Saturday, May 31, 2008

When sugar and spice meet snips and snails

Today we helped my parents weed in their yard, as it was a beautiful day and it needed doing. My mom bought the girls their own little gardening gloves and they were excited to help (at first). Then they found the snails.

Now, I don't like snails. I find them pretty gross and slimy. They are interesting, but I would prefer to look at pictures of them rather than in real life. I was actually shocked to see how many snails were in the yard, because I don't remember them ever being there when I was growing up. Then again, I didn't look for them, either.

Anyway, I was pretty surprised at the reaction my girls had to the snails.

First, they gawked:

(Here is a close up of what they were gawking at):
Then, they started picking them up and talking to them.
(Here is a close up of Chloe's snails):
And then, they began to place them all in their little snail houses, telling them that they would take care of them. Of course, all of the interaction was done in baby talk. So very nurturing. Here is Bria putting a snail into its house:
(And, of course, the obligatory close up):
I don't really know how boys react to snails, but I'm pretty sure they don't act like they are their baby dolls. In the end, they didn't get nearly as much weeding done as we had hoped, but they definitely mothered (and probably scared to death) an awful lot of snails.

And just in case you're wondering, I absolutely forbade kissing them. Yuck!!!

First update from Joel

You all don't have to read this, but I know a lot of family members want to be kept in the loop with what is going on in Spain. Joel got into Barcelona around 7:00 am Spain time this morning, but that was 11:00 pm our time. He had to wait in the airport for 8 hours for the bus to pick him up to take him to the hotel with the other participants that arrived today. Obviously, he used most of that time to sleep.

Here is the email he sent today:

Hi Honey Puck,

I'm emailing you from a conducting buddy's computer - no computer access in town unfortunately. I just got finished eating rabbit - I ordered it from a Spanish restaurant, it was delicious. The food is amazing here. Of course, I start my email to you talking about food - sorry!

Well, here's the low down. The "random" letter of the alphabet was just chosen for tomorrow and it was "B" and since there are no "A" named conductors, we will start in exact alphabetical order tomorrow - I conduct at 6:20 pm in the teatru. We are expected to conduct the movement (which THEY choose) all the way through and then rehearse it. The bad news they just announced is that because only 29 people are here for the preliminary auditions, they decided to mathematically adjust the number who will make it to .... SIX!? Yep, only six of us 29 will make it, not 10. Keep your fingers crossed and your arms folded!

On the plane ride here I sat next to a guy from Barcelona and the first thing he asked (after chatting for a couple minutes), was "Tell me about the Mormon church." It was a hand-picked missionary opportunity. We talked for about 3 hours straight! He's not interested in religion but it was great for me to at least get my feet wet explaining Joseph Smith, Book of Mormon, etc. He was convinced that Mormons and the FLDS are the same thing - I had to strongly deny the charge.

It's been fun so far - I've been hanging out with the Americans exclusively. There are about 5 of us. I've pretty much brought up the church and my mission constantly, maybe 10 times to various people. It's a great missionary opportunity doing something like this.

It was a pain being at the airport all day - I fell asleep in about 10 different positions on the same chair, I was soo soo tired. I was there for 8 hours! Not fun at all.

Well, I miss you, too, honey. You would absolutely love it here. The weather is very cool and the terrain quite hilly - it reminds me a lot of San Francisco.

Tell the girls I love them so much and can't wait to see them again.

I love you, honey - the next time I email (tomorrow night) I will know if I'm one of the six. Pray for me.



Meanwhile, I have been having lots of fun with my kids, as promised. It is good, because I am extremely nervous about the whole Spain thing (and Joel just gave me even more reason to be nervous with the number SIX in there). Yesterday after I dropped him off at the airport, the girls and I went to one of my best friend's house. She has an uber fun backyard, so the kids played hard while we caught up and held her brand newest baby.

This morning we went to my nephew's coach pitch game, ate ice cream and enjoyed the sun. When we got back, we helped my parents do the weeding in their big backyard. Bria and Chloe (and Sophie, too) discovered all the tons of snails and were enamored of them. I will have to blog about that in more detail and with pictures, if I can figure out how to upload and resize on my parents' computer.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, May 30, 2008

Bon Voyage!

All is well with the world. I dropped Joel off at the airport this morning, passport in his hand, scores and other important papers in his bag, and excitement in his soul. I just checked his flight status, and he is over Denver right now, with a long way ahead of him. He'll arrive in Barcelona sometime tomorrow morning their time, so I guess in the middle of the night in my part of the world.

As for me, I am going to play hard with the kids this week. Swimming, visiting with friends and family, going to see my doctor and making sure that my thyroid is all adjusted the way it needs to be, and just plain relaxing. I may or may not find the time to actually blog about anything interesting, but I will update about Joel's status in Spain.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Quick update

The carry on bag was overnighted and should arrive by tomorrow morning.

The flights were never approved by University travel. And, it doesn't really matter which flights they were, it never would have happened in time. The person in charge of approving any travel arrangements (and apparently this school only has ONE person who can approve these things) was on vacation and nobody could locate him/her. I think Joel talked to the head of the search committee 12 times between yesterday and today, and it just didn't work out. There IS a last ditch effort to get him there after he is back in the States from the competition in Spain, but it doesn't seem very likely because it is finals week and there may not be any orchestra to conduct.

