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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I choose you

Have you ever heard that old saying: "you can't choose your family"? Well, I disagree. I think you can choose your family. Or at least I can.

I discovered recently that a person I've considered part of my family for the last 12 years doesn't consider me part of hers. I have to admit, that made me feel pretty bad. But I've come to realize that while I have no control over how she thinks or feels, I do have control over how I think and feel. So to her I say: I choose you. Whether you want me or not, I choose you.

To my husband and children I say: I choose you. To my parents and sisters, their husbands and children, my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and spouses and children I say: I choose you.

To my in-laws; Brian's parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, spouses, children, Maree and her children and grandchildren I say: I choose you.

To my friends and neighbors; I need you to understand that "friend" and "neighbor" are family words to me. They are the same as "sister" and "cousin". So to you I say: I choose you.

I feel that this world is too difficult of a place for me to navigate alone or with only a few "family" members to support me. So if you are reading this, to you I say: I choose you. Whether you want me or not, welcome to the family!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Preschool carpool

For the first time in three years, I actually have a carpool for preschool. At first I was super excited about this because Kai's school is pretty far away and I now only have to drive one day a week.

Now, after putting him in the neighbor's van and watching them drive away, I'm not so sure.

When did he stop being my baby?

Monday, August 31, 2009

I will NOT surrender!

I weighed myself this morning. I gained 5 pounds. I'm feeling pretty bad about this. Not surprised, just bad. I've really kind of fallen off the wagon lately and now I'm paying for it. It would be so easy to just let it all go, to just give in and accept me the way I am and to heck with the consequences. I'm just so tired.

However, I'm also tired of being huge. I may not be the fattest person you'll ever meet, but my height combined with my weight makes me feel like I'm ALWAYS the largest person in the room. I'm tired of words like "plus size" and "obese". I'm tired of gigantic clothes that don't look good or fit right and I'm tired of mirrors that refuse to lie to me. I'm tired of asthma and hypothyroidism and sore muscles and joints. I'm tired of the knowledge that I probably won't be around for my grandchildren if I don't change RIGHT NOW.

So I'm serving notice right now (again) to those three demons: Disappointment, Depression and Despair. There will be NO white flag above my door! I might give up twenty times a day but I will NEVER SURRENDER! It might take me two years, or three, or the rest of my life, but I WILL DO IT! You might win every battle, but I will win this war! I will take back my life if it kills me!

Friday, August 28, 2009

I really AM as smart as Chloe!

Kai and I were in the car today on our way into town and we had the most hilarious conversation:

Me: Kai, stop picking your nose!
Kai: How did you know?
Me: Because I'm smart!
Kai: You're not as smart as Chloe.
Me: (a little peeved) What do you mean?
Kai: Chloe knows how to spell "paleontologist".
Me: So do I!
Kai: How do you spell it?
Me: (knowing full well that he doesn't know how to spell it) p-a-l-e-o-n-t-o-l-o-g-i-s-t
Kai: Wow! I guess you really are as smart as Chloe!

Who knew?

Thursday, August 27, 2009


I'm feeling a little peeved about a couple of policies at Chloe and Graeme's school and I'd like to know what you think.

It turns out the kids are not allowed to share or trade food with other kids at lunch. At all. Also, they can't leave the lunchroom until a certain sign is put up on the wall, even if they're already done and they can't leave if their table is at all dirty. Now, I understand wanting to teach the kids responsibility and cleaning up after themselves, but Graeme won't let me put cookies in his lunch because the CRUMBS will get him in trouble. I'm not exaggerating here.

Last but not least, Graeme's class (2nd grade) has to EARN their third recess each day. I'm not sure how this works, but they haven't earned a third recess yet.

Is it just me, or is this a little odd?

It's baaaack!

Hooray! After 12 months of waiting (okay, it was closer to 2, but it sure felt like 12!) we finally have our camera back! It even works and is just as pretty as it was when we bought it (1 month before it broke)! I have to say once again, buying the warranty/service plan was a stroke of genius on Brian's part. Sure, it was a little pricey, but we didn't pay a penny for this repair and we didn't have to go out and buy a new camera. I'm pretty happy about this.

Anyway, I've been dying to show you all what I've been doing all summer. Of course, there are no "before" pictures and the cool nights and grasshoppers are certainly taking their toll, but I'm still very proud of myself. So without further ado:
These are day lilies and other plants in front of our house. It took me about 2 and 1/2 hours to clear the weeds out of this bed. It was really stunning when the day lilies were blooming, the flower stalks stood up at least another foot above the greens.
This is our sumac family flower bed. The biggest tree was already here when we moved in, but all those babies have only been growing for about a year. I love my sumac mommy and her babies! The only problem is that we have to constantly cut down all the sumac babies that we don't want to keep. Better too many than too few, right?
This is a closer look at the flowers I planted in this bed. They're not doing well. I've also got a couple of really nice iris plants here. It took me about 6 hours to clear the weeds out of this bed.
This is my piece de resistance, my garden! The weeds are returning now, but it was gorgeous when I first finished weeding it! I spent probably ten to twelve hours weeding and hoeing, but we're really starting to "reap" the benefits now!

This is Kai demonstrating how ginormous our onions are.

Onions and peppers. I put Miracle Grow on the garden months ago and I can't believe some of our pepper plants. We have a couple of teeny plants that are loaded with peppers! I love Miracle Grow!

