Sunday, November 29, 2009

Abundance

All set


Our Thanksgiving was lovely. We invited friends (a theater professor and his wife, who is an adjunct music professor and their two children) to share our meal with us. We had excellent company, excellent conversation, and above all, excellent food.  And 8 pies, because they brought three.  Couldn't ask for a better day.

I haven't posted much in the way of gratitudes this month, but that doesn't mean I haven't felt it.  I couldn't let November end without expressing it at least a little.

I am amazed at how blessed I am.  We have so much, my little family and me.

A home to shelter us.

Food to nourish us.

A car to transport us.

A job to provide for us.

Children to teach us.

The Gospel to sustain us.

Parents to love us.

Friends to enrich us.

And beauty all around to inspire us.

As November closes and we move into the Christmas season, I hope to keep the spirit of gratitude in my heart, especially for my Savior.  I hope to instill in my children that same sense of thankfulness for the rich blessings we enjoy daily, so that Christmas remains focused on its true meaning and not gifts and Santa Claus.

This week, I won't be around much as I will be practicing my heart out for Messiah which we will perform Saturday night.  I am grateful for the opportunity, because it is yet another thing that will help me to focus on Christ this Christmas.

For Unto Us a Child is Born....

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

It's 5:45 in the morning and I am already home from my Black Friday shopping! Pretty amazing.

I got to Penney's at 4:20, after it had already opened, and I still got a door prize for being one of the first however many customers.

Finished up there and headed over to ShopKo, where the line came just barely out of the front doors. Lovely! I am used to that line going all the way to the end of the parking lot.

I didn't bother with WalMart, and it did look a bit busier than the rest. Nothing there that I wanted.

Got some great deals, spent too much money and am looking forward to getting all the Christmas decor up today. We even have a dusting of snow outside.

Perfect.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

P is for Pie

And for me, Thanksgiving is all about the pie.  Turkey, schmerky.  Bring on the PIE!!!

Joel's in charge of the dinner, I'm in charge of pies.

This year, I made

two kinds of PumPkin

Pumpkin swirl


Pumpkin


Pear

Pear


aPPle

aPPle


And Joel made us a Pecan, just because he's never made a pie and wanted to try his hand. 

Pecan


(Forgive the icky quality of that photo.  I didn't think to get the tripod out until the other pies, and I didn't redo this one.  Trust me, it looks delish!)

Happy Thanksgiving!

(Enjoy your pies!)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Why we're all visiting the dentist and the eye doctor next week

Since Joel started working in mid-August, we only elected to have $100.00 put into our Flexible Spending Account for the rest of the calendar year.  We figured that should cover any co-pays or surprise ER visits for 4 months.  We're not big doctor-goers and we're generally healthy.  Plus we all got new glasses in April.

Well, as luck would have it, somebody entered our $100.00 for the year as $100.00 per paycheck.  We just noticed the error last week, which is obviously a bit late in the game.  We were able to stop it coming out for the next two paychecks, but that still leaves us stuck with $700.00 in our FSA, which is more than we have ever in our lives put in for an entire year, much less 4 1/2 months.

And we have to use it all by December 26.

Chloe's broken wrist has been the only expense so far since moving here, as the insurance covers all well child exams completely.  Our out of pocket for the wrist?  A whopping $75.00.

So.  We can either go buy $625.00 worth of Band-Aids, aspirin and saline solution for the contact lenses I only wear once a week or so, or we can get new glasses (again) and dental work done.  Normally, I'd hope we didn't have a lot of dental work, but now I'm hoping that there are some unforeseen problems that we can take care of with our unwitting healthcare "windfall."

I'm also hoping that if we aren't able to use it, that we can plead our case further and be reimbursed for the unused portion.  Because the benefits lady took Joel's file out this morning, and clear as day it said Annual Election-$100.00.  

I'm not holding my breath, though.

Moral of the story?

Always read your check stubs and don't be surprised if I give you athlete's foot cream and Tylenol for Christmas.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Stuff I am not grateful for.
(But really I am.)

A few days ago, Sophia managed to wet her bed and mine, all in the same night.  Because I was a little too tired to bother with changing her sheets, I let her come to bed with me after the first incident.  And then she managed to repeat herself in my bed, less than two hours later.  As if this wasn't bad enough, she was cuddled up so closely to me that she also wet me.

Naturally, this wasn't something I could sleep through, and there were no more beds left.  So, I had to wake up Joel and we changed the sheets.  Then I changed Sophia's clothes for the second time that night, and then changed my own.  Lots of changing.

In the morning, my plans for the day were a bit derailed as I stripped Sophia's bed, and hauled all the urine-soaked items to the basement to do a few loads of laundry.  Situations like these do not generally make me very happy, so I was muttering to myself as I tromped down to my dungeon of a laundry room.

