Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Last week I made a dinner that two kids weren't thrilled with. Vince and I ended up being away for dinner and so that meant less than half the family had eaten said dinner and so the next night I served it again! Immediately the boys were protesting!! (It was ravioli) I thought I could put some Parmesan on it and pass it off as something they hadn't tasted yet but that made things worse. Nathan in particular was making excessive noise and driving me crazy: "Moooom, Eeeeeew, Why did you put that on it? Yuuuck! Nooooooot leeeeftooooveeeeeeers!" I started to get aggravated and then decided to try using my mommy talent: lying.

I said: "Nathan, don't you know what this white stuff is?"

He said, "NOOOO!" He clearly didn't want to know!

I said: "It's fairy dust."

He immediately stopped whining and crying and said, "What does it do?"

I told him: "Whatever food it touches tastes very yummy."

He said, "OH!" and immediately shut up and ate all his dinner and told me how wonderful it was!


In other miscellaneous news:

Ethan has grown up sooo much these last few months. He opens the door for me, wears his scout shirt to school on scout days, always has his books and things he needs ready, remembers to take his lunch to school, does his homework and practicing without being asked/reminded, ..... His scout leader talked to me last week about how well-behaved he is. Merry Christmas to me!

Ivy is Ivy. Today I went to pay money on her lunch account (she always forgets to make her lunch, runs out of time, etc.) The lunch lady asked what the name of the child was that I was paying money for and I told her Ivy Olcott. I just want to know: What does it mean that the lunch lady said, "I know Ivy! What a fun girl!" and then started giggling! I never know what the appropriate response as a mother is to this situation--this is definitely new territory to me. Do I ask "Why she remembers Ivy? What about Ivy makes her want to giggle?" Do I worry about Ivy doing inappropriate things that I don't know about? Or do I just giggle with the lunch lady and decide to be grateful that Ivy can make people giggle and smile any time of the year when they just remember her? That's actually what I did. Ivy's a good kid, but she does know how to have a good time. Her 1st and 2nd grade teachers describe her as "delightful". I finally asked a teacher what exactly that meant. She said "Fun!" It's true--Ivy knows how to have a good time!

Nathan is doing better--he is enjoying school a little more. Although this morning he went around the house proclaiming he couldn't go to school because he had the hiccups. He didn't have hiccups--he was walking around grunting at various intervals. First time a child of mine has tried to get out of school by faking hiccups!! He has started working with a private speech therapist! I am very excited about this, I think it will really make a difference for him. Hopefully the insurance will pay so we can continue to take him!!

Eva has been busy this holiday season! I scaled back my holiday obligations this year so it has been easier to get Eva to her things. She got paid this holiday season to play her violin with the community choir for a song--this is exciting because it is the first time she has been paid for performing!! She still teaches two piano students. One set of parents was so happy with what she has been able to teach their daughter that they gave her a Christmas bonus!!

But the biggest news this week

Drumroll please





Is that Vince will get paid for 40 hours a week now!!!!! We just found out yesterday and that will be quite a blessing! For the last three months we have had a 25% cut in salary which meant much bread baking, canning, sewing, cooking from scratch, etc. We feel fortunate that a loving Heavenly Father gave us this time with Dad at home because it really helped Nathan at school. We also know that we were watched over and provided for through family, friends, and anonymous benefactors! At one point the phone company called and said that they had discovered a mistake in their billing and that we had overpaid--they said they would extend us a credit and charge us correctly afterwards. The credit ended up being $160--not something that happens every day!!! We have been touched in the last three months by several selfless people who supported us and we are grateful!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A Good Report

I received the following email this week:

I need to praise you two for the great boys you are raising! Yesterday I was at the school hoop shoot to watch A. Both Ethan and his friend M were sitting by her waiting their turn. When A was called, they both wished her luck. As she was shooting they were cheering their hearts out for her. Groaning each time she hit the rim, yelling out words of encouragement, telling her she could do it. Then when A came back to sit down, hanging her head because she'd only made one basket. They both were right there to tell her she did great, and they both knew she tried her hardest, and that next year she'd do better, and they'd all practice together at recess the rest of the year so they'd all get better for the next try out.

I want to thank you both for teaching your boys how to be good friends, how to encourage and root for each other, and how to be good sports! It made A's struggle yesterday a lot easier for her to take, especially when she knew a couple of her friends still believed in her. So give your boys some extra praise from me. They sure deserve it!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Yesterday was one of those really long days. You know--it's 8:00 at night and I'm still helping one practice spelling, cleaning up dinner, baking bread, making a pie for Eva's YW the next day, practicing, ..... In the middle of everything...

Ivy calls out, "MOOOOOOMMM, Nathan wrote on his dresser with a maaaaaaarrrrrrrrkerrrr!"

I just sighed and said to Ethan, "Please go get the marker." I didn't have the energy to do that much more at the time and I was really busy. He cheerfully went to collect it saying, "Don't worry Mom. I'll just paint that dresser for you!"

Right. I feel better now. Because that sounds like a great idea--the 10 year old painting the furniture!

On second thought, maybe it would be a good Saturday OUTSIDE project for him!!

I also love this morning's conversation. I had run almost 6 miles at the gym and came home with just an hour to get all four kids dressed, fed, lunches packed, etc and be at the school for choir practice. Everything was going great and I really needed a shower so I gave everyone an assignment. Eva's was to tell Ivy that she could get dressed in the next 5 minutes and come upstairs that her lunch would be packed for her. (Eva was upset about that until I told her it was already packed anyway.) She was then to direct Ivy to her breakfast and finish her own lunch. Ethan was supposed to help Nathan get his wet bedding into the washer and help him pack his bag. Eva immediately complains, "Why do IIII have to do that?" I just looked at her and then got in the shower. 30 seconds later I hear Ethan call down to Ivy and Eva yell at him, "That's MY JOB!"

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Law of the Vomit

IF the child downstairs with no toilet makes it all the way upstairs to the toilet--twice--then the child next door to the toilet cannot.

The child who initially cannot get to the toilet must stop immediately and finish wherever he/she is standing, particularly if he/she is standing on carpet.

If the child's room was JUST cleaned and all laundry picked up, garbage thrown away, etc. then that would be the perfect time for a vomit accident. The ideal target is the carpet.

Wait for it.... Wait for it........ The perfect time is when the stomach is full because a dinner was served that was appreciated by everyone (i.e. pizza and cookies). Remember--patience is a virtue!

If there is a clear and present target and the belly is full you can have the perfect storm!

If there are targets on the floor protecting the carpet (i.e. rug that could be put in an AUTOMATIC washer, towel, etc.) these must always be avoided.

In the event all targets cannot be avoided aim for the smallest one. (Thank you elementary school handbook for protecting your little square!)

When possible, splatter is nice.

Splatter is particularly effective in the little crevices on baseboards. Also nice on the furniture. This would be perfect if dresser drawers are left open a bit (thankfully ours were closed!)

Uncertainty is desirable. It is best to always leave the individual cleaning up the vomit wondering if all splatter spots have been found and cleaned up.

All action should take place between 11:00 PM and 3:30 AM. This is for two reasons: (1) All the toilet "cheerleaders" are MIA. You know--the people who yell, "RUN to the bathroom! DON'T stop! GO GO GO GO!!" (2) Vomit incidents must cause disruption--getting people out of bed is perfect!

Greatness means the need for more cleaning tools, chemicals, etc. To be superior a carpet cleaner or rental of some sort will be required in addition to the obligatory air freshener, rags, towels, soap, water, etc.

Persistence pays. Regarding the downstairs child, the third time is the charm!! (Vince woke up and I read him this post and he informed me that I slept through the one he cleaned up)

Always remember: "Any job worth doing is worth doing well!"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Congratulations Eva!!

Once a month our school district gives a school an opportunity to recognize one student, parent, and teacher at the board meeting. Our elementary school's opportunity was this Tuesday and Eva was recognized as the outstanding student. The principal and superintendent read great things about her (some quotes from her teachers) and presented her with a great certificate, bookmark, and a $20 gift certificate to the local bookstore. We were very proud of her!!! It was a little embarrassing for me because the principal chose to recognize me as the parent volunteer and I prefer being the proud parent. Go Eva!!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Reason #334 Why I Love Adult Conversation

We're driving to school and Nathan is putting his shoes and socks on in the car (because after I located a match of socks out of the basket of clean stuff I haven't folded we had no time to put them on) and says "I dropped my sock!"

I stop the car, pull over, reach back and hand him his sock.
Nathan: "Why did we stop?"
Me: "So I could get your sock."
Nathan: "But WHY did we stop?"
Me: "Because I couldn't get your sock without stopping the car--it wouldn't be safe."
Nathan: "Mom. Why did WE stop?"
Me: "We stopped so you would have a sock."
Nathan: "OK so why did we stop the CAR?"
Me (voice raised a bit): "Nathan. Why did we stop the car? So I could hand you your sock that fell on the floor!!!"
Nathan: "Oh."

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween

Halloween is fun and I'm glad it's over!

Eva wore her poodle skirt, Ethan was a pirate one night and a vampire the next, Nathan was batman and Ivy was a witch. We recycled old costumes this year and that was nice. Between last Tuesday and Saturday Eva had 6 parties! Crazy! We all had a family party at the school on Wednesday--it was a great time! All four kids were invited to a party on Thursday at the neighbor's and Eva had 3 others (One was with the Utah Symphony which she got to see for free!). Poor Ethan didn't get to go trick-or-treating because he had a fever (Vince was sick too) but Nathan and Ivy came through for him. Eva took them trick-or-treating for a while and then I took them a few places. I cannot believe how much candy is in our house! My favorite stop that night was when a man answered the door and while looking over his shoulder the whole time, dumped handfuls of candy in their buckets, saying "I don't want to do this all night. Just take this. And this. GO! Quick, Run! Go!" The door then shut quickly. He hardly looked at them he was so distracted by someone seeing/noticing what he was doing. Hilarious!

