Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Finger Lickin’ Good

A very merry and happy unbirthday to Parker today.  His teacher had asked me to celebrate his birthday today with the class.  She has at least one child every “normal” day from now until the end of the year scheduled to celebrate their summer birthdays.  I always think it’s sweet when teachers make a big deal out of summer birthdays so those kids don’t feel left out. 

I wanted to do something out of the ordinary for Parker’s birthday.  I scoured this month’s issue of Family Fun Magazine.  There were some cute ideas but they weren’t really practical to produce for 26 kindergarten students and somehow deliver to the school on my own.  I saw a picture of a child holding a pan of rice crispy treats molded into a number, the age he was that year on his birthday.  I thought that was cute but still kind of plain.  I don’t know why I have this desire to make everything bigger and better than people expect but I do.  It’s a sickness I’m sure! 

Heath combined a couple ideas.  He liked the cute campfire made out of food and he liked the rice crispy number.  So he suggested we make rice crispy s’mores.  I wasn’t convinced.  Mainly because I couldn’t figure out how he wanted to do it and I didn’t think anyone would get it.  I thought it would taste fine but look weird.  I just need to learn to trust that man because I have mentioned many times that he’s a genius.  Well, it’s true.  I should write. it. down! 

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Last night somewhere after 10:00 pm we created rice crispy s’mores and molded it into a very large 6.  The recipe is really simple if anyone is interested.  We made rice crispy treats as usual with melted marshmallows mixed with cereal.  Then we dumped in a full bag of Teddy Grahams (about 8 servings) for the graham crackers and then dumped in a full bag of chocolate chips (one of the smaller bags like what you use for a full batch of chocolate chip cookies).  We, and when I say we I mean Heath did this while I watched.  I poured too.  See I help!  Anyway, he mixed all that stuff in with his manly arms because he works out.  Then he took handfuls and molded the 6 onto parchment paper where I had drawn a large 6 on the opposite side of the parchment paper.  (That’s critical because you don’t want to eat pencil, or in our case Sharpie.)  The 6 cooled and set up completely overnight.

Meanwhile . . .

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Mmmmmmmmm doesn’t that look good?  It’s finger licking good.  I forgot to mention that surgical gloves are a must around the house.  Touching raw meat?  Use a glove.  Cutting up a pepper?  Use a glove so you don’t get any capsaicin on your fingers and later in your eye or up your nose.  Working with sticky desserts?  Gloves.  Child had a messy accident?  Gloves are heaven sent in this situation!  So swipe a box or two when you’re waiting half naked on the crinkly paper at the doctor’s office or staring at the ceiling in the dentist chair.  Wait, don’t steal from the dentist.  My sister would not approve.  Actually you can buy gloves in bulk at Costco.  I’m sure they’re at all the Marts too.  K-Mart, Shop-Ko Mart, Wally World, Target Mart, etc. 

(The Piquant Storyteller is joking.  You should never steal.  It’s one of the 10 commandments, hello!)

Gwen and I braved the off and on rain showers and prayed for clouds spitting on us to get the 6 into Parker’s classroom for recess and snack time.  Our prayers were answered but his teacher’s weren’t.  The kids had indoor recess today because of the rain so they bounced off the walls with all the sugar I fed them while she hid in another teacher’s classroom for a mental break from hyper kindergarteners.  She has Type 2 diabetes and has made it clear that she doesn’t eat treats of any kind so I didn’t even offer.  When I arrived she asked what in the world I had brought.  When I told her what was in it she looked a little sick to her stomach and said, “That’s a lot of sugar!”  I apologized to her for having to deal with the kids for another hour after I left.  She’s a kindergarten teacher so what could she do but say it was ok. 

Once the kids were ready she asked me to tell the class what I brought for Parker’s birthday.  I told the kids that Parker’s birthday is in July and so we wanted to do a camping themed treat.  I asked how many had ever eaten s’mores.  Surprisingly only 5 or 6 hands went up.  I guess they’re still young; they have time to experience the pleasures of ooey gooey marshmallow chocolatey graham cracker sandwiches later.  I explained what s’mores were and how to make them then I told them that all the same ingredients were in the rice crispy treats we made to look like a 6 since Parker will be 6 in July.  Then I cut the 6 up while a parent volunteer passed them out to the kids.  A handful of kids wanted seconds and since I had a little extra I was happy to oblige.  One kid wanted thirds.  He weighs as much as I do and I am not kidding.  I told him he needed to give other kids a chance to have more if they wanted to.  He was fine with that.  At least he didn’t try to steal any like he has in the past with other kids birthday treats! 

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Parker ate his treat and took off with his friends for “free choice.”  Gwen finished hers and then wanted to play with the cars. 

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Happy unbirthday Tag!  You make a cute almost 6 year old. 

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On the other hand, Gavin went on a fun field trip today to Round Table Pizza.  After learning about the business and getting a tour, the students ate personal pizzas around 10:00 this morning.  When my neighbor told me that I felt awful since I didn’t pack Gavin a lunch today.  Or a snack.  He seemed fine when I picked him up though.  Small children can go several hours without eating and not be famished.  Shocking. 

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He was very excited to show me his pizza dough.  This is not finger licking good.  I tossed it after I took the picture.  It’s raw dough that has been sitting out since this morning handled by I don’t know how many people.  Yummy.  Go eat something tasty and lick your fingers when you’re done. 

