my mom and Rex; Rex's granddaughter Tiffany and her husband Jay; Bill's dad and Maggie; Maggie's daughters Katie and Lizzie, with Lizzie's boyfriend Andy. Sheesh, if you include the 4 of us that's 14 people in my teeny house. It didn't seem that crowded.

Typically the kids get to open one gift on Christmas Eve. If they have made it through December without having to have new pj's, then the gift is pj's. If I did have to cave and purchase sleepware before the big day, we'll pick something else for them. This year I let my mom give them the pj's and she upped it one by including slippers as well. (that's 2 things, instead of 1!) Next, Maggie had found some webkins that she wanted to give them and of course, delights in seeing their reaction. (that's 3 gifts now) Finally, Tiff and Jay showed up bearing gifts this year which is not typical. They brought a few things for Bill and I, which was totally unnecessary, but greatly appreciated, and one gift for each of the girls. Hello?! Those girls are spoiled... 4 gifts on Christmas Eve?! Nice.

Tasha recieved Pop Beads from Tiff and Jay
Notice the big kids playing with the toy and Tasha running away

The girls in their new PJ's
Kyra has froggies, Tasha's a monkey

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Bill, stop reading.

No really Bill. Go away now.

Dear friends,

I need help in purchasing some good smelling stuff for my husband. He waited until now to tell me that after shave or cologne would be a nice gift this year. Apparently it was last century that we made the last purchase. YIKES! I have no idea where to start and the idea of sniffing several bottles and/or even going into a store laced with all those aromas is giving me a headache.

Suggestions please?!



Sunday, December 21, 2008

I Need some Freaking Sugar!

Last night I caved, I ate some sugar. Of all things to give in to it was some super sweet, homemade wedding cake frosting. It wasn't much, but it was enough. This afternoon I drank some 7-up. Now I'm paying for the sugar downer... I have a headache and my eyes hurt. I figure if I have some sugar now, maybe I can sleep off the pain.

I found some fudge in the fridge that my mom made for us. Yum, but it's chocolate too and I don't want to eat too much of that. I searched the fridge, freezer, 2 cupboards, and a drawer. FINALLY! Vanilla snackimals. Nothing like a good animal cracker to ease the sugar craving. After a half an hour of snacking I'm still not feeling any better so I check the packaging to see why this sugar is not helping out.

Who bought these freaking snackimals?! 100% natural. No hydrogenated oils. No trans fats. NO FREAKING SUGAR!!! I read through the ingredient list twice before I found the sweetener: unsulphured molasses. What?! If your going to use molasses, at least leave the sulphur in it for Pete's sake.

I actually yelled at Bill, "why hasn't anyone brought us cookies today? I need cookies!" To this he replied, "our home teacher brought us a soup mix." Nice. Actually, it was VERY thoughtful and I totally appreciate the fact that his wife didn't sabotage my no-sugar binge. Apparently I can do that all by myself in less than 24 hours.

SOOOOOOOO, now I know why all my friends are freaking out and swearing... it's the sugar season and you all are on a sugar down or sugar high and are a little high strung. This also explains why Jaylee is in control, she's a salt gal.

Now here's my request: please don't bring me any cookies. I feel so miserable that I'm quitting again... as soon as I finish all 7 servings in this #*&^ snackimals bag.

Tamale Night!

When I was in high school I had a friend whose family made tamales every year for Christmas. This was the only time of the year that they made them, so they made A LOT. They made dozens and dozens for Christmas Eve, they froze some, and they gave some away. One year they had this great idea to invite all the high school girls over to assemble the tamales. So Anita invited "the clump" of friends over which included: me, Nora, Amanda, and Arlene, and later we added in Valerie, Teri, and Jenny. That's a lot of teenage girls slappin' masa on ojas and topping it with red meat. We learned some of the ins and outs of the tamale making (like chanting for the masa to float when Mr. Verdugo would drop a piece in the glass of water), but mostly we just assembled and ate a few of the finished products.

I'm not sure how many years of high school we were invited over to tamale night but it became an annual event for many of us. Some of us were more dedicated than others for various reasons (friendship, love of tamales, boredom). Anita went away to Notre Dame for college, but we still tried to get together. I was roommates with Valerie so I think we both ended up there for a year or two after graduation. In fact, Valerie even started making Christmas ornaments to give us each year which I always looked forward to. I still have them hanging on my tree. I've missed one year... the year Bill, Billy and I went to Minnesota for Christmas.

