Friday, May 15, 2015
Yesterday I was purchasing some graduation gifts at a church book store. As I stood at the register I noticed a missionary couple that looked familiar. It only took me half a second to realize that it was President and Sister Ames, one of Allen the Younger's mission presidents and his wife! For those of you who don't know, the mission president and his wife are like the missionaries' parents while they are out serving. Allen t.y. had two mission presidents, each for a year of his mission. I felt like I got to know President and Sister Ames pretty well because I followed Sister Ames' blog where she would post pictures and talk about their experiences in the mission.
I went over and introduced myself as Allen t.y.'s mom and got to chat with them for a few minutes and update them a little on what he is up to. It meant so much to me to be able to meet them and thank them for their love and support of my son for that year. They were in town for a training at the Missionary Training Center and were heading back out to Texas in a couple of hours so it was a huge blessing for me to be able to run into them when I did.
I still haven't stopped smiling about it.
Thursday, May 14, 2015
Right after Julia returned home from college for the summer she told me she wanted to get her mission papers submitted so she could receive her mission call as soon as possible. Her plan was to get the call before Mother's Day, one of the two days in the year when Elle would be allowed to call home and talk with the family. She also wanted it to be a surprise for Elle, meaning I was not supposed to talk to anyone about it until after it happened. (Torture.)
Julia got all of her doctor visits and paperwork and picture and interviews finished by the last week of April and we found out that her call was issued on April 30th. That meant we had 9 days of anxiously stalking the mailman to see if the large, white envelope had arrived in the mail. It came on Saturday, the day before Mother's Day. Julia had to leave the house for the entire day because she was dying to just rip it open and see where she would be called to serve for 18 months.
On Mother's Day we went to church and then eagerly anticipated Elle's call the rest of the day. She told us in her weekly email that she would be calling some time between 3 and 6 pm so we were practically glued to the phones. I even tried calling our home phone from my cell phone to be sure it was working. That turned out to be a bad idea because Allen the Younger kept calling the home phone from his cell phone to see how we would react. Elle finally called us at about 5:45.
Once we had skype all set up Julia told Elle, "Hey! I got a letter from a friend that I want to read to you!" Elle asked, "What's your friend's name?" Julia responded, "Thomas S. Monson!" and pulled the white envelope from behind her back. (Thomas S. Monson is the current leader of our church.) It went perfectly - Elle was surprised and kept saying, "Julia! You're so sneaky!" and then...
My sweet Julia is going to be serving the people of the New Hampshire Manchester area, which includes five states in the New England area: New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine, New York and Massachusetts. She leaves exactly 2 months after Elle returns home from her mission in Louisiana.
This was seriously the best Mother's Day I can remember.
Sunday, April 26, 2015
Hey there! So yes, you're right, it has been way too long since I have posted anything on the ol' blog. I tend to get to a point where I am so behind that I don't know where to start anymore. So, how about the here and now?
I tried to think abut what to say. And while I was thinking, I took pictures of everyone. So, playing on the idea that a picture says a thousand words, here are a few thousand words for you...
Julia! She's home from college and getting ready to leave on her mission sometime this fall, probably. She still hasn't gotten a call, so you haven't missed anything there, but we're excited for whatever's ahead! It has been awesome to have her home.
All-a-Boy! He's the scoutiest scout you ever will meet. He's on about a zillion committees and going on more campouts than I can count this summer, including a Philmont trek and a stint as a staff member at Timberline. Hopefully he'll be an Eagle scout this summer as well. (fingers crossed!)
Cowgirl! She starts high school next year. What the heck? She loves to sing and be in plays and write really abstract poetry and read books and draw pictures of random things that don't really exist. The imagination is strong with this one.
Princess! She gets to be in charge of pushing a button to start the Star Spangled Banner before morning announcements at school every other week. She's a friend to everyone and the best kind of big sister. She gets frustrated that no one ever calls her to babysit.
Hubba! He gets more and more precocious as time goes by. But behind that mask is the most sweet, tender-hearted little boy. He asks to play on the computer about every other minute and tells me what he wants for his birthday or Christmas in the minutes in-between. Boy scouts is his favorite thing!