This is Kai with more peppers and eggplants. He wasn't terribly thrilled about standing in the garden with all the grasshoppers, hornets, and other creepy crawlies, but oh well. I wanted him in there to show the scale of these plants. The eggplants are huge! The tallest one comes up almost to Kai's chest! Our only surviving cucumber plant is also in the very back of this shot. We may actually even get a cucumber from it!

Finally, here's Kai among the beans. Aren't those lovely plants? Of course, you can't see all the grasshopper damage in this photo, thank goodness. Someday I'll get the bug killer out BEFORE those critters feast on my poor, defenseless garden!

So there you have it. I'm very pleased with myself for all my hard work, but I have to admit, I'll be glad when winter comes and I don't have to weed, hoe, mow, water and harvest anymore! Although then I'll have to shovel snow........ Sigh.

Monday, August 24, 2009

First day

The first two days of school were great! The kids both love their teachers and are excited for the year ahead (mostly). We finally got our camera back Friday evening (turns out it wasn't in Texas after all, but that's another story) but we didn't have it for the first day of school. Fortunately, my neighbor was kind enough to take a couple of pictures with her camera.

I've got to take another picture of the boys in the outfits they were wearing because they're hilarious. I bought them matching orange hawaiin shirts and Graeme insisted on wearing his the first day of school so Kai, of course, had to wear his. They look really cute. Oh, and this wasn't actually Kai's first day of school, he starts after Labor Day.

Okay, it was very windy that morning. And, in case you were wondering, Graeme is, in fact, as tall as Chloe. It happened sometime in the last couple of weeks. I'm a little scared.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

From my heart

I am (quite understandably, I think) very excited for school to start. That being said, however, school brings with it a whole different set of challenges and difficulties. The biggest challenge for me is dealing with teachers. Here's what I wish I could say to each one of them:

To my kids' teachers,

Thank you for taking on this most difficult responsibility of being a teacher. I know how much time, effort and money you put into getting where you are now. I understand how little respect, gratitude and compensation you are given. I truly appreciate your dedication and the sacrifices you make.

I also understand that each of my children will be one among many for you and that your concern is for the welfare of the class as a whole. I understand that you will do your best to teach each child how to read and write and get along with the other children. I think you will probably even do your best to get to know each child in your class a bit.

Here's what I want you to understand: each of my children is one among few for me. I only have three and their welfare is the highest priority for me. To me, my children are more precious than diamonds or gold, more important than the President of the United States, more intelligent than Albert Einstein, more beautiful than Tyra Banks and more creatively brilliant than Leonardo da Vinci. I accept that none of them is perfect but only grudgingly.

I accept that my children will, at times, misbehave and I will support you 100% as long as I feel that you are dealing with them fairly. But, because my children are so dear to me, if I feel that they are hurt, threatened or even just misjudged, I will come after you. I will use every weapon in my considerable Mommy Arsenal to make right whatever is wrong. I only have a few more years to be the center of their world, the Righter of Wrongs and Fixer of Breaks, and I won't force them to fight these battles alone until I feel they're ready.

I know that you will never love them as I love them, but if you treat them with kindness and understanding, they will love you. In fact, they will adore you.

Please understand, I willingly gave up my body, my mind, my money, my sanity and my freedom for these unique little people. I have worked endlessly to feed, clothe and nurture them. I have tried to instill in them the morals and faith that I believe will help them become the best people they can be. But you can wreck all of my hard work with one careless word, one unfair judgement, one cruel punishment. You hold my children's lives in the palm of your hand, you have all the power to lead and direct them; please, please take this stewardship seriously. Please, watch what you say and do. Please give them a chance.

Chloe, Graeme and Kai's mom

Monday, August 17, 2009


School starts Thursday. 'Nuff said.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Mercy and Love

We've reached critical mass. The kids and I have spent so much time together that we can no longer be in the same room without spontaneously exploding. For instance, this morning, I was outside weeding (enjoying a rare scream-free moment) when Kai came out sobbing. Further investigation revealed that Graeme had punched him in the stomach. Again. I'm pretty sure that's the twelfth time this week. Don't ask why, I no longer do.

Anyway, since I wasn't done weeding, and sending Graeme INSIDE for timeout was exactly what he wanted, I made him help me weed. As it turns out, that was the PERFECT punishment. He was totally miserable and repentant and I actually got help coping with the current weed epidemic. I wish I had thought of that two months ago!

A couple of hours later, Graeme had miraculously not punched Kai again, so I took the opportunity to eat lunch. Of course, five minutes later, here comes Kai crying and sputtering something about Graeme and hitting. I admit it, I reacted badly. I told Graeme to get in timeout without even attempting to hear his side of the story. I was yelling, Graeme was crying, and suddenly Kai blurts out:

"It was an accident, he didn't mean to do it!"

That one sentence stopped me cold. Here was Kai's big chance to get back at Graeme for an entire summer of misery and he didn't take it. All that mattered to him was that Graeme didn't deserve the punishment I was attempting to mete out. After making sure Kai was okay, I explained to Graeme about mercy and sent them on their way.

But I couldn't understand WHY Kai showed such mercy until I sat down and really thought about my sons' relationship. Yes, it SEEMS like Kai is constantly screaming and crying, but it turns out that the only time he screams and cries (mostly) is when Graeme won't play with him. Just two days ago, he sat on the couch and cried for 45 minutes because Graeme went in his room and closed the door. It turns out Kai loves his brother. Loves him with all his heart.