Monday, May 30, 2011

Dangerous Minds

This post will take you to the realm of terror and back.  It may remind you of Halloween but not to worry, I know Halloween has long since past.  Today is Memorial Day.  Still scary nonetheless.  Read on if you dare! 

I woke up early this morning and when I couldn’t get back to sleep because I had crashed on the couch last night around 9:00 pm, after napping for a couple hours after church, sheesh so much sleeping!  Anyway, when I couldn’t sleep anymore I pulled out my book and read the chilling pages in the dim morning light.  I’m reading Cold as Ice by Stephanie Black.  It’s a murder/suspense novel and so far it has my attention. 

Meanwhile several hundred miles away an eerie suspense unfolded in real life.  The doorbell rang and my mom went to her gigantic peephole.  It looks like it was made for a blind old person but the idea is really a reverse fish eye lens.  One does not have to wink awkwardly to look through a tiny pinhole and attempt to decipher if it’s a friend or foe on the porch.  Instead one stands at the door and simply looks at the huge circle.  The only problem is that you still can’t tell who’s there.  You can see several feet in every direction, including the street in front of the house but the person at the door is still a mystery of fuzzy details compounded by bad angles.  So she opened the door.

A shady looking man was standing not even inches away from the door.  He took a step forward as she opened the door.  My mom was raised in the ghettos of Salt Lake City and is no idiot.  She held the door firmly at barely a crack opened.  The man said, “Do I have the right house?”  She replied, “No you don’t!” and quickly shut and deadbolted the door.  Her heart was in her throat.  When the man was gone she ran outside and locked the front gate that encloses the front porch.  Then she barricaded herself back inside.  Or simply locked the door.  Scary though right?  My heart was pounding as she told me the story!  And you wonder why I never open the door.  Ever.  But since she told me the story hours later it proves that she is safe and enjoying her cold, drizzly holiday. 

We had planned on going on a hike today.  Gwen and Parker kept thinking we were camping and wanted me to bring the giraffe tent!  No amount of talking on our part could convince them that a hike does not equal camping in a toy tent big enough for one and a half children to sleep uncomfortably.  Those two were not the problem though. 

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Gavin was.  Oh this kid!  This kid makes me so repentant of everything I ever did to my parents as a child.  In fact, I haven’t lifted my face to the sky and apologized out loud for being the child I was in a long time.  Today I did.  I’m getting my reward though.  I get to raise myself, which is not nearly as fun as that sounds.  Mr. Gavin whined and complained the entire way up then dramatically wailed all the way back that the fun was ending.  Oh heaven help me.  Please note in the above picture that the parking lot can be seen at the top of the picture and Gavin already looks like he is ready to kill over and die from dehydration and exposure to nature!  So outdoor adventures aren’t his strong suit.  I sure do love that boy for other reasons! 

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Parker was his typical self.  Always anticipating.  He loved being the leader because he thought he could get us to the end sooner!  I told him to enjoy the process of getting there.  We weren’t out there just for the finish line.  He was having fun and I think he did manage to enjoy the moment. 

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Gwen was hilarious.  She would ball up her fists as she walked with a lot of bounce in her step.  She kept going and going like the Energizer Bunny and would keep the resting periods as short as possible.  The second picture is her saying, “Let’s GO!”  This girl was loving every second of the hike until she pooped out.  When Gwen suggested we go back we knew it was time.  Good thing too since she then became the one sitting down and resting every 20 feet.  All stamina had leaked out of her by that point and we had to remember she is only 3 years old after all. 

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We saw a lot of evidence of animals on the trails.  There are mountain lions that live in these hills and thankfully only come out at night.  There are many other wild animals too.  Unfortunately we didn’t see any evidence of those animals.  We did see a lot of horseshoe prints in the dirt along with cow hoof prints.  And a lot of scat.  Cow poop that is. 

Funny story about poop.  Heath, my sister and I were all walking one day.  I was in the middle of one of my long stories and I wasn’t getting to a break soon enough for my sister to naturally interrupt.  The closer we got to something in the sidewalk the more her brain started to fry as she couldn’t find the words to warn us.  Soon she was yelling, “Danger!  Danger!”  Heath and I looked down and barely missed stepping in doggie doody in the middle of the sidewalk.  Every time I hear Ace of Base I think of that story – you know the song Living in Danger.  There was plenty of danger on our hike today.

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The kids were pretty excited to see a bunch of cows grazing while we hiked.  They enjoyed cupping their hands around their mouths to moo at the cows loudly.  The cows never responded.  Maybe they speak a different dialect.  My favorite part about the cows was when the boys suggested that the cow poop in the middle of the trail that we had carefully navigated around on our way up was new and that the cows must be waiting in the bushes for people to pass!  Oh I love kids and their take on the world around them.

