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Thursday, December 24, 2009

And a Happy New Year (of No Fear)!

"Be it Unto Me" by Liz Lemon Swindle


Well, Merry Christmas! It's a new post, for goodness' sake! (I have no idea how to properly punctuate "goodness" in that phrase. Little help, Liz? Or LCM?)

I have been busy, busy, busy with a whole new experience for our family; a major surgery for Mr. B that has rendered him very physically limited and dependent for the next several weeks. I keep trying to come up with a post about it. I'm sure I still will, but it just doesn't compare to thing happening around me, like:

Mrs. D, who ran her first sprint triathlon this fall. I went with her a year prior to cheer some friends in a sprint triathlon. Personally, I was convinced that swimming, biking, and running for hours on end would NEVER make my YONF list. But Mrs. D was inspired, and began training and preparing. A year later, she not only competed, but took FIRST in her age group AND took 20 minutes off her goal time!!
That same day, Mrs. K entered her first OLYMPIC-length triathlon, and took second in her age group!

(So thrilled for them. Still don't want to do it myself.)

Or how about Mrs. F, who has never been a runner, but trained herself over several weeks, and ran a 5K, beating her goal time, too!

I stand in awe of Mrs. S, who has endured TWO difficult surguries this fall, and handled them both with her trademark grace and poise. The same grace and poise that she showed on Sunday while putting on her first Christmas musical program as our new choir director. She confessed that she was beyond nervous, but if you weren't there, you can take a second now to wish you had been! It was perfect!

My thoughts are constantly on KB, who is out of town for Christmas, supporting her son and his family through their little daughter's recent and sudden cancer diagnosis, with life-altering complications.

And then there's Jenn, who is also in the process of beating cancer. With a big stick, I might add. I guess cancer missed the memo to never mess with Jenn.

How lucky am I, that I get to rub shoulders with all of these people, and so many others who are just as courageous and determined?

In fact, not only do I get to rub shoulders with them, but I find myself constantly blessed by the goodness of others in so many ways!

Our blessings keep pouring in, taking the forms of meals, rides for the kids, phone calls to check on us, company of good friends, favors given exactly when they're needed, and on and on and on!

I can't begin to describe my relief when lovely, lovely Yonf called yesterday and asked if she could come over and wrap presents. I hadn't told a soul that it was the most immediately pressing thing on my mushy mind, and the greatest favor anyone could have done for me yesterday. (And boy howdy is she FAST! I blinked and it was all wrapped!)

My sister called to see what I need, and then let me dump a HUGE Christmas project on my amazing teenage nieces, who then prepared a Christmas gift so amazing that Santa himself couldn't hope to top it.

A friend showed up at my door and handed me a box of items her kids wanted to get rid of. In the box was the EXACT item that my boy has been asking for.

Honestly, I could go on!

A lot of our typical Christmas has fallen by the wayside this year. We didn't go see lights (although we made sure to ooh and aaah for the kids at anything half-way impressive on the way home from Grandma's), and I've played exactly ONE Christmas CD this month. We're squeaking the gingerbread houses in this afternoon, and I'll put our Christmas Card online sometime today, MAYBE.

But (I'll bet you saw this coming) the gratitude I feel for all the kindness that has come our way feels more like Christmas to me than anything we've neglected this month.

Have a wonderful Christmas!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

When Afraid Just Do It!

At the start of the new school year, I was approached to join a preschool co-op. I was both flattered and afraid. I was flattered because someone wanted me to teach their kids. Friends never ask me to watch their kids. I don't really know why. Of course I always take it personally. Mrs. B has asked me more than any of my other friends, every time she does I jump at the chance because it's nice to know she trusts me with her most precious possession. I was afraid because I'm not a great teacher. I play well with kids but teaching them is scary. Thoughts swirled in my head-what will do for 2 hours? How will they all interact? Can I actually teach them something? What will I feed them for snack time?

So instead of giving into my fear, I gave into my flattery. I've taught them twice now. There are three girls (including mine) and one boy. The first week of the co-op was hard. Their attention span was much shorter than I planned on. However, last week was my second time and it went great! I had plenty of activities that expanded their minds and they seemed to have a great time! One of my best rewards was my 2 year old has sung the nursery rhyme we worked on every day since. About the cutest thing ever!

I'm so glad I decided to just go for it. I have gained a new love for little 2 year olds. I have met someone new. My little girl has gained friends that she talks about almost every day. I have pushed past my fear to do something different and new and have loved it!

What is a fear you pushed past recently and found you liked what was on the other end? (Savannah I know what yours is! Way to go!)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

It's Wednesday!

I'm afraid my 6yo's teacher thinks she's being raised in a crack house, what with the pace at which we complete her homework, the capris worn to school in November, the terrifying rate at which my child reveals information about her home life that, while true, has been slightly skewed, and the fact that I declined to plan a Halloween Party on rather short notice.

I'm also afraid I inadvertently volunteered to plan said party at some point, but I'm afraid to ask.

I'm afraid of how BAD it would have looked had anybody seen the gigantic picture of somebody ELSE'S husband in swim trunks (on a scout trip) that spontaneously appeared in full-screen on my monitor after I unknowingly activated Picasa's screensaver one day last week.

I'm afraid our local scoutmaster needs to stop borrowing my camera for scout trips.

I'm afraid that requiring my 11yo to give up her friendly but hopelessly pungent hamster (even if it was to a very nice dad who sweetly brought her a brand new Littlest Petshop pet in return) was the coldest thing I've ever done as a mother. Even if she did inherit a unscented hamster from her older sister, and even if she had the maturity to understand and accept the situation without tears or argument.

I'm afraid the nice dad is feeding Peanut the hamster to his pet snake right now.

I'm afraid that the gigantic alien robot/vehicle monologue playing in my living room right now is less dramatic than it is laughably cheesy. So, so cheesy!

I'm afraid that 87% off Halloween clearance was more than I could resist.

I'm afraid that even though I want to write a fabulous post about some of the fantastic things that people I love dearly have accomplished lately, I just can't do them any justice at this hour.

I'm afraid this post of questionable quality is all you get.

Ok, and some pretty pictures I couldn't resist taking:



On the bright side, I'm off to bed! Hooray!

PS - What would you have done with the hamster?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

5 Confessions

-I recently told a lie.