But here's the thing: I don't even really like tamales. Seriously, the red meat mixed with the masa does absolutely nothing for me. Slap some of that meat on a homemade tortilla though, and ba-da-bing, I've got myself a winner! And boy does Mrs. V make a fine tortilla. Every year I tell her I'm going to come over after the holiday break to learn how to make them. I've been saying that for 5+ years... maybe this is the year. A couple of years ago they threw me a loop and added green corn tamales to the line up. HELLO! Green corn, baby, where have you been all my life?! YUM-UM-MEE!! Besides tasting delish they are super simple: just slap some mix in the oja and fold it up, easy. In fact, they are so easy I enlisted some help this year:
Kyra, a natural born tamale maker
Kyra did such a fantastic job and she is such a delight to be around. Mr. and Mrs. V were very impressed with her abilities and kindness. She and I made 6 dozen of our own green corn tamales to take home (I brought my own supplies this year). We took a break for some red meat burritos (my personal favorite), Kyra tried some pan de huevo (did I spell that right?), and I finished assembling the rest of their red tamales. THEN, Kyra helped them make 3 dozen more green corn tamales while I cleaned up the kitchen. She was such a trooper they invited her back next year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Dear Jaylee,

I'd like to thank you for coming up with the pattern for the Christmas stocking advent calendar. I finished mine (the morning of Dec. 1st) and put the daily scripture references on the back. It's quick, it's simple, and it reminds us each day of our Savior's birth. (Well, almost each day... we have to double up occasionally).

I'd also like to thank you for not posting anything about poop. Nothing about raspberries or blueberries oozing onto your new, beautiful, hardwood floors. No dirty underpants from any of your children or droppings left from the vermin that run rampant through your house. You haven't mentioned a thing about boys spraying pee all over your fabulous new bathroom either. Thank you for that.

I'd also, also, like to thank you for the polite language that you use. Not a single "freaking" has come from your fingertips. A simple "good gravy" does a complete job of relaying the frustration that you feel for our dear friend. What a fine example you are. What an inspiration.


PS Maybe we can go to Starbucks and grab a hot chocolate sometime.

Monday, December 15, 2008

75 Years Young!

How do you honor such an amazing woman like my mom?! What can I possibly do to let her know how much I appreciate everything she does, did, and will do in the future? How do I say, "Happy Birthday, I'm so glad you were born and made it these 75 years"? Well, I guess I start by being me and waiting until the day before her birthday to plan anything. (In my defense, she was going to be in Forest Lakes on her actual birthday but decided on Saturday to come down to beat the storm that was headed in) Then I rely on my fallback plan... old friends that never let you down! Friends that I grew up with, my mom raised her children with, and friends that are always there for us...
Edith and LeRoy Harkins
The Harkin's household was definitely a second home to me and their daughters have all been great friends of mine at different points of my life. When I was young and not old enough to be alone, their oldest daughter Kathrine would come over and "babysit" me while my mom went out square dancing. This entailed playing games, eating junk food, and waiting until the last possible second to jump into bed and pretend like I was asleep. Their middle daughter Lacy and I were best friends in high school. We did absolutely everything together, confided in each other, and I counseled her with her boyfriend fiascoes. Eventually I was the maid-of-honor at her wedding the summer after she graduated. She moved away with him for school, but 3 years later she came back to be my maid(matron?)-of-honor. As a wedding gift, Edith made all of my bridesmaids dresses and my wedding dress. LeRoy's brother DJ'ed our reception. Back in the day, birthdays, holidays, and celebrations of any kind were not complete without the Harkins!
Me and Millie
Millie was always the little sister. The one that tagged along. The one that we could dare to eat dog food and she would. Millie was and is fun to be around. When we moved back into this house that I grew up in she was living with her parents (and 2 children) down the street, right where I remember them. I was coming home, but as a grown up. I became pregnant almost immediately and a year later I found myself a stay-at-home mom and Millie and I became the best of friends. We saw each other daily: just popping in on each other; feeding each other; sharing "war" stories of poopy diapers, nursing dilemmas, runaway children, and absentee husbands. I never would have survived a year at home without Millie!
And here I am today... raising my family in the house my mom raised me in! We're doing pretty well, don't you think mom?!
My mom always like to have popcorn strands on her Christmas tree. I can remember setting blankets out on the lawn during the day and stringing popcorn in our front lawn. The neighbors would think we were a little weird, but the Harkin's girls would always come and join in. One year my mom had taken a trip to New Mexico right before her birthday. When she arrived home, she was greeted by a house full of family and friends, popcorn bits on the floor, and plenty of strands to fill up her tree. We all sang to her and I had made a cake for her. I don't remember doing this (much of high school is a blur, simply due to an overabundance of activities), but my mom, Edith, and LeRoy all brought it up Monday night so it must have happened. The best thing of all is that the last minute invitation to come over didn't phase any of these great people in the least. That's how our families work... you are just there for each other. I called Millie on Sunday and she called her parents. Her dad told her mom, "we're going to E's tomorrow night", and she said, "oh, is it JoAnn's birthday?" It's been 11 years since we did this but she knew! She knew like it happened every year.

As the adults strung popcorn and shared memories, the kids all entertained themselves quite happily...

Kyra and Jessie preparing to perform a Christmas song for us:

Max and Tasha, being Max and Tasha:

Alyssa, the loner

To say that we had a lot of laughs this evening would be an understatement. I should post the picture of us laughing, but I have like 3 chins or something and am too vain to put it up. Once we started talking about all the silly things we did, places we went, and mishaps that occurred on our many family adventures together, there was no stopping us. Each of us would jump in with a "oh, and remember..." that was followed by an embarrassing moment or thoughtful gesture. Man when you cram 10-18 years of memories into one night you realize how crazy and delightful things really were.

