Overstuffed: March 2010 Overstuffed

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Did I Mention She Was Accident Prone?

Yesterday I hit a parenting milestone.

I took a child to the ER to get stitches.  Now, sure, I've been there (or the urgent care) for broken bones, pneumonia, ear infections, nasty bumps to the head and other such things.  But so far I've avoided the stitches, for which I was glad.

But, I have Sophia for a daughter.  It was inevitable that she get stitches at some point.

Yesterday, I got home from teaching lessons, and I wanted to finish my book because I only had two chapters left and it was pretty good.  Plus, I was tired.  So, I got my book and got in bed to finish reading it.  After I finished, I planned to clean up and get lunch for the girls (we're on spring break, so everyone is home).

Sophia came in for a minute and asked me something, then bounded out of the room.  At least, she started to bound out of the room, but she tripped and fell and hit her head on (I assume) the dresser.  The way I was sitting on the bed didn't allow me to see exactly how she fell or what she hit.  The wailing started and she came back around for a hug.

Then I asked her where it hurt, and she told me it was her ear.  So I went to examine it, and I found quite a bit of blood.

Sigh.

It looked like someone had actually taken scissors and cut her earlobe, that's how clean the cut was.  I cannot fathom how she managed to do it.  It was extremely gross, and aren't you glad I'm telling you all about it?  Just be happy I'm not including pictures.

Seriously, I do much better with broken bones.

Joel had just taken the car to work, and was in staff meeting.  I tried calling him a few times, but finally texted him.  The message was no more intelligible this time than my texts usually are and it said:

Come good now!
Sophia offers stitches.

He finally called back, on his way home, and we hauled everyone to the Emergency Room.  I worried the entire drive that there would be a raised eyebrow or two, considering her face hasn't yet healed from the last incident.  Fortunately, that wasn't the case, although they did ask.

Sophia was a trooper.  She didn't cry at all while the doctor numbed her ear with the syringe (ears don't take to numbing gel, apparently) and the only sound she made was to tell the doctor that he was hurting her ear as he stitched her up.  She got a cute little stuffed moose for her bravery and she lived happily ever after.

Until the next time she hurts herself, anyway.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Livin' on a (Child's) Prayer

Joel and I certainly have many shortcomings as parents, but one thing we have (so far) done successfully is teach our children how to pray.

When Bria was tiny, we started having her say her own prayer after we said family prayer each night before bed.  She's now 9 years old, and she and the other girls still do this in the family setting.  So, basically, either Joel or I will say the family prayer, and then the kids each say their own prayer.  I don't know how much longer this will last, but for now, I really love it.

I love learning about my children in this manner.  If I didn't already know Bria was a germophobe, I would definitely know it from her prayers.  I have also learned just how much she desires to make the right choices, and that she is listening to me, even when I'm sure she isn't.  I have seen (heard) Chloe's generous nature through her prayers.  I know how much Sophia loves each member of her family because of the way she prays.

Of course, doing our prayers in this manner has also made for some pretty funny times.  Each of our children has gone through a speed-prayer phase, a prayer-refusal phase, a silly-prayer phase and an unintelligible-prayer phase, among others.  Then they start recycling the phases and we just have to continue teaching them what is appropriate prayer etiquette and what isn't.

Chloe has recently gone through a longest-prayer-ever phase.  Every night her prayers were running over ten minutes, and for a six year old, that's a pretty amazing accomplishment, as I'm sure you realize.  She managed to be thankful for just about everything in the world, my favorite being each family member's individual talents:  "I'm thankful for Daddy's talent for conducting orchestras, and Mommy's singing opera talent, and for Bria's violin talent and my drawing and piano talents and Sophia's talent for drawing, too...."  She would then invoke every pertinent blessing upon our family that she could possibly think of.

One night in particular, during one of Chloe's epic prayers, a very important football game (basketball?  I don't remember now) was about to start and her prayer just kept going and going and going.  I opened my eyes just in time to see Joel, my husband who would never, ever do something irreverent during a prayer, opening his laptop so he wouldn't miss the beginning of the game!  Bria caught him, too, and promptly closed it.  When Chloe finally said Amen, and it was time for Joel to say the family prayer, he pulled the shortest-prayer-ever trick that the kids usually use.  When he finished he announced that Chloe's prayer had covered anything he needed to say and got down to the business of watching the game.

Lately, Sophia's prayers have been melting my heart.  It doesn't matter if I am in a bad mood at the end of the day, I can't help but smile when I hear her pray.  Just the other night it was precisely like that--I'd had a hard day and couldn't wait until the children were safely in bed, when Sophia said her prayer.  I don't remember everything she said, but at one point she said with such excitement and with such great authority in her  adorable little three-year-old voice, "And Jesus LOVE us!" that it completely melted my heart and sweetened my sour mood.

Indeed, there is nothing like the prayer of one of my children to save me from my own bad attitude.

And when it comes right down to it, those prayers save my life.

Monday, March 29, 2010

A Year Ago Yesterday...

My brother and his wife got married (happy first anniversary, guys!) and Joel and I found out our lives would be drastically changing.


We had just finished taking all of the family photos outside the Mesa temple and were walking back to our hotel when Joel's phone rang.  He took it out of his pocket and saw that "Mike" was calling.  He assumed it was my dad, who was right behind us but quickly realized that it was the search committee chair for the job he had just interviewed for in Michigan the weekend before.  We knew that another candidate had been there that day and had most likely just finished up his (or her) interviews, so this phone call was a little strange.

