Sunday, December 30, 2007

New Year's Eve

Well, since coming home from church, I have spent the last few hours taking down Christmas decorations. I am far from done as my one year old kept taking things out of the boxes that I had just put in them. I like to have most if not all of the decorations down by January 5th--the 1st preferably.

Anyway, I thought I would briefly write about what our family does for New Year's Eve. We have taken this from Dentist husband's family. I ask each child what food item they want me to prepare for dinner. It can be ANYTHING. With my husband's family, the food requests have been as simple as cottage cheese or as grandiose as Beef Wellington. This year, my kids kept it fairly simple. Toothsome #1: Lettuce wedges--iceberg lettuce with blue cheese dressing. Toothsome #2: Homemade noodles. Toothsome #3: Roasted hot dogs. Toothsome #4 is too little to request. I usually request slushy Limeade.

So our dinner is a strange assortment of foods but everyone gets their favorite item added to the pile. In the last few years, I have added "The Awards Ceremony." Besides this blog, I have written a detailed family letter for the last 12 years or so. I write it on average about every two weeks and it is e-mailed and in a few cases for people without e-mail, regular mailed. I started it when my parents were called as MTC presidents in the Dominican Republic and it has been a great documentation of our lives. Anyway, I review the past year's family letters and make awards for each child spotlighting this past year's accomplishments. For example, "Great Swimmer Award" to a child who has passed off many levels of swimming. Or, "Outstanding Pre-schooler" for the child who started pre-school. And often more specific like, "Great Header" to the child who scored his first header goal in soccer. The kids LOVE it and it is a fun way to look back on the year.

We also set out all of our games and play games until bedtime.

Around 9:00 pm, (I am mean and have yet let my kids stay up until midnight), we go outside and bang on pots and pans (something from my husband's family) before sending everyone to bed. My husband and I will often stay up and play Scrabble or watch a movie but we rarely stay up until midnight. With little kids, midnight is too close to their true waking up hours.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Some Christmas Pics

Christmas Eve Fondue

In their new Hannah Andersson pajamas

Toothsome #4 with her doll purchased from Michelle

Boys with their Boss brand Bow and Arrows. These are really the best type of "play in the house and have battles with your brother" bow and arrows.

Toothsome #2 with her Melissa and Doug art easel

Thursday, December 27, 2007

FYI: The Talbots Sale

The Talbots semi-annual sale started yesterday. It is a grand tradition in my family of girls for all of us to go either together or now that we are in different states to go and then call each other with information about our purchases. This year, I got a sweater, a skirt and a dress. My mom and sister and I all got the same skirt. Anyway, just thought you all should know.

10 Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today, Dentist husband and I were married. It has been a fun ride.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Melodee Bells

My friend Gabriela wrote about these bells about a month ago on her blog. When she was living in Mexico, a friend of hers introduced them to her. I liked the idea so much, I ordered a box for our family. Here is how it works: They are plastic colored bells. Each bell is a different color and is labeled by a number as well as the actual note. The bells come with a music book that has the numbers under each note. I took the book to my local copy center and had each page enlarged to poster size. I then circled each note with the corresponding matching bell color. I then posted all of these up in my living room, handed out the bells to each family member (everyone got two) and then the fun began! Because they are color coded, even my three year old could do it. I stood by each song, and pointed at the notes with a chopstick, and we were able to sing along with each song as well as play.
Ever since I brought these out, the kids insist on doing them every night before bed time. Gabriela actually ordered four boxes and invites friends over to do it. If I am ever called to be Primary chorister again, I will get three more boxes. Can you imagine the fun the kids in Primary would have with these?

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Friend Gift

I don't remember giving my friend's Christmas gifts until I was in high school, but around here, it is what all the elementary kids do. Every few days, there seems to be a knock on the door, and I open it to find a cute little person with a gift for one of my kids. For the past few years, this is what we have given in return.

They are called, "Bomb Bags" and they are Mylar bags with citric acid and baking soda inside. You break the citric acid pouch and once the reaction takes place, it makes a loud bang! The kids LOVE it.

Anyway, I have found them at various places on-line but I have had the most success with a company called, "Zymetrical".

I purchased Christmas themed plastic gift bags and then put 10 of the bomb bags inside. We stapled them shut with a note that says, "Hope your Christmas is a blast!" (Sorry about the sideways picture. I am too lazy to switch it.)
Anyway, it is a huge success among all of my kid's friends, boys and girls alike. Just make sure tell the parents to do the bags outside as they are loud and very mildly messy. And for those of you who don't know, the colder it is outside, the longer it takes for the reaction to happen. So, be patient if you live in cold climates.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Christmas Present for Dentist Husband

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am PASSIONATE about recording family stories. While I get little to no satisfaction doing true research based genealogy, there are few things I like more than sitting down with a family member, preferably with a tape recorder running and asking them questions about their life. It doesn't matter how old they are, even three year old's can be surprisingly insightful to life, I just love getting hearing and keeping for posterity people's life stories.

Anyway,the big family gift this year is a piano, so we are trying to limit spending on each each other this Christmas. So, for Dentist Husband, I contacted all of his siblings and asked them to write one or more stories/memories they have that deal with him. He is the third child of (gulp) nine children. All of them by the way university graduates (ok, the jury is still out on the youngest, but he is only a few years away from finishing his graphic design degree from BYU--Go cougars.)

Anyway, I had to post this story because it really captures what a great man I am married to. I had to go through and change his real name to dentist husband in every case, but besides that, this is what was sent to me by my husband's youngest sister (8 of 9).

The story I feel I must tell comes from the deep recesses of my mind and is filled with a lot of myth. But to this day, I believe that it is true! And now I will continue my story.

There are a lot of things I remember about dentist husband; the way he would play with us on weekends during high school and then in college he'd come home to watch Star Trek... or was it to eat dinner with the fam? I can't remember exactly which. Still, I remember that he made an effort to spend time with us little ones whenever he could.

I remember one night especially when I was about 5 or 6 years old, we were all placed under his watch. (Note to Janice: I swear proper nouns ending with an 's' get an extra apostrophe 's' when used to show possession... if this is not true, please change it to be correct). I had been sent to bed (I say sent because I rarely fell asleep as soon as I went to bed. I would lay awake for hours it seemed staring at the ceiling imagining patterns there, or thinking of stories about people and places in my life and then convince myself they were true.) I had been placed in bed and was instructed to go to sleep. But I began to think, and I began to think about how awesome it would be if I could still be awake and doing stuff. I tossed and I turned and I strained to hear the faint sound of the television. Blast! Dentist husband is watching a good show I'm sure! I tried sleeping the other way, repeating to myself that my body was tired a la Mom's style ("my toes are sleepy... my toes are sleepy... my toes are sleepy...") and nothing seemed to work.

So, up I got. I went to him (because one cannot get out of bed without providing an adequate explanation to the supervising adult of the time) to tell him the new development. "Dentist husband," said I, "I cannot sleep at all. I know what you're thinking, 'You just want to be awake and doing stuff,' but that's not it. I really think I cannot sleep at all tonight... I think that I'll just never sleep."

He looked at me semi-frustrated, semi-understandingly. I could tell that the wheels in his head were turning. As I sat there wondering what my fate might be, he came to a conclusion. "Oh really?" he replied, "You've tried everything? Well, then, it's time for my special remedy."

Special remedy? Could there really be a "special remedy" for not-being-able-to-go-to-sleep? I was torn between relief and disappointment. On the one hand, this was the end of my aspirations to be awake and doing stuff, and on the other hand I could be free from the seemingly endless days of lying awake each night. I considered his offer and, being curious, chose to follow him to the kitchen.

Once there, I was asked to sit up at the counter on one of the stools and wait while he put together the mixture. I tried to catch glimpses of the ingredients he chose so that I might decide in my mind whether or not this remedy was a fluke, but he kept the lights low and his back to me. The only thing I really saw was milk. "Milk, eh?" I thought, "That's not so bad... and not so remedy-ish either... I'll wait to see what unfolds."

When he was finally finished he handed me a milky brown liquid and began, "Now this is pretty powerful stuff. Take a sip and you'll start to feel sleepy immediately."

"How sleepy?" I think I asked.

"Oh, pretty sleepy. Your arms will start to feel heavy (I distinctly remember this "arms" bit) and your eyelids will start to close. But don't worry, I'll help you get back to your bed if you need some help."

