Saturday, May 30, 2009

Leaving on a Cruise Ship...

This blog is officially on vacation until something like 8 or 9 days from now.

Have a great week!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Never fully dressed without a smile!

If Annie is right about that then I suppose I am half naked quite a bit of the time.

I knew smiling would be kind of hard, but it was even more difficult than I suspected. However, I thought about it so much that I know I did smile more than usual, and I think it made a difference. Not that I never smile, but things have been pretty hard around here lately and that's when I find it near impossible.

It was easy to smile when the kids were being adorable and obedient and helpful. It was a lot harder when they were fighting and I was at the end of my rope. But, guess what? When I did smile in those situations, my kids were much easier to deal with. That alone convinced me to keep it up.

And I will.

This week's goal is Plentiful Praise: Catch your children in the act of being good and envelop them in well-deserved praise.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A little old lady's courage

There is a story we like to tell about my late grandmother and her dealings with a rude person of a younger generation. As she got out of her car in a parking lot one day, she inadvertantly knocked the side mirror of the car next to her. Unfortunately, it was occupied by a young man who yelled at her to "watch it, old lady!"

In response, my feisty grandmother turned around and gave his side mirror several more whacks, looked at him pointedly and walked away. I wish I had been there to see it, but it was almost as good just to hear her retell it.

I love how as we get older, we start to stop worrying so much about what people around us think. It is rather unfortunate that we don't learn to do this a lot earlier in life. Take me, for example--since I am still relatively young, I concern myself much more than I should about what the perfect stranger sitting in front of me on the airplane will do to me if I tell him what I really think about him.

Take the guy who was sitting in front of my mom and me on the plane today. He was a short, squat, Sicilian-looking guy in a dark suit (my mom swears he was Mafia) and he wasn't a very happy person. I suppose he might have been pleasant enough had all gone as it should, but since things beyond anyone's control (like weather) caused our plane to be grounded in Green Bay and then further delayed upon landing in Chicago, he decided to show us all his true colors.

Once we finally landed in Chicago, every passenger on board whipped out a phone to call someone who could get online and look up connecting flight information. I certainly did. This man in front of me did the same. Only he felt the need to speak into his cell phone loudly enough for everyone on the plane to hear. Worse, he thought it would be a great idea to also use every naughty word he could think of ten times each and twenty if the word started with the letter "F."

My mom and I just kind of raised our eyebrows at each other, but said nothing. By now, we had been taxi-ing for about 20 minutes. (I had no idea a plane could taxi for so long! I think we may have taxied for longer than our entire flight had been.) And then, we stopped moving and sat on the tarmac because another plane was blocking our gate since we were more than an hour late. Mr. Mafia was having a conniption fit by now, punctuated with so much vulgarity that my ears were bleeding.

We had a wonderful pilot who explained every delay and the reasons for it in detail. Yet here is this guy in front of me screaming at the captain wanting to know what could be so important that he was missing his next flight for it. When we finally got to a gate and could get off the plane, he only continued with his show. Because I can only assume that that was what he was doing at this point--putting on a show for the rest of us. Showing the rest of us, who were in the same boat (er, plane) as he was, just how manly and mad he could get. Perhaps we should have followed suit and put on our own shows in equal proportions? Yes, let's all storm the flight deck and tell that pilot just what we think about his listening to control when they grounded him and not flying through the lightning storm anyway just so we could all make our connections. Of course! Wouldn't that have made everything all better?

I digress.

Just as I was about to say something to him (actually, I may never have mustered up the courage because he was really kind of scary--Mafia, you know) a little old lady in front of him turned around and said, "Don't you take the name of my Savior in vain!"

While he didn't like what she said, and it certainly didn't stop his spewing of swear words, it definitely stopped me in my tracks and made me think. That cute little lady wasn't one bit afraid of the (very scary!) guy and she dared to say what many of us in that plane probably wanted to say.

I hope that I can become a little old lady sooner rather than later.

Or at least muster up the courage to act like one.

**********************
You may have guessed that I am in an airport hotel writing this, as we missed our connection to SLC in Chicago. Fun times.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The hunt

The town is truly lovely.

The real estate is limited. Not a lot on the market right now. At least, not in my price range. It seems that I can buy a gigantic home or a very small one. There doesn't seem to be much in between on the market.

Today is the last day out with the realtor.

At least I'm getting a good idea of where I'd want to live, and I can make a better decision if I don't happen to be able to find the right house on this trip.

A little discouraged, but we'll keep on keepin' on!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The most wonderful time of the year

Seriously, I look forward to my kids bringing home their writing journals at the end of the school year almost more than I do Christmas. It is one of my favorite things in the world to sit and read their little thoughts and what they feel is important to write about. Sure, I laugh a lot at their cuteness and spelling goofs, and I love to see their progress throughout the year, but mostly I just gain an insight into their little personalities that makes me so happy.

Here are 9 excerpts (one for each month of school) from Chloe's Kindergarten writing journal. I've left all punctuation and spelling intact. I wish I had the time to scan these in for you, because each is accompanied by an elaborate drawing, as only Chloe can do. You'll just have to use your imagination.

