Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Random Quandary...

Some moral dilemmas are just cut and dry, like if I find a wallet that doesn't belong to me, I track down the owner and give it back.

If a clerk gives me too much change, I immediately return the extra, then wonder whose purse I picked up by mistake that there was actually cash in it.

If a chicken shows up at my doorstep, I make chicken pot pie.

Cut and dry.  Easy peasy.

So now I wonder what do you do when a fully inflated $40 Nordic Track exercise ball shows up propped between your garbage can and the curb?  

I left the empty garbage can there all day, hoping someone would take it, but it's still there.  If I take the garbage can back up to the house and leave it on the curb the ball will undoubtedly  roll down the street.

If I bring the ball up near our front door, it will roll down the front yard, THEN roll down the street.

If I bring the ball inside, the rightful outdoor yogi owner will never know where it went.

So I feel like I have just a few workable choices:

    A)  Leave our garbage can on the curb for a couple days to see if anyone claims it.  If it's still there when the next garbage day rolls around (or when a neighbor scolds us for blighting the neighborhood)  then it's ours.

    B)  Bring it inside the house and make a FOUND poster to hang up around the neighborhood.

    C)  Bring it inside the house and let the kids and dog go crazy with it and hope that the yogi doesn't    go door-to-door in search of their wayward exercise ball.

    D)  Sell it on Craigslist, so I can say that I saw it, but have no idea where it is now, and then cry that I have to give them the only cash I've had in my wallet since 1991.

Please feel free to shower me with advice.


Sunday, March 28, 2010

Wicked. Awesome.

A night away from the kids.
Ate food I didn't cook. 
Slept in late.
Civil War sites (Chancellorsville and Stonewall Jackson shrine).
Long walk on a beautiful day.
Landmark Theater in Richmond.
Broadway tour.
7th row, center stage.

Wicked Awesome!


Thursday, March 25, 2010

♫ Musical ear? ♫

I read a study once that indicated that musical ability is 70% an inherited trait. People without the "ear" for music can practice a lot and become respectable musicians, but will probably never be concert pianists, while those with better musical genes still have to practice hard, their potential is much higher than people without the inherited "ear". 

Growing up, we as a family loved to sing. Our family home evenings would be at least half-filled with primary songs and hymns and despite the fact that the musical ear eluded 8 out of the 10 of us, we still belted out the songs with gusto.  Our rousing choruses of, "The Iron Rod," were, um, ear splitting enthusiastic and awe ahhh inspiring.

When I married Glen I was thrilled to give my kids a chance at inheriting some musical genes.   Thus far, it's looking about 50/50 (no names mentioned). 

Despite my self-deprecation about my own inabilities, we as parents, still try to make music an important part of our lives.  Taking the cue from my parents, our family home evenings and bedtime routines are music filled.  We sing hymns, primary songs, and fun preschool songs.  While I sometimes worry that somehow I'll ruin the kids' good musical ears with my enthusiastic out-of-tune singing, it is my hope that the songs become as much a part of their hearts as their minds. 

With the floundering economy recently, our school district has been proposing a number of budget cuts for the upcoming years.  While I'm sad that they will no longer be learning Chinese at the elementary school and I sure hope they don't make the class sizes too big, for selfish reasons I really, really, really hope they don't cut down music.  I view their two days a week in school music time as their only hope at proper training (and opportunities for performance).   They do take piano lessons too, but it's the singing I get excited about. 

Our school's music program is wonderful and gets the kids excited about singing.  One of the things I love is that each year each of the grades performs a musical for the parents.  It must be a ton of work for the music teachers, but it's one of the highlights of the year for me. Tonight was the 1st grade musical, Stone Soup, and it totally reaffirmed to me how much I hope that the music program stays strong through the budget cuts. 

The past couple weeks have found Adam (aka Peasant Boy Narrator) practicing his lines over and over again.  He was so dedicated to practicing that it didn't take long before  Ellie, overhearing his recitations, appointed herself his understudy, and can easily recite his three-line part word for word.

And this is mostly for the grandparents' sake, but if you want to see 30 seconds of total cuteness, here's a little video of his performance (plus about 10 seconds of the singing)... 

Translation:  "  Once upon a time, three soldiers were marching home from war.  Their names were Captain Andy, Private Charlie, and Private Max.  They were tired and hungry and were looking for a village to find some food."

