Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Introducing the Cowardly Lion

Yesterday I finished Miss Cowardly's costume. One down, two to go. Once my recital was over, I started the sewing, and to be honest, I've been less than consistent. But it's done! And isn't it cute? Actually, turns out she takes after her father and has a kind of big head. Knowing this, I made the largest view of the hood, even though her bodysuit is the medium size. Thank goodness for the mane, because the hood is still way too small for her. I had to extend the closure in the front, and so I still need to put some extra yarn there so the mane goes all the way around. So I guess I'm not done. But I am for now, and need to start sewing up Dorothy's dress. I'll fix the darn mane later (it was super annoying to sew). Here she is checking out a dead cricket on the driveway. As long as it's definitely dead, she doesn't scream too much. I needed to show you this picture so you could see her cuteriffic tail. It's her favorite part.
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 29, 2008

I missed my calling in life
(why I should have been a spy)

Once upon a time, when I was one and twenty, I looked like this.


Those of you who never knew me that long ago, and only met me at some point after I returned from my mission, might be surprised. And not because of the lipstick, either, because that is one thing that has certainly never changed, although the shade is a bit different these days. What you're probably a little shocked by is my hair. You're wondering how, low maintenance Lara, who always has her hair in a ponytail or a bun, could ever have bothered with the hours needed to make her tresses look quite like that.

I'm wondering, myself. I actually blew my hair dry and curled it every day? Wow. I was vain.

Which brings me to the story at hand.

So, yes, I was vain. I was your typical college co-ed who insisted on looking perfect every day. My hair was always done. I never left the house without lipstick (still a cardinal rule), foundation and mascara. I always wore my contacts. I really wasn't one for jeans and t-shirts, either. I liked to dress up. I still do, in fact, but being the mother of three just isn't too conducive to wearing cashmere. That's why I like teaching at the university, because it gives me an excuse to wear cute dresses and stuff.

Anyway, I digress. So. This particular semester I was back to living at home with my parents in Orem. One morning, I was scheduled for an early morning training meeting at work (I worked at the BYU Bookstore/Museum of Art branch). I was supposed to be there at 7:00 am. Of course, as is usually the case in these types of stories, my alarm didn't go off. I woke up at 6:40 am only because of pure divine intervention. However, I lived at least 15 minutes from campus, and I risked losing my job if I didn't show up to this meeting.

There was only one choice to be made, and I made it. I put on a pair of jeans with the shirt I had slept in, popped on my (very ugly by today's standards) glasses, brushed my teeth, put on the old Birkenstocks, threw my hair into a pony tail and stuck a baseball cap on my head. No time for make-up or fancy hairdos. No time for a well put together outfit. No time for contact lenses. Only time to jump in the car and speed all the way down to the BYU.

The good news? I made it to my meeting and kept my job. The bad news? Nobody in the world recognized me that day. Not my classmates. Not my best friends. Not my fellow employees. Not my professors.

And especially not Dr. Wilberg.

I went to Concert Choir at 2:00 pm, as I did every day. By then, a lot of my friends were already aware that I was going incognito that day, if only accidentally. Choir didn't start out to be anything out of the ordinary. I remember vividly that Dr. Wilberg had put us all in a circle to rehearse a double choir piece, and I was amongst the sopranos who were standing on the stage in the Madsen recital hall, minding my own business and singing my own part.

And then Dr. Wilberg stopped rehearsal. Just stopped. Right in the middle of the phrase. If you've ever sung under him, you know that he doesn't ever stop unless he needs to tell the sopranos that they sounded like cats screeching at 2 am, or that the tenors were tiptoeing through the tulips instead of singing like real men.

But this time, he was looking right at me. And he said, "I just now figured out who you are! I thought some girl off the street just decided to join our choir for today!"

I raised my music and hid behind it as the class giggled and whispered to each other.

Dr. Wilberg continued, "Well? Doesn't she look different?"

And right at that moment, (and I have this on excellent authority), several other choir members were leaning over to their neighbors asking who was that girl, anyway? I was still hiding behind my score and turning all different shades of red, and wishing that the day that had somehow turned into an awful nightmare would just please end already.

I am not even making that story up, either. I know there's a few of you that read this blog that were there to witness the rehearsal stoppage for the very un-musical reason of having a spy in the room. Although, I'm sure nobody else remembers all of this in as much detail as I do, since the whole ordeal was rather embarrassing for me. I was, after all, a vain college co-ed.

Now, against my better judgment, I am going to show you a picture of what I possibly maybe might have looked like that day. It's Christmas morning of that same year. My hair is up, I'm sans make-up, sporting glasses and am even wearing the same shirt I slept in and wore to school on that fateful day. The only thing missing is my baseball cap. Perhaps it was the baseball cap that did the trick and made me look so very different. I'll never know.

What I do know, is that I learned something very important that day: If I am ever running from a bad guy, I will not have to sneak into the back room of a department store and give myself a bad haircut and an even worse dye job. All I will have to do is wash my face, put on my glasses and find a baseball cap, and I will be totally safe.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Cute hair

I think I have made it pretty clear that Bria pretty much never lets me do her hair. I have to beg, plead and bribe for the opportunity. On top of that, I have never really known how to do hair extremely well. So I was so excited to recently find a whole bunch of girly hair blogs (that link has other links and so on) around the blogosphere. (Thanks Stephanie!)

It's a good thing that Chloe lets me experiment. I have been having lots of fun with her hair lately. Bria has occasionally felt like she's missing out on the action and has let me try some new dos on her, but not very often.