September:

CRLONAVAL

October:

I---I---AMYH
yIsh I WAS with MY FAMiLy

November:

Iwishtheattheir was a rainBow.

December:

I wish That my Momma Had a nather Baby That it was SoSo cute and i Love my Momma

January:

I Wish that i could go to Mcdonls rit naow But it is scooL

February:

I Get to go to the Discovere Pork. My Mommy said Mabey But i Jest no She is Ganto saey yes and i am Eceideid that i am Going to the Discovere Pork and my sister is Eceideid to and i Hope that my Best frend's is ther and i Hev A nathr thing that i am Eceideid abawt it is i am Eting At the Pezza Hut to

March:

I am Going to aeraszonae to moro for a Weting I am staing for 4 Day's I am Ganto miss all my frend's And it is Going to be Hot ther.

April:

I Got for Ester a Morshmello Banny and BoBBles and chak Jelly Ben's and Got som Pet Shops and the Ester Banny Hid Eggs in My yorD it was fun!

May:

I am Going to Moov to Mishogen and i am Going to miss Msr. Ross and My Gradma and GrandPa and my Gradma's Dog Daisy I am Going to Miss Evrey Prsine in my Famliy I am Sad.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pucker Up!

Does this child not have the most adorable kiss in the world? I have to ask for hundreds of kisses each day, just so I can see her do this. I will mourn terribly on the day that she stops.

Pucker up!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Last Day

I can't even believe it.

Today is the last day of school. Not just for the kids, but for Joel, too! Crazy. I'm not really sure where this year went.

I am having difficulty believing that Bria will be in the 4th grade next year. Just doesn't seem right. And Chloe will be a big first grader. And Sophie will actually be going to preschool. Where did my babies go?

I'm flying to Michigan bright and early tomorrow morning. Say a little prayer for me and cross your fingers that I will find us a place to live!

Oh, and if you really feel like it, go vote over at The Utah Bubble. Some of the other mommy bloggers are making big campaign promises if they win. Stuff like promising to get pregnant this year and posting pictures of herself in a sports bra. One of them is even offering a check to one of her followers for $250 dollars. Wow.

I can't compete with that folks. Besides, you don't actually win anything in this contest except the knowledge that you are the most loved mommy blogger in Utah. And that's not even true when you really think about it. You win the satisfaction of knowing that you are the one who campaigned the hardest to get the most votes.

I've done that before. And I am not going to do it again. So, if you haven't voted, go vote because it's a fun contest. I have other fish to fry. Like finding a house.

Now, if winning this contest promised me I would find my dream house at my dream price, well then, that'd be totally different and I'd be campaigning like crazy!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

It's like learning a whole new language

Joel and I get to deal with teenagers and early twenty-somethings on a regular basis. All of our students are in that age group (most, anyway...I've had a few "moms" to teach here and there). In the last few years it has become apparent that this age group does not know how to communicate like the rest of the human race.

Telephone? Forget it. They never answer, listen to voice mail, or call you back.

E-mail? They might read it once a week, and if they do, they certainly don't know how to hit the reply button.

In person? This occasionally works. But only if you catch them at a really good time.

Nope. These people communicate in two mediums and two mediums only: Texting and Facebook.

The only reason I got myself a Facebook account a couple years ago was so that I could actually get a hold of my students (of course, it's become a monster since then and I use it for much more than that!). Joel (who is really quite adamantly against such things) finally succumbed last summer and signed up. It is fairly effective for getting in contact with these kids, or sending mass communications and such.

Texting, though, is even better. The only problem with both of these modes of communication is that you basically have to learn a new language to even decipher your messages. Thankfully, teenagers still understand English (but who knows how long that will last?), so we really only need a reading fluency here. I know a few of the acronyms from hanging out on message boards online, but admittedly, lots of them I have to look up.

Joel, on the other hand, is completely lost in the land of text-speak.

For example, the other night, Joel was grading tests at home and we had the following conversation.

Joel: What does IDK mean?

Me: I don't know.

Joel: I really wish these kids wouldn't put answers like this on tests. Now I guess I need to go look it up.

Me: Joel. I told you. It means "I don't know."

Joel: Oh.

Like I said, I often have to look up things beyond your basic LOL, OMG, IDK, ROFL, LMBO and ROFLMBO. A few days ago Joel received a text from a student while we were driving and asked me to read it to him. I thought I knew who it was from until at the end it said PLH.

Me: Who is PLH?

Joel: Nobody. I don't have any student with those initials. Besides, they have all been putting that at the end of texts lately.

Me: What does it mean?

Joel: I have no idea. I just ignore it.

It bugged me enough that I sat there trying to figure out what this unfamiliar acronym could possibly mean. People Live Here? Pierrot Lunaire's Hair? Please Leave Hamburgers?

Then we looked it up: Peace, Love, Happiness.

Ahhhh, of course.

Obviously, I'm not as text-speak fluent as I had hoped.

************************

Shameless self-promotion: Vote for me in the Best Utah Mommy Blogger contest!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Vote for me!
(or somebody else...)

