Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Bizarre Thoughts

Out of pure curiosity and in honor of my hero, Robert Fulghum (who asked the question first),

Do you have any bizarre thoughts? If so, please share one. I will share one of mine.

I don't like talking on the phone without being fully dressed or have my hair and makeup done. Part of me is afraid that even though I'm not using Skype because I'm talking on my regular phone, the person on the other line can still see me dripping with only my towel on.

Anyway, what are your bizarre thoughts? These are just thoughts. I'm not asking for you to confess to any bizarre behavior that should have stayed a thought!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Every so often . . .

Every so often I lose myself in the work I do. Some days I complain about my work. Some days I simply go through the motions. Most of the time I do what I do enjoying it as much as anyone truly can enjoy changing poopy diapers, breaking up constant fights, and disciplining when necessary. Don't get me wrong, there are happy parts of my job like playing games with my kids, listening to infectious giggles, and the more than occasional silly conversation. Not to mention all the free hugs and kisses.

Every so often I lose myself in what I do. I have a small moment where it becomes so apparent that what I do really matters. I experience one of those magical moments where everything is right in the world because of what I am doing at that particular point in time.

Tonight was one of those times. I got the boys to bed. We went through our nightly rituals. They went through their own additions. Talking at the same time competing for my attention. Begging for one more hug and kiss as I try to leave for the hundredth time. It's amazing how many times I say, "Goodnight, I love you and I will see you in the morning." I think they stall to hear it as often as they can. Who wouldn't want to fall asleep in a nice warm bed enveloped in their mother's love?

When I was done with the boys I went in to talk to Heath. He was getting Gwen in her pajamas. I told him how impressed I was with Gavin and how he could now read Down by the Cool of the Pool with almost no help from me. I still had the book in my hand. I decided to read it to Gwen. She was excited about that. Heath went back to his projects for work.

As I read to Gwen I remembered reading the same book to a tiny baby Gavin years before. He always loved to be read to. Parker has only recently developed an interest in books. I don't know if Heath normally reads to Gwen before bed or not. I know I don't read to her during the day as often as I should.

When I was done with the book I asked if she had her teeth brushed. She said yes. She is at the stage where yes and no get mixed up a lot. I told her we should brush her teeth. She toddled off to the bathroom saying teeth. I love brushing Gwen's teeth. She is my only child to actually think it's cool! Parker gets excited to brush his own teeth and he does a good job. Then he patiently lets me brush for him. Gavin has always hated to be groomed at all. Teeth brushing has been a war between us since he was a tiny baby.

Gwen let's me brush for her. Then she spits. It is the cutest thing. The counter is at her eye level even with her standing on the step but that girl spits anyway. She's not that good at it. Nothing really comes out. I just love that she watches what everyone else does and she picks up on it so fast.

She walked back to her room, pausing to stare at her brothers' door first. Then she grabbed her favorite blanket off the pile of blankets by her dresser. She grabbed her baby, a plush doll given to me by several women in my ward as part of a baby shower group gift. Incidentally, the blanket Gwen loves so much was part of that gift as well. I remember thinking they picked the wrong doll. There was no way I was going to have a brunette child. Crazy that Gwen actually looks just like that doll, pigtails and everything. The doll is becoming Gwen's imaginary friend that goes everywhere with her, including the dirt outside!

We knelt down to pray. She is so cute to kneel down and fold her arms. She doesn't get the concept of repeating what we say so I offered the prayer.

I put Gwen into her bed with her baby and her blanket. I covered her with her sheets. She kept repeating a word over and over. I finally said, "You want me to sing you a song?" She got very excited and said yes. So I sang her the I Love You song and I Am a Child of God. These are the songs I always sing at naptime for her. She sang along with me as best she could.

We gave hugs and kisses and I walked out. She looks so cute in her bed. She is so tiny but she looks so comfortable surrounded by these big fluffy pillows and blankets. She had a huge smile on her face as she said, "Night!" to me. My heart is bursting.

Every once in a while I can't stand my own life my kids are so cute! What did I do to deserve the perfect family? I don't know but I hit the jackpot.

What’s a Bananalyst?

Parker holding up broccoli: This is a tree! Giraffes eat trees.
Me: They eat the leaves off of trees huh?
Parker: And they eat watermelons that grow on trees.
Me: Remind me not to walk under a watermelon tree!

Gavin: Dad, do we have that problem?
Gavin had just finished watching a commercial about brownies. It was something about brownies getting stuck in the corner of the pan.
Dad: No, our problem is we don’t have any brownies.

Parker: Mom, let’s make cookies. The ones in the box in the cupboard.
Me: We don’t have any more eggs.
Parker: Well, let’s just find a chicken and get an egg.
Me: Where are we going to find a chicken?
Parker: At that place where we saw the pig races! (County Fair)
Me: That’s a good idea. But I don’t think the Fair is there anymore.
Parker: Ok, let’s just buy some eggs.

Parker: Mom, I have bad news.
Me: What’s your bad news?
Parker: There is a bug on the door of the tree house.

Gavin: Dad, what are you? Are you a chef? A doctor? A firefighter? What are you?
Heath: I’m an analyst.
Gavin: What’s a bananalyst?

Me: Do you need to go potty?
Parker: Umm . . . no.
Me: Why do you look like you need to pee?
Parker: I just look like that when I am hungry.

Parker: I can't find my bunny picture. When I can't find something that means it is yost. (lost)
Gavin: Where is the first place you saw it?

They don’t always have to say things to be funny. Right now there is a pirate in the cannon on the pirate ship, ready to be fired into oblivion.

Our sidewalk was fixed and completed less than a week from when they finally dug the hole. I took Parker and Gwen to the playground. We walked over the new sidewalk. As soon as we got to the park we had to come home so I could calibrate my continuous glucose monitor sensor. Then we walked over the new sidewalk for the third time. When we came home Parker said: Oh look! The sidewalk is fixed!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Pandora's Box

Shelves divide my garage. Heath parks on one side. I park on the other. On the shelves sit several plastic bins as well as a few cardboard boxes.