The photo(s) of the week are a variation of what has become Chloe's favorite hair do: The criss cross braid. Sometimes we leave the rest down, sometimes we put it in pigtails and this time we put it in braids. Pretty cute, don't you think? And of course, Chloe is absolutely adorable. I hardly need to mention that!
The flowers she is wearing in her hair are gimmeclips. If you live in Utah, I've seen them at both Roberts and Walgreens. The scrapbooker and girly mom in me adores them. They're like scrapbook supplies for hair. Perfection!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

BFFs


I have a problem.

My two oldest daughters like each other too much.

Throughout the course of the day, this is something for which I'm incredibly grateful. They get along (most of the time) and play together quite nicely. After homework is done, they will disappear into their bedroom and happily play Barbies for hours on end. Probably, if it weren't for basic human needs like food and water, they'd never come out again.

They haven't always played together so beautifully. It's finally at a point where they have similar interests, and Chloe is old enough not to really annoy Bria. (Unlike Sophia, who gets locked out of their bedroom on a regular basis.) Seems to me this happened sometime this last spring, where they became inseperable.

It's downright wonderful. Makes a mommy's heart sing.

Until bedtime.

And that's when I wish they didn't like to talk to each other so darn much. Bria used to not be able to stay awake much past 8:00, she is such a morning person. But, all that has changed this year. Chloe is converting her to her night owl ways, and they are both in there whispering and giggling and telling secrets for several hours after lights out.

I finally had enough the other night.

I went in there and I told them that because I had had to tell them to go to sleep several times an hour for nearly three hours (it was about 10:30 by now), that they would have to get up at 6:00 am sharp and do ten jobs each before they could eat breakfast.

And I followed through the next morning, except only at 6:30, because it wasn't an early day for Joel and I didn't wake up in time. Oh well, I doubt they noticed. It was still dark outside and way earlier than they wanted to wake up.

Hopefully it did the trick. Thursday night they were only awake and gabbing till 9:00, and were both up and ready for breakfast a little earlier yesterday morning.

I just hope it lasts. I really don't want to have to take away their Friday movie nights.

And I really don't want to have to haul myself out of bed at 6:00 every morning, either.

Friday, September 26, 2008

You just never know

Yesterday I received word that a close friend from high school passed away. He was on a business trip, away from his wife and children, and suffered a heart attack. I spent a good portion of my afternoon crying, and feeling awful that I hadn't yet returned his last Facebook message to me, because I'm just not good at returning emails/messages, to be completely frank. And that is a stupid reason, and now I can't ever return that message.

He was one of those good people, who loved everyone and exuded such a happy and positive outlook on life, no matter what. 7 years ago, his younger brother, a police officer, was killed in the line of duty. I watched how he handled that tragedy in awe. Right now, I have a very heavy heart for their parents, to lose two sons at such young ages--two sons who both left behind young wives and young children.

Those of you who live in or near my small town, are aware of the huge tragedy we experienced last month, when 10 of our citizens were killed in a small plane crash. Nearly everyone I know knew someone involved, and there was a definite pall over the city for that first week as we attended memorial services and funerals. So many of them were very young. There was a young man whose wife was expecting their first child and another young woman who had just gotten engaged the night before.

Anyway, I've just been thinking a lot about our short time in this world, lately. We have absolutely no idea how much time we have left on this earth. It makes me want to be the best person I can be, every day. I have no time for selfish pursuits. I have no time to worry about silly things that don't matter in the hereafter. I have no time to ignore my most important responsibilities. I only have time to focus on nurturing my relationships with God and with those I love. I have time to find out what my mission is here, and do it. I have time to be the best wife and mother I can possibly be. I have time to teach my children the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

It is so easy to lose sight of why we are here. I take comfort in the fact that my friend did know why he was here, and was doing all he could to make the best of this life, despite its hardships. I just hope that when it is my time to go, that I can leave without any regrets. That I can honestly say I have completed the mission I was sent here to do.

That quote we often hear about living each day as if it were your last, is definitely excellent advice.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Joining the Pee Wee League

Sophie is showing a huge interest in being potty trained, and has for quite awhile. Except, I have been a little bit hesitant for a couple of reasons. 1) Her speech is not good. We are at the tail end of the gigantic testing process in order to begin with speech therapy. I just worry that, while she is an excellent communicator of her needs and wants, I have no real way to know how well she understands things, since she can't give me much feedback (at least not clearly). 2) The child is Niagra Falls personified. I'm not even kidding. She can soak a diaper thoroughly within an hour. I'm talking so thoroughly that the diaper triples in size, leaks through 5 layers of clothing and weighs 6.3 pounds.

However, those two concerns don't seem to be stopping Miss Sophia. She wants to go "pee wee" (her word....love it!) all the time, and she actually does a great job. She is able to put her little seat on top of the big toilet, get the step stool and climb up herself, go, wipe herself (not really sure how wonderful a job she does of this, but she won't let me do it), and flush the toilet. She goes nearly every time she sits on the potty. Of course, like I said, she is blessed with hyperfunctional kidneys. I've noticed her diapers are a lot drier this past week, due to the amount of times she's going on the potty. I did put her in big girl underwear the other day, and she stayed completely dry, although she did have a number two accident in them.

So, I guess I'm potty training her. While I don't have high hopes for the night training (you should see her diaper in the morning), I think she's just independent enough to pull this off. And hey, I'm not pregnant! That has ruined both of the other girls' first potty training attempts. Bria wasn't trained until she was almost 3, after Chloe was born. She was incredibly stubborn about the whole thing. I finally got sick of changing her smelly diapers when Chloe had such sweet smelling baby poops, and we just went cold turkey on the diapers. She did great, although she did have a bedwetting problem for a bit. Chloe was also close to 3 years old when she was finally trained. I even blogged about it! So, if we're successful with Sophie, she'll officially be my youngest toilet trained child.