So, at this point, he's not going. And I am trying to deal with that. The scales are obviously tipped in favor of Spain and there is no way we could give that up. So, I'm just really hoping that there is something wonderful in store. Trying to have faith. Trying to keep it together.

And now we are going to take our kids to the park and just play. Because they are the most important thing, no matter what happens.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

If life were easy, it wouldn't be hard

Today is a day that will go down in the annals of our family history as pretty much horrible. Crazy. Full of insane opposition. And yet, I'm sure that it will also be one of those days that we will look back on and laugh like crazy. At least, I hope it will, provided everything really does work out.

So, Joel's going to Spain on Friday. We've had it all planned out that we would drive up to Orem today (Tuesday), and get some family time in, send Joel off to Europe and then I would have fun with the kids and grandparents while he was conducting Schoenberg in Barcelona.

Then yesterday evening he got a call from the University he had a phone interview with last week (totally weird that they called on Memorial Day after 5:00 pm). They want him to come to the school and give a lecture, conduct the orchestra, have an in person interview, yada yada yada. GREAT! We are so excited. Except they want to see him while he is supposed to be in Spain. The guy really wants him to come so he is willing to have him visit on Thursday, which is the first day the Orchestra will be there to play. Again, great. He said he'd call in the morning with travel information.

And he did. The problem was that the only flight the travel department at the University could find got in 20 minutes before his flight to Spain left. Not gonna work. We even called the airline and they said there was no possible way. Finally, we were able to negotiate a different flight time, and are now just waiting for word that it was approved by the travel department. The thing is, the flight leaves tomorrow afternoon, and we won't receive word until tomorrow morning. And if they don't approve it? Well, then I guess he doesn't get to go interview, which seems a shame, because this would be a great job for him.

Then we just figured out that Joel left his most important bag sitting in our living room floor in Cedar City....3 hours away. It has all of his music scores for Spain. It has his mp3 player with all of his music recordings for Spain. It has his PASSPORT. Seriously, if he left any other bag, he would live. But this one? He can't even get to Spain without it.

Joel was about to get in the car and drive back home to get it, but I thought we should call a family member to see if they could break into our house. My sister-in-law happily went over there and got in through the girls' window. She is going to overnight it to us tomorrow morning and that will be cheaper than the gas money and time spent driving to get it.

I'm fairly sure that this post isn't translating into the great amount of angst that Joel and I have both been feeling today. But, believe me, it's there. I would just die if he couldn't get to Spain, and I would also die if he somehow had to turn down this job interview. Currently, it looks as though things will all work out okay (although, not without quite a bit of effort), but since I don't have his passport in my hands and since I don't know if the flight plans for the interview will pan out, I am having a little freak out session inside my head. Things have been difficult enough for us the past few months, and to be honest, I have barely been holding myself together. I've been on the verge of a nervous breakdown for several weeks, and these situations aren't helping me.

But then I think about another little thing that happened to us today.

Just as we arrived in Orem, we had to stop at Barnes and Noble and buy another recording of Pierrot for Joel. When I opened my purse to pay for it, my wallet wasn't there, and I almost had a heart attack. I thought I had left it in Cedar City somehow. Luckily, my checkbook was there, and the clerk was very kind about letting me use it without photo ID, and even told me about the credit union co-op should I have to get money out of the bank. Anyway, both Joel and I were dying because the debit card (we only have one, it's what works best for us) was in my wallet and he would definitely need it in Spain.

But, we got into the car, and were relieved to see my wallet on the floorboards. It just fell out while we were driving. We laughed and laughed about it and said, "Can you imagine if we had left something so important at home?" Well, now we have. And I think that little experience with my wallet is just the Lord's way of letting us know that all will work out. It's just a little opposition.

And a little opposition never hurt anybody.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Who are these children coming down?

If you grew up LDS in the 70's or 80's, you should recognize that little phrase as a song from Saturday's Warrior. But, if you've blocked it out of your mind, I will forgive you.

My brother-in-law is currently directing a revival and sequel to the beloved show. A touring revival and sequel, no less. He asked me to do some photos for a flashback scene which will be included in the sequel part. I didn't really realize what a huge load of work this would be when I said yes, but I just finished and can now breathe a sigh of relief.

First, my sister-in-law and I had to go up to Provo area with my nephew (my kids came too, and played at Mamah and Grandpa's house) who was going to be part of the flashback photos. We met up with Matt (my brother-in-law) and the actor who would be in the pictures, and went to a park. Then I took something like 350 photos total. After I arrived home, I weeded out the truly bad ones and ended up with 225 or so good ones. I then had to resize these and send them all to Matt to look at. He then narrowed it down to 42 pictures that he would use in the show and then I had to edit each of those to look all vintagy. It was a long process. I'd say it took me about 15 minutes to do each picture. Not because I did anything super hard, but because my computer is painfully slow. Someday I will get a new one, and until then, I will not be accepting any more crazy jobs like this!

In all seriousness, I'm glad I was able to help. If you want to see the play (and my pictures), the show will be touring what I like to call the "Mormon Corridor" this summer. So if you live close to Logan, Salt Lake City, Roy, Idaho Falls, Twin Falls, Las Vegas, St. George or Phoenix, plan on it! You can find more information at this website.