I told my mom Monday morning over breakfast that I might have a surprise for her that night. When I invited Millie over she asked, "can we bring instruments too?" Of course silly woman! When we were young, we would get together with the Harkins on Christmas Eve and "sing" Christmas carols. What it really amounted to was Lacy and I on the violin and cello, Edith singing boisterously, and my mom and LeRoy mouthing the words. I always hid behind the cello in those days, I was so shy (even around family)!

I thought we were going to pass the buck to our children this year (Jessie plays the viola and Kyra plays the violin), but Millie showed up with 3 violas and a cello! What?! The girls fiddled around (haha) while we were chatting but then their moms busted in on them and joined the fun. They had sheet music for all but the violin so I got to transpose the cello part of Silent Night for Kyra and she learned most of it in about 5 minutes. Edith came back to drag us out of the bedroom and told us to practice in the living room so they could hear us. It was hard enough to get through the song together, so there was no singing on this number. Alyssa knew Jingle Bells, so we all turned to that and had a group of performers that outnumbered the audience for the first time ever! Jessie, Millie, and I started off on the "dashing through the snow bit" and then Kyra, Alyssa, and Tasha joined in on the "jingle bell" chorus. Tasha was so excited to toot that recorder (on the same note) to the beat of a song she knew! She was beaming she was so happy.

After the Christmas songs we ad libbed "Happy Birthday", everyone joined in singing, and we ate cupcakes that Tasha and I made and Kyra frosted. My mom loves traditions and a good walk down memory lane, so hopefully this birthday celebration was an OK tribute to the most wonderful mom I could ever have. I love you mom!!!

Bitter-Sweet Endings/Beginnings

I find it so very interesting the things that will catch children's attention and hold it. The odd moments that they sit staring, waiting for more, wanting to learn. Actually, it's not really me they are listening to, I'm sure it's the spirit, but they are ready, willing, and able. Why now I ask myself. What did we do differently today to invite the spirit to our little primary class of 6 year-olds? Was it the opening prayer? The presence of another adult? Did they all have a good healthy breakfast? Will their squirminess ever stop? How can they hear while they are upside down and flipping out the back side of their chair? (OK, it's not that bad!) Did he really give that insightful answer? Did she really just speak up?

As we look at the calendar and recognize that there are only 2 weeks left in this year, I find myself approaching it with a bitter-sweet attitude. It is mostly sweet because I love change and am totally looking forward to a new class, new faces, new challenges, sweet girls, and silly Justin S.! Once again, Bill (and Justin) will be outnumbered by a large group of ladies since the upcoming CTR 6 class is primarily girls. Oh what fun. Once again, I will be humbled as I look into the eyes of our children and realize that they probably know more than we do. We'll have the bishop's daughter, the Whitmer's daughter, the EQ President's daughter, the Sauer kid... all families doing so much more to teach their kids about the gospel in their home than we could ever do at church. This is why the Lord created the word humble, for times like these when you don't want to feel stupid! This is also the way the Lord intended children to learn... first at home, then reinforced by their primary teachers.

The bitter part of this new year comes as we have to say good-bye to the sweet children we've been teaching all year. This year's class is the same kind of intimidating group of youngsters: the (former) bishopric's son, EQ counselor's and super-mom's daughter, Jacob the brave, the Davis kid... all families that I could pop in on at any given time and probably find a lesson of the gospel being taught in the home through no formal scripture reading or FHE lesson, just incorporated into their daily life. Sure we had our rough moments, but as I taught the lesson this week I could see the spirit in their eyes. They watched in wonder as we discussed the Second Coming of Jesus. They answered every question with hope for their future. They asked excitedly if Jesus would come to Arizona. Oh, how we will miss these children and their families. I know, I know, nobody is going anywhere, BUT we will have new kids under our stewardship. New families to get to know. New challenges to face.

I was supposed to go to the Randolph center this Sunday with the youth. I forgot. Plain and simple, it completely slipped my mind. But I know that I was supposed to be in our ward Sunday so I'm not going to feel guilty about it. I know because I was able to welcome a hesitant child to class. I know because I was able to visit with some friends. I know because I was able to comfort a baby. I know because of the following few lines from the lesson that I taught:

"...when Jesus Christ lived on the earth he had friends who loved him very much. These friends followed him and listened to his teachings. Because they did what he taught them to do, they were called his disciples... Jesus loved his disciples. He helped them learn what they needed to do to live with him and Heavenly Father again. He helped them understand the difference between right and wrong so they could choose the right."

Yep, I'm a CTR 6 and I learn more and more each day. It will probably take me 3-5 years as a teacher in this class to learn all the lessons, but I will keep plugging away. I thought this post was going to be all about the kids (which it mostly is). Yesterday, during class, I read it word for word to the class and I was touched by the realization that these sweet 6 year-olds are my friends, I love them, and I learn from them each and every Sunday. Today, as I type in that quote I realize how we are all disciples of Christ helping each other understand the difference between right and wrong. Thank you, dear friends, for helping me Choose the Right!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

NTS: Buy a Bigger Bread Bowl

This is what it looks like when you forget that you have bread rising in the oven.
Your daughter graciously cleans it up while you try to save the batter.
A few black specks from the bottom of the oven never hurt anyone, did they?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

You gotta love YouTube

Several weeks ago I had a post in my head titled, "a whole lot of love going around". It evoked thoughts of a song I thought I'd heard or sung or knew of vaguely. I can almost hear the tune, but just can't get it. This morning (after some scripture reading, workout avoidance, blog reading and commenting) I decided to search for the song and possibly put up the post. It's just not going to happen, because this is what I found: (If you are really bored you can click on each link and be entertained by some old videos)

I started off my search and found Led Zeppelin. Clearly, not what I was thinking of (I even just misspelled the name and had to correct it). As is typical to my teenage years, I had no idea what the song lyrics meant. Who am I kidding? I still don't. When I looked up the lyrics after one of the choruses it said, "various mumblings and screechings with cool effects". (Is this only funny because I've been up since 4am?)

