Monday, June 30, 2008

What I always want to remember...

The main reason why I am a scrapbooker is because I love to remember the stories of my family. Whether it's a moment, a personality trait or just something I don't want to forget, I can remember it by looking through my scrapbook.

Of course, the life blood of scrapbooks is photography. You usually want to have a picture to illustrate your story. And if you have your camera at hand, you can capture some wonderful moments. I think that is my favorite thing about both photography and scrapbooking....that you give yourself a hard copy of the memory you never want to forget.

I am not perfect at having my camera with me at all times, especially because it's kind of big. But I do try.

Here are a few examples of the kind of moments I am talking about--the ones I am really looking forward to actually scrapbooking: This picture of my dad and Sophie is far from perfect. Obviously, the conditions under which I shot it were less than ideal: harsh sunlight on only one of the subjects, and lots of yucky shadows.


However, the moment was just too adorable to worry about imperfect light. Sophie, wearing a pair of my mom's shoes that she stole out of her closet, was telling Grandpa all about her little toy while they sat on the porch swing. And he was listening intently. They were having their own little conversation about life, and I probably would have forgotten about it already if I didn't take this picture.

The part that I know, that isn't really in the picture, is how much Sophie adores her Grandpa. In her prayers at night, she always says thank you for Grandpa before anyone else, and without being prompted. When we are visiting, she is always wondering where he is while he is at work....and in fact, when she got here on Sunday she came in the house and the first thing she said was "Hi Grandpa!" This picture puts their special relationship into words, as it were.
Here's one of Joel. We were at the park, trying to make sense of the craziest day ever. I had my camera out because I had been taking pictures of the kids playing on the swings and such. Then Joel and I just laid in the grass and talked things over. And at that moment, we both felt an incredible sense of peace that everything would somehow work out. I'm really glad I decided to pick up my camera and snap this one because it reminds me of the peace we felt. It's good to remember, because, as you well know, I am still not aware of how things will work out and I am more often having a case of inner turmoil than I am inner peace.
These next two are also from that same day at the park. This one of Chloe is of her trying to get the stubborn drinking fountain to work. Every time she got it going, as soon as she put her lips up to get some, it was gone. We laughed and laughed about that. I think the look on her face here is priceless, and when you know the story behind it, it's even funnier.
This one of Bria is really just a lucky shot that I was happy to have. She was just walking toward me, and I thought I'd take a picture of her, when she tripped on a stick. It all happened just as I was pushing the shutter button, so I caught her in mid fall, arms outstretched and ready to catch herself. The thing that's so great about this, is that Bria is a bona fide klutz. She totally takes after me in that regard. I love that I now have that on film.

The moral of the story? Even if you don't scrapbook (and I certainly haven't been), have your camera near, so you can collect memories and not just pretty pictures.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Instant Vanilla Pudding & Berries—Easy Summer Recipe

You can all close your mouths now. You know, the mouths that are open in shock because I, self professed non cook, am posting a recipe.

There are two things you need to remember:

1. It's not that I can't cook, it's just that I prefer not to.

2. If I must cook, I prefer things to be as easy as possible.


And that's where this recipe, that I made up all by my little old self, comes in.

Ingredients:


1 package instant vanilla pudding (nobody cares which size...just whatever works for you).
1 package frozen mixed berries.
Whatever amount of milk is required to make your pudding.


Instructions:


Read your vanilla pudding package and do what it says with the milk and a whisk.
Pour the pudding into pretty bowls or goblets or something.
Put in the fridge to set for a few minutes.
Thaw out the berries in the microwave for a minute or so.
Put them on top of your set pudding.


Voila! A lovely, quick and yummy summer dessert.


Friday, June 27, 2008

Something different

I'm off to SLC this morning, where I will fly out to San Diego with my brother this afternoon. The funeral is tomorrow morning, and of course, the big family get together afterward. Then Nate and I will fly right back to Utah Saturday night. Quick trip.

Then I will be staying up north for a week or so. Joel is going to bring the girls up on Sunday, and he'll stay for a couple days, but then has to go back down to Cedar City since he is playing for the Shakespearean Festival.

So, since I was feeling so down the other day, I actually wrote several blogs to put in my drafts and post while I'm gone. That was kind of fun, and brought my spirits up quite a bit.