I had a good time taking Ivy and Nathan trick-or-treating. I drove them around town to a few places I knew. They went to a haunted house by their aunt's house and I was a little nervous because I could hear them screaming and I was afraid they would be freaked out. Nathan got to the car looking pensive, and said to me, "That was fun! I want to go again!" Ivy looked nervous until he said that and then said she had fun too. After a while they got in the car and said they were ready to go home and asked if they were sure. They looked at me and said, "Can we go again?" I said, "Sure!" A few minutes later they got in the car and Nathan said, "My legs hurt. I'm done." Ivy agreed so I said I would take them home. A minute later I said, "What about that house?" and they became very excited "YES! We want to go there! Thanks mom!" This went on for quite a while. I got a kick out of it. It reminded me of when I once took just Eva and Ethan trick-or-treating when Ivy was little. It was really fun to spend time with just Ivy and Nathan.

I was pondering the other day about how excited I was to have a couple of pumpkins the kids brought home from school to decorate our house with. It seemed so homey and festive to put them out. I was thinking about it because I was so GLAD to throw them out finally! How odd that something so sweet so quickly becomes annoying clutter! This is probably why I have no Thanksgiving decorations. Then I will be ready to think Christmas decorations will be fun!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Abolish Perfect Attendance Awards?

I was reading the local newspaper last night that the school board is considering canceling all future perfect attendance awards. I blame H1N1. It's been pretty bad here and everyone's a little freaked out about it. People argue that perfect attendance awards encourage students to come to school sick. Some people argue that parents push their kids to have perfect attendance because the parents want them to have the award. (I think it's more likely that parents push their kids to go to school because it takes care of a daycare problem.) In any case, I started thinking about my oldest two, Eva and Ethan, who had perfect attendance last year and are perfect so far this year. How come they haven't been sick? When half the kids in their classes are out with sickness how come they are still there? One good friend suggested it must be because my house is so clean and I laughed. Seriously. That can't be the reason.

Then I took a second look at my house and things started making sense. The kitchen, for example. It's always cluttered with lots of dishes, especially cups. Because they get a new cup every time they need a drink. They also use lots of silverware. At our house, sometimes it takes 3 spoons to finish one bowl of oatmeal. And I know we go through lots of fresh towels because 2 days after I finish the laundry I'm out of dish towels and rags. Then there's the bathroom. No one flushes the toilet, thereby eliminating the possibility of sharing germs on the toilet handle. Toothbrushes (if used) are left all over the counter, not touching each other, and having plenty of room to air out. I've also noticed that the older they get the more space we use up during scripture reading. Everyone has a whole corner of the room to themselves, so they won't accidentally be touched by anyone. On one hand, I'm grateful that Ivy was the ONLY one to have a fever and miss four days of school this week and on the other hand I think they should CLEAN UP after themselves and just be sick already!

A few weeks ago we celebrated Ethan's birthday. We're so proud of him and he is excited to be a Webelos!!! I always make a special cake for the kids and Ethan wanted a Patrick (sponge bob) cake. So Friday night I put a cake in the oven and when I went to take it out it had fallen. This has never happened to us in this house before and Ethan, Ivy, and Nathan asked what was wrong with it. I told them that it had fallen and they asked how that happens and so I told them that people running and jumping and bouncing around the kitchen would do it. There was immediate feedback: Ivy--"It wasn't me! I was just sitting at the table! I did not make the cake fall....." Nathan--"It wasn't me!" Ethan, looking down at the floor--"Sorry, mom. Are you going to bake another one?" I was so proud of him for being responsible that the next morning when I woke up I decided to bake another one. He realized what was happening and then "hung around" the whole time it was baking. Every time someone would come in the living room, kitchen, or even the house he would say "There's a cake in the oven so no jumping around! We don't want the cake to fall!" And it didn't! I've noticed that if I want them to tread lightly and not rough house then I just have to put something in the oven and I get immediate results!

The other week Nathan and Ivy were running errands with Vince and I and Ivy was driving us nuts. She was being such a tattletale! One thing after another. Over and over. I was trying to be very patient and I kept saying to Ivy, "What's YOUR name?" She would sigh, say "Ivy." and then there would be peace for the next 5-10 minutes. Eventually she tried a new tactic: "Mom, Nathan and Ethan came in my room this morning and they were looking out my window and they wouldn't leave,... And my name is Ivy. I knew you were going to ask!"

Our ward is moving to a new building. A newer bigger building and the kids are really excited. Sunday they were asking, "Is the gym bigger? Is the chapel bigger? Are there more classrooms? Are they bigger?..." We kept saying Yes. Nathan was BURSTING to say something so we hushed everyone and listened to him ask "Is the bathroom bigger?" We chuckled and said yes. He gave a very enthusiastic fist pump!

In the past few weeks we have also learned from various children of ours (don't ask how we know these things or who taught us!):
--How mattresses are put together
--Storing things in the walls is not a great idea
--Mom and Dad are grouchy about holes in the wall--particularly big ones you might want to store things in!
--You can use the sun and a stupid dollar store magnifying glass to burn holes in paper, sticks, and mailboxes! (The mailbox thing was shocking to us too) We no longer own a magnifying glass of any kind!
--How to make pie crust--this is a money saver and I needed something positive!
--Mom gets grouchy about holes dug in the front flower beds and dirt all over the porch
--When you empty the trash you should make sure everything gets IN the can and if it doesn't you should CLEAN it up right away!
--If you carve a pumpkin when Mom says no she will find out anyway because the pumpkin will rot

My blood pressure is still recovering from a sudden dip this morning from when Ethan prayed that Eva would have no trouble babysitting tonight and Mom and Dad would have a great time at the temple. It made me feel so much better about everything else that I felt like blogging!!!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

How Come...

when Vince makes up some new recipe the kids say "Dad, you should make a cookbook!"
and when I make up some new recipe the kids say, "Who taught you that?"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Do You Ever Have Mornings Like This?

I got up at 4:40 to get to the gym by 5:00 which I've been doing everyday for several weeks now. I had a meeting with the trainer at 6:15 and ended up getting home at 7:10. The problem with this was that Vince left for the weekend shortly after I left and when I got home I found Eva still in bed. The problem with this is that Eva had orchestra at 7:30. So we hurried! She got dressed while I loaded the cello in the car (this is WAY more work than I anticipated and sometimes I have second thoughts about her playing the cello this year--like every time I have to load it!). Then she combed her hair while I put peanut butter on some bread for her to eat on the way. We were amazing! We totally got there in time and were so proud of ourselves. I pulled the cello out of the car only to discover that there was no orchestra today.

In other news our basement took water last week. I discovered it Saturday while Vince was out of town. We were blessed to have some friends come help move big stuff and help make sure we wouldn't get more water down there. We're not sure where the water came from but we are thinking the neighbor must have left their water on and filled up our window well. We lost all our flooring in the exercise room/Vince's office. We also lost some of Vince's stuff. I have mixed feelings about that. It will take me several weeks to get everything put back where it goes because kids in school keeps me so busy! I'm crossing my fingers that this week while Vince is at his scout stuff nothing will go wrong...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I'm From Venus He's From.... #2

I'm working on hemming pants for Vince for a Scout training that starts tomorrow. He had marked a pair and I started with those, planning to finish, measure the inseam, and then hem the next pair. I was a little concerned when I finished because the pants seemed shorter than the ones I hang each week so I pulled a pair of pants he wears most days and measured the inseam to compare. I had just finished a pair that measured 30" and the ones he normally wears are 31" so I called him to ask about how he marked them. I started by explaining:

Me: "Vince, I just finished a pair of your pants so I measured them and measured a pair you normally wear and these look an inch too short."

Vince: Nothing.

Me: "The ones I sewed have an inseam of 30" but the ones you normally wear measure 31". Does that sound right?"

Vince: "Yeah."

Me: "OK but why would these pants be shorter?"

Vince: "Because the others are longer."

President Obama's Education Speech

After listening to much debate about President Obama's speech to students the past week I was a little concerned. I didn't vote for the guy and a speech to students about education seems pretty harmless but I often think that where there's smoke there's bound to be some fire. So Monday I sat down and read it. I seriously found nothing inappropriate and/or disconcerting. In fact, it seemed to me that he was simply reinforcing all the things I try to teach my kids and this mom accepts reinforcement from anyone!! I was anxious to hear what they would remember from the speech and talk with them about it. I was very pleased with their answers to the question: "What do you remember from the speech?"

Ivy: "He said we had to do homework BEFORE we played the XBOX or Wii or Playstation." AMEN I say!!

Ethan: "He said if we don't work hard on our homework we are not just letting ourselves down but we're also letting down our family and our country." I like that.

Eva: "He said that you can't get a good job without a good education."

After more discussion they also remembered (I think Ethan remembered this) that everyone has a responsibility to discover what they're good at and then get really good at that thing and that you need to take advantage of your education in order to do that. We also talked about goal setting. They also talked about how he said that if you think you're going to make lots of money singing or playing sports you'd better think again because it probably won't happen and you're better off getting a good education.

After we talked about the speech I noticed that Ethan spent 30-45 minutes studying his math, Ivy practiced the piano without being asked (the other two did too but that's not a major achievement), and Ethan and Ivy let me help them practice for their spelling tests. I LOVE it when someone else teaches my kids stuff I try to teach them. I know Vince and I have the biggest influence in their life but when other people step in and reinforce what I'm teaching at home it makes my life SOOOO much easier. I've decided that just because I didn't vote for President Obama and disagree with most of what his administration is trying to do that there are perhaps some positive contributions he's making. I also wish our country wasn't so polarized and driven by fear so much that kids and parents have to feel like they can't participate in an opportunity like my kids had yesterday. Hopefully my kids will also be learning from my example and learn to keep an open mind and study and learn for themselves about each individual issue before forming hard and fast opinions.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Eva the Troublemaker

I've been debating about whether to blog this post or not because Eva hasn't been a troublemaker for 8 years or so. Truthfully, she has been a unique sort of child in that she basically causes little to no trouble for anyone. I even remember that her Sunbeam teacher commented on Eva's willingness to listen and learn in Primary and even said that she "seemed to get irritated when other kids were a bit disruptive." At the time I couldn't hardly believe it because she wasn't like that at home! But it didn't take long for that part of her personality to take center stage. And I'm certainly grateful because I wouldn't have been able to take several years like the first 4:

1. Fussy baby. She was my fussiest baby. So much screaming. I can remember putting her in a room where I knew she would be safe and then taking a shower using all the hot water because it was the only thing that would drown out the noise. She was definitely my loudest baby! The poor thing had lots of ear infections.