I was definitely not grateful for the situation by any stretch of the imagination.


Somewhere between starting the first load and beginning to sort the other hampers, it hit me.  There are probably hundreds of women who would give anything to have the kind of morning I was having.  They'd probably even give quite a bit to have the kind of night I had, wet beds and all.

What if I didn't have a washing machine to quickly take care of the problem?  What if I didn't have sheets or beds to be wet in the first place?  And, worst of all, what if I didn't even have Sophia to wet them? 

That would be a lot worse than the minor inconvenience of waking up at 2 am to change the sheets and having extra laundry to do the next day.

How many things in life are like that?  It's impossible to count.  I'm guessing for nearly every annoyance or complaint you have, you can turn it into a gratitude.  Here are a few more I thought of.

Dirty Dishes.  Boy do they ever pile up.  Sometimes, like laundry, they seem never ending.  Unless I begin to use paper goods entirely, they will always be there.  As much as I hate doing them, it means I have food on my table and children who aren't hungry.  It means I have a sink to wash them in (no dishwasher here) and cupboards to keep them in.

Laundry.  Doing all of the mountains I do week after week gets pretty old.  But it means my children have (lots of) clothes to wear.  It means my husband and I have clothing.  It means we will stay warm through the winter.  It means I have sheets and blankets on my bed.  And I'm not out in the river scrubbing my hands raw to clean it all.

Toys all over the house.   I may trip on them and I may throw up my hands in defeat when the kids forget the fact that we have a playroom and bring everything to the kitchen (and the living room, and their bedrooms, and my bedroom, and the bathroom) to play with, but it means we have plenty of toys for them.  It means I have a big enough house for them to be strewn all over the place.  It means I have children who want to be where I am, and not upstairs alone in the playroom.

Cleaning the toilet.  Quite possibly one of the worst jobs in the house, but it means I have a toilet.  It means I live in a day and age where things are so darn convenient, I don't have to bundle myself up and traipse through weather and mud to get to an outhouse.  It means potty training is a heck of a lot easier. 

Vacuuming.  This is the one chore that always seems to be moved to the next day because I run out of time.  But when I finally do get to it, it means I have a way to clean my floors that is quick and easy.  It means I don't have to pull my rugs outside and beat them with a stick.  It means I have rugs to clean, and children to grind crackers into them.

Paying bills.  There is nothing more exciting than watching your entire paycheck go flying out the window to tithing, to the bank, to the insurance company, to the electricity people, to the preschool and music teachers, to the student loan, to the mortgage.  But it means we have the money to have all of those things.  It means my husband has a job.  It means we are responsible adults.

Exercising.  Nope, don't love it yet.  But the fact that I can do it means I have a body that is working.  It means I am basically healthy.  It means I have time to think and ponder, or time to just watch TV.  It means I am overcoming my tendency to not exercise.

I think I'll end there, but you get my drift.  There is always a silver lining, and I have been trying to focus more on that part of my laundry-filled life, instead of the part where I have to do laundry and I hate it.  Because, as it turns out, I don't hate it.  I love it, because I am truly blessed.

Now, what are you not grateful for (but really you are)?

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Time Flies When You Waste It.

I have a stack of magazines that I haven't read.  They just keep accumulating as I turn my attentions to other projects and necessities.  Real SimpleBetter Homes and Gardens.  Classical Singer MagazineMartha Stewart Living.  Even The Ensign on my nightstand has been a little neglected lately.

Last week I finally found a bit of downtime and snuggled up in my comforter to read after the kids were safely in their own beds.  As I was flipping along, trying to digest all of the information (Diet No More!  Eat Well, Stay Healthy, Feel Great!; Get Organized, Stay Organized; Simple Paint Tricks to Perk Up Any Room; The Singer's Purse; Beautiful Wrapping Ideas; Spend Less This Season) I came across a quote that hit me hard enough to make me stop and really think.

"Those who make the worst use of their time are the first to complain of its brevity."                             ~La Bruyere, Characters

I am forever wishing that each day held double its allotment of hours, because I can never manage to finish all that is on my daily list.  Often I am frustrated because, yet again, I just plain forgot to do the laundry while I was busy doing some other project that struck my fancy.  Like painting the bathroom in the middle of a crazy week, for instance.  I really honestly think that I could complete all of the tasks on my daily lists, but by the end of the day, I realize it is a hopeless quest.  I have simply run out of time.