However, I don't quite have enough to last the entire time I'm gone. So, I thought I'd copy my friend Misty and do a little Q & A.

What are you dying to know about me? Leave a comment, and I'll devote a blog to the subject.

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Mawage. Mawage is wot bwings us togeder today...


Nine years ago today I married Joel. And he married me. We married each other.

For nine years he has been a wonderful husband. He is the perfect guy for me and we complement each other nearly perfectly. I am so thankful to have married a man who loves the Lord and gives very high priority to keeping the commandments and just being a good person. I am so thankful to have married a man who loves me so much he would literally do anything for me. I am so thankful to have married a man who follows his dreams. I am so thankful to have married a man who is willing to cook dinner just about every night and is darn good at it. I am so thankful to have married a man who wanted children, and once they were here, is a better father than I could have imagined. I am so thankful to have married a man who takes care of me through thick and thin.

That's not to say he's perfect...we certainly have our hard moments, like any married couple. But I think that's what makes it even better. As we work through the difficult times, we only come out of it as stronger people with an even stronger commitment to one another.

I was thinking today how nine years is an awfully long time. Nine years before I got married I was but a young girl of 15, wondering who my Prince Charming would turn out to be. There was a lot of life lived in those nine years before I married Joel. Sometimes it doesn't seem as if I've experienced nearly as much in the nine years since, but I have.

And I am happy we experienced it all together.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A big huge freaking sigh

I don't like to complain. I try very hard to keep my chin up and look at the positives in all people and situations. I'm sorry that I've been complaining a bit more lately. I noticed as I do my status updates on Facebook that I rarely have anything positive to say these days. I kind of feel like everything is falling apart around me, actually.

1. My grandma, the one who lost her home to the California fires last year, passed away yesterday. She is actually my grandpa's second wife, but had been married to him since long before I was born and was just as much a grandparent to me as my biological grandparents. She was my last grandparent alive. I'll be going to her funeral this Saturday, which means cancelling my lessons at Tuacahn on Friday and driving up to Salt Lake where my brother and I will fly out. This also means I miss the one day of Girl's Camp I was supposed to go to (which honestly I'm not too sad about) and just start my little 4th of July jaunt up north a lot earlier.

2. Joel still hasn't heard from the blasted University. Enough said.

3. My fancy schmancy digital piano broke last night. We can't figure out what on earth is wrong with it, but the power simply doesn't come on when you push the power button. I am, understandably, very upset by this. Chloe can't practice her piano, I can't teach lessons (thank goodness I have none this summer from my home), and most importantly, I can't practice my song for the above mentioned funeral.

4. Joel's car is in the shop for a funny noise. Turns out it's something pretty major and we're out 600 bucks to fix it.

So, there you have it. All my frustrations for the day, blogged.

Like I said, I am having a very hard time staying positive lately. And for some reason, my piano dying is the thing that has sent me to the end of my rope. So forgive me my rant, and I'll try to come back tomorrow (my 9th wedding anniversary!) with a better attitude about life.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The mascara bandit

It's no surprise that my little girls are interested in make-up. It's no surprise that when they are watching me put it on that they want some, too. It's no surprise that they get into it if I leave it within their reach.

What is a surprise (to me, anyway) is that from an extremely young age they know exactly what to do with each type of make-up. If Sophie finds a tube of lipstick or some of the girls' lip gloss lying around, she knows to put it on her lips. When she gets into my stuff and finds a blush brush, she brushes it across her cheeks. She puts eye shadow on her eyes with the applicator.

And she also knows that mascara goes on her eyelashes.


She just needs to hone her skill a bit, that's all.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Anxiety

I think my whole life this past few weeks has been one anxiety attack after another. It has now been almost two weeks since Joel interviewed with "the University," and we have heard nothing back. He's even sent a couple emails to some search committee members and they have not responded.