One animal that was waiting in the bushes for people to pass but timed it wrong was an interesting moment.  So Parker was leading at a pretty good clip.  He walked right next to what looked like a large stick in the trail.  He was totally oblivious to what was happening but Heath and I both thought the scene we were seeing looked a little off about the same time.  Heath called out to Parker to watch out at the same moment I said a mildly naughty phrase.  The snake was at least 4 feet long and really thick.  I’m impressed that my immediate naughty word reaction to “danger” did not include a different word, the word I said when I saw a tiny shoelace sized snake in the bathroom in Santa Cruz.  Heath would have taken a picture of the snake but that snake was all business and was most the way in the tall grass before his hand touched the camera in his pocket.  Parker kept talking about how he just walked by a rattlesnake!  We told him over and over it wasn’t a rattlesnake.  It was the size of Gwen but it wasn’t a rattlesnake! 

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Well, this is as far as the kids would let us go.  We were so close to the top.  I don’t know how long those switchbacks were but the kids were done so we had to respect that or suffer the consequences. 

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It was just as adventurous going down as it was going up.  Check out all the rocks we found!  I love how Parker has this look on his face like he’s holding the most amazing thing in the world.  I also love how Gwen kept collecting rocks on the way and putting them in her jacket pocket.  She reminds me of my sister every time she keeps rocks. 

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Eventually we made it down in one piece despite all the unheeded warnings to not run downhill.  Gotta love selective hearing.  We tried to hold Slurpees over their heads to get them to listen but that didn’t work either.  When we got back to the van I tested my blood sugar.  It was 163 after I refused to bolus for lunch when my pre lunch reading was 101.  I get really nervous when I do something out of the norm away from food sources.  I made Heath carry my tester as well as a glucose drink and two packages of fruit snacks in case I dropped low on the hike.  He calls himself my personal pack horse.  Anyway, I was so happy with that 163 that I said the kids deserved a Slurpee.  They were thrilled with the rare treat. 

I figure it’s worth it.  I just finished my 6 week challenge with Steven where I had burned about 3,600 some odd calories so I was cool with bolusing for a regular Slurpee flavor instead of the sugar free one that didn’t sound good to me and I’m so ready for our grilled tri tip, grilled corn on the cob, and cheese bread dinner tonight with homemade ice cream!  My legs and my derriere sure felt the hike so I think I should splurge! 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Spiked with Creativity

I have rediscovered scrapbooking lately.  One thing I love about scrapbooking is that I can work on it in any order I want whenever the creative juices start flowing.  The awesome thing about blogging is that I’m up to date with the fun stories I would put in a scrapbook so I don’t ever feel guilty for being “behind” in my scrapping projects.  Gwen’s scrapbook should be done since my plans were to do the first 3 years for all the kids.  The last layout I did in her book was her first birthday!  I’m not worried though.  The stories are already written.  Now I just wait for time and inspiration. 

The Disneyland scrapbook has been calling my name recently.  I’m pretty proud of some of these layouts.  The kids love looking through the book and they love hovering around when I work on a new layout.  I promised Dawn I would send her pictures of what I had done so far but I haven’t yet.  I live in my own world.  So Dawn, these are for you!

For more detail, click to enlarge.

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I used a map of Disneyland for the title page.

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Pixie Hollow is a family favorite layout.  My Tinker Bell and Friends Cricut cartridge is smoking it’s been used so much in this book!

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My favorite favorite story from our March trip – Mickey’s Wheel of Torture.  This layout didn’t come out as well as I imagined it would.  Partly because I didn’t realize how transparently clear the stickers were.  I should have matted them.  But I love love love the story.  Nothing like poor judgment to make your child feel like he’s staring death in the face and laughing about the humor of the situation later.  Best story ever. 

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Mickey’s Toon Town double layout turned out so cute.  I don’t normally use this many stickers when I scrapbook but I am having a blast scrapping in a completely different way than my norm!  So cute if I do say so myself.  I’m not prideful or have a big head! 

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The kids love this page the most.  I must have sprinkled enough magic on the page to bring back all their happy memories of Tinker Bell’s secret visits. 

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Another favorite of mine.  I just finished this one today and I love it!  Where did I get the checkered flag paper?  I made it.  That’s right.  I cut two 12 x 12 sheets of white paper into 1 inch strips.  Then I cut two 12 x 12 sheets of black paper into 1 inch strips.  Then I took a trip back to second grade in my mind and weaved the strips together gluing the ends onto a 12 x 12 sheet of paper for a frame of reference.  So the pages are pretty heavy with all the layers but it is so stinking cute right? 

Many thanks to Dawn for giving me her old Cricut machine and many cartridges.  The Cars cartridge was the inspiration behind this layout.  Now I better clean up my mess so my office stays lovely and I can start the next page.  I have so many ideas . . .

Thursday, May 26, 2011

My New Job

After years and years of “not contributing to society,” (don’t even get me started on that hypocrisy!) I have decided to get a job.  The weird thing is I didn’t know it.  I was just minding my own business when I happened to catch the end of Heath’s workout with Stephanie Juliana.  I did a double take because Stephanie looked a lot like the avatar I chose to represent myself when I work out.  Weird.

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This is Cartoon Tristan working out with Steven, the guy in the corner.  The pictures aren’t great I know but you can always click to enlarge. 

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Stephanie Juliana cooling down after a long workout.  Notice any similarities between Stephanie and Cartoon Tristan?  Actually Heath changed my name to SexyTrist which is a lot better than NameTrist!  When Steven does the chest opener stretch it looks fine but when Stephanie does it . . . I don’t know if I like that she’s my husband’s trainer!  How can a sports bra, whose sole purpose in life is to strap those things down, create so much voluptuousness and deep cleavage!