-My husband and I deactivated our Facebook accounts and I think it was the best decision I've ever made. He has made dinner more, we have argued less, and I've kept my house cleaner!


-I recently admitted that an old acquaintance who I recently ran into, could take me down if she chose and that it terrified me she must might try!


-I'm trying to stick up for myself more. So on Saturday at the kids' school carnival when an eight year old girl told them they cut in line I told her, "No we did not, we got in line behind the last person in line." I showed her!

-There are certain friends I can't wait to grow old with and others I'm not so sure about. Let me clarify-I recently found something out about a friend that bothers me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Hooray Hooray!!!

Mandi is a Bloom finalist!! Yippee!! Go vote for her!

Also, if you want to see some amazing photography & witty commentary, check her out here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Bloom



I've been meaning for weeks to tell you all about Bloom! (Somehow the start of school, schedules, a little homeschooling, sports, etc. has made my memory highly unreliable lately. I am not programmed for multitasking, but I'll keep trying.)

But back to Bloom: It's a blog written by two lovely young mothers of excellent Rogue Valley upbringing (with lots of fantastic guest posts), and it's quickly becoming one of my favorites! (also with some fabulous art by my highly talented and awesome cousin, Emily.)

You can read what Bloom is about here. Thus far, I have harvested many helpful hints and delightful ideas. I love the overall feeling of finding joy in creating a home, while keeping it all real. Go read it, and you'll see what I mean.

This week's posts have been particularly fun to read, because they're all about photography, which is, of course, very near and dear to me. You'll just have to go read the whole week's posts, because they are PACKED with fantastic tips and clever ideas for capturing everyday moments.

Incidentally, Bloom is currently running a photography contest (details here) that has been extended until Sunday evening. It's all about capturing moments (simply and non-professionally). I can't wait to see the pix that have been submitted. This is something I've been trying to get better at: capturing moments instead of poses.

So, if you're reading this, you're about to be YONFed! Go to Bloom, read the last five days' posts, and then enter the contest!!

Hey, if we're all reading Bloom, does that make us Bloomers?

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Confession Wednesday

Confession: I'm on a new fertility plan.

I've always wanted to have at least six children, but it turns out my body isn't very good at getting pregnant, and even worse at staying pregnant. Eleven pregnancies have produced four miraculous (and sweet) children, and if that's all I ever get, they're enough.

But for better or worse, here's my plan:

1. Thanks to a true friend who knows me too well and won't accept excuses, I'm a little more fit and a little less round than I was two months ago. I still have quite a distance to go, and am hoping for continuous progress.

2. My garage is housing a whole bundle of baby storage: clothes, swing, bathtub, jumper, crib, basinette, more clothes, exersaucer, etc. With the exception of a few very sentimental items (a few outfits and a basinette my father-in-law and brother-in-law made for me), it's all headed to a much better cause than cluttering up my garage.

3. Every day I discover more and more about how much I enjoy being a mother of older kids (four through thirteen). Believe me, there are many, many perks to this! Imagine, if you will, uninterrupted sleep, coherent verbal communication with all household residents, and only one 5-point harness in the car, which can be buckled and unbuckled by any of three older siblings. Everyone here can get their own drink of water, wipe their own - uh - noses, participate in the job chart, and tidy up their own bedrooms. Who couldn't get used to this?

So there it is: Physical downsizing, baby storage gone, and enjoying my big kids.


I'll be pregnant by the end of the year.


Monday, October 5, 2009

It's Yonf's Birthday!!!

Why Yonf deserves a Happy Birthday:

1. Because she is a fantastic mother to a whole crowd of children. (Patient, intuitive, fun, on top of things, relaxed . . .)

2. Because she hosts Project Nights at her house, and invites me to hang out with her cool peeps.

3. Because she's still my friend, even though as a teenager I may have contributed to a certain amount of misery in her brother's life. (Oh wait. Maybe that's WHY we're friends?)

4. Because sharing a birth month with her makes for extra fun.

5. Because without her Year of No Fear idea, I would have missed out on a whole bunch of memorable experiences.

6. Because my kids are as comfortable at her house as they are at home.

7. Because her kids are as easy to have around as my own. (Actually, easier.)

8. Because she's still my friend, even after I pointed her husband out to the fuzz.

9. Because when have mothering dilemmas, I know who to call for some advice and perspective.

10. Because when totally bizarre and embarrassing things happen to me, I know who I'm going to call and have a good laugh with.

11. Because she's so thoughtful, loyal and perceptive when it comes to her friends.

12. Because she can sail through 5 months of pregnancy without even noticing. (JEALOUS)

13. Because there's always something yummy to snack on at her house.

14. Because she'll deliver a ginormous and delicious strawberry lemonade on a sweltering summer day.

15. Because she is candid, yet kind, with her opinions when she's asked to share.

16. Because she helped her friends mop pudding pies off themselves following the Great Table Collapse of '08.

17. Because she takes very good care of her lucky man.

18. Because for all the time she's been Year of No Fear-ing, I don't think she's chickened out of anything yet!

19. Because she's an excellent seamstress, and not only helps sew aprons for weddings of people she hardly knows, but hosts the sewing party to boot!

20. Because she has a lovely, lovely mother who I've adored since I was about 10 (clearly the loveliness is hereditary), and a charming father who I feared in my youth (see #3) but always liked also.

21. Because she's one of my dearest friends.


Happy Birthday Yonf!!!!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Confession Wednesday

Confession #1: I've never, ever, ever had my toenails done (until now).

This is Mickie. She sat on the floor for about 4 hours one night last week doing 11 sets of glamorously glittery toes. That's 110 toenails!! I tell you, she's amazing!!



Forty (well, 39 - missed one) toes, as posed by hostess Kay:



Mickie was right. I LOVE them!

Confession #2: I am really bad at enjoying autumn. I love the colors and crunchy leaves as much as the next person, but it's all such a definite reminder that winter is imminent. I dread it every year. I resent all the shoes, socks, and coats required to shuffle children out the door into a chilly car, when mere weeks ago we were sailing out the door for walks in our flip flops. I miss my bare feet and short sleeves. I pine for the sound of sprinklers outside my open window and daylight at 6am. Or even 6pm. And the holidays don't buffer it: they're over and done 10 days into winter.