I have generally chalked it up to having expectations that are way too high for myself.  I am not Martha Stewart, after all.  What I am is a mother of young children.  That makes for some interesting side trips on my daily to-do list.  I don't wake up each morning and plan to clean up an entire box of Cheerios from the kitchen floor.  I don't foresee having to change and wash the sheets on two beds because Sophia managed to wet both hers and mine during the night.  I definitely never thought that cleaning toothpaste out of my own hair would ever take top priority in a day. Broken wrists, fevers and coughs, runny noses--these can grind vacuuming to a halt, leave dirty dishes in the sink for hours and sometimes days, and easily push practicing right out the window.

You will all be quick to reassure me that yes, this is most certainly the case.  I simply try to do too much, and of course, there are the children.  I'm normal.  I shouldn't worry. I accomplish enough. And yet, that quote I read struck something deep within me.  Something about it rang a little bit too true.  I don't make the best use of the time I am given.  Far too much of it is wasted doing things that matter little in the grand scheme of things.  Or even in the littlest scheme of things, really.

Let's just be honest here.  I waste time.

Period.

I have always freely admitted my distaste in being beholden to schedules and to the clock.  I completely resent being immersed in a project (however unimportant) and having to watch the time because I have some annoying commitment.  I also completely resent having to stick to just one thing.  I like to flit between projects.  This happens on both a macro scale, evidenced in my frequent "kicks" which are dropped with not a thought when I tire of them, and a micro scale, evidenced in my inability to finish making my bed when I think of something I need to do upstairs.

If only I didn't waste so many minutes during my day.  I could be truly great.

So, the other day, I stayed focused and on task.  I really thought about what I wanted to accomplish, vs. what needed to be accomplished.  I thought about my kids and their needs.  I scheduled it out and I executed.

I conquered the list that day.

Can I do this every day?  No.  In fact, the very next day I was back to my old ways: wasting time on the computer, flitting from job to job and never completing any task, putting in a load of laundry and totally forgetting about it, being annoyed at commitments I had made to others because it left me less time to do the nothing I was already in the middle of doing.

I have learned a little about myself.  There's nothing wrong with thinking big and trying to do everything, but a schedule and a plan is paramount.  And I may be just humbled enough to submit to a teensy bit more order in my life. 

We'll see how it goes.

Could I be any more uninspiring?

I was all set to write a wonderful and inspiring blog last night.  I still will, when I find the time to write it.  The problem was, the internet decided to die in the middle of my exercise session (I ride my stationary bike and watch online TV)(yes, I am slowly but surely becoming an exerciser) and I couldn't get it back up to save my life.

So, no inspiring blog post for me.  Or you, for that matter.

But I have certainly been productive these last couple days!  My bathroom is painted and decorated.  Folks, it looks AMAZING.  But you'll have to wait until I show you my kitchen to see it.  That's first.  Because I finally got new curtains in there.

Yesterday the kids were off school because of teacher inservice.  Turned out to be yet another blessing in disguise, because this meant Sophia had playmates home and didn't need to be my shadow all day as she normally is.  Which is fine, but it makes painting a little difficult.  So, yesterday morning I finished painting the bathroom and putting it all together.  I cleaned the house.  I taught two voice lessons.  I practiced.  I made my children practice (they fought over who got to practice first...now that is an argument I love to hear!).  I cleaned some more.  I took Sophia to her Music class.  I dropped Bria off at her orchestra rehearsal.  I came home and did dishes and then hosted scrapbooking night at my house.  Three other ladies came and I got two more pages done.  That makes six for the year of 2009, all done in the last two weeks. Be excited. I caught up on e-mails. I exercised.   And I almost blogged.

Joel and I are out the door now for our Thursday morning date.  We are going to plan our YM/YW activity.  Did I tell you?  He got called as Young Men's President.  There's a good story to be told about that, but again it will have to wait for another day.  Suffice it to say, he loves it.  We love it.  We are a team. 

Perhaps when I come home I will write the blog that is kicking around in my mind.  For now, be uninspired.

Toodles!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Tender Mercies

I love how ever since Elder Bednar gave that talk in General Conference, it's just part of the vernacular.

I'm trying to do too many things at once.  I tend to do this in my life.  And then I become overwhelmed and go to bed.  Anyway, today I'm trying to finish painting my bathroom.  I did some on it yesterday, but it turned out I hated the color so I have to redo today.  On top of all other duties, plus I have my first Messiah rehearsal in front of the orchestra tonight.  Scary.  Especially since the Maestro has only taken over one of my practice sessions, so I'm not really sure what to expect.

Two tender mercies today.  First, my afternoon voice lesson called and cancelled.  I was thinking of calling her to reschedule, but decided I bring this all on myself.  So I was really thankful that she still cancelled in the end.  Second, Joel is home sick from work.  Not really merciful for him, but since our bathroom has vaulted ceilings, I needed him to help me with a few corners.  I told him it's a good thing I'm tall, or I would have needed him a lot more!