Well, Mike told Joel that the other candidate had indeed just left, the search committee had already convened and made the unanimous decision to hire Joel.  We were absolutely floored and extremely excited, to say the least.

Joel graduated with his doctorate in orchestral conducting in 2006.   In July, while I was hugely pregnant with Sophia, he received two job offers.  One was for a small community college in Alabama, and the other was the high school/middle school orchestra job in Cedar City.  I remember that every time I thought about moving to Alabama, or the job there,  I would start to bawl uncontrollably.  I mean, I was eight months pregnant and everything, but it was a pretty weird reaction.  In the end, we chose Cedar City, and though it wasn't the best choice for us financially, it was the right one spiritually.

We always knew Cedar would be temporary.  We really did like it there, but it just didn't feel like the place where we would set down our roots.  Joel continued applying for University jobs for all the three years we were there.  He'd get phone interviews, and an occasional trip to some University or the other for an interview, but nothing ever worked out, and he'd be back in Cedar City for another year, teaching high school and middle school.

It was frustrating, to say the least.  I always feel a little bad when I write about how difficult the Cedar City years were for us, because it wasn't Cedar City itself that was hard.  It was a lot of things about our situation while living there.  It was a tough three years, and that's that.

In the summer of 2008, we had a couple of interesting experiences.  First, Joel went to Spain for a conducting competition and came home to immediately interview at a University.  There was a lot of craziness going on, and I was freaking out a lot, but we took the kids to the park and we lay down on the grass and just talked while the kids played around us.  We both had an incredible sense of peace that all would work out just the way it was meant to in the end.  We didn't know how it would happen, but it was certainly something to hold onto.

Then, when nothing actually panned out and school was just about to start again, Joel had a dream.  (His dreams are so often revelatory, that we don't ignore them.)  He dreamt that he was conducting the University orchestra where he had interviewed and he felt horrible and depressed.  Then he was conducting his high school orchestra and the jazz band over at SUU and he felt wonderful and happy.  He knew that it was the right thing to stay in Cedar City, but he also felt pretty strongly that it would be his last year.

And so it was.  But even the phone call received on the temple grounds one year ago wasn't quite enough to seal the deal.

Because there was another university in play.  The very day he called the department chair here in Michigan to accept the job, he was invited to interview at a university in Pennsylvania.  He had to go and give himself a chance, because it might have been a better situation all around.

But I was completely angry.  Every time he mentioned that cursed university's name I got inexplicably mad.  In fact, I was mad at him for applying there in the first place, back before we ever knew he'd be offered an interview, much less a job, in Michigan.  It just inspired anger in me for some reason.  I think back to how I cried and cried about the job in Alabama, and I have to wonder if in both instances the Spirit was speaking to me about what was best for our family.

I agonized over that interview.  Then I agonized over waiting to hear whether they would offer Joel the job.  I even wrote about it once, without really writing about it.

In the end, our decision was made for us.  They chose another candidate at that University, and we breathed a sigh of relief.  Well, I did.  Joel was in a different place during all of that than I was, and that's okay.

And now we're here.  Our lives are drastically different, but in a wonderful way.  I've come to the conclusion that we're never going to be rich, but I don't mind being poor when my husband is happy.  (Okay, so I do mind a little, but really, it's probably way better than being rich with an unhappy husband.)  We are happy here--happier than we've been in our nearly 11 years of marriage.  And I have learned that everything really does work out in the end (not that it's the end, but you know).

So happy first anniversary to us!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Eight Eyes

Eight Eyes


This is me and my husband.

We're dorks.

Dorks at Disney on Ice.

(And why do I feel the need to open my eyes so freaking wide when I take a picture of myself?)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Three cakes, Two earrings, and One very happy birthday girl!

Seven Candles


You know, Chloe was pretty spoiled this year.  I don't know anybody who gets three birthday cakes, do you?

Except Chloe.

We were at my parents' house on her actual birthday, so my dad went and got a cake for her.  Joel's sister and her kids came over for a bit and Chloe was thrilled to be able to celebrate with her cousins.  We sang, she blew and cake was eaten.



First Cake


Later that afternoon we headed down to Cedar City for the next few days.  We would be staying with another set of cousins, and naturally, Chloe wanted to celebrate with them, too.  So we picked up an ice cream cake at Dairy Queen.  No candles and no blowing this time, but there was definitely much singing and eating.



Second Cake


And of course, she had to have a birthday party with all of her Michigan friends when we came home.  We did that this past Saturday and she had a Littlest Pet Shop theme.  I made her this cake, and while I'm not the goddess of cake decorating by a long stretch, it did taste good.  (So I hear.)




Third Cake


Chloe also got her ears pierced for her birthday.  We actually did it the day before her birthday while we were in Utah, because that's when we actually had time.

She was so excited, she couldn't stop smiling.  (Man was her experience different than her sister's!)



Anticipation


They gave her a teddy bear to hold, because this teddy had had her ears pierced lots of times and knew just how Chloe felt.  She didn't think she needed it, but once that first earring went in, the smile was gone, so it's a good thing the teddy bear was there to help out after all.



Not all smiles anymore


No worries, though!  The smiles weren't gone for long.  Chloe was thrilled to see her brand-new March birthstone earrings right in her ears.



The result


Later that night we took the kids to Disney on Ice in Salt Lake with my parents and my brother and his wife.  More on that later, but it's pretty safe to say that Chloe had the best birthday ever this year!