But the whining isn't doing much to improve it.

So.

My mom used to encourage us, when feeling tempest-tossed, to find three positive things about the situation (you know, Pollyanna-style).

For example: If your 11th grade Pre-Calculus teacher gave you no reason to suspect you had anything less than an A, and then slapped a B onto your final report card and retired before the mailman could deliver the irreversible bad news, thus destroying your hard-earned 4.0 and dashing every hope you ever had of becoming a valedictorian and Benson Scholar with a full-ride scholarship to the only university you ever wanted to attend (you know, hypothetically speaking)(and I hope SOMEBODY played many a golf game in his retirement with a cankered conscience), well then, your father might pull you back from the depths of despair with some counsel like:
1. "Hey, the 4.0 is gone, and the pressure's off. Now you can enjoy your senior year."
2. "Your mom and I are still proud of you, so chill."
3. "Need a hug?"

For the record, it made all the difference. (I love my parents.)

Therefore, three things I can't help enjoying about Autumn:
1. Cinnamon scented everything.
2. The many birthdays and related gatherings comprising the month-long party known as October (oooh! I can't wait!).
3. Wrapping up in quilts made for me by my grandmas.

And Winter:
1. Cold, cold water, straight from the tap.
2. Life slows down, just a leeetle bit.
3. Snow days. Can't beat 'em.

Yep, that helps. (Now I need to work on a list of three good things about what a pain in the rear it is to get four children out the door on time every morning.)

How about you? What's something you're not enjoying, and what are three things that change your perspective?

(12 minutes until October. Let the parties begin!)

If We Had an Award it Would go to.....

Lately when I've been feeling sorry for myself I turn my thoughts to my cousin. He is not too much older than me and is going through one of bravest battles of his life. He has battled cancer throughout his life and most recently him and his wife had to leave their two teenage children in Utah while they travelled to Texas for him to receive a bone marrow transplant. His amazing and brave wife has a blog that details all the wonderful and all the terrible details.


If Year of No Fear had an award for someone who battled on through their fears I would give it to my cousin. A bone marrow transplant takes you to deaths door and then brings you back again. Right now he is in constant pain and doesn't know how he is going to make it. Any day now the marrow will graft to him and he will start to heal. We are all waiting for the day when things finally start to turn around for him. He continues to stay up beat and to hold onto his faith and his love for his family. He pushes his fears aside so he can continue to make memories with his family.


He has been blessed with an amazing wife who continues to be supportive and stay by his side. She constantly encourages him to get up and walk a couple times a day. She is so strong and brave to not walk away when he is in pain but to hold his hand continue to help him in any way he can.



I'm not super close to this cousin, he is older and I only saw him once a year when I was growing up but I have tremendous admiration of him and his family courageously going through this journey. His parents have always been such an amazing example to others. His stepmother's example in a blended family helped shape my relationship with my blended family. They are an amazing family and I continue to hope and pray he will turn a corner soon and start to heal.

I am starting to write an email to them to let them know they are in my thoughts, it is a work in progress. I was almost too afraid to do it because we aren't that close but of course I had to push that aside and continue to write an email.

Update: I started writing this on Wednesday and since then the marrow has started to graft and he is up and walking!

Confession Time: When you are down and out what can people do to help you? visit? stay away? provide meals? call?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

What Would You Have Said?

Why is that confession Wednesday keeps becoming Confession Thursdays? It seems no matter how hard Mrs. B and I try we always get our Wednesday Post out on Thursdays, one day late. Maybe if we change it to Confession Tuesday we will write it on Wednesday and it will be Wednesday Confession once again! Speaking of one day late, I was invited to help direct students on the first day of school this year. I showed up at the school on Wednesday at 2 for orientation, only to kindly be told it was actually the day before! No worries, I got to help anyway.

So today isn't a confession, it's more of a I wish I would have reacted to something instead of sitting in shock. So crazy week this week getting kids ready for school and husband working at least 12 hour days. So to help relax I went to lunch with my mom and the baby. We are enjoying our lunch and the baby was in his car seat, sideways on a chair. I had checked multiple times to make sure he was on there safe, after him cutting his finger badly at church on Sunday and having to take him to a Doctor on a Sunday I was overly protective after that. I kept feeding him my food and playing with him. I had my attention on him the entire time. We are almost done and ready to leave when this lady out of no where who was also eating there comes over and moves a chair behind him and says something like, ok that's better. I sat there and didn't say anything to her. I couldn't figure out what she had done. It hit me and I was in shock. She thought the baby was unsafe! What? Where she was sitting it wasn't like she could see something I couldn't. Why do people do these things? I was so shocked somebody would do something like that, I didn't have a response to say to her and I went out of my way to avoid her when I left immediately after that. So was she rude? Would you do what she did? What should I have said to her? I'm an overly protective mom, my kids aren't allowed to eat when left home alone, I don't let them out of my sight, so really was it important that this lady did this?

And on a positive note, after the baby sliced his finger open I ran him to the bathroom, him bleeding badly. All of a sudden I'm in a panic not sure what to do and this wonderful lady shows up and says she has a first aid kit. She asks what I need. She has Tylenol for the baby to take and she told me to keep it. She had everything for me to use to help the little guy. Then we decide we need to take him in to get stitches and we are trying to figure out how to clean up the blood around the sink and she says she will take care of it. Really? She was a saint! I'm hoping to find out who she was so I can send her a thank you card, she made a terrible situation for me a little bit better. I wish there were more people like her in the world than the woman I met the next day.

Colorado Julie-I consider you one of my sophisticated friends so what would you have done?

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Confession Wednesday (ish)

You're never going to guess what I did last weekend! (Unless you were there. Or I told you about it. So maybe you can guess.)

I took my kids camping! All by myself!!

Sort of. Maybe.

Actually, a whole bunch of families were headed up to camp together, but one family went up a night early. For reasons I still can't explain, I suggested to the kids that we join them (sans Mr. B, who still had to work) and camp for two nights instead of one. They readily agreed.

I LOVED camping when I was growing up, but it was one of the things (along with motorcycles and airplanes) that suddenly seemed less appealing once I had kids of my own.