It was a small epiphany moment for me. Clearly, mercy is the result of love. I guess this is what Jesus meant when He said to become as a little child. I haven't been very merciful to my children this summer and today Kai unknowingly showed me that I probably haven't been very loving, either. Maybe the next time World War III breaks out in my livingroom I'll remember that I love my kids and maybe, just maybe, I'll scream a little less and hug a little more. Maybe.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Better than a poke in the eye (but not by much!)

Since yesterday was the last day of July, I weighed myself.

I was only down 6 lbs.

Of course, since it's that time of the month, I'm probably retaining at least 5 lbs of water, but it was still a bit of a disappointment. I am surprised that I wasn't more upset about it, it's probably because the little voice in my head keeps saying things like: "Hey, at least you didn't GAIN 6 lbs" and "It's okay, we're still on track to lose 50 by October" and while I do appreciate the supportive nature of the little voice in my head, I'm pretty sure that all of this positive-ity is what got me into this mess in the first place. Hmmmmm......

Anyway, in case you were curious, I've now lost a grand total of 35 lbs. Only 115 to go. Sigh.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I REALLY LOVE Summer Food!

I've been feeling a little guilty about that last post; it was written in a fit of passion brought on by my own self-pity. See, I've been working very hard at this whole weight loss thing but the results of all my hard work are SLOW in coming. I mean, I can see small differences in myself, but nothing major and I haven't magically shrunk out of ONE SINGLE item of clothing. My clothes are a little looser, but that just makes me feel like I'm wearing a tent whenever I get dressed and we all know how good THAT is for one's self-esteem.

However, when I ran into Anna at the gas station today she burst my little pity party bubble by telling me that I was looking so skinny she almost didn't recognize me. Thanks Anna! (You're my new best friend, by the way!)

Anyway, that major compliment freed up my mind to dwell on something other than my kids and my body and it, of course, settled on food. I've come to realize in the last few years that I have a very complex relationship with food. I'm definitely an emotional eater, but I'm talking about EVERY emotion. Any strong emotion will drive me to the cupboard looking for a treat or a snack. I'm also constantly HUNGRY. I think when I spent that month on my mission with very little food or money it broke that part of my brain that knows food will be available the next time I need it. Consequently, I want to eat ALL THE TIME and I eat WAY TOO MUCH.

This being said, summer is the BEST food time of the year for me because my current food plan allows me to eat as many fruits and vegetables as I want! Why is that good news? Because my favorite fruits and vegetables are: corn on the cob, garden peas, watermelon, cantalope, cucumbers and beans! Hooray! I could seriously live on these foods alone and be satisfied physically and emotionally! I can fulfill my almost constant need to eat without inducing one single bit of guilt. Ahhhhh.....

Someday I'll build a greenhouse in my backyard so I can have these things fresh year round. Until then, does anybody know how to bottle watermelon?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

I REALLY hate summer!

Okay, I don't really hate summer the season (although 96 degrees and no central air or swamp cooler gets old in a hurry), it's the summer holiday that tends to get under my skin. Not only do I have all of my regular responsibilities (laundry, groceries, housework, etc), I suddenly turn into a seasonal farm hand. I get to plant and harvest, weed the garden and three flower/strawberry beds, mow, water and fertilize the lawn (or pay some idiot to fertilize it for me, a mistake I hope I'll never make again!), sew and crochet and somehow make time to sell my goods at the Gardener's Market, online and at any other craft shows I manage to hear about.

But, honestly, it's not all the extra work that really gets to me. It's the never-ending, noisy, frustratingly horrible quality time I get to spend with my kids. Don't get me wrong, I love my kids, but frankly I don't like them ALL THE TIME. Here's an example of why:

Yesterday, I had just barely stepped into the shower. I had spent an hour and a half mowing the lawn and screaming at the kids in a vain attempt to motivate them to pull weeds. I was already hot and tired and I needed to hurry so that we could go to the store. Suddenly, the door crashed open and Graeme stormed into the bathroom.

Me: So?
Graeme: (Stomping out and slamming the door) ARGH!

Two minutes later I hear Kai crying.

Graeme: (Entering quietly) What?
Graeme: I hit him in the back with my fist.
Me: (Taking deep breaths) Let me see if I've got this right. Kai, who is 4, hit you, who are 7, with a pillow, which is soft; so you, who are 7, hit Kai, who is 4, in the back with your fist, which is hard?
Graeme: Ummmm.....

The thing is, this is not, in any way, an isolated incident. The second I get in the shower or on the phone chaos erupts and somebody (usually Graeme or Kai) gets sent to their room in tears. And, in case you were thinking that I was being unfair to punish Graeme and not Kai, Kai got sent to HIS room as soon as I got out of the shower and calmed down enough to refrain from putting my fist through a wall.

Seriously, is it August yet?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

We came in Peace, for all Mankind

Forty years ago (yesterday), Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong landed on the moon. They got out of their landing module and walked around a little bit, then they got back in and headed home. For the first time ever, Man walked on a surface other than the Earth.

It seems like such a small thing until you consider the decade of planning and preparation, the multitude of technological breakthroughs, the tens of thousands of people and not least, the millions and perhaps billions of dollars spent to make that short lunar visit possible.

All of the flight engineers at Mission Control were young; the average age was 26. In fact, the guy in charge of the whole mission was only 36 years old. That's how old I am! The responsibility for the success or failure of that mission, not to mention the lives of the astronauts, must have been a heavy burden indeed.