Curly! This girl is becoming more crazy by the day. She started out as this shy, quiet little person and now she's always seeking the crazy-cakes spotlight. Curly is a good friend to everyone in her class at school as well as a teacher's aide in every classroom she enters. She still loves creating numerous pieces of art and being an over-all smarty pants.
Little O! Not much has changed with this kid. He's still quite the ladies man with a new story every day about who was chasing who on the playground. He went from not caring one bit about the letters of the alphabet to reading like a champ this year!
Little X! Even with a smoothie moustache he's a cutie pie. This boy is my best buddy. We do everything together, including getting ourselves a donut or ice cream every time we go to the grocery store. He says funny things that keep me smiling ALL.THE.TIME.
More posts coming soon!
Monday, March 23, 2015
Me: Little X, you need to do your jobs.
X: Hey, Mom?
X: Zip it, lock it, put it in your pocket.
Me: (surprised) What is that supposed to mean?
X: Dat's what peoples say when you need to stop talking. Like about jobs.
I often tell Little X that he needs to get ready to go run errands. One day he came up from his room dressed like this:
And told me, "Dis is my SPY GUY clothes. I will be super sneaky and look at peoples wif the binawkillers."
And another time he was sporting this lion costume:
He said he needed to wear it so he could eat the bad guys at the store. A man at the bank said, "Cool lion costume!" and he responded, "I am not a lion. I am a boy wearing lion clothes. So please don't take me to the zoo."
Hubba: Mom, do you happen to have any dry ice?
Me: Not normally. Why?
Hubba: I have an idea that involves dry ice. That's all I'm saying.
One morning Little O noticed a gorgeous sunrise and got everyone to come look at it. Then, realizing that some of the family were already gone to school (or not living at home) he said, "I wish our whole family could be here to share this beautiful moment! Doesn't this sunrise just make your heart feel happy?"
Hubba: Mom, do you happen to have any liquid nitrogen?
Me: No. I never have liquid nitrogen.
Hubba: Well, that's boring.
Saturday, March 21, 2015
Some of the best memories Allen and I share are of the time when we were poor, recently married college students. Out of necessity we discovered creative ways to make our finances work for us. We learned so many things together this way! Was it always easy? Heck no. But so much of what we do now is a result of what we learned from the times we had to scrimp and save.
I taught myself how to sew on a sewing machine that was gifted to me by Allen's grandparents. I made my own maternity clothes when I was pregnant. I made quilts from inexpensive fabrics I found in clearance bins for baby and wedding gifts. Allen fixed our cars and kept our home in repair thanks to things his father taught him in their home. I learned to shop and plan menus according to what was on sale at the store each week. I learned to be creative with what I made for dinner based on what we had in the refrigerator and pantry. Allen built some of our furniture and fixed up our little apartments to make them more comfortable. We bought our clothes and other things we needed at thrift stores and yard sales. I sold things we no longer needed at yard sales and consignment stores. We drove used cars that made so much noise we could barely hear each other as we traveled from place to place. Instead of spending money on dates we would invite friends over for potluck dinners and game nights. These are all memories that I would never change and experiences I would not trade for anything. As we worked and learned and struggled together it helped to shape us into the people we are now.
Allen has been working at a wonderful job with the best company, ever (!) for almost 15 years now but our habits have not changed. We still do most of these things that we learned when times were hard. Not out of necessity, but because they make sense and bring us happiness.
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Every once in a while I am lucky enough to get a phone call from my brother Chip, announcing that he is in town and what are we doing for lunch? Most of the time we hang out at my house and eat and laugh and visit, but today we met up somewhere. We couldn't decide on where we were going to eat, but we knew that there needed to be donuts involved. Maple frosted ones, to be exact. So Chip stopped by our one of our favorite local bakeries and acquired not one, not two, but a WHOLE DOZEN of their amazing donuts along with some baklava to supplement our lunch.
Don't worry, we shared a salad and some sweet potato fries, too. But... DONUTS! They're what's for lunch!
I had Little X with me and was kind of worried about keeping him occupied in a dining establishment, but it was worth the gamble to spend some time with my baby brother. It turned out that I had no reason to worry because Little X found the perfect pastime: adding flavor to his root beer.