For the record, I love the outdoors and campfires and waking up in the morning in a tent. I just can't seem to enjoy the massive amount of preparation and the never-ending cleanup that accompany the experience. Also, until this year, we've only had a 6x6 tent for the 6 of us, and I have yet to buy an air mattress that doesn't leak. Happening into a family-size tent and borrowing a camp cot both have vastly improved my affection for camping.

As I was returning from the pre-camp grocery run, Mr. B called my cell to tell me what he had packed in the van for me. Then he said, "I can't tell you how pumped I am that you're doing this!"

"I'm a little stunned myself," I replied.

I'm certain I wouldn't have attempted it without the knowledge that another family would be there (one that included our Home Teacher, no less!). Luckily, one of the few available campsites was right across the path from theirs, and even luckier, that good family helped us with our tent when we arrived in the dark.

I can't deny that I was pretty doggone pleased with myself the next morning when I made pancakes and sausage on the camp stove and set up the rest of our campsite before Mr. B's arrival.

The rest of the families trickled in over the rest of the day and we had a fantastic time. Absolutely worth the frenzied preparation and the truckloads of laundry.


Here's what I've learned in the last 2 months of Mr. B-less and kid-plenty air travel, road trips, and camping:

  • Beautiful scenery and singing with my kids can make me a little giddy, to the point that I might perhaps run out of gas or go 15 miles past a turnoff. Must pay more attention.
  • I have fantastic kids (I knew that a long time ago).
  • I always end up buying way more snacks than the kids will ever eat.
  • Making memories as a family is a very bittersweet feeling when one of us is missing, and when I'm missing one of us.
  • I'm beginning to understand what motivated my parents to take a three-week cross-country road trip with 8 kids in a suburban towing a tent trailer 20 years ago. (Not that I'm signing up for that one anytime soon. But I think I get it.)
When is the last time you surprised yourself?

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Throwing Things Out-Confession Wednesday

I got this book from the library, "Throw Out Fifty Things; Clear the Clutter , Find Your Life." It goes through each room of your house and encourages you to throw things away that you no longer use, are holding you down in someway, or just can't let it go. If you throw out 10 pairs of pants it counts as one item. I happened to start reading the book in my bedroom so I promptly went to my closet and finally cleaned out my sock drawer. I hate socks. I wear flip flops probably 364 days out of the year. Why did I have so many socks? I also threw away an older duvet cover that I made probably 10 years ago when I was living in Utah. That cover had more memories associated with it then probably anything I owned. I had moved it around a lot and finally throwing it away did lighten my load. Something that the book said would happen, that throwing things away was a way to clear your mind. Another thing I threw away that I was holding onto for no reason at all was a pen holder on my desk. I probably made it fifteen years ago at a paint your own pottery place. This thing was seriously ugly! I should have thrown it out years ago! I now have my pens in a black mug, not my favorite thing but so much better than before. Again, it feels fantastic now to reach up and grab a pen and I do feel better.

So right now go find something that should have been thrown away but you never did-and let me know what it was! Mom and Beth-I'm anxiously waiting your answers!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

In a (large) nutshell:

It's been a BIG summer at our house! Or rather, away from our house!

This summer I embarked on my biggest adventure ever - traveling with all four children, and (sadly) WITHOUT Mr. B (who was there in spirit, but had to work).

I'll just say that overall, it was much easier than I expected. My big kids were tremendous helpers and my little kids were too enthralled to get into trouble. Piloting through San Francisco with a GPS that claims to know where I'm going, but is actually trying to kill me (we call her "Gollum") isn't anything I wish to repeat and I've always hoped I'd never have to get on a cross-country flight with enough fuel in the tanks to tempt a terrorist (circumnavigated by layovers in Memphis and Minneapolis . . . I'm so clever), but our travels together were so entirely delightful that I would be willing to attempt either feat again.

So, I give you 1 mother on 2 trips totalling 3 weeks with 4 kids - in pictures.

Oh yeah - the hypervigilance required to keep track of four kids in busy airports about did my nerves in, and that's with kids who did a great job staying together. A wanderer would have been the end of me.


Trip #1 was to North Carolina to visit my dearest Aunt Beaner and Hunckle Bob. Blogging cannot express what a fantastic time we had, and how much we love our extended family!

Grandpa Camp - does it get any better?

Trip #2 was to Idaho, Utah, and back to Idaho to visit lots and lots and LOTS of loved ones! I drove this one - something I've never done for that distance without another adult in the car. The kids and I had a great time seeing the landscape, memorizing "Book of Mormon in a Minute" (which I made them recite in every home we visited. A 13-year-old's dream come true, I'm sure), and listening to the "Wicked" soundtrack (thanks Jann!) until the little ones begged for mercy.


Swimming at Pineview Reservoir. (What? I can't hastily photoshop a picture of my munchkin-like physique? Sue me.)

After I swung on the rope, I aske my 13yo if that embarrassed her. She said no. Then I muttered that I was going to be very sore the next day, to which she said, "Ok, THAT embarrasses me."


Picnic lunch with our old South Ogden Ward. Holy cow I miss these ladies!!! It was food for the soul to see them all again! (More families came later and I took another picture, but with another camera, so it's not going to resurface for a while.)


Family Dinner in Lehi - I have the BEST family!

Utah has clever graffiti.



Here's Year of No Fear for you: 13 kids and 3 moms at the first $2 Tuesday of the summer at the Thanksgiving Point Dinosaur Museum (read: swarming crowds). Hats off to Lois and Tiffany for braving the crowds so my kids could go!

(This isn't everyone - just all we could collect at the moment.)


Followed up by an evening trip to Ikea with 10 children, none of whom were dropped off at the child care as planned, because it was CLOSED. (Not Ikea, just the child care.) My superstar sister-in-law, Lois, didn't even bat an eye. Ten kids? No problem!

Coudn't pass it up:

THIS is the most annoying toy in the world (it sings in a baby voice and makes indecent noises accompanied by obnoxious music and dancing. If you see one, RUN) that my sister bought years ago on clearance, and then left it with my kids when she moved. I made sure the postman took it to her doorstep, but she made sure he brought it back to me, so I gave it to her kids as a gift from their favorite aunt. About 30 minutes into a 9-hour drive, I noticed my big kids (traitors) whispering, and then from the back seat, I heard the chilling strains of "Booooo-bah."

DIABOLICAL, I tell you! Someone had better sleep with one eye open.