What is in all these boxes? Stuff. Memories. Things. The items one inevitably accumulates throughout life. My boxes are filled with paper and words. Words are my passion in life. Words touch my soul. I save all inspiring, funny, and soul touching words.

Gavin brought home the class Tooth Bag. His assignment was to fill out the journal/letter to the Tooth Fairy. It was a fill in the blank type of assignment that opened the door to my memory. Visions filled my mind of Heath and myself laughing so hard tears streamed down our faces. I had given my 6th graders a fill in the blank letter to the incoming 6th graders. The responses were better than I could have ever imagined they would be. One in particular was the best. One of my students misspelled a word. The misspelling turned into another word that changed the meaning of what he wrote in a very unfortunate and comical way.

My quest was to find that paper. I found it. I laughed again. I don’t think it is appropriate to share it online. In my efforts to find the paper I found so much more.

It was as if I opened a Pandora’s Box of my life. Unlike the mythological Pandora’s Box, this was not all evil or bad. Just a swirl of memories bursting from the dusty folders of old papers and words.

One folder boosted my self-esteem as only former students can. It was full of drawings and notes from my 4th graders expressing their undying love for me. “Mrs. Westover is the best teacher ever. Mrs. Westover teaches really well.” “She taught us a math trick.” “I will miss her when she is gone.” “I almost cried when I heard she had to leave. I will miss her.” “I was afraid to come to 4th grade but Mrs. Westover is my teacher and she is really nice so now I like 4th grade.” etc. etc. How can one feel anything less than fantastic after reading such blind, unconditional love!

Letters of recommendation, writing assignments, notes written during class – Mary painted her fingernails during Zaps today as her form of rebellion! High school and college essays, poems that spoke to me, a letter from a former college roommate that I lost touch with and need to look up. All of these words and memories reminded me of who I used to be and who I wanted to become.

The truth is, I think some of the thoughts and experiences I have had lately are guiding me to what I need to do next in my life.

I love Robert Fulghum. In the middle of reading his book What on Earth Have I Done, I imagined for a brief moment that I met my idol. We talked. One thing led to another and he became my mentor. I had to watch Finding Forrester after my daydream. If only it were true!

I watched Finding Forrester while Heath listened online to Florida State wipe the field with BYU, their pride, and dignity. Our house got a little hectic towards the end of my movie. Kids arguing, the contents of their craft box all over the house like the aftermath of a bad stomach flu, Heath screaming at the computer. I was interrupted a lot but still got teary at the end of the movie.

Wouldn’t you know that a few days later I was listening to and Somewhere Over the Rainbow by Israel “IZ” Kamakawiwo’ole came on. For those of you who don’t know, that is the ending song on Finding Forrester. I learned that IZ was born in Hawaii. He was a legend in Hawaii. He died at the age of 38 from weight related respiratory illness. The Hawaiian flag flew at half mast on the day of his funeral. Over 10,000 people attended his funeral. The song makes me cry more now that I know about the musician behind it.

I find it interesting that all these experiences were happening in a matter of days. The last several chapters of Robert Fulghum’s book that led me to my plan to improve my writing and gain more formal training (I haven’t taken an English class since high school); the movie; the song I keep hearing; reading that Ray Bradbury couldn’t write for a while after his wife passed away because she was his muse, yet he pushed past the wall and kept going and is still amazing; my Pandora’s Box, etc. It’s as if the Lord is saying to me, “I gave you this talent. What are you going to do with it?”

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Why Blog?

I recently heard this criticism of blogging.

How hard is it going to be for children to live down the things that have been blogged about them?

Please share your reaction.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


 chillin-around-the-house-020 Today is the first day of fall.  It is 100 degrees.  It is a spare the air day; the third in a row.  The school kids have indoor recess on spare the air days.  Tap water comes out hot.  After running it for several minutes it cools to room temperature, which upstairs is 80 degrees.  Happy first day of fall!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Scientific Method

  1. Ask a Question
  2. Do Background Research
  3. Construct a Hypothesis
  4. Test Your Hypothesis by Doing an Experiment
  5. Analyze Your Data and Draw a Conclusion
  6. Communicate Your Results

Believe it or not, we use the scientific method every day.  How do you know the water is the right temperature for your shower?  Scientific method. 

Children consciously use the scientific method more than anyone else.  Parker’s example:

  1. Will the towel rack for the hand towel hold me?
  2. Shut the bathroom door to conduct research.  Mom will never know if the door is shut.
  3. Hypothesis – Yes, the towel rack will hold me while I am swinging like a monkey.
  4. Grab the ring and hold on tight.  What is that noise?  Try again!
  5. Oops!  My heart is pounding a mile a minute.  Mom is opening the door.  My hypothesis must have been wrong.
  6. I will communicate my results by crying really loudly. 

The price of knowledge is higher than it should be sometimes.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

It’s Official!

Babyhood is ending rapidly.  The crib is down.  I hope someone in my ward wants it.  I don’t know what to do with it otherwise.  After all these years of service, I am not too sad to see the crib go. 

The last two years or so of having a Nursery for Gwen have definitely gone fast.  It is strange to transition her room into a little girl room.  We bought her new sheets today.  Gavin-teeth-and-Gwen's-new-sheets-014 How cute are these sheets?  I love the colors and style.  So Gwen.  I also love how well everything matches the blanket my grandma made for Gwen at the foot of her bed. 

Gavin-teeth-and-Gwen's-new-sheets-013 Gwen was pretty excited about her new bed.  She loves the extra pillows that came with.  Gavin-teeth-and-Gwen's-new-sheets-016 Gavin-teeth-and-Gwen's-new-sheets-020 Gavin-teeth-and-Gwen's-new-sheets-018

Gwen was pretty excited to take a nap.  Ok, not really.  She did stop crying as soon as I shut the door though. 

The sheet set not only came with two extra pillows (the heart and the circle pillow in the corner that you can barely see because her “babies” take over the whole bed!), but it also came with vinyl wall decorations, a green canopy to hang over the head of the bed, as well as a sleep mask.  A sleep mask!  How funny is that? 