At first he was just dipping the sweet potato fries in his drink before eating them. Then he was submerging them. No biggie, I thought. It's no worse than my mom putting peanuts in her Pepsi back in the day.
And then, well...
It got to the point where there were more fries than liquid. And when I told him that was probably enough he loudly stated, "IT NEEDS MORE FLAVOR!" and shoved a couple more fries into the glass.
I kind of thought the whole thing was just a game to occupy his time until he actually STARTED TO DRINK IT!
After which he proclaimed, "Ahhhhh! Perfect flavor."
Salty sweet potato root beer? Maybe it's going to be the next big thing. (But probably not.)
Sunday, March 1, 2015
Every year that we've had one of our boys in cub scouts we've had to decorate a cake for the Blue and Gold banquet. Way back when Allen the Younger was 8 years old we had our first Blue and Gold experience and were told that every scout needed to bring a cake for the Cake Contest. At first I took this "contest" seriously because I am a competitive person. The theme was Scouting and I asked Allen the Younger what he'd like to make. He wanted an Eagle cake. So I spent the better part of the day baking, cutting, shaping, frosting and decorating a cake that would make professionals proud. The main thing I remember about this Eagle Cake was that it had feathers crafted from carefully laid out sliced almonds, which took us hours to do. Then we went to the banquet, ready to take home the prize for best cake, and found out there was really no contest. Everyone got a pre-written certificate and we took our entire cake home because even though it looked fancy no kid wants to eat a bunch of sliced almonds.
Since then I have learned that SIMPLE is the key. I ask what they want, and I always figure out a way to incorporate it into cupcakes (because kids LIKE cupcakes and we don't bring any home!). Hubba initially wanted a Plants versus Zombies theme, which we reminded him had nothing to do with cub scouts. So after searching the internet for pictures of zombies in scout uniforms and finding none he decided that pictures of scouts doing "camping stuff" like archery and building fires would be cool.
So we printed out pictures of "scout stuff" and he glued them onto toothpicks, stuck them in the cupcakes and VOILA! He got the "Best Blue and Gold Themed Award".
The story is actually even a little better than that. I was asked to bake a frozen lasagna for the banquet but forgot to put it in the oven until it was time to bake the cupcakes. As in, one hour before the festivities were starting. So I called all of my neighbors to see if I could come bake cupcakes in their oven, but no one answers their phones anymore, so I loaded my cupcake pans filled with batter on to a cookie sheet and went knocking door to door, trying to find someone at home. Our favorite across-the-street neighbors were home and had me leave the cupcakes there to bake. But I let them go a little too long and so the tops ended up kind of crispy. No problem. I advertised them as "cookie cupcakes: cookie on the top, cupcake on the bottom" and they were a hit.
Take that, Pinterest.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
I mostly needed to document this day for my benefit. Allen and I decided to spend Valentines Day with the kids rather than fighting the crowds at the restaurants and movie theaters. Initially we thought of having a nice dinner with a variety of fun courses to make it special. But then I decided to make it a kid-friendly special sort of dinner instead.
I took a lot of pictures with my tablet computer thingy (I'm never sure what to call it) but they didn't turn out the greatest. It was a good lesson in why taking the time to use my actual camera is usually worth it.
Two of the kids' favorite foods are pizza and hot dogs so I wanted to incorporate those. I made English muffin pizzas with pepperoni that I cut into heart shapes with a small cookie cutter:
I cut Little Smokies at an angle then rotated them to make the heart shape. Here's what they looked like before cooking. After cooking they looked more like angel wings but the kids didn't seem to notice. So if you ever want to make these I would suggest cooking them first, then cutting them and putting them together.
I had to have something healthy in there so I made a heart-shaped salad, too. The cucumbers could be cut out with the cookie cutter. The carrot had to be shaped before slicing. The grape tomatoes I cut the same way I made the little hot dogs.
No special meal around here is complete without Jell-O so I made these individual parfaits topped with whipped cream and some candy hearts.
For dessert I made chocolate covered strawberries
And each person got a little cup filled with Valentiney candy at their plate.