Boy I tell ya, someone had too much fun drawing the women for this game!  I talk really slowly and deliberately and it’s super irritating!  I say the same things that Steven says only dripping with condescension.  I’m not very nice as a trainer.  Heath does not like me and sometimes growls mean things to me in between gasping breaths because I’m kicking his butt with the workout I’m making him do.  Oh, and I tell him he’s doing the exercise wrong all the time even though he’s doing it right.  Trainer privilege.  Steven always does it too. 

It’s interesting moonlighting as a cartoon Wii trainer.  Since I’m a cartoon my pay comes as Monopoly money drawn on a scrap of paper and emailed to me.  It’s kind of hard to spend that kind of cash unless I want to exchange it for Super Mario tokens.  I may be dumb because I’m not a gamer but what in the world are those thousands of tokens for that stack up at the end of a Wii Mario game?  Are they just warm fuzzies because I spent the entire game trying to beat my boys by strategically buying magic candy I didn’t actually get to eat!  Not very satisfying if you ask me. 

Speaking of not very satisfying . . . my new job may explain why my blood sugars have been randomly low lately.  You would think that with all the extra hours of exercise I get the weight would be melting off of me.  Instead I’m packing on the lbs. because my blood sugar is low and unresponsive so often.  Nice.  Of all the consequences of picking up a second job, I get the negative ones of low blood sugar to the point I’m sick of eating!  Not a svelte body that resembles my Wii avatar.  Stupid Murphy’s Law! 

But I am finally living my dream of being a secret superhero!  And that’s cool.  Thank you Wii. 

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Follow up on the “steamy” post

Because of popular demand I am posting the Amazon info on the steam cleaners I talked about in my last post.  Sorry I completely forgot to do this in the original spiel. 

*Disclaimer*  Amazon did not ask me to promote these items.  I just had an amazing experience with the steam cleaners I have and decided to talk about it online.  I am in no way saying anyone has to buy these products from Amazon (or anywhere else for that matter), I’m just saying they rock hard core! 

This is what cleaned the carpet, the stairs, and the mattress.  I call her Large Marge.  You will love her as much as I do but again, I’m not coercing anyone to buy anything, much less look at the Amazon page.  I’m just saying . . .

This little guy doesn’t have a name.  Strange since I tend to name a lot of items I fall in love with.  This thing cleans all kinds of crazy things.  Anything you can think of.  I thought Heath was weird for buying it years ago but now I think he is a god that must be worshipped.  Wait, that’s a little much!  Let’s settle for calling him a genius because he is. 

My favorite things this hand held steam cleaner cleans is grout and my shower.  The shower has a pebble pattern on the floor for safety reasons and it’s a pretty extreme pebble pattern so any dirt that gets caught between the pebbles is a bear to get out.  Regular scrubbing with a cleaning sponge does no good.  I have tried a toothbrush and that didn’t work either and I couldn’t put it back in the toothbrush holder because it was hashed by the time I was done.  I’m kidding.  I wouldn’t do that!  I ended up using a bobby pin I bent and even then I couldn’t get all the dirt.  Enter steam cleaner . . . angel choir singing.  You could eat off my shower pan if you wanted to.  Yeah, it’s that clean!  But again, there is no pressure to buy.  It will make you look older.  Come on!  Everyone’s doing it.  You know you want to.  I’m kidding!  Buy if you want.  Just know I highly recommend these products.  Thank you. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Power of H2O

Water has always fascinated me.  My favorite natural phenomenon are waterfalls.  I could stare at waterfalls all day.  As I watch the rushing water crash over the edge I can’t help but wonder how many billions of water droplets it takes to create that kind of roaring beauty.  In my dream world my backyard has a waterfall in it just where the forest of trees opens up.  The pool where the waterfall collects is warmed by natural hot springs and I have a perma tan because I’m always outside basking in the sun, staring at my waterfall and talking with the dryads who live in the trees.  Oh, and there’s no such things as skin cancer or leathery skin from overexposure or sunburns.  My dream world is spectacular!

But I digress from my original point – fascinating water.  Did you know that if you add heat to water it has sanitary qualities?  When I first heard that I thought it was too good to be true.  Heath bought a hand held steam cleaner years ago and periodically pulled it out to clean stuff.  I always appreciated his efforts to clean things I couldn’t reach or simply pretended never needed cleaning, like the sliding glass door with Daxton P. Dawg and little kid nose prints as well as many dirty fingerprints that stopped two feet up from the bottom. 

Recently I have tried to use the steam cleaner myself.  I tend to get involved in addictive behavior, cleaning OCD being one of them.  Heath showed me how to use the steam cleaner to clean our shower and he couldn’t get the thing out of my hands!  He’d come in and say, “It looks great in here.  You’re about done don’t you think?”  And I would reply, “I need another refill.  I’m not done yet.  One more refill and I’ll be done, I promise!”  Four or five refills later and I finally called it quits.  Of course that was after Heath had to wrestle the steam cleaner out of my hands and quickly shove a Diet Coke in my gnarled and cramped fingers.  He keeps saying that it’s a good thing he’s a nice guy because he could really be a manipulative husband and make me clean all day while he yelled, “Come on woman!  Clean!”  But he’s nice and eventually gets me out of my cleaning abyss before objects disintegrate. 