She'd better appreciate it, because she's only getting one cake next year.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Accident Prone

On Tuesday and Thursday mornings I teach at the University while Sophia is in preschool.  Joel does work at home or attends staff meetings, picks up Sophia from preschool and then they come to get me at the University.

Yesterday, when I walked out to the car, Joel was making weird sign language hand signals to me. I was very confused, but I understood that I should talk to him before I opened the door to see Sophia.  He wanted to warn me that she had had a pretty bad injury at preschool--not bad enough to warrant a hospital visit or anything--but she didn't look so hot.


Scraped


Apparently she had fallen out of the swing and landed right on her face.  She is scraped up pretty badly, and yesterday she had a swollen lip, but she's mostly fine.  She was pretty pathetic for most of the day yesterday, and when the older girls came home from school they doted all over her.  Too bad that it takes a disfigurement to encourage good sisterly relations, I say!

Today it all looks much better and she isn't bothered by it much.  But there goes the Easter dress photoshoot I had planned for this Saturday.  I'm not really feeling like photoshopping all the scrapes away, so we'll just have to wait.

Better luck next time.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Who's Your (Flat) Daddy?

I have a couple of friends whom I admire greatly.  Not because they are beautiful, smart, or talented, although they are most definitely all of those things and I do admire them for that.  These friends are particularly amazing to me because they have survived their husbands' military deployments.

I didn't know Rae yet while her husband was deployed, but I have heard her talk about her experiences, and I've watched her worry and rejoice in the past little while when it looked like her husband would be deployed again, and then find out that he wouldn't need to go after all.  For the year her husband was gone to Iraq, I did watch Julie bring her two kids to church every Sunday.  And I boohooed when Joel couldn't sit with me in church?  I don't know if I could make it to church on a very consistent basis if my husband were to leave for that long.  I freak out every Tuesday night when I have to put the kids to bed by myself, for goodness' sake! These are strong women.

But deployment means so much more than just having to go it alone while your husband is gone.  It means that your husband is off fighting a war.  It adds several more layers of emotion that I couldn't even begin to understand, and that's really the crux of it.  These women have no idea if their husbands will come home alive and that is something I just can't comprehend as my husband goes out of town to do pretty un-dangerous things like, oh, conduct orchestras.

I have another amazing friend named Annette Lyon.  A while back, she wrote an article about the wives of deployed soldiers.  As she interviewed these women in her research, she ended up with much more material than the article could ever possibly hold, and the beginnings of a new book were born.  That book, Band of Sisters, was just released a few weeks ago.  I have already read it and I thoroughly enjoyed it (of course).  It definitely opened up my eyes to these women and what they go through during a deployment.

Annette was equally as touched, and she has since decided to promote a very cool charity with her book.

You've heard of Flat Stanley, right?  Chances are high that your child has read the book and done an accompanying Flat Stanley project in school.  Well, this is Flat Daddies.  This charity makes a life-sized photos of the deployed parent (because sometimes it's a Mommy) from the waist up that the family can have with them as a physical presence.  Many families bring their Flat Daddies with them on vacation, to go trick-or-treating, to church, to the store, to soccer games--you name it.  Anywhere Daddy would have gone.

Annette has a page on her website entirely devoted to the Flat Daddy program.  From her page you can read about one family and their experience with their own Flat Daddy.  It is truly inspiring.  Because of the Flat Daddy, their baby girl went straight to her father when he came home.


There is also a lot of information there on how you can help families get a Flat Daddy of their own.  You can donate a little or a lot.  You can buy one for a family you know in real life, or you can contribute to the Flat Daddy of someone you have never met.  Please check it out, and spread the word!

And then go read Band of Sisters.

It's awesome.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunrise Over the Frozen Lake

Sunrise over the frozen lake


Being a night owl, I'm not usually up early enough to see the sun rise. And if I am, I'm usually too grumpy to care.

We drove out of town before the sun rose to catch our flight to Utah, and it was stunning! Plus, it made me realize I had forgotten my camera, so we turned back for it just in the nick of time. So the picture is 10 minutes after the initial peek over the lake, and I am kicking myself for not having my camera then.

Maybe I'll become a morning person, just to see more of this kind of beauty.

Friday, March 19, 2010

White-knuckle Driving
(a.k.a. The Longest Day Ever)

I know that I am posting these vacation stories haphazardly.  I also have a habit of thinking I'll get around to posting everything I want to, but then want to post something else and then never actually get around to the posting that I intended to do.

Anyway.

So, we were in Utah for our niece's wedding.  The wedding was lovely and wonderful and a four hour drive south of the airport.  And we had a 7:05 am flight the very next morning.  And to top it off, Daylight Savings Time came into effect that same night, so it was more like having a 6:05 am flight.  Ugh.

A few hours before the wedding an amazing blizzard blew through Southern Utah.  Amazing like, I was looking out the window and there was no snow on the ground.  Then I blinked and there was more than an inch there.  Not even kidding.

We were a little worried, but understood that the storm was pretty much isolated to Cedar City and a little bit north.  So, we left the wedding reception at 9 pm, thinking we would arrive to my parents' house in Utah Valley by midnight and get a few hours of sleep and head to the airport.

Well, the blizzard was most definitely NOT isolated to Cedar City or even Beaver.  It was awful!  Bria, who must have been exhausted, stayed up the first three and a half hours of driving because she was so worried about the storm.  She is my worry-wart, and I guess if we were going to die she wanted to be awake for it.  Not like I could have slept, either.  Even though I didn't drive the worst of it, I had pretty white knuckles myself.  Going over the mountain passes was awful, especially at Manderfield, and at one point there was a jack-knifed semi blocking the road.  Absolutely insane.  We averaged about 25-40 miles an hour most of the way to Fillmore (100 miles), so it took us the 3 1/2 hours to get there.