2. Climbing. Eva was a climber and into everything! Nothing was safe and often she took dangerous risks. I remember one friend commenting about her climbing out of her high chair and how I shouldn't let her do it and I just kind of laughed--like I was going to stop her and also it wasn't half so dangerous as tons of other stuff she climbed! She climbed out of her crib so early that we had to brace the frame and balance the mattress on a set of boxes so it would be low enough to keep her in. She climbed her dresser one day and had to have stitches on her upper lip--the first week we were in our house and I had to ask a neighbor to take us to the ER since I didn't know where the hospital was and didn't have a vehicle of my own. I remember she was 18 months old one morning and I went outside the apartment to take our trash to the dumpster and came back to find her sitting on the refrigerator!

3. Bedtime. She never wanted to go to bed. For the first two years of her life Eva had to cry/scream herself to sleep for at least 20 minutes. She could never fall or be rocked to sleep. When I had friends over to scrapbook it was serious torture for her because she loved to be around people. She used to stick her arms out under the door (up to her elbow) and say, "Hellooooo, Hiiiii, Can I come out?" Sometimes she would even stick her legs out under the door. She has always been a people person and that has never changed. She loves to make friends and make people happy.

4. Church. She was so much trouble in church. People that have known us for the last few years would be surprised to learn that Eva used to be so difficult. I remember her playing "firecracker" with cheerios, throwing them everywhere with sound effects and when I tried to help her pick them up she would smash them into the floor with her heels. Another Eva classic was the spitting. One Sunday she decided to spit--I don't know why but it was nice hawk a lugie spitting and the people all around us were moving to the edges of their seats. I had to drag her and her big baby brother (he really was heavy) around the church to the bathrooms where I put soap in her mouth and took her back where she proceeded to continue the spitting. Vince and I will never forget our first Sunday in the ward we currently live in. She threw a pen--like a missile. And hit the wife of a member of the Bishopric squarely in the back of the head. The poor woman was sitting 3 rows in front of us. I remember taking Eva out of Sacrament Meeting one day thoroughly exasperated and an older sister saying to me, "Heavenly Father sent her to you because He knew you would be able to handle her--you'll be fine." I'll never forget it!

5. Tantrums. All my kids have had tempers to varying degrees but when Eva was about 3 years old she had the worst! She would scream and kick, hit and bite me when I would tell her to come in from outside and/or ask her to clean her room. I used to worry about her temper so much! I remember having conversations with her about how if she was angry she could go to her room and draw pictures, or hit her pillow--she liked that, the idea that it was OK to hit something!

6. Law enforcement. It's true. Eva was about 4 years old when we bought this house and one day in our first few months a police officer knocked on the door and asked for Eva. I was really surprised and couldn't stop the thought, "Oh my, if the police are coming when she's four however are we going to get through teenage years!" He had pictures of some vandalism to the neighbor's yard (their rock wall had been partially disassembled) and wanted to know if Eva knew anything about it. At that point I was relieved because I thought "No way!" Imagine my shock and horror to hear her say she did know about it because she had helped do that. (One thing great about Eva--she's always been honest!) We went over there that evening and she had to work hard to help repair the damage! Another time I was frantic because I couldn't find her anywhere! I had been looking and every neighbor was looking and we were so concerned that I was on the phone with the 911 operator when one neighbor finally found her. She was in a house--a new neighbor that I hadn't met--making friends with a new little girl and had been watching us out the girl's living room window and giggling at us looking for her!

Thankfully, the real trouble seems to have been concentrated in the first few years of her life. She's grown into a beautiful young woman that I am so proud of! I love how she cares about and takes care of others! She's so helpful in any situation she's placed in. She's responsible for her age, mature beyond her years. She helps keep me in line and I'm a better person because she's a great leader and I can't help but learn from her each day. Her untiring love of the Lord and her willingness to serve him and do the right thing are exemplary. She reads her scriptures and prays each day (I know because the other day she was concerned that she had forgotten the night before). Our Bishop seemed impressed with her when he interviewed her for her Faith in God award. He said (when she wasn't looking) "If she was a boy I'd be certain she would be a prophet one day." I really think he's exaggerating a bit but she is exceptional by anyone's standard. She's living proof of the growth we are all capable of and I look forward to seeing her grow and mature even more over the next several years!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Eva As a Big Sister

You'll have to forgive me but my oldest turns 12 on Tuesday and so I've been remembering cute, lovable, precious, and funny things about her the past 12 years. I'm thinking I'll share a few stories over the next several days. I remembered this story the other night when talking to a family of sisters who just got a new baby brother.

When Ethan was born Eva had questions about him. She was only two but very inquisitive, busy, and smart. She watched me changed him one day and said, pointing to you-know-what, "What is THAT?" I told her it was a penis. She said, "A pena what?" Instantly I regretted using real vocabulary and told her that boys were born with one and girls weren't. She was contemplative for a while and then very kindly said, "Mom, I think maybe we should cut it off for him."

When Ethan was a toddler I remember that Eva would jump up and fill his sippy cup with water for him and I was always so grateful. I wasn't sure how she did it but I had no doubts she could because she was a climber!! She filled his cup for weeks until one day I was doing my hair in the bathroom and Ethan wanted his sippy cup filled. Eva happily volunteered and I was grateful, proud, and more than happy to let her. I was shocked to see her take the lid from the sippy cup, lift the lid on the toilet and fill his cup from the toilet bowl! The poor boy had been drinking toilet bowl water for weeks!!

Thankfully, Eva has only improved as a big sister. She is still helpful, kind, and conscientious. I feel fortunate and grateful to have such a responsible daughter. Monday was Nathan's first carpool day and there was a misunderstanding in the family that was supposed to pick Nathan up from school so Nathan was waiting and thinking that he didn't have anyone coming to get him. For some reason Eva decided to go out front and check on Nathan, discovered there was a problem, and brought him home with her. I love that she listens to the Spirit and follows promptings!

From Ivy

"It's not fair! Eva always gets to choose the right because she's older!!!"

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

You know you have a great garden when...

1. Plenty of produce to eat!! Loving it!

2. The squash is taking over the backyard. Seriously. We can't even mow the lawn. And we put up a trellis. Our first squash is a GIANT butternut--about 3' long.

3. We're getting tired of zuchinni. Isn't that great?!

4. I gave some cantaloupe away. Really. I also gave away some kale, zuchinni, yellow squash, tomatoes, herbs, and beets. You know you've got a successful garden when you can give produce AWAY!

Drum roll for the next one...

4. Sunday afternoon the renter's friend from next door (we really don't know him or them) came over to say he was making a BLT and didn't have any tomatoes and could he have some from our garden. He wanted tomatoes from our garden because they taste so much better than the ones from the store. It was shocking, first of all because my garden is generally a major flop, and secondly because I've never heard of someone knocking on their neighbor's door to ask for produce for their dinner. Maybe I'm just prejudiced against people asking for garden produce. I mean if he had asked for a cup of flour, or a few eggs, or some milk, or baking powder, or baking soda, or oil, or some seasoning or herb I wouldn't blink an eye. But this was a first for me! I haven't felt this way about someone asking for something since a neighbor once called and asked if she could borrow Worcestire sauce and when I didn't have any asking me to go to the store and buy some for her. I did but I decided I wouldn't do that again. In hindsight I think I should have told the renter's friend (if I was feeling very bold) that I would be happy to exchange my garden tomatoes for the parking spot in front of my house to always be available. Or at least available when I am teaching and people are trying to drop kids off. But then I would remember what my mother always said: "Two wrongs don't make a right." So I just gave him some tomatoes.

My green beans are done and I saw some nice plants in someone's yard down the street. Maybe I should stop by... Just kidding!

Also as a side note I found the following link on a family member's blog and it is interesting: thefastingproject.org

Monday, August 31, 2009

PEACE

Remember that blog post a while ago about a magical peace and the two jars with chips? Well, that's nothing compared to REAL peace when the kids are all at school on a regular routine and there are no more uncertainties with my schedule!!

Finally. A full week of school for everyone!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

My Life's a Cartoon #1



The other day Ethan kept going downstairs and Ivy kept screaming and I kept calling Ethan upstairs for little things to try and distract him which WASN'T working. So I finally gave him a big job--clean the living room. He whined, "I'm tooooooo tiiiiiired." I said, "You're not too tired to bug your sister." He said quite cheerfully, "Hey, that's no trouble at all!"

In Ethan's defense, this describes BOTH his sisters!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Good News!

I just looked at my last post and realized it was a bit of a downer, so here's some more positive news:

OUR CAR IS FIXED!! It's been fixed for a while but I haven't written about it. The first week we had it I was craving weird things for dinner and was glad I could make a quick run to the store. One night I had to go for meatballs for meatball sandwiches (I have NEVER made or had one before but for some reason they sounded really good)! Another night I was craving White Bean and Kale soup. Don't ask me why. I think part of it was that I just wanted to fully enjoy the luxury of running to the store whenever I wanted to! Vince and I enjoyed the soup, the kids not so much. I had never had or heard of it before but when I was browsing recipes on the computer I had to have that for dinner! Which leads me to the next good news:

VINCE FIXED OUR COMPUTER!! It's not perfect but soooo much better. He fixed it almost two weeks ago and I haven't blogged much. I think this is because I have been on the internet BROWSING just for fun. Because I wanted to. It's been nice to get on the computer and look up things I have questions about or want to research and not always being in a rush to get off before the computer kicked me off.

OUR SCHOOL HAS A NEW SPEECH PERSON!! And not just ANY speech person. MS. COREY!! I know most of you don't have any idea who Ms. Corey is but she is the speech therapist that helped Ivy a few years ago. She is also the speech therapist that has been working with Nathan for the last two years. I had virtually NO confidence in the skills and/or work ethic of our school's last speech therapist and have spent months praying and pondering about what to do about it. I had decided that I would just have to try to work with him, follow up to make sure he was working with Nathan, and then file complaints with the district if there was any problem. We felt VERY blessed when we found out that Nathan will get to pick up where he left off with the teacher that he already knows and loves!! AND she gets to be at our school FULL TIME! Usually our school only gets the speech therapist two days a week so this is very exciting news! It's one of those times when you know that Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers.

Eva got hired by the our town's Choral Society to play a couple of solo parts for 6 performances in their fall season. She will be paid $50. She's pretty excited and we're very proud. It helps that the Director is a good friend of mine, but she never would have been hired if she hadn't been practicing and developing her talent. She's getting scary good at the violin.