♫  How often do your kids have music in school?  Is your district considering budget cuts too?  Do you have the musical ear?  What about your kids?  


Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Princess Invasion!

Junk food.

Singing and Dancing.

Climbing into Cami's lair.

Huffing and puffing.

A princess invasion of this kind can only mean one thing....

My baby is....

1,                                  2,

                           3,                                                     4,

Happy Birthday Sweet Ellie Bellie!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Flashback Friday: Strep Throat

Spring 1998--Spencer has a fever that won't go away.  We take him to the doctor.
Diagnosis:  Strep Throat
Treatment:  10 day course of amoxicillin
9 days into treatment (on his 3rd birthday):  he wakes up covered head to toe in an itchy rash
Diagnosis:  Spencer is allergic to penicillin

Flash forward 12 years without a single episode of strep throat....

Spring 2010--Ellie has a fever that won't go away.  We take her to the doctor.
Diagnosis:  Strep Throat (with Scarlet Fever rash)
Treatment:  10 day course of amoxicillin
9 days into treatment (a couple of days before 5th birthday):  she wakes up covered head to toe in an itchy rash (with swollen lips)
Diagnosis:  major déjà vu 

RANDOM FACTS ABOUT MEDICINAL ALLERGIES:  According to our pediatrician (and online research) an allergy to a medicine can show up at any time while taking it.  The most severe allergies often occur within a few hours of beginning it, but it is very common for it to take several days of exposure before reacting.  This was Ellie's first time ever needing antibiotics and her reaction was much more severe than Spencer's including swollen lips and face. It was Spencer's third or fourth time taking penicillin before he reacted.  Once somebody has reacted to a medicine, the likelihood of a more serious reaction in the future is much more likely.  Therefore Spencer and Ellie have doctor's orders to avoid penicillin for the rest of their lives. They estimate that up to 10% of the population is allergic to penicillin. 


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Note to Self:

Next time I decide to cook some green potato soup and bread bowls...

for my hungry little leprechauns....

make sure my half and half isn't spoiled first. (true story)

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! 


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Shoe-ly I'm Not That Daft...

I have friends whose shoe collections rival the racks at Payless.  On any given day, whether they be buying formula at the grocery store or raking their leaves; they look cute.  Their shoes match their handbags, which match their outfit, which match their car seat covers, which match their kitchen towels.  It's amazing. 

I, on the other hand, own approximately 4 pairs of shoes--2 of which are tennis shoes, which is approximately 16 fewer pairs than my brother has.   I guess most days I feel lucky that I've showered and taken off my pajamas, so I never even think about what I put on my feet.   Combine that with the fact that I hate to shop and you've got a good glimpse into my complete and total footwear indifference.  

I first began to get a clue that I may have a footwear problem back when I was in college and I was a bridesmaid in a wedding where a pair of high heels was purchased for me to wear.  At first I was excited to enter the upper echelons of fashiondom and add an extra couple inches to my puniness.  However, it did not take long before it was abundantly clear to everyone in the wedding party that I had never owned a pair of heels before.  The bride's mother only scolded me a little for stumbling in the expensive dress and immediately traded the shoes in for some boring old flats, which, by the way, I still own 17 years later. 

I remember another time at an Enrichment Night where they had everyone gather in a circle and take off one shoe to place in the middle for some kind of get-to-know-you game.  No one had too hard of a time tracking me down, as mine was the only turquoise running shoe in the midst of cute black or brown loafers.   

Normally my anti-shoe fetish doesn't bother me much, but every once in a while after one of these embarrassing experiences I  question whether I should go get my estrogen levels checked or something.

Most recently, for instance,  I was at a fancy social event where a classy older lady (a relative) had to force herself from staring at my shoes while we conversed.  It was soon clear that she was smirking at my tights and sandal combination.

Still I remained stoic and nonchalant in my footwear choices.

Finally, a couple weeks ago I caught myself at the grocery store wearing Glen's oversized slippers and I decided then and there that it was time to go to a real store (any store besides the thrift store) and invest in something cute and fashionable.  If nothing else, so my kids will still be seen with me. 

So, here you go... 

 My new Sunday shoes.

...and my every day shoes.

I know. I know.

I rock.   


Lessons I've Learned From a Cold, Snowy Winter

Minnesota, Alaska, and Seattle are permanently stricken off my list of possible future residences.

Sears' shovels are far superior to Sears' appliances.