So, I just found out I'm in the running for Best Utah Mommy Blogger at Utahbubble.com.

Pretty exciting stuff.

Of course, I'm up against NieNie and CJane. And Dooce. And Azucar. And Sue. Oh, and even TAMN. I guess she counts now that she had her twins. But, hey, good company!

So, go to this link and vote for your favorite Utah Mommy Blogger. You can vote for up to three, so if you must vote for someone else I can forgive you. As long as you choose me, too! :)

Moderation: It should not be my middle name

While at Women's Conference a couple weekends ago, I met my friend Mary for lunch before we both headed over to my mom's class. Mary and I had a great conversation about many things, one of them being our relationship with food--specifically sugar. Quite apropo, as we were sitting in our old haunt (the Harris Fine Arts Center) while eating our very healthy sack lunches and preparing to attend a class about taking better care of our bodies.

Mary told me she has finally just given into the idea that she cannot be moderate when it comes to sweets. And I told Mary that I agreed whole-heartedly. Not that she can't be moderate, but that I certainly can't, either! There is no such thing as "just one cookie" for me. If I decide to eat one, I may as well just eat the whole batch because I sure as heck won't stop.

Both Mary and I have been off sugar several times. We talked about how, once we managed enough willpower to be off for a couple weeks, it was easy to stay off. But the minute we thought we could handle a handful of M&M's, it was over. At least, that's how it is for me. One M&M after months of self-denial, and I will have eaten my entire weight in chocolate by the end of the hour. Best to just forego the one.

Later, the gal who was teaching alongside my mom was talking about healthy diets. She said something along the lines of, "If you want to eat a cookie, go ahead and just have one. Then you'll be satisfied and you can concentrate on other things." Mary and I looked at each other knowingly and laughed a little. I won't speak for Mary, but I was kind of hating that girl and all others like her who can stop with just one cookie. It really isn't fair.

I was so thankful that when my mom got up to speak, the first thing she did was make a joke about how if she ate one cookie that she'd eat a dozen. That some of us really can't stop at just one so it's best to know yourself. I guess I get that particular non-moderation gene from her. I can forgive her for it, since she gave me so many other good qualities, but I sure wish I could eat a cookie every once in a while and not gain five pounds in the process.

P.S. I'm trying to go off sugar again. I sort of fell off the wagon recently, and it's depressing me since I lost so much weight. I don't want to gain it all back, and I will if I'm not careful. So, the first couple weeks are the hardest. Please don't make me any brownies or I might have to kill you before I eat the entire batch.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Someone watching over me

One time, when I was about 20 years old, Harry Connick, Jr. came in concert to some ski resort around Salt Lake City. Since he is one of my all time favorite musical artists, obviously I wanted to go. Besides, not only is he delightful to listen to, he's pretty darn cute, too!

So, a couple of friends and I got tickets and made our big plans. The concert date was just after BYU had let out for the summer, so the arrangement was that I would drive up to SLC from Orem, my friend Melinda would drive down to SLC from Farmington, and Allison (who lived in SLC) would meet us at a parking lot somewhere downtown, and would then drive us all to the concert in her car.

I had a slight problem, though. My car was not reliable enough to get me "all the way" to Salt Lake. It barely got me around Provo. So, I figured I'd borrow my parents' car and that all would be well. It was fine with them, so everything was set to go.

The day of the concert my mom took me aside and told me that she just didn't feel good about me driving up there. Like I said, I was 20 years old and had driven up to SLC and back many times (even late at night) with no issues, so there wasn't really any rhyme or reason to her bad feeling. Except that my mom's feelings aren't anything to scoff at. Her intuition is remarkably in tune, especially when it comes to her children. It's just that back then, I was still in my rolling-of-the-eyes phase whenever such things were brought to my attention, so naturally, I scoffed at her feeling.

She didn't stop me from going, just warned me to be very careful and then prayed a lot while I was gone. I may have ignored her premonitions, but she certainly didn't.

I got to the designated meeting spot with no problem. I parked my car, stowed my dad's keys in my purse, and hopped in Allison's car, all according to plan. Melinda arrived shortly after I did and the three of us excitedly headed straight up to whatever-it-was-called ski resort to see Harry.

And Harry did not disappoint. The concert was amazing and we had a fabulous time.

Just before the concert ended, I was rummaging through my purse for something or the other and I realized my keys--er--my dad's keys, weren't in there. I looked all around our spot on the lawn and couldn't see them anywhere. I thought maybe they had fallen out without my noticing when I bought my t-shirt, or maybe while we were eating our sack lunches outside the venue. As soon as the concert ended, the three of us searched everywhere we could think of. They weren't turned in, not at the concession stand--we even rooted through garbage cans.

And found nothing. It was like those keys had simply disappeared off of the face of the earth.