Why did they do it? Why did all those people sacrifice so much for one short lunar expedition? I really don't know. I'm well aware that Pres. Kennedy gave an inspiring speech challenging America to put a man on the moon, but I doubt that was the sole motivation for all those people. I like to think that maybe the old pioneer spirit sparked and set fire to the hearts of those people, but maybe they did it just to see if they could.

Whatever their reasons, I'm awfully glad they did.

On the Apollo 11 lunar landing module there is a plaque. It says, in part, "We came in peace, for all mankind" I can't help but be inspired by that sentiment. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we, as a species, could unite under the banner of peaceful exploration? If we could just leave all the anger and hatred and violence behind and take that giant step out to see what's beyond the confines of our beloved Earth?

Thank you Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong and all the thousands of scientists and workers, spouses and children, who sacrificed in order to show us that we can do whatever we set our minds to. Thank you to those who are still working and sacrificing for that very same lofty ideal.

Maybe someday soon we will come in Peace, yet again.

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Bear Lake Miracle

Let me start this post by saying that our camera got dropped a couple of weeks ago and is now somewhere in Texas (I think) being repaired (I hope) so I have no new pictures to offer. You'll just have to use your imagination. Sorry.

Anyway, last weekend we got to go to Bear Lake. Unlike our last visit, it was sunny and hot and didn't rain once. Of course, that meant that the rest of Utah and Idaho were also at Bear Lake, but I digress. Last year one of Brian's uncles was given an old Waverunner which he brought up to the lake and generously allowed the rest of us to play with. It's still there and for some reason I absolutely adore driving the silly thing around! Unfortunately, it tends to tip pretty easily and I'm incapable of climbing back on it unless my feet are touching the ground. At least, that's what I thought......

Picture a gorgeous, sunny day. The lake was blue and the sand was hot. I went out on the Waverunner for probably the 20th time that day. Because none of the kids were with me, I went a little crazy and attempted to spin a circle (I had, in fact, successfully completed this maneuver earlier) I made it all the way around and then the world went into slow motion. I felt the Waverunner ever so gently lean too far to the left and I realized that my left foot was under water. Before I could even react, the rest of me was in the water too and the Waverunner was floating away. It was so strange! I wasn't afraid of drowning because I had a life jacket on and I'm a good swimmer, but suddenly I became very aware of the very deep water that I was swimming in. I was having a hard time breathing but I managed to swim to the Waverunner and grab on. Then I remembered the whole "incapable of climbing back on it" business and almost cried! I was several miles from shore and there were no other boats nearby.

So what did I do? I prayed. I prayed as only a desperate person prays. I prayed for my very life. And slowly, ever so slowly, pleading and gasping, I pulled myself back up onto that Waverunner. I did it! Of course, I don't think I did it alone.
I was shaking so badly that I almost tipped the dumb thing over again! But I managed to stay up and make it back to shore. I even went out again a little while later, bruises and all. Did I learn anything from this experience? Probably not, but I'll always remember it as my Bear Lake miracle.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Ummmm....the Sequel

Speaking of Chloe asking awkward questions...
A couple of days after that last incident, we were eating dinner and the conversation drifted to clams. (Don't ask how or why, we tend to discuss really odd things during dinner) Anyway, the kids wanted to know where people get clams to cook. Brian explained that mostly they come from clam farms. Graeme (of course) wanted to know where the clam farms got the clams. I couldn't help but laugh because I knew exactly where this was going.

Brian: Well, they take baby clams and raise them.
Chloe: But, where do baby clams come from?
Me: (falling off my chair with laughter) Yeah, where do baby clams come from?
Brian: (getting into the humor of the moment) When a mommy clam and a daddy clam love each other very much.......
Graeme: What?
Me: Trees! Clams come from trees!
Kai: (aka Animal from the Muppets) Clam trees! Clam trees! Clam trees!

Fortunately for Brian and myself, the kids found the idea of clam trees so hilarious that the conversation shifted into an interesting discussion of trees that we would like to plant in our yard. (For example, a money tree or a donut tree) I can't help but wonder if I should just give in and take the kids to one of the many local dairies during breeding season and then again during calving season. Of course, that would probably just raise questions that I'm even less capable of answering.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


I had one of those "I have no idea what to say" Mommy moments yesterday at lunch. Here's how it went down:

Graeme: Mommy, do babies come out of your belly button?
Me (wondering when he stopped believing that mommies poop out babies): Ummmm, no.
Graeme: Well, where do babies come out?
Me: Ummmmmm.......
Chloe (with an all-knowing smirk): Graeme, it's private.
Graeme: What?
Me: Ummmmmm.......
Chloe (still smirking): Graeme, babies come out your privates.
Me: Chloe!
Graeme: Ohhhh.
Me: Graeme, I'll explain it to you when you're a little older.
Graeme: Okay, like when I'm 25? I'll have my wife by then.
Me: Yeah. 25 will be great.

The funny thing is, we've had this conversation before and (fortunately) my kids don't seem to want to discuss how babies are made, just how they come out. But we haven't talked about it for awhile so it just really caught me off-guard. The problem is, my kids usually won't settle for the easy answer so if I had told them that babies do indeed come out of belly buttons, lunch would have been abandoned for a vigorous and lengthy inspection of everybody's belly buttons. And, I have no idea when Chloe figured out where babies come out. I guess if you're a girl it's just a matter of logic, but this probably means I'd better start anticipating awkward questions from her. Incidentally, Graeme has already informed me that he and his wife and children will be living with me in this house for the rest of our lives. Boy, a children's anti-aging serum would sure come in handy right about now......

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

"I ate a lot of food at dinner!"