My Vitamin D supplements are the lifeblood to me having a semblance of mental health in the winter.

A cute styling winter hat does wonders for bad hair days.

 3 feet of snow makes for fun photo-ops.

Glen is a patient, saintly man.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

They Just Ain't What They Use to Be....

In high school I looked forward to weekends as a time to relax.

I'd sleep in.  I'd twiddle around the house.  Call my friends.  Do a little homework here and there.  Take a nap.  Maybe have to work for a few hours.  Hang out with my friends for a while.  Stay up late talking to sisters. 

In college, I still loved weekends.  I usually had homework to catch up on and I always had to work for a few hours, but I still relished the unstructured time to sleep, socialize, and work when I felt like it.

In our early married days, I still loved weekends.  It was a time to spend more time together as a couple.  We'd get things done around the house.  We'd stay up too late playing board games or watching movies together, then we'd sleep in.

Somewhere between being a young married couple to becoming the parents of five active children, weekends have taken on a whole new meaning.  Gone are the days of leisurely sleeping in.  The kids wake up at the same time no matter what day it is.  Gone are the days of twiddling around with unstructured time.  Now we have sporting events, chores to get done, school activities, church activities, Sunday lesson preparation, all the while still taking care of kids, cooking meals, and doing yardwork.

Weekends just aren't what they used to be and sometimes I miss that.

But then I remember, our weekends are the only time we get to spend with Daddy around the house all day.  The only days we have time to eat big breakfasts together.  And the only time we don't have to rush from homework, to dinner, to bed.  And since we don't do playdates on weekends, the kids play all day with each other.  They read. They play games.  They twiddle around the house (after they do their chores).  The older kids take naps.

I guess maybe our weekends aren't that different from my childhood after all.  It's just a different perspective and I can't imagine what weekends were like for my parents with EIGHT kids to tote around and rally into action.  Thanks for your patience Mom and Dad!

And just for fun,  here's a little glimpse into our weekend:

Friday was Pi Day, so I got talked into making 6 pies to donate to the school, so each class could eat a Pi(e) on Pi Day.  I made the crusts, used store bought filling, and over-cooked them (and barely cared).  Glen was quite proud of my non-perfectionism. 

Ellie perked up shortly after starting on antibiotics and spent the weekend a little on the hyper side.  Apparently she had a little pent-up energy after spending the week in bed.   We were also happy to see that she did not lose her sense of fashion during her illness.

 One thing we didn't see an ounce of this weekend was sunshine.  It's been raining now for 4 or 5 straight days.  Lucky for us, last week at the Home Depot Kid's Workshop the kids got to make these rain gauges.  They knock them over whenever they check on them, but they're still fascinated with measuring all the rain we're getting.   They estimate that we've gotten at least 91.2 inches since Thursday. 

With Spencer's new spring lacrosse schedule, we're having family home evenings on Sunday nights again.   With the advent of daylight savings time this morning a couple of the kids were a bit drowsy during our lesson on Christ's atonement tonight.

We also attended JD's baptism ( my cousin's son) on Saturday morning.  I slipped on the mud on the way out the door and had to completely change clothes and wipe mud off my hands and hair.   Thankfully, we still made it in time for the beautiful occasion.  We will be sad when the Snows' move away.

We also wrote our letters to grandparents, went grocery shopping, did chores, cursed our finicky internet that is running slower than dial-up and only works a few hours a day, prepared the Sacrament Meeting program, made copies at the church, shuttled Spencer around to church and social activities, took care of nursery business,  went on a date with Glen while AnnaLisa took care of the kids, finally finished the tax return, turned the house upside down looking for the stapler, and let Glen grill burgers for us. 

It was as busy as can be, but in a good way.  It's only Sunday night and I'm already sad the weekend is over...

What are weekends like at your house?   Do you look forward to them?  Or dread them?  


Thursday, March 11, 2010

A New Family First

First teeth, first words, first steps, first days of school, first dog, first day of early morning seminary...  With five kids in the house we've been through a lot of firsts together.

This however was a first we could have done without....

Our first case of scarlet fever!

Apparently it's just strep throat with a bright red rash, but it's one of those illnesses that in past generations was a dreaded diagnosis.  Experts believe that scarlet fever may be the illness that left Helen Keller deaf and blind.  Today I am feeling very blessed to live in a day and time where after a 10-day course of antibiotics she'll be good as new!   