Wish me luck! These are the fun times, for sure.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I'm so crafty, I make people

No, I am not pregnant, nor am I planning to be anytime soon. Just needed to get that out of the way.

I do, however, have lots of friends who are pregnant right now. I was talking to one of them yesterday, and her desire to eat cheese crisps all the time came up. I was remembering back to the things I craved when I was carrying each of my kids. (Yes, I craved things. Funny enough, even though I kept virtually nothing down for all 9 months, the stuff I craved stayed down slightly better than stuff that sounded awful. Just FYI.)

With Bria, I craved lemon yogurt. I bought it by the case. Not to be gross, but it was easy on my hyperemetic issues, unlike many other foods. I haven't eaten it since. I am not sure whether or not Bria loves lemon yogurt, most likely because I haven't bought it in nearly 8 years. I should get some and see what she thinks of it.

With Chloe, I stereotypically craved pickles. But not with ice cream, as the joke goes. I wanted pickles with tuna, and no bread. I tried really hard to not eat too much tuna, since they advise pregnant women not to, but I also figured since I couldn't keep anything down, it wouldn't hurt too much. Also, once we went to see a movie when I was expecting Chloe, and Joel asked if I wanted popcorn or anything. Obviously, I didn't, because that sounded totally disgusting. Well, he went off to get some for himself and when he came back in the theater, he handed me what I thought was a hot dog. I was like, why on earth would you buy me a hot dog?!? They make me gag even when I'm not pregnant! Then I realized it was actually a huge pickle, and I was a happy camper. Who knew movie theater concession stands sold pickles? Chloe loves pickles, by the way, and will often eat a whole jar of them in one sitting. She is indifferent about tuna.

With Sophia I ate a lot of cottage cheese and peaches. I think it's safe to say that that was the only thing I ever ate for the first 4 months or so, if I ate at all. Much like the lemon yogurt that I ate with Bria, it was easy to see a second time, if you know what I mean. Salad, on the other hand, is best avoided if you know you're just going to throw it up. Trust me on this. Anyway, Sophie really likes cottage cheese and peaches, too.

So, what were your pregnancy cravings? Did you have any? Do tell.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

8 views of my (comparatively extremely clean) kitchen

I'm feeling pretty good about myself today. There are these pictures going around on the internets which feature an apartment that is filthy beyond belief. Perhaps you've seen them? I saw them, and I nearly threw up. I know that I have a more sensitive nausea center than a lot of people, but if you don't feel the same way, I'll be worried a bit. Looking at them made me realize I am extraordinarily clean, if a touch disorganized and prone to messes. But, see, I do clean them up. I also know how to tell my husband to take the garbage to the curb. And, I even do it myself if he doesn't notice it piling up, although I admit to being pretty stubborn about it being his job and not mine.

Anyway, here is the link to these pictures. Click with caution, they are not for the faint of heart. I am not even kidding.

And with that, here are the 8 pictures of my lovely kitchen. I just rearranged it last week, because I purchased a new computer armoire and my awesome dad put it together for me while my parents were visiting. He likes to do stuff like that, and he did it amazingly fast, too. Before that I had a really big corner desk unit. It was great, but it was just too gigantic for my kitchen. It worked well in our last house, but it drove me nutso here. When we first moved in, we saw there was a spot in the living room that was perfect for the desk, but then we realized that there was nowhere to put the piano. It just made more sense to have the computer in the kitchen than the piano, as I'm sure you would agree, even though it has bugged me for two years now. The rolling thingy that you put the keyboard on broke a few weeks ago, so I had a great excuse to find something I liked better.

Here is the first view, with the computer armoire closed (much to Joel's chagrin, as he was doing important "research" on youtube while I was taking these pictures last night). The corner unit used to be right where the armoire is, and it was so behemoth that my table had to be situated the other way and the desk extended out to the middle of the window. It was pretty cramped in there, to say the least. Also, the old desk was a junk sucker. It just couldn't stay clean no matter what I did. Now, I have doors to close on the mess if necessary.
In this view you can see how the new armoire works so well with my hutch. The old desk left barely enough space for the garbage can between the hutch and the desk. I really, really like my table turned this way so much better. You just have no idea. Also, you can now see that Joel is back to "researching" Maynard Ferguson and jazz music.
Did I mention I really like my table turned this way?
Another new thing in the kitchen is this tin magnet board. I used to have an el cheapo bulletin board/white board combo there. It was ugly. I kind of miss the white board, but since one of Sophie's latest pastimes was climbing up and erasing everything I wrote there, it's a moot point. I bought this thing at Robert's, unfinished. I also bought red paint. But when I got it home I realized that I did not, in fact, buy red paint. I bought brown paint. I was too impatient to go back and switch it, so I just painted it brown. Not sure how I feel about it, but it works for now. I can always paint it red another day.
Here is a lovely view of a counter. Actually, for those of you who have been in my kitchen and then had the gall to move away, you might remember that I had some ceramic canisters here that had really seen their best days. Much as I loved them, I threw them out. Then I replaced them with the one big metal canister you see here. If you open it, you will find cell phone chargers and my collection of Box Tops.
Here is Chloe getting her sippy cup for the night, and another view of the place and my cell phone. I used to have a lot of other stuff on my counters, but I sold it in our garage sale. It feels so good to be rid of the clutter. That funny looking thing by the fridge is Bria's lunchbox, waiting to be packed up in the morning.
When I took this picture, I was standing in my living room. This is my least favorite feature of this house, because if you have even one dirty dish in the sink, the whole world will know. Well, at least they would know if you invited them in. It bugs me, because I often have many more than one dirty dish in the sink. I'd love to hide that fact. Oh well, it gives me impetus to just do the darn dishes already. And I did, last night, as you can see. Unfortunately, now I have breakfast dishes to contend with. But first, I have to unload the dreaded dishwasher.
And finally, a view where you can kind of see how it all fits together. You can also see my pantry door.
There you have it! My lovely kitchen. I hope you enjoyed the tour. Look for other rooms in future weeks....not sure I (or you, for that matter) can handle doing this every day, but I will try to do it weekly until my whole house is done. Which shouldn't take too many weeks. It's a small house.