The forbidden love affair with cleaning equipment didn’t stop there.  Soon after the hand held steam cleaning episode Heath showed me how to use the carpet steam cleaner.  Well, he tried to show me anyway.  He has a secret crush on the large purple appliance.  I would start to follow his instructions only to have him take over because of some exception.  Before I knew it he had steam cleaned the whole upstairs including a nasty mattress.  Heath finally pooped out and told me to do the stairs.  Oh I did the stairs alright!  Those stairs look as fluffy and clean as the day we moved in!  If I weren’t so sore and doggone tired I would come to your house and steam clean your stairs and carpets too, only if Heath would let me do the carpets though.  I’ve only done three stripes on my own.  Well and half of the landing between the two sets of stairs.  It’s an awkward place to use such a huge appliance so I went as far as the walls would let me reach and then I did the rest by hand and it looks spectacular! 

Now for the truly disturbing pictures.  You ready for this? 

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Going going gone.  This spot has sentimental value.  It was probably the first stain on the carpet and trust me, I tried and tried to clean it up.  Many times.  But it has been a dirt magnet ever since.  You may remember this story.  I found two year old Parker napping in his own fruit snack red vomit.  It was one of those “what was I thinking” moments being pregnant with my third!  The good news is we have all survived and three kids isn’t nearly as hard as I thought it would be.  Or time has been kind on my fading memories! 

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Check out how clean the boys room is!  No surprise that there was a lot of sand in the cruddy water.  I guess that’s one of the downsides to living so close to a park with a really nice beach volleyball court that kids love to play in.  Sand in the laundry, vacuum cleaner, and dirty steamed up water. 

I know what you’re thinking.  Those pictures weren’t gross.  But wait, it gets better!  I had cleaned the bathrooms the day before this project.  I thought of Terri Ferran many times as I cleaned up subtle ring around the Jacuzzi tub and dust from the top half of the tub.  Then the next day I did this:

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Grody Jody right?  It’s nothing a little water and Scrubbing Bubbles can’t fix.

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This was the nastiest yet most rewarding part of the steam cleaning process.  A certain child of mine used to have issues with bed wetting.  This child slept too deeply to wake up during nap time or at night and I was washing sheets every day.  We did the pull up thing too and sometimes he would pee so much the pull up couldn’t contain it all.  Needless to say his mattress was truly disturbing.  On a whim we decided to pull out the attachments on the steam cleaner and go for it.  As you can see the difference it made is nothing short of amazing. 

Every time I changed bed sheets I would look at the mattress and feel bad.  I had spun the mattress around so the worst of it was at the bottom but even then the whole thing looked as bad as it smelled.  The way the mattress was made I couldn’t flip it over.  What’s a parent supposed to do?  Especially when replacing yucky mattresses isn’t really in the budget?  Steam clean it. 

When in doubt pull the steam cleaner out.  The power of water heated to the point of steam is wonderful.  If you’ve never tried it, take my word for it.  It works.  The magical way it cleans will blow your mind.  I think the carpet steam cleaner was $200 some odd from Costco.  We have already broken even on the price if not saved money by doing the job ourselves instead of hiring out.  And I can pull out Large Marge (the steam cleaner) any time I want.  How sweet is that?  Spring cleaning, clear my head cleaning, self imposed time out cleaning . . . the possibilities are endless and the results are always sanitary cleanliness. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Memories

Back in the day my dad made $20 a week.  Almost every payday he would treat us all to dinner handing over his hard earned cash to the teenage cashier at Arctic Circle.  We would sit down in one of the vinyl covered squishy bench seats in a booth as we waited for our burgers and fries. 

Murals of downtown Magna covered the four soffit walls in the middle of the room.  The paintings were well done, colorful, and very interesting to look at.  What always caught my attention in the pictures I had memorized was how new and shiny all the stores looked.  It was almost the polar opposite of how I knew downtown Magna.  In fact, as a senior in high school I helped organize a cleanup effort of Magna Main for the students.  The community was impressed with all the hard work we had done in one day before our celebratory barbecue dinner and dance.  I’m sure many small towns have similar stories of community pride slowly fading with the paint of the long forgotten businesses in the center of town.

Soon dinner arrived.  A juicy ranch burger with special sauce (that’s actually the name of the sauce!) on a sesame seed bun.  The fries were hot, salty, and slender.  Usually I would fold them in half before immersing them in fry sauce – a Utah original.  My root beer was cold and refreshing.  The carbonation would always tickle my nose and burn my throat. 

I remember well the day my dad thought I was too old for a kids meal and encouraged me to order a regular sized meal.  It was delicious but I couldn’t finish most of it.  My brother helped me polish it off.  I don’t remember if my parents subscribed to the “clean your plate club” but I do remember trying so hard to eat more and feeling like I might burst.  My dad had asked my brother to finish my fries when I could not force another bite down without risking much more coming back up. 

The toys from the kids meals were the kind of toys I toss in the garbage as soon as my kids aren’t looking.  But I do remember playing with them.  I remember most the small plastic puzzles.  There was always a G shaped rubber stopper in the bottom right hand corner.  Each individual plastic tile was numbered and the puzzle came with them out of order.  I was always eager to slide the tiles around until they were all in order.  I probably trashed the toy as soon as I was done since it was complete and the suspense was gone. 