Once we arrived in Fillmore, we took the normal potty breaks and then decided to try and sleep for a while.  Joel slept.  I tried.  Bria chattered.  She was still very worried and the snow was still going strong.  After about 30 minutes we started driving again, and by Scipio the snow was mostly gone.  (I apologize to all of you reading this who have no earthly idea where Fillmore and Scipio and Cedar City are...here's a map for your reading enrichment.)
In Scipio Joel was still way too tired to drive and wanted to stop to rest again.  Then I decided that I would be okay to drive at least to Nephi, so I took over.  We were finally able to drive the actual speed limit just north of Scipio.  Joel took over again in Nephi and Bria finally fell asleep soon after that.  It was 2:00 in the morning (but really 3:00 thanks to wonderful DST!!!) and I don't think she's ever in her life stayed up that long.  Especially considering that we come from the Eastern Time Zone and that was like 4 am to her.  Amazing.

But I digress.  We finally arrived at my parents' home in Orem at around 2:35 in the morning.  Which was now actually 3:35 in the morning.  I ended up not sleeping at all, because I couldn't and just talked with my mom until the alarm went off at around 4:45.  We left to go to the SLC airport a little after 5 am and by the time we checked in and went through security our flight was boarding.

I don't sleep well on planes, but I tried.  Joel and the kids seemed to all sleep pretty well.  Our flight was to Chicago and there we had an extremely tight layover, which was made tighter by a problem with getting taxied to our gate.  But we made it. Barely.

A quick jaunt over to Green Bay and then we had to drive another 4 1/2 hours to get to our house.  Halfway there, I conked.  But only for about 30 minutes because I really can't sleep in moving vehicles.  Heck, I often can't sleep well in my own bed.  So I slept in the car while Joel took the girls to the bathroom and bought them snacks and such.  Once the car was moving again I had to wake up, but I did find my second wind.

We made it home safely, although soundly is somewhat debatable.  What with the Daylight Savings change and having spent the week prior in a time zone that is two hours behind us, I have still not figured out what time it is.  And then there's the fact that all three of my daughters completely dissolved in tears as soon as we walked in our front door.  Apparently they hate living in Michigan, they hate our house, they just want to live in Utah again and why did we have to move here anyway? This lasted for a while.  A couple days, actually, since they would come home from school all emotional.  They really do love their grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins and it is all rather sad.  All of you come out and visit us this summer, you hear?

But please, nobody decide to get married anytime soon, because our track record with attending weddings and then having nightmarish driving episodes on the way home is now two for two, and I don't think I can do it again for at least ten years!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Princess of Mischief

Mischievous Princess


Today Sophia brought a note home from preschool that said the following:

"Sophia not only recognizes the letters in her name, but most of the other letters as well.  She is learning to recognize and continue patterns we have been working on.  She knows all her colors and most of her shapes.  She occasionally needs reminders to keep her thumb up when using scissors, but once she is reminded she has very good scissor skills.  Sophia has a good pencil grip.
"Sophia likes to play with Elizabeth and is starting to play with other children more and more.  She has learned how to transition between activities effortlessly (at the beginning of the year she was not completely comfortable with the transitions).  She is a good listener and is very polite.  She is a joy to have in class."

I definitely needed to read that, because this child has had me at my wits' end these last few days, and I've been seriously contemplating throwing her out with the garbage (not really, but you know).  Yesterday alone she made her usual messes and had her usual tantrums along with cutting her bangs completely off (I had been trying to grow them out) (and yes, she does have very good scissor skills) (unfortunately), and painting a mural on my dining room floor with Chloe's paints (washable paints, thank goodness) (I'm sure her paintbrush grip was just as good as her pencil grip, too).

I find it interesting that she had trouble transitioning from activity to activity at preschool, because that is the main source of her tantrums at home.  I'm thinking I need to make her day slightly more predictable and perhaps we won't run into that as much.  I am overjoyed to see that she is a good listener and polite.  I often think that my efforts are not doing a darn thing, but at least she shows her best side to her teachers.

Aside from her mischief making skills, she really is a joy to have around, and I have been neglecting to notice that lately.  I love how she wakes me up in the morning with an exuberant, "It's good morning time, Mommy!" and her spontaneous hugs and kisses.  Her kisses are the best thing in the world, actually.  I love how her pants never stay up.  I love how protective she is of her older sisters.  I love how she insists on saying every prayer in our household.  I love her curiosity.  I love how she wants to be with me at every second. I love how she wants to help me with whatever I'm doing.

I even love her mischievous ways, when it comes right down to it.

I love her.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Posterity

Grammy and our girls


One of the things we did whilst in Utah was visit Joel's 92-year-old grandmother.  Even though her health has rapidly declined in the months since we last saw her, she is still going strong for a woman her age.  Still wants to look beautiful, even if putting her make-up on daily is very difficult.  And she's still up and around as much as she can be.  It's her eyesight that's keeping her from doing many of the things she wants to do.




Grandmother


I think it's so wonderful that my children have had a chance to know their great-grandparents.  (Joel's grandfather passed away at age 92 a couple years ago.) I certainly never even came close to that opportunity.    We stayed for about an hour, listened to some of the stories of her recent life, like how her doctor isn't LDS and she is trying to convert her, which I loved.  She still has all her spunk, even if her body is tired.