Now I'm closer to being done on the bathroom.  Just need to paint doors and trim now (biggest job, probably) and I have the entire afternoon to do it in!  No teaching in my paint clothes or anything.

I'm off to pick up Sophia from preschool, feed her lunch, and get back to work.

What tender mercies have you had in your life lately?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Thank Full

Last year I did my whole "Month of  Thanksgiving" series in November.  I loved doing it, but I just didn't have the energy or wherewithal to do it this year.  But, you can't blog in November without being grateful for something, sometime.

Bria actually made a little book last Saturday which she calls "Bria's Thanksgiving Book."  She did this all on her own volition and creativity.  And I love it.

Here are its contents:

I am thank full for my bed and clothing and stuff that is warm.


I am thank full for my parents giving me food and desserts.


I am thank full for my house and my shelter


I am thank full for my school.


I am thank full for The Church.


I am thank full for the world.


I am thank full for all of the hugs and kisses I get.


I am thank full for all of the resteraunts I get to go to.


I am thank full for my violin talents.


I am thank full for nature.


I am thank full for Family Home Evening.


I am thank full for the animals.


I am thank full for our car.


I am thank full for games to play.


I am thank full for Heavenly Father and Jesus.


I am thank full for my family!


I am thank full for Mom's enchaladas.


I am thank full for Dad's oat cookies.


I am thank full for Chloe and the pictures she draws me.


I am thank full for Sophie and her cuteness.



As for me?

I am thank full for that little girl and the joy she brings to our household.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Finnish Flavor: Pannukakku

Lately, Joel and I have been doing our weekly date on Thursday mornings.  Somewhat unconventional I realize, but it saves us the babysitter trouble, Sophia's in school and (obviously) Joel doesn't have to teach.  It has actually been wonderful and we can't wait for Thursday to come around each week.
Suomi Cafe


This past Thursday we decided to go to breakfast at a local place called Suomi Cafe.  I know the picture says Suomi Restaurant, but I have never heard anybody refer to it as anything but a cafe.  Go figure.

Anyway, in case you're wondering, Suomi means Finland.  I've mentioned it before, but this town/area is basically little Finland.  When Bria did her Heritage Day at school the teacher mentioned that it was a stretch to find any other ancestry but Finnish for about half the class.  I've begun to really learn what makes a Finnish surname, as well as plenty of first names.  And now I have tried some Finnish food (besides the pulla my two good college friends always made at Christmas time) (they served their missions in Finland) (it was yummy) and have lots of plans to try more.

We ordered the normal eggs and sausage but we added Finnish French Toast (funny name, eh?) and Pannu Kakku.  Which, if you haven't already figured it out, is a pancake.

But!

It is a pancake unlike anything you have ever had.  And it is to die for.  We were in heaven.

So much so, that for Friday night (just a day later), Joel found himself a recipe and made us breakfast for dinner.  Eggs, sausage and Pannu Kakku.  I'd have taken a picture of the custardy, mouth-watering goodness, but we ate it much too quickly to think of getting the camera out.

But here is the recipe (courtesy Allrecipes.com).  I know the ingredients make it look pretty ordinary, but it isn't.  It is decadent.  Really.

We ate it with raspberry or blackberry jam (locally made) on top. But you can use syrup or whatever you like.

Enjoy!

Updated 6/2015: Now that we have been gluten-free for several years, we still use this recipe and just substitute rice flour for the all-purpose four and it works out woderfully!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Melt the butter in a 9x13 inch pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt. Add the beaten eggs and milk; mix well. Tilt the baking pan to coat all of the sides with butter, then pour the excess butter into the batter, and mix until combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  3. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Serve hot. 

Friday, November 13, 2009

An Unfortunate Name

Photoshop is giving me all sorts of issues, or I would be sharing pictures instead.  I went to bed at 1:00 am after trying to edit three pictures for about four hours.  Yes.  I am stupid.  I should have just given up, but I did get a couple of pictures edited.  Sort of.

Sigh.

I think I may need to ask for a new computer for Christmas.

Anyway.  I have this notebook.  And in it are lots of ideas for blog posts.  I have a ton that I haven't gotten around to writing yet.  Mostly because the ideas don't strike me as all that wonderful anymore.  A few would just take way too much time to actually compose, and a few others are just random things the kids have said that I'd like to remember.

So here's a Chloe-ism for this Friday morning in which I am exhausted and got up late and have no pictures to share anyway.

A few months ago my kids got the movie Sinbad.  They watched it a bunch for a while, as they usually do when they get a new DVD.

One night at dinner Chloe said, "Sinbad isn't a good name, is it?.  Because 'sin' and 'bad' are in it!"