Combine that with the candy hearts scattered all over the table and my kids were in candy heaven. They couldn't believe that they could just eat the candy whenever they wanted to during the meal! Needless to say, our table decorations did not stick around for long.
We drank cherry 7-up with maraschino cherries from fancy glasses but used paper plates and napkins.
The candles weren't out yet, but you can kind of see them in the picture at the top of this post. The kids always think it is such a treat to eat by candlelight with the lights dimmed. Here was our full spread:
I also found Pictionary at our local thrift store for $2 so we had a great game night after dinner and laughed like crazy.
Friday, February 13, 2015
Allen TY: Nope.
Allen TY: Nope.
Me: It's Salt Lake City.
Hubba: I was going to say that.
Little O is getting pretty good at sounding out big words, but a lot of the time he guesses what words are based on most of the letters. We were at a church that had a sign on the door to the children's classroom and he read it out loud to us, "Are you an example of revenge?" (The last word was actually reverence.)
Little O: What day was I born?
Me: May 1st.
Little O: No way! That's the same day as my birthday!
Allen TY brought his girlfriend over to the house. After they left, we were asking the kids what they thought. Here's what they said:
Hubba: She must be pretty hilarious because Allen was sure laughing a lot.
Princess: She wasn't as serious as I thought she would be.
Little O: She is pretty beautiful.
Little X: Well, she is smaller than our house and she fitted through our door.
Me: What does that mean, X?
Little X: She is good.
Little X: If this food that you makeded didn't tasted so yucky, I would eat it allllllll gone. And I love you soooooo much!
(It's so nice that he softened the blow for me there at the end.)
Little X: Mom, can you giveded my toys a swimming pool?
Wednesday, February 4, 2015
What do you call it when you feed a stick of dynamite to a steer? Abominable!
What is Bruce Lee's favorite drink? WATAAAAARR!
What happens to Pastors who eat chili dogs? They have to sit in their own pew.
Two fish are in a tank. One turns to the other and says: ‘You man the guns, I’ll drive’
A neutron walks into a bar and asks "how much for a drink?" The bartender says, "For you? No charge."
What was Beethoven's favorite fruit? BANANANAAAAAA!
Why was the broom late? It over-swept!
What belongs to you, other people use it a lot, but you hardly every use it? Your name!
Why don’t fish go online? They’re afraid of getting caught in the Net
Why did the turtle see a psychiatrist? He wanted to come out of his shell.
What happened to the cat that swallowed a ball of wool? She had mittens.
How do you turn a beagle into a bird? Remove the B.
Why did the dog get a ticket? For double barking
Why are dinosaurs healthier than dragons? Because dinosaurs don’t smoke.
What do snakes do after a fight? They hiss and make up.
What happened when the butcher backed into his meat grinder? He got a little behind in his work.
How do you make a cream puff? Chase it around the block a few times.
Why did the banana go to the hospital? It didn’t peel so good.
Where do sheep buy their clothes? Lamb shops.
Where do spies go shopping? At the snooper market.
Why does Superman wear such big shoes? Because of his amazing feats
Why was the pony sent to the principal’s office? For horsing around.
How did the flower do in school? It got all Bees.
Why did the Christmas tree go to the hospital? It had tinsel-it is.
What's red and bad for your teeth? A brick.
What happens when a frog is double-parked on a lily pad? It’s toad away.
What did the security guard say to the firefly? Halt! Who glows there?
Was the vampire race close? Yes, it was neck and neck.
What do videos do on their days off? They unwind.
What’s the difference between a chocolate chip cookie and a whale? You can’t dunk a whale in your milk.
Where’s the best place to spot a man-eating fish? In a seafood restaurant.
Is it a good idea to eat ice cream on an empty stomach? No, you should eat it in a bowl.
What’s the difference between a bumblebee and a mattababy? (Ideally, the person you are telling the joke to will say, "What's a mattababy?" to which you can respond,) "Nothin' baby! What's a-matta with you?"
Do you think clams are happy? Have you ever heard one complain?
How do elephants speak with each other? On 'elephones
What does a skunk do when it gets angry? It raises a stink.