An Irish group named Six has a version out that I stumbled upon. I'm not sure what to think about 3 guys and 3 girls singing about a whole lot of loving...(hmm) This song is apparently the 3rd best selling single in Irish chart history. Go Irish!

This Abba video that I just couldn't watch all of. I'm choking back tears of embarrassment right now as I decide that I have to post this. What is the deal with Abba?!

So now, if anyone has any idea what song I am thinking of please help me out. If not, go find something good to post. And I want to make it clear that my timestamp does not always work right, sometimes it appears to be an hour earlier than it really is. Bill doesn't believe me.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We All Took the Day Off

Yesterday was a crazy day with kids fluctuating between being sick, fine, sick, cranky, fine, asleep, awake, cranky, fine... I didn't know what was going on with either one of them. Kyra started off the day by staying home from school, but I took her in at 10:30 at which point she was fine. She came home cranky and irritable and tired. Tasha started off at school, I picked her up and she was fine, but then she spent a good 15 minutes cuddled in my lap (whose child is that?!) and then another 30 laying in bed. She layed around watching TV for another bout before she finally got up and played with her friends. When we all got home Tasha went back to watch TV and was asleep from about 5-6:30. Kyra was OK but couldn't really get anything done or make a decision.

Because of all this (and I'm not including the fits of anger or cries for attention), I consulted Bill on the possibility of both the girls staying home on Tuesday and him being able to come home to watch them while I went to tutor in the morning. Nice guy that he is, he decided that he could take the day off too. (Twist his arm!) This made my life much easier.

Neither of the girls was really sick with any symptoms but a day of relaxation and no pressures of keeping other people happy definitely brightened their day. By the time I got home at 12ish they were almost on each others nerves though, so I took Kyra to AZ Mills mall to shop for some much needed pants. I know, I know, bad mom... you're home sick, act like it! Whatever! We found several pants and some jammies (me too!) to wrap up for Christmas Eve. I found the "rice guy" at a kiosk on the last stretch of the mall, and I got part of a gift I have been trying to figure out for a while now. We ate some blackened chicken and veggies then headed home.

I sometimes worry that when I leave home with just one kid the other kid is sad. I imagine them lying in their room wailing away, "where is mommy? Maaaaaah-meeeee! Where aaare you?!" Alright, I don't really think that, but I don't like coming home and being trampled and told that I should have taken them to the store too. So as I'm driving home I try to prepare myself for the dreaded entrance. I'm driving down Broadway, past Hardy and am waiting to turn onto McKemy. This is the street that goes by the park, right in between Pizza Hut and Wendy's. It is taking for-e-ver to turn left because of all the late lunch traffic (?). I'm cursing myself for not just waiting out the light at Hardy because I'd be home already and I hate sitting in traffic more that I dread my whiny children. (Did I really just say that?!) When I FINALLY turned onto McKemy this is what I see...

Tasha and Bill walking home from Wendy's

(Tasha is sporting a purse on her right arm while holding Bill's hand)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Getz Preschool

What in the heck are they teaching my child at preschool?! My 4 and a half year old was laying on the floor just now, watching Sesame Street (because I'm a lazy mom in the morning and she likes to relax as she eats her morning yogurt), when she says,

"poh-sah-bil-luh-tees"... "how many syllables is that?" (channel 8 has a commercial that talks about possibilities)

"five" I answer with a chuckle (after counting it out on my fingers).

Who is teaching this kid to count syllables?! I teach my students about multi-syllable reading in the 3rd grade! (maybe 2nd if they are ready) I know they don't even discuss it until late 1st or 2nd grade in public school. Sheesh! My preschooler is learning it already. No, I don't think they are pushing her or anything because it is being done at a 4 year old level and it is stinking cute. Do I think it's necessary? Yes, and no. You learn rhythms and rhyming through stories, finger plays, and chants. With this comes the ability to hear sounds and syllables in words. That is the natural way to learn. Do I think every child can learn in a natural atmosphere? Absolutely not. Some children with and without disabilities need (or want?) a little more direction and explanation. My child happens to be in the want category. She is absorbing everything they give her and using it to really throw off my groove.

Tasha continues to come up with more and more words to count and does a decent job. As is typical, she has a hard time with 1 syllable words.


This is impossible to try to teach without using a sentence. I ask her, "do you say, 'put on your ha-at', or 'put on your hat'?" She repeats it the way without an extended version of hat and we talk about how it really is only 1 syllable. But this has now opened up a whole 'nother version of this syllable counting game. It continues...