P.S. I really like roosters.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Snoozefest

My blog has been extra boring this past week, due to the craziness of my life. I just read through all the entries of the last several days and thought that I wouldn't ever come back to this blog, except, wait! it's mine and I have to. But my recital is over, no more crazy 2+ hours of rehearsing per day and it should be shaping up to be less crazy this week, unless you count my insane Halloween project. I do have 2/3 of Sophie's Cowardly Lion costume finished, so I unabashedly pat myself on the back for that.

However, I have nothing to say right now. Nada. No funny stories about my precocious children, no wonderful pictures to post, no deep thoughts. I mean, when I resort to posting about an obsession with Box Tops, I'm completely empty, folks.

Since I have mostly totally rearranged my house in the last month or so, I was thinking of giving you a virtual tour? Would you like that? Because, it's either that, or I disappear for several days. And hey, maybe you'd like that better anyway.

Check back tomorrow and you might see my kitchen or my bedroom or a bathroom....or you might just see nothing!

Smooches!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Helping, one cereal box at a time

Well, I didn't take any pictures this week aside from the school carnival, and I already posted the best ones. I did, however, organize the pictures on my hard drive and I found this one:



Since doing more couponing, I find I have a million Box Top products. I've always been fairly diligent about cutting them out and sending them to school, but lately I've been downright obsessive about it. Obsessive to the point of digging through the kitchen garbage to make sure that nobody (Joel) threw away the Cheerio box without first tearing off the Box Top. And yes, obsessive to the point of taking a picture of some recently cut out Box Tops (I save the torn off tops until I have a collection worthy of cutting out and sending to school). Mostly, I just think it's a great way to give money to help the school without really giving money to the school.

And yet, perhaps I am the one who needs help.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Being invisible

Sophie is at the stage where she thinks that if she can't see you, obviously you can't see her, either. It is pretty humorous to watch her employ this device in order to be sneaky and do things she shouldn't be doing.

Last week, I was rehearsing for my recital with Jackie, and I noticed Sophie getting into my purse, right in front of my very eyes. Well, she started to pull out my wallet as sloooooooooowly as she possibly could, all the while with her head down and looking at the floor. As soon as she had the contraband securely in her adorable little hands, she closed her eyes and ran to hide under a chair. She totally thought she got away with it, because I would rather let her pull all my money and credit cards out than have to hold her while singing.

Another couple funny instances happened this last couple days while my parents were here visiting (they came to see me sing!). My dad is a pretty tall guy, and while Sophie adores him, I can see how he might be a bit scary if she's doing something a little bit naughty. But then, she becomes invisible if anyone catches her doing something a little bit naughty, no matter how big they are.

Anyway, she got a barstool like she always does and started climbing up to the microwave. My dad saw her and asked her what she was doing. She immediately put her ever present blanket right on her head, effectively disappearing. Not much longer after that, my dad caught her getting into the fridge and foraging for eggs. This time, all he did was say her name, and she looked at him and covered her eyes with her hands.

Man, I sure wish I had her super powers of becoming invisible as soon as someone catches me with my hand in the cookie jar. That would be awesome.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Pure random awesomeness

My friend Kristy tagged me to write 6 random things about myself. I sat down to do this and realized I've actually done this one a few times already. So, I'm going to cheat and link you up to those, especially since they all still apply and are at least six months old, so maybe you haven't seen them before.

7 random things about moi February 2008

7 (more) weird things about me June 2007

I am perfectly normal, thankyouverymuch April 2007

And with that, I leave you with a Bria funny to start your weekend off right. She was in the bathroom getting ready, and I told her she looked cute. Her answer?

"No I don't! I look AWESOME!"

Would that we all had such confidence in ourselves.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The eyes have it

Just what you've all been waiting for! Another Photoshop tutorial. Again, I use Photoshop Elements 5.0, but this particular trick works pretty much the same in all versions...you'll just have to figure out where everything is.

I love sparkly, catchlit eyes in my photographs. To me, that's the best part of a photo. So, this little trick is to help enhance those gorgeous peepers. I don't do this to every photo, by the way, just to the ones that I really love.

Step 1:

First, you have to have a photo that already has nice catchlights. You can't do this trick on eyes that do not have any reflection in them, or on the eyes that just have pinlights from a flash.

If you need help on getting the catchlights in your eyes in the first place, click here.