Visiting Grammy


Grammy has
3 children
21 grandchildren
36 great-grandchildren and one more on the way
6 great-great-grandchildren and one more on the way

(I think these numbers are correct, but I was counting out of my head...might have miscounted or missed somebody.)

I think it's amazing.  And some of those great-great-grandchildren are older than my own kids.  Can you imagine?  Getting to know your great-great-grandmother in this life?  (Maybe you can, or maybe you did!...but it boggles my mind!)  It also blows me away that it is possible for me to have such a large posterity in such little time, even though I only have three children myself.




Three Generations


We love you, Grammy!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A New Grocery Deal

Now that I know I have all of these lovely allergies, grocery shopping is going to be interesting.

Since I had the test done in Utah (for those that asked, I used the BioMeridian method at Dr. Dennis Remington's office in Provo--I've been a patient there for many years, and it was just easier), I pretty much ignored the allergies for the rest of my vacation.  Way too difficult to think about, and what's one more week when I've been ignoring them for years anyway?

Well, we got home from vacation late Sunday night, and understandably, we didn't have much food in the house.  Especially not suitable for me.  So, it got put off to Monday.  Joel ended up being the one to go shopping and after trying to figure out what to have him buy, it became painfully clear that I was going to have to go to the Co-op, and so that got pushed even further to today.

We don't have a Trader Joes or a Whole Foods, but our little Co-op definitely does the trick!  Sophia and I went this afternoon, and $85.00 later, this is what I brought home:



Lifestyle change


A box of spelt rotini
Brown rice fettucine
Terra chips (available at WalMart, and a bit cheaper, but I bought them at the Co-op anyway.)
Spelt bread (the bread was difficult!  Most of the alternative flour breads used pineapple juice for sweetener, so I couldn't get those.)
More brown rice pasta
7th Generation free & clear organic laundry detergent (I also had Bria retested while in Utah, due to her eczema outbreaks of late and she is very allergic to detergents, among other things.  They recommended we try this.)
Rice puff cereal
Two jars of spaghetti sauce (these have citric acid in them, but I couldn't find any pasta sauces without it.  I'm hoping it's okay.  If not, I'll have to resort to pesto only it looks like.)
Organic buckwheat flour
Spelt flour
Brown rice flour (going to need to find some bread/muffin/pancake recipes for these flours.)
1 lb. Quinoa
2 lbs. Steel cut oats
Organic zucchini (Sophia put them in the cart without my knowledge, and I was too lazy to return them, so we bought them.  We like zucchini.)
A small bag of sulfured apricots
4 Larabars (These things have saved my life since I've been off sugar.  Not only do they have an awesome name, they are really good.  And thank heavens I'm not allergic to nuts, although my citrus allergy does mean I now can't have my favorite Larabar flavor: Key Lime Pie.)

So, not quite the wonderful grocery deal I am used to getting, but I figure money  is just money and health is much more important.  Even at the Co-op it was very difficult to find things without wheat, corn, and soy, although it was much easier than the local grocery store.

Now begins the crazy eating, and hopefully I will find I feel better very soon.  Wish me luck!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Book Winners!

Last week I reviewed the book Give Me, Get Me, Buy Me and the publisher is kindly giving two copies away to my readers.

I'm sure you've all been waiting on pins and needles, but it's finally time to announce the winners!

Random.org says that the winners are (drum roll please)....

Jenn Toon

and

Chellers 

Congratulations girls!  I will send you a message to get your mailing addresses and get the info to the publisher ASAP so you can start reading.

And for those of you who didn't win and still would like to try, go to TLC Book Tours  to see a list of other blogs that will be reviewing this book, and most likely, giving it away in the next week or so. There's still a chance for you!

Sunday, March 14, 2010

You Can't Make This Stuff Up

So we are finally back from our whirlwind trip to Utah.   We went for a wedding, but crammed as many activities as we possibly could into the week we were there, and we are exhausted.  I will not be wanting for blog fodder for a while, but for now, I will leave you with some cool, funny, and just plain crazy moments from our little vacation.

1.  While going through security at the airport, Bria's backpack was tagged for further screening because of some "suspicious" items seen through the x-ray.  Turned out to be her entire rock collection, which is rather extensive, carefully wrapped first in saran wrap, then in aluminum foil, and then packaged in a ziploc baggie.  That's each individual rock, mind you, and at least ten pounds of extra weight in her poor backpack.  I have no earthly idea what possessed her to bring her rocks, but she did.  And she made quite the spectacle at the security checkpoint while they were unwrapping all of these rocks because she was just sure they would be throwing all of her precious stones away. (They didn't.)

2.  During a very long layover in Detroit, Joel took the girls to ride the shuttle a few times and to buy some cookies while I guarded our carry-ons at the gate.  Apparently, while coming back to the gate, Sophia got on the wrong moving sidewalk.  She was walking as fast as she could to keep up with Joel and the girls on the other side, even as she was being pulled backwards.  The moving sidewalks in Detroit are loooooooong, and they were at the moment extremely crowded, so Joel had to reach over and grab her by the arm to get her back where she needed to be.  She did not thank him for saving her from being lost in a sea of strangers, and instead did not forgive him for hours because he hurt her arm and her feelings and is such a mean daddy.