When is a horse not a horse? When it turns into a pasture
What clothing does a house wear? Address.
What happened to the outlaws who went skydiving? They had a chute out.
How does a quiet Hawaiian laugh? With a low ha.
What’s orange and sounds like a parrot? A carrot.
Why do golfers take an extra pair of socks? In case they get a hole in one!
How did the farmer fix his jeans? With a cabbage patch!
What did the mother broom say to the baby broom? Go to sweep, dear.
What do you throw out when you need it and take in when you don't need it? An anchor!
What did the light say when it was turned off? I’m delighted!
What has no beginning, no end, and nothing in the middle? A doughnut!
No one wants to have one of these. But when you do have one, no one wants to lose it! What am I? An argument
Why are pirates pirates? Because they just arrrrrgh!
What do you call a famous archer? A shooting star
Did you know there are 3 types of people? Those who can count and those who can’t.
Why is Cinderella so bad at sports? Because she has a pumpkin for a coach, and she runs away from the ball.
Tuesday, January 13, 2015
My sweet Elle with her current mission companion at the levee in New Orleans. When we got to talk with her on Christmas I asked her if they drove a Chevy there and she immediately answered, "Yeah, but it was dry." That's my girl.
I am 42. Do you know what that means? I am currently the age that is the answer to life, the universe and everything!! (Those who are familiar with The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will understand.) I am now two months shy of 43 years on this planet and I haven't been using this past year in the phenomenal way that is implied in the magical number of 42. So I better get on it! And I will, right after I finish some laundry and help Little X build a toast robot out of giant Legos.
I have no idea what a toast robot is, so I might be a while.
Little X talks in his sleep more than any of our kids ever have. This morning he rolled over in his sleep and said, "I want the teeny elephant and a cookie". I wish I could watch a movie of his dreams.
Speaking of dreams, this year on Christmas Eve I had the best dream in my life. Like, so great it was a Christmas gift in itself. Here's what went down in the dream: Allen and I were flying to New York and on the plane he told me, "I got tickets to Jimmy Fallon." I could not contain my excitement. We went right to the show when we arrived in New York City. As we were waiting in line, some of the people who run the show came and announced that they were holding auditions for an audience member to be in a lip sync battle with Jimmy. WHAT? I auditioned with Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go and then went to find Allen at our (pretty much front row!) seats. When the show started Jimmy came out and announced that this was a show about making dreams come true. The he asked, "Where's Gerberta?" Since I'm pretty much the only Gerberta I know of besides an Asian girl I found on Facebook once, I ran down to the stage. He tells me that Allen wrote him a letter letting him know how much I love his show and asks if it's true that Allen calls Jimmy my boyfriend. (He does.) He then says, "I hear you have other boyfriends, too? Michael Buble, Josh Groban, Jeremy Jordan and Christian Bale?" And as he's saying their names, they all walk out onto the stage. I get to sing a song with each of them, do the lip sync battle with Jimmy (which he let me win) and then some kid in the audience starts whispering, can we open presents now? Which wakes me up, because it's actually Little O at my bedside on Christmas morning. I tried to go back to sleep to finish the dream, but it didn't happen. Still? Best. Dream. Ever.
The winter weather has been strange this year. We didn't get our first real snowfall until Christmas Day, which was magical. It just rained a lot before that. And don't get me wrong, I love rain. But I really wanted snow for Christmas. As is our tradition, we made it snow inside despite the lack of snow outside.
And then it snowed for real and now I just want rain again. Yesterday it did rain, all day long. By the time we went to bed the rain had become snow and I grumbled a little bit about that. Which brought on the following conversation:
Little O: Why do grownups hate snow so much?
Me: Because we don't get to play in it, we have to shovel it and drive in it.
Little O: Well, why don't you just play in it then?
Me: Because I don't like the cold.
Little O: Well, why don't you dress up all toasty and then have hot chocolate afterwards?
He had a solution to everything. And he's right, why don't I play in the snow? Because I'm 42 and I think I have something to prove? I'm just a teenager living in a middle-aged body and dressing in middle-aged clothes. I need to make more time for fun. And also for getting dressed before 2 pm.