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sugar Free FAQ's

I've had a lot of people asking me questions about my new quest to be sugar free, so in the true spirit of divulging TMI on the internet I've compiled a list of my most frequently asked questions and answered them all for you right here.

What prompted the no sugar diet? I felt like I was addicted to sugar and the temporary burst of energy it provided. I was finding it harder to keep my weight stable and I was growing increasingly worried about my long-term health and the example I was setting for the kids.  

How are you doing it? The way I'm doing it is that I'm completely avoiding sugary foods six days a week and indulging in something special once a week (usually Sunday).  

Is this permanent? At this point, I'm viewing it as a permanent thing. Eventually I hope to get to a point where I'm not as obsessive with my sugar fixation and that I will be able to indulge in those special treats that come along (even if it's a couple times a week). But for now I feel like I've got a long way to go, before I can reach that kind of self-control.

How do you handle the cravings ? At first, it was just pure mind over matter and not wanting to cave in front of my kids. I've been chewing gum like crazy too. One of my biggest challenges here is that I found myself subconsciously filling the hole that sugar left in my diet with other carbohydrates, like homemade bread and cereals. While my homemade bread is whole grain and my cereal choices were healthy, I still realized that I was plugging a hole. Now that I'm more conscious of it, it's not as bad. I'll still use a bowl of Cheerios as an afternoon snack, but not the mindless eating of them by the handful. I still struggle day-to-day with cravings, especially on stressful days, but they've become much easier to handle now.  

Did you get headaches? I did get headaches (and stomach aches) occasionally from the withdrawal, but I found the hardest part was being tired. I had been using sugar to keep my energy level artificially up and I really missed those jolts of energy that sugar gave me. With that though, I quickly realized that while I missed the jolts, I was also missing the crashes that inevitably followed the burst of energy. I feel like I have been much more even since beginning this quest. Even-energy wise and even-tempered.

What about Cami's treat baking? Do you still always have treats in the house? Well, let's see....right now we have a heaping plate of peanut butter bars Cami made on Sunday for our FHE treats and 2 boxes of Girl Scout cookies we ordered before we started our quest. They're both hidden out of sight, but it's common that we have treats of one form or another in the house at any given time. Having said that, one of the quickest benefits of Glen and I embarking on this journey, was that it was not as rewarding for Cami to bake treats as often as she had been. She is now focusing her efforts on making more special treats for Sundays, which have to last until FHE too. It's been a very good change for the whole family.  

What about social eating? While I still struggle more with my private eating habits, social events have been difficult too. Like last night at Enrichment night, there was a homemade cake on every table and everyone was sampling all the different kinds. I had to intentionally throw away my silverware and refuse the plate, so I wouldn't try to snitch just a bite. I also find that the more people I tell, the easier it is to refuse, because I don't want to embarrass myself by cheating in front of knowing eyes. 

Have you lost any weight? I have no idea. We just bought a scale on Saturday, but I do feel more svelte and calm if that counts for anything.

Any suggestions or techniques you want to share? It's much easier if you can get your husband on board with it too. Glen had always been very resistant to any kind of drastic dietary changes like this, but he finally realized that this was a moderate approach that thus far has been very maintainable to us. Granted we're only about 6 weeks in, but I'm hopeful that we can keep this up for the foreseeable future! I also believe that accountability is huge. That's why I talk about it on the blog and openly tell friends and family about it.

Have you ever tried drastically changing a bad habit before? What kinds of hurdles did you face? Any words of wisdom for me?


End of an Era

Today I did two things:

1.  I filled out the preschool survey form from our elementary school where we indicated our intention to send Ellie to kindergarten next year.

2.  I officially announced my impending retirement as the preschool coordinator in the ward.

  While I know that life (and co-op preschool) will go on without me, I just can't seem to shake the feeling that after eleven years of participation and eight years of being in charge, that somehow I'm selling my baby off.  

Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

In most regards I'm somewhat of a cheapskate when it comes to shopping.  I buy whatever's on sale and don't think about it again until I start to run low.   Over the years though, I've found that there are a few items that are totally worth splurging on.   This post is dedicated to those....

Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Daily Moisturizer --I've tried all the other reasonably priced moisturizers and won't use any other brand.  It has just the right balance of making my skin soft without feeling greasy.  I love the subtle smell and the fact that it has the sunscreen built in.  