And, here are a few of my favorite pictures from the shoot:

PS: My girls were watching the basketball playoffs in the picture of my last post. Yeah, we were shocked, too. :)

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Guessing game

I've been going through all the pictures I've taken the last couple months, and I came across this one. It was taken about a week and a half ago when Miss Sophie was so sick. Joel and I were in the kitchen making dinner (or maybe we were cleaning it up....details are fuzzy now) and we came into our bedroom to find all three girls in our bed watching TV. They'd been there for a good half hour, they were totally enthralled (and quiet!) in the program, and the remote was nowhere to be found, so we know that they were watching the same thing the entire time.
Anybody care to guess what they were watching?

I'll tell you the answer in my next entry.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

I spy something round

So I haven't done the i spy challenges in a few weeks. Just a busy time of year. But today is the last day of school and things are slowing down. I am so ready for summer. Even if the weather is refusing to comply. (Regarding the weather, did you know that Cedar City experienced the largest drop in temperature from Tuesday to Wednesday in the entire nation?!?)

This week's challenge was to spy something round. I spied this in my yard. Perfectly round. And, also, we really need to weed and mow. Plenty of time to do that after today!

And yes, I am trying yet a different logo. I think I am just bored of the original one, because I do like it quite a lot. And I think maybe the second one is too boring for me. (I tend to fall victim to ennui quite easily.) So, we'll see what we decide on. Feedback welcome on logo number 3.

Happy Thursday!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Can the weather please just decide what season it is?

This was a long winter. It lasted until about last week.

Sure, we had a few nice 70 degree days interspersed between the freezing, snowy, windy and rainy days. Like maybe 4 in all of March, April and May. As recently as last week the temperatures were low enough to make one think that it was January and not May.

Then suddenly it was 95 degrees for a few days straight. Seriously hot. And since my blood has thickened way up from my Arizona days, I thought I might die from the 50 degree jump in one day. (It is kind of funny to think that Bria used to want her coat when it was "only" 90 degrees in Arizona.)

Even though I was lamenting a bit the loss of spring, since we seemed to have skipped it entirely, I could be happy with 90 degrees. Totally happy. Especially after a small adjustment period.

And then today? Today it is freezing and we're having a mean thunderstorm.

I just don't think I can take the schizophrenia anymore.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

A peek into her mind

My favorite part about this time of year is that Bria brings home her writing journals from school. I absolutely love to read what she writes, to see what is going on in that precious little mind of hers, and to gain some insight into who she is.

Some of my favorite entries from her 2nd grade journal (starting from first entries to'll be able to see her spelling improve as we go.):

I wish I was like my dad because he plays orkistra. He is the boss of efriting in it, and he gets to go first on evrething and that is no fer!

I am the oldist daughter and I play violin. I have Brown and short hair and I am 6 years old. I am wearing a t-shirt and shorts. I am reading, I am happy. Bilive me and that's all I'll say.

To cheer a frend you can Bring them to Mcdoneldts or Bring them to your Birthday or Bring them to get Ice-cream or Bring them to disnyland or you can Bring them to camping with you.

When I am alone I lik to jump rope or slid doun the slid or go sit doun in the shade or swing on the swing or or look at all o the buttifll buttifll Butter flys.

I help my famaly by cleaning so our house is like the tempel. I Like to help others Because it feels like you are a very very very nice nice kind kind kid. I still like to help others.

My mom said, "go and do your progect." I said, "yes." I said, "but I want help," My mom said, " do it yourself missy." I said, "okey" She said, "acholy I'll help you."

When I went to my Grandmas I thought that it wold be boring. it turned out to be fun Because I did not know it was her Birthday. And we had so much fun. it was so much fun because me and my sister went to the party and so did our aunt Marryann and her dog buddy. buddy was so, so small on that day but now he is as big as a baby horse. he is soft on his head and has a curaly fur on his Back. he is white as white as heven and shimering snow.

When I was playing in my violin festival their was thousans of people their. I was shy But I got to eat a whole bucket of ice cream all by myself because I did it.

That's probably enough for now. They just make me happy.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Myth busting

A lot of people seem to think that boy children generate more laundry than girl children. I suppose it makes sense. After all, they are more likely to be found playing in the mud and they just generally enjoy more dirt making activities like soccer and dirt bikes and baseball.

I am here to tell you it just isn't true. Boy laundry may be dirtier, but there is a heck of a lot more girl laundry to be done.

I got a little behind on laundry this last week with Sophie being so sick. I mean, I still did a ton of laundry: Sophie was wearing (and being sick on) ten or more outfits a day, her bedding needed changing about twice a day and then there were all the towels and washcloths used in clean up efforts that needed immediate laundering. Yeah, I did a lot of laundry, but not the laundry I usually do.

Consequently, the girls' hamper is piled to the ceiling (not joking) and the other hamper is pretty much overflowing too. I have been doing load after load today and it still seems as if no end is in sight. Chloe has no clean pants (well, she didn't this morning, but don't worry, she does now) and Bria went to school wearing a pair that is just small enough that she probably shouldn't wear them ever again.

So I have been thinking that all this laundry they have generated this week is much, much more than the 21 or so outfits and maybe 10 pair of PJ's that it should be if each child only wore one outfit and PJ's twice before they threw them in the hamper. I'm talking at least four times more. And really, not many of Sophie's clothes are needing washing at this point, so I know that Bria and Chloe are squarely to blame.