Finally, after we had stayed for an entire hour, we figured it was a lost cause and headed back down the mountain. Since this was in the dark ages before cell phones existed, we had to go downtown to find a pay phone so I could call my parents and tell them what had happened. I was pretty distraught about the whole thing, not so much because the keys were lost, but because my father had a bad habit of storing his wedding ring on his keys, and I had noticed it was still on the keyring when I got to Salt Lake. So, yeah, he was a little mad about that. And they weren't very thrilled that their car would be an hour away all night, but there was nothing to be done.

I stayed the night at Allison's house in SLC, and lucky for me, she had to come down to Provo for a summer class the next day anyway. Then, my mom and I drove her car up with the extra keys and picked up the car I had left.

It all seemed like such a waste of time and effort, but not too long after that I was reminded of how uneasy my mom had felt about my going to the concert in the first place. I believe that the keys really were taken off the face of the earth in order to insure my safety. I have no idea what might have happened to me that night after the concert had I driven back to Orem by myself, but I have no doubt that it wouldn't have been good. After all, my mom has perfect intuition.

How wonderful that God watched over me that night, even though I wanted to see Harry so badly that I didn't listen to my mother. (You can bet that I never rolled my eyes at her feelings again after that experience!) It's even more wonderful that He continues to watch over me and you and each of His children here on earth.

Even if it means taking away your dad's wedding ring.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Procrastination: It should be my middle name

Whenever I am truly overwhelmed with something, I tend to avoid it as much as possible. Instead, I invent projects for myself that absolutely must be done right now. You know, the kind of things that really could wait years to be done and nobody would notice. I suppose it's my way of feeling productive, yet not being productive at all.

This weekend, in an effort to work on move preparation I:

♥ Designed a new header for my photography blog. (Thanks Rae, for the inspiration!)
Figured out how to have a cool font on my blog post titles.
♥ Helped Joel with a few projects that he could easily have done by himself.
♥ Weeded my front lawn.
♥ Watched the opera Hansel and Gretel with my girls.
♥ Read Spires of Stone by Annette Lyon and Extras by Scott Westerfeld.
♥ Designed a new header for my mom's blog.
♥ Designed a new header for Jill's blog, which I have owed her for a very long time.
♥ Did ten loads of laundry, and cut a deal with Joel that stipulates that he fold all ten loads for me.
♥ Caught up on a lot of emails that I have been ignoring the past month.
♥ Cleaned out the toys and clothes in Sophia's room, and filled four boxes with items to be sold at a future garage sale.
♥ Added a bunch of photos to my photography blog, and took down a bunch more.
♥ Put all 500+ CD's that we own into an empty dresser, so that the CD holder thingies can also be sold in aforementioned garage sale.
♥ Went through my clothing and filled one box with clothes I will never wear again.
♥ Made several lists of things that should be done soon.
♥ Read and commented on a bunch of blogs.
♥ Wrote blogs for the rest of this week and set them to post.

There. I accomplished a little bit of move prep, and a whole lot of nothing.

And that's something.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Our new little pet

At some point, and usually around age 2-ish or 3-ish, all of my children decide to become animals. Bria was a cat named "Cat Buttercup Princess Baby that talks Spanish." Chloe was usually a dog, but could be found being a kitty every once in awhile, too. Nameless, though.

It would appear that Sophia has chosen to go the canine route. And she takes it all the way, insisting upon licking our faces as often as we let her (which is never) or as often as she can sneak it in.

Like, right after Chloe's Kindergarten program this last week.

Sophie's new licking obsession


Also, in the name of being a dog, she decided to go potty like one. She, who is completely potty trained and hasn't had an accident in weeks (I promise!) just pulled her pants down and went in the middle of the carpet. That is taking the whole dog thing way too far, if you ask me!

Little stinker.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Project Walking into a Hug

For Mother's Day this year, my mom gave me a book that is just what I needed right now. It is called Walking into a Hug: 52 weeks to a Home That's More Embracing by Janene Ustach.

It's a workbook of sorts, and I really like it so far. I decided that I am definitely going to do each week's activity, but with a little bit of accountability from you. Obviously, I can't post all the great things the author writes each week (or else, why would you need to buy the book?), but I will tell you what the main goal is and, more importantly, how I'm doing.

For this week, it is to Simply Smile. I can tell you right now, that with the stress I am under, this one will be harder than it seems. But I'm determined to try.

I'll report back next Saturday.

Have a wonderful weekend!

Friday, May 15, 2009

In which I admit that falling apart is always the first item in my daily routine

I have this dream of becoming that mom. You know the one. She is always calm. She has her to-do list organized and never deviates from it. Sure, she's busy, but she never gets harried or overwhelmed with all she has to do. She exercises daily, she cooks gourmet meals three times a day, plus snacks. Her home is always in perfect order. She serves on the PTA board, helps in all of her children's classrooms twice a week and still manages to handle her part-time job with finesse. And so on and so forth ad nauseum.

It's never gonna happen, people. I am not that mom. And I am starting to realize that I never will be. And that's okay. Because I am the mom that my children need most.