3.  While in Provo, Joel and I decided to attend the temple, since we are 8 hours from any temple here in Michigan.  On our way down we joked that maybe a sister from our branch who just reported to the MTC would be in our session, knowing that it would be virtually impossible for that to actually happen.  I mean, what are the odds that her preparation day would be the exact day we chose to go, and that she would decide to go at the same time?  Slim to none, and we knew it.  Yet, there she was, in our session. Obviously, she was more shocked to see us there than we were to see her, since after all, we do live 2,000 miles away.  It was all very cool and we called her parents as soon as we left the building to tell them.

4.  On our drive down to Cedar City for the wedding, we came across some roadkill.  We've made that drive countless times during our Cedar years, and dead animal sightings are certainly not uncommon.  But this wasn't a raccoon or a deer, it was a freaking cougar.  I feel sorry for the person who hit that animal, that's for sure.

5.  About five minutes before the wedding ceremony was to start, Sophia needed to go to the bathroom.  Joel quickly took her and then never came back.  The processional started, and pretty soon I realized that my daughter was outside of the hall screaming her guts out.  I couldn't go to her, because I was accompanying my sister-in-law in a musical number as soon as the processional was over, but I soon found out what happened.  I had assumed it was because she wasn't a flower girl, which was her big tantrum during the rehearsal, but I was completely wrong.  When Sophia opened the stall door in the bathroom, it completely fell off its hinges and landed on top of her.  She wasn't hurt badly as Joel was there to catch it for her, but she was deeply offended.  She was sure Joel had done it all on purpose and wouldn't look at him for quite a while.  Poor Daddy, he can't win for losing.  But seriously?  The stall door fell off?  When does that ever happen?

6.  Finally, on our way back up to Provo after the reception I took over the wheel between Fillmore and Nephi after the first 3 1/2 hours of driving.  (Yes, you read that correctly....long story and even longer drive, coming soon)  It was nearly 2:00 in the morning and Joel needed to sleep.  Bria and I were chatting as I drove when suddenly a huge white bird swooped down and nearly hit our windshield.  First we scared Joel half to death as we screamed, and then we both quickly realized that it was a giant snowy owl, a la Harry Potter's Hedwig.  Gorgeous creature, and I think having it cross my path must mean some sort of good luck.

And now, I'm off to bed, for I am running on about 2 hours of not-so-great-sleep in the past two days.  My down comforter (to which I am allergic) beckons.

Good night!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Seventh

Little Witch


Today is Chloe's 7th birthday.

Since I sort of hate when my children get older, I'm in a little bit of shock.  Back when Bria turned 7 I had a really hard time for some reason, and today as I look at Chloe I feel a bit of the same way.  Something about this age seems to phase out the little kid and bring a glimpse of the young woman that is beginning to develop.

We are in Utah right now, so I don't have recently edited pictures of Chloe and no photoshop here to get them blog-ready, so I chose this picture off of my flickr account.  It's just classic Chloe.

Chloe is dramatic.  She is a performer.  I love watching her in her school programs and plays because she puts her entire soul and then some into those performances, and she loves every minute of it.  She is also dramatic with her very own emotions and feelings, and while sometimes I don't love the drama queen aspect of her personality, it does bring many smiles and giggles once we're past the screaming.  And of course when she's happy, she's ecstatic, and that always makes me pretty darn happy, too.

Chloe is my cuddle bug.  She gives her signature "tight hugs" to anyone who is a willing recipient and anyone who gets one can't help but smile.  She always wants to sleep with someone at night, so she has started having Sophia get in bed with her so she can have someone to cuddle with (Sophia is quite the cuddle bug herself, so this is a good arrangement).  When she is with her friends she is constantly hugging them as well, or holding their hands or having her arm around them.


(I just remembered this picture of me and Chloe on my Facebook. It was taken this past summer just before we moved and is a great example of this girl and her amazing "tight hugs")

Chloe is generous and kind.  She loves to make things for people and is always the first to share her treats with her sisters.  She has even given up her tooth fairy money recently so that Bria could buy something she wanted.  She loves to help me around the house, and recently even wrote a list of all the "gobs" she would do on a Saturday and it was more than I could accomplish in an entire week.  She was honestly sad that she couldn't do for me all that she wanted to do.

Chloe is an artist.  Her pictures are becoming more and more sophisticated, and I wish I could share them more often with you, but my scanner is broken.  Her hands are always colored with various paints and markers--they are artists' hands, after all.  She tells everyone who asks what she wants to be when she grows up that she wants to be an artist.  But then she'll clarify, "except, I already am an artist, so I don't have to wait until I grow up."

Chloe is a very happy girl and brings such joy to our household.  I'm so blessed to have her.  She is less demanding than her two sisters, and she probably suffers from classic middle child syndrome, but she does it with grace.  She doesn't mind being alone, drawing or reading a book, while I deal with her sisters.  I am so thankful that she is my daughter.

We got her ears pierced, as per tradition, yesterday.  I will post more about that next week when I can get the photos up.

Happy Birthday, Goose!  I love you forever and a day!

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

I Guess I'll Just Starve To Death, Then.

Just got back from getting my allergies tested.  Even though I know I have issues with them, I have never bothered to be formally tested before.  I just figured I'd stay away from cats and cow's milk and I'd be okay.

Well.

I'm a mess.

I'm allergic to feathers.  Good-bye my wonderful down comforter and my even more wonderful down coat.  Although, I don't know if I'm going to get rid of the coat.  It's too warm, and did the allergy tester not notice where I live?

I'm allergic to gasoline, exhaust, and diesel fumes.  I guess Joel gets to fill up the car from now on.  Actually, I hate doing it because I usually get a wonderful migraine shortly afterward.  Now I know why.