"you are gross... that's 3"

"foot and eye-ball" (Kyra answers with, "that's 4" I think Tasha was thrown off by the eyeball)

This goes on and on and on and on...

NTF: Note to Friends

Here's a new category of posts devoted to my friends. You will heed my advice or I will stop being your friend...

Today's note is this: STOP checking the time that I leave comments or posts.

If you continue to call me on my 2am postings I will stop writing entirely. The only exception to this rule is if whatever I have said is incoherent and/or mean. Then you can delete me, laugh at my misspellings, and harass me all you want.

Thanks for abiding by these rules. (OK, spell check just picked up 3 words I just misspelled... which ones were they?!)

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Baby Blessing

This morning my nephew Kyle blessed his baby daughter Leesie Elizabeth. We woke at the crack of dawn (it seemed) to leave the house by 7:20 to pick up my mom and make it to east Mesa for an 8am sacrament meeting. We had a fabulous breakfast afterwards of french toast, bacon, fruit, and to-die-for buttermilk syrup. I'm not a fan of maple syrup so this stuff tasted amazing! I got to take some home, so the first person to call and make me french toast will get to try some, I'll even bring some berries to go with it.

I had not visited Kyle and his wife Savannah since they had the baby because I knew that Tasha would want to hold her. We were all sniffly 8 weeks ago when she was born and I didn't want to burden a new mother with snot, even if it was probably just allergies. So what was the first thing Tasha said to me when we got to my brother's house after the blessing? You got it, "mom, I want to hold the baby." If you've not heard this it is because she says it very quietly into my ear. It's a bit cute the first 2 times, but quite annoying the next 20. Try to listen when we first walk into a room and you might catch the cuteness. Somehow my mom got a hold of Leesie and Tasha finagled her way into holding her. She's a doll and I'm sure that her outfit (lace headband, bracelet, studded white shoes, and satin blessing dress) cost more than my wedding dress.
On another note, this was the oddest testimony meeting I've been to in a while. In our home ward we always have the same 2-3 people start off, followed by a heartfelt yet lengthy story from someone, maybe a crier or 2, and we definitely go over time most months. After the bishop bore his testimony there were only 20 minutes left for testimonies. Then we waited, and waited and waited for someone to go up. Finally someone got up and I thought, OK, here we go now the influx of people will line up. Nope, after he was done we waited and waited and waited. Bill had asked me if I was going to get up to which I replied, "no, this isn't even my ward." But of course my heart was now thumping the thump of the spirit. Tasha wasn't even in my face distracting me so the thumping grew louder. Darn my nephew that was entertaining her. Another lady got up, was a little weepy, sat down and we waited. I could see my niece trying to shake it off and apparently it is a big deal for her to get up. We waited, someone else went, more thumping, waiting, and finally Savannah got up. She's so sweet and loving and appreciative and she belongs with Kyle. They are fabulous for each other. The problem was, when she sat down there was still 10 minutes left and nobody was budging. What's going on here?! How can a ward with enough Aaronic priesthood holders to pass the sacrament without help from the Elders not have enough people to fill 20 minutes of testimony time?! Thump, thump, thump.

The thing is, this particular meeting was meaningful to me. The very first time I ever attended a meeting at a LDS church was when my nephew Kyle was blessed. Now here he was blessing his daughter. It was significant and brought a rush of emotion and spirit that I couldn't contain. This is how I began my testimony this morning. (after apologizing and saying that my brother would probably chastise me later) The next 2 times I went to church was for 2 more blessings. I babysat these boys quite often in my teenage years and often times I would spend the night at their house because it would be pretty late by the time my brother and his wife got home. If I stayed after on a Saturday night, the boys would always ask me to come to church with them. I never had a dress... until I decided I wanted to go. I called my brother and asked them if they wanted to go out, spent the night, and hid a dress in the car. I waited for the question and sure enough, Kyle and TJ came through for me. I think it floored their parents that I was prepared... you know, like a missionaries dream. It was testimony Sunday, by brother got up, and I saw him cry for either the first or second time in my life. It was all uphill from there. I don't even remember the lessons or the missionaries because it just felt right. I lived on his testimony and that of his wife and her family for several years. Now I have my own.

Now as you share your testimony in a meeting it is sometimes hard to decide where to look. If you look at the people you know you might cry. If you look at strangers they might be asleep. There was one beautiful lady on the 3rd row that kept me on track with a nod or 2 in the right places. I couldn't see my mom, which was good. Bill looked amused. Kyle and Savannah were snuggling, mostly because she was still emotional from getting up herself. My brother wasn't looking at me. He was looking at the ceiling, blinking. Sweet, sentimental guy is really getting sappy in his old age. We never did talk about it, that's just how things work in our family.

Anyway, I have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I bore it today. Hopefully Bill counts this as an answer to his challenge to us 2 months ago in FHE. I love him, the righteous way he exercises his priesthood, and the leadership that he gives our family. Thanks babe, and next time just wrap your arms around me and hold me down.

A Bunch of Turkeys and the Pilgrims That Shot Them!

Most of you don't know Bill's family, so here they are... (I'll try to name them from left to right but the rows aren't really defined now are they?!)