Step 2:
Open up said photo in photoshop, and zoom in on one of the eyes.
Step 3:
Choose the Magnetic Lasso Tool. The Lasso tools are on the side tool bar, and look like a lasso (shockingly enough). The magnetic one is more triangular shaped and has a red square on it.
Step 4:
Start tracing around the iris of the eye with the magnetic lasso tool. You can click your mouse to make sure the "magnetic" points are right where you want them, or you can let the tool pick those points (not always accurately) for itself.
Step 5:
Once you have traced around the entire iris, double click to stop tracing. If you don't double click the magnetic tool just keeps doing it's thing.
Step 6:

Go up to Enhance>Adjust Sharpness
Step 7:
A dialog box will pop open. Play with the sliders to find what you like. My go to numbers are 49% for amount and 10.4 pixels for radius. Sometimes that's too much, sometimes it isn't enough, but usually it's just perfect. You will be able to see the sharpness of the eye change as you change the numbers.

Here is what can happen if you use the wrong numbers. Remember, the goal is to enhance, not look like an alien.
Anyway, after you find numbers you're happy with, click OK.
Step 8:
Repeat steps 2-7 on the other eye.

Step 9:

Save your photo.

Here is the difference:

Chloe's eyes before enhancing. They're fine. They're beautiful.


Chloe's eyes after enhancing. They're more than fine and they are enhanced beautifully.


Pioneer Woman has a slightly different way of doing this, which you can find here.

Scott Kelby also has a different way of doing this in his Photoshop books. It is extremely complicated and involves oversharpening the entire picture and then doing a mask layer and painting out the eyes. I don't even remember all the steps. I suggest you don't try it, although he has other wonderful things that are not so difficult.

Anyway, hope you enjoyed!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Color Careers

Yesterday on MSN.com they had a little color test you take to check which career you should be in. For fun, I took it.

Here are my results:


Best Occupational Category

You're a RESEARCHER

Key Words: Independent, Self-Motivated, Reserved, Introspective, Analytical, and Curious. The investigative types gather information, analyze and interpret data, and inquire to uncover new facts. They have a strong scientific orientation, enjoy academic or research environments and prefer self-reliant jobs. Dislikes are group projects, selling, and repetitive activities.

RESEARCHER OCCUPATIONS Suggested careers are College Professor, Physician, Psychologist, Pharmacist, Chemist, Marketing Research, Inventor, Sales Forecasting, Project Engineer, Dentist, Identifying Consumer Demand, Chiropractor, Dentist, Medical Technician, Optometrist, Research & Development Manager, Respiratory Therapist, Real Estate Appraiser, Chiropractor, Veterinarian, Geologist, Physicist, Science Teacher, Medical Technologist, and Author of Technical Books.

RESEARCHER WORKPLACES Task-oriented careers where you can become absorbed in the job, be original and creative, and not conform to rigid company rules will work best for you. Unstructured organizations, for example, that allow you to sail your own ship are vital.
Suggested Researcher workplaces are universities and colleges, home office positions, medical facilities, computer-related industries, scientific foundations and think tanks, research firms, and design laboratories.

2nd Best Occupational Category

You're a CREATOR

Key Words: Nonconforming, Impulsive, Expressive, Romantic, Intuitive, Sensitive, and Emotional
These original types place a high value on aesthetic qualities and have a great need for self-expression. They enjoy working independently, being creative, using their imagination, and constantly learning something new. Fields of interest are art, drama, music, and writing or whether they can express, assemble, or implement creative ideas.

So, I guess I work in my 2nd best occupational category. Unless you count the fact that I am an adjunct professor at SUU teaching voice lessons. And I do a fair amount of vocal research...one of my favorite books Joel bought me for my birthday last month is called, "The diagnosis and correction of vocal faults" and is fascinating. So, I can see how the first one fits to a degree, (all of the key words really do apply to me) but my true love lies in the arts, so I wouldn't be a very happy doctor, unless I could be acting on the side or something. :)

So, go take it...find out if you're in the right career.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Ain't nothin' like the school carnival to make you feel better!


Yesterday started out as a fairly bad day for me. What with waking up late to begin with and the too many to count mini-disasters that happened throughout the day, I was ready to throw in the towel. My house still isn't quite recovered from the day, and isn't likely to be until the end of this somewhat crazy week.

However, the girls' room is clean. Mind you, it was looking like Hurricane Ike had torn through there earlier in the day, but I told them that they couldn't go to the school carnival until their homework was done and that room was spotless. Too bad there isn't a carnival every day to give them more incentive to keep the place looking presentable on a more regular basis.

They cleaned it, so we went to the carnival, albeit nearly an hour late. We had a lot of fun eating sno-cones, getting balloon animals, playing in the bounce tents (that's the castle there), doing silly carnival games (the price of tickets was only 50 cents this year, and the silly games only cost one ticket!), and spending time together. Definitely a spirit-raiser.

Here are some pictures:


(Chloe lost her top front tooth on Sunday night! Bria actually hit her in the mouth (accidentally, I understand) and knocked it out! It was loose before though, don't worry. Doesn't she look cute?)





Happy Tuesday!

Monday, September 15, 2008

The big day is almost here


I am singing a duet recital this week with Jackie Jackson, another soprano in town.
This last week has been filled with rehearsal after rehearsal trying to get ready. It's down to the wire for sure, especially since our accompanist had a funeral to go to out of town and was gone most of this week.

You have two opportunities to come see us if you live close enough.

1. Tuesday, Sep. 16 at the St. Jude's Episcopal Church on 200 West in Cedar City. We will be doing only 4 of our numbers, and several other musicians will be performing. This is part of the Orchestra of Southern Utah Fall Recital Series. Recommended donation (these are fundraiser recitals for the Orchestra) is $8.00 for adults and $4.00 for students, but you can donate however much you'd like. Children under 6 not admitted. Click here for more information.
2. Wednesday, September 17 at 7:00 pm in the St. George Tabernacle. We are performing our entire repertoire together, plus a solo piece each. It will be good, and we need audience. Free admission, anyone can come. Click here for more information.