Joel countered that it actually was a good name.  Because sin is bad. 

A reminder, so to speak.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Even at the end of the world, it's still pretty darn small.

Does the smallness of our world ever amaze you?  Because it certainly does me.  I thought that moving out here to what locals really do refer to as "The End of the World" I would find I knew nobody.  And I was mostly right.  But I also didn't think I would have many connections with anybody, either.  And there I was completely wrong.

Just a few stories (of many).

My first vocal student, acquired in my first two weeks of living here, is a lovely lady named Barbara.  When I was first talking to her on the phone, she mentioned that she had been faculty at a university that is about 3 hours from here, and had taken some voice lessons from, "a wonderful man" there.

I had to ask.  Did this wonderful man happen to be one of my good friends from my undergraduate days at BYU?  Why yes. He did.  She even used to call him her "Mormon Zen Master"--which he has since verified.

Of course, I knew he taught at that particular university due to the modern technology of Facebook.  Still, I thought that it was absolutely crazy that I should be her next vocal teacher!

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

Since our Stake is headquartered in Green Bay, Wisconsin we have to drive quite a distance for Stake Conference.  About 4 hours each way.  And since Stake Conference is a two day sort of event, that means we either must get a hotel or stay with local members.  Since we are not made of money, we chose the stay with members option.

In order for that to work out, you call a brother whose calling it is to set-up accommodations for out-of-towners.  When we got the name of our hosts, who really don't have a super common last name, Joel mentioned that he was sure we knew someone by that name.  I was just as sure we didn't, because I don't remember hearing the surname ever before, but maybe he did.

Well, we went to the Saturday sessions, made acquaintance with the couple with whom we would be staying, and then followed them home for the night.  When we got there, they "introduced" us to their children via family portraits hanging on the walls.  Turns out one of them teaches English in Utah.  At Cedar High School.  In case you aren't familiar with Joel's job history, that is where he taught orchestra for the past three years.  And this particular English teacher had an office directly across the hallway from his.

I know the Church tends to make the world even smaller, but still.  It was astounding to our newly made friends and they immediately called their daughter to tell her just exactly who would be sleeping in her bedroom that night.

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

Finally, one last quick fun one.  As you know, scrapbooking is used to be a big part of my life.  I wish I could say it was right now, but having to work as much as I did the last few years, something had to go and it was scrapbooking.  I do it now and again, but haven't been able to find my previous passion for it.  I did, however, find a group of ladies that like to scrapbook together and went to the crop last night so that's exciting!  First scrapping I've done since December.  Scary.

I digress.  Anyway, as the scrapbooking addict I once was, I  hung out often at a very large scrapbooking message board.  I specifically hung out on the publications board, where another lovely scrapbooker (who has not lost steam and I am so impressed) named "Torm" (aka Sharyn) also hung out.  She's had a blog for forever, and I have read it since day one.

I did get quite a bit behind on her blog this past spring, and as I was going through reading it she made some mention of how she used to go to her grandparents every weekend to take sauna.  Her grandparents in Houghton.  I knew she lived in Michigan, but before Joel's interview here (which he had just returned from) I had never heard of Houghton.  I quickly realized that many of the childhood stories Sharyn often recounts on her blog, and pictures both past and present, were all about what might become my new home.

Then Joel actually did get the job, and we moved here and all of that.  I still haven't met Sharyn in person as she lives downstate, but we have communicated a lot lately, and come to find out I actually looked at her grandparents' home--the very one she used to take sauna in every weekend--while I was on the hunt for a place to call ours.

Sharyn blogged all about it recently and you can read it here.

So there you have it.

It's a small world.  And that's true whether you live at the end of it, at the beginning or somewhere in the middle.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Saving Sammy

I'm excited to have another opportunity to review a book for TLC Book Tours.  This time the book I am reviewing is Saving Sammy: Curing the Boy Who Caught OCD by Beth Maloney. 

Honestly, I kind of ignored the book for a while after TLC sent it to me, simply because I thought it would be fairly heavy subject matter (being a true story about an ailing child and all) and I wasn't really in the mood for that kind of a read at the moment.

Imagine my surprise when I finally did pick up the book to start reading and found that I could not put it down.  Beth Maloney is a seriously talented writer and the book read more like a novel than the play-by-play of how you can also help your child in such a horrible situation that I assumed it would be.  Her story is riveting, and she brought me right in.  I found myself feeling her anguish as a mother as she watched her son deal with the horrible compulsions brought on by OCD.  I found myself feeling relief when they finally started to get promising information, disappointment when hopeful cures did not work, and absolute joy when Sammy finally began to get better.