So, okay, we're pretty sure this means he didn't get the job. Fine. Just tell us already, so we can get on with our lives! The thing about not hearing anything, is you still have that small glimmer of hope left. Maybe they really haven't come to a decision yet, even though that seems ludicrous. Maybe the first person to whom they offered the job will decide to turn it down for one reason or another. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

I know, you can only control what you can control, and that thought is comforting to a point. Joel went out there, auditioned and interviewed, and did his best. He was very well prepared and now it is in the hands of the search committee. But knowing that doesn't make it any easier for me (us) to be sitting here in the dark not knowing what the heck is going on. It has been interesting though, because whenever I've been incredibly anxious and start freaking out a little (a lot) about what the future holds for our family, Joel seems to be really calm. Then I calm down, and he takes his turn panicking.

Anyway, if we don't find out something soon, I may just have to go find someone who reads palms or has a crystal ball or something. This has been a huge test of our faith, and continues to be so. I have reached my breaking point, though. I don't know how much longer I can walk by faith and not by sight.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Happy Birthday to my hubby!

Today is Joel's birthday. I don't really think I'm supposed to say how old he turned today, but I will give you a hint: In 2 months I will be turning the same number. If you still don't know, did you know that sometimes people's ages are listed in their Blogger profiles?

Anyway, it's Joel's birthday. So, I thought I'd wish him a happy one.

It's been a hard year for us (possibly more for me than for him), but he is always by my side (even if I never see him) and is the best husband I could have ever asked for. He is kind, talented, super cute, smart, funny (freaking hilarious, actually), loving, and most importantly, a great cook. He's also popular. He just decided to join Facebook a few weeks ago and got something like 10 friend requests an hour for the first day or so. What can I say? He's a charmer.

And, since his birthday always falls so close to Father's Day (sometimes it's even on Father's Day), I want to take this moment to tell him what a great Dad he is. The girls love him so much and you've never seen three happier children than when he walks through the door. He is a super fun dad and he loves to play with them, even if that means he has to be a princess or dress a Barbie. Or, in the case of this picture, keep Sophia from climbing up a ten foot slide.

Happy Birthday honey! I love you!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Almost two, so much to do!

Sophie is one of those toddlers that never stops unless she is taking her nap or drinking her milk in front of the TV. Once the milk is gone, she's up and running again. Some days I count the minutes until she is in bed for the night because she wears me out! I cannot keep up with this child, that's for sure.

Yesterday, Joel and the girls were outside washing the car, and of course, Sophia had to get in on the action. These pictures were taken in less than a minute, and none are in perfect focus because she is so dang fast.

Hi mom! Look what I have! (As a side note, I love this picture because I rarely catch her adorable, big, cheesy grin on film.)


Hey! What are they doing over there?

Okay that side is clean enough....

Got to go around to the front now....

Yeah, Daddy definitely needs my help up here.

And she finally slowed down just enough for me to get a close up so you can see that she ate some chocolate pudding before she went out to wash the car. But she didn't slow down enough for it to have great focus. Oh well, you can't have everything.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

First day of points and how it went

I think it went quite well.

Bria earned a lot of points. She was also in the negative for most of the day because of fighting or talking back. She's had a little attitude issue since school's been out, and hopefully this will help. I do have to say that she was much nicer towards the end of the day and was even happily singing as she swept the kitchen floor after dinner so she could have enough points to watch a movie. I'd call that a success.

Chloe didn't earn as many points, but she also didn't lose too many. The hard thing with Chloe is that incentive programs in general don't work with her. She really weighs her options and then decides that she'd rather not practice piano or whatever, even if it means she loses something or doesn't get something. So I'm surprised how well she did today. She also tends to be a real angel when we start something like this, so we'll see how it goes once it's old hat. We'll also see how it goes when she goes to bed tonight, as she loses 2 points every time she gets out of bed. If she has a "normal" night, she'll lose herself around 20 points.

My house is a lot cleaner than normal, and I didn't do much of it. That's awfully nice.

My shoe basket is empty. In general, it should probably be emptied once every two days, but this never, ever happens. It's very nice not to have shoes cascading all over the entryway for once.

I do have to do a lot of supervising and making sure that chores are done completely and well. Bria had to re-vacuum a room about 4 times today, but the second room she vacuumed was done right the first time. The fact that they've wanted to do chores when it wasn't necessarily convenient for me has been only slightly annoying. I'm trying to focus on the fact that, hello! They want to do chores!!!

All in all, I'd say it's successful. The trick will be to keep it all going.