I looked at the brownish liquid, inquired as to the ingredients, to which I was answered that it was a secret recipe, and with apprehension, I took a sip. I'm not sure I know exactly how to describe the flavor, but I think in my 5 or 6 year old mind the word I came up with was "gross". The milky brown liquid was extremely sweet and kind of organic tasting, like it came from dead leaves or something (He later told me it was molasses... go figure). I swallowed it down with a shiver and waited for its effects to kick in.

And they did!

My arms began to feel heavy, very heavy in fact, and then my eyelids began to close without being told to.

"How do you feel?" he asked."I don't know," I said, trying to avoid the inevitable for as long as I could.

"Are your arms getting heavy?"

"Is it difficult to keep your eyes open?"

"Yes," I was getting progressively more sleepy.

"Why don't you take one more sip just to make sure?"

I reluctantly took another sip... significantly smaller this time and evaluated the results. I tell you I was sleepy! And genuinely sleepy! It had worked! Again, I was both elated and dismayed. But I couldn't seem to control those increasingly heavy arms of mine.

He told me that he'd put the special remedy in the fridge, just in case I woke up again (I remember making up my mind not to tell he even if I did) and helped me off the stool and off to bed (I think I remember him telling me that I was quite dramatic at this point, unable to walk in a strait line or watch where I was going). After that, I fell right to sleep.

In the morning, I opened the fridge to investigate. What was it that had made me so sleepy? Was it real or was it a dream? But, there it was, that milky brown liquid that I had so loathed and loved. It was real and I couldn't deny it.
Try as I may, I have never been able to replicate such an effective insomnia remedy, nor do I plan to. But I do remember how impressed I was with my older brother. Gees, he knows everything!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

This past weekend, I turned 35.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Merry Christmas

My sister forwarded this to me in an e-mail. So much fun!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

The Magic of Thanksgiving Point

For the last three years, we have taken our kids to see the lights at Thanksgiving Point. For whatever reason, the whole experience just "fits" how we like to do things as a family. For a mere $7, ($5 if you have the coupon and go Tuesday-Thursday) you can drive, staying warm inside your car through a wonderful, Christmas lights display. We roll down the windows, blast the heat, turn on 100.3 Christmas tunes and let the magic just soak in. We laugh, point out favorite lights, sing with the Christmas songs on the radio and have a great time. At the end of the lights, they have beautiful pictures painted by Simon Dewey of the nativity scene.

And, we always go to the little cafe just inside the entrance of Thanksgiving point for dinner. Their food is EXCELLENT and prices are right. My mouth is watering thinking about the mozzarella and tomato sandwich that I ate. After dinner, we let the kids each get a kiddie cone (25 cents) from their ice cream bar. It was just a perfect Christmas fun night.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Christmas--Christmas Village

About 9 years ago, dentist husband was still in dental school and I was working for a small company as an assistant to the HR director as well as editing anything that left the office. My supervisor was a person about as different from me as possible but we managed to form a nice friendship in spite of it. We often went to lunch together at Chipotle, and she was the first person outside of my family that found out I was pregnant with my first child. (I was really morning sick and the only thing that tasted good was a Pepperidge Farm beef stick. She was a vegetarian and watched in horror as I cut slice after slice of it for lunch one day.)

Anyway, at the time, Oprah had started some movement that dealt with getting a journal, telling a friend why you valued them in it and then giving it to them and they in turn would do it for someone else. Often, a gift was accompanied with the journal. One day, I showed up to work and on my desk is this journal and a wrapped package. It was from my supervisor and in the journal she had written why she valued my friendship. In the package was a Christmas village house--a dental office. I had mentioned at some point that I thought it would fun to have a Christmas village but I wanted a village that had a dental office. She had actually researched villages and found this one for me.

Because of her, I later purchased many more pieces to that village that now sit in various places around my house at Christmas time. I don't have it set up as one scene but various houses, stores, trees and people on the various tables I have on my main floor. So as you walk around my house you discover more things. I think I now have a total of about 15 pieces and it is my kids favorite part of the Christmas decorations. The pretend people travel to different areas and they make believe with them all season long. Yes, various pieces have been broken in the past few years but it is worth it to see how my kids play. It helps add to what I like to call around here our "Christmas Magic."

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Ok, I couldn't resist posting this because I have never been called a genius before.

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THE way to see the Temple Square Christmas Lights

Last night, we did an item from our Christmas Fun list. My son had an in-door soccer game downtown. As I have posted many times before, I am not a big fan of in-door soccer and in my efforts to make lemonade out of lemons, I planned a Christmas Fun activity before the soccer game.

We left for downtown early and got parked at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building around 4:45 pm. The Joseph Smith Memorial Building has three great restaurants at varying prices. My favorite used to be "The Garden" but in the past few years they have upped their prices and with four little kids, it is too expensive to do that very often. Also, you have to be dressed nicely--not in the sweats and team t-shirts we were all wearing. So we opted for the relatively new "Nauvoo Cafe". It is a stand-in-line sandwich place on the main level. It is open from 8:00am-8:00pm. The food is really good and the desserts are from the Lion House Pantry. We had fun dinner and could hear Christmas music being sung on the lobby from one of the many high school choirs that perform there all season long. Afterwards, we went upstairs to the 10th level and looked at the Temple Square lights from above. We were warm, there were no crowds to fight with AND we had a spectacular view of the Salt Lake Temple. In past years, I have dressed my kids in all of their winter clothes and we have walked around the Square fighting the crowds of people. I worried I would lose someone and we were all freezing. This time, we all loved it and just soaked in the beauty from the warmth of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building.

We then went to my son's soccer game, listened to Christmas music in the car on the way home and my husband and I had a great date of watching, "Ocean's 13".

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Christmas--Christmas Novels

I love the Salt Lake County Library system. It is much better than the one I was raised with and I spend a lot of time each week, checking out books.

A few years ago, I discovered that the librarians at our local library, set out Christmas themed books right after Thanksgiving. I have found a wonderful treasure trove of Christmas books that keep me feeling the spirit throughout the whole season. My indulgence for the last four or five years has been to check out Christmas themed romantic novels. I specify romantic novels--not romance novels because I like clean, romantic, fun love stories. No graphic bedroom descriptions, but total fluff, full of improbable stories of people finding love with a Christmas setting. Every night, I set aside a few minutes, and read them. Silly and frivolous but pure easy fun reads. In January, I again tackle more intense stuff but in not December!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Christmas Memory--Christmas Ornament

I have a December birthday. My due date was actually Christmas Eve but fortunately for my mom (and me) I came early. My mom said it was a great Christmas because since she knew she was having a baby in December, she got everything done really early and since I came early, she was home with a newborn baby and it made that Christmas season very special.

Anyway, shortly after my mom came home from the hospital, my mom's neighbor (Mrs. Adams) brought over a Christmas ornament that said, "Janice's First Christmas 1972". It was a little white felt horse. I don't know exactly who decided to continue the tradition, but every year since, I have received an ornament on my birthday. On each ornament my mom writes the year and often "Janice's 6th Christmas, 5th birthday." They have come to be a wonderful documentation of my life as my mom often tried to buy an ornament that coincided with big events on my life. For example, the year I got married, she purchased a Lenox Wedding Bell ornament. When my father was a mission president in Costa Rica/Panama, the ornaments are Costa Rican birds. One of my favorites is a big 1970's wrapping paper covered box that my sister, Goddess #2 made as my ornament shortly after the tradition started. She asked my mom if she could make my ornament that year and on the tag in her 11-year old handwriting, it says, "Janice's 3rd Christmas, 2nd birthday." As I have had children, my mom has purchased baby themed ones to document their births.

I was the only one to get an ornament, being the only December birthday and it was always the highly anticipated gift that I (and my siblings) looked forward for me to open. And up until my siblings got married and moved away there was a grand procession to the Christmas tree to see where I would place my new ornament. I now have 35 (almost 36 since my birthday is in a few weeks) ornaments and I really need to have a separate tree for just them. One of these years, I am going to do it but until then, they mingle with the rest of the ornaments my kids have made over the years. As I pull them out, I am flooded with memories of past Christmas' and reminisce about them with my kids. And it has always made having a December birthday a little special--often when it can easily be brushed over by the craziness of the season. I am eager to see what will arrive from my mom this year.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Christmas Memory/Recipe

My mom is very pragmatic and instead of having a huge Christmas meal that would require a ton of work, my mom and Dad discovered this Crock-pot recipe that we had every Christmas Day as our Christmas meal. My mom (and I think more often my Dad) would prepare this the night before and refrigerate it , to plug in on Christmas morning. The smell of it cooking is one of the great Christmas memories of mine.