Ethan has agreed to ACCOMPANY ON THE PIANO at least two songs for his fourth grade program. This will be the first time he's done anything like this but I'm certain he has the skills. The big news is that he's agreed to do it!! Of course he'll be making a little money, $10 per song to be exact, but it's a good experience for him and I don't mind paying him. He always used to HATE playing the piano and was always very angry that I made him do it but I think hate would be a strong word now--he seems to be more peaceful about it. Still, I think I will have to pay for every performance, big or small, outside of recitals for quite a while.

After learning the truth about cornions Ivy seems a little more open minded about trying new things. I wish we'd thought of cornions years ago! As a second grader Ivy is ultra responsible about homework and studying. I am so relieved. She always did it in first grade but I always had to push, remind, OK--nag her to do it. This week she just sat down right after school and got it done. She's like Eva and Ethan now--nagging ME to sign her stuff and help, etc. They don't really have to nag, but when they all come at once it's a little challenging!

Vince gave the kids Father's Blessings on Sunday and that was very special. One thing I should share with everyone is that Nathan was blessed that his tongue would be loosed this year and that he would be able to communicate with his teachers and they would be able to understand him. This was a welcome part of the blessing and I was very excited! But...

Poor Nathan. Good news and bad news for him. He's getting better, not quite as sick--that's the good news. The bad news is the nebulizer. Thursday he didn't look quite right so I took him back to the doctor and he has to use a nebulizer 4 times a day for a week instead of the inhaler and he HATES it! He also has to take an antibiotic and a steroid every day. The antibiotic isn't bad but the steroid tastes awful and he throws fits about it. He was excited to go to school yesterday which was great--he ran in and didn't want me to come with him!! He's such a big boy! But he came out of school in a terrible mood, said it was too hard, that he didn't like it, he doesn't like his teacher (but he will say she's nice) and didn't want to go back. Sigh. I'm hoping it's because he's not feeling 100% but I am concerned. I really wish he had been placed in full day with the teacher I know would be perfect for him. We'll have to give it a few weeks and see what happens. I've been kind of wishing I had put him in the Title 1 preschool--oh well. All three of my kids have loved school so far so maybe it's my turn to have one that I'll have to motivate a bit. It might just take a few months for him to get in a routine and build some confidence. We all talk with Nathan about how great school is--he just sticks his thumb in his mouth, covers his head with a blanket, and kind of growls. Or else he walks out of the room in a surly mood. He'd rather not talk about anything to do with school.

More good news--I'm almost DONE WITH THE LAUNDRY! For the last 3 weeks I have been unable to finish laundry and there has been little baskets of it in my room or in the living room, or in the laundry room, or in bedrooms, and I have been too distracted with getting ready for school and starting school and all kinds of stuff to just do it but in two hours it will be FINISHED!!

I'm excited to start a school routine and hope that will really begin this week!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

First Week of School: Good, Bad, & Ugly

The Good: FINALLY! The first week of school! We were all so excited!!! Eva, Ethan, and Ivy started on Monday. Nathan was a little disappointed because he didn't get to start until Thursday (today--we'll get there eventually). Eva, Ethan, and Ivy all got the teachers they were hoping to get AND they got to have their best friends in their classes! This is some kind of a record at our house and school has been a pleasure for them all week. I'm really happy with their teachers also--since I've spent a lot of time at the school I know the teachers well and think they're all great but the teachers' personalities fit my kids well this year so I'm excited!!

The Bad: ALREADY! I have had to drag two of my kids out of their beds in the morning TWO days! There's only been four days of school so far and it's the first week of school. I'm thinking it won't be too long before they end up having to walk to school and accept the consequences for being late.

The Ugly: I'm HATING that I had to be a forceful parent this week in order to help Nathan get what he needed. He gets pulled out of class this year for speech, adaptive PE, and Resource (where they help him with the Occupational Therapy recommendations) and he was placed in half-day AM Kindergarten. Which I could live with as long as I could bring him after lunch for the extra stuff, which I was told I could not do. ARGH! I did a little math and realized that if they pulled him for all that stuff on his half day schedule he would be out of class 25% of the time! After a long emotional day and a couple of email exchanges I was able to meet with the principal and insist that Nathan be placed in PM Kindergarten with most of the other activities scheduled in the morning. This means several trips to the school each day and that I had to reschedule and/or drop my homeschool students and somehow find Nathan a ride home from school. I just finished arranging all that yesterday in the middle of Kindergarten Tea and Back-to-School night when I realized...

The Super Ugly: NATHAN was very sick. He had been a little sick all week but yesterday I realized that he was getting worse so after I met the kids' teachers last night I took Nathan to the doctor. His oxygen level was quite low so he had a breathing treatment in the office and we were sent home with 3 prescriptions that cost us $83. Poor Nathan. But that's not the worst part....

The REALLY Ugly: After all the weeks and weeks of waiting and planning and the plotting, scheduling, meetings, etc. Nathan MISSED the first day of school today because he was so sick!!! He was SOOOO disappointed!

And to think I was excited for school to start.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A Magical Peace--At Last

A conversation overhead this morning between Ivy and Nathan:
Ivy: "Nathan, Duct tape is good tape. You can tape lots of things with duct tape."
Nathan: "Dog tape is better!"

Not long ago I wrote about the contention in our house and how frustrated I was with all the fighting, arguing, whining, etc. Monday a solution presented itself. It was kind of Nathan's idea but we now have a system with two jars and lots of Bingo chips. One jar is larger than the other so we can tell them apart. We are trying to move all the Bingo chips from the large jar to the smaller jar and Monday evening we had a "secret" family vote and decided that when all the chips get into the smaller jar we will go out to eat as a family. Every time someone does a chore without whining, does something nice for someone else, goes to BED and STAYS there at bedtime, practices their instrument, etc. then a chip goes into the jar. Ever time there is fighting, whining, arguing, hitting, tatteling, refusal to do what we ask, etc. a chip goes OUT of the jar. The jars and chips are magical!

Tuesday was the first day. Ethan came into the piano studio and interrupted a lesson to tell me (only HALF tearfully) that Eva had "kneed" (I think that means she somehow hurt him with her knee) him on the leg and so a chip needed to come out of the jar. I told him that it sounded like it DID need to come out of the jar and to go ahead and take care of it. Then when the lesson was over I went in the living room and announced that I had to take a chip out of the jar--Ethan quickly protested, saying that he already had taken a chip out and I told him that I had to take another one because he was tattling. It wasn't until I related the story to Vince last night and we were chuckling about it that Ethan seemed to understand that by not keeping his mouth shut he cost the family two chips. He was so worried about Eva getting in trouble that he forgot that it's a FAMILY effort. There's been no tattle telling today and I am SO HAPPY!

The boys' room was very messy and last night I told Ethan that if he didn't get his room clean by the end of the day today that he would lose 5 chips but that if he DID clean it he would earn 10 chips. When I got home from the gym at 6:30 this morning his room was clean!

Last night Nathan was crying loudly about something, I don't remember what and I usually get so frustrated with him because I can't get him to stop. Last night I looked at him and told him that I was taking a chip out of the jar because he was crying. He IMMEDIATELY stopped crying and said, "OK Mom, I won't fry anymore." It's not a typo--he says fry instead of cry and I think it's cute.

Today I actually have been able to put in many extra chips because: Eva made cookies with and for the little kids, Ethan spent most of the morning constructing a doll bed and doll clothes storage thing for Ivy out of cardboard (complete with colored scrapbook paper which if you know Ethan is really impressive!), Ivy let her cousin have her little library toy to make peace, Nathan suggested we give cookies to someone else, Eva spontaneously unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, Ethan hurried and got his chores done early so they would be done before I started teaching this morning, and when Ethan wanted a friend to come in and I said No he started to protest but then shut his mouth and said, "OK Mom."

Even scripture reading is better. Usually Ivy whines and cries every time she is asked to read a verse longer than 4 lines. It's pathetic and drives the rest of the family CRAZY. We decided that any whining before and/or during scripture reading time constitutes the removal of a chip from the jar. For each episode. Last night we read many more verses in less time and it was MUCH more pleasant!

I'm going to leave right now and put a chip in the magic jar because I've been on the computer for 40 minutes and there has been not ONE raised voice or disagreement and Ivy and Nathan have been playing together!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Car/Cornion Update

Our car is fixed!!! We are so excited and grateful!! And not trapped. And school starts in ONE WEEK!! Everyone has reason to be grateful!

Last week I came home from the grocery store with onions. Ivy was helping me put groceries away and she held them up and said "Mom are these cornions or onions?" Of course I told her they were cornions. She said to me, "I'm glad mom because cornions are so much better than onions. Why do they grow onions anyway? They should just grow cornions because they taste so much better. Can we grow cornions in our garden mom?" I told her that I didn't know where to get cornion seeds. She said, "That's OK mom. We can just buy cornions. Will you always buy cornions? Will you show me cornions in the store the next time I go with you?" I was starting to feel a little guilty at this point and talk-a-mile Ivy didn't stop there. "Mom, do other people like cornions too? I'm going to ask the cafeteria ladies at school if they use cornions."

OK--so I finally had enough and I said to Ivy, "Ivy I need to tell you something--there is no such thing as a cornion. I just made that up so you would eat your onions because I was sure you would like them and you do. Isn't that great?" Ivy looked a little puzzled. Then she kind of smiled. Then she looked at me and said, "OK mom. But can I still call them cornions?" This totally captures Ivy--she loves fairy tales and she can imagine just about anything!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Cabin Fever

Cabin Fever:"A condition of increased tension, boredom, blahs, etc. caused by living for some time in a confined space or an isolated area, especially in winter."

I like that definition but in all honesty I think I would have to add a few things, like increased, yelling, screaming, fighting,.... (OK--maybe increased tension covers it.)

This little poem makes me think of my kids:

Little bug inside my head,
why I wish you hadn't said,
all those words to make me antsy,
now I've got you in my pantsy.

Yes, I'm thinking they have some kind of fire ants in their pants and they are driving me insane. Why? I am convinced it's because we have not been able to go ANYWHERE as a family for over two weeks. ARGH

Our family car needed a new engine so we are getting that replaced. Unfortunately, the engine supplier lacks regular human intelligence and will probably soon be bailed out by our government. We took the car to the mechanic who took THREE part numbers off the engine and the VIN number and called his supplier. They sent an engine from their warehouse, we dropped off the car and then the mechanic took out the old engine and went to put the new engine in. BUT it was the WRONG engine! So he called the supplier back and they said something like, "Oops. Sorry 'bout that" and then ordered us a new engine from somewhere far away--it takes 4 days of road travel for the engine to arrive.