The best part of the kids meals were the punch outs for a free kiddie cone.  We must have gone to Arctic Circle a lot because I remember every summer there was always a huge stack of free kiddie cone coupons in the cupboard.  On the days when both parents were at work, which was pretty often, we would grab three coupons and walk the mile to the shopping center.  We walked to the back to the library and browsed for a while eventually settling on the perfect books for us.  Then we would walk toward the front of the shopping complex and get our free kiddie cones to enjoy on our walk home.  Sometimes we would look through Six Star, the dollar store that replaced Thrifty’s.  Ah, Thrifty’s . . . I don’t remember the inside of the store but I do remember all the dingy colored circles of stepped on gum on the sidewalk in front. 

The other day I had asked Heath if he remembered eating at Arctic Circle when he lived in Utah.  He said no and then told me it was probably a special thing for my family.  I didn’t think it was until the memories started flooding back.  When my mom was working and my dad didn’t want to make dinner we would go to Arctic Circle.  The neighbor girl worked there for a while.  One time she sat at our booth for a minute talking to us.  My dad told her he didn’t know how to cook for four so we went out!  That sounded funny to me as a child since my dad knew how to cook and usually only cooked on the nights my mom was working. 

Even after my parents divorced and we moved, Arctic Circle was still a family tradition.  Every Halloween my mom would pick up dinner from Arctic Circle and we would scarf down quick delicious bites in between giving candy out to trick or treaters.  Arctic Circle was always my favorite place to meet with other moms.  Gavin would play on the playground while I talked with my friends.  Parker played too but I didn’t go very often with him before we moved. 

Sometimes I miss Arctic Circle.  I definitely miss the fry sauce!  Carl’s Jr. is a close substitute for the memories I have of my first fast food burger joint.  My family also ate at Hardee’s which is the same company as Carl’s Jr. but with a different name.  My memories of Hardee’s are dim though compared to Arctic Circle. 

By the way, my dad didn’t make just $20 a week.  My brother thought that for years since we usually went out to eat on payday and my dad would hand over a $20 bill to pay for the five of us to eat! 

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Doomed for 63!

The older a person gets the less excited they are about birthdays.  Since Heath is on his way to the top of the hill he was really looking forward to 6:00 pm yesterday.  Unfortunately the rapture never happened.  Honestly, did anyone really think it would?  Why would anyone believe some crazy preacher from Oakland who has predicted the end of the world several times before and is wrong every time!  And what was with 6:00 pm?  It just seems that if Christ would come again he would send natural disasters to simultaneously destroy the wicked across the world.  The special treatment of 6:00 pm for every time zone seems too complex and a little hokey.  But that’s just me. 

Anyway, I don’t want to talk about people who misunderstand the scriptures, ignoring one part of the Bible to prove another part true after it’s taken out of context, for their own gain.  I want to talk about Heath’s happy birthday!  He is one lucky guy.  Or we’re lucky to have him.  It’s actually a combination of both.  He means a lot to all of us so we have done nothing but shower him with love on his happy birthday. 

Yesterday the boys went crazy making cards and books for their dad.  They almost couldn’t wait to give him their homemade treasures.  This morning we woke up to the loud sounds of children, as usual.  Only the sounds were happy and not angry.  That was a big plus.  Since I was low. again. I went downstairs to consume more carbs and calories.  Little sidenote:  my highest reading today is 130, my lowest is 40 and after 7 tests so far today my average blood sugar is 68.  I am crossing everything I can on myself hoping that I won’t see 300 later today.  Even Steven is the goal of the day.  That would make for a very happy birthday present for Heath who hates to see me discouraged with unpredictable blood sugar readings. 

So I had a point with all of this . . . I went downstairs to get my third breakfast since midnight and Parker excitedly gestured at the paper on the living room table.  “Look Mom!  These are Dad’s birthday presents!”  Gwen jumped up from the couch and continued to bounce like a springy jack in the box.  Her eyes were wide with enthusiasm.  “We have to jump out and yell ‘Surprise!’”  The three of them could not wait for their dad to get up and it was melting my heart.  So I poured their cereal and whispered for them to hide behind the couch.  They giggled and unsuccessfully smothered more giggles and squeals.  I ran upstairs thankful Heath was dressed and told him to go downstairs. 

He was not surprised but his heart was just as puddly melty as mine was.  Those kids are so sweet.  He told me that Parker gave him several sheets of paper with Cars stickers all over them.  I love kids.  They give so freely of themselves to make someone else’s day.  He loves stickers, especially the Cars stickers he found when we reorganized the office.  How sweet that he would give his dad something he (Parker) loves so much!  Gavin wanted me to take him to the dollar store so he could buy something for his dad.  Heath told him he didn’t need anything. 

We had a 90 minute Stake meeting for church today instead of the regular 3 hour block.  It wasn’t Stake Conference.  It was a special meeting for the Stake with a member from the Quorum of the Seventy.  These meetings will happen more frequently across the world.  It was a very uplifting meeting.  I just wish we could have internalized more of it but being in the “kid room” with families that don’t see the need to quiet their children because they’re in the “kid room” makes it difficult sometimes.  That was a mean statement but it’s so true. 