Continental Chicken

(Keep in mind this recipe is 30 plus years old. Low-fat was not part of the vocabulary of America yet. I do try to "slim it down" by using Turkey bacon and low-fat sour cream and Cream of Mushroom soup but it still is full of artery hardening ingredients.)

6-8 chicken breasts
6-8 slices of bacon
1 jar of dried beef (the brand is Armor and you find it in the olive and relish section of the store. Sometimes, you can find a shrink wrapped package in the deli/cheese section). I only use about 1/2 to 2/3 of a jar.
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup flour

Arrange dried beef on the bottom of a greased crock-pot. Wrap each piece of chicken with a strip of bacon and lay on top of the dried beef. Mix sour cream and flour together. Add soup into mixture and pour over the top of the chicken.

Cover and cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or High for 3-5 hours.

Serve over hot noodles or rice.

The gravy is so good, I usually double or triple it (the sour cream, flour and soup mixture.)

Christmas Memory--Puzzles

Every December, usually just as we were getting out of school for Christmas Break, my mom would get out our card table and 500 piece puzzle. She set it up in a relatively central part of the house and it would sit there until one or more of us were drawn to work on it.

It was a great activity to fill the empty and cold days of winter break. Through out the holiday season, we would all end up working on it--sometimes alone and sometimes together. My mom loves puzzles with multi-colored flowers and I remember hearing people say with great satisfaction, "Oh, I just finished the whole yellow section" or, "I finally found the last piece for that pine tree!"

My kids are too young to really do that type of puzzle yet, but I am looking forward to continuing that tradition in a few years.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Christmas Memory--A Celebration of Christmas

My freshman year at BYU, I auditioned for the BYU choirs. I knew the competition for getting into the choirs at BYU was stiff, and I thought I was prepared for the auditioning process but I really wasn't. I literally could feel the tension outside in the halls as people waited. I also overheard a lot of people talking about how this year we were going to be filmed for TV during the Christmas concert. I didn't know if that was a regular occurrence or not but it was "all the talk."

I went in for my audition and BUTCHERED the sight reading part. That is standard procedure for me, keeping me out of "All State Choir" my senior year and I could see on the director's face that she was sorely disappointed with me. After the audition, she said, "I am going to to bring you back for call backs but just so you know, your sight reading is one of the worst I have heard. It is not likely you will make Woman's Chorus." I was very disappointed and while I held it together in the audition room, I cried on the walk home. And, I cried on and off the rest of the night. I don't really know why it was such a blow (I hadn't made other things before) but I felt it hard and even my roommate, who had only known me for a few days, seemed shocked at how disappointed I was.

By the time of call backs, I had accepted my lot of not making the choir but decided to go to call backs anyway. Again, I was amazed at the competition. Everyone was VERY good and it was very intense and intimidating. I didn't even go and look at the "Who made it list" because I was sure I didn't make it. And, I was right, I didn't make it. Then, about a week after rehearsals started, I got a call from the director. She told me, "I haven't been able to get your voice out of my mind. I had girl drop out and I want you in Woman's Chorus. Will you promise to work on the music outside of class, so your sight reading won't hinder us?" I said yes and much to my shock, I was in Woman's Chorus!

Almost immediately, we were informed that BYU had been selected to be filmed for a PBS Christmas special. It was a huge honor and it was taken very seriously. Our Christmas concert would be on every PBS station across the United States. And, while we had other concerts as well as BYU devotional performances, everything seemed geared toward our December concert. That December of my freshman year was a blur of practices, extra practices, wardrobe fittings, hair and make-up instruction, posture correction, oh and my first semester of college finals and it was one of the most magical Christmas' of my life. The stage was decorated exquisitely. The music was uplifting, inspiring and awe-inducing. I would walk into practices and be struck by the beauty and divinity of music. I couldn't believe that God had given man this amazing gift of music and we were being allowed to be a part of His genius. And, little me, all 5'3" was standing on the stage performing these amazing wonders of music. While I have always considered music as a divine gift, it was during those months of Christmas music with the BYU choirs that cemented my love and appreciation for the divinity of it.

I continued to sing with the BYU choirs until I left on my mission two years later (making Woman's Chorus the next year without any special concessions, thank you very much) and I consider it a privilege to have been part of the BYU music magic. You can still purchase the Christmas CD "A Celebration of Christmas" here and occasionally they still run that Christmas concert on PBS. And, very briefly, you can see me (very skinny with a short blond bob hair cut on the farthest left, front row) when Woman's Chorus is singing. I listen and watch it with reverence. My soul changed my freshman year singing at BYU and I have never been the same--thankfully.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Christmas Memory--Gift Wrapping

***As I started writing this story, I realized I needed to explain some basic family information. I come from a family of five kids, with me being the youngest. The oldest, my brother (only brother) is 12 years older than me. By the time I was 12, three of my older siblings were married. My closest in age sister is 4 1/2 years older than me. She and I were the bottom two and we did a lot together. She didn't get married until I was on my mission (I think she was 26) and so we were "the little girls" together in our family for a long time. We did a lot together and while my older siblings were definitely part of a lot of my memories, she is a constant presence in most of my stories.

Christmas Wrapping
Usually starting around the middle of October, my mother declared my parent's closet off-limits. Not like we went in there very often but we knew after her declaration, that we could not for any reason, open that closet door. My mom stock piled all of our Christmas presents in there and unless we wanted Christmas ruined, we knew it was best to stay away.

In early December, my mom would walk up from the basement with a pile of boxes (saved every year from Christmas to Christmas) and go into her closet. We knew that our special job of Christmas wrappers was about to start. My mom would put each gift in boxes and write on the box who it was to and who it was from. Usually it said "To Janice, From Mom and Dad" but sometimes she would get creative and write, "From Santa's Helper" or "Christmas Elves". She always sealed the boxes with tape on all four sides and I can honestly say that I never peaked--even when I really wanted to. My sister, Goddess number 4 and I would set up the wrapping center in the laundry room (we had a huge laundry room with lots of counter space and a great ironing board we would use) and my mom would bring us boxes to wrap. Sometimes my older siblings would participate but it was mainly my one sister and me.

My sister and I would pretend we worked for a fancy store where shoppers would bring us their packages for us to wrap. Sometimes they would be nice shoppers and sometimes they would be mean and very persnickety. Sometimes it was a husband with a gift for his wife, or a harried mother with lots of kids under toe. They often had very specific ideas in mind on how they wanted their packages to look and sometimes they would tell us to do whatever we wanted. I remember bringing out various wrapping paper selections (my mom would usually shop the wrapping paper sales after Christmas and we seemed to have an endless supply of fun wrapping paper and bows to use) and saying out loud "Which one would you like me to wrap your present in, my lady?" during the whole pretending process. I have many fond memories, listening to Christmas music blaring from the kitchen while my sister and I wrapped presents. After the present was wrapped, we would go and take them to the tree and find just the perfect spot to put it. Sometimes this would take many minutes, as we would look for the right spot. Oh the countless hours we spent selecting paper and bows, pretending, placing presents under the tree!

I have found out later from my mom that she often felt guilty passing on the wrapping duty to us but we LOVED it. It was one of the highlights of Christmas for me and still is. I love to sit down, pull out all of the wrapping supplies, play Christmas music and yes, even sometimes pretend I working for a fancy store and wrapping other's presents. It is part of the magic of Christmas for me.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Christmas Fun

For the last few years, I have sat down with the kids and we have made what we call our "Christmas Fun" list.

Here is what we came up with this year:
1. See the lights at Thanksgiving Point and eat dinner there.
2. Watch all of our Christmas shows.
3. Go see the lights at La Caille
4. Polar Express in 3D
5. Ward Christmas party
6. Watch toothsome #2 in the Nutcracker
7. Read all of our Christmas books
8. Breakfast at Mimi's Christmas eve morning
9. Watch Luke II
10. Drive around the neighborhood and look at everyone's Christmas lights
11. Ice skating
12. Go caroling (with toothsome #1's pack meeting)
13. Deliver neighbor gifts
14. Make fondue
15. Do fireworks (?) We have to find out what one's we can do without getting into trouble.
16. Go downtown and see all of the lights.
17. Deliver friend gifts
18. Make some yummy goodies.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas Tree Purchasing

Why, every year, does there have to be some major drama around Christmas tree purchasing and set up? I cope with life by really having low expectations because if your expectations start low, then usually things turn out much better and I am happy. So it is not like I expect us to be singing carols, find a perfect tree for 1/2 the going price and the people offer to follow us home and set it up for us. I would like one year without the drama.