Why did this happen? Why, because I have females, of course. Bria wears about 4 outfits in the course of a morning before school, and the ones she decides against go into the hamper or on the floor. By the time I get to them, they really are dirty because they've been next to a stinky towel or stepped on by dirty shoes. Chloe is really into the bag lady layered look right now and enjoys wearing several shirts and sweaters with jeans and a couple skirts for good measure. She also changes her outfits several times a day. When Bria comes home from school, she likes to change another 4 times, just to come up with cute combinations (which usually aren't so cute, but whatever, someday she'll figure that out).

And during all the fashion modeling and clothes slinging, I am left staring down a mountain of laundry, over half of which is probably clean though I have no way to really tell.

And that, folks, is why girls unequivocally generate more laundry than boys.

I just don't have to stain treat as much.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Be a Lady

Bria had her 2nd grade program the other night. They did an adorable little show called "Bugz" which apparently schools all over the country do, since Hilary's son has also done it at his school far away from us.

All of the girls had to wear red and black to be ladybugs, and the boys wore camouflage because they were army ants. Everyone had a speaking part, even Bria. I was pretty impressed with how willingly she did her part since she can be very shy about things like that.
But the thing we loved the very most was how she danced her little heart out. The following pictures are from a song all the girls sang called "Be a Lady" and Bria was so into it. I just loved it! She wasn't self conscious at all, and it gives me hope for her shyness levels.

After it was all over she wouldn't let me take her picture because I was embarrassing her. But I took a few anyway....also she was mad because we couldn't go out for ice cream afterward (we usually do after any family member has a performance). I think if she had auditioned for the role of the stink bug with this face, she'd have been a shoe in. :)
This is Bria and her 2nd grade crush, who also happens to be a neighbor. I think he has a crush on her too. He wanted me to take a picture of him, and so finally Bria agreed to actually smile in a picture since it was with him. Too bad they were in such a hurry to get out of there that it's pretty blurry. Cute though, and I like having the memory of them.

Friday, May 16, 2008

A photoshop how to: Get your pictures ready to post on the web

I've had a lot of questions from people about two things I do in Photoshop. How to make and stamp my logo on the pictures and how to make the frames I've been posting with lately. If you couldn't care less about this, then just stop reading now and come and visit me tomorrow.

If you do care about this, it's your lucky day, because I'm going to teach you!

Here's the catch. I have Photoshop Elements 5.0. If you have any version of Elements it will be pretty much exact, but if you have CS3 or any of the other versions it will be a bit different, and I really have no idea how. But I do imagine it will work similarly.

So we're going to start by creating a logo and making a brush out of it.

Step 1: You need to open a new, blank file. A dialog box will come up (didn't get a screen shot, sorry) asking you for specific parameters. The only one that matters for this is that the background is white. Size and resolution don't make any difference. (Clicking on the screen shots in this post will bring them up full size so you can tell better what's going on.)
Step 2: Pick the type tool. You can do this by pressing "T" on your keyboard, or by clicking on the T icon along the left hand side. Press "D" on your computer to make sure that your foreground is black and your background is white.

Step 3: Make your logo. Have fun. We won't go into how to use the type tool, but it's pretty self evident, I think. There are font and point size pickers at the top. For making a logo brush you do need to make sure it is black (see step 2 for getting your foreground black, as that will be the color the type tool uses).
Step 4: Once you have made your logo, you will need to flatten your layers. Do this by clicking on "more" at the top of the layers pallette and then choosing "flatten image."
Step 5: Choose the Marquee tool, either by pressing "M" on your keyboard, or by clicking on the dotted square icon along the left hand side of the screen. Use your mouse to select your logo (i.e. make a dotted line around it).
Step 6: Go up to Edit and choose "define brush from selection."
Step 7: A new dialog box will pop up, asking you to give your new brush a name. I have named mine "new logo" but of course you can choose whatever you darn well please. Click ok.
Step 8: Before you leave this screen, you'll want to make sure that you did, indeed, make a brush. So, get the brush tool, either by pressing "B" on your keyboard, or by clicking on the paintbrush icon on the left hand side. Your new brush will be in the "Basic Brushes" menu, and it will be the very last one there. If you click on it you will see the ghost-like version of your logo, and you know that you have a logo brush! Hooray!
Okay, so now we're going to get a picture all ready to be posted on your blog. As a side note, the reason I do the logo brush on all my pictures, is not because I'm a photography snob or anything like that. There is actually a lot of photo stealing that happens on blogs and other websites. We all know how easy it is to just right click on an image and take it for our own use. I do not want my pictures being used by others, because I don't know how they'll be used. I'm sure the likelihood is low, but I watermark them so people will not want to take them. According to things I've read, the watermarking is a big deterrent for these internet photo thieves. So there you have it. Definitely something to think about. Okay, now, back to getting your photo ready for blog postage.

Step 1: Get a photo and bring it up in photoshop. The first thing you need to notice is how big it is and what its resolution is. You can find this information right under the picture.