That engine was supposed to be here last Thursday afternoon BUT the highway into our town was closed for a shooting and fires so the engine arrived too late to for the mechanic to start work last week. So Monday morning our mechanic, Ed, started putting in our new engine. Except it was the WRONG engine! Now we've had TWO wrong engines! These guys are only slightly smarter than the guy who drove with live baby snakes in his pockets!! So Ed called them and yelled at them. We like Ed! And so they asked for the part numbers again and he gave them the SAME numbers he gave them the first time and they said something like, "OH. We should have sent you this other engine. Sorry 'bout that."

Meanwhile, home life is deteriorating. We are crossing our fingers that the engine comes without anymore trouble tomorrow and that it can get installed quickly. Then I'm going to take the kids to the library. And let them all check out books. At the same time. And they can play with the library toys because we won't be in a hurry to go home and let someone else come to the library. Then we will take our books to the park and have a picnic and I will sit on a blanket in the shade and let them run like Indians and pretend they don't belong to me. Then I will drop them off at the swimming pool (probably not, but hey, I'm daydreaming) and they can swim and play in the water for a few hours so they come home EXHAUSTED and sleep and I will not be tired and then I can stay up and enjoy the peaceful house.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Adult Conversation

Here are two reasons why I crave adult interactions of any kind:

Iy was snapping beans (from the garden!) and says: "Mom, I think this bean is bad."
Me: "No, it's fine Iy. Just snap it."
Iy: "Mom, look at this bean--it's not good." Yes, it's the same bean.
Me, looking: "The bean is fine Iy."
Iy: "Mom LOOK AT IT! (Of course I had) I think it's BAD!"
Me, touching the bean right in front of her: "IY! The bean is FINE! Just SNAP it!"
Iy: "OK, why didn't you say so in the first place?"

Part II:
Me: "Ev may I borrow your head phones for the gym?"
Ev: "Go buy your own."
Me: "Can't I just borrow yours? You don't use them at 5 AM."
Ev: "Hey, I'll just charge you rent. With interest."
Me: "And I'll send you MY bill."
Vince: "Ev and I had a great talk about interest the other night."
Me: "Great. Thanks for that."

I Love Funny News Stories

I love to read the morning paper. When I get up one of the first things I do is head outside and dig around the end of the driveway for my newspaper. I like to read the comics, the editorials, the news stories, the features,... Everything except the sports page, really--I rarely read that. And I rarely read obituaries. Yesterday an article called "Baby snakes cause man to crash his car" caught my eye. It's in the news capsules briefs section which happens to be some of my favorite stuff. So I see this title and I'm wondering to myself HOW do baby snakes cause a man to crash his car? Were they in the road? Was the man trying to swerve around them? So I start reading.

"Police say two pet baby snakes escaped" Stop right there. The man was carrying the baby snakes in his car and they escaped. Yeah, that's a little distracting. I can picture that. Wait. It gets better.

"Police say two pet baby snakes escaped from a 20-year-old man's pants pockets" WHAT? Who carries snakes in their pants pockets? Little boys maybe but a 20-year-old man? Yuck. Wait. It gets better.

"Police say two pet baby snakes escaped from a 20-year-old man's pants pockets as he was driving" OK--so some MORON put baby snakes in his pockets before he got behind the wheel? Really? No wonder he crashed his car. He's an idiot.

"Police say two pet baby snakes escaped from a 20-year-old man's pants pockets as he was driving, leading to a car crash." Of course there was a crash.

"Police say the man lost control of his sport utility vehicle Monday when the snakes slithered (eewwww) near the gas and brake pedals and he and a passenger tried to catch them." I guess it's too much to ask a person who keeps live snakes in his pants pockets to PULL OVER and/or STOP the CAR before he starts digging around to recover the snakes.

"Police say the SUV veered into some parked cars and overturned."

At least no one else was hurt. And I started the day with a smile on my face and a good chuckle (OK--I laughed out loud). I can see why the snakes were trying to escape. And I know it's wrong but stories like this make me feel better about myself. Because if I get in a car wreck at least it won't be because I put creatures in my pants and then tried to fish them out of the car while I was driving. Yes, I can at least do THAT right today!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cornions

Last night Vince cooked dinner and it was yummy! Of course Iy didn't want to eat her onions. "I hate onions! Why does everything have to have onions?!" So I told her that I knew she didn't care for onions so I found some special onions that taste like corn. Her eyes perked up and she looked interested so Vince joined in, "Yeah, they're called cornions." We are working really hard to keep straight faces at this point and I have to say we did a fantastic job. Parenting has made great liars out of us. I said, "You'll like cornions Iy, taste it and see." So she did and we asked her how they were. She threw both arms in the air (always the drama queen) and said "I LOVE cornions Mom! You should get these all the time!!" I said (still with a straight face) "Oh, I'm so glad you like them Iy because I bought a whole bunch of them and they are in the refrigerator and I will have to use them up." Iy gave us her signature "Yesss!" with a fist pump.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Iy the Drama Queen

Last night as we were trying to read scriptures Iy VERY dramatically threw herself on the sofa, her arms over her head, and wailed "I can't read! My Tooth. Is. Too. Bloody!!!" She's been trying to pull it out for days. It takes so very long because she just pulls on it a little tiny bit because it hurts to turn it. Also, if she turned it the tooth would come out faster and what's the fun in that?

Back to the drama. I had seriously had it. We have had a couple of days of pure whiny and bored kids because I told them no TV, Playstation, Wii, or computer games and we had a withdrawal period. Thankfully, we've had none of it today, but yesterday was the WORST day of summer I remember ever having with the kids. At one point I had spent more than 20 minutes talking with Et about what he could do for fun, mingled with a few chore ideas, when I finally told him that maybe he should just go in the bathroom, close the door and practice making grouchy faces in the mirror.

So you will understand when I very mockingly and dramatically responded to Iy's drama by throwing my body on the sofa, my hands over my head and cried (wailed) out: "I CAAAAN'T! MY TOOOOOTH IS BLOOOOOODY!!" To which Iy replied "No". For a split second I figured she had realized how ridiculous she looked but I was wrong. She said, "No, I SAID my tooth is TOO bloody!"

We all laughed, and loved it even more at Iy's puzzled expression at our laughter.

I learned/remembered something new this week. I was reading my scriptures on Monday and the one that jumped off the page at me was how you can't "make" people do things. And I was thinking about my distribution/nagging of chores each morning. After pondering it for some time, I decided that the kids could each choose their 3 mom's choice chores and then tell me what they were so I could approve them. After spending days of coaxing, ordering, and begging them to do simple chores like unload the dishwasher, make your bed, pick up the living room, put shoes away, etc. the day goes somewhat like this:

Iy: "Mom, for my 3 chores I want to clear off the coffee table, clear the kitchen table, and clean baseboards."

Me: "The first two sound great, but which baseboards do you intend to clean?" I was going to commit her to cleaning the baseboards in one room.

Iy: "Can't I clean the baseboards in the whole house?"

Me: "Yes. Yes you can."

Iy: Fist pumping "YES!" Runs off to do her chores.

I'm guessing the scripture was right.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Iy & The Bookstore

Me: "Iy, look at this book, it's about..."
Iy, interrupting: "Mom, I like this one"
Me: "What's it about?"
Iy: "I don't know but it has a great cover and I always pick books by their cute covers and this one is SOOOOO cuuuuute!"

I started to prepare the whole "you can't judge a book by it's cover speech" but then bit my tongue and decided she would eventually figure it out on her own someday. But then something about Iy became abundantly clear to me!! Iy LOVES cookbooks! When we got to the library the kids are allowed to choose 5 books and almost every time Iy will choose 2-3 cookbooks out of the adult nonfiction section of the library. The bookstore was no exception--Iy quickly located the cookbook section and began BEGGING for a cookbook. I guess those covers look cute AND yummy!

Bra Shopping

Hopefully everyone who reads this won't mention this post to my oldest daughter. Yesterday we had to go bra shopping. It wasn't the first time, but she needed a different size. I hate bra shopping!! We had such a hard time finding the right fit for her--it reminded me of when I was a girl. I hated the fact that I had to wear and/or shop for one. I'm pretty sure that I was in tears on the bra shopping trip. I'm sure the experience was as awful for my mother as it was for me. Ev was really good about it. She seemed pretty content and very patient--she had to try on MANY. She ended up pleased with the end result. WHEW! When we got home she proudly and happily announced to her dad that she had done some shopping. He, not knowing what we had been shopping for and feeling a little playful, ripped the bag out of her hand and said, "What's in here?!" She tried to get it back from him but he held it out of her reach, peeked in, and then told her she could have them and gave them right back. He was a little embarrassed, I think. Ev thought his embarrassment was funny! At her age I would have been horrified!

The best part of the shopping trip was Iy. "Oooooh, look at this one--it has bright hearts!!" She was a little scandalized that Ev was only interested in white ones. "How about pink? Or blue?" Then she started with this line of comments: "Mom, how come Ev gets all of these and I don't get any? I want one!" I would tell her that she didn't need one for a while and she would come back with "Why?" which Ev and I just laughed about. Then she tried a new tactic: "But there are some little ones here and they would work!" I'm just guessing that Iy is going to let me know as soon as she thinks she has enough growth to justify getting a bra. So different from me--I don't know where she gets it!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I Need A Vacation

I'm picturing a quiet couple of days AND nights with Vince. No kids. A luxury we have never taken. We've been married almost 14 years and I think we are entitled. While we didn't take our kids with us on the pioneer trek, I'm saying that didn't count. For obvious reasons. I'm picturing that we would go horseback riding, or 4-wheeling, or sleep out under the stars, or in a tent, or go hiking, or just stay in a hotel room. We could even travel--don't care where, I'm easy to please! We'd have such great conversation. Except for the fact that I'm a total wuss and I wouldn't say much if I was riding a horse except "whoa" "Whoa there" "Stop" and "I want to get off". I don't really get along with horses. I'm thinking that Vince would want to go faster than 5 mph on a 4-wheeler so maybe that wouldn't work out. I'm good for sleeping out under the stars, though. Same with a tent. I like hiking but I freely admit that I sometimes struggle to keep up with him AND have enough air to carry on a conversation. If we stayed in a hotel room we would take advantage of the quiet stress free environment and just sleep and read. I'm guessing that our best shot at uninterrupted conversation and together time is a little camping trip. I'm thinking people should put bugs in his ears. The right people know who I'm talking to!! The great thing about this is that we COULDN'T take the kids with us even if we wanted to because only the little truck is in good enough shape to get anywhere right now. I'm thinking about not getting the family car fixed.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

He's Growing Up

Yes, it's true N is really growing up. Have you ever gotten up one morning and realized that one of your kids is just.......different? Well, N is not even a little boy anymore. He's all big. I know because...