I was kneeling on the floor this morning helping Kai get dressed and I suddenly realized how tall he is. So I smiled at him and asked him when he got so tall.
He looked thoughtful for a minute and then said:
"Mommy, I ate a lot of food at dinner!"
What a crack up!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I prayed for 10

About two months ago when I suffered a major reality check and began to accept how badly out of control my weight had gotten, I came up with a plan. I didn't join a gym or Weight Watchers. I didn't talk to a nutritionist or a personal trainer. I especially didn't start taking any pills. I just used the very little knowledge that I have and made some changes that I was pretty sure I could sustain for the rest of my life.
I also began setting goals. I decided that I was capable of losing 10 pounds a month. It's a nice, even number and since I needed to lose 150 that meant I could be down 120 in one measly little year, then three more months and KAPOW I would be where I needed to be. I also decided that since I would be losing weight on a monthly basis, I wouldn't weigh myself until the last day of each month.
Well, on the last day of May, I was indeed down 10 pounds for the first time in years. Needless to say, it was a fantastic day and I hit June with a renewed sense of enthusiasm and vigor. But it's been a difficult month. I always assumed that when I started exercising regularly my moods would improve, but that's just not the case. It turns out I'm just as psycho as ever!
Anyway, last week I realized that today was the last day of June. I'd like to say I doubled my exercise and cut my calorie intake in half, but that's just not the case. I kept on doing what I've been doing for two months and I prayed for 10 pounds. I prayed and prayed.
Finally, when I got up this morning I got on my knees and said one last prayer for 10 pounds. It sounded something like this:
"Father, I've been exercising and eating less. I've tried to sleep more. I've added more fruits, vegetables and water to my diet. I've even given up soda. I've done all that I can. Please make up the difference."
Then I got on the scale. (If you have more faith than I do, you probably already guessed the outcome) Any guesses?

I lost 19 pounds!!! I prayed for ten and He gave me 19! I thought I was hopeful when I was down 10!

Of course, it's still not noticeable. At least not to anyone else. And, I think most of it has come out of my boobs. Sigh. But, now I know that someday my clothes will all be too big to wear. Someday I'll be able to walk into a department store and buy clothes off the rack. Someday I'll be able to walk into that snotty Doctor's office with my head held high.
You're all invited to my house for a huge party when I drop the big 100!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Nature in all her glory

I love going to Bear Lake. We went last weekend and even though it rained every day except Friday, I still had a fun time. And, thanks to the wet and cool Spring we've had, the scenery was outstanding!

This is a view of the lake from the Limber Pine trail. Gorgeous, isn't it?

There were wildflowers all over the place. These were my favorites.

Ahh, fungus. I was starting to feel like this stuff was growing between my toes. Thank goodness it finally stopped raining!

This is the Limber Pine. The sign used to say it was a couple thousand years old, but now apparently it's only 560 years old. There must be a fountain of youth flowing at its roots. Lucky duck!

This was so cool! It rained Thursday morning but then the sun came out for a little while and these big vultures came to visit. Wasn't that nice of them to put on a display just for us?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

My two Mommy gems of wisdom

I went out to mow the lawn today and my next door neighbor came over to say hi. I was trying to get the kids to weed around the trees and they were being stinkers about it (in spite of the fact that they're getting paid to do it!) Anyway, my neighbor, who has one seven month old daughter, said to me: "If I had three kids like you, they would always do their work."
I smiled and nodded politely and thought to myself, I'm not a perfect mom, I'm not even a very good mom, but I have learned two very important things about being a mom:

Number One: NEVER criticize another person's parenting abilities (not even silently, in my own head) and
Number Two: NEVER say that my kid is behaving, has behaved or ever will behave better than anybody else's kid.

It's not that I'm worried about offending anyone. Not at all. What always gets me is karma. The few times that I've forgotten these two Mommy gems of wisdom I've paid for it dearly. Don't get me wrong, just like all parents I believe that my kids are wonderful and perfect, but over the years I've come to realize that a wonderful and perfect child will do what children do and a mother who assumes that her little darlings will always be obedient and will never act up at the most inconvenient (or embarrassing) moment possible is going to get kicked in the butt by karma. Hard. So, I'm not hurt or offended by what my neighbor said. Far from it. Mostly I'm just very worried for her because karma never forgets.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Root Beer Crackers

I walked into Kai's classroom yesterday to get him at the end of church and discovered his teachers giggling. When they saw me, they told Kai to tell me about his snack. He said: "We had root beer crackers!"
Root beer crackers? I looked at his teachers in confusion and with broad smiles they informed me that the snack had been SODA crackers. I'm embarrassed to admit that it took me a minute to realize that in Kai's mind, SODA translated to ROOT BEER. What a crack up!

Sunday, June 14, 2009


We've encountered a different strain of the flu at our house. This obnoxious flu variation is presumed to have existed for as long as children have, and while debilitating, it's rarely fatal. The scientific designation is WH1N3 but the more common name is: "Whine Flu". So far all three of our children have been officially confirmed as having this flu and Brian and I are showing various symptoms but haven't yet received an official diagnosis.