Not only does this book serve to educate about how Strep can be a very real cause for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, but I came away wanting to be a better advocate for my children.  Beth's experience taught me that I should never take a doctor's answers at face value.  Especially if I knew in my heart that more could be done.  A parent's job is to exhaust every avenue until you know that your child has received the absolute best care possible.

Obviously, I haven't had a situation that is quite as dire as what Beth Maloney faced with Sammy, but I can think of a few times where I have had to be a little forceful with doctors.  There is the time that Bria had pneumonia, only the pediatrician swore that it was just a virus or something and did nothing.  I took her into that office two days in a row, paid a lot of money in co-pays, only to be told it wasn't anything to worry about.  Finally, I took her into the ER, where she was properly diagnosed with pneumonia by the doctor there.  It was a hard decision for me, because I don't like to overreact about things, but I am so happy I refused to take my pediatrician's word for it, and got my daughter the care she needed.

Then there was the time that Chloe had 6 ear infections back-to-back.  They would go away for a few days while she was on antibiotics, but return as soon as we finished the series.  We tried several different types of antibiotic with the same poor result.  The pediatrician I had then (different one from Bria's pneumonia incident) didn't think she needed tubes and just wanted to keep trying antibiotics. The poor baby (13 months old) had such a horrible yeast rash by this time that I was ready to never give her another antibiotic again.  I had to push hard to get a referral to an ENT, where she was immediately slated to get tubes put in and hasn't had an ear infection since.

But those experiences are nothing compared to what Beth Maloney did for her child.  When her doctors wouldn't look beyond face value, or listen to the research she had uncovered, she fired them.  She combed the country and was willing to travel far distances in order to get Sammy the help that he so badly needed.  After several frustrating experiences with medical and mental health professionals, she finally found a savior in Dr. Catherine Nicolaides, who had treated several children with OCD successfully with antibiotics.

Yes.  Antibiotics.

Because apparently, there are a number of children who develop OCD due to Strep.  Most of the medical field that Beth dealt with seemed to discount this research, or ignore it entirely, to her great frustration.  But after finding Dr. Nicolaides, she found hope, and eventually a cure, for Sammy.

And she continues to be an advocate.  Not only did she write this book to educate others, but she has helped many people get to the bottom of their own children's problems as well.  She helped a friend whose son had been diagnosed with autism find out that his autistic tendencies were actually due to Lyme disease.  There is research out there that supports this, and yet nobody asked those questions at first.

Be an advocate for your children.  Ask the tough questions.  Do your research.  That's what I learned from this book.  It really isn't about OCD at all.  It's about being a real parent.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Truth Fairy

Tonight I stealthily switched one of Bria's teeth for a dollar.  Nothing incredibly new about the activity.  I've actually done it quite a lot by now.  I always pay a dollar, sometimes in quarters or even dimes and nickels depending on what's in my wallet when a tooth is lost.  Tonight's tooth has been under her pillow for nearly a week--also nothing new in our tooth fairy's history.  She's actually pretty delinquent most of the time.

But, there was something new, and I'm not sure I liked it.

Bria knows that the Tooth Fairy is me.

You go along as a parent, doing all of the things that your parents did for you, and you never really stop to think about what will happen when your child actually does stop and think and then question those things.  Like the Tooth Fairy.

(Really?  There's an actual fairy who goes around in the middle of the night paying children for their lost baby teeth which have been carefully hidden under their pillows?) Yeah.  Kind of silly and gross and weird all at the same time.

But also fun.

And a bit incredible.

Which is why, on the day Bria lost her tooth she asked me about it.

"Mom?  Is there really such thing as the Tooth Fairy?"

I have promised myself that I would always tell the truth about anything my kids asked me.  Maybe not the entire truth, but enough to answer the question at hand. If they are old enough to ask, they are old enough to have an answer.  So far, this theory has served me well, and while I've had to answer a few uncomfortable questions, the answers have been satisfactory for my children and life has gone on.

So, I told her the truth.  Yes, there is a Tooth Fairy, and you're looking right at her.  No, I never actually called her all those times to remind her to come and get your tooth already, it was just a way to cover up the fact that I always forget to get the tooth (or fall asleep before you do).  It's just a fun way for parents to help children be excited about their lost baby teeth and earn a little fun money on the side.  And you'd better not tell your sisters!  It's a very special secret, and they don't know yet.

She wasn't disappointed at all.  Only a little worried that now that she knew the truth she wouldn't get paid for her teeth.  I assured her that of course the Tooth Fairy would always come for her teeth.  Eventually.

And then she said, "But Santa's real. Because there is no way you and Dad would ever buy me all the stuff that Santa does!  Of course HE'S real!!!"

And I let out a huge sigh of relief.