Gwen snuggled on her dad’s lap through most of the meeting.  She has that man wrapped around her little finger!  Happy birthday indeed.  Now we have the whole rest of the afternoon and evening to spend together as a family.  For the unfortunateness of having a Sunday birthday I think it’s going pretty well for him.  At least he’s not turning 63 like Parker thought!  Little bit of a math misunderstanding with the 3 and the 6 candle for the cake!  Gavin said, “No, he’s not 63!  That would mean he would be almost Grandpa’s age!  He’s turning 36!”  And now you know how old my man is.  How I love him and the family we have created together. 

Friday, May 20, 2011

Holding On For Dear Life

Memories flit and flash through my mind when I think of this phrase:  hold on for dear life. 

Standing in the pike position over a deep rushing river at Red Cliffs when I missed the turn in the hike.  Holding 4 month old Baby Gavin tightly in my arms at the hospital while he was on breathing treatments for croup.  Squeezing Gwen to my chest while I helplessly watched Heath run before another ocean wave crashed over 3 year old Parker.  The rod I had framed after it was in my arm for 18 months healing the broken bones.  Praying that my sister and her new premature baby would be ok.  Holding on to the rope between my Seminary teachers while hiking up the steepest part of Farnsworth Peak to the KSL towers.  Rocking 2 year old Gavin, sobbing while he told me it would be ok even though he had no idea his dad was out of work and we were living on nothing but faith.  Refusing the amniocentesis to avoid the 1% risk of miscarriage after an ultrasound raised suspicions of chromosomal abnormalities in our longed for baby girl.  The seatbelt commercial with the jingle Hold on for Dear Life.

Hold on for dear life.  It’s trusting that the Lord knows me and has a plan for me even when it all feels impossible.  It’s trusting that I taught my kids well and getting a big parental pay day when Gavin kneels to pray for his parents who have momentarily lost the faith to do it themselves.  It’s remembering that the greatest things in life aren’t things. 

Hold on for dear life.  My conscience whispers that it’s worth gutting through when it seems easier to give up.  My conscience calms my rebellious soul by telling me I need to take care of myself so I can watch my babies grow up.  My conscience, and when I say conscience I realize it’s probably not my own thoughts but the voice of the Spirit, reminds me that good works will be rewarded.  Hold on.  Hold on for dear life. 

Hold on to my spouse, my husband, my soulmate.  Hold on knowing that together with the Lord nothing will happen that we can’t handle.  Hold on because marriage is work with countless rewards. 

Hold on to my babies.  Make home a place they want to be.  Talk to them so they will know they can tell me anything.  Listen to them.  Love them.  Hold on to them.  Let them go physically while never letting them go in my heart.  Hold on for dear life. 

Hold on for dear life to principles, standards, personal convictions, innocence, hope and faith.  Hold on.  The winds of adversity may blow with hurricane forces but hold on for dear life.  The sun will rise again.  Hold on and stay true to yourself. 

Hold on because you care.  Hold on because it’s worth it.  Hold on for dear life to all that matters.  Hold on. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Save the Fish

Animals are interesting creatures.  They cause people to do the strangest things.  Some people agree with PETA and think that it’s a good idea to ban the sale of ladybugs from home improvement stores.  Meanwhile other people get excited about a commercial on TV selling butterfly kits with live caterpillars.  Then there’s ant farms.  That’s just a miniature zoo. 

I’m not much of an environmentalist but I do think we should save the fish.  They don’t taste that great.  But I do like crab which, when you think about it, are just really large spiders.  Same with lobsters but I don’t know how they taste.  I’ve only had imitation lobster.  My parents were cheap and Heath refuses to buy anything with real lobster in it. 

Did you know that there is an i-Pad app for cats?  It’s pictures of objects that the cat can bat at on the computer screen.  I wish I was making that up.  Dog food commercials give me a headache from rolling my eyes so much.  Dogs have never been ashamed to lick their nether regions in plain sight.  This is something dogs have never even pretended to hide.  Do you really think they’re bored with one flavor of dog food?  Given the fact that some dogs eat cat feces, do you really think they have a discerning palate?  Just saying . . .

Perhaps my biggest pet peeve (ha ha no pun intended) is talking animals.  Take Mickey Mouse Clubhouse for example.  Gwen’s watching it right now which inspired this post.  Mickey is a talking mouse who owns a large dog named Pluto, yet his neighbor is Goofy, a talking dog who wears clothes.  Mickey wears shorts with no shirt while Donald wears a shirt with no pants.  Daisy wears a shirt and bloomers with high heels.  All the animals are about the same size too, including Clarabelle the talking cow.  Hmm.

I have never understood the need for talking half dressed animals in children’s stories.  Are they more relatable than other children?  I don’t know.  Every time I see Minnie on Mickey Mouse Clubhouse I think of when we were touring her house at Disneyland.  There was a grocery list on the fridge with every type of cheese imaginable on it.  I commented on it and Heath said, “She is a mouse!”  The characters are so humanized I had forgotten that part.  I know her name.  I guess I figured it was more like a last name than a species label. 