Back row...Bill (Bill's dad), Hank (brother-in-law, he's on his tippy toes), Billy( Bill's son, he's flat footed)
Second Row...Maggie (dad's lady), Me, Katie (neice), Bill
Third row...Abby (neice, she's bending down so her turkey head doesn't block "bomps's" head), Kyra (you know her), Marica (his sister)
Front row...Tasha (with her first Webkin, a chocolate lab)
Marcia and Hank live in Minnesota but they also have a home here in Arizona. It's in north, north, north Scottsdale. Marcia and I agreed that calling it Carefree would be a little more accurate, but technically it's a Scottsdale address. They bought it completely furnished and use it like some people would a cabin, but instead it is a golf home. You see, Minnesota isn't the best climate in the winter for a golf family.
Marcia is Bill's older sister by about 6 or 7 years I think. She has 3 kids: Katie (she's graduating from ASU this month), David (not pictured, he's at school somewhere great that I can't remember the name of), and Abby (about 2 years into a local college in Minn.). Bill also has another sister, Susan (2 years older), who also lives in Minnesota. She has a daughter, Jessica, that is about 2 years older than Kyra.
Obviously we had Thanksgiving dinner at Marcia's house. It was a little odd since they golfed all morning and afternoon and we didn't eat dinner until about 6:30. This worked out perfectly for us though because we were able to get a lot done around our house before we headed out. In fact, I got so caught up in moving furniture to accommodate a Christmas tree that I almost forgot to make the cranberry sauce to take to dinner. Bad H! I think Bill was a little annoyed that we left late after waiting around for so long. We all had a lovely time, in a lovely home, with lovely family. Thanks Marcia for being the hostess!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Dear April,

Anonymous is this stupid person that stuck her big fat nose in my business and thinks she can say anything she wants about people she doesn't know. I assume she is a she because men don't meddle like women do (that's one point for men). I'm sure anonymous will now blast me for that too, but that would be assuming that she reads my blog on a regular basis, which she doesn't or she would know me and would not be so rude. Anonymous is a blog-stocker that I assume is LDS and was searching the net for uplifting spiritual information and wrongly found my post titled "From the mouth of a CTR 6". She then decided to judge me and the fact that I announced to my reading public (all 5 of you!) that Mo was pregnant. Do you think if I thought for a moment that Monique didn't want me to spill the beans I would have? No, duh. But PUH-LEASE!!! If your 6 year old knows, the whole world is bound to find out quick enough and I happened to have that totally cute picture of Jaxen's cheesy grin to announce it to the world. What's a girl to do?! I was happy for them and I thought Mo was hesitant to say anything to people while at the same time wanting everyone to know.

So yesterday "anonymous" posts a comment and says:

"Just looking around and thought I would put my two sence in, seeing how you don't seem to have a problem with it yourself! I would never want you as a friend! How mean to share someone else secret like that! May God but a lease on your mouth because you don't seem to think it though in your head. So the filter needs to be in your mouth! Have a great day!"

I happened to read it at Crystal's house because she was trying to help me out with something on my blog and I was busting a gut at the nerve this woman has. Crystal said she would have been mad. I couldn't believe that someone would randomly make a comment like that and I thought it was hilarious. All I could think is, "are you kidding me?" Who are you woman? I have a lot of judgmental things I could say about this person but you know, I apparently need a filter on my mouth because I don't think things through in my head. (At least I think that was what she was trying to say)

Anyway, I think it may be time to go private. You will have to pass a spelling test and common sense test to be invited. This is just dumb.

My only regret is if this anonymous person really is someone I know and/or if Mo really didn't want me to tell. I thought I knew her well enough, but maybe not. Sorry Mo. I love you.

Dear Anonymous,


Get off my blog.

Learn to spell.

And thanks for giving me a laugh.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

WHAT is she talking about?!

I put Tasha's hair in ponytails. "Not ALL of my hair, just some of my hair". I don't know what this means because she doesn't want small ponies on the top of her hair. So I put half in one pony on one side, the other half in the pony on the other and tell her this is what I know how to do, if she doesn't like it we can redo it. She goes to the mirror to check it out and says, "Mo-o-om, that's what I was talkin' about." OK, I don't know what hair I was missing, but I guess it wasn't all the hair. Then she comes up with this: "this could be hair for Girl-Scout because this is what you need to do to be in Girl Scouts." What is she talking about?! Kyra hasn't been in scouts all year and Tasha never even went. Weirdo.

Tasha likes to name all the "friends" in her class at preschool. Then she likes to quiz us and make us repeat as many names as we can. This is annoying. This is really annoying to Kyra if it is asked of her right after school when she wants to stop thinking for a while. So Kyra plays along for a while but Tasha grows impatient (really?!) and harasses her for more names. I never heard Kyra say this (and she was sitting right next to me) but Tasha says, "don't say that Kyra!" "What?" "Don't say and the rest of your frickin' friends." Kyra didn't say it. I didn't say it. But Tasha said it, used the term correctly, and I'm frickin' ticked off at myself for teaching it to her. Maybe it wasn't me though, I'm pretty sure I say freakin'. So I wish all my potty mouth friends (PAM!) would stop using these terms around me.