You're going to want to resize your picture for web. I have purchased an action that does this for me very quickly, but you can almost as quickly do the same thing yourself. Obviously, my picture is very large, and will have nightmarish loading time if I post it how it is now. So, your goal is for it to be 4x6 and 72 dpi. To resize, go up to Image>resize>image size.
Step 2: A dialog box will come up, asking you parameters for your resize. For the photo I have up, I want it to be 4 inches wide and 6 inches tall. You may have to reverse this depending on your picture. Then choose 72 for the resolution. In order for this to work correctly, the resample box must be checked.
Step 3: Click ok, and your image will magically be resized. Don't freak out, because it will probably look smaller than a postage stamp. All you need to do is use your zoom tool ("Z" on the keyboard, or the little magnifying glass icon to the side) or if you have a scroll mouse you don't even need your zoom tool. You can just click outside of the picture and scroll up and down to change the zoomage.

Step 4: Now we're going to make a nice little frame for your picture. To do this, go up to Image>resize>canvas size. A dialog box will come up for your parameters. Here you can do whatever you want. Play with it to see what kind of funky frames you can make. Here is what I have been doing lately. First, I do a canvas resize of .05 inches in white. Then I go back up to Image>resize>canvas size and do another one of .5 inches in black. Easy peasy. Oh, you need to make sure the "relative" box is checked, or funky, undesirable things will happen.
Step 5: Now that you have your frame, you're going to want to logo-ize your photo. First, you need to make a copy of your background layer. Do this by pressing "CTRL J" on your keyboard. You want to make sure that layer is highlighted on your layers pallette.

Step 6: Press "B" to get your brush tool, or use the brush icon, and find your logo brush from your basic brush menu. Since we checked on it earlier, it will probably come up automatically.

Step 7: Play a bit with the pixel size slider at the top until you find a brush size that works for your photo. Then stamp it right on that picture by clicking with your mouse. I usually alternate between stamping in black or white, depending on the lightness or darkness of my picture. Sometimes I use a random color, but not usually. For this particular photo I used white. The brush tool will use the foreground color, so if you need to switch them around, just click the arrow between the two squares. (The icon of which I speak is in the lower left hand corner of your screen at the very bottom of the toolbar.)

Step 8: Now you need to play with the opacity of the layer you just stamped on. The opacity slider is located at the top of the layers pallette. I don't like my logo to be glaringly there, so I usually slide it to around 50%. Sometimes more and sometimes less, depending, of course, on your photo.

Step 9: Once you're happy with the way your logo looks, flatten your layers (see step 4 on the making of the logo if you forgot how) and save your image.

Step 10: Go post it on your blog!

Okay, I realize this whole step by step thing makes this look totally cumbersome and time consuming, but it really isn't. Once you have a logo you like, all those first steps are done forever. And getting a photo resized, framed, and logo-ized takes about one minute once you have it all down. Totally fast and easy. And I hope I helped you learn something new and fun today.

So here is the photo I prepared (story behind it coming soon):
Do you think I should keep this new logo? Or do you like my old one better? Do tell.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The breakfast thief

You know how after you've been sick for a while and can't keep food down, that once you're better, you're famished? I certainly feel that way as soon as I have a baby. After 9 months of constant nausea and vomiting, I am ready to eat! A lot! (Which is a huge part of the reason I am not so skinny anymore.) Yeah, well Sophia is finally to that point.

So today, she woke up around 6:30. First she just wanted milk and laid on the couch watching TV while she drank it. Then she took my hand and led me to the fridge where she picked out a yogurt. We had to fight a bit about where she would eat it, because if she isn't strapped into her high chair, she will take it all over the house. After finally giving in to being in her chair, she ate most of the yogurt before she'd had enough of confinement and wanted out.

Then Bria came out and got herself a bowl of cereal. Sophie then decided that she wanted to have a bowl of cereal too. Fine. Got her a bowl of cheerios, most of which she ate before she decided to find out what would happen if she dumped it all on the floor. Then she asked for a banana and ate the entire thing.

At this point, I was making myself a couple of eggs for breakfast. When I sat down to eat them, Sophie came up and demanded that I give them to her. So, I did. And then, when she was finished she wanted more! So I scrambled another egg for her and she devoured it.

As if this wasn't enough, when Chloe finally got up and came out to eat, she left her half eaten cereal on the counter. And guess who found it?
You guessed it. She finished the cheerios (with her fingers!) and then drank most of the milk left in the bowl. Goodness! Hopefully, all the food this morning will hold her off till lunch time!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

All in a day's work

Today I felt the urge to have my camera more accessible and document a normal day around our house. And Sophie being so sick has become totally normal, just in case you're wondering.

So, here are a few of my favorites from the day.

Second bath of the day for Sophie (probably Bath #59 since Thursday, and though I realize that I am given to hyperbole, I am definitely not exaggerating here):

But, at least she's a bit more chipper today:

Chloe, drawing as usual (it turned out to be a cute chicken when she was done):

Sophie joining in after her bath is finished (don't you love how fast she's scribbling?):

Bria coming home from school, excited that violin lessons are cancelled today because her teacher is out of town:

Her fancy High School Musical backpack:

Just a cute one of Chloe:

Bria doing her reading. (Of course it's Junie B. Jones.):

And another one of Sophia. I can tell she is still not feeling so great, but at least we're towards the end of this crud! 5 days!!! I really think it's quite enough!:
Happy Tuesday!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pomp and Circumstance

Last weekend my cute niece graduated from SUU, and of course we were there to see her receive her diploma and cheer for her.

Apparently, it affected my little artist (Chloe) very much, because this is the picture she drew yesterday:

As a side note, she was grounded from coloring when she sneakily made it (that is about the only thing that works discipline-wise with take away drawing. She really shapes up when we do). She went and showed it to Joel and he was really excited about it and told her to go show me. Then she whispered, "I can't. I'm not supposed to be coloring."