We will probably buy her a new bed for her birthday and retire the nearly dead box spring, the old bed frame and headboard.  The mattress was only used by Gavin for three years so if the bed doesn’t come with a new mattress, I’m fine with the one we already have. 

Our Little Miss is growing up to be quite the young lady. 

Friday, September 18, 2009

A Little Magic

As soon as I saw Gavin, when I picked him up from school, I noticed the hole in his mouth.


We had a family moment right there on the grass. Gavin told me he pulled his teeth out right as he was sitting at the carpet with his class. His teacher had him go to the office with a friend to get his name on the tooth chart. The secretary also gave him a tooth necklace.

gavin-teeth-2 Here he is holding a tooth in each hand. I must say, he got better stuff in first grade for his lost teeth than he did in kindergarten! The tooth necklace opens up and there were his teeth inside. The string broke at school so he had it in his pocket. I put more string on when we got home. That lasted through the mini photo shoot.

gavin-teeth-3 This picture is my favorite. Gavin is such a cutie.

Gavin-teeth-1 After a lot of wiggling. We're talking at least two weeks worth. After a lot of hoping. After a lot of saying, "I will eat a carrot in the front of my mouth!" The magic came from the T-shirt! This was the shirt Gavin was wearing when he finally lost his first tooth. It's gotta be the T-shirt!

A few days ago Gavin asked me how the Tooth Fairy gets in the house. I told him the truth; magic. Then he wanted to know how she knew who lost teeth and where they lived. I told him the truth; it’s her job to know and she is very organized. Then he asked if the Tooth Fairy is even real. I told him the truth - yes.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Who Told?

This morning I left Parker and Gwen with a babysitter while I went to the temple. As I was pulling out of my driveway, a city truck was parking across the street in front of my house. I wondered what minimal work they were going to do today.

I came home hours later to a gigantic hole in the street. The hole takes up the bottom part of my driveway. I can still park in the garage but I have to come in at an even steeper angle than I was before. I just had to laugh. Too bad I didn't take a picture yesterday.

Then when I was taking my babysitter home she was surprised to see the hole. She asked if it was there before. I told her that happened while I was gone. She said she knew people were outside but she never heard anything!

Either one of my readers said something yesterday to the right people or Murphy's Law is at work here. My guess is Murphy's Law. Which makes me wonder why I never posted about this sooner! It's like when you're at a restaurant and you need to use the restroom but you want to wait for your food to come first. You finally go and come back to all your friends enjoying their food!

I loved Ed's suggestion of throwing the barricades in the street and calling the city to pick them up. Thanks for the laughs.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Where the sidewalk construction ends

A month ago a man from the city came to my door to tell me the city would start repairs on the cracked concrete between my house and my neighbor’s house. He said their work would block part of my driveway, or at least it would cause us to change the approach to enter and exit the driveway. He said the work would be completed in 10 days.

One month later, I still have barricades blocking the bottom corner of my driveway causing me to have to pull in and out of my garage at an angle to avoid hitting them. I noticed about a week or so ago my next door neighbor put the barricades in his driveway onto the grass between our houses. I am tempted to stack mine behind his. He got two while I got three. I don’t know why. Especially when the crack is on his side and not mine.

It took the city 10 days to spray paint the street. Then the city blocked my driveway almost completely with a truck one day maybe two weeks into this “project” to cut the asphalt. That’s it. There is a line cut into the street. Only ants need to fear falling in the line. Nothing more has been done.

There is only one way out of my neighborhood. For the last three weeks there has been construction as you turn right onto the main road. In the beginning, cutting the deep hole in the street caused the city to close the right lane. That made turning right onto the street interesting. I already hate turning right onto that street. I never get a green light and some impatient jerk is always behind me. I hate other drivers. The orange traffic cones are still up but the lane is not closed. That’s almost scarier!

I can’t imagine what they are doing. I personally think they are exhuming a body. From whatever civilization lived here circa 500 BC. More realistically it’s probably some construction worker digging his way to China just to see if it can be done. Or he is trying to find a new way home so he doesn’t have to run into his ex who takes the same route.

Did you see the Grounded For Life where Lily and Brad broke up? They lived next door to each other and Brad started walking away from Lily. They had this conversation:

Lily: Where are you going?
Brad: School.
Lily pointing: School is that way.
Brad: I know. I’m avoiding you.
Lily: You’re just going to walk around the world to get to school?
Brad: If I have to!

Apparently, whatever the construction is for, it is much more important than fixing the problem they promised me would be done a month ago.

My boys ride their bikes over the crack in the concrete all the time. People walk and ride bikes over that crack all the time. This is not where the sidewalk ends. That’s on the main road. This is where the sidewalk construction ends.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

What on Earth Have I Done?

This is one of the books I picked up from the library yesterday. It's by Robert Fulghum. I love him. I picked up this book out of all my choices by him because I have asked myself this question a lot lately. Like when I misunderstood Heath's instructions on when to brown the meat for dinner - I was an hour too early!

I have made some decisions that have come with results I should have expected but didn't and now I feel foolish. But I don't regret my decisions either. Just the way I have gone about them.

Yesterday I asked myself this question with changing up Gwen's naps by putting her in her big girl bed! She handled it pretty well all things considered. I wasn't fast enough to get a picture of Gwen napping IN HER BED yesterday afternoon. I was impressed. But I did get some bed head pictures. She normally wakes up with her hair still looking great. In fact, don't tell anyone, but I squirt her hair in the morning and comb it while leaving in the ponytails from the day before. You would never know I don't style her hair every day! (At least I hope nobody notices)

She must have slept really weird because it was super messy yesterday.

Today I did manage to get a picture of her in her bed. I can't believe how quickly she can adapt to changes. She cried a little bit when I put her on her bed. I sang her favorite song. We call it the I Love You song. Then I shut the door. I never heard a peep out of her. This is what I saw after about 30 minutes. This picture is precious to me because she is such a light sleeper. This is the first time I have ever opened her door in the middle of a nap. I never check on her at night either for fear of waking her up.