But I’ve had conversations with Heath about how Mickey and Minnie have the same last name but don’t seem to be married.  Hmm . . . maybe they are married but live in separate houses since that’s no different than amicable divorces but better on the taxes!  Reality sets in my mind and I say, “It’s a cartoon!  Don’t overthink it!” 

Animals.  Such a strange fascination we humans have. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cloaked in Invisibility

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When I close my eyes you can’t see me. 
Don’t watch me!  Look away!
I cleaned up.

Are the above lines lies, rationalizations, or a means to an end?  Have you ever believed something that you know very well isn’t true?  Sometimes the dream is too delicious and reality is bitterness biting back so we believe what we want to believe and see what we want to see. 

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This is my office with the invisible walls.  In all its glory.  It’s not messy if I don’t believe it is.  In fact, nobody can see anything in there.  The invisible walls are made of lead so even Superman can’t see in.  This is my retreat, my haven, and all I have to do is shut the door on my projects.  When I am in the office with the invisible walls my ears are impervious to any sound.  My children may be murdering each other with dirty socks and banshee screaming, I wouldn’t know.  The lead invisible walls provide a cloak of invisibility protecting anyone from seeing in and definitely from me being aware of anything outside. 

Do I really believe this?  Well, I did.  Until I had to do a lot creative cropping in Photoshop only to hope that maybe the invisible walls work online too.  I’m guessing no.  I’m also assuming my friends and any visitors were too nice to say anything about the abomination that is the first thing one can see from the front door.  I am like Monica Gellar – a neat freak with a dirty secret.  And please don’t touch it because you might mess it up.  It’s organized chaos alright? 

I don’t remember one specific reality check moment.  It may have been an ongoing realization encouraged by Heath and his breaking point with the obnoxiousness of it all.  Not only did we clear the floor, this usually involves one of us hiding neat piles all over the floor and the other one can’t find anything, we added floor space.  That’s the best part of invisible walls.  They’re flexible.  Then we *gasp* organized the cacophonous deluge! 

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This picture serves two purposes.  First, it shows an outlet that was outside the office and is now inside the office.  And second, the pile of little kid delusion is from when we told Parker he could watch a show if he put all the toys away, or at least took them upstairs if they weren’t his.  So he cleared the floor downstairs like we asked and dumped it all behind the rocking chair as if we would never know.  Maybe when you’re 5 that’s a great hiding place.  Of course I shouldn’t judge.  I’m in my 30’s and I thought nobody could see my scrapbooking supplies exploded all over the office because of the magical metal gate surrounding the office!  You know what they say about insanity right?  Insanity is hereditary, you get it from your kids. 

On to the after pictures:

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Shabam!  I know, right?  So awesome. 

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The best part of all the organization is the homework center.  We didn’t even plan for this.  It was one of those serendipitous moments.  We bought a box with 8 shelves for the boys homework and important notes from school etc.  It sits on top of the plastic crate that their homework used to live in.  That system was not working anymore.  I put a bunch of books that are on their reading level in the crate.  I think this system is much better because Heath is a genius!  Let’s hope it stays this pretty and organized. 

The second picture shows a lot of stuff.  We have a lot of office stuff.  Really we have two rooms worth of stuff.  A craft room for me and a regular office for Heath and I guess I would have to embrace my laptop more than I do now.  Maybe type off the letters on that keyboard.  Heath is such a brat though!  He pointed out a keyboard at the store and said, “That’s what all those letters are!”  Thanks.  There’s Cricut stuff in one place, and more scrapbooking stuff and lots of books.  Another serendipitous moment was when I put the boys pencil boxes on a shelf along with a tin of crayons and another tin of colored pencils.  I told them they could get that stuff whenever they were doing homework as long as they put it away when they were done. 

Because the last picture shows where they will be doing their homework as long as they are good office citizens.  I love Abigail and her parents for giving me this dining room table.  It is huge.  I turned it sideways so I could open both leaves.  I was only using part of the table before.  My scrapbook paper sits on the table along with cutting mats and cutting boards.  The boys can sit at the table and do homework and have instant access to any of their school supplies we store in the office.  Gwen can’t touch any of it.  She could before and it was a problem.  Under the table is my Next Steps reading program supplies and the boys art box and scrapbooks they’re making.  Beautiful. 

So there’s still a lot of stacks on the floor.  You didn’t notice right?  I try not to so that means it’s not really there.  This is the best we can do with what we have.  I think it’s spectacular!  I wonder how long it will take until I get another wave of scrapbook creativity that bursts all over the room. 

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Or until this fills up with whatever.  We have surface issues.  Any surface is perfect for storage.  At least we admit it.  That’s the first step.  Heath wanted the computer to be on this part of the desk but I didn’t like it.  It wasn’t aesthetically pleasing to me.  Being the patient man that he is he unscrewed the desk tops and we tried to swap them to keep the cord hole with the computer.  It didn’t work.  And he didn’t hate me forever!  We moved the desk tops back and rescrewed them in place.  I cut my finger when it got in the way of the heavy desk settling into place.  I think that soothed Heath’s annoyance with me and my so called aesthetics! 

At any rate we have much more square footage to work in and it looks good now.  If the invisible walls are compromised again by . . . regular eyes then at least I’m no longer embarrassed about my exposed dirty secret not cloaked in invisibility like I hoped.