After the third or fourth beautiful new home we stayed in (mostly homes belonging to people who build for a living), I started noticing things like this floating around the car:


Aim high, dear children. And build a wing for your parents!

(No worries Mom - I'll put more pictures on the family blog later on.)

To sum up (because I'm out of time): It's been a FANTASTIC summer! The overwhelming feeling I'm left with is gratitude to know we have such numerous and wonderful family and friends. Every visit was joyful. Every face was a thrill to see. How lucky can you get?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

It's That Time of Year Again---Girls Camp

A few weeks ago was Girls Camp. Just like last year I didn't go, it's just not my thing.


However, every year when Girls' Camp time hits I like to reflect on my years there. I like to think about the wonderful girls there that I looked up to. They were beautiful and kind and were so nice to always include me. Maybe that is why today when I talk to the sisters or mothers of these girls I think of them in such fondness because they were so incredibly nice to me when I was up there. They became sisters almost, including me and making me feel good about myself.


I also had some fun memories of Girls' Camp. I had a crazy/fun friend that decided my fourth year at girls' camp that I needed a visit. I was visiting my mom in her cabin, talking away when someone approached me and said I had a visitor. She had a look of concern on her face. I walked down to the parking lot wondering what was going on. I then see my crazy/fun friend and two boys! One was the friend of the other and we were each interested in one of them. We talked for a bit but I could see the eyes of many disapproving adults. But what was I to do? I was shocked they had come and didn't really know how to get out of the situation. It was the talk of the camp! Attention brought on me that made me uncomfortable. But I will never forget my special visitors. Not much later when I returned home one of the said boys became my long term boyfriend. He is in fact getting married this weekend, but that is a post for another day.


So while Mrs. B and my eldest daughter were up braving the elements, I went with my extended family to the coast. And we had a lovely time! I enjoy my family, much more than a bunch of hormonal girls. I always have. However, my family is starting to include a hormonal girl that was in absolute tears and hysterics when a younger sister used her toothbrush recently. Maybe I can just move to the coast......they don't have hormonal girls there right?


So can anyone convince me I should attempt Girls' Camp again some day?
What is the draw that makes you go back again and again?
What is your fondest memory?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Weighty Issues

Gotta make this quick:

Had a epiphany a few weeks ago: I've been avoiding a lot of things, not because I'm afraid of them, but because I'm afraid that whoever observes me is thinking, "You go Shamu."

Enough already.

You know, I don't plan to be this size the rest of my life, or even the rest of this year (stop laughing - it could happen), but when I started adding up all the opportunities I've passed on in the last 13+ years for fear of ridicule, it made me want to smack myself in the head. I also received some fantastic advice last year at Girls' Camp from the fabulous Miss McD that has given me food for thought about how my issues with my weight will affect my girls down the road. Essentially, it's time stop living around it, and live in spite of it.

Therefore, I give you:

Me on a jet ski.

(Aunt Beaner's very nice neighbor offered to let me drive, but didn't offer to let me drive alone. He's a smart very nice neighbor.)

Sweet Miss S. and me behind a boat (my first time ever, if you can believe that). Lovin' my Advil the next day.


Not my legs, but I looked just like that going in. And even worse climbing on.


(PS - Have I mentioned how much I LOVE LOVE LOVE Girls' Camp? I don't think I can adequately express my affection for it and the women I get to hang out with. It's always over much too soon.)

So, to sum up, if there IS anyone standing on the shore, shaking their head at me, they can take a flying leap (which would be convenient, being at a lake and all).

Shamu having fun!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What I've Been Up To

I love summer time. I'm starting to realize I get a lot more done during the summer than any other time of the year.

Lately I've been busy working on my fears, both new ones and repeating old ones. Here is what I've been up to:

  • Conquering my fear of driving long distances. I packed up the kids and took my mom to Eugene to meet my dad. We did great driving up there. My mom offerred to drive some of the way but I wanted to do it myself. The cause was I was so stressed out I must have gripped the steering wheel too tightly and caused major pain in my back, it's almost better 2 weeks later! Anyway, on the way back I was by myself with the kids. I'm proud to report we had a great visit and a ton of fun visiting family and I did it!
  • Donated blood again! Went today to the Stake Blood Drive. I almost walked out just before I was pricked in the finger but I surpressed the fear and survived another blood donation.
  • Made a friend dinner for her birthday. The reason why this is a fear is that without fail I always have issues happen when I try to do service and make someone dinner or have someone over for dinner (something bad always happens when the missionaries come over). Last week my husband invited someone over for dinner while his family was out of town. I was making dinner, everything was going great, then I dumped beans down the sink. It clogged up and I couldn't run the dishes or use the sink at all. So after finally realizing I had to fix the issue and some how not be grossed out by what was inside the pipes, I opened up the pipes under the sink. It was nasty! There were nasty, gross beans everywhere. I tried to get a bucket under the pipes in time but there was a massive explosion and there were beans everywhere! So, to help get over the fear of serving others with meals I took a meal to a friend and it ended up being delicious (at least it smelled like it would be.) I tried to simplify and not make the bread from scratch but buy it instead, maybe that helped in the success.
  • I filed my own taxes! I got a ton of help but it is done! (My accountant had filed an extension so no worries about gettinig in trouble.)

So I've been busy! I've really been enjoying the summer with having all the kids home. Yeah!

Confession Wednesday? My three older kids, ages 13, 11, and 9 want to go to the midnight showing of Harry Potter. I'm on board for them seeing the movie but think they should go the next night around 7 or even 8 so they don't fall asleep during the movie but still enjoy the hype of seeing it newly released. What do you think?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

It's ok to be jealous. I would be too.

Here's what I'm up to:

Why?

So I can go play with my Aunt Beaner and Hunkle B and some of my very favorite cousins at COWABUNGA Grandpa Camp Runamok!



(That was last time I got to play with my aforementioned cousins. We're just, you know, posing with the speed limit sign. That might have had a different speed limit 2 minutes earlier. Maybe.)

This, after a very fun weekend with my parents, my siblings, their spouses, and the cutest nieces and nephews you've ever seen!

I love summer!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Adventure in Mommy Land

From Mrs. B: Yeah, yeah, I know, it's about time we got with the program. We've just been so busy enjoying summer - who has time to sit indoors and blog?