Her favorite thing to say is I love you. Heath got this on his phone right as he had to leave for his second day of work at his new company. He was heading for the airport straight from work for a business trip. Talk about hitting the ground running! He has been a busy man since he started this new job. We sure love him and all the sacrifices he makes for us.
When Heath was trying to decide whether or not to accept this job offer he asked me to pray about it. I honestly did not want him to take the job! But the answer was to let him do it. So I prayed that we would never look back and regret this decision. So far I have not asked myself what on earth have I done!

There have been a lot of changes around here. The kids seem to be dealing with all of them well. I have tried to make some positive changes in my routine too. The way I feel should come as no surprise. It's like running into a best friend I haven't seen in a long time. In some ways these changes make me ask myself "what on earth have I done?" Not why have I made these changes but why haven't I made them sooner? My goal is to make these changes a new habit. Wish me luck.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Going Soft

My living room is my sanctuary. I chose the furniture. I love it. I chose the rugs. And I love it. The living room is not to be touched. Ever. I go there to think, pray, and ponder. I use my living room to calm Gavin's intensity. Guests are received in my living room. Home teachers, visiting teachers, the nurse and sales rep that gave me my continuous glucose monitor tutorial, and the former SUU football player who we will most likely hire as our financial advisor. They all give their message in my living room.

I get really uptight when the kids climb on the couches with their dirty feet or shoes. I don't like when they play with the couch cushions in the family room but I especially hate when they touch my living room couch cushions. I think Parker knows it. So when he is especially trying to get under my skin he dumps all the cushions on the floor! Ha ha! I have to laugh because all we had to do to my mom to get her going was to turn up a corner on her table cloth or make a wrinkle in the hall rug.

Food is most certainly not allowed in the living room. It's not allowed out of the kitchen. Or so I thought.

I give Gwen her snack at the kitchen table. She carries it to the living room table.

And enjoys it there.

I can't help but laugh. The table is her size so I can see why she likes to use it. I understand why the boys always use it to play. I am more ok with the kids using it but I will put my foot down on cars on my table. I didn't buy an antiqued table and I certainly don't need my kids to beat it up to give it that look!

I have been thinking it's time to get Gwen into her big girl bed. A few days ago she climbed up there and laid down on the pillow. Then she grabbed the blanket at the end of the bed and put it over herself. I tried to put her in her bed for naptime. She was very mad at me.

Today I tried again. I put all her "babies" (she calls any baby doll or any stuffed animal a baby) in her bed and I put all her favorite blankets in her bed too. Of course the body pillow is under the sheets so she doesn't fall out accidentally. She was not happy about this new nap place. As I shut the door she gave me the most heart wrenching face and cry. I shut the door and willed the tears away. It's been an emotional day and Gwen's face didn't help.

I heard her playing in her room for quite a while. She kept trying to open the door. In case she succeeded I put up a baby gate in the doorway. This is what I saw when I got her up for lunch. I love that the kids play with the diaper champ. That's not disgusting at all. Parker put a dragon in the hole and flipped the handle. The dragon got stuck. I told Parker it needed to be washed before he could play with it again. The kids don't seem to understand that dirty, stink, unsanitary diapers go in this pail that is dumped once a week.

Heath reminded me that when we taught the boys how to sleep in a bed they slept on the floor a lot.

I had no problem locking the boys in their room to sleep. I was impervious to their cries. Today was harder on me.

Maybe I'm getting old. Maybe I've figured out that some things just aren't as big a deal as I have always thought. Maybe it's true that the last kid is spoiled rotten. Maybe girls do know how to wrap their parents around their little finger. Either way, I've gotten soft.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Booming Light Show

At 5:30 am yesterday, I heard a familiar rumble. Thunder. Heath excitedly whispered, “Did you hear that?”

In the beginning the thunder was far distant rumbles. Then the lightning show came. Bright flashes of light that lit up the sky and our room. Heath and I thought we had died and gone to heaven! We laid in our bed for about an hour and a half enjoying the best show Mother Nature has put on for us in a long time. Between 6:30 and 7:00 the lightning and thunder was close. We started wondering when the kids were going to wake up because the thunder was shaking the house! It was incredible.

As we laid there we reminisced about our favorite thunder storms from when we were kids. I remember being very young and cowering in the stairwell in the basement afraid of the booming thunder. My brother calmed me down and told me that thunder was cool. It wasn’t going to hurt us. We both stayed down there but after that storm I was no longer afraid of thunder.

My favorite memories were playing outside in the rain. Heath said his favorite memories were of Eucalyptus Lake. The street had a low spot at one end that would fill up with water during rain storms. The neighborhood kids would splash around in the “lake” for hours like it was their own private pool.

He told me how he watched a tornado storm roll in when he was visiting his aunt and uncle in Nebraska one summer. He said the sky was perfectly blue and clear with a line and ominous black above. He made it to the courthouse, where his uncle was working, just in time.

Heath talked about being at Fred Meyer with his brother. Their mom was next door at the fabric store. Suddenly the power went out. When they looked out the doors they saw torrential rain downpour. Nobody was going anywhere for a while! They started wandering around the store and then the jewelry department alarm went off from the loud thunder or nearby lightning. Then they turned a corner and ran into their dad. I don’t know why they were separated from him. Heath almost shared the story as if they didn’t know he was there.

As the thunder and lightning were much closer together I remembered my family coming home from someplace. We lived in a split entry house at the time. So all 5 of us were crowded on the small landing trying to get our shoes off since my parents insisted on a no shoes in the house rule. There was a flash of light with an immediate bang of thunder. My dad swore the lightning had to have hit our front yard. I have never experienced anything any closer than that. It sure got my heart thumping!

Heath said his mom was struck by lightning while she was leaning against a tree. He said she had no idea there was even a storm. I want to know more about that story!

Parker eventually woke up. He came out of his room and when he saw Heath he said, “I was just checking out that loud noise.” Heath told him it was thunder and let Parker sit in our bed with us while we listened some more and then turned on the news. I am so bummed that I can’t find the video they showed anywhere. The video was of cars driving across the Golden Gate Bridge around 4 am. The cars were already trying to navigate in the dark and fog when suddenly there were several bright flashes of light. Not typical lightning flashes. No, it was like a UFO had taken a picture with a huge camera and an even bigger flash. It was bright. I’m amazed they didn’t report any accidents. I don’t see how the driver’s eyes adjusted with those flashes of light.