But she came and showed me anyway, and I was amazed, as I'm sure you are. Then she sheepishly turned in her pencil box, and promised she wouldn't color anymore until she earned it back.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Queen for a day

So, as fas as my own mother's day goes, I was certainly spoiled.

I was up with Sophie a lot last night, so I actually slept in till 11:00 am! That hasn't happened in forever! Then I had breakfast made for me and was showered with gifts.

Joel and the girls got me some new yummy smelling lotion, a cool bath pillow thing that suctions to the bath tub and some scrapbooking magazines. Since I fully intend to start scrapping full throttle again soon. My mom sent me money that must be used for a massage, I am told. Absolutely nothing else, especially not bills (I told you she is incredibly generous!).

Bria made me a little jar at school with Hershey's kisses and hugs inside, and little word strips. Here is what they say:

Mom cares about me.
The most important thing about my mom is she loves me.
She loves me with all her heart and I do too.
If I had one million hearts I would love you with all of them.
I love you with all my heart.
She loves me and I love her.

Bria is a very loving child, in case you didn't notice.

Chloe also made me a cute gift at school. It was a little foam magnetic memo board to put on the fridge with a little marker to go with it. If you know Chloe at all, then you know she has completely taken it over already, even though it says "Mom's memos."

Joel asked Chloe how she could show me that she loves me and she said this, "Give her big hugs and French kisses and lots of money."

Joel and I took Sophie to part of church because I really didn't want to miss the girls singing to me and Joel was in charge of conducting the annual mother's day special number sung by the Priesthood. So as soon as that was done, he took the baby home (who is still really quite ill) and put her to bed where she slept until I got home. He then cleaned the entire house and made my favorite meal for dinner. Fettucine alfredo with chicken. Yum!

After dinner I had Joel take some pictures of me and the girls. I always feel like I am the one behind the camera and I don't really have too many pictures of me with my kids, so I wanted to change that. They turned out okay. You can tell Sophie isn't feeling well, I think my new haircut makes my face look really fat, there is a lot of glare on Bria's and my glasses, and I am, in fact, really fat. But I am happy to have the pictures.

I hope all you moms out there who read this also had a fabulous day, too!

To my angel mother

I have an amazing mother.

My mom is generous to a fault. She spoils my children and she spoils me and Joel. She loves to give of her time, talents and means to help her family and her friends. It makes her happy to make others happy.

My mom is a hard worker. Whenever she is at my house, even if she just had shoulder surgery or something, she is constantly moving and getting things done. In fact, the last time she was here, the girls' room was a mess. They had dilly-dallied too much and didn't get it done. To top it off Bria said, "It's okay, Mom. Mamah is coming and she always cleans our room for us." Well, my mom arrived before we were home from choir rehearsal, and true to Bria's word, she had cleaned their entire room spotless by the time we walked in the door.

My mom is fun. She is the type of person who makes you feel happy when you are around her. She loves to laugh. A few months ago when she was visiting she came to Bria's violin lesson with us. The next time we had a lesson the teacher said to Bria, "Your grandmother is what I call a sunshine person. She brings light and warmth to everyone she meets."

My mom is in shape. I think many of you know this already. So many of my friends have taken her fitness classes at BYU or UVSC. Just about every one of my mission companions recognized her from my family picture because they had taken a class from her. And they all adored her. Nowadays, even more of my friends take her classes because she is on TV. She inspires many many people every day, and everyone can see how blessed I am to have her for my mother.

My mom is a fighter. She has been through many things in her life. One trial, in particular, was a disease called Transverse Myelitis. She got this shortly before I got married, and was paralyzed for a little while. I am amazed at her ability to have recovered from something so serious, but she did it. She is again, an inspiration to many. You can see her talk about it here. (Actually, looks like you'll have to scroll down to the bottom and then choose the week of 3/15/2008. She will come up in the box called Faces of BYU, and you can play the video there.)

My mom is good. She is kind. She understands the Atonement. She taught me well as I was growing up under her roof and continues to teach me many things. I only hope that I can be just as good a mother as she was. If I can do that, then I know I have succeeded.

Happy Mother's Day, Mom!

I love you!!!!

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Growing up!

Yesterday morning Chloe discovered that her bottom tooth was really loose, and by dinnertime it had fallen out. You have never seen a more excited kid (it was her first tooth loss, hence the very first visit from the tooth fairy)! I was a little surprised myself, until I realized that Chloe is actually a few months older than Bria was when she lost her first tooth. It just doesn't seem that way because Bria was in Kindergarten and Chloe is still in preschool just due to their birthdates.
Chloe is such a grump in the mornings, she wasn't even excited to find her dollar from the Tooth Fairy. She just kind of grunted and rolled over and went back to sleep. This is actually kind of refreshing since Bria always finds it necessary to come and wake us up at 4:30 in the morning to show us what was left under her pillow. Don't worry, later in the day Chloe was absolutely thrilled with her money!

When Bria lost her first tooth it made me a little sad, and Chloe was no different. I even cried a little. It's kind of the beginning of the end of childhood. Pretty soon all those cute little baby teeth will be replaced with grown up ones....and before I know it my cute little girl is going to be replaced by an adult. I'm sure she'll still be cute, but I'm not so sure I want it to come all that quickly!