In the last week he has only asked for 2 "snuddles"....and I asked for more than 2

He picks fights with his siblings. Sometimes for pleasure I think.

He doesn't make as many messes.

He tells me he WON'T do his chores. He may be grown up, but he's not wise yet. That doesn't work at our house!

He gets dressed all by himself.

He can make his own mud holes...so he still makes some messes, but they're outside!

When he's muddy and coming in the house he stands on the front door and yells for me "MOOMMM! MOOOOMMMMM! I Muye! I nee baf!" He doesn't track it in the house anymore and he actually ASKS for a bath!!!!

He opens doors for girls

He goes into the school all by himself and doesn't want me to go with him.

He doesn't want me to hold his hand when we go places.

Sunday we were running late and he was the Pokey Puppy, if you know what I mean and by the time we got in the car I was tense and told him to put his seatbelt on. He looked me straight in the eye and said "I can't" and held up his finger which had one of those stupid Chinese finger traps on it. I said yes you can, use your other hand! He looked me straight in the eye and put his other finger from his other hand in the stupid Chinese finger trap and said, "I can't. I'm stuck." At which point Ev SIGHED a big sigh, rolled her eyes, pushed him in his seat, and buckled him. This was the first time I can remember him so blatantly trying to push my buttons.

Goodbye to babies, toddlers, and little people in our house...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

We're Home!

I would have written earlier, but I am SOOO tired! Trek was fun and tiring! I learned so much about the pioneers and myself. First lesson--entertaining/distracting youth from the work, walking, and weather wears me out! The first day we had a word riddle that worked well and we played Ninja Tag on water breaks. The second day our "uncle" (who played the harmonica, sang, and was just plain silly) made up a kind of pig latin that distracted the kids. Do you know what this says? "Hong-ee wong-a-song fong-uu nong-nong yong". The third day was our "Sunday" so we didn't trek, but we did play lots of fun games. Vince and I were a little competitive during the tug-of-war and earned our family a pom-pom award. On account of our cheering. But hey, our side won 8 of 10 pulls. We had a great time! The last day we were too tired to think of anything to distract the kids with, but they distracted themselves by RUNNING their cart up every hill. There were several hills the last day, some bigger than others, and they would spend all the flat parts kind of regrouping and then run up the hills. I had to jog uphill to keep up with them. It was pretty impressive!

I have decided that pioneer clothing is genius, which was a surprise to me. The long-sleeve dress kept me cool and warm (I think you have to test this to truly understand it's true), kept my arms and legs from getting any scrapes/scratches, kept the bugs off (YAY!) and the bonnet kept the sun and rain out of my face. I'm not sure what we wear now is progress at all! Except for the shoes. I didn't wear shoes like the pioneers and I'm perfectly happy with my fancy waterproof hiking shoes and nylon socks!! Also I appreciate sunscreen and bug spray and hand sanitizer because even long sleeved pioneer dresses and bonnets can't keep EVERYTHING off!

The day before I left I found a testimony of a German/Russian relation that was very inspiring to me and I left kind of wondering how this man had such a deep love and understanding of the Savior. I decided that it's because he lived a life of hardships, much like our pioneer ancestors, and it's during these hardships that we get to know Christ in a very personal way and find the value in maintaining a great friendship with Him. There were a few times on the trek where I felt just desperate. I know that's a strong word, but let me give you some background. The first day we trekked about 12-13 miles. We ate a good breakfast at 6:30 am and then got a little snack bag of trail mix and a fruit leather at about 3:00 pm and at 5:00 we had a piece of jerky, an apple and a string cheese. After "dinner" we had a women's pull. This is where the girls and their mas had to pull/push the handcarts up a hill without the help of the guys. It's difficult but very inspiring! Of course right before the women's pull it started raining buckets! We did the women's pull in a drenching rain and mud, which made the hill even more difficult because it was slippery, etc. We got through that all right and then had a little testimony time and then got ready to trek another 5 miles. The rain had stopped during our testimony time but as we got ready to leave it started raining again. LOTS of rain! This was a great time to discover that some kids didn't have coats and/or ponchos. So now it's about 7:00, it's dark, it's pouring rain and we are trekking another 5 miles in serious mud. There were some serious puddles of very wet mud in different parts of the trail so we would have to leave the trail sometimes and come back to it (I fell a few times because it was so slippery and dark). We got in to camp about 12-12:30 PM. Or is that AM? It was the middle of the night! We still had to create a shelter for our boys and raise a tent for the girls. Everyone had to change into dry clothes and this took quite a while as there were almost 300 trekkers and 4 changing tents. Several times in this process a disoriented youth would need help finding their "family" and I was called on to help with this. None of the youth had flashlights, but mas and pas did. This was a great time to discover that one of our "sons" had not brought a sleeping bag. Needless to say, I wasn't able to get in warm clothes until 1:45 AM after we had got our "family settled". It was so cold. My clothes were drenched because of the rain and because of my falls in the mud. It rained hard all night and when I woke up in the morning it was still raining. Here is where I really got a taste of what some of my ancestors endured. I lay in my sleeping bag, still chilled from the night before, listening to the rain, and totally discouraged at what this meant. I had only two dresses; one wet, one dry. If I wore my dry dress it would soon be wet and then I would have no more dry clothes. I had no choice but to put my wet clothes back on. I was so cold I could hardly button my dress and there was no way to deal with the cold except to hurry and get outside and move around. In the rain and mud. UCK. I had read stories about this but I don't think I ever understood before. We all do what we have to do to get through challenges in our life, but I was grateful for this experience because I don't often have to meet any challenges while being so physically miserable. Just taking care of our "kids" and trekking several miles and creating shelters, and then packing them up the next day, and cooking outside... seems challenge enough but this rain and wet clothes bit seemed like the last straw, if you know what I mean. Of course I didn't want to go home and I was grateful for the experience, but at that moment in time it was SOOO tempting to just stay in my sleeping bag, and ignore the rain, and let Vince take care of everything. Our condition that morning was so extreme that the missionary responsible for the land where the treks take place rode out on his 4 wheeler to offer to evacuate us. At that moment I would have been tempted to go, but our great trail boss said, "No way!" and I was glad that we stayed. It would have felt too much like giving up. I guess I learned that our trials are the price we pay to get to know our Savior. We have to work through difficult things in order to become who we need to be.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Suzuki Camp

Ev is gone all this week for Suzuki Camp. Before she left Et was VERY annoying! I finally suggested to Ev (who was getting very irritated) that he was probably getting all his little brother duties for the week done that morning before she left. He giggled so I think I nailed it. It's good to be missed, isn't it? She is having a great time! One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish has a great picture of E playing with cousin A.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Forced Family Time

Doesn't sound good, does it? Forced family time--like when my mom made me eat black bean soup. And it wasn't that bad, really. Vince had taken Et into Salt Lake for Cub Scout Day Camp and I needed a few things at a craft store. We don't have a craft store near so I had to go to Salt Lake. Ev, Iv, and N and I ran in for a quick trip, but it didn't turn out that way. First of all, it was a fairly nice day and I was enjoying myself and so I took some back roads to get home. We left Salt Lake around 11 and we got on the 201 and were turned around because the road was closed for some reason. No big deal. I turned around, got on I-80 only to find out that it was CLOSED. Yes, they had closed all major routes to our town and we were stuck in the middle of it. We couldn't turn around or go forward, we could only sit there. For a really LONG time. We must have got in this line around 11:45 or so. At 3:30 we finally reached a turn around point where we were given a choice to either go back to Salt Lake or wait some more. After 4.5 hours of being in the car we decided to turn around and do something unique like, use a bathroom and find something to eat/drink. I had a cell phone with me and had been in touch with Vince and so we met up with him and did last minute trek shopping. All our "family" trek gear was due that day at 8:00. So we finished our shopping, filled up our cars with gas, (yes, I was almost out on the interstate and that was a little stressing) and then heard on the radio that they had opened a westbound lane so we decided to just go home. We should have stayed and gone to a movie and dinner or something, because as I feared, the 10-mile line of two lane cars plus the one lane coming from 201 meant that I-80 was still a parking lot and so poor Ev, Iv, and N had to spend several more hours in the car. We reached the end of the line at about 4:45 and we got home at 7:30. Ev made mac and cheese for dinner while Vince and I hurriedly worked on packing our stuff. We didn't deliver our trek stuff until almost 9:30 after which we had to run to the store for groceries. When we got home we had family prayer and put the kids to bed. Iv said the prayer and I thought the best part was when she prayed that tomorrow "everyone would get to eat breakfast AND lunch AND dinner".

The kids were really good in the car--I was impressed. We actually had a rather pleasant day in spite of everything. We kept counting our blessings. Truthfully, if I hadn't felt so peaceful that morning we would have been a little closer to the accident and I wouldn't have liked the kids to witness it. It was really awful. Every time we would start to feel sorry for ourselves, we would think of a reason to be thankful. Once we passed a pig truck and we were SOOOO grateful that we hadn't had to spend hours next to it--what a smell! The funniest part of the day was when Iv (after listening to the radio off and on all day trying to hear news) asked "Mom, what is MY sleep number?"

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Late Reports: Mom Dates #3 & #4

Thursday N and I went on our mom date to Pizza Hut. It was really sweet and he LOVED it! I say LOVED it because on three separate occasions as we were waiting for his personal pan pepperoni he gave me a big hug and said, "I love you mom." All day yesterday he asked me when we were going out again. We had a sweet visit. N insisted on sitting next to me, not across from me which was different than the other kids. I should also mention that about a week or two ago both of my boys started opening doors for me. N is really cute about it and when I got in the car the other day he was telling me that he had opened it for me and he was right--when I came out of the house the car door was open and waiting for me. I also heard from the lady that took him to school the other day that when she dropped them off (N and my friend's little daughter) N ran ahead and opened the door to the school for the little girls. So CUTE!