Some past years:
--The first year we purchased a tree, dentist husband and I got into a huge fight because I actually wanted a tree. Toothsome #1 was only baby and in Dentist husband's logic, and since toothsome #1 wouldn't remember his first Christmas, why should we bother? We did end up with a $16 tree from the local grocery store and a very cheap $3 stand.

--Another year we decided to go out to dinner first. We couldn't decide on a restaurant and finally with kids crying for food, we stopped at an Arby's in a really bad section of SLC. We ate cold Arby's Roast Beef sandwiches surrounded by really scary looking people.

--Last year, after purchasing the tree, we could not get it to fit on our stand. Poor dentist husband was outside in the snow for over 2 hours reworking and reworking the tree and stand. I finally had to put the kids to bed with promises that they could see the tree set up in the morning.

So, this year, they put in a Home Depot very close to our house and we thought, this might be the year that things would go smoothly. Not so. Being a bad mom, I left the kids coats at home and we took turns running from the warm store to the very cold lot and coming in and reporting which trees we liked. Once we all agreed on a tree, for some reason, we picked out a very heavy tree and it took two workers, plus my husband to load it on top of our mini van. Once home, we discovered it was too heavy for the stand. So, my husband left the tree home and went back to Home Depot. $42 later, we have a very nice tree stand that holds 4 gallons of water. An hour later, it was in place after multiple reposition efforts all the while trying to keep toothsome #4 from interfering and I had actually filled the whole thing with water. Yes, it took me an hour to drizzle water into the very small opening. Again, it was too late to decorate, so we will do that today after school. That said, the wonderful fresh tree smell I woke up to this morning, made purchasing a fresh tree worth it.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Christmas Memory

For the last few years, I've been trying to write down my Christmas memories. Here is one in honor of my wonderful BYU roommates.

Christmas CD

My sophomore year at BYU, I lived in the King Henry apartments. They were super far away from campus and I had no car. King Henry had various levels of not so nice to nicer apartments and we lived in the crappiest of them all. Six girls, one bathroom. Concrete walls, small rooms. In spite of that, we managed to have a great time living there and the friendships made there have continued 15 years later.

Anyway, it was a cold December and I had walked a long way home after a long difficult day at school. I wanted nothing more than to come home and take a long hot bath. At some point earlier, I had purchased a new Christmas CD--A Very Special Christmas II. I hadn't opened it yet because of school stress and business. I was waiting for the right circumstances to open it when I felt more on top of things so I could really enjoy it and hopefully soak up some Christmas spirit.

I walked into my apartment feeling very sorry for myself to find L dancing and laughing. She looked up at me and said full of enthusiasm, "I love this CD. (My brand new, I thought unopened, Christmas CD) M and I have decided that we like songs 9 and 15 the best." I was furious. She had opened my new CD without asking? Where had I left it? I was pretty sure it was in my room--not out in the open. I could feel my frustration about everything boiling to a breaking point. Then, for some reason, I relaxed and laughed. L was actually enjoying things--school, the Christmas season, our crappy apartment, and especially at the moment, my new CD. L, who in her personal life had a lot more on her plate than me was laughing and happy and I realized I needed to not be a Scrooge and not only let her enjoy it but enjoy it with her. I remember putting down my bag and saying, "Ok, play for me songs 9 and 15. I want to hear them." It was a turning a point for me. I so enjoyed the rest of the semester and the Christmas season with her and my other roommates. We all had a great December (three of us having birthdays that month)and managed to focus on school and having some fun as well. I credit L for that. She opened my eyes that difficult day and I often reflect on it. Regardless of what is going on around me, I can enjoy the ride and take time out to dance, sing and laugh. Thanks L!

Great Thanksgiving--now onto Christmas fun

We had a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving. Normally, we head up to my father-in-law's house in Heber City, UT but this year, for various reasons, he decided to host Thanksgiving at his home Salt Lake City. I was very forlorn about it because Thanksgiving is always super fun up in Heber with most of us arriving the night before and staying up late talking and playing games. However, it ended up being a really nice fun day and dentist husband and I were able to spend a nice morning with our kids before heading over to my Father-in-law's house. My father-in-law remarried a year ago and she introduced some wonderful new food items into the Thanksgiving meal--the pan fried yams being my personal favorite addition. It was a nice and very crowded Thanksgiving. On Friday morning, dentist husband and I took the kids up to Heber and went bowling (an annual tradition we couldn't break) and then ate a Canton City for lunch. That night, we played Charades (Parades as toothsome #3 calls it)and got everyone to bed at a good time--which hasn't happened for the last two nights and I was able to clean out my office area which has needed it for months!

This morning, the first things my kids asked me was "When do we get out the Christmas decorations?" So, after Saturday chores, it looks like we are onto Christmas fun.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


My husband is actually a much better natural cook than I am. He often invents recipes and then doesn't remember how he made them. I have learned to follow him around the kitchen with a pen and paper in hand and write down what he is doing, so if we like it, we can make it again. This, in my opinion, is the best way to make and eat salmon. Super easy, super tasty and fast.

"Grilled" Salmon

Salmon with skin
Liquid smoke
salt and pepper

Rinse salmon in cold water. Make an aluminum foil tray (making sure all of the sides are folded up, so it keeps things in) and spray inside with Pam. Set the salmon on it. Drizzle a little liquid smoke on each salmon and rub into the meat. Sprinkle on salt and pepper.

Place on top rack of barbecue and let cook for about 20 minutes. Salmon will be opaque when done.)

That is it!

FYI: The skin will stick to the aluminum and salmon meat comes off easily.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Great Weekend

What a wonderful weekend! It started out very rough because I had been hit with a bad cold Thursday evening. Friday morning, I was functioning at about 20% but fortunately, by the evening, I was at 80%. My son had an indoor soccer game downtown and beforehand we went to Barbacoa for dinner. Some of the greatest experiences with my kids have taken place at Barbacoa. For whatever reason, that restaurant brings out the great conversation with my kids. Maybe it is my Diet Coke induced high (they really have the best Diet Coke in the valley and a serve yourself lime container on the side) but my kids and I laughed, joked and had a great time before we had to head downtown.

I am not a big fan of indoor soccer. The ball is out of play more than it is in play and it doesn't appear their soccer skills are really helped much by chasing a really fast ball around the court and it seems like we are always just one fall way from a concussion, but anyway, my son played well, I had some great conversation with the parents on his team and it was a fun night (maybe helped by the many Diet Cokes at Barbacoa beforehand).

Saturday morning, we saw "Mister Magoriums Magic Emporium" with a bunch of friends and then had a fun lunch out. Sunday, after the Primary Program, the weather was perfect outside, we spent the afternoon playing catch with the kids. Later, we went to dinner at Dentist husband's dad's house. It was a great weekend.

Today, I am going to try and be super woman and get more done that I usually do. I hope my kids are on board.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Give Away!

Christmas Giveaway 2007 Sweepstakes

Five Minutes For Mom is having a great giveaway. Go check it out! They are also giving away some great retro items. Check out their store here.

Monday, November 12, 2007

I'm Not Coming Down until that Ceiling is Bluer!

About three years ago, I was looking in a Swedish design book and saw a few instances where the ceiling had been painted a bright blue or green color. I love Swedish design and for whatever reason, I could not get that idea out of mind. It has been a long time in coming but we finally painted our front room ceilings a bright blue color. It is a pretty drastic look but I am loving it.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Public Schools

Let me just start out by saying, how happy I am with the public school my children attend and the teachers that my children have had while being at this school. I am a firm believer in the public school system. Just so everyone knows, I attended both public and private (to be clear, private while my Dad was a mission president in Costa Rica--so it wasn't US private schools) and so I saw both sides of the coin. I live in a neighborhood where there is this frenzy of discussion every year about where to send their children. Do we keep them in our "boundary" public school or send them to another one that people have heard about it? (We could all go together and car pool.) Do we have our kids take the ALPS (Accelerated Learning something or other) test and assuming they pass, send them to an ALPS school? Can we afford private? If so, which one? What about one of the new charter schools? Etc. I have decided a lot of people move their kids out of our boundried public school because it is just a different choice and it makes them look like they care more. Not necessarily because the different school offers a better education.