As Tasha is pulling down her shorts to change into pants because she has finally decided that her legs are cold, she tells me that she has to hold onto her underwear so they don't come down. "You need underwear for places like school and stuff." Well, yeah sweetie, you do. When exactly do you not need underwear?! She continues, "that would be gross if you didn't have underwear." Right again, but where do these thoughts come from?!

Did I ever post Kyra's "worm house" story? She was about Tasha's age and that was a riot!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Very Odd Experience

I left my house this morning to go to do some scripture studying with the Randalls. They live 2 blocks away, so I grabbed my scriptures, some paper and started walking over there. I was so excited I almost skipped. What a nerd I am. Can you tell I never went to seminary as a teenager? As I turned the corner to their street, probably with a stupid grin on my face, a shiny, big, red, 4-door truck was slowly driving down the street. They slowed down and hesitantly asked me for directions. They were looking for a warehouse. I start thinking of the industrial section of Tempe just the other side of Broadway. Then they changed the words and said they were looking for a place called El Dorado. Hmm, the name sounds familiar, but not for a warehouse anywhere in Tempe. Why does that sound familiar? Then it comes, they are looking for the Bishop's warehouse. OK, it's not a warehouse, but I get it what they are talking about. But why are you here in Tempe on 19th Street?

I have no idea how long these members from Central Phoenix had been driving around and/or how many streets they had tried to go down. By what means to you suppose that they just happened to drive down a side-street in a clearly residential neighborhood, found a member walking to another member's house carrying scriptures at 9:30 in the morning? Do you think they saw the scriptures? As I gave them directions it occurred to me that they probably just exited the wrong freeway (I10, when it should have been Loop 101) and sort of tried to follow the directions of "turn left after 2 lights onto El Dorado". Hardy would have been the 4th light after the freeway so I wonder how long they had been meandering around how many streets in Tempe.

What a very odd experience.
Scott just wrote a post on the recession that I found full of hope for the future. He's a pretty smart guy that follows this stuff so I'm going to take his word for it that we're not falling into the pit of despair. Actually, I liked his common sense approach to work hard, do real work, and things will be fine. Stop trying to make a quick buck, buy a cheap house, and get rich quick. These are all concepts that my inept, financially-ignorant mind never really understood anyway.

Of course he had to thrown in a bit of wit that made me chuckle. Here's the best line he used in reference to housing:

"I'm also thinking of all of the labor that went into building cookie cutter McMansions in the most remote locations of our dear desert just so people could have the illusion of money. They could feel rich in their pillored-stucco houses miles away the city center where they pile into their SUV's to commute each day across miles of dessert."

I love it when Scott is funny, even if he's not trying to be. "McMansions"! I'm going to sit quietly in my little brick home and wait for the wolf to come knocking at my door to let him come in. No way Mr. Wolf, not by the (coarse) hairs on my chinny-chin-chin!

(Seriously, go read his post... it's good and not too long!)

Stories from a Missionary

My nephew Cory is serving his mission in Taiwan. I posted a fabulous story that he had written about how the spirit can come and go so quickly depending on the situation. These next 2 stories he sent have nothing to do with the spirit, but I thought were interesting in their own way. So know you will see that missionaries can keep it light-hearted and laugh too...

So here is a cool story or two..>

> First one. Well my chinese really has improved but i do still make mistakes. So we were at this guys house up on a hill this past saturday, we were there for a funeral, we got to teach a group of catholics about the our plan of salvation. That was cool. but anyways, this house was up on the hill, they were the aboriginee people and they dont like living in the city. It was starting to get dark and i wanted to see our little city below us at night. So we walked to the side of the house but it wasnt a good view so we decided to go to the upstairs part of the house. So we started to walk to the house and i popped the question out "where are the stairs?" the second i said that i knew i messed up becasue it just felt weird coming out, and then the guy we were with and my companion just started to crack up. Then i realized what i had said. Instead of asking them where the stairs were i had asked them where the "naked body" was. Yeah, that was pretty funny, but its okay i wasnt really embarrassed i just laughed it off and corrected myself.> (My question is: who are these missionaries that know how to say "naked body"?!)

> Second story is while we were at that funeral they had a bid like dinner. They wanted us to eat with them, so we did. We had just the traditional Chinese dinner rice, meats, vegetables. But they had something special to eat. This is something that like i have never though of eating before. But my companion and I decided that we wanted to try it. We ate rat. Straight up rats that they caught in their corn fields. It was pretty nasty. It tasted like the smell of a wet dog. I would not suggest eating it. The people loved us, they laughed when we ate the rat. Some guy came up and grabbed one of the rat heads and sucked the brain out of it. That was pretty nasty. I am pretty sure that he will get some sort of disease because of that. ha ha. But it was fun to go up there. All the people really loved us we got a group picture before we left. So you guys will be able to see that sooner or later. Oh i also ate chicken gizzard. That was really nasty. That was probably grosser than the rat. Oh well, look at all the fun things that we get to do as missionaries! (Um, that's is just disgusting!)