Symptoms include:
speaking in an unnaturally shrill voice for extended periods of time
screaming fits
crying (sobbing, weeping) for no readily apparent reason
picking fights
inability to entertain oneself
complete breakdown of the social order

Apparently children and stay-at-home moms are much more susceptible than men to "Whine Flu". This disease tends to pop up when children are forced to spend ridiculous amounts of time in their own homes, for example, Christmas break, Spring break, or Summer break.
Experts have been unable to develop a cure or vaccine and caution parents of afflicted children to avoid treatments such as grounding, time outs or road trips. Some success has been achieved with extra chores and PBS, but the only treatment that shows consistent results is regular trips to the park or swimming pool. Unfortunately, regular hand washing and coughing into your elbow won't do a darn bit of good in preventing the spread of this disease. If you or your children are showing signs of "Whine Flu", don't worry, it will pass in the Fall when school starts again. Sigh.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Chloe on a horse

I was just looking at the top picture on the right (Chloe on a horse) and it made me remember the first time we put Chloe on a pony ride. I think it was the State Fair and she was maybe 3 years old. She was so excited she couldn't hardly stand it and when she finally got on the pony she started hollering at all the bystanders:

"Look at me! I'm riding a horse! Hey Lady! Look at me! I'm riding a horse!"

All the other kids, of course, were too busy hanging on for dear life to even look at their parents, let alone shout their joy to the whole world.

I have to say, I can't think of a single experience we've had since that is a more apt summary of Chloe. She does not now and never has hidden her light under a bushel. I sincerely hope she never changes.

Bizarre Spring - 2

Oops! I just realized that I didn't ever blog about our neighbors' front yard being struck by lightning! It was the neighbor just above us on the loop (two houses down from your old house, Anna). As best we can tell, the lightning avoided all the tall things in the yard and hit this dinky pole next to this tree.

It traveled down the pole and blew up this root. There were bits of sod all the way down the street. The scary part was that they were all in the front room at the time except for the 11 year old who was out in the backyard!

Pretty impressive, eh?

Fortunately, we weren't home at the time. I think my kids would have freaked out!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Bizarre Spring


10: The afternoon high today was 65 degrees.
9: The overnight low was 47 degrees.
8: Smithfield flooded. Again.
7: The neighbors' front yard got hit by lightning. Really!
6: Wearing coats to T-ball and softball games.
5: I've never seen the resevoir as full as it is now.
4: A bumper crop of mud and rocks.
3: I swear the birds are starting to gurgle.
2: We actually used our umbrellas. Well, until the neighbors' yard got hit by lightning.
1: So. Much. Rain!

Monday, June 8, 2009

I Know What You Did Last Weekend

Okay, I know what WE did last weekend; specifically Saturday. Have a look:

This is a cucumber plant with its very own trellis. Notice the lack of strangling weeds and grass? I love cucumbers but garden-fresh cucumbers are like candy. I can't wait for this baby to start producing!

This is the majority of our surviving pea plants. We actually planted six rows or so (in two different plantings) and this is about all that managed to escape the stupid cat. As soon as Brian tilled the garden, the stupid cat decided that it was his own personal litter box. He's lucky these babies are flowering or he'd find himself at the animal shelter. Ugh! There are a few strangling weeds in this area, but I figure if you can see the dirt and the vegetable plants then it's all good.

In this half of the garden we actually have peas, spinach, onions, peppers, eggplants and that lone cucumber from the first picture. They even all survived the hail and rain Saturday night! Please notice (again) the absence of strangling weeds. That garbage can in the corner is Brian's attempt at some home composting. I'm really hoping for some good compost this year. All the roundish white things are rocks. Aren't they lovely? Brian tilled the garden last fall and pulled a bunch of rocks out of the garden but when he tilled again this spring, he found a whole bunch more, including one the size of Kai's head! I've just about resigned myself to the fact that we have a vegetable/rock garden. I guess as long as the plants keep growing, we'll keep pulling rocks out of the garden. Anybody need some rocks?

This half of the garden is the piece de resistance. Saturday morning it was a jungle of grass, prickly weeds and some viney plant that is the plague of my existence. By Saturday evening it looked like this; fertile soil with peppers, cucumber, peas, onions and green beans soaking up the sun and rain. I'm so happy I could cry! We even managed to clean the house! Of course, my hands were hurting so badly that picking up my fork for dinner was Mission Impossible but hey, I need to cut back on my caloric intake anyway, right?

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Graeme's 7!

I'm not going to wait as long as I did with Kai to wish my sweet Graeme a Happy Birthday! I can't believe he's seven already! It seems like just yesterday we brought him home from the hospital and were shocked at how much he slept. He barely woke up to eat and poop. I guess he was storing up for now because he never even sits still anymore!

We had a lovely McDonald's party with only a couple of friends from Graeme's class. It's not a milestone birthday so we didn't let him invite every kid he knows, but how can you open presents without at least a couple of curious onlookers?

The best thing about the party is that the McDonald's manager was very nice and let us bring in presents and cake without paying for an actual party! I had to put in this last picture because it just cracked me up.

Graeme looks completely disgusted with the cupcake in a cone that he's holding, but he actually loved it!
Anyway, a good time was had by all, especially me since I didn't have any mess to clean up afterward! Happy Birthday, little man!

Monday, June 1, 2009


What is the value of ten? I think it's all a matter of perspective. For an infant, 10 pounds can be the difference between existence and non-existence. 10 grains of sand is nothing, but 10 diamonds is a fortune. 10 french horns are great; 10 piccolos not so much.

10 gallons of gas is almost a full tank, but 10 drops of gas won't get me to the gas station. 10 cents isn't even a phone call, but 10 dollars is a nice lunch. 10 friends make me happy, 10 children make me want to cry. 10 ounces is barely more than a glass of water, but 10 ounces can be the straw that breaks the camel's back.

For me, 10 is hope.