Friday Iy and I went to Applebees together. And no one tried to seat us in the bar, which was quite a relief. We enjoyed playing the dot game while we waited for our food to come. We were there a LONG time! Because Iy is the slowest eater in the world, I think. Sometimes I wonder if there is a medical reason for it. OK--one reason could be that she talks a lot. And she was playing with the little girls in the family at the next table. The next table had little 9 month old twin girls that kept looking at us and smiling and babbling and even I was a little distracted! Still, even after the other family left, it took Iy quite a long time to finish her grilled cheese sandwich. At home, Iy will take at least 20 minutes longer than anyone else to finish a meal. She doesn't eat more than anyone else, she just takes little bites and chews her food. Maybe that means she is normal and the rest of us should chew our food more. But I don't know--I once tried to make my meal last as long as hers and sit with her but I found that my food just got cold. She's just a slow eater--she doesn't talk as much when she's eating at home, either. The waitress wanted to bring us a receipt but I told her we would be ordering dessert. She came by 3 times to ask if we were ready to order dessert but Iy still wasn't ready. I should also say that the waitress waited proper intervals before stopping and asking each time. When it was finally time to choose a dessert she chose chocolate mousse. That's my girl! As I was reading her the choices (she could read but then it would slow the whole eating process)I knew that's the one she would want--she loves chocolate! She told me proudly that she ate her dessert really fast! I will say that it went down faster than the grilled cheese (no chewing) but I didn't tell Iy that Ev finished her dessert (same size) at least three times as fast! I'm wondering how this is all going to play out when she's dating...

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Word Play

Yesterday we went to the library and then Ev and I ran into a store. I say ran because there was a DOWNPOUR--it was so bad the others waited in the car while we ran in. When I got back Iv was sitting in her seat with her arms folded, eyes closed, and very still and quiet. I instantly thought "don't really want to know". Et pipes up with "Mom, Iv ran outside and ran away and this is just a dummy of her." A few seconds later Iv calls out, "Just kidding! I'm still here!" They had obviously been planning this the whole time we were in the store. Iv and N were quite proud of themselves and so was Et, which I thought was a little strange, since this seemed a little juvenile for him.

It made sense two seconds later when Et said, "Hey, Iv, did you get that I called you a dummy?" Iv either didn't get it, didn't care, or is finally mature enough to just ignore him. We had a pleasant ride home! :)

Found on the side of a roll of tape:
"I Et have won again. Booyah! Ha ha"
"Yeah Right!"
I'm pretty sure the Yeah Right was from Ev. I have no idea what this is about...

Mom Date #2 Report

Wednesday afternoon Et and I went on our date. Actually, he told me I couldn't call it that. For lack of a better word I called it our trip, place, outing, etc.--he rejected all my ideas. He suggested "time out". Which I thought was hilarious.

Anyway, I took him to Great Clips for a badly needed hair cut. A mom there told her son in a surprised voice that it had been 8 weeks since his last haircut. Like that was some kind of record. I'm certain we broke her record but I did NOT ask them to look in the computer to tell me--I'd rather not know.

After the haircut we went to Cold Stone. Et had been planning this visit all week. He ordered the biggest bowl of ice cream in a dipped waffle bowl and insisted he could eat it all without ANY help! I got one of their fruit smoothies and watched him eat. At first he really plowed into it but about halfway through he started to slow down. This turned out to be quite pleasant because not wanting to admit he was having a hard time finishing he started talking. He talked about school, friends, etc. I haven't had this much conversation with him in the last several months combined. After we visited for a while I pointed out the obvious--he couldn't finish. At which point he finally laughed and admitted I was right. He claims his downfall was the dipped waffle bowl--the chocolate was too much for him. I had such a great conversation with him that I'm considering taking him back before school and letting him try it with an undipped waffle bowl.

As we were leaving Et surreptitiously gave the gift card with the rest of our money on it (a little more than $7) to a member of the military that walked in. By surreptitiously I mean that he somehow got it on their table (the place was kind of crowded) without them noticing and got away but still got to see them pick it up. Apparently I had used all his words and he had none left to say "Thanks for serving our country."

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Mom Date #1 Report

I made it a goal to have a one-on-one mom date with each child before I leave for trek next week so today I went with Ev to Applebee's. It was lots of fun and Ev and I had a great conversation with Ev--she is most excited this summer to go to Suzuki camp next week and stay with Aunt K (She said nothing about Uncle S) but ADORES the baby. She is also excited to stay with Grandma L sometime this summer. I can afford to do mom dates because the kids get to choose a destination for which I have a free coupon from school: Cold Stone, Burger King, Pizza Hut, or Applebees. We walked into Applebees and were promptly led through the half-empty restaurant to a table right next to the bar. Am I the only one who thinks this was a "bright" idea? Why would you seat a kid in the bar section? The other funny thing was that the employee who led us there was obviously pregnant. And blonde. For real, and normally I wouldn't notice, but the baby is obviously taking whatever is left of her brain! Here's hoping she gets some brain back when it comes time to raise the baby. I politely asked if we could have a seat at a booth. Our waitress was pretty nice--she was a multi-tasker. She would call out to table one for their appetizer order while carrying drinks to table three and dropping a receipt at table two. I guess table one was just supposed to shout out their orders as she walked by and then not be surprised at her interrupting them to ask table three if they needed anything else. We were at table two. It should come as no surprise to anyone (except I was a little surprised) when they seated a couple at table 1 (the bar is now empty) who promptly had to have the manager "id" them before they served them their alcoholic beverages. Normally I would have not noticed or cared, but after they tried to seat my 11-year-old daughter in the bar I found it ironic.

After lunch we ran to Wal-Mart to grab some bread and kitty litter. Great grocery list, huh? This is because yesterday I went shopping with all four kids. 'Nuff said. As we pulled into the parking lot today there was a little boy, all alone, crying, half running and half walking around the parking lot. Obviously lost. So I told Ev to get out of the car and get him and take him inside until I could park and get there. By the time Ev got to him he was on his way inside and she helped direct him to an employee so they could help him. They paged his parents THREE times and no one came. I mentioned to one customer service employee (out of earshot of the boy) how he was initially found and then went to pay for my stuff. We bought the poor boy (he was about 7) some M&M's and then went home. I was thinking about it on the way to my car and it kind of made me mad! I mean who loses a 7-year-old boy in Wal-Mart or the parking lot?!! I even said at this point to Ev that they should just call the police.

Then I remembered that when I was a little girl we left Uncle K at a random gas station on a road trip once. And I remembered my shopping excursion yesterday and then my attitude changed. I pictured a harried mother in the first week of summer with all her kids in the store doing whatever it is that kids do in the store: running not walking, yelling not talking, teasing, begging, whining, hiding, begging, touching EVERYTHING, "helping" their siblings,... Then I pictured this poor mother in the frame of mind as I get in these situations. Must. Get. Out. Of. Store..... NOW! I can picture her at the checkout counter and all the kids are asking for all the stuff they try to sell there to drive mothers crazy and then one of them asking if he can have a drink and her just saying, "Yes! Everyone get a drink while I pay for this!" And then one wanders off or goes to the restroom and then she's done and getting everything together and then hurrying them all to the car and getting them all buckled in and then putting the cart back and then trying to ignore the cacophony of "I wanted candy....He's touching me... She looked out my window.... He's not buckled..." You know--when they each make enough noise for three separate individuals. And really, in a situation like that who WOULD miss one? And then maybe she went home and tried to convince people to help her unload and then all but one or possibly two disappeared. Surely I can't be the only one who has magically disappearing children. Imagine her surprise and concern and shock 20 minutes later when she tries to remind one to clean his room only to discover he is missing....

Now I wish I had wasted more time in Wal-Mart. I probably missed meeting a kindred spirit mother... At least I hope so. At least it's a much nicer story this way than some other scenarios.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

My Pioneer Ancestors...

I have spent the last couple of days trying to learn what I could about my pioneer ancestors so I could share stories with my trek "family". I'm not done, but I have loved what I've learned so far. Here are a few highlights:

Thomas Rich, 3rd Great Grandfather passed through the persecutions of the Saints in Missouri and was a participant in the Crooked River battle, acted as a body guard to the Prophet Joseph Smith, and came to Utah in 1850. His son Landon, my 2nd Great Grandfather was 10 when the family crossed the plains. The family came with 5 people (Dad--32, Henrietta (mom)--26, Landon--9, Thomas--2, and I don't know who the fifth person was. Thomas Rich was a captain and had 1 wagon, 4 cattle, 1 gun, 1 1/2 lb black powder, and 6 lb lead.

John Ormond, Jr was a 3rd Great Grandfather and I found a journal excerpt for him. YAAY! It's kind of long so I won't put it all here. He describes some encounters with Indians, treaties, herding buffalo, stampeding animals,... Fun reading.

Joseph Bates Noble, a 3rd Great Grandfather was a loyal friend of Joseph Smith. Three are many great stories of him before the Saints migrated west but I could only find one story about him during the migration, although I do know he was also a captain. The story is really good. His friend's wife, Caroline Grant had her 2nd child, Margaret, in Winter Quarters, leaving her in a weakened condition when she came west. Cholera struck the camp on the Sweetwater River and claimed the baby, Margaret, on Sept 2. She was buried along the trail four days before her mother died. Carolyn succumbed to the disease at the Bear River crossing, 75 miles from Salt Lake City. On her death bed she asked her husband to bring the baby to her and bury them together. He was devastated to lose them both and promised her he would. Jedediah, the husband, drove night and day to get to Salt Lake, where she was buried 4 days later. He and my Great Grandfather Joseph Bates Noble went back to recover the body of Margaret and found that wolves had ravaged the grave and body. Before they reached the grave, Jedediah had confided to Joseph, "Bates, God has made it plain. The joy of Paradise where my wife and baby are together, seems to be upon me tonight. For some wise purpose they have been released from the earth struggles into which you and I are plunged. They are many, many times happier than we can possibly be here." Even with this knowledge and testimony, Jedidiah and Joseph were understandably discouraged at the condition of the baby's grave and wept.