I'm allergic to perfume??????  NO!  I rather like my perfume.  But I'll not wear it for a couple weeks and see if I feel better.

Mold, cats, grass, pollen....all unsurprising.

Then there's the foods.

Cow's milk.  Cheese.  Yogurt.  Eggs.  Corn.  Wheat.  Soy.  Additives and preservatives.  Mushrooms.  Citrus.  Pineapple.  Lactose.  Sugar.  Caffeine.  CHOCOLATE.

And some other stuff that I can't remember right now.

I haven't felt good for years.  I knew it had to do with my diet, so I've now been off sugar for a few months.  But I am still not feeling good enough.  Which is why I decided to do this.  I'm glad to know because, after all, knowing is half the battle.

I'm just a little worried about what I actually CAN eat.  Wheat, corn and soy?  They're in nearly everything on the face of the earth.

The bright side?  I now have absolutely no excuse for not losing weight.  Since I can't eat anything, the weight is sure to come off.

Right?

Monday, March 08, 2010

Why I Won't Be Deleting My Facebook Account

The other night I had a dream.  While I don't remember a lot of the details (I rarely do), I do remember that there were an awful lot of people featured in this particular dream.  People from various eras of my life, people who I don't necessarily keep in touch with, people who I haven't seen in years.  And yet, each of them had a starring role in my subconscious the other night.

There was one of my best friends from high school.  Even though we both attended the same University, I rarely saw her there as our majors were so completely different.  I don't think I've seen her since 1995.  There was one of my MTC teachers.  I see him occasionally at mission reunions, but I haven't been to one for over 3 years, so it's still been a while.   Speaking of missions, there was a Romanian boy whose family I taught, too.  And several others, one from my Arizona years, a fellow vocalist from college and one from the first ward Joel and I were in as newlyweds.

It used to be that when a person I hadn't thought of in years showed up in my dreams, I would wake up and rack my brain to try and figure out why.  These days, it happens a lot more often, and I only have to look at my computer screen to know why.

I blame Facebook.

I'm not even one of those who spends super amounts of time on the website, either.  I usually update my status at some point during the day and read a few pages of news feed, comment on a status or two, and then I'm done with it until the next day.  And yet, nearly every day I see all of these people who were characters in the story of my dream, and once upon a time were characters in the story of my actual life.

I go back and forth with my feelings about Facebook.  Sometimes I feel like unfriending all of these people who I probably would have been fine never thinking about again.  Sometimes I feel like never opening up the website again, especially after a hurtful argument took place in my status last week between people who have never even met each other in their lives (long story).  Sometimes I start feeling like I have no privacy in my life (my own fault, I know) and sometimes I really think it's all stupid.

And of course, there's all the articles you see online touting the evils of Facebook.  I do agree with many of their points, and then I'm not sure what to do with my account.  Ramp up privacy settings?  Delete?  Ignore?

But then, I will receive a friend request from somebody I really did want to find.  Or I will post a dilemma in my status and get really good advice.  Or someone will post a link that is very informative and teaches me something.  I've found people to whom I taught the Gospel on my mission.  And when they send you messages like,
"Well i was just visiting this site and honest is good to find some of your old friends . i am cucu george's brother from Romania..you and you family loke just great and healthy .that is good ...i've bin on the mission if you dont know . i served almost 4 years ago in munich Germany , and that was the best time in my life . i Wanted so hard to thank you for coming to my family with the messege of the Restauration wich has change'd our life . Thank you sister Preston."
I mean, the joy a message like that brings completely trumps having weird dreams about people I really don't think about all that often.

Don't you agree?

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Give Me, Get Me, Buy Me!

A few weeks ago, while I was in the process of making valentines for the kids, Sophia threw an epic tantrum.  As I was getting everything set up, she asked if she could have some paper to draw pictures while I worked.  I agreed, and she went and got it herself.

She sat next to me at the table and we chatted about her preschool life.  That she was excited for her Valentine's Day party, who her friends are, things about her sisters.  It was all very cute and I was thoroughly enjoying myself.

And then I looked over and saw that she had nearly a whole ream of paper, and she had already used about 3/4 of an inch of it.  I immediately said, "Oh no, sweetie.  You can't have that much paper.  We need to save it for other things."  I took away most of it, while still leaving her with some blank pieces (I did want her to stay happy while I finished up my own projects), and then the tantrum ensued.

"You so rude, Mommy!  It's all your fault!  You ruined my draw!  And it's all your fault!  You so rude!  It's not enough paper!  I need onetwothreefourfivesixfirteen papers!  It's not enough!"  And so on and so forth.  Ad nauseum.  For about 45 minutes.

I stayed calm.  I didn't give in, even though I really really wanted to.  I finished the Valentines while Sophia's life ended under the dining room table.

I tell you, when it comes to wearing you down, Sophia holds the world record.  She completely trumps anything my other two children have ever tried in the tantrum department and when she wants something she doesn't budge.  Ever.

And I admit.  I give in to her a lot.  A LOT.  It's just easier that way.  But, this time with the paper?  I'd been reading a new book that TLC Book Tours sent me called Give Me, Get Me, Buy Me  by Donna Corwin, and there was no way I was giving in. And I've really been working on it every since.

This book has been great for me, because even though I'd like to say I do everything perfectly in my discipline and parenting, I don't.  Sometimes I rock, yes, but most of the time I'm just barely getting by.  And sometimes, I fail miserably.