I don't like my kids getting older.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Cruel

Ms. DeVille


I didn't dress up for the Friday night Treat Street thing. But I did dress up on Saturday for actual Halloween. Too bad hardly anyone saw my costume to appreciate all the work I did on my hair. It may have been easier to buy a wig.

After the lovely Friday night weather, Saturday was cold and rainy. Joel took the girls Trick-or-Treating through our neighborhood while I stayed home to pass out candy. I was kind of shocked at how few Trick-or-Treaters I had. Maybe five groups of kids total. And most of them were college students. In costume. I loved that.

Cruella


After seeing these pictures Joel took of me, I think I know why fur coats went out of style. It has nothing to do with animal rights activism, and everything to do with how fat they make a girl look. This particular fur was my grandmother's, and while I don't see myself ever wearing it to the opera, I love that it was hers and I love finding some reasons to use it.

Sophia told everyone that Chloe was an "Evil Witch" for Halloween and Mommy was a "Mean, Evil Witch." I got a kick out of that.

The meanest thing I did this year was offer to buy out my children's candy. They could pick the ten best pieces (and hello! My neighborhood passed out a number of full-sized candy bars, so they got a lot more than I bargained for!) and sell the rest to Joel and me for ten dollars. It's worth it to me to have happier children that aren't hopped up on sugar for 3 weeks. I bought Sophia out with a Cinderella Barbie doll that cost me ten dollars at the store.

Bria wasn't going to go for it, but in the end, she relented. Joel now has a lot of candy to take to his office and do something about, because it isn't staying in this house!

And that, my friends, is the end of the Halloween saga in our neck of the woods!

Until next year...

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Ginormica

IMG_4156 Bria Halloween web


So all Bria has wanted to be this Halloween is Ginormica. Monsters vs. Aliens has been her favorite movie ever since we saw it in the theaters this past spring.  What with the big move and all, I just had a hard time with the whole Halloween costume prep (which is why I'm so glad the other two girls chose easy costumes), that I didn't really give myself enough time to figure out a Ginormica costume.

The first issue was her white hair.  I looked at every store that sold costumes or wigs in our area and never found anything that would work.  There were a few platinum blond wigs, but they were always really long, and I don't fancy myself a hairdresser one bit and knew it would look awful if I tried to cut it myself.

I figured the jumpsuit would be fairly easy, just some black sweats with orange duct tape for the details, but it was the Monday before Halloween and I had still done nothing with that, either.

Joel called me from work that day and said he'd found a costume online and shouldn't we order it for her?

Online.  Duh!  Why didn't I think of that?  I think I just assumed that there would be no retail Ginormica costume, because most people had no idea who Bria was talking about when she'd tell them what her Halloween costume would be.

IMG_4149 Bria Halloween web


The only problem was that they only had small and medium sizes left in stock. We went with medium, knowing it would probably be too short for my tall girl. Thankfully, it still fit everywhere else, despite the shortness. I loved the shoe covers that looked like cars to portray how big Ginormica really is, and plus it's a scene in the movie when she uses cars as roller skates.

Bria was so excited about the costume, it was worth the extra shipping we had to pay to get it here on time.  And it was really fun to hear all of the other kids start to recognize her while we were Trick-or-Treating.  It was slightly embarrassing for Bria, but I think she secretly enjoyed having such a unique costume.

IMG_4151 Bria Halloween web


She has been telling me for a month that we would have to put a lot of make-up on her to cover up her freckles, because Ginormica's skin is totally white and smooth. Every time I put any sort of make-up on this kid, I realize what a knock-out she is, and it scares me.

But it's okay for Halloween.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Chloe recast as an Evil Witch

IMG_4141 Chloe Halloween web


When we first began planning for Halloween, Chloe really wanted to be a cowgirl. Sometime a few weeks ago, all of that changed, and she became adamant about going as a witch.

Cool with me. We had a witch costume that would fit her and we'd be all set.

Then she broke her wrist. The sleeves of the witch costume were way too skinny to fit over her splint, but that didn't deter her. She ran upstairs to her closet and found a black dress that she could wear over the splint and that was that.

IMG_4144 Chloe Halloween web


It wasn't very long and witchy looking, though. So, we got her some striped witch tights to wear with her black boots and she stuck a foam ghost sticker on it. And then it was perfect.

IMG_4121 Chloe Halloween web


Earlier on Friday afternoon, I had to take her in to the doctor to get her wrist checked out.  I was so stupid to schedule it then, because she ended up missing most of her class Halloween party and the school costume parade.  I felt like a crummy mom even though her teacher managed to set her up with all the goodies before we left the school.