While Julia was home from college for Christmas we all went sledding up the canyon late one afternoon. The snow was powdery and made the sledding kind of lame, but everyone had a lot of fun. I think the best part was when we hiked up to a huge open field on the mountain. It was starting to get dark, and the moon was shining down on the snow. All we could hear was the crunch of the snow beneath our boots and the sound of the sleds dragging through the snow with the littler kids riding inside. When we had reached the field we all lay down in the snow on our backs, looking up at that big moon, shining bright even behind a cover of clouds. I remember feeling like I was a part of something huge right then. Being a mother to all of these kids who are each a bit of all the best parts of Allen and I and then some, having a husband who is happy to deal with my imperfections and still love me when I'm in my pajamas at 2 in the afternoon or making pancakes for dinner for the third time this week. In that moment I felt like I was enough and didn't need to worry about anything else. I also had a "An American Tail" moment where I thought, even though Elle is in Louisiana right now, and even though I know how very far apart we are, it helps to think we might be looking at the same bright... moon. And it's almost like a part of her is here with us and we're all together. And then, before I could start busting out the chorus to Somewhere Out There, someone said they were cold and someone else asked when we were going home and someone was making snow angels and throwing snow in someone else's face, so we loaded little ones back into the sleds and all made the trek back down to the van.
Well, I'm off to make a toast robot.
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
This happened over a year ago, but I was transferring some pictures off of my camera and found this one and had to write about it.
When we were in California for Spring Break, Julia and my mother-in-law and I were searching the thrift stores in hopes of finding some possibilities for a prom dress. As we searched through the racks at one store a woman, I think her name was Lorena, started a conversation with me about how great it was to get dresses at the thrift stores instead of paying full price for one. She asked if Julia was trying to find a prom dress and offered the dresses she had at home, from when her daughters were in high school. We exchanged phone numbers and met up later, close to her home, to pick up the dresses.
There were well over 20 dresses that she gave us. Here we were, total strangers from out of state, and she was more than happy to share what she no longer needed. She insisted that Julia take ALL of the dresses, not just one or two, and share them with her friends at home.
People like Lorena make me happy.
Friday, December 12, 2014
This is a perfect example of what happens when I finally get in the shower in the middle of the afternoon and Little X promises to watch Daniel Tiger on PBS Kids until I get out...
He plays his own version of Candyland and builds a fort in the front room with every loose couch or chair cushion available. And then he hides.
Which means I get to look all over the house for him.
I look in all of his favorite hiding places. He's not tucked behind one of the chairs at the computer desk. He's not in the pantry. He's not under anyone's bed. He's not beneath the dirty clothes inside the hamper. He's not anywhere in the backyard.
I start to get that little panicky feeling. That sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Did he get out the front door? How long has he been gone? I rush to check the deadbolts - they're still locked. I think to myself, where in the world could he be? Then I turn to do some more searching and hear a contented, sleepy, 3-year-old kind of sigh from beneath the cushion fort.
There's my boy.
Monday, December 1, 2014
UPDATED January 2015: How did we do? I put a line through the ones we actually completed. It was a busy month, but even the small acts of service we did added to the spirit of the season.
2. Donate some food to the food bank
7. Do a "trash walk" and pick up garbage in the neighborhood
9. Leave quarters in candy machines at the mall
10. Donate books to the school library
11. Give someone poinsettias
12. Give a homeless person a blanket
13. Leave compliments for people all over town and
give 3 honest compliments to strangers
14. Leave anonymous treats for teachers in the faculty break room
15. Decorate bags for Sack Suppers (https://kidsfoodbasket.worldsecuresystems.com/donate/sack-decorating)
17. Donate DVDs we no longer watch to KidFlix (or donate them to the pediatric unit of our local hospital if there is a need) http://www.kidflicks.org/donate/
18. Donate gently used stuffed animals to S.A.F.E. (or the local police or fire station if they are needed) http://www.stuffedanimalsforemergencies.org/Where_to_Donate.html
23. Leave a ziplock bag with quarters in it taped to hospital vending machines
The kids are so excited to get started! Almost as excited as I am.