But since Independence Day is this weekend, it only seems appropriate to throw our own firecracker on the blog: Jenn. She's daring, funny, wild, and very involved in every worthy cause you've ever heard of. (Was that you I saw last week at the toenail trim-a-thon to benefit the rare albino groundhog?) She's also an expert on gluten-free cooking and has a bakery (operated from her newly purchased and under-photographed - ahem - home) to prove it. What's not to love?

From YONF: The funny thing about Jenn for me is she knows everyone. She knows people I went to high school with, my neighbor, people in different wards that I thought only I knew! The weirdest coincidence for me was when facebook said we had a mutual friend in common that was in the same stake as me growing up and we had mutual high school friends and Jenn knew her because she had dated the friend's brother. It's just amazing how many people Jenn knows!


Name: Jenn... I'm afraid of what you will nickname me!

Stats: 3 kids, and a husband. I own a gluten free bakery from my home and try to stay sane being a wife and mother.

Last book read: I'm currently reading "Admissions" Crazy story about new york private schools and the things parents will do to get their kids in them! It's HILARIOUS!! Very nanny diaries meets devil wears prada... recommend for light funny reading!

Dream vacation: I can not answer this question.... there are TOO many places!! I would say an around the world cruise with child care and private tutors available at all hours of the day and night. I would want to explore: Europe, Asia, South America, etc and share the joy of the culture with my family.

Blog: Do I have a blog? HELLO! Adventure's in Mommyland at www.sassyshademommy.blogspot.com. I'm also a featured writter on the Modern Molly Mormon blog: www.modernmollymormon.blogspot.com

Random Fact: I'm allergic to seafood, beans and mayo... it's ok because I don't like any of those anyway!!

Things I avoid: Home-ownership which we are conquering right now!! It's a scary process and we're excited to be envolved in it... but BOY do I need a Dr. Pepper!

Craziest thing I've ever done: Since this is a clean blog I won't disclose that information.... besides.... if I told you I would have to kill you... or tickle you 'til you pee's... whichever was worse!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Tagged - 4 things

LCM tagged Yonf or me, but since Yonf is off being very brave this week (I'll let her tell you about it), I'm it!

Oh, also: Julie, I haven't forgotten your prize. It's in the works!

And we still have more profiles to post, although I'm sure you've given up on us by now. Or maybe you're just reveling in the suspense?


FOUR THINGS:

Four Jobs I have had in my life:
1) Fast Friendly Foto Finishing at Frodsham's (and later, Rocket Photo)
2) BYU Grounds Crew (came with a sweet tan)
3) Lithia Park Grounds Crew (came with poison oak)
4) WalMart Portrait Studio Photographer (thankfully only a seasonal job)

Four Movies I can Watch Over and Over
1) Pride & Prejudice - the slow-moving version
2) August Rush (Jac, we need to do dueling calendars!)
3) Fiddler on the Roof
4) The Princess Bride

Four TV Shows I watch (because Jason has them on. I don't watch much independently. Also, we only get 2 channels currently.)
1) NCIS
2) The Mentalist
3) PBS Masterpiece Classic
4) Monk (online)

Four Places I have been on Vacation
1) Disneyland
2) Oregon Coast
3) Cross-country in the Family Suburban
4) Camping

Four Place I have Lived
1) Medford, OR
2) Ashland, OR
3) Several locations in Northern Utah
4) Wichita Falls, TX

Four Places I would rather be right now
1) Somewhere Tropical
2) Somewhere Mediterannian
3) In size 6 pants
4) At a Spa

Four of my favorite Foods
1) Carrot Cake (no nuts)
2) Steak
3) Fruit
4) Aunt Beaner's Rolls

Four websites I visit daily
1) Gmail
2) Google Reader
3) My sister's funny, funny blog (sorry, it's private)
4) MailTribune.com

For Jill H.



About three years ago, I called K, who was throwing a bridal shower, and asked how I could help. She asked me to be in charge of drinks. When I asked if that meant juice with Sprite, she asked me to do something a little fancier, like Italian Sodas.

"No problem," I said, and hung up.

And then I immediately and consecutively dialed 3 of the fanciest people I know (Marla, Lesley C, and Susan H, if you're wondering) and said, "WHAT THE HECK IS AN ITALIAN SODA AND HOW AM I GOING TO SERVE IT TO FANCY PEOPLE???"

Thankfully they talked me down off the ceiling and cherry limeade and yes, Italian Sodas were served, but I was a nervous wreck.

Over drinks. I know.

Phone conversation from yesterday:

Me: Need any help with the bridal shower tonight?
K: Yes - can you bring a dessert?
Me: Sure. I can make carrot cake* or strawberry pie.
K: Um, those are harder to serve at a shower. Can you make something like a strawberry torte?
Me: Uh . . . . describe a torte?
(I mean, I've heard of them, but my baking repertoire is very limited.)
K: Ok, just make sugar cookies and put some glazed strawberries on them.
Me: I can handle that.

So I tweaked K's idea, and came up with these, which are based loosely on my mom's famous Strawberry Pie, and which turned out pretty well! See? No panicked phone calls, and Jill H. even wanted my recipe! Progress, I tell you.

K thinks we should name them after us both, since it was her inspiration and my exhaustive labor, but do you think anyone will eat Benniumble Tarts? Or Brumennion Tarts? Suggestions are welcome!


Crust

Mix together:
1 cup softened butter
2 cups flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Dash of salt

Flatten approx. 1-inch balls of dough and press into 24 mini-muffin cups, spreading dough up the sides of the cups. Bake 11 minutes at 350. Remove as soon as sides begin to brown. Crust will be puffy - flatten it out gently (I used an upside-down lemon juice bottle - the cap was just the right size). Place on cooling rack.


Strawberry Filling

Chop, mash or puree:
1/2 pound of strawberries

Combine in saucepan:
1/3 c sugar
2 T strawberry gelatin
2 T cornstarch
1/2 c water
1 T lemon juice

Boil for one minute. Remove from heat. Cool.

Stir cooled mixture into strawberries, adding as much as you think tastes good.


Cream Topping:

Combine and beat until thick (up to 10 minutes):
1 can sweetened condensed milk, chilled
1/3 c lemon juice
1/4 t almond extract
1 t vanilla

Spoon strawberry mixture into mini-crusts, and top with cream topping.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

What I'm Grateful For....