Except, I really wish I could keep it together just a little bit better. Today, I am particularly overwhelmed with my life. I have too many projects going on and it's always difficult to know where to start. I have a very demanding two-year old. Walking through my living room is akin to walking through a mine field. I've done the dishes so many times that I've lost track, but it doesn't seem to be making any difference. The laundry we won't even discuss. It isn't helping that this week I had the worst case of PMS I've had in a long time. The kind where every creature on this earth has offended me, and I have most definitely made it known. And cried a lot. And yelled a lot. And then, today, I have cramps that are so painful I almost threw up and I have a migraine that refuses to be touched with medication.

So, naturally, I fell apart for the twentieth time this week.

Here I thought that getting rid of voice lessons was going to make my life so much easier. What was I thinking? Because it doesn't really matter what it is--there's always something.

The something that is currently making me insane is move preparation. Moving across the country is going to kill me off. I can't even accomplish one simple daily project to prepare for the move. I'm going to look for a house in Michigan in a week and I'm freaking out about that. None of the moving companies I've called for estimates are getting back to me and I'm annoyed because I need to know right now how much everything is going to cost. Sure, we've moved smoothly from Utah to Arizona and back, but one state away totally doesn't count. Not even remotely the same.

Basically, I need to try and save falling apart for just before bedtime, so I can at least accomplish something during the day.

However, I did finish editing my brother's wedding. One big project off the plate and onto the next. If you care to see some of my favorites click here. (Just photos of bride and groom.)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Kindergarten Diva

Chloe had her little Kindergarten graduation and program the other night, and she basically stole the show. It's possible she didn't really, because I was only watching her, but I think she did. She sang at the top of her lungs for every song, she opened her mouth as big as possible for every word, she did each dance move with extreme energy, she smiled and played to the audience the entire time and she just plain had more fun singing and dancing than even I thought was possible. The real kicker was the adorable winks and wiggled eyebrows she kept sending my way.

Some pictures...

Who let the B out? B..b...bbb. (Or is that a K they're signing?)

Who let the B out?


Her other little antic was to pose for a picture every time she saw me lift my camera to my face. Even if it was in the middle of the song.

Photo op


Toe-Knee Chest-Nut Nose Eye Love Him...And his sister "I Lean"

'His


Chloe is not singing about yellow here, she's yelling about it.

YELLOW


Do you think she could open it any bigger if she tried?

If she doesn't watch out, a bird will fly down her throat!


Start spreadin' the news...I want to be a part of it! First Grade, First Grade!

First grade, First grade!


I was pretty sure she was going to be an artist when she grows up, but now I think she might change her mind and star on Broadway! She always has been my musical theater junkie, after all. It's just we've never actually seen her do anything like this. She had me in stitches all night.

Perfectly adorable.

Kindergarten beauty

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This post is 100% guaranteed to make you gain 7 pounds instantly

You may or may not remember that my brother got married down in Arizona a month or so ago. Well, this last weekend he and his new wife finally had their "open house" in Utah so all of the friends and family up here could give the couple their blessings and shower them with love (and gifts).

My mother hired me to be the photographer for this not-so-little soiree, and I've been mired in photo editing the last day or so and still have a very long ways to go. However, I did think you'd all appreciate these photos of the refreshments. Especially since I have nothing to write about at the moment because all I'm doing is dishes and photoshop work. And who wants to read about dishes?

Enjoy! (I certainly did!)

Chocolate Heaven

Decadence


Not your grandma's fruitcake

More perfection

Perfection

Carrot cake with raspberry chocolate

MMMMMM


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What every woman should have in her purse
(Especially if that woman is me!)

Every month, one of my most popular Google search terms is something along the lines of "What a woman should carry in her purse" or "What should I keep in my purse?" or "What items should a lady have in her purse?"

They always land on this post, which is all about why you should have Kleenex in your purse at all times. But, for the amount of people that land here looking for a concrete list, I know I haven't helped out much. So now it's time to give back and tell you what I have in my purse and why.

This post contains affiliate links.


In no particular order:

Breathmints: One should always have breathmints or gum at hand (I am not much of a gum chewer) just in case you decide to eat a cheeseburger with onions for lunch or if you forget to brush your teeth in the craziness of making sure that your kids brush theirs. This kind is my favorite breath mint, but my husband likes these best.

Hand Sanitizer: Mine is some fancy stuff from Bath and Body Works, but you can just use Purell or something. A must have with kids who are constantly touching gross stuff and it especially comes in handy when there is a long line to wash your hands in the public restroom. I really like these fancy travel size Purells.

Kleenex: I think we've discussed this before, but it's good for when you have a cold, getting rid of your children's ABC gum and giving to perfect strangers who are having an emotional breakdown. I seem to use it quite often for storing the boogers my 2-year old likes to give me while we're driving in the car. I usually stock up on these Kleenex travel packs every couple months or so.

Abreva: Did you know that once you have a cold sore, you always have a cold sore? Tragic, but true. Ever since I was a little girl, I've had a cold sore patch on my nose. The Abreva is absolutely necessary if I don't want it to turn into something truly scary. It is always with me in order to apply at the first tingling. Seriously. If you suffer from cold sores, you should really buy some to have on hand.