Tide laundry detergent--I've tried every name and store brand there is and there just isn't anything better for consistently getting my laundry clean and fresh smelling.  I buy it by the truckload at Costco!

Bath and Body Works air fresheners--They're fresh smelling without being overpowering.  I also like that they're pretty to look at too.

Trader Joe's frozen orange chicken--it's not healthy and it's only cheap compared to fast food, but man oh man, in just 10 minutes I can whip it up with some instant rice and I know everyone will devour it!  It's my favorite crazy night dinner.

Marriott Rewards Visa-- With all of our monthly expenses going on here, the points rack up quickly.   I don't know when or where, but someday we're going to go somewhere fun and exciting and not have to pay a penny for our hotels.

Cheerios--Okay, so this one is boring, but I love Cheerios.  I eat it for breakfast, I eat it on yogurt, and before I gave up sweets I even ate it on ice cream.   Someday I'm going to eat a bowl of Cheerios on top of the Eiffel tower with a beret on my head while holding a poodle.

Goldtoe ankle socks--They're comfy cozy, don't slip off my heels, and they last forever.  The only bad thing  about these socks is that Spencer is always trying to steal them from me.

Nike Air running shoes--I've had a pair of Nike Airs (many consecutive pairs, not just one) in my wardrobe since I was 15 and I love them as much today as I did then.   They're perfect for chasing kids, traversing mud puddles, and cooking dinner.  I wear mine every day.

Oral-B Satin floss --One day I was feeling cheap and bought another brand of  floss and within a week after having to tug between each and every tooth I actually pulled a cap off one of my teeth.  After the humiliation of traipsing into the dentist with my "tooth" in an envelope for him to cement back on, I decided that this luxury was well worth it!

Crayola crayons and markers--After five kids and eleven years of home co-op preschool---I've learned the hard way that I'll never buy another brand.

Toyota--Acceleration problems or not, we LOVE our two old Toyotas.  They're by far the most reliable cars we've ever owned and we intend to run them both into the ground!

5 gum-- I chew it when I'm  craving sweets, I chew it when I can't get to a toothbrush, and I chew it when I'm feeling rebellious towards my mother who hates gum almost as much as she hates communist socialists.   I'll send you a pack of 5 gum if you do your own post on your favorite things....


What are some of the things you won't skimp on?  Do you love (or hate) any of my favorites?    Do you have any good stories about discovering a favorite brand?   Does your husband agree with and support  your brand loyalty?


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Tooth Fairy, Earrings, and Sisters

I try to keep my full-out bragging to a minimum here on the blog, but this is one of those times (like this one from last summer) where one of my kids has stepped up and out of the realm of just being cute, sweet, smart, funny, and good-natured in the eyes of their adoring parents and has done something so genuine and thoughtful that I just can't help but do a little brag post.


Exhibit A:   A letter written to the tooth fairy after s/he'd forgotten to come seven full nights after losing her tooth. 
Of course the tooth fairy came that night. 


Exhibit B:  As soon as she had her tooth fairy loot in hand, Emma started bubbling with excitement about how she finally had enough money to buy a pair of the handmade earrings the school lunch lady sells to the kids for $3 a pair.

 My thought:  Oh, they're as cute as can be for her newly pierced ears (that are now totally healed from the freak gym class incident).


Exhibit C:   The attached note. 

After all that build up of having to remind the tooth fairy to come, all Emma really wanted was to buy a special present for her big sister.

Exhibit D:  One very happy 12-year-old sister. 

(and a mom with a tear in her eye).


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Woman Who Mistook a Book for a Bolt of Lightning

It all started out innocently enough during a discussion about which book to read for next month's book group selection.  It may have been that she knew that there was an upcoming movie about the "lightning" book that put it there in her head.  Or maybe she just remembered that a couple of her children had read it and really enjoyed it. 

Whatever happened there in her harried brain that night, it set off a chain of late night reading of the "lightning" series, scintillating conversations with impressed 3rd graders, and an ever-growing curiosity at the quality of discussion that would entail with refined women discussing a hilarious book about the son of a Greek god written at a third grade level. 

Then one day her friend, Corinne, innocently asked her how she'd liked the book for book group and whether she'd cried during it. 

Cried with laughter you mean? 

That's when it dawned on her.  What book are we reading again?

Uh oh. 

PS  I bawled like a baby before and during the "real" book club book.  


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