So.

I'll see you there.

Right?

PS: Our publicity picture isn't great, I'm aware. Jackie's husband took it using my camera. Even though I punched in the right settings, he had trouble focusing, so this was the only one in focus. I fixed as best I could in photoshop. Rae! Why did you move to St. George!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

I love to see the Temple

On Tuesday night for Young Women we went down to St. George to take pictures of the girls at the temple. Then we went through the visitor's center and out for ice cream.

This is my favorite picture of the week. I took it after we were done in the Visitor's Center and it was dark outside. One of the most lovely sights in the world...the temple brightly lit against the night sky.


If you'd like to see some of the pictures I did of the Young Women themselves, click here. Personally, I think it's some of my best work to date. Maybe it was being on the temple grounds that did it. :)

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Don't boys still have cooties in third grade?

I was just cleaning out my church bag, and I found the notebook that Bria was drawing/writing in during Sacrament meeting this past Sunday.

This is what I found written in the notebook:

In case you can't read it, it says "The boys that I think is asome (awesome): Jake, Damin, Ian."

Also, what is up with the guitar? She's very into "rock" lately, and is, of course heavily influenced by Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus even though we don't even get the Disney Channel.

Can somebody please stop time?

She's growing up way too fast.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Phewsh! I feel so much better now!

I was reading a magazine article the other day entitled "Top 5 Mom Myths," and I have to say, it really did make me feel like a better mother. Normally, I'm constantly beating myself up over every little thing I do wrong. It was nice to see an article in a national magazine addressing the issues I am continually freaking out about. Obviously, it means I'm not alone.

So, do you want to know what those top 5 myths of motherhood are? I will tell you, and I will add commentary from my own experience, too (aren't you lucky!).

Myth 1.

A good mom likes her children all the time.

I always feel extremely guilty when I have hard/bad/negative feelings towards one of my children. Just the other day I was pretty frustrated at Chloe for refusing to mind me when I asked her to do the simple task of shutting the front door, and I was having major guilt because of the way I was feeling towards her. The key word here is like. I will always love my kids, no question. I just will not like them every moment of every day.

And that is normal. And it is okay. As long as you don't take the dislike out on your kids in harmful ways, that is. The feelings themselves are normal.

Myth 2.

A good mom bonds with her children immediately.

I have experienced different levels of bonding with all three of my children. With one of them, there was an immediate bond, another came fairly quickly, and the other took some time. It doesn't make the first one my favorite child or anything. There are lots of circumstances that can cause these differences. I can say now that I am bonded with each of my children...but in different ways. They are each different, I shouldn't expect my experiences with each child to be exactly the same.

Myth 3.

A good mom balances it all.

Ummmm....if you're reading my blog, you're pretty much perfectly aware of my inability to keep perfect balance in my life. Not to mention that I try to do way too much and often fail miserably.

Myth 4.

A good mom spends a lot of time with her kids--and they like her because of it.

Do you ever feel sad because your kids don't want to spend time with you? I do. I have some grand idea (mythical, apparently) that my kids should love being with me every second, and I should plan wonderful activities and fun things for us to do. Well, guess what? They like that stuff to an extent, but they get sick of me, too. It's good to have time apart. And it's okay if your kids need time away from you, too.

Myth 5.

A good mom belongs to one big, supportive Moms Club.

I didn't get this one at first, but basically, the article tells us that we all make different parenting decisions. And sometimes other moms are openly not supportive of your choices. I have experienced this in a very tame way...just lively conversation about dietary choices or vaccinations or whether or not to home school or sleep training methods (if you must know, I co-sleep with my kids for a while, and then I do cry it out when they're around 10 months old) . I think it's good to be passionate about your own choices, but make sure that you don't put blinders on and refuse to consider that another person and their different choice is probably just fine, too.

Anyway, I really enjoyed this article (it's in the October edition of Woman's Day, which I bought because the cover promised to give me 21 shortcuts to a clean house, a way to instantly lose ten pounds and tips on saving thousands of dollars. Oh, and there were some cute Halloween crafts to do. That's the real reason I bought it). It really did make me feel better about my mothering skills, even though I will still be spending the rest of my life agonizing over whether or not I'm good enough.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Dusting off the old paper trimmer

And I literally had to dust it off. It's definitely been a while!

Now that school has started, I'd like to get a couple pages done each week. Of course, I still have my insane Halloween sewing project to worry about. (I have started it, don't worry.)

Anyway, here are the two pages I did this week. I figure Bria has twice as many pages as Chloe and Sophie has practically none, so I'm going to focus on getting the younger two a little bit caught up.



Happy Thursday!

PS: If you want to read my thoughts on September 11, as written on this blog in 2005, click here.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Substitute

Sophie is firmly attached to her pink blankie. (Scroll a couple posts down, and you can see her with it while she waits for the girls to come home from school.) There is a framed picture of her as a newborn in the living room, and her blankie is also prominently featured in the photo. She gets so excited just looking at her photo because her "baypie" is in it, too!

I think the main reason she loves it so much is because of it's satiny material. When she is drinking her milk she runs her thumb and forefinger over it. She cannot drink her milk or go to bed without this blanket. It's impossible.

While this attachment is very cute and adorable and all my children have had their favorite blankies (still do, in fact), it makes it very difficult to actually clean it. As you can imagine, since the poor blanket is dragged everywhere, it gets rather dirty. I'd like to clean it daily, but I settle for about once a week.