Cell phone: I actually try to forget mine as often as possible, as my husband will tell you. However, it is probably a pretty good idea to actually have it in your purse whenever you can.

Sunglasses: My eyes are very sun-sensitive, especially if I am wearing my contacts. Besides, my future's so bright I gotta wear shades. Isn't yours?

Wallet: Do I really need to explain this one? Just make sure you have all necessary ID, monies and credit cards in it for whatever errands you need to run.

Checkbook: While it seems we don't use the checkbook all that much in this day and age, it's still pretty important for stuff like piano and violin lessons. And if you forget your debit card at WalMart or the grocery store.

Old receipts: My purse is an excellent storing place for the receipts I shouldn't throw away, but haven't had time to file. Unfortunately, all the unnecessary receipts kind of get thrown in there, too. I recommend cleaning it out at the end of the day (not that I do or anything).

Small notebook: My planner is too big to fit in my purse, but if things aren't written down, they are immediately forgotten. This is especially important for those fabulous blogging ideas that strike you while you are sitting in the dentist's office.

Pen: How can you write checks or jot down great blog ideas without one? You can't. Make sure you have one.

MP3 player: I admit, mine rarely makes it into my purse, but I always wish it did. (Update: now this is just my phone, which makes things a lot easier.)

Lipstick: Personally, I have three different kinds in my purse. I am prepared for any lip color situation. Plus, I even have some chapstick in there for my girls when they ask.

Mirror: How else are you supposed to use the aforementioned lipstick? I have a compact mirror like this one, but this one is cool, too--it has a magnifying feature.

Hand lotion: Particularly important during the snowy winters when my hands seem to be constantly chapped, but nice to have on hand (pun intended) all the time.

Tampon: Yes, well, I'm sure you all know why this is important. I often try to have two, just in case. And once, because I was so prepared, I was able to help someone out in a female emergency because I had one...even though I was 9 months pregnant. You just never know.

Hair band: Generally, I have a few of these in my purse. Very handy when you get somewhere and realize your child looks like a ragamuffin. You can quickly put her hair back and nobody will think any less of you because you never brush your children's hair. I have really thick hair myself, so these hair bands for thick hair are my favorite.

Candy wrappers: You shouldn't have those. Don't follow my example and throw them away immediately.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Love Letters




(Sorry about the horrid scanning...I've always said I wasn't blessed with the talent for using a scanner. Also, Sophie's and Chloe's got wet on the drive back home from spending this last weekend up north.)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you!

But mostly to my own mom, who is always good for a kiss to make me feel better.

Pucker up!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Saturday mornings with Bob

As a child, Joel looked forward to Saturday mornings for one reason and one reason only:

Bob Ross' Joy of Painting television show.

Yes, really.

He loved everything about it (so I'm told): The afro (have you seen this picture of Joel? (scroll down)), Bob's existential way of teaching his art, and especially the "happy little accidents." In fact, I'd wager that he enjoyed the entertainment experience much more than he did the actual creation of beautiful Rossian landscapes.

Recently, he has discovered a channel on our newfangled rabbit-eared digital TV (we have no cable, no sattelite, no DVR) that shows Bob Ross almost all day. I mean, who knew he was in such demand? And I have to admit, he does draw you in with all of his happy trees and cute little squirrels that just might live behind them.

Chloe is hooked.

The thing is, she really cares about the art. I don't think it matters to her that Bob has great hair, is a flower-child, or that he doesn't make mistakes. She can't wait to try everything he does herself.

So, I'm thinking that I'll need to buy her a couple canvases, an easel and some paints. Maybe.

We'll see.

For now, we'll just keep spending our Saturday mornings (and afternoons and evenings) with Bob.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Five Bouquets
(One of these things is not like the others)

It's concert season, and what with the two of us having the gall to move in August, we're getting a lot of amazing send-offs.

And that means flowers. Lots and lots of them--my kitchen looks a little like a flower shop these days. Plus, I'm running out of vases.

These were given to me by Katie, one of my Tuacahn students, on the last day of voice lessons.

Bouquet from Katie

These were given to me by In Jubilo, the women's chorus I sing with and assistant conduct. Not only did they give me lovely flowers, but a lovely tribute. My favorite part was, "Lara can sing while holding one child on her hip and helping another find her doll." The whole thing made me cry, so it's lucky they did it after the duet I sang. Probably not lucky, really. Smart.


In Jubilo bouquet


These were given to Joel by his high school orchestra at the final concert the other night. He was also given a lovely tribute. His favorite part was, "Dr. Neves only threw his baton at us a few times." I'm sure all baton-throwing was purely accidental.

Another orchestra bouquet


These were given to Joel by one of the parents of an orchestra member, said parent is also a member of the community orchestra which Joel assistant conducts.


Orchestra bouquet

And these are the best of all. Given to Joel by his high school orchestra.

Snickers bouquet (yum!)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Motherly feelings

I knew I was a mother when I first found I was expecting Bria. I knew I was a mother as I carried her for 9 months, and was willing to do it, even though that meant vomiting constantly and not being able to leave the couch.

But I didn't feel like a mother.