I'll let you know. :)

Earning points

Every summer I have great intentions of doing chore incentive programs that are more intensive than the ones we do during the school year. I have visions of happy children happily practicing their instruments before watching TV, joyfully doing their chores before going out to play, and most of all, never fighting or arguing or talking back.

While I know these are fairly unrealistic, I am determined to keep trying. This summer, I came up with a little program inspired and pieced together by several things I found online. We are doing a point system (you can click to make it bigger):
You can download a .pdf of this document HERE if it is helpful to you. 
I think it's pretty straightforward, and today is the first day that we're implementing it. The girls (ages 5 and 7 this summer) seem pretty excited about the rewards, and of course are quite gung ho for today. We'll see how long it lasts.

To keep track, we are using jars and pompoms. If they go into the negative, the pompom goes outside their jar so that I know when they earn points those actually go back into the bank. They can redeem their points at any time, as long as they have enough for what they are hoping to get.


Hilary gave me a website called handipoints, that helps you keep track of points and gives other incentives for the kids. It is really cool, but I decided not to go that route because my kids need a visual reminder all the time, because Chloe isn't into playing on the computer and because I am not likely to be very good at inputting the points. It is pretty cool, though, and if you think it might work for your family, you should check it out.

Now, if I can just keep this going for the whole summer, life might be wonderful.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Offsetting the price of gasoline

While we were up north, Bria saw a hat at the Children's Place that she really wanted. Mamah agreed to give her chores so she could earn the money to buy it herself. And that is exactly what she did. Then Chloe saw the hat in all its cuteness and wanted one, too. So we did the same thing for her.

I should have just known that Sophie would want one as well. Instead, she tried to steal either of her sisters' hats as often as possible, and when they discovered it on her head a lot of screaming happened. Finally, I told Sophie I'd just buy her a hat, but then I never got to the store and then we were back in Cedar City, which doesn't even have a Target, much less a Children's Place.

So, I promised I'd go while I was in St. George teaching lessons today, and I did. What I didn't know was that the Children's Place is having a "monster sale" (their words), and it was indeed monster. I went in for a hat and came out with 4 pair of jeans, 2 t-shirts, 3 skirts, a sweater, and three adorable patriotic hair pretties for July 4th. Oh, and a hat.

For all this I paid the astoundingly low price of $40.76 with tax. I just went through and added up the regular prices of everything I got and it was $164.50. And I am not mathematical enough to bother figuring what the sales tax would have been. Obviously, I got some great deals and a head start on school clothes for Bria and Chloe. Sophie got a couple cute things, too.

And since gas in St. George was $4.21 a gallon, it was an even better deal.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Going home

Joel gets back from his University interview today. He felt it went really well. Yesterday he had breakfast with the search committee, a tour of the campus, gave a lecture on Berlioz (what else?) to 12 of the music faculty, conducted Brahms' Haydn Variations with the orchestra, had a Q&A session with students, ate lunch with the search committee, met with the music chair and the dean of the college, had a more formal meeting with the search committee, and finally, was given a tour of the city. Phewsh! It was an all day affair! I suppose we'll find out whether or not he got the job in the next week or so.

The bug Chloe had last time I wrote has made its rounds through our family, and I think we're all healthy now. It seems to last only 24 hours, thank goodness...but it lasted for 5 or 6 days as it spread through everyone.

So, on to our summer, even though the weather still refuses to cooperate. I will be picking Joel up at the airport in SLC this afternoon and then we will head back down to Cedar. Joel begins rehearsals for the Utah Shakespearean Festival tomorrow morning (he's playing in the pit for Fiddler on the Roof...we must really love that musical). I'm not really looking forward to my messy house or to starting up Tuacahn again. But I do feel renewed enough to tackle things with a bit more vim and vigor than I have previously had.

We'll see.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Musical Beds

Last night we were hanging out at Joel's sister's house with a bunch of other family members. We were supposed to play games, but we never actually got around to doing it. Instead, we sat around laughing until midnight. Then we decided it would be a good idea to go pick up the girls and go home and go to bed.

The girls were at another of Joel's sister's houses, being watched by their older cousins. So we went over there (and hung out talking a little more, of course) and then went home and settled everyone to bed, complete with the cute new dolls that Aunt Gina bought for them. Joel and I sleep in one room in my parents' house, and we have Sophie with us in the pack and play. Bria and Chloe sleep in another room and share a bed, and of course, my parents sleep in their own room.