Anyway, last night was parent/teacher conference and as I met with each of my children's teachers, I was amazed at what they do for my kids and I am sure they do they same of all of their students. Toothsome #2 has always been a reader and is reading way above grade level. So, what does this teacher do? She provides books for her to read at her reading level. She also suggested, since her reading is so strong, that we focus on handwriting and sentence writing. How wonderful to be so strong in a subject, that we have the extra time to focus on ones that she is not so strong in!

Toothsome #1 is having a great year all around. He has his strengths and weaknesses but he is happy and loving school. His teacher feels he has a very creative mind and is really encouraging him to explore it by working on writing creative stories in class. She also does individualized spelling lists for each child, so my child is working on words that challenge him regardless of where the rest of the class is--either below or above him.

I realize I am fortunate enough to live in a great spot in the SLC valley and I have been blessed to have my kids in an outstanding public school, but I know these same type of creative, wonderful teachers are working all over the valley. I also don't have any children with any special needs and I know there needs to be different options available for them but for just the run of the mill, typical child, why aren't people supporting their local school? I feel there is so much fragmenting caused by parents by constantly searching for a different option than "just the public schools." In my ward alone, we have kids attending 7 different schools. And people are wondering about problems with ward and neighborhood unity? Why don't we all just support our public schools and work with each other and each other's children more? We would have that unity and public schools would be better for it. Ok, I am off my soapbox now.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fall is ending and Christmas is coming

Well, I am finding myself a little forlorn today. The fall is my favorite time of year and I was driving around doing errands (and voting, thank you very much) I noticed that while we still have some great fall leaf color, the season is ending. My life seems to be zooming by. How did another year go by? I have made every effort to really soak up this fall and still, it feels too short.

That said, I can pat myself on the back because we got our Christmas card picture taken Sunday morning. Everyone was up at their usual time, so I took advantage of the extra hour and got everyone ready and took it. I won't post the actual photo but one of the rejected ones.

I also have purchased several Christmas gifts today. I can't enjoy the season unless most of the gifts are purchased by Thanksgiving. I have a good head start, so that feels good.

Oh, and one big stack of paper has been sorted and processed. What a great feeling!

Friday, November 2, 2007


My mom is a list person. Growing up there were always lists posted around the house. There were "to do" lists. There were "How to do" lists. There were lists of errands that needed to be done. There were lists of good information, such as, "Food to have on hand when guests come" or "Good and bad fats to eat." I loved the lists because it made things so simple. If we were leaving on errands, I knew exactly where we were going and in what order. If my mom wanted something done while she was gone, there was a list. No guessing. I read the list and just did. As a result, I have become a list person myself, while not as proficient as my mother, I make great lists.

Anyway, while visiting my parents, a new list appeared. I loved this list so much, I had to photocopy it and bring it home with me. My mom made this as part of her "keeping the house disinfected to make sure my dad doesn't get another infection" plan. It really is good information, so I thought I would post it.

To Clean the Shower
1. Just outside the shower door on the floor set: 1. Can of "Scrubbing Bubbles" (just so you know, Scrubbing Bubbles has almost mystical qualities in my house. We use it to clean EVERYTHING and all five us kids kids have a can of the stuff in every bathroom and several in the kitchen in our own houses 2. Sponge 3. Roll of paper towel
2. Take your shower.
3. Turn water off but stay inside the shower.
4. Open shower door just a little bit--(to keep the warmth in) and 5. Bring the can of "Scrubbing bubbles and spong into the shower with you.
6. Shut the door. Stay in the shower.
7. Shake the can of "Scrubbing bubbles" well and spray all the walls and the door from top to bottom.
8. Wet the sponge (turn on shower just enough) to wet the sponge.
9. With the sponge, scrub all the walls and the door and floor. Be careful not to slip!
10. Turn on shower (nice and warm) and rinse out your sponge and with your wet sponge, slosh off all the walls and door and floor.
11. Turn off water. Wring out sponge
12. Use the squeegee to slick the water oof the walls, door and floor into the drain.
13. Get out of the shower and dry yourself.
14. Take all of your tools (Scrubbing bubbles, sponge and squeegee) out of the shower.
15. Tear off some paper towel and wipe off the still wet places in the shower. Especially--corners of the floor, faucet, around the drain, the whole floor, the metal trim and strip along the bottom of the door.
16. Throw away wet paper towel and put the rest away.

I can say that having done it at my parent's house and now in all three of my showers at my house, it is one great way to clean a shower!


Well, Halloween is over, the decorations are put away, the suitcases are put away from my Colorado trip, our soccer party finished, only a few piles of laundry left to sort and put away and the what I am calling the "Great House Disinfecting Project" has begun!

I think it is partly because of being home and seeing my mom disinfect every surface so my dad remains infection free, but I have decided that between Halloween and Christmas, every inch of my house needs to be cleaned. Also, poor toothsome #3 is still battling some stomach upset. He is fine for a few days then throws-up again. My older two kids had this same thing about a month ago and it finally hit him. He is very good natured about it, but I am ready to banish from the house any unnecessary germs. I have started in the kitchen and am working my way around the house.

So, give me a few days but hopefully, by the end of next week, the house will be in good shape.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Great Trip with the exception of the flight home

I just got home from a great trip to Colorado to see my parents and sister who lives in Denver. We happened to be there during the World Series and were on hand to see some of the Rockies craziness. Too bad we lost but it was a great season for them anyway. As a football fan, it was harder to watch the Broncos lose to Greenbay on Monday in overtime!

Good things: My dad as well as the beloved father of growing up friends both look wonderful! My dad has his new pace maker, but is still connected to a "wound vac" that is vacuuming out the infection from the old infected incision sight. They are thinking about another week to two of that but at least he is home, looks great and can make his daily breakfast of tomato salad in his own kitchen. My friend's father who is battling leukemia was at church and looked wonderful as well. It was great to be home and in person see people I love look good despite their health issues. (By the way, my mother is a goddess who served my dad so sweetly the whole time we were there, disinfecting every surface, giving him his antibiotics every 8 hours--which is about a 20 minute process in that she has to inject them directly to the port in his arm, making "immunity building" meals, helping him take a bath, etc.)

On a more light-hearted side, good news for all Boulderites: The Gondolier now offers their All-you-can-eat spaghetti all the time! So no more need to plan your trips there for Tuesday and Wednesday nights. They have moved to 16th and Pearl. We ate there twice.

Not so good thing: I purchased Colorado Rockies t-shirts and baseball hats on Saturday and paid premium prices for them. On Monday, after they lost the World Series, all Rockies memorabilia was 1/2 price!

Weird Thing: On the way home, just as our flight was leveling out, a lady on our flight started feeling sick. My kids and I were on the 2nd to last row in the airplane and witnessed as they brought her back to the last row to help her (right behind us.) She started have heart issues and they announced on the speaker that they needed a doctor. A nurse and EMT were on the flight and they managed her the rest of the way, taking her pulse, giving her oxygen, etc. It was considered a medical emergency and our flight was prioritied into SLC. So, for a flight that is normally a little over an hour, we flew from Denver to SLC in 35 minutes! They didn't even serve the drinks or snacks. I don't know if it was real medical issue or just a panic attack but the lady went from hollering out, to loud screaming, sobbing, to going into a quiet daze, to hollering out, "I just want to go home!" to sobbing, to hollering out, "Where is my shoe?" etc. the whole time. Again, we were the only ones on the flight with little kids and we were directly in front of her! You should have seen my kid's worried faces. Once we landed, EMT's wheel chaired her off the flight as she covered her face saying, "I'm so embarrassed. I am so embarrassed." Needless to say, it was good to land and get off that plane. It took me a while after we landed to calm my kids down and explain that everything was alright. Last we saw of her, she was talking to the paramedics and looked good.

So, all in all a great trip if not just a few days too short. Now, it is back to the craziness with Halloween parties, parades, and trick or treating tomorrow night. The weather forecast looks good, so it should be a great Halloween.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Off to Colorado!