Edmond Durfee and Magdalena Pickle were my 4 Great Grandparents. Edmond was killed by mobs leaving Magdalena with two unmarried sons. One son left the valley without her and the other stayed with her at Council Bluffs, making wagons for the emigrating Saints. Magdalena died at Council Bluffs.

Tamma Durfee was one of Edmond and Magdalena's daughters and my 3rd Great Grandmother. After her father was martyred, her husband died from sickness brought on from suffering mob persecutions leaving her with 7 children, the oldest just 14. She traveled west as a widow with her 7 children with 2 yoke of oxen, two yoke of cows, one wagon supplied with a limited amount of provisions, and the same clothing. Tamma doesn't say much about her journey, in fact she writes far more about the persecutions she suffered before the trip west. Here is what she did write about the trip: "...started with one hundred wagons June 10, 1850. We traveled across the plains with ox teams. We had many a hard struggle although we got along much better than we anticipated. The first of September we landed in Salt Lake City without any home or anyone to hunt us one, we were very lonesome indeed." After she had arrived in the valley she ended up marrying my 4th great grandfather (yes, this is a weird family tree), Enos Curtis, who lost 6 of his 14 children. His wife later died on the plains and he came the rest of the way a widower with the rest of his children and their families.

Cornelius Peter Lott, my 4th Great Grandfather has a most interesting history. He was a close friend of Joseph Smith and Brigham Young and was responsible for the church's herds of animals at winter quarters. But he is most known for a different kind of story. You know the one about Mary Fielding Smith who wanted to go with a company and the leader of the company told her she wasn't ready and that she should wait or else she would be a burden on the company and on him. She told him she would go that year and she wouldn't ask help of anyone and she would beat that man to the valley. And she was right. Well, that man was Cornelius Lott, my 4th Great Grandfather! There's lots more great stories about him and I'm glad my mom sent that information today!!

Joseph Knight Sr was my 5th Great Grandfather and this means something to you if you know my church's history. His boy Joseph Knight Jr is my 4th Great Grandfather and he traveled across the plains but I only know he came with his wife and three daughters, one which was just 1 and died a few years after they reached the valley.

John Mills and Jane Sanford were my 4th Great Grandparents. He was baptized my John Taylor in Canada--they had to break ice for the baptism. They came to Nauvoo, were forced to leave and took up residence in Winter Quarters, helping to build wagons. He came west as a teamster for a merchant by the name of Livingston. Jane came a year later with her mother, the Ashtons (Sister Ashton was her cousin), her sister,Joseph and Mary Ashton and her sister's baby. She started with "two wagons and provisions...I had on my wagon one yoke of four year old steers on the tongue, and two yoke of cows, and one yoke of two year old steers for leaders." Later she writes "I had to leave an ox after I had traveled 150 miles which seemed a great loss and there was yet about a thousand miles to travel to the end of our journey but I put a cow at the side of the other ox and rolled on."

I know this may not be interesting to most people but it has been fun researching for me. What surprises me is how LITTLE information was recorded by these people! Of course I can get a good idea of what their migration was like but I still wish I could find more about these specific individuals. I guess maybe they thought that they weren't doing anything unusual, after all, everyone they knew was doing the exact same thing and living the exact same lives. Also, I guess they were kind of busy... In some ways maybe I get thinking the same kinds of thoughts and should keep a better record of my life. But there is still a part of me that things in our modern world there is TOO MUCH information out there about TOO MANY people!! Another topic for another day...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Training Trek

Well, we are back! And I learned that I am going to LOVE trekking!! I thought I would but some people seemed apprehensive and so part of me was thinking that when I actually got there I might learn I wasn't going to enjoy it so much. But I did learn a few things: (1) The Women's Pull was MUCH harder than I had anticipated and (2) I can kill, clean, and dress a live chicken (never thought I would need to know that--or ever actually do it) (3) That I am NOT as prepared as I thought I would be! First of all the Women's Pull--I consider myself to be pretty strong and I seriously thought I was going to be sick! This is the only part of the trek that is making me a bit nervous. I am hoping that the hill the girls will pull will not be as steep as ours. Or that there will be just one of them. Yes, our hill was PRETTY STEEP and there were TWO of them! That was one of the hardest parts--we reached the top, which we thought was the end and then had to keep going! I also learned that when I pull a handcart uphill I sound like a donkey. But seriously, I was surprised at how the absence of the priesthood affected me. We were all in our pioneer clothes and watching them all leave is hard to explain. I thought back to all the times when I felt alone while Vince was serving in the Bishopric and working long hours at work and realized I felt much the same. And when I was struggling with the other women to pull that cart up the hill I felt the same desperation and inadequacies that I used to feel. The only choice I had those years and during this pull and that I will have in the future was to keep pulling with all my might no matter what. Otherwise the cart was going to slip downhill. We just had to fight (literally) to keep it going and that's how life is sometimes. It will be difficult for our young women but what a great lesson. The fight makes us stronger. It is also true that just when you conquer one challenge another is lurking ahead--we never know. But we are stronger than we realize and we can do more than we thought we could do if we will just focus on the Lord and have faith.

Yes, we learned how to kill a chicken and it was not as bad as I thought it would be. Also we learned how to skin it and clean it and cut it all up and that wasn't too bad either. Although if I had a choice I probably wouldn't do it. But since my choice is to be either negative or positive about it and my "family" of youth will be watching I decided to suck it up and really learn and it turns out that I think I'll manage just fine. But I will need a knife much sharper than what's in my kitchen now. YAY! The pioneers were lucky to have sharp knives!!

OK--I am totally unprepared and am asking for any help and/or advice. We will be walking with our family (approximately 10 boys and girls from our stake that we don't know) for a LONG time. We will be with them for 4 entire days and 3 nights and we were advised that when we were walking these MANY MILES (the first day will be very long and the second kind of long) that it would be a good idea to have some kind of games and/or riddles to do with them. They gave us one example, but we will be walking LOTS and I know I will need more. Any ideas? When I go on trips with my kids we like the alphabet game, but there will be NO WAY we can play that so any help is WELCOME! Also, we were told that we could do some kind of craft with the kids during down time. Things that would be kind of neat would be like matching bandanas, bracelets, a bead on a necklace string,... Things like that. Of course, these are all things that they told us about and what would be really cool is something unique to our "family" so I'm taking suggestions. Please keep in mind that I'm not too crafty so it can't be too difficult. Also--any ideas for skits? Any great pioneer stories? Any advice about anything? Related to the trek, of course. Suggestions and comments are welcome from ANYONE, even if I don't know you!

Friday, May 29, 2009

A Full Bowl of Cereal and 8 Spoons

Today started off pretty normal. The kids had a hard time getting out of bed. There was the usual "discussions" (OK, Arguments) during breakfast. I was really good to ignore them--I didn't laugh or get riled or anything. Even when one time I walked through the kitchen and Iv said, "Mom, isn't that a new spoon on the counter because I told Et it was but he says it isn't and I know I'm right..." It leads off because I left the room. The next time I came in Iv said, "Mom, Et makes me so mad! He says that this is not a big spoon but I know it...." The next time it was Et, "Mom! Iv is driving me crazy! She won't stop looking at me!" You get the picture. This was, of course, after I lost my cool. And yelled. Which is a little unusual in the mornings because I love the mornings. But really. The boy wouldn't get dressed for school. Or get out of bed. And when he did get out of bed and get dressed he put on pants that had dirt on them. So I told him to change, because I had washed some for him and he refused. And I lost it! BECAUSE yesterday he claimed to have no pants and I told him that you CAN wear pants more than one day in between washings if nothing is on them and he freaked out and refused and finally found a pair in his drawer that he never wears which he decided would be preferable to wearing some he had already worn. Feeling repentant, I woke up at 5:00 AM to make sure the boy had some clean pants today and they were washed and dried when he woke up and then the boy refused to wear them. (OK--so maybe Et was feeling repentant too, but at the moment I didn't care) I said, "LOOK ET, I know I said that you can wear pants more than one day but those are obviously DIRTY and I got up at 5:00 AM so you would have clean pants because yesterday you refused! SO WEAR THE CLEAN PANTS!! He did.

What does this have to do with the bowl of cereal and spoons? I'm getting there. It was shortly after breakfast that I realized that I have training trek. TODAY. And I don't have all my stuff and haven't started packing. So after I dropped the kids off at school I ran to the store to pick up the last few things we needed. (Training Trek is for Mas and Pas (Vince and I are Mas and Pas this year) for a pioneer reenactment and so we have to go camp out tonight in all our pioneer stuff.) The shopping excursion was fraught with angst because N was playing with a rubber band and got his eye and then cried almost the whole time that he wanted to go home, but we couldn't until I was finished. I did feel bad later when I saw his eye lid swelling--yes, he gave himself a little black eye with a rubber band. When I got home from the store I realized that we had forgotten to put the garbage cans on the street so I went to get them and discovered that only one of them was half full and the other was empty. Yes, this is some kind of record. So I decided to clean out some of the garage. I mean really, empty garbage cans? No one here to see what I put in the garbage cans? TRUE OPPORTUNITY!! Also, because of the Training Trek hubby will be too preoccupied to say or think much more than wow, the garage looks better! If he even says that much. So I spent the next hour or so filling the garbage cans from the garage--I did a good job. They are very full and I'm hoping I can do more next week!

Now to the point. When I finished I walked in the kitchen and found a bowl full of cereal, milk, and 8 spoons. And my first reaction was exasperation. And then I thought, what a blessing! Of course the cereal and milk was a complete loss and who in the world has enough spoons to use eight per person, right? But the truth is:
1. He did get himself something to eat without hounding me.
2. I did just buy more cheap spoons 2 days ago because it seemed we were always running out.
3. And this is the most important! It was ONLY ONE bowl of cereal!!!! I mean what's the big problem about one bowl of cereal? The truth is this is major progress at our house. I still remember when I would be busy with something and come in to find AT LEAST one entire bag on the floor (not bagged) and/or in several cereal bowls, with every spoon I own, some of the cereal on the floor would be wet and soggy and some would be dry, some would be tracked into the living room carpet which would make me furious, milk would be spilled everywhere... And to top it off they would have gotten bored with cereal and milk and started in on the peanut butter which would have most of our knives sticking out of it. Yes, they really dip and lick with several utensils at a time.

So I didn't say one word about the bowl of cereal and eight spoons because I am in HEAVEN contemplating the progress!!