In other news, Sophie is still very sick. She has been throwing up and having diarrhea (TMI, I know) for 3 days now. Joel had a really hard time while I was down at Tuacahn teaching this morning. He must have called me 4 times to announce a new incident, wondering what he would ever do if I died, and could I please hurry home? I think she's had about 5 baths today, and in the course of the last few days we've washed her entire wardrobe at least once, and blankies way more than that. At least she's clean!

Here's a picture of the sickie lounging on the couch with her monkey pillow and bug blankie. She's been parked here most of the time these last few days just watching movies and napping about 3 times a day. If you know this child at all, you know she is normally on the go and this is completely abnormal for her. I just hate it when they're sick like this!!

It's official!

The post announcing the winner is up at the website.

Go look!

Friday, May 09, 2008

The home stretch, the final countdown, and it ain't over till the fat lady sings!

ETA: It's now 9:21 EST. Looks like WE WON! I say we, because I did not do this on my own. Thank you to EVERYONE who has voted and spread the word. I am forever indebted. The website will officially announce the winner on Mother's Day, but unless something crazy happens I'm pretty sure WE DID IT!!!!

This week will go down in the annals of history as the longest week of my life. Officially.

Okay. So maybe there have been other weeks (like the week before I gave birth to each child) that have felt longer, but whew! This one certainly makes the top five.

I was never the type of person that really wanted to run for public office. Not in elementary school. Not in Jr. High. Not in High School, and definitely not in college. We won't even discuss city, state and country! I do like to be in leadership positions though, so go figure.

But I think I now know why I wouldn't have run for office. The campaigning for votes. It's not really in my personality to self-promote very much (and yes, I realize that kind of goes against keeping a blog...but it's not like I advertise my blog constantly to every single person I've ever's more of an "if I write it, they will come" mentality). Believe it or not, I am kind of shy, and I prefer to sit and watch others do things like campaign for votes.

But, apparently, I will do anything when it comes to 1000 dollars. Especially when I see it as such a huge blessing from above. It killed us financially to buy Joel's plane ticket to Spain (if you must know, it was 1161 dollars and that was the cheapest fare on the internet), but we have felt so right about it after praying and fasting about this trip. We know this is what the Lord wants us to do. So this amazing opportunity to win this money just feels like another confirmation that we made the correct decision.

Except I haven't won the money yet. And I have to campaign like crazy!!! And I kind of don't like that part, but I figure if I want blessings, I better work for them! I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart who are campaigning just as hard as I am for this, and for no other reason than that you love me. It has really warmed my soul this week, and I am not just saying that. Many times I have sat here crying as I have felt the love and support from each of your emails and messages and updates about how the votes are currently standing.

And, despite an amazing surge today by the other picture, I am again in the lead. A very small lead, but a lead nonetheless. And less than 24 hours left to this horribly long week of voting.

So here comes the campaign part: Go vote. Tell your friends. Put flyers up all over your neighborhood (okay, maybe that's going a bit too far...).

And have a wonderful Friday!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

She's on her third change of clothes and it isn't even 10 am.

I was just reading my sister-in-law's blog last night about how my nephew was throwing up everywhere all day. And I thought to myself how we seem to have been super lucky this year with that kind of sick. Of course, you should never, ever, never think such things, because the next morning your baby will wake up throwing up.

And that is exactly what happened. She's rather stoic about it (I don't think I've ever dealt with the stomach flu with Sophie before), even while her oldest sister was having a freak out session after the first time she threw up (Bria has a horrible terrible phobia of vomit).

Right now she's on the couch watching a movie, with a bowl beside her, although she hasn't once made it all into the bowl. She's not even 2 years old for goodness' sake! So she's already had two baths and 3 changes of clothing and I'm trying to keep a close eye.

I'm also keeping a very close eye on the voting tallies for the pictures. I managed to pull ahead yesterday and stay there, thanks to all of you, but things have proven to change very quickly with this contest. (ETA: I just went to pick up Chloe from preschool and was 40 ahead when I left. I came back and found I was now trailing by 10!) I swear I will have no hair by the time all of this is over.

So, if you haven't yet voted for my photo, please take a minute or two out of your day and go vote! (I made that link super big so you can't possibly miss it!) Mine is the one called Overstuffed with Polka Dots. You can also scroll down a bit in my blog and see's my now sick Sophie wearing my shoes and looking in the mirror.

Please vote! Tell your friends!

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Did it really take her 7 1/2 years to figure this out?

For the past few months I have not cleaned Bria and Chloe's room. I finally told them that since I don't make the mess, I don't clean it up. They do. The only exception is if they have friends over and it gets a bit beyond their control. Since they did not take part in the entire mess creation, I will help them clean it. Help. Not do it solely.

Naturally, they don't really like my new rule. Especially because I won't let them live in a room that looks as if a cyclone came through it as they are perfectly content to do. Left up to them, their room can deteriorate in .542 seconds. (If you don't believe me, scroll down a few posts and look at the evidence.) And left up to them, it will stay that way until they are 18 years old and out of the house. So they're not thrilled that I still make them clean and I have the gall to actually not even lend a hand.

Today, when they were sent to clean it up a bit, Bria came out with the following revelation:

Mommy! I know why our room always gets so messy!!!