Well the bags are packed and I am off to see my parents in Colorado. It is ending up being a very different trip than originally imagined. My dad comes home from the hospital (after being there 2 1/2 weeks) with his new pace maker on the very night I arrive. He has his new pace maker but me nor my kids will be allowed to touch him for fear of him getting another infection. He will also have a home nurse managing some of the machinery he is still connected to. I hate watching my parents get old! The man who has been my rock and protector my whole life, connected to machines. I hate it. Still, it will be good to see him. Dentist husband will be managing the home front here since he felt he couldn't leave the new practice so soon after our last vacation. My parents don't have Internet, so I will check in when I get home.

On a side note, I have spent way too much time (when I have a house to clean) finally reading, "Twilight" by Stephanie Meyers. I have heard a ton about it but didn't buy into the hype. Well, I was wrong. All the hype is true. I also just finished, "The Ladies Auxiliary" by Tova Mirvis. I liked it. I didn't love it but I liked it.
I'm also posting a picture of toothsome #4 from her birthday (about two weeks ago). That is the doll she got and she LOVES it. She calls it "eiii". Her only real word is "da da" but she makes a lot of gibberish noises and specifically hollers, "eiii" every time she holds it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pumpkin Carving/Wassail Party

Those are fish inside that pumpkin--done by Dentist husband.

Eight years ago, my husband and I had just moved to Utah. We had a new baby, we lived in a 60 year old, needing a lot of work home, and I knew no one in the neighborhood. My husband was working like crazy, trying to be a good, brand-new dentist. I was also very homesick, which was a new feeling for me because having gone out of state for college, served a mission and studied abroad, I had never felt homesick before and I didn't know why at age 27, I was experiencing it for the first time. Looking back on it, it was a very hard year but at the time, it was just life and I was managing it the best I could.

One morning, I woke up with a serious craving for wassail. It was a cold morning, the fall leaves were in full color, I was homesick and I had to have wassail. And, not just any wassail, but my family's passed down from generation to generation recipe. (I'll post it later). The only problem was that the recipe makes ALOT of wassail and it was just me, my husband and a newborn baby.
Anyway, out of this thought, sprang my idea for the "First Annual Pumpkin Carving/Wassail Party." My husband comes from a family of nine children and at the time, all of them but one lived in Utah. I contacted everyone and invited them over for the party. There were three basic rules: 1. If you were married, you had to partner with your spouse (I didn't want my husband to dump me for one of his more artistic siblings) or go it alone. 2. You had to provide your own carving instruments and pumpkin. 3. No prepurchased patterns allowed.

I provided the wassail, three great prizes that made people want to try and win, roasted pumpkin seeds, apples and Carmel dipping sauce and location. To prevent my carpet from being destroyed, I put down a disposable drop cloth, set out bowls to put the pumpkin seeds and junk in and set the timer for 90 minutes. Let the First Annual Pumpkin Carving/Wassail Party begin! We had a great time. A brother-in-law confessed he had never carved a pumpkin before. Another brother-in-law was eager to win the "Edger Allen Poe Stories" CD. My feelings of homesickness disappeared that night and only returned occasionally after that. The party was a huge success and eight years later it is still going strong. Thank you Dentist husband's family for always make it such a fun night to always remember.

FYI: Originally, we just has three prizes--1. Best Overall 2. Coolest Concept 3. Pumpkin Smasher Choice. Later we have added 4. Safe Bet and 5. Nice Try, Failed Attempt. Voting is done by secret ballot and any child under age of the 12 wins a prize. Visit my sister-in-law's blog to see why she carved one of my husband. It won best overall this year.

Appliance and Sickness Update

Well, I now have a working dishwasher and still a not working ice maker. I really thought the dishwasher would be the spendy one to fix but it turns out that when you don't rinse your dishes very well, Lego's (yes Lego's) and pistachio shells can really clog up your drain line. The ice maker needs all new electronics, and that will be fixed (the part alone cost $100) on Wednesday. However, it still looks like we were able to get both fixed for under $500.

On the sickness front, I am now on day two of no sleep dealing with poor toothsome #3 and this stomach bug that he is dealing with. We just got back from the doctor because I wanted to make sure he was hydrated enough. When he was one, he was hospitalized with severe dehydration and so I always worry. His is currently well hydrated but if he doesn't feel better by late afternoon, they want me to go and have his electrolytes checked. On the way home, I got him a Poweraid from McDonalds and he has kept that down. So, I am hoping that by the end of today, he is doing better.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Nope another appliance needs help.

I had no idea that at year four in a house, all appliances started breaking. I assumed year 10 would be more like it, but this morning it was discovered that my ice machine in my refrigerator is not producing ice. I have tried everything that the manual says to get it to start producing but to no avail. The one good thing about putting fixing things off is that I will only have one service call visit because I have yet to call on my dishwasher. Since they are the same brand, it will be one service man to look at two problems. So am I being realistic to hope that this will all cost under $500?

On a side note, I am now on child three who has had this weird virus of throw-up and then diarrhea. It lasts for 24 hours, goes away and then comes back again for another few days. Oh, I have mentioned that I am taking my kids by myself to Colorado at the end of the week? Oh, this is to visit my parents, my father who will have come home from the hospital after battling a major staph infection? I am seriously considering getting a hotel, so as not to spread anything from my sick kids to him. This trip was planned months ago. Aghh.

On a side note, we had a great Pumpkin Carving/Wassail party here on Friday night. I'll post pictures later.

Friday, October 19, 2007

What Color Orange Are You?

You Are Pumpkin

Realistic and practical, you see the world for how it is.You know what it takes to succeed in life...And you're happy to help others reach their goals.

What Color Orange Are You?

Why am I not surprised by this? It should also say, "Obsessive compulsive" and needs Diet Coke to function on a daily basis.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Bad news with Another appliance

I have heard that appliances break down in a series of "threes." One breaks, then another, then another. I always assumed this was because often appliances are purchased at around the same time. Regardless, we have hit break down number three and I am really hoping this is the end of it.

For the last two weeks, my dishwasher has been acting funny--making really bad grinding noises, (which according to the manual are normal when it is grinding some big piece of food--which since I don't rinse the dishes beforehand, I am not surprised by), I haven't run out of rinse-aid in months and this dishes haven't seemed to be getting super clean. They are not dirty, just not as clean as normal. So, I did what I have done in the past and that is pour vinegar on the bottom of the dishwasher and do a vinegar rinse. (Heloise recommended that trick and it really works) That actually seemed to solve most of the problems, until two days ago, when I discovered the dishwasher is not draining. Even when I pretend I don't know about it and leave it overnight. No change in the water level.

Since ignoring the problem wasn't working, I decided to wet/dry vacuum out the bottom of the dishwasher and hope to vacuum up something that was clogging the draining system (which I know is at the bottom of the washing machine but I don't know exactly where. According to the manual, it is just "down there" somewhere.) So, now we are on day two of wet/dry vacuuming and it is not draining at all. I suppose this means I do indeed have to call a repair man, which I don't want to do because I just spent $400 plus dollars diagnosing and fixing a washing machine leak and drywall problem. This has been an expensive fall considering competitive soccer fees, book orders, school pictures, ballet Nutcracker fees, etc. Please bless this is our final appliance problem for a while. I am sick of it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Book--You Read to Me, I'll Read to You

We just got this book with my son's book order. It was a delightful book for us to share reading together and it made reading time so much more fun for both of us. Every time we would start a new story, I would let him decide what character he wanted to be and away we went. I was so impressed with the book, I ordered the other two that are available.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Go Rockies!

OK, I have to admit, that while I wouldn't let my boys sign up for t-ball because those games last FOREVER and at least in soccer, there is a start and finish time, I wouldn't be true to my roots unless I cheered, hollered, applauded and screamed myself horse for my hometown team The Rockies! I remember too well when they were just an infant of a team but now they are GOING TO THE WORLD SERIES! GO ROCKIES and may the Denver Broncos follow you to the Super Bowl.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Update on School Bus Drama

I e-mailed the principal about this and she likes the idea of a mass e-mail notification. She said she will get the ball rolling to create such lists. So, I guess sometimes, being the squeaky wheel pays off.

Friday, October 12, 2007

School Bus Drama

I have finally calmed down enough to write about this, but I am still a little upset. Here is what "went down" today.

Friday is a short day at our school and school lets out at 1:50 pm and I usually see my kids come in the door at around 2:15 pm. Sometimes because of situations at the school, the bus is a little later, but in the 2 years 1 1/2 months my kids have been at this school, on this bus, I have never seen them later than 2:30 pm and that happened once.