Sophie hates seeing her blanket go in the washer, and insists on its immediate removal if I am caught. Lucky for us, I discovered that I have a nightshirt that is the same color pink and the same sateen material. One day, she found it in the laundry pile and thought it was her blanket and carried it around the house. So now I know how she can be tricked into a clean blanket.


Look closely, and you can tell this is a nightshirt...see the sleeve, buttons and collar? Sophie either has no idea, or it's a good enough substitution for her that she doesn't care. She can do her thing with it to relax herself, and that's all she needs.

I don't care either, as long as I can wash the real thing sometimes.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

"That's......unbelievable."

Last week, my friend Joyce referenced the movie What's Up, Doc? in one of her blog entries. Just reading it made me want to go rent it, since I haven't seen it in eons and it's definitely one of my favorite movies. Too bad Joyce wrote her blog on a Saturday and our movie night is Friday.

So I waited patiently until Friday rolled around, and when Joel took the girls to the store I told him to get What's Up, Doc? for me. I didn't go with them because I was just plain exhausted, and I didn't really think I'd get around to watching the movie until Saturday night, anyway.

I went to bed to read, and shortly after, Joel and the kids came home. He apologized that he couldn't find the movie and said that the clerk had thought it was too old of a movie for them to carry. (Whatever! It's one of those classic films that all "movie stores" should carry. Harumph.)

I was disappointed, but I'm a big girl and I can deal.

But wait!

Joel sat down on the bed and turned on the TV in our room, and began looking for something to watch. He started flipping through channels and all of the sudden I heard Madeline Kahn's voice saying, "Who is this person?" At first, I thought Joel was tricking me and that he really had found the movie for me. He does that kind of stuff often, so my suspicions were well founded. But then again, it wouldn't make much sense for a DVD not to start at the very beginning, and it couldn't have been a VHS because we don't have a VCR in our bedroom. Then I noticed the KBYU (our local PBS station) logo down at the bottom of the screen and the mystery was solved.

An absolute miracle. In the end I only missed the first 15 minutes or so of the movie, and enjoyed every bit of it thereafter. Commercial free, even! Sure, I was super tired, but I had to take the opportunity while I had it!

Just amazing, though, don't you think? I mean seriously. When does that ever happen to anyone? The stars must have been aligned just right for me.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Bug Chronicles

We had a Young Women Presidency meeting the other day, and one of the other gals was telling us how she had been weeding her garden and she found a huge tarantula as she pulled up a weed. And then she just screamed and screamed until her husband came to take care of it. I never knew that there were tarantulas in Cedar City, even though my husband tells me he used to catch them on the mountain behind his house when he was growing up in Provo, so why wouldn't they be here?

Now, I don't think there are tarantulas in my neighborhood (she lives a couple miles away and more on the mountain), but we sure have lots of black widows. Joel has found more of those in the house than I care to think of, especially since only one is way too many! We also had a hobo spider take up residence next to our front door (he was extremely agressive) and we have plenty of crickets, flies and roly-polies around to last us a lifetime.

When we lived in Arizona, I didn't see many spiders, but we definitely had our share of cockroaches and little black beetles. The little black beetles especially were everywhere, including Chloe's mouth (she was a crawling baby back then) and diaper. The cockroaches were seen less often, thankfully, but did make appearances in undesirable places like the cereal box.

I do not like bugs. Not even a little bit. Depending on what kind it is, I will probably scream. My girls have taken after me in this regard. I always hope that Joel is home when a bug needs to be killed, because I am pretty cowardly about the whole ordeal. Just the other day there was a (probably harmless) spider on the wall in the girls' room. Chloe ran out screaming (they all three take after me in this regard) and so I had to go do something about it. Since I wanted to stay as far away from the creature as possible, I decided to throw shoes at it. I smashed it good on my second try, but it was accompanied by a scream and I refused to clean up the smooshed spider guts off the wall and let Joel do that when he got home.

Now, here is where I have to giggle a little bit at my reactions, because there was a time in my life when bugs didn't really bother me much. That time was a year and a half spent in Romania while on my mission. All of the blocs we lived in were infested with cockroaches. I would go to get breakfast in the morning and hundreds (okay, more like 40 or 50) of them would scurry away as I walked into the kitchen, and more would hide as I opened the cupboards. They didn't even bother me one bit. Some of the homes we visited put the words "cockroach infestation" to shame. They had the kind of roaches that would just casually saunter around the house and not even try to hide from the light or the humans. I shudder to think of it now, but back then, I was unfazed. I like to say that I was given the gift of bugs as a missionary.

But it only lasted until the day I was released. If I see a cockroach nowadays, I will probably run the other way faster than it will.

And the whole reason that I bring this unsavory topic up at all is because Sophie's reaction when she sees a bug is truly hilarious. She puts me to shame with her histrionics.

The other morning, Bria was getting ready for school, and I was just outside her door in the hallway folding some laundry. Then a cricket came by and Bria freaked out, but only a little bit. Joel said he would come take care of it in a second and that was that. Or so we thought.

Turns out that Sophie had heard Bria talking about a bug, so she went into the kitchen and climbed to the top of the fridge to retrieve the fly swatter. She then brought it into Bria's room with every intention of killing that bug herself, because that is how Sophie is. I was still folding laundry, and so I sat and watched to see how this all played out.

As soon as Sophie saw the cricket, she screamed. Then she shot out of the room and ran past me as fast as she could, all the while crying hysterically. She continued running around the house screaming until Joel caught her and then it took us both several minutes to calm her down. That is how frightened she was of a little cricket.

Daddy saved the day in the end and killed the blasted thing and we all lived happily ever after.

Until we saw the next bug, that is.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Say hello to Chloe

Favorite photo of the week.