Corwin really addresses the reasons we give into our children's demands so easily.  They are varied and many.  I recognized myself in some of them, and not necessarily in others.  Am I following my own parents' model?  Or am I rebelling against it?  Do I think I'm showing love by giving my child everything she wants?  Am I afraid of something?  Do I have a sense of entitlement myself?  Am I competitive?

She then gives excellent tactics on how we can prevent or reverse a sense of entitlement in our children.  What it came down to for me, is that we need to find better ways to show our children how much we love them, rather than simply giving them everything they want and feeling that is an appropriate way to show love.  We need to spend time with them, give them attention and teach them to be charitable.  We need to teach them responsibility and this wonderful concept called "delayed gratification."  We need to teach them morals and manners.  And all of these things can be done without buying them the latest and greatest--in fact, they are probably much more easily done when we're not buying them the latest and greatest.

I'm so glad I have this book now.  Because at the moment, my kids are young enough that giving into their every whim isn't all that expensive monetarily (especially since we don't have TV in our home), but pretty soon they'll be wanting iPods and game systems and cars.  And we have to draw the lines now if we want to survive teenagerhood.

So, back to Sophia and her epic tantrums.  She's three, it might take a while, but I have already noticed a marked improvement in her ability to get over it when the answer is no.  Like, tantrums only last 5 minutes now, instead of an hour.

If you have a kid like Sophia, or kids at all, and would like to read this book, the publisher has kindly offered to send two of my readers their own copy!  Just comment on this post, and tell me what you love most about being a parent, and what is hardest about being a parent, and I will enter you in the drawing.

Winners will be announced Monday, March 15.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Freudian Texting

I only text once in a while. Mostly just to find out when my husband will be home*, really.  When I do send texts, they usually don't make much sense.  This is because I assume the predictive texting can totally read my mind and I always forget to check back and make sure that everything says exactly what I want it to say before I send it.

Therefore, Joel is forever getting texts from me that say,

"When will you be good?"


He hasn't yet given me a satisfactory answer.

Poor Joel.

*In case you are a novice texter, like me, maybe you won't realize that "home" and "good" are the same pattern on the keypad.  Now you know.

Monday, March 01, 2010

What Jillian Michaels has taught me about endurance

So I've been dong a lot of Jillian's 30-Day Shred lately.

I'm sure I don't have to tell you that this workout is so hard that sometimes I think I'm going to keel over and die right there in front of my television set.  Jillian is one tough cookie, and she doesn't allow you to make excuses or take no for an answer.  She is ruthless.

But, she gets results.  Even I can attest to that, although you might not know just by looking at me.  She did lose me a few inches off my waist in just one week so I could wear the darn dress, after all.  Problem is, I still have something like ten more to go, but that is neither here nor there.

When you are working out with Jillian, she tells you things like, "If you want to see results from a 20-minute workout, then you have to push through and just do it. You can't just phone it in."  and "It's when it gets hard that you've got to keep going, because that is when your body is going to change."  and "You can do anything for one minute."

But, you see, I really can't.  I can't do push-ups for one minute, for instance.  I have the world's weakest arms.

Really.

In college, I took a weight-lifting class to fill a P.E. credit, and I couldn't even bench press the bar, let alone adding 5 measly pounds of weight to it.  And they wanted me to be able to bench press 75% of my weight by the end of the semester!  Ha!

So, I can't do push-ups for a full minute.  Or even 30 seconds, mind you.  But, thanks to Jillian, I can do more than I could when I started because I have kept going when it got hard.

And isn't life just the same way?  I mean, we all have stuff that's hard.  Whether that be keeping our tempers, cleaning the house, or just getting out of bed in the morning.  Then of course there's the really hard stuff like death, illness and financial ruin.  None of us are exempt from the hard stuff, whatever it is.  But we still have to endure it.  To the end, just like all those push-ups and sit-ups and butt kicks Jillian says I have to endure.

And when it gets hard, sometimes I give up. I forget to endure to the end. I don't keep my temper, I don't clean the house, and I stay in bed until I can't any longer.  And where does that get me?  Nowhere.  Nothing changes. No positive results.  In fact, the more I lose my temper, leave the dishes overnight and sleep longer than is needful, the more I'll continue to do it.  It's a vicious cycle, and one that is all too easy to fall into where the hard stuff is concerned.

But Jillian says that when it gets hard, that is when the change happens.  If, and only if, you push through it and keep on going.  Every time I feel like yelling (or throwing things) and I choose not to, I am slowly changing.  I am slowly becoming the woman who doesn't give in to her anger.  The one who stays patient and calm despite the insanity around her.  Every time I clean the bathrooms when I really don't want to because there are so many other (better) things that I could be doing, I change a little bit of myself.  I start to become the mother who realizes that a clean home is a happy home, and that only a few minutes each day will make it that way.  I start to become the woman who enjoys cleaning her house, because of the satisfaction it gives her.  And every time I get out of bed the first time the alarm goes off at zero-dark-thirty, the easier it becomes the next day, and the next.  Until one day (most likely in the very distant future) I will have become a woman who actually looks forward to getting up in the morning and accomplishing great things throughout the day.

Easy?  No.

Worth it?  Yes.

So every day (okay, maybe not every day) as I'm huffing and puffing while Jillian tells me to keep going through 30 more seconds of push-ups or crunches or jumping jacks, my body will slowly change.  And every day as I face the hard things in my life head on, and endure to the end, my character will slowly change.  My attitude will change.  My spirit will change.

And someday, I will be a goddess.

And so will you.