Anyway, by 2:30 pm, the bus has not come and I start to get a little worried. Not too worried but worried, so I start to call several of the other moms in the neighborhood and ask them if they know what is going on. None of my friends answer, which surprises me and I start to get that really sick feeling in my stomach. So, then, I try calling the school and NO ANSWER! It is now 2:45 (almost a full hour since school has let out) and my breathing starts to get short, and I don't know if it is better to get in the car and drive up to the school and risk missing my kids getting home, or just stay home and wait. Since no one is answering, I am imagining a school lock down situation. I am imagining kids getting shot. I am imagining every BAD scenario. Then, a neighbor, who has kids at the same school, quickly drives by my house and I run in front of her car and ask, "Have you heard anything about our kids?" She looks at me surprised and says very innocently, "Oh, didn't you get a phone call? Their bus broke down and you are supposed to go up to the school and get your kids. If I had known, I would have brought your kids with me." First of all I am mad because no, I didn't get a call from the school. Second, why didn't this neighbor call me when she got the phone call? Third, if she had my kids, that is a major breach in the whole school security system because she is not on my list of approved people to take my kids from school. I should mention, that I my cell phone and home phone available the whole time.

So, I throw my two youngest in the car and head up to the school but stop when I see other kids from our neighborhood getting off of the "upper bus stop", several of them crying and several of my friends who I had tried to call, standing at that bus stop. The other kids said my kids were getting off at the lower bus stop. It has now been an hour and five minutes since school got out. I drive down there, pick up my kids and then drive back up to the upper bus stop to talk to my friends and figure out what happened.

Later, after calling the school and finally getting someone to pick up, we learned that the bus had broken down at the school. They never let the kids on the bus and sent them over to the playground to play and only let four kids in the school at a time to call their parents. However, not all of the kids knew they could call their parents (my kids included) so, there was a lot of confusion. My kids told me they thought they just had to wait at school until I showed up or the bus was fixed. No one told them they could call me. The school never did give me a good answer as to why they were not answering the incoming line when I tried calling. The bus was then fixed and they sent the kids whose parents had not shown up to the school on the bus home. The crying kids were really scared why some parents came up to get them and why some didn't. It was mess and let me tell you, as parents we were all very upset, with the exception of the one parent who did get the phone call but who didn't bother to pass on what was going on to the rest of us in the neighborhood. (Several of us said, "If I had gotten a call, I would have started calling everyone from my cell phone while driving up to get my own child.) Aghh!

My solution? The school should have the e-mail addresses of the parents in the system by bus number. I know there are ways to create a list of addresses and all they would have to do is send out one mass e-mail to that buses e-mail list and inform the parents of what is going on. As parents, we would know to check out e-mail if the bus was running late and then we wouldn't have to bother calling the school and we would know what was going on. No more panic and we would be informed. Easy, cheap solution.

Toothsome #2

I don't deserve toothsome #2. She has been blessed with some amazing gifts and I just get to be her mother and watch her unfold. She is my child that everything comes naturally for her and as a result, I often get credit, where none is due.

Case in point, she was born with a natural love of healthy foods. When she switched from baby food to table food, she discovered tomatos and from then on, any fruit or vegetable was all she would eat. I would take her to McDonald's as a toddler and she would ask if she could get a salad with her kids meal. I would then put the salad, chicken mcnuggets and fries in front of her and all that would get eaten was the salad. A perfect lunch for her is an assortment of fruits and vegetables and I have to convince her to eat something with protein in it.

Let me remind everyone that she is just 6 years old. Her latest health kick happened one morning at breakfast when she read the back of our Cherrios box. It reads, "Did you know that in just 6 weeks Cherrios can reduce bad cholesterol by an average of 4 percent?" It then encourages one to take the 6 weeks challenge and "you will feel better." She read that, and decided to take the 6 week challenge. We are on week number 2 and every morning, she says, "Mom, get me my Cherrios." Now that we are on week 2, she is saying things, like, "I already feel better. Imagine how great I am going to feel in 4 more weeks?" What a nut!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Great Closet Migration

Well, I am almost finished with what I am calling, "The Great Closet Migration." I have gone through everyone of the kids closets (OK, there are only two but four children use them) and made them try on all of their winter clothes. After that, I either passed down ones to the younger siblings, put them in a "to take to DI" box or in some cases, just threw them away. I am also still storing baby stuff because I haven't quite reached the "for sure I am done with having kids phase." I really think we are done but I am not ready to fully embrace it by getting rid of baby things.
Anyway, once I had an account of what was left that actually fit, I went on-line and purchased what we needed. (I know the whole, why pay for shipping but I love Lands End and Hannah Andersson, so I am willing to pay for shipping.)

I live by the "5 and 5" rule. My kids each have 5 tops and 5 bottoms. Ideally, they would all match but that is not necessarily the case. So, now I am done with that project. Thank goodness!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

My Dad and the Miracle of Modern Medicine

We are dealing with sad news on the home front. This weekend, my dad had some complications with his pace maker that was put in a month ago. Long story short, he will be in the hospital for at least 4 weeks, battling a staph infection all the while being hooked up to a pace maker on the outside of his body. He has undergone a surgery, had IV antibiotics in his system since Saturday morning and so far everything is going as well as to be expected. He is not out of the woods entirely because this is a very resistant strain of bacteria and only one type of antibiotics works to combat it. Thus, the four week stay before another pace maker can be put in place. He has been given a resident who will be his constant companion to monitor his heart and the infection. Thankfully, my dad (and Mom) is a rock and my sister lives in the state and can be of some close-by support. The rest of us, who are out of state can just call and pray. What a mess!

However, whenever I have been witness to or part of a medical situation, I am blown away by the miracle of modern medicine. We are so blessed to live in a time when these problems can be fixed. How many times have one of my kids had a fever and I have thought about how their sickness is going to affect the rest of my week where when my great-grandparent's children had fevers, they were wondering if their child would live? Based on my dad's heart history, he shouldn't be alive yesterday much less today. He has had one life prolonging procedure after another. It really is amazing. Hopefully, in a month when this is all said and done, we can look back on this time and see what we have learned from it. Already, I am just grateful for the man my dad is, the woman my mother is, the doctors and nurses who are caring for him and the miracle of modern medicine.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Halloween Decorations

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. It comes at the end of the month and so I have a whole month to decorate my house for the fall season. Here are some of my favorite (but not all) Halloween items.

I got this witch at a small, wonderful gift shop called Randee and Company. They are patients at my husband's office and she carries some of the most wonderful decorating and home decor items. The witch is about 2/12 feet tall and she sits on top of my fireplace mantle all October.

For my birthday, my sister gave me decorated tiles. There is one for each month of the year and my kids love changing them for me. In front of it, sits one of my favorite Love Boxes made my Tiffany.

Opps! I meant to turn him the other way. I bought this little guy at Target last year. He sits about 2 feet tall and I have him by my front door. My kids LOVE him! He is borderline creepy but not too bad!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Painting the Halloween Window

My mom is very artistic and growing up, every October, she helped us paint a Halloween scene on our front window. We had a very large, front window and there was usually a vampire, a haunted house, a lot of pumpkins and ghosts. My mom would let each of us paint our own ghost. I can't tell you how many hours I spent planning and drawing what my ghost was going to look like each year. I think more effort went into figuring out my ghost than my Halloween costume.

Anyway, I am not nearly as artistic as my mom and we don't have the same big front window, so instead, we each just paint our own ghost. Dentist husband is actually very artistic (his whole family is) and each year, he puts the rest of us to shame. Here he is painting his ghost--a tooth saying, "Roooooot canal.".
There is toothsomes 2 and 3.

And finally, the finished window.

(FYI--You just use powdered Tempera paint and it cleans off super easily with Windex.)

Sunday, September 30, 2007

New Calling

Today, I received a new calling. I am glad. I have been in Nursery for the last 2 1/2 years and been the actual Nursery leader for a year and 1/2. I think I am in the minority when it comes to being someone that actually likes being a Nursery worker. I was the one that actually approached the Primary Presidency and offered to be a Nursery worker after seeing the hard time they were having filling the calling. (Way too many ing's, sorry!) I have really enjoyed it for the last 2 or so years but in the last few months, it has really taken its toll on me. I don't know if there is any specific reason for it. It could be because toothsome #4 is about to turn one and my patience reserves have already been spent before I got to church. We have had a few new kids come in that are difficult, a few parents yell at me when I take their sick kids back to them, a new boy who is a spitter, but that is always part of Nursery. So, I really don't know why I reached the end of my rope with the calling but needless to say, I am glad to be done with Nursery for awhile. The new nursery leader is a friend of mine and she will be excellent.