Since we got home so late, it was probably 1:30 or so by the time that I rolled into bed and immediately began a series of strange dreams. About an hour later, I was dreaming that Chloe was throwing up and then my dad came in and told me that Chloe had thrown up. It took me a minute before I registered that it was real, and then I got up to go into their room to see what was going on.

Now, if you have read my blog for very long, you know that Bria doesn't do well when people vomit. Especially if they're in bed with her at the time. So, I go into their bedroom to find two very upset little girls: One because she has thrown up all over herself and her new doll and the other because her sister has thrown up next to her. And of the two, Bria wins the prize for being the most hysterical.

What I didn't know, was that right at the moment when Chloe was being sick, my mom had a nightmare down the hall. A bad one. The kind where you jump out of bed and scream bloody murder and scare your husband half to death. So, of course my dad was woken with a start and was trying to calm my mom down when he heard the hysterics coming from the girls' room and went to check it out. Bria says that Mamah's scream is what originally woke her, and then she looked over to find that Chloe had vomited.

Well, my mom took Bria into bed with her to calm her down. I cleaned up Chloe a bit and then took her into the bathroom to bathe her (it was pretty bad, folks), and my dad and Joel changed the sheets and cleaned up the new dolly. Speaking of the new dolly, that's all Chloe could talk about in the tub: "I throwed up all over my new doll! It's ruined!" (No worries, though. Daddy was able to clean it up good as new.)

Finally, we were all calmer and ready to go back to bed. Bria stayed with my parents in their room, I slept with Chloe in case she was still sick, and Joel went into our bed where Sophie was now sleeping with all the mayhem. Chloe asked for a blessing, and then we all went to try and sleep.

Chloe threw up about 6 more times in the next couple hours, and by about 5:00 am, when she was finally asleep, Sophie woke up screaming. Since Joel had taken a Benadryl earlier on in the evening for his allergies, he was dead to the world. So I went in there and helped Sophia, and then she wouldn't let me leave her. So, I curled up on the end of the bed (Joel was taking up most of the bed at that point, and I can't move him!) and slept something like a pet dog would. I finally woke up around 6:45 and went back to bed with Chloe, where I stayed put until nearly 11:00 am.

Chloe only woke up about 40 minutes ago, and seems to be feeling much better. Bria is still keeping her distance from her sister, but I think she'll be over it in a bit.

And I am tired.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A meme to pass the time

Joel is now home, and will be flying out to interview in a few days. Right now, cousins are over (we are still up north) and the kids are playing. Too bad it has to be in the house since it's raining.

Deb tagged me to do this meme, so I thought I'd tackle it right now, even though I think the questions are a bit too thought provoking for my current state of mind. But here goes anyway:

3 joys:
1. My children and husband
2. Singing
3. The Gospel

3 fears:
1. That Joel will never get a university job
2. Bugs of every kind, especially moths
3. That something bad will happen to my kids (that's pretty all encompassing, I know...but I have a lot of fears involving my girls.)

3 goals:
1. Lose weight
2. Be financially stable
3. Be more organized

3 current obsessions/collections:
1. Photography
2. Roosters
3. Books/reading

3 random surprising facts about me:
1. I am not off sugar anymore and am having a terrible time giving it up again. (Random, but not surprising.)
2. I did several cartwheels yesterday out on the lawn with my kids. I was trying to teach Chloe how to do one, and Bria how to do one properly.
3. I am currently a little obsessed with playing word games on facebook. (Perhaps that should have gone on the above category.)

Sunday, June 01, 2008

SIX is not our lucky number

Joel did not make it to the next round. In the email he sent, of course he was feeling a bit down, but he also said he was at peace with it. I just got off the phone with the airline and we got his ticket changed so that he will be flying home tomorrow.

I think he still has a wonderful experience, and he was able to make some connections with other conductors, which is always a vital thing when it comes to getting anywhere in this business. Perhaps we'll never know why we felt so strongly to get him out there, but I think that it really was a good thing, regardless of the outcome.

And now he can go interview with the University without any problem.

Everything really does work out.