I knew I was a mother when I woke up at 2 in the morning and realized I was in labor. I knew I was a mother when I heard her first cries and I couldn't wait to meet the baby that I had planned for and loved for months.

But I didn't feel like a mother.

I knew I was a mother when they placed that beautiful baby girl in my arms. I knew I was a mother when I gazed into her eyes as she stared back at me, looking into my very soul, and I felt I had already known her forever.

And yet, I still didn't feel like a mother.

I knew I was a mother when I never got any sleep because I was waking up every hour to feed her. I knew I was a mother when I didn't even mind that feeding my baby meant excruciating pain, at least for the first few weeks.

But I didn't feel like a mother.

Perhaps it was the exhaustion of the first few months of new motherhood. The going through the motions, but not really being conscious of them. I wondered if maybe motherhood was something you grew into, instead of something that is thrust upon you (although it is definitely that!). Whatever the reason, and no matter how much I loved that baby, I just didn't really feel like a mommy. Not yet.

And then one day when she was 5 weeks old, she smiled at me and said ah-goo. My heart jumped from my chest and I wanted to tell everyone on earth just how amazing my baby was. After marveling at her and coaxing her to repeat her genius gooing and flash that gorgeous grin at me just one more time, I realized it: Nobody else would really care that my offspring just said her first consonant. Nobody else could possibly derive the same kind of joy from her smile as I did. And painful as it was to admit, nobody else was likely to even notice how amazing my baby was.

But I did.

And I finally felt like a mother.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Sometimes it just takes a grandpa

Bria came to this life with extreme caution. As fun-loving and wonderful as she is, the prospect of trying something new is less than thrilling to her. In fact, the prospect of trying something new basically strikes terror into her heart.

As her mother, I've learned to watch and wait and mostly let her go at her own pace. If I ever see that her own pace is not going anywhere, sometimes I intervene--like the time I threw her into the pool at her third swimming lesson of sitting on the sidelines and not even daring to put so much as a toe into the water. (Just in case you're wondering, that was successful and she is quite the little fish nowadays.)

However, learning to ride a bike has turned out to be one of those moments where I felt I should just wait. So what if most kids these days have it down pat by the age of four? Bria has been perfectly content with her scooter (which took overcoming a bit of fear itself) and I figured that if she really felt out of the loop, she'd eventually learn. Bike riding is not a life skill that gets neglected too often.

I do admit I have worried though. It's not like Joel and I are all that into biking. I finally sold my much-neglected mountain bike at a garage sale last summer, realizing the last time I had ridden it was probably to get to a class my sophomore year of college. Chloe learned on the bike we bought for Bria for her third birthday. The bike she was so excited about, and yet became terrified of after she tried to climb on it for the first time. I worked with her quite a bit on that tiny little bike, but she was just too worried for it to ever work. So, it got put away in the garage with my mountain bike until Chloe showed interest in it, learned how to ride it pretty well, and then grew out of it. Bria probably sat on it for a total of six minutes.

But, nobody seemed to mind that there was a major lack of bicycling happening in front of our house and I continued to wait it out.

And then I went up north for Women's Conference this past weekend. I really only got there in time to meet a friend for lunch and then go see my mom's class, so I left the kids with my dad. After I was finished, I called to see how it was all going and my dad informed me that he had taught Bria how to ride a bike. You can imagine my surprise.

Surprise that turned into complete shock when he added the words "without training wheels."

Really? My Bria? Learning to ride a bike in a matter of a few hours and completely without training wheels? It's practically a miracle!

When I called Joel and told him, his response was, "I'm a terrible father." Which, of course, we all know is absolutely false.

Sometimes it just takes a grandpa.

It takes a grandpa

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Cause for celebration throughout the land

Sophie is officially potty trained!

She hasn't had an accident in nearly a week.

She has stayed dry at night for a week.

She can even go all by herself (and insists on it, usually).

We tried a few months ago, and she did a pretty good job, but then she got stubborn and refused to wear anything but diapers. So we let it alone for a bit.

I decided to try again last week, and this time, it worked like a charm.

Nice to have that one out of the way.

Monday, May 04, 2009

A safe haven

I have seen "Monster's, Inc" 1,492 times. Give or take a few hundred. Seems this movie is always the favorite when my kids are around age 2. Bria called it "corporated" and watched it multiple times a day when I was dying on the couch pregnant with Chloe. Chloe called it "monsters" and saw it quite a bit, too, but since I was not pregnant I tried to limit her to once per day. Sophia calls it "int" and has been on her kick for months now. She even finally wore out the video tape we had when Bria was tiny and I had to go buy the DVD.

Sophia is funny when she watches it. That very first scene--the one where you see the child sleeping in a dark room and then the monster sneaks in to harvest his screams--scares Sophia to death. Interestingly enough, what frightens her is the anticipation of something scary. The shadows on the walls, the darkness, the music. Once she sees the monster's eyes, she's fine and starts to laugh because she knows what happens next. During the dark part, she either puts her blanket on her head and stealthily peeks out every few seconds or else she runs to my arms and actually dares to watch the whole thing, as long as I am holding her.