I weighed myself the other day (admittedly it was first thing in the morning) and for the first time in YEARS that scale showed 10 pounds less. 10 WHOLE POUNDS! Now, I know that losing 10 pounds isn't going to make me thin. Heck, with 150 pounds to lose, 10 pounds isn't even noticeable. But that 10 pounds meant that something is working!

Suddenly, exercising isn't that bad. Watching my portion sizes and counting calories isn't that bad. Even eating only half of my favorite shake isn't that bad because that 10 pounds told me I CAN DO IT!

For me, 10 is everything!

Kai's 4!

Well, it's a week late, but Happy Birthday to Kai! My ten pound, bouncing baby boy is now an almost 50 pound bouncing 4 year old!

He had a FANTASTIC birthday extravaganza! On Monday morning we took the neighbor girl bowling with us and forgot to bring our camera. I was mad, too, because bowling was hilarious! If you've never bowled with small children before, you have to try it. It takes about twice as long as bowling with grownups but watching a four year old heave a bowling ball down the alley without killing anyone is well worth the extra time!
The funniest part, though, was Kai telling everyone that we weren't going bowling for his birthday. I told him that yes, bowling was for his birthday. His response was: "I'm not 4 yet, am I? Then it's not for my birthday!" Sometimes I wish I was as sure about my world as he is about his!

Later on Monday we went down to Grandma and Grandpa's house for dinner, cake and presents. We all had a great time! Kai especially loved all the presents; although he had a lot of help opening and playing with them. In fact, this last picture is the only one I could find of Kai by himself.

The best part is, now he's convinced that he's almost 5. Every day he asks us, "Am I 5 today?" and when we tell him no, his response is: "Well, when am I going to be 5?" I have to admit, I don't want him to be 5! Just stay 4, little buddy. It's all good.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

My reflection

Looking at pictures of myself is always an interesting endeavor. I've come to realize lately that what I see when I look in the mirror is different than what others see when they look at me and when I look at a picture of myself, I am forced to see what others see.

The fact is, the person in this picture is a stranger to me. I've spent the better part of 23 years convincing myself that I'm okay. As a result, I've developed a condition I like to call "Reverse Anorexia". The main symptom of this condition is the ability to look in the mirror and not see the extra 150 pounds that is clearly obvious to the rest of the world. It's not so much that I'm comfortable with the way I look, it's more that I'm in complete denial about the way I look.

How did I let myself get to this point, you may ask. Well, I'm not entirely sure and the disparity between how I think I look and how I actually look is starting to cause some problems for me. So I guess I'd better do something about it. Maybe it would help if I began to cultivate a little less self-acceptance and a little more of this:

Friday, May 22, 2009

Let's go clean the basement

My Grandma once told me that when she and Grandpa were young newlyweds, she didn't get to see her parents much. She said she remembered one day when she was feeling especially sad and lonely Grandpa told her that sitting around feeling bad wasn't going to make it better. He then invited her to come clean the basement.

Knowing that my Grandpa was a very wise and kind man, but not terribly understanding when it came to womanly things, I asked her if it helped.
Her answer was: "Well, I still cried, but I guess it took my mind off my troubles."

You know, my troubles are not the same as my Grandma's troubles, but that doesn't mean I don't have troubles. I have days when I am so weary of cleaning, cooking, errands, homework, laundry, housework, yardwork, potty training, etc. etc. that I just want to hide! The mundane sameness that is my life becomes very overwhelming. Those days become my "blah" days. Those are the days I tend to indulge my laziness. I think: "I'll feel better after I rest and relax". But of course I never do, in fact, I usually feel worse!

Those are the days when I can practically hear Grandpa say to me: "Let's go clean the basement". Sigh. Okay, Grandpa. Let's go clean the basement.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I'm not "That Mom"

I was watching TV yesterday afternoon (as I folded laundry and silently cursed the Scott's guy for fertilizing my lawn on the hottest day of the year BEFORE I could water it) and I began to notice a similarity in the commercials that were coming on. All of them showed "moms" doing "mom things". In one, a group of moms took care of scrapes with military precision; in another, a perfectly groomed, fit (young) mom fed her smiling children plates of food made beautiful with fresh fruits and veggies; in yet another, a mom picked up her kids (and half the neighborhood) in her clean, state-of-the art, fashionable mini van.
As I watched these perfect TV moms, it came to me that I'm not "That Mom". I'm very rarely sympathetic when my kids scrape their knees (it's a long way from your heart, as my dad would say), I'm NEVER perfectly groomed (or fit), it takes my kids a whole week to get ONE day's serving of fruits and vegetables, and in spite of the fact that we spent a small fortune getting the van cleaned, I can no longer see out the windows because of the bugs and dirt all over them (inside and out).
But you know, I don't want to be "That Mom". So what if I scream and yell and cry? So what if I'm fat and dirty and stinky (sometimes)? So what if my kids eat junk food and I occasionally (gasp) SPANK them? To all those impossibly perfect TV Moms I say, go jump in a lake!
It turns out that I love my kids more than anyone else in this whole world ever could and they know it! In my own imperfect way, I take care of them and provide for them (with Brian's help, of course!), nurture them and teach them. And, I LIKE my noisy, rowdy, stinky, dirty, messy life! I refuse to live any other way!

Although, I would enjoy never having to clean poop out of underwear again.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Being Mom

I know everyone blogs about Mother's Day, but I couldn't resist. I have no words to express my gratitude for my opportunity to be a mom and my feelings about my own mom run very deep. I miss my mother-in-law terribly and I'm trying to develop a relationship with another mother in my life.