I'm grateful that I can call Papa Murphy's, that they can have a pizza made and ready to be picked up in five minutes. That I can still feed my family after I caught their dinner on fire.

What are you grateful for on this fine, fabulous Wednesday?

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Finding "Our" Song

Over Mother's Day weekend we went to the coast. We shipped out the dog, brought my parents along and managed to pack everything but the kitchen sink. We had a fantastic time! It was so nice to be away! One night, because my parents were to there to hold down the fort, hubby and I went to a newer coffee place in the tiny town of Gold Beach. It had amazing art on the walls but because they were newer they didn't have hot chocolate or Italian sodas. How hard is it to buy club soda and chocolate packets? Anyway, they were having a band there that night. It was three men who were pretty decent actually. It was a great and fun atmosphere and we loved being a part of it. Towards the end of the evening the band asked for requests. My husband loves the song, "Georgia." He wanted me to suggest it but the problem I have speaking up in that sort of situation is if I say something and I'm not heard and then having to repeat it. I never said my fears were justified. So my non-blogging, never read my blog husband decided to YONF me and sure enough before the evening was finished I had requested the song, the band played the song, and my husband loved hearing. I was talking to him saying how cool it would be to be able to request "our song." The problem though is we don't have one. We tried coming up with some, "At Last," was mentioned but I don't think that fits us well. We both love Marley and we listen to it often but I didn't think "I Shot the Sheriff," was a good choice for being our song. So any suggestions? Do you have a special song with your spouse? Help me find one!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

De-clutter Continued

A few days ago, we tackled our collection of VHS movies (thank you, DVD's, for being so much more compact in volume and scant in number). For the record, about 75% of the movies were given/handed down to us, and many of the rest were yard sale finds. I have to REALLY like a movie before I'll hand over cold hard cash for it. As you can see, the whole collection was literally threatening to cause bodily harm sooner or later, and the kids had done a number on it. (Scroll away Mom . . . nothing to see here . . .)

The kids helped sort, stack, re-sleeve, and decide the fate of each movie. (We were surprisingly unanimous in our decisions!)

The end result wasn't too shabby!

Still more numerous than I wanted, but SO much better. I also tossed all the gigantic, hopelessly squashed, plastic Disney Clamshell cases, and made an open-ended sleeve for each movie out of the label and some cardstock. I've always loathed those cases.

I've conquered the hall cupboard (floor-to-ceiling) and the laundry room in recent days. Sooner or later, I have to face my bedroom closet. Heaven help me. However, every cupboard and closet I've tackled has ended up with at least 2 completely empty shelves in the end, so that's a very encouraging payoff.

Also, I found some ideas here today that I'm tempted to try:

Idea #1: Chore Jar

I was already planning to make a "Job Jar" of pesky extra chores (like wiping down cupboard doors or de-webbing the front entryway), but both of my big kids have approved the idea of putting the daily chores in a jar to be randomly drawn, too. I'll let you know how that works out.


Idea #2: Toe-hold Shoe Rack.

I'm not sure I have a good place to put this, but I like it!


Idea #3: Stop with the 35 cups a day already. (You think I'm kidding? I've counted before!)

This idea is from my fantastic friend, Mrs. P (incidentally, she also got it from familyfun.com). Each kid has their own color cup, plate, and bowl, and they're in charge of keeping them washed. When mealtime rolls around, they can't eat until they have clean dishes to eat off of. We've been working on implementing this for several months now. It has required a LARGE amount of vigilance on my part, but it does work. Ikea was kind enough to provide enough colors for my 4 kids plus 2 guests.


So that's how it's gone this week. My yard sale has been unavoidably postponed a week, so I really might get through every square foot of our humble abode. Interestingly, while I've always liked this house and been grateful for it, I'm finding I like it more and more the emptier it gets!


Sunday, May 24, 2009

Introducing Laura

Note: Today (Monday) is Laura's birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAURA!!!

From Mrs. B: Meet Laura! First of all, she's super speedy and was the first profile in. Second of all, I've know Laura all of my life (well, all of hers. Because she's younger), and I can prove it, too:



See? (She's on the right, but you didn't hear that from me.)

Laura and I share the same excellent heritage. Don't you think cousins are one of life's best relationships? They're like bonus siblings, but without the history of hair-pulling and dumping-cups-of-cold-water-over-the-shower-curtain-rod. (Why does that stunt still make me snicker?)

One of my favorite things about Laura IS her fearlessness. She's always trying new things, and pushing herself further once she gets them down. She's also not afraid to let some of her struggles show, which freqently inspires me to conquer things I'd rather hide. Don't you all wish she was your cousin too?

From YONF: I don't know Laura, but I can only imagine that since she is related to Mrs. B, she must be awesome! I don't have any cousins that I am close too, so it's neat to see the closeness between these two.

-------------------------------
Name: Laura


Job: Pediatric nurse on a neurosurgery/intermediate care floor in Portland

Kids: As Ben put it so well, "So far we're not doing so hot."

Spouse: Married to the long suffering Ben for five years.

Last book I read: The Year of Living Biblically by AJ Jacobs

Dream Vacation: One of many is to go to NYC and ride the subway all day. I don't care about

any of the stuff above ground - except tasty food. I really just LOVE the subway.


Random thing: Everything I do seems to be random. I like to wear a cape and tiara (pictured below) at work. And people actually call me Your Highness.

Things I've been avoiding: (Can this be a list?) Marathon, ultramarathon, piecing a quilt that has triangles, knitting something that is not square or rectangle. Working in the pediatric ICU. Communication in general (I have issues with responding to emails and answering the phone.) A triathlon. Cleaning out my storage unit. Making sourdough bread. I think I could list a million things. I feel constantly hamstrung by my own stupid insecurities and my inability to get over them.

Craziest thing I've ever done: Two years ago Ben and I moved to Portland without jobs, having visited only once (three weeks beforehand to pick out an apartment). Luckily we really like it. Also, I started a Tae Kwon Do class a few weeks ago. (Really, I think that is crazier than the move to Portland.)


Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Profile #1 is on the way, but meanwhile (LOOK AWAY LCM!). . . .

You know what frightens me?