On another note, Cory and his companion went to town on Thanksgiving to have Mexican food for dinner. I wonder what Mexican food tastes like in Taiwan. There will be no official holidays in Taiwan until the new year in which they will party for 7 days straight. Interesting. It is probably a lot easier to celebrate Christ's birth in a place like that. Hmm again.

Monday, December 1, 2008

A Night at the Symphony

Every year I enjoy going to the Tempe Symphony Orchestra concert at Gammage. It's free and fabulous. Fabulous meaning they can play and you don't have to worry about people being out of tune and not playing together like you do when you attempt a high school concert. You don't have to dress to the hilt like I think you do when you go to downtown Phoenix, but you could if you wanted to. Since the Orbit came to town, I can now Orbit there from the park and I don't even have to worry about parking (which was apparently a nightmare this year). I also know one of the french horn players, Stacy, who is Bill's friend Larry's sister. I can always spot her because she has big (yet short) hair that is styled or colored differently from year to year. Anyway, towards the end, right before they start to play the seasonally stuff, Dr. Strange (the conductor) turns to the audience and yells out, "now, let the season begin!" It's kind of corny and strange, but hey, I like it. Then they play a medley of Christmas music and then lead us in a sing-a-long that always ends in "We wish you a Merry Christmas." It's a good time and this year my mom went with me. I missed you Sara!

The best part of this night was simply sitting back, relaxing, and enjoying the music. We had some funky seats in the balcony but they proved to be just right. I was able to lean my head back on the wall behind me, and put my feet up on the railing (which I'm sure embarrassed my mom). I closed my eyes and just soaked in the music. All my nervous energy vanished as I listened to the first piece move from dawn ,to morning, to afternoon, to evening. Just thinking about it now makes my body melt into the chair. I think I better close up and try to get some rest.

Next year, the first Monday in December, let me know if you want to Orbit over with me. It stinks that it has to be on FHE night, but all their concerts are on Monday nights.

Nervous Energy

I have a lot of nervous energy lately and I think it's because I've quit sugar. Yep, entirely given up the white granulated goodness that makes all those luscious treats that we will be making during this time of year. It wasn't premeditated, it just sort of happened. This is so clearly unlike me because I always want something sweet after something salty, but I'm going with it since I don't crave it at all. Tempt me, I dare ya!

So what do I do with all this nervous energy? I need to direct it for the good because I'm worried that it is manifesting itself in odd ways. You know, like obnoxious ways that seem to be out of my control. I can't sit still and do nothing so if I have nothing in my hands to do or hold, I will chat it up with my neighbor and be completely inappropriate. Like today at choir. I'm going to oust myself because I feel bad for being so disruptive. Nobody was making any decisions and I could hardly follow the music or figure out the tempo, and all the people that were totally lost wouldn't admit it and were not speaking up, and it was like 30+ minutes into our practice. I wasn't really frustrated at all (which is unlike me), I just wanted to sing something I could sing. So, me and my big mouth requested singing Angels We Have Heard on High to warm up. (Yes, warm up halfway through practice.) Aah, that was so nice. I can sing. It really boosted my ego and I said so. It was followed by a familiar line that I picked up from Crystal, "It's all about me you know?!" I've never said that before, never even thought that to my recollection, but it was so absolutely true today. I think this admission was followed by a bunch of slams at my expense but I don't really remember. This nervous energy is affecting my attention and memory as well.

What is wrong with me?! This is completely irreverent behavior for a ward choir member, especially while sitting in the chapel, especially when it's the first time that this poor brother has ever met this bunch of misfit choir members. I don't know, maybe it wasn't as bad as it seems now, but maybe it was. Monique, any thoughts?

Another way this energy has taken it's toll has been in early Christmas fun. On Thanksgiving morning/afternoon I cleaned and rearranged the living room (several times) to get ready to put up the Christmas tree. What the heck?! Thanksgiving is a time of rest, porking out on yummy goodness, watching a parade, and then napping while stupid football is on. Friday was spent at my mom's playing in the snow and raking pine needles. Again I ask, what the heck? I'm always exhausted when I make it to my mom's house and almost always take a nap once I get there. I even had a baby I could have used as an excuse to cuddle and lay down with, but I couldn't sit still. Saturday I was practically bouncing out of the seat at the temple, went shopping, and then came home to put the lights on our Christmas tree. If you haven't read Bill's version of my lighting of the tree maybe that will shed some light (no pun intended) on what's really going on at our house.

I guess the toughest thing is the sitting still part. Something has to be moving. I seem fine if I'm typing away like I am now. (I don't know if I'm making sense or not, but the nerves seem a little better) I'm good if I'm talking, but that's not always a good thing (see above example). If my mind is churning I seem to be able to concentrate. (I can read my scriptures and understand them, and have gotten through another few chapters in the vampire series) But what about rest?! Shouldn't I need to sleep? When is it all going to come crashing down?! Seriously, I sleep 3-5 hours a night and then I have to get up before I wake Bill, the dog, or the kids up. I think I've taken 2 naps in the 2 weeks that I've been keeping this pace, and both of them were more for Tasha's sake than mine. (I stayed next to her on the bed and read after I woke up and wanted her to stay asleep)

I've been awake since 2:30ish and am running out of quiet things to do. Maybe I'll go finish my advent calendar since today is the first of December. YIKES!