If there has to be a movie for me to see thousands of times, I'm glad it's this one. I actually really like it a lot. Besides its cleverness, I think it has taught me a little bit about being a parent. I love the scene where Waternoose needs Sully to demonstrate his scaring prowess, and when he finally does, he doesn't realize that Boo is right there. Boo is suddenly terrified of the big blue monster that she had previously trusted implicitly. Consequently, she finds solace in the arms of Mr. Waternoose, who seems to her to be the next safe adult around.

The other day, I lost patience with Sophie, and I hurt her feelings. She wouldn't have anything to do with me for a while after that and was crying for Daddy, the next safe adult in her world. I thought back to that scene in the movie and I realized that I literally do become a monster in the eyes of my children when I yell at my kids. It is definitely one of my biggest weaknesses as a parent, and I'm constantly working on it. Yes, I can blame PMS and I can blame low blood sugar, two very real occurrences in my life, but can I really? Shouldn't I be able to learn how to stay calm? For whatever it's worth, I am trying.

Later that night, after we had kissed and made-up, Sophie wanted to sleep with me. Which was fine, because Joel was out of town, and I always let her then. When we got into bed there was a scary shadow on the ceiling because of the way my super-bright alarm clock was sitting. Sophie looked at it for a while, and then told me it scared her, and put her blanket right on her head, just like she does when she's watching the movie. Just when I thought she had fallen asleep, she would peek her eyes out to see if the shadow was still there, and then quickly hide again. I finally realized I could probably just move the alarm clock so it wasn't casting any shadows and I happened to move it right when she was stealing another glance at the ceiling. Instead of just going away, the shadow looked like it was growing across the top of the room and it really scared her. She rolled over and grabbed onto me and buried her head into the pillow.

Eventually, she worked up the confidence to look up, and was relieved to find the shadow gone. Then she cuddled up to me and fell asleep. Safe in her mother's arms.

As I was trying to fall asleep myself, I made a few resolutions. Never again do I want to be the monster in my children's lives, PMS or not. No, I want to be the one whose arms they run to when the monsters of the world are chasing them. I want to be the safe haven.

Be the Safe Haven for your children--not the monster

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Saturday, May 02, 2009

Chloe's spiritual side

The other day while we were driving Chloe asked me if I knew where Jesus was that very second.

Before I could answer, she said, "I know! He's probably at the church.....or else He's hugging someone that just died and went to Heaven.....or else maybe He's answering somebody's prayer."

Friday, May 01, 2009

Why I will never again eat maraschino cherries and other stuff that must be said

Joel bought an issue of Popular Science last week when he was out of town. I know, kind of weird for him. Anyway, he pointed out to me a little blurb that so thoroughly grossed me out that I must share it with you. So you can be just as squicked by it as I am.

Ready? You might want to sit down.

Apparently, the red dye used in strawberry yogurt, maraschino cherries and fake crabmeat comes from crushed female cochineal beetles. ICK! Looks like some consumer advocates are demanding it be written that way on ingredient lists (currently, it's only listed as "artificial color"), and by 2011 it will be listed correctly. Until then, beware. No more strawberry yogurt. I'd stick with vanilla if I were you.

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My left pinky toe has been numb for more than a week. Is this something I should be worried about?

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Joel is rather taken with his new deodorant. As he finished using it the other day, he said:

"This is the most divine thing ever created! Well, besides you. And the kids. And the Gospel. And Mississippi Mud Pie. And Dad's stuffed cabbage. And....okay, so it's not really that great."

I'm just happy that I rank right up there with the divinity of Mississppi Mud Pie. That's pretty darn divine, if you ask me.

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Sophia, Miss Fearless herself, has been downright scared of taking baths of late. It's quite the struggle to get her in the tub while she's kicking and screaming things like "No! The watee getame!" Not sure what about the water is going to get her, but she used to love taking baths so much she'd ask for several a day and have to be denied. Why can't it just be easy?

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It's May! It's May! It's May!

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Only a little more than 3 months until our cross-country move. There is so much I need to be doing to get ready, and I'm not really sure where to start. The most I've really done so far is gather a few things here and there to be sold in a garage/yard/moving/tag/rummage sale. However, now that I am totally and completely done with voice lessons, I will have the time and freedom to organize and purge.

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You know that saying, "When Momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy"? Well, I think that (speaking of organization) when Momma ain't organized, ain't nobody organized. At least not in my house. Unfortunately for my house, I am not the most organized of the human race. I rank pretty low on the list, I'm quite sure. I try hard, but, well...anyway, I need to try harder.

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Did you hear about Deseret Book taking the Twilight Series off its shelves? Interesting. I know that I am one of the minority when it comes to this book (I really didn't like any of them), so I am actually fine with it. But wow, it sure has caused a stir on the Deseret News article. Lots of interesting comments to read there. My favorite is the one that read the first book only and is therefore an expert on all of the things people were saying, mostly regarding the content of the fourth book. Umm...not so much, sweetie.

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Happy Friday! See you at Women's Conference today, maybe?