It was a dry lightning storm so there were several small grass fires as a result. I believe all of the fires were contained and the biggest ones only burned a few acres. No homes were threatened. It was an amazing storm. I am so grateful for every storm we get in California. I can’t believe how much rain we have seen this summer! I’m getting excited for the rainy season in a couple months.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Inappropriate Baby

Gwen has a baby doll that we have named Inappropriate Baby. This doll was given to us by our neighbors along with a lot of other toys they were getting rid of. This doll has got to be 20 years old.

The clothes are old and worn out. I was pretty excited when I saw that there was a bag of clothes for the two dolls we were given. The problem is there isn’t much in the bag. Socks and shoes is mostly all it is and one change of clothes for the bigger doll.

Inappropriate Baby’s panties were constantly coming off since the elastic is permanently stretched out from age. I got tired of finding them somewhere in the house and putting them on only to have Gwen pick up the doll causing the panties to immediately fall to the floor again. The doll now only wears a dress.

Gwen does not mean to pose her provocatively. However the doll is frequently found in embarrassing positions. As Gwen carelessly tosses her then walks away, it is a little shocking to see Inappropriate Baby lying on the floor with her legs and dress up to her ears.

My niece was born as tiny as they come. She is now the size Gwen was when she was born a walking toddler! Maybe Isabel is bigger. It’s been a while since I talked to Candi. Heath wondered if Izzy had a onesie she had grown out of that could cover up Inappropriate Baby. We need to do something. TV is bad enough and I can control what my kids see on it. But they are seeing much more than they need to of Inappropriate Baby. We all are.

Friday, September 11, 2009


As I sit at my computer today the picture widget on my desktop randomly displays my pictures. The pictures that capture my attention are my 4th graders. Eight years later they are 17 and 18 years old.

On September 11, 2001, I was with Heath at his parent’s house. Our visit was over and we were preparing for a 14 hour drive home. We woke up to the news of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center. Surreal is the only way to describe that day.

After the initial shock my first thought was how grateful I was that I was off track and didn’t have to face my tender 4th graders, 9 and 10 year old innocent children.

One of our neighbors, at the time, gave birth to her first child that day. She was so busy being in labor she didn’t hear about what happened until much later in the day. Every year I think of how her little boy shares his birthday with nationwide moments of silence and other ways of remembering the heroes and those who lost their lives.

My children will learn stories of 9/11 but they were not there. I will always remember. I will always remember the gratitude I felt for not having the horrible task of explaining it to my sweet 4th graders. Yet at the same time, I was so disappointed that I was not able to participate in patriotic activities. I had heard that the entire student body lined the halls reciting the Pledge of Allegiance while the older students and teachers wept. One of my mentors, a 6th grade teacher, played patriotic songs over the PA system after the Pledge.

I will always remember what it meant to see American flags on cars. I will always remember the new fear mixed with strong determination to move forward that hung in the air as Salt Lake City prepared to host the 2002 Olympic Winter Games. I will forever be grateful that we lived in an apartment complex that housed many Olympic athletes. I will be forever grateful for the incredible opportunity to go to so many Olympic events as a teacher and being able to walk across the street with Heath to watch a speed skating event at the Olympic Oval.

While I had no connections to anyone in New York the events of 9/11 still had a profound impact on me. I am an American. The most touching story I have ever heard in regard to 9/11 was an email sent in to X96, the radio station I listened to in Utah. I printed it and several other emails from X96’s website while I was substitute teaching another mentor’s 6th grade class a week after the events of 9/11.

“My daughter’s birthday is today.

Yesterday, like most every work day, I woke up with the radio tuned to X96. I start the day with your 7:00 (approximately) news. About the time my radio clicked on, you guys were talking about a plane hitting the World Trade center . . . an accident. Almost immediately, you shared reports that a second plane had possibly hit . . . ludicrous . . . not possible.

But it was true.

Today is my daughter’s birthday. She is in first grade. Yesterday, we had planned for a party for her and some of her friends.

Yesterday was surreal. I took a long lunch and drove to the store to meet my wife. We were going to buy my daughter a bicycle. On the way, I listened to the news reports. Planes hijacked and crashing . . . the Pentagon attacked . . . the towers collapsing . . . people missing and dead by the thousands.

We bought the bicycle. It is a gift for her, from us and her grandparents that live in Ohio. Earlier this week, she finally learned to ride. It is a beautiful bike.

Yesterday, we had that birthday party. It was at Some Dude’s Playground in Clearfield. Something about half a dozen kids running around, laughing and having so much fun. It was just what we all needed.

Afterward, we went home, put the kids to bed, and watched the news.

This morning, I woke up again to X96. I listened to you take calls and read email. I listened to Gina reporting from the Red Cross and giving blood. I am grateful for what you are trying to do.

I sent my daughter off to school wearing her favorite purple dress. She senses that something unusual has happened, but really she has no idea of the enormity of yesterday’s events. Someday she will. She will one day look at the headlines of a newspaper with the date September 12, 2001 – her birthday – and she will understand.

In that dress, going off to school, just seven years old. She is beautiful.

Today is her birthday.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Half Thought

I sit around trying to find something to watch on TV. I realize for all the channels I have there is nothing interesting or really worth watching. After a while of surfing the guide channel I give up and turn off the TV. Then for half a second I think of going upstairs to turn on the TV there because maybe it has something better on! No DVR feature; just live TV. Yet for half a second I think maybe, just maybe my TV is magic. I have the same half thought about the radio too sometimes. I also have a safe toilet but that is a story for another day.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

What a Difference

Kindergarten was harder than it should have been. First grade is exponentially better.

We are three weeks into the school year. Gavin doesn’t argue or fight with me about going to school. That may change. It may not. I’m just happy that Gavin is so excited about going to school. He’s not clingy. If we get there too early he will play with the other kids. He’s good to listen for the bell and find his class and his place in line. He never looks nervous.