But, it was all cool.  The doctor decided that she needed a hardier cast, because her wrist hadn't healed enough yet and because the splint was totally disgusting and manky.  Really gross.  I hurried and took a few pictures of her on the lawn in front of the doctor's office because I realized I hadn't taken any of the splint, and I had no idea what the doctor would decide.  She's kind of half dressed for Halloween because of the school party, but she'd forgotten the boots and didn't want green hair at school.

IMG_4145 Chloe Halloween web


So, she got a fancy new Gortex cast. Chloe loves it because it is pink. I love it because it can get wet! Why didn't the Urgent Care just do one of these in the first place?  It was totally worth missing the Halloween party for.

When we were planning out her costume in the days leading up to Halloween Chloe said, "I think everybody knew I would decide to be a witch this year."

"Oh yeah?" I said.

"Yeah, because I'm a little bit evil sometimes."

IMG_4140 Chloe Halloween web


I'll just have to take her word for it, because I'm not sure how a witch this cute could possibly be evil.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Pumpkin that turned into a Princess

IMG_4134 Sophia Halloween web


Sophia was all set to be a pumpkin this Halloween. She was wearing the costume that I made for Bria back when she was three years old and wanted to be "orange" for Halloween, so I figured a pumpkin would do. Chloe also wore the same costume when she was almost 3, and it was Sophia's turn. Besides, she really wanted to be a pumpkin, so all was right in the world.

And then, on Friday, October 30, we received a package in the mail from my mom. It contained a frilly, twirly, wonderful, pink pettiskirt. Sophia put it on immediately and announced that she would now be going as a princess for Halloween.

IMG_4137 Sophia Halloween web


I mean, wouldn't you?

So, we figured out some sort of outfit. It was more like a Western Princess when we were finished, what with the boots and vest. And then there was the Minnie Mouse Princess hat, so perhaps she was Minnie the Princess visits the Wild, Wild West.

IMG_4130 Sophia Halloween web


Whatever she was, she was totally adorable.

IMG_4133 Sophia Halloween web


She did keep telling me, "I be a punkin tomowow," but it never happened. She tried to sleep in the pettiskirt, which tells you how successful it would have been to get it off of her the next night for Trick-or-Treating.

I just wish I would have thought to take a picture of her in the pumpkin outfit. She wore it enough the week of Halloween. In fact, I think I'll still try to get her back in the costume and try.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Treat Street

The Girls: Halloween 09


On Friday, October 30, our town held an event to commemorate the completion of the dratted construction that has been going on downtown since May (or possibly earlier).  It was called "Treat Street" and was exactly that. Everyone went in costume, and all of the businesses downtown handed out candy.  You could stop in at the City Hall and get a special goodie bag and enter a costume contest, and one of the businesses even took free photos.

The best part was the weather.  It was a balmy 60 degrees (don't laugh, Arizona friends!  We have now acclimated, [I think]), so there was no need for the girls to wear coats and cover up their cute costumes.

So, first we took pictures in our front yard (which I will post throughout the week), and then we headed downtown.  I love the fact that we live so close to everything.  Since it was such a nice night, we walked.


On our way


On our way, I wanted to take some more pictures of them sitting on this wall.  Bria wasn't really into it and Sophia was oblivious.  Chloe, on the other hand, was all about being in character.


Halloween


In fact, she was totally eating up the whole picture taking business.


Little Witch


Once we got downtown, we waited in line at City Hall for what seemed like an hour, but probably only half that.  When we realized we had made little to no progress in that time, we decided to forget about the goodie bags and costume contest and get down to the business of Trick-or-Treating.


Treat Street



Treat Street


Unfortunately, we saw way too many signs telling us that the candy was gone. There were seriously so many people there, and I just don't think anyone thought the event would be quite so popular. Or that the weather would be quite so accommodating.


No more


But we forged onward, and the girls ended up with plenty of candy.

And then the sun began to set.


Sunset


This is what it looked like across the canal. That's the Quincy mine hoist there, and the whole hillside bathed in the evening sunlight like that absolutely took my breath away. Too bad I was on a city street, so there was no way to get this shot without that telephone/electricity wire. And I am much too lazy to Photoshop it out.


Sunset with wire.


Even after dark, the weather was warm enough that we didn't regret not bringing coats. (Well, I was wearing a coat. But I am not the hardy one in this family, apparently.)

And Treat Street was pretty beautiful after dark, too.


Treat Street after dark


After hitting up every place that still had candy left, we called it a night and walked home by the light of the street lamps.


Calling it a night


Only to go out again the very next night.

Okay, so I am totally stressed out this week.  I must find time to practice for Messiah, and that means no blogging. So, I've spread out all the Halloween pictures for the whole week.  Aren't you excited?  An entire week of Halloween, just when you were glad it was over!  Besides, I took way more pictures this year than usual, and where's the fun in that if I'm not going to share them all?  


Happy Monday!