It's because we never put anything away! Right?

I obviously have a lot of work ahead of me if it took that long for her to even understand the concept. Who knows how long it will be before she actually lives it?


Yes. You know what goes here.


And if you have no idea what I'm talking about...keep reading for a few posts. You'll figure it out.


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

I'm thinking it's just about time to potty train her

So the other day Sophie was in the bath. She absolutely loves bath time, so we often use that ten or twenty minutes that she's happy and contained to scrub the bathroom. Joel was in charge this particular evening, and while he was cleaning the toilet or something he wasn't really watching every move she made.

Well, she started throwing stuff out of the tub. When Joel realized that it wasn't just bath toys, but, well...something she should have done in her diaper or the toilet, he called me in because he doesn't clean up poop.

At first we weren't quite sure how it was on the floor instead of in the water with her. Until I started cleaning it up and realized it had been. And there was still some in the water. She wasn't very happy about it being in there either and she was diligently trying to get it out while yelling, "poo poo! poo poo!" in a frantic sort of way. Needless to say, she got straight out of the bath to run around the house naked while I cleaned out the tub and the floor. Then we drew her a nice clean bath and she was much happier.

I just bought a box of diapers today and I'm really hoping it will be my least until another child comes along.


Don't forget to go vote for me in the Mother's Day Photo Contest! My picture is doing well, but all day Monday it was neck and neck with another one (not even the toilet one) and she has the lead by about 10 votes right now. Tell your friends, post on your blog, send some email, post on message boards you hang out on, post on Facebook...anything! Please help me win 1,000 dollars!

See post below for information about how to vote.

And yes, I realize that I have been completely reduced to begging and pleading.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

This picture might be worth a thousand dollars!

***As of Sunday morning I have barely edged out the toilet picture. But I'm going to need lots more votes this week to stay in the lead. If you love me, post it on your blog, tell your friends and family to come vote, and vote yourself if you haven't already! Thanks all!!!***

Remember this picture?
Well, I entered it into a mother's day photo contest over at 5 minutes for mom, thanks to an anonymous commenter here who told me I ought to take a look at the contest because she thought I had great pictures on my site. (Thanks to whomever made that anonymous comment! Perhaps I live in the dark ages, but I'd never heard of that website!) Anyway, I went over and looked at the contest information and was shocked to see that the winner receives 1,000 dollars. A couple days later I caught the picture of Sophie and entered it in.

Yesterday I was chosen as one of 20 finalists out of over 400 entries. Now it's something of a "who has the most friends to vote for them" contest. So, because 1,000 dollars would make a huge difference in our lives and to Joel's upcoming Spain trip especially, I am imploring you to go over and vote for me. If, when you get there, you decide someone else should get your vote, that is perfectly okay with me, but I would (of course) love you to vote for me!

Here's what you need to do:

Go to this link: Mother's Day Photo Contest Voting, scroll down to the bottom, where you will see the voting box, and vote for "Overstuffed with Polka Dots" (Yet another instance of my monthly banner confusing new visitors, but no big deal!). Of course, you can also see my competition, and click through to their blogs to read the stories behind the photos. So far, I'm not doing so well against the toilet picture. Voting closes May 9th and you can only vote once, and believe me, I'll be hounding you. :) Tell everyone you know, too!

Anyway, this is the closest I've ever come to winning something this big, and I am excited, honored and humbled!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Keepin' it real

I really am a clean person, people. But my house? It's a mess right now. I even took pictures, and was going to post them, but decided that it would be much too embarrassing even though I'm trying to keep it real and all.

There are several reasons for the terrible state of my home.

1. We're busy. Last night Bria had her Suzuki strings concert and Joel and I had a dress rehearsal at the same time. We got to see her play the first part, and she wanted to stay for the rest so we left her there sitting by some friends. Joel was able to finish his part in the rehearsal in time to see her play the last part and bring her back to the rehearsal. We rehearsed until after 9 pm and then went to Arctic Circle for a (very) late dinner. Tonight we have the performance and tomorrow my students are doing a recital. And then I think my life will be much easier for the next few months. I can't wait.

2. I've been exhausted. See a couple posts down. I am not sure when the new dosage will really kick in, but it hasn't so far. I do feel a little better, but the new medication that I have never taken before is making me nauseous I think. That's not helping the situation. Anyway, I am tired. It's a miracle I'm getting myself out of bed in the morning.

3. I've (happily) been watching my niece and nephew for the last few days. Unfortunately, two extra kids combined with my exhaustion meant I couldn't keep up with all of them and it got messier than usual. Also, I left to go to work yesterday while they were here and Joel didn't even try to keep up with the mess making because he had so much work to do himself. Sigh.

4. I am just not an organized person. I try so hard to inflict organization on myself, but it usually falls apart after a couple days. I've made a lot of good headway this year, but the past month or so has been so crazy that I think I've gone backwards. I just bought a new bookshelf to put in the girls' room to hopefully contain some of the crazy mess, but I need to put it up when their room is clean again. So probably not till the weekend, unless I suddenly get a wonderful burst of energy. I am also trying to put things in the garage to get ready for a garage sale, but there's a lot more around I'm sure.

Okay, so in a fit of insanity, I decided to go ahead and post a picture of the girls' room. I think it looks even worse in real life.

And that is that. I'm off to get at least my front room looking presentable before my voice students begin to arrive.