THIS:


I know what you're thinking: That's disgusting. How do I make it?

(
Instructions here)

I couldn't resist giving it a shot. The kids were intrigued, but equally grossed out. Nobody ate theirs. (FYI, the Pita Dad was a huge hit.)

Culinary Adventures aside (wait, not totally aside. Have you tried out http://www.simplifysupper.com/ yet? A month's menu of easy dinners with weekly grocery lists you can print out. Hooray! Now it's aside), my current project is tackling all of the clutter that has crept stealthily into my house behind my back, and preparing it all for a yard sale.

I don't think I qualify as a pack rat, exactly, because I'm not much attached to 99% of it. When it comes down to the nitty-gritty sorting, I get a thrill out of hauling it all away and walking back into a clean, organized room. It just feels like such a huge project that I'd rather pretend it's not all sitting there, waiting for my personal attention. And so it grows.

Project number one was the coat-closet-of-death (you know, the avalanche closet from Looney Toons). We're all a lot safer opening that door now.

Then I took all the board games out of the three different cupboards they had shanghaied:

Would you believe that all but six of the board game boxes were mostly full of empty space under the plastic mold? And that every one of those games fit into a gallon ziploc bag? (Sans boards, which are now labeled and stacked together.)

So now, all of this:


Fits here:


I'm not saying it's the most convenient way to store them, but in this house, saving space trumps convenience. Game night, anyone?

Next, I tackled my sewing fabric, which had spread itself out like some kind of self-replicating organism. I rolled each piece up and rubber-banded them like you see them in fabric store remnant bins, and beat it all back into 2-shelf submission. (I would admit here that I also organized and whittled down my craft supplies and album-destined mementos, but my sisters would smack me for such shenanigans.)

Next up, the gigantic cupboard in the hallway. Towels, sheets, blankets, and whatever clothing got miscategorized when the kids were folding it. Then my closet, and the kids' closet, and on and on until the kids are afraid they're the next thing headed out the front door.

Should be fun.

So what big project are you procrastinating the tackling of?
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Monday, May 11, 2009

Oops!

It struck me rather suddenly the other day that I hadn't ever picked a winner from this post! How lame is that?? So I went to random.org (I considered just asking my 13yo to pick a number between 1 and 14, but the website seems so much more official and unbiased), and randomly selected Julie!

(This Julie)


Hooray! Julie, send your contact info to yearofnofear{at}gmail{dot}com and I'll be in touch.

Thanks to all of you for your thoughtful and helpful comments. It really helped me to direct my focus, and gave me such great information to work with! The workshop went well . . . my favorite part was all the insight I gleaned from the discussions among the fantastic group of women that attended.

One of the best comments came during the discussion about women's tendency to downplay their efforts and successes. We respond to compliments with self-criticism about what we did wrong and why our efforts were sub-par. Why do we feel like we have to apologize for making a creative effort? Why can't we just say, "Hey, not bad for a rookie, eh?"

(One woman pointed out here that it's in our nature to aim high, and we ought to, but we shouldn't give up when our first efforts aren't perfect.)

So then, Grandma Jan (I want to be just like her when I grow up) spoke up and said, "The only response you need to give to a compliment is, 'Thank you very much! I whole-heartedly agree!'"

I've been trying to practice this skill. I always worry that someone will think I'm totally full of myself if I willingly accept a compliment, but on the flipside, when I pay someone a sincere and admiring compliment, I'd much rather see them agree with it than downplay it.

Something else I've been trying to practice since the workshop is creativity in simple ways. You can get a lot of bang for your buck this way, particularly with young children. They're just as impressed with Mystery Utensil Dinner (preparation: drop several cooking utensils into a bag) as they are with a 3 hour Birthday Extravaganza.

Yesterday during church, my 6yo was reading the Friend Magazine, and showed me the instructions to make a Pita Dad:



Time involved: Way less than a normal dinner.
Odds that kids will eat healthy food: Fairly high.
Odds that I will score some Cool Mom points, and 6yo will feel awesome for having suggested it: Pretty good.

(It's on this week's shopping list.)

So thanks again to Julie and all of the rest of you (JeRee and Kathy - I was tickled to see you here!) for your fantastic comments!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Shakin' it up

Yonf and I have been meaning to get around to this (we started with Megan, and then fizzled), and Jacque's suggestion reminded us about it! (Also, Jerilyn, I am about to shamelessly steal your brilliant idea from your own previously famous blog. Consider yourself imitated AND flattered.) (And way cool.) (See? Flattered again.) (And imitated with the successive parentheses as well.)

We're sending out the challenge to all of you to join the Year of No Fear! Or, if that's a little daunting, you can go for The Week to Not Freak, or the Night of No Fright, or the Minute to Be In It . . . (I know, I know . . . I'll stop.)

SO. If you're up for the challenge, then email the answers to any or all of the following questions as well as a picture (totally optional), to yearofnofear{at}gmail{dot}com, and we'll spotlight you! (You can be anonymous if you'd prefer, but be forewarned that we will nickname you according to our own whims.)


  • Vital Stats (name, job, kids, location, etc.)?

  • What's the last book you read (or favorite book . . . or both)?

  • Where would you go on your dream vacation?

  • Do you have a blog? Will you tell us where?

  • Tell us one completely random thing about you.

  • What is something you've been avoiding that you would love to conquer?

  • What's the craziest thing you've ever done (and are willing to admit to)?

Also, if you have a fearless story to tell, we'd love to hear that too.

What are you waiting for? Email us already!



Actually, the humorless receivers of overdue fines (fines on overdue books, not fines that are overdue) scare me a little.

Why we love going to the library (I'm breaking from our theme . . . I just wanted to share):

First stop: Hand stamps (you get to choose one of three ever-changing designs) from the friendly librarians!

No child can resist climbing into this guy's lap!



Children's courtyard - fully enclosed and easy to observe from the comfy couches!

Our favorite attraction: A plastic canvas dollhouse, made and donated by one Phyllis Pyle, and filled with mind-boggling, genius-inspired details! (A toothpaste cap for a lamp shade? I never would have thought of that!)


If you click these pictures, you can see the details better. The kids love trying to find new things we've missed before, and it holds their attention for a lovely chunk of time!



Oh yeah. And the books, which the kids love loading into their sweet library totes.