Gavin loves his teachers. They seem to really enjoy having him in class. I will admit that I was skeptical when Heath told me about a conversation he had with Gavin’s teachers at Back to School Night. The teachers had said that Gavin is a sweet boy and they were impressed with him. That was the first week. We are now a couple more weeks into it and it still seems to be true. I will stop holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Today Gavin brought home a big packet of math work he did at school. He could not wait for me to get Gwen and Parker down for a nap. He wanted to show me every single page. I get emotional just thinking about it because last year his teacher would send work home and Gavin never wanted to look at any of it with me. After the first packet full of negative, nit picky comments I stopped looking at the work when he was around. Today he couldn’t wait to show it to me. There was only one stamp – very good. The rest was blank. I will take blank over destructive criticism any day. Gavin told me what he did on each page and how he learned to do it. I have never seen his eyes sparkle so much about anything to do with school.

Gavin turned in his office today. Like I said in an earlier post it’s just a long strip of cardstock that is folded into 3 sections. The kids put it up when they take a test or do independent work. I have seen a couple of these offices as kids have brought them to school. Everyone else just put their pictures and stickers straight on the cardstock. I told Heath that as far as I could tell Gavin was the only one with scrapbook paper on his office. Heath joked that Gavin was singled out again! If he is it’s for doing a great job.

We weren’t able to get the office laminated. Kinko’s was out of film and at 9:30 pm it was the only place open. I told his teacher kind of hoping she would give me one more day. She recognized right away that I’m a scrapbooker and wouldn’t stop talking about her new Cricut machine! Such a change from last year when his teacher was always in such a hurry you could hardly tell her anything. Then she said not to worry, she would laminate it. I asked if I could make it up to her somehow. (She saved us $10 which was so not my intent!) She of course told me not to worry. Then she asked when and where I scrapbook!

Gavin is not a social butterfly. Every day he tells me about who he played with, talked to, ate lunch with, etc. He doesn’t always remember their names but he seems to be fitting in so much better. Today he told me he ate lunch with his “best friend, Neal.”

What a difference.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Return of Siouxsie Homemaker

Siouxsie is a cool mom. Her name alone is cool. She has a bit of an edge over Susie. She is a child of the 80’s and gets inspiration from early 80’s music. She helps me remember that childhood is short. Siouxsie puts ideas in my head like baking cookies for no reason. And a trip to the grocery store with two young children for Hershey’s kisses and nothing else is totally worth it.

Siouxsie helped me find a recipe online for peanut butter cookies. The kind with the chocolate kiss in the middle. I found the best recipe from Paula Dean. I don’t normally watch Paula Dean on the Food Network. I don’t think I will start now. But I was so excited to see a recipe for cookies that only called for four ingredients. Four! Who can’t handle that?

I love the recipes that claim to be easy and call for ingredients “you already have in your house.” I never seem to have even half of the ingredients just lying around my house. Bay leaves, lettuce, cream of tartar sauce, lobster, artichoke hearts, etc. You know what I mean. You’ve seen those bizarre recipes before. This cookie recipe called for four ingredients anyone without food allergies in their family would have sitting around.

Parker was such a good little helper. He loved counting the kisses and helping me unwrap them. Then he got a kick out of helping me put the kisses on the cookies.

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I’ve decided everything tastes better when kids help.

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Gwen was a chocolate monster. She was so cute. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I thought it was a good idea to give her a cookie that had only been cooling for 10 minutes!

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Parker laughed his butt off when I tried to get the parchment paper off the cookie sheet and all the cookies toppled on top of each other. He almost couldn’t help me put the kisses on he was laughing at my misfortune so hard!

Other than that, the cookies were a great math lesson. Parker not only counted the kisses, but he counted the cookies. We talked about how many are left when one is taken away, then two, then three.

Parker could not wait to tell Gavin that we made cookies. He kept saying that Gavin would be so surprised he would jump up and down.

Gavin said, “I’m not going to be that excited.” What a spoon in the dirt! chocolate-kiss-cookies-016 He was happy to pose for me though. Maybe I take too many pictures. My kids are starting to expect pictures every time we breathe differently; and they have to pose for each one.

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Thank you Siouxsie Homemaker. My family loves when you visit my head.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Tough as Nails

This morning we wanted to do something fun to celebrate our day off. We wanted to stay local because Gavin has homework. A handwriting packet that he has been working on and is due on the 14th and decorating his office - a tri fold strip of cardstock to put up during tests at school. That's due on Wednesday and we haven't done much work on it! We also wanted to do something cheap.

I said we should hike around Lake Chabot. Heath remembered that there are hiking trails practically in our back yard. So we loaded up the kids and went for it. By the way, it's free. It took us 10 minutes to drive there. (It takes 10 minutes to drive anywhere in our city and 5 of those minutes is getting out of our neighborhood to the main road!)

Heath gave the kids rules.

  1. Stay on the trail.
  2. Stay with Mom and Dad.
  3. Stay on the trail! (This is not a typo. Heath really said this rule twice to emphasize its importance.)
  4. Listen to Mom and Dad. If we say move to the side then move to the side.
  5. Have fun.

Everyone was pretty excited about this adventure I can't believe we have never thought of taking in the 2 years we've lived here! We didn't know what to expect. We figured we would go as far as Gwen could go. Heath accidentally left his GPS receiver in the van so we don't know how far we went. While it wasn't far I was impressed at how well the kids did, especially Gwen who walked until she was completely out of energy.

Gavin was disappointed that we never saw any animals. I have heard that there are snakes and occasionally mountain lions around these trails. Some friends of ours take their kids hiking here a lot. Every time they have their kids act out what to do if they see a mountain lion. I have to admit, I was a little nervous we would actually see some wildlife. But we didn't go far and we never went off on one of the side trails that go right into the trees. As we were hiking I thought I was silly for thinking we would see anything at all. What animal would come out with that many people in the middle of the day? We did see big birds flying. Probably hawks or falcons or something like that. We saw lots of dogs. We saw horseshoe prints in the dirt going up the trail but nothing coming down so they must have still been up there. And we saw a helicopter circling overhead.

The scenery was gorgeous. It was fun to look out over our city and sometimes see the freeway. We will definitely have to do this again.