Anyway, I am now the Cub Scout leader for my son's troop. I have held this calling before (twice actually) and never had a child in it, so it will be fun for both of us. When they announced my name during Sacrament meeting, toothsome #1 actually said very loudly, "YES!" He has only been in a few months, and so I am assuming, I will be his Wolf and Bear leader. I am looking forward to it.

On a side note, I am planning on getting out all of the Halloween decorations tonight. On Wednesday, I am going post pictures of my favorite ones. If any of you want to join me in posting your favorite Halloween decorations on Wednesday, please do. If you do, leave me a comment on Wednesday's post so I can go over and look at yours. I love seeing what people do!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I'm Excited

I'm excited because this arrived in the mail as well as bunch of other things I ordered for me and friends from Scrappy Notes. I am not showing my family one because it actually has my kids names on it and (and address) as as everyone knows, while I have no problem sharing my life with you all, I like to leave a little privacy space. Anyway, it is so darling and it is just fun to send letters with the personalized address labels on the corner.

I love sending letters. I try to send at least one note a week to a friend. There is something so fun about getting a letter in the mail. I thrill sending and opening letters from friends. While I love the Internet, e-mail and blogging, there is something special and different about opening a sealed envelope addressed to me. I love the feel of the paper between my fingers, the works.

Trash Day

Today is trash day. I LOVE trash day. I love emptying my house of all the unnecessary junk. I thrill going from trash can to trash can, emptying each one, knowing that all of that stuff is out of my life. You are banished messy diapers! You are gone chicken fat! Out junk mail, excess paperwork and cereal boxes! Go to the dump and leave my house forever. Anyone else feel this way or do I need to find a hobby?

Monday, September 24, 2007

I'm Hungry

Every season, I sit down with my bills and reevaluated our budget. I do this every season for several reasons but the main one is that in the fall, our water, heating, and electric bills are very different than what they are in the Summer, or Spring or Winter. Also, every season, we have different children activities that cost different amounts of money. I like to take a fresh look every 3 months and see what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong.

This leads to me our eating out budget. I LOVE to eat out. My husband does too and so we have always budgeted a lot more for that than most. We are not extravagant people at all but eating out is one area that we both are willing to dump a lot of money. In looking at our budget, I realized that a lot of the eating out comes when I am out doing errands with the kids and I have not planned very well and I am starving. I don't think well hungry, and even if we are on the way home, and I could just delay my hunger for about 10 minutes, I swing through a drive-thru and grab something. Now that McDonalds and Wendy's offer healthy choices, the "I'm going to get fat" guilt is gone and I order away. I'm happy, the kids are happy but our budget is not happy.

While looking at our spending, I was reminded about a conversation in the back seat of my car about a week before school started. My kids started to argue about what place they wanted to go for lunch. "I want Panda." "No, we have already gone there 2 times this week. I want Barbacoa" "Mom, toothsome #1 wants Barbacoa and I don't feel like it. Maybe we can go to Wendys." I laughed at the time but it is frightening to realize that they just assumed we were going to eat out for lunch--the thought that I would actually make them a sandwich had never entered their minds.

So, back to the budget, in reevaluating it again today, I decided I have to cut out eating out for lunch and only eating out for dinner once (ok, maybe twice) during the week. This is going to be SO hard for me. My husband doesn't call me McJanice for nothing and already I am going through some serious sadness. To help me, I have already loaded my car with snacks to help me get through the hungry times until I can get home and eat something. Wish me luck.

Friday, September 21, 2007

Welcome Diane and Nightingale Dolls

First, let me welcome my good friend Diane into the blogging world. After months of bugging her to create her own blog, she finally did it! Check her out here. Diane and I met at the bus stop when I was in 1st grade and she was in Kindergarten. We have been friends ever since. She is the friend I can all any time, about anything. She has listened to me vent about a million things, cried when I have cried, laughed when I have laughed, and celebrated when I have celebrated. She even was my mission companion for a few short months when I came home sick from Argentina and had to be reassigned stateside (Temple Square of those of you who are curious.)

Also, my good friend Tess' daughter has created a blog called Nightingale Dolls. It is a wonderful project and I thought I would post her blog here as well. It would be a great service project for so many people and organizations. Please, please, please click here. You will be impressed by this 13 year old girl. We need more 13 year old girls like her.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Christmas Card Project

About a month ago, I started on this project and just finished it. I am very happy with the results and I thought I would pass the idea along. I wanted a way to store all of our family's Christmas cards but also be able to enjoy looking at them every year. I am not a "scrapbooker" and I am sure many of you could (and will) come up with lovely and beautiful ways to do something similar. In my pragmatic mind, this is what I came up with.

I went to my local scrapbooking store and purchased an acid free notebook.

The picture doesn't show it's true color, which is dark green. (For obvious reasons, a Christmas color.)

In the process of doing this, I decided to add all of the Christmas cards from growing-up as well. I contacted my mom and she was able to get me originals and when needed copies of originals. During the family reunion, in August, I gathered everyone in the family together and one night, we compiled these.

This one is from 1982. Do you like the 80's hair and makeup? My sister, Goddess #3 I am sure will not be pleased that this picture is on-line. She is quite the beauty these days and does not have a short permed haircut anymore.

I then put everything in acid-free sheet protectors, in order starting from the 1st year my mom sent out Christmas cards (1963) until the present. I also have the Christmas cards that my husband and I have sent in order starting in 1999 until the present.

The plan is to bring out the notebook every Christmas season with the rest of my Christmas decorations. I plan on putting it on my coffee table and it will be a fun thing to look through as the years pass.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Dinner in the Canyon and MVP

Last night for Family Home Evening, dentist husband and I took the kids up the canyon for dinner. One of my favorite things about living in Utah is the closeness and accessibility of the mountains. In the summer and fall, we try to go up regularly and have a hot dog roast and let the kids run around, and get dirty. We also have the tradition of trying to time it to go up just before the first snow fall and get one last "canyon run" in before it snows. It is always really cold until we get the fire going but after that, it is great. I've included some pictures.

Also, this past Saturday, toothsome #1 had soccer game and was named MVP of the game! This was amazing for a lot of reasons, mostly because he is the youngest and smallest on the team. (Dentist husband and I are not big people--5'6" and 5'3" and have produced very short children. It is not until Kindergarten before any of my kids make it on the charts.) All summer long, I have taken him to practices and watched as he has been the weakest player on the field. I kept on debating with myself if having him play on a competitive team was worthwhile for him. I wondered if it would have been better to keep him on the city (and much easier) league. I have wondered if the other boys get frustrated with his playing. Anyway, in the past two weeks, some switch clicked with him and he has become a strong, aggressive, really good player! On Saturday, we played against a team that had boys 6-7 inches taller than my son and that didn't stop him of going after them. He was amazing and really did deserve the MVP status. It was so fun to watch!

Friday, September 14, 2007

There is FINALLY a Chipotle in Utah!

Back when Dentist husband was in dental school and we were dating, we had a favorite restaurant--Chipotle. (Actually, we had a few but this one fit our budget better than others). It was brand new when my husband started dental school and we ate there a lot. They started opening more around the Denver area and shortly after getting married, they put one in Boulder, where we were living. Every Monday night for Family Home Evening, we would ride our bikes (weather permitting ofcourse) to Chipotle and eat dinner there. It was one of the few things I could keep down when I pregnant with toothsome #1 and buy the time he graduated from school, all of the employees knew us by name and would start making our burritos when we walked into the door. We once even got free chips and salsa on a slow night and we were the only ones there.

Well, we moved to Utah when Dentist husband graduated and it was so long to Chipotle. I still checked out their web-site occasionally and whenever we went back to Boulder to visit, we always stopped there.

Last week, I got an e-mail that they were opening up a Chipotle somewhat close to our house! Not only that, but the first 200 customers who purchased burritos, got a free t-shirt and a coupon for another free burrito! Well, you can imagine the excitement in this house. The kids got home from school, Dentist husband got home from work and off we went. It was everything we imagined it would be and we are all thrilled to be close to a Chipotle once again.