From the football game last Friday night. Chloe cheering her sister on and being her silly self. I really like that color on her.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Milestone

The final bell at the elementary school rings at 3:30 pm.

I have a new vocal student scheduled for Fridays at 3:00 pm at my house. This means that while the lesson will be officially over at 3:30 pm, it won't be totally finished until around 3:35 pm.

Therefore, yesterday was the first day that Bria and Chloe walked home alone.

I've been preparing them for it all week long: Letting them walk ahead of me so I could watch their street crossing skills, leaving a little later to pick them up each day so they would be forced to meet me outside instead of at their classrooms, and constantly reminding them that Friday was the big day to walk home all by themselves.

Now, I may be making a bigger issue of it than I should since the school is less than two blocks away and I can see it perfectly from my front yard. But, they still have to cross two streets and I am a mom, so naturally, I worried about it.

There was no way I was going to just sit in the house and hope they made it home in one piece, so after my voice lesson left, Sophie and I went outside and waited (yes, her diaper is leaking!):
The first thing we saw when we came out was our little next door neighbor girl, who is in Chloe's Kindergarten class. She proudly announced to me that she had walked home alone. When I asked her if her mommy knew that she was walking home alone she said, "No. I'll just tell her....it'll be a surprise!"

Yikes.

She must have been super fast because my other neighbor who was supposed to have picked her up frantically drove up about 5 minutes later and we were still waiting (although now we could see Bria and Chloe coming):
Sophie was thrilled to see her big sisters, and the feeling was definitely mutual (you can also see in this picture how ridiculously close we live to the elementary school):
The schoolgirls who made it home safely:
Now I just need to decide if I'm going to let them do this every day, or only Fridays. What do you think?

Friday, September 05, 2008

Autumn simplification

We have received a lovely cold front these last few days that has made it downright chilly. And I must say, I am loving it. It started to warm up again today, so I don't know if it's going to last much longer, but it's still a sign that fall is coming. And fall is my favorite! I love the turning leaves, the gorgeous blue of the sky that happens only in autumn time, I love pumpkins and apples and cinammon, and my whole house is pretty much decorated in fall colors. Much as I loved living in Arizona, this season was the one thing that I truly missed.

I don't know if it's because of the season itself or because of school starting, but I am always so much more productive these last few months of the year. It is truly a new beginning for me. It has been lovely having Chloe gone to Kindergarten in the afternoons (does that make me a bad mom that I enjoy my time away from the kids?). Since Sophie is sleeping at that time I have been able to get an awful lot accomplished. It's only Friday morning and I have already accomplished more since Monday than I probably did the entire summer!

I believe that all the simplifying I have tried to do this year has helped my disorganized self so much. Of course, I am still trying to simplify things. This month I focused on my schedule. For the past two years, fall has been so crazy busy that I don't have much time to actually enjoy it. I'm still busy, but I worked out my schedule in a way that allows me to really spend time with the kids after school. It is so much better! I also have a lot less students, due to the nature of the economy right now. Voice lessons are an extra, and I understand that. I decided I wasn't going to stress out about what that means for us financially. I'm just going to enjoy the time I have with my family and trust that the Lord will take care of us.

After all, He always does.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The big reveal

I mentioned that my parents bought me a new couch for my birthday. My mom knew I was a little depressed about staying in Cedar City, and she also knew my old couch was pretty ugly, and matched nothing in my living room.

So, she and my dad came down south to spend my birthday with us, and we chose out a new one. Unfortunately, someone else bought it 5 minutes before we did, so I had to wait a few weeks for it to be ordered and finally delivered.

Turns out that this was a good thing, since my old couch didn't sell in the garage sale and it took me a couple weeks to get rid of it on Craig's List. It left about a week before the new one came, but I figure that it was better to have no couch for a while than to have to deal with two of them. (Such a nugget of wisdom, don't you think?)

And here it is, in all of it's black, fake leather glory!
You'll notice my ottoman is actually dark brown, and doesn't exactly match. However, it matches much better with this couch than it did with the tapestry green, pink, blue and white flowered couch. Believe me.

Thanks again Mom and Dad! You guys are the best!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Friday night ritual

Every Friday night is movie night at our house. Joel makes a big ordeal out of taking the girls to the "movie store" to pick out DVD's to watch. It's usually a daddy/daughter type thing, but I sometimes tag along. Once everyone is back home, they are allowed to watch both their movies no matter how late it gets (the girls get to pick one each....when Sophie is old enough to care, we'll have to rework that).

Since we were at the football game this past Friday, we went straight to Hollywood Video from the high school. I don't like leaving my camera in the car, so it came in the store with me. And if you have it, use it, right?

So here's a few pictures of our beloved movie picking tradition.


Just in case you care, the movies they picked this week were Meet the Robinsons and the extremely bizarre Ozie Boos. Amazingly, I think I would prefer watching the Barbie movies to that one.

Finally, speaking of movies, you are all just so smart! Although, I agree that the blue gingham is pretty much a dead giveaway! Yes, we are going to be characters from "The Wizard of Oz" for Halloween. Chloe is going to be Dorothy, Bria is going to be Glinda the Good, Sophie is going to be the Cowardly Lion, Joel is going to be the Scarecrow and guess what I am going to be? Yep, I am going to be the Wicked Witch of the West, because, apparently that's what I am, according to my kids. We'll have to find someone to be a Tin Man for us, because we ran out of people. Besides, that's probably a harder costume anyway and I'm glad I don't have to make it. (The metallic fabric that looks tin-mannish is actually part of Glinda's costume.)

Happy Wednesday!