The kids were amazing. The boys chugged along no problem. It was super steep to begin with. I held Gwen's hand and we trudged along as fast as her 18 month old little legs would let her go up the steep incline. She didn't seem bothered by any of it. She was always grateful when we stopped in the shade for sips of our water bottles. The boys were told to take small sips and to make their water last. They also had to carry their own water bottles. They did great.
People were very friendly. A lot of them would comment on how well Gwen was walking. One lady asked how old she was. When I said 18 months, the lady couldn't believe it. We said she is tall for her age. The lady acted like the height wasn't throwing her off as much as how mature Gwen acts for her age. Really, how many 18 month olds hike as well or as quickly as she was? That girl is as tough as nails. We thought we would be carrying her most of the way. Heath held her a little on the way down because she was so tired she wouldn't walk. But then she got her second wind and was cruising down the trail.
The people and the dogs held Gwen's attentionn going up. The rocks held her attention going down. At one point I think she was carrying 4 rocks! She would stop to pick up a new one and one would fall out of her hands. She would try to find it but end up picking some new rock. She is so funny.
Parker had to wear his BYU hat so he could be like Dad. He kept taking it off though. I told him he had to carry it himself. I told him it would be easier if he would just wear it on his head. He didn't listen to me. He carried it with his water bottle. Or he would wrap his water bottle up in his hat. The best moment ever was when Parker started frantically looking around for his hat, asking if anyone had seen it. His voice started to get a little panicky because he couldn't find the hat he was holding in his hand! When Heath told him he was holding it, Parker looked down and laughed with us.
At the bottom of the trail we saw a family getting ready to start the hike. Their girls were trying to get in the bike stroller. Heath jokingly asked if he could get in. Then the dad saw Heath's BYU shirt and said, "Oh. BYU huh?" Even though they were clearly Ute fans we talked for a bit with them. Heath told them to get tickets for the U of U vs. San Jose State game this Saturday. Heath already told a family he home teaches about that yesterday. The dad and his son got tickets on the 40 yard line for $35. Heath says he feels like he's single handedly filling the stands with Ute fans for that game! He would go in his BYU shirt cheering for Utah if we didn't already have plans this weekend that we can't get out of. The hiking family said they would welcome us even in our BYU shirts as long as we cheered for Utah!

It was definitely a fun hike and we need to do it again. I bet now that our kids have done it once they could go even further if we went again.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Yucky Charm

Football season means a lot of things to me. It means the end of summer and the beginning of fall. It means Heath is a basket case as a bundle of nerves. It means Remember the Titans and Slurpees. Although this tradition doesn’t always happen. Too bad. It means Heath loses his voice once a week. Once it meant a hole in the wall where Heath chucked the remote. It means Heath pulls out the X box to play each game himself before the actual game. It means I babysit my own kids. And try to keep them away from their dad.

My family was not into sports. Heath remembers going to his first live game when he was 5. In Utah, you have to pick a side. Whether you are a sports fan or not you have to choose BYU or U of U. That seems to be the way it is. I don’t know of many fence sitters. Even though we didn’t care about sports, much less understand most of the rules, my family were U of U fans. Heath’s family has always been die hard BYU fans.

Heath told me early on in our relationship that he lives and dies for BYU football. He told me in no uncertain terms that I came second to BYU football. It was soon obvious that he meant what he said. That sounds terrible but it’s true. Nobody is perfect and I give him this because he gives me so much.

I thought it would be fun to watch the big rivalry game. BYU vs. U of U. I would cheer for the Utes and Heath would cheer for the Cougars. That game happened to be Lavell Edwards last game as BYU’s head coach. I had no idea what a legend he was nor did I know what he meant to Heath. The game was not going well. Heath was so emotionally involved screaming at the TV. I wanted to leave him alone and catch up with him the next day. But I was in a big fight with my mom and I wanted to time my going home for much later in the night. I have never felt so stuck in all my life.

There really was nowhere to go. Heath was living in a one bedroom apartment. I stopped cheering for Utah and started silently praying that BYU would stop making Heath so mad. Possibly win. I don’t even remember the outcome of that game. Heath was back to normal after the game was over. He apologized for scaring me with how dedicated a fan he is. I still loved him. The wedding was still on!

The next season I fell in love with BYU football. BYU only lost one game that season. It’s always fun to cheer for the winners. Heath patiently taught me the rules of the game. I was so into it. I have loved football ever since. I will always pledge my loyalty to BYU because they were the team I watched when I fell in love with football. Parker was born at the University of Utah hospital because that’s where I found a perinatologist that accepted my insurance. Heath told everyone that even though Parker was born red he still bled blue!

BYU has had good games and not so good games. I watch as much as three young children will allow me to. I love the games that are at nap time. If I watch a little bit of a game, eventually I get sucked in. My heart races. I have cried at games. When Johnny Harline caught that ball for the touchdown I melted into tears. That play still gives me goosebumps.

I am so bummed that we won’t be able to go to the rivalry game in Provo this year. Although, if someone wants to sell us their tickets . . . we would rearrange our schedule. We will be in Utah visiting my family for Thanksgiving. But it looks like things won’t work out for us to make it to the game. Timing. Money. Tickets are now $200 a pop.

I believe I am BYU’s lucky charm. It used to be that if I watched a game they would end up winning. Whether I am able to watch a full game or not, I always send good thoughts. My signature cheer is “Come on boys!” My first BYU shirt was a shirt Heath made for me when I was pregnant with Gwen. Now I have two real BYU shirts I wear for every game. They always play well when I have my shirt on. Coincidence? I think not! I am BYU’s lucky charm. Or yucky charm as Parker would say it.

I still can’t believe they won today. Vegas called them a 22 point underdog and they won by one point! Simply exhilarating.

What to wear?

As a full time homemaker I rarely have a reason to dress up. I have tried to dress nicely many times in my life but always default back to t-shirts and jeans because I feel uncomfortable dressing nicer than the people around me. How nice does one need to look at the playground? Drop off and pick up at school? Stupid excuse but it’s my excuse.