I am surrounded and nourished by mothers. But lately, I've been more and more aware of all the women who want desperately to be mothers but can't have children for one reason or another. My dear neighbor who teaches primary and cares for her sister's baby when she has no children of her own, another friend who saw the goodness in my sweet Graeme even though her physical disabilities prevent her from conceiving a baby of her own. My new mother's daughter-in-law who has a baby in her womb that isn't growing and might have to face this world four months early.

My heart breaks for all of these women and I wish I could tell them how much they enrich me and my family. I know they will have the children they long for, I just don't know when. Please pray for them. I know Heavenly Father loves all of his children and someday we'll all understand.

Friday, May 8, 2009

It's time!

Hooray! It's Gardener's Market time again! I've been sewing and crocheting like a maniac and tomorrow it's finally time! Yippee!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Spring is such a beautiful time of rebirth and renewal. Everything is alive and growing again. Two of my children were born in the Spring and my gratitude for them is without limit. Spring is also bittersweet for me. My mother-in-law was born in the Spring and she died in the Spring.
My relationship with her existed before I became aware of the insanity in my own brain. I treated her badly and I regret it more with each passing year. She was a good and kind person who lived her life the best way she knew how.
She loved her grandchildren more than anything! Chloe loved going to Gramma's house because Gramma would read to her as much as she wanted and let her play the piano and paint and play with clay. The fridge was plastered with her "masterpieces".
Graeme was a baby when she died so she never had the chance to know his tender heart and she never met Kai. At least not in this life. Often, as I watch the kids playing or eating or talking, I wish that she was here to be with us. I know that I will see her again someday, but I wish that I could share all of this with her now. I wish she could be here for the big things like baptisms and marriages and the little things like birthdays and Sunday dinner. I wish I could make up for the mistakes I made with her. Most of all, I wish I could take away the pain and sadness that Brian feels, especially this time of year.
In a way, of course, she is still with us. We have pictures and memories, furniture, even our cars and the house wouldn't be ours without her. Most importantly, though, she left me with the determination to make the most out of every relationship. I no longer have the luxury of taking people for granted. Sometimes you turn around and they're gone.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

California has everything - DISNEYLAND!

Since today is the last day of April and I'm determined to finish this saga before I DIE, here it is, that mecca of all things family, that wonderland of whee, DISNEYLAND!

We took turns going on Splash Mountain and taking pictures with Pooh and company. Chloe loved Splash Mountain, Graeme didn't really and Kai wasn't big enough.

Speaking of big enough, I told Chloe to go give Pooh a big hug and she gave me one of those teenage looks and said, "I'm not three, mother." My response was along the lines of: "yeah, but you're not eighteen, either, so get hugging, missy!" It's good to know I can still win some battles!

Of course no family vacation would be complete without at least one battle scar to show off at home. Graeme slipped and fell off one of those low retaining walls they have around all of the flower beds.....I love him dearly but he is the biggest klutz ever! You can tell I have three kids because even though he fell head first onto pavement, I waited until he stopped crying to take him to the first aid station. It wasn't bleeding so the only reason I even took him was to get it cleaned off. Then, I almost laughed when the first aid lady asked if I wanted a list of local emergency rooms. I felt a little bad after that, but he really was just fine. Plus, he got a couple of awesome Disney band-aid tattoos!

In retrospect, I probably would feel worse about this except for the fact that the next day his forehead got all sweaty and the band-aid fell off and he didn't even care.

Awwwwwtopia! This was cool because they let Graeme and Kai switch places after the first time around so they both got to drive without standing in line twice even though half the state of Utah was in the park at the time! It turns out none of our kids are quite big enough (or old enough, in Graeme's case) to ride alone, although I suspect that the next time we go that won't be as much of a problem.

Even though this was actually California Adventure, I just can't resist close-ups of my cute kids!
Look at those big blue eyes!

Here's a little bit of "psycho eyes", but I have to be understanding since she was doing her darndest to have the time of her life!

We did our very best to avoid "standing in line" photos, but a few sneaked in since most of our time for three days was spent standing in line. Like I said, I'm convinced that at least half the state of Utah was there, not to mention the Canadians and native Californians. The first day we went to Disneyland, we were at the park for eight hours and we went on five rides.

I love rental strollers! I'm just not sure what we're going to do with all our stuff when the kids are finally too big to ride in them! My children will become sherpas, mwah ha ha!

So there it is. We had a great time, the weather was perfect and our entire tax refund is gone. What more can you ask from a family vacation?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

California has everything - Part II

While we were visiting Grampa and M (in Oxnard), we stuck pretty close to the house. Fortunately for us, the house has an amazing backyard and right across the street is this: (the orange hat at the top is Graeme)

This is the coolest pirate park ever and it's brand new! I think the kids would have lived here if we'd let them! Here's Chloe in her new bedroom (hee, hee).

Here's Kai riding a sea horse. I love his intense concentration!

Right next to the playground is this wonderful park. We kicked a ball around.....

Flew a kite.......

Hula hooped....

And rested.

Of course, no trip to California is complete without at least one visit to the beach (which just happens to be right next to the park!) We embrace the ocean...

Ahhhhh! Run away!
Digging in the sand.

Becoming one with the sand. Honestly, I was astonished that there was any sand left on the beach after Kai was done!

I think the huge smile on his face says it all, we had a blast! And you'd think after all this fun we'd be ready to go home. No such luck! We went to Disneyland!