Heath and I went on a date last night. We do this once every 3 or 4 months. I wanted to dress up because, like I said, I rarely have a reason to. Heath was a good sport and dressed up with me. He looks good in t-shirts and jeans and I know he gets tired of looking nice every day for work. When he comes home all he wants is to find his t-shirts and shorts. Because he loves me he put on super hot clothes. His new gray suit pants and his new electric royal blue striped shirt. I told him that the rule is he always has to have a shirt that color. It looks so good on him. This is his third blue shirt like that in the 9 years I have known him.

I squeezed into my wide leg trousers, grateful I didn’t need the “gut sucker” I bought to smooth out my tummy under my wedding dress some 30 lbs ago! The last time I wore those pants on a date I couldn’t close them without the “gut sucker.” I couldn’t breathe, I think I was damaging internal organs, and all my fat was spilling over the top like some weird love handle halfway up my back. The only problem I have with getting older is the weight I can’t seem to get rid of!

I also wore my high heel sandals. We looked good. Part of Main Street was closed to traffic so we walked. It was fun just walking around looking good. My feet hurt because my shoes are not hiking boots! Nobody dons a pair of heels and expects to walk all over town in them. The price of beauty can sometimes be really steep. At least we looked good!

We enjoyed a delicious meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant on Main Street. We walked around a bit after dinner then headed for the movie theater. I love that we dressed up to watch a movie like we were some rich, hoity toity couple trying to have a pedestrian experience. The best part was I had stashed a bag of buttered popcorn flavored Jelly Belly’s in my purse. I had visions of us eating the whole bag during the movie as if it was buttered popcorn that we were too cheap to buy! I love Jelly Belly’s. The flavors are amazing. But after a handful I was very aware of the fact that all I was eating was jelly beans. I have decided that part of the appeal of popcorn is the texture. I accidently left the bag on the counter. Parker was helping himself this morning. I told him he could have 3 jelly beans. He ate half the bag.

We watched Julie & Julia. It was a really great show. Heath wanted to buy it all the way until the unnecessary f-bomb. I grew up with a lot of language in my home. I have tried to control my tongue since I was very little. I tend to be a little more understanding about language. I thought the language was fairly appropriate in the two kitchen scenes where nothing was going right and Julie was having a meltdown. But I was offended when they threw the f-bomb in for nothing more than shock value.

(For anyone wanting to read the book – I was told by a tattooed sales clerk at Borders that the book is full of bad language. She said the author had a potty mouth.)

I really liked the movie. Both stories were told really well. The characters were so believable. I don’t cook but I still identified with the characters and their need to do the one thing that they find so cathartic. Julie talked about how after a bad day at work she liked to come home and cook something. I write. Happy, sad, especially when I’m mad, I write. It is my release. Blogging is a trend I am more than happy to participate in because I love to write.

At dinner Heath and I were talking about when and how we learned to type. He said he was a great hunt and pecker until he took a type class. His skills have taken off from there. I took type in 8th grade. I did well enough in the class but my typing never took off until my freshman year of college when I started emailing a lot. I got sick of always looking at my hands. One day I just forced myself to look at the screen and I just typed. Now I type faster than I write. I used to be able to write as fast as someone could dictate. I can almost type that fast now.

The evening was a nice break from our routine. A nice chance for Heath and me to be alone. We really should go out more often. The kids are always so excited to have a babysitter. It’s a win win for everyone. We have the fun date, the kids have a blast with a babysitter, the babysitter gets paid well. Everyone wins.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Trouble is a Friend of Mine

Sometimes it's hard to be a kid. It cracks me up how many pictures and video we have that fit this song so perfectly.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Good Question

Parker: I want to see the video of you and Dad.
Parker: Why are you and Dad holding your belly?
Me: Because Gwen was in there.
Parker: Did you just ate her?

Decisions. Decisions. You have one swim diaper left. The last two obviously leaked. Do you take a chance on the last swim diaper? And what would you rather have your kids play in? The caterpillar sprinkler or the pool?

Parker: Can you get the smell out of my nose?

Parker: My brain doesn't talk. But my heart talks.
Me: Your heart talks?
Parker: Yeah. It's just scared of some things like bad dreams. And my stomach is my heart's house.

Parker put three fruit snacks in the shape of a face.
Parker: This is me saying Oh!

Gavin: Can I find Ted E. Bear?
Me: Ok, but hurry because it's bedtime.
Parker: Ted E. Bear is just naked.
Gavin: Here he is!
Me: Why is Ted E. Bear naked? Where are his clothes?

It's interesting to think that Ted E. Bear was a gift to me from one of my 4th grade students. And all that purple bear was wearing was a froofy bow around its neck. Now that he has been Gavin's best friend for the last 4 years, he looks funny without clothes.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I’d Pick More Daisies

If I had my life to live over, I’d try to make more mistakes next time. spring,-Easter,-Parker-destruction-032 I would relax. I would limber up. chillin-around-the-house-076 I would be sillier than I have been this trip. SD-200-San-Diego-042 I know of very few things I would take seriously. 2008-10-30_0314 I would be crazier. IMG_2929 I would be less hygienic. 018 I would take more chances. I would take more trips. I would climb more mountains, swim more rivers, and watch more sunsets. I would ride more bicycles. Gavin's-6th-Birthday-002 I would eat more ice cream cones and less beans. IMG_0588 I would have more actual troubles and fewer imaginary ones. pizza-and-Santa-Cruz-028 You see, I am one of those people who lives prophylactically and sensibly and sanely, hour after hour, day after day. Oh, I have had my moments and, if I had to do it over again, I’d have more of them. chillin-around-the-house-052 In fact, I’d try to have nothing else. chillin-around-the-house-005 Just moments, one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day. I have been one of those people who never go anywhere without a thermometer, a hot water bottle, a gargle, a raincoat and a parachute. If I had to do it again, I would go places and do things, and travel lighter than I have. If I had my life to live over, I would start barefooted earlier in the spring 010 and stay that way later in the fall. chillin-around-the-house-014 I would play hooky more. I wouldn’t make such good grades except by accident. I would ride more merry-go-rounds. 079

I’d pick more daisies.

~Author Unknown