Monday, January 31, 2011

The Answer

(Continued from "The Wall)

I first need to state, that I have a VERY strong belief in God and feel that He is aware of me and knows me and my struggles.  I also believe that He doesn't want me to struggle but wants me to succeed.  I know, from many experiences in my life, that in order to have Him help me, I have to ask.  Sometimes, I have to say that I know He helps me even when I don't ask, but I know I receive more help when I get myself to the asking point.

So, I got on my knees and threw it all out there.  I explained how I felt about balancing family and home and that I knew He wanted me to have success in both areas, but I couldn't do it on my own, so would He please help me out.  I even shared with Him some of the things I had done and learned that might lead to further steps up that ladder.

I tried to open my mind to what might be the answers and sat quietly and pondered for awhile, but there was nothing concrete yet.

About two days later, I woke in the morning and had suddenly figured something out.  I realized that my day has a real pattern to it and that there are certain things that must happen at the same time every morning.  I had had enough successful days in the past, that I remembered the building blocks that made me feel that those days had been successes.  This sudden understanding helped me bring all of these points together in one place.  Ah!  How well He knows me and just how to teach me.  So reassuring!

I sat down with my planner and divided it up into sections.  Once I had those laid out, it became easy.  I believe this must have been the answer to my prayers.

In those sections, which were each about an hour and a half long, I placed various important tasks.  For example, in the early morning, before my family wakes, I know that I HAVE to shower, have my face washed, teeth brushed, be dressed and have my bed made and room straightened, or it's not going to happen, and my day will be a flop from the get go.  Once the kids are up and running, I'm out of luck.

Once I created these routines, I pared them down to the most important things.  I also, following the Sidetracked Home Executive's way of doing things, assigned certain types of tasks to certain days--errand day, desk day....

Along these lines, Sunday's are my planning days.  I review the things that lie ahead in the next week and assign them to certain days and prioritize them.  I set goals and set up baby steps to lead to success.  I figure any step forward is a step in the right direction no matter how small.

Here's an example.  As far as my college courses go, I create a spreadsheet with the date, day of the week for that date, and an assignment on each day of the week.  I try to be realistic, so I don't overwhelm myself.  That's one things about these classes, they have helped me be more aware of how much I can handle.  Each day, I know there's an assignment, so I go to the spreadsheet, figure out what I have to do, and when it's done, I shade in that square on the page.  It has worked nicely.  On Sunday's, I review these schedules too; I'm not afraid to revamp them as needed.

This way of doing things had helped me significantly.  I don't feel as out of control any more, but I know more than anything, to succeed, I have to DO something.  I can't just sit back and expect things to happen.  I have to be proactive.  Sometimes motivation is hard to come by.  In these situations, I just need to remember who gave me the plan and then lean on Him some more to guide me.  It works!  So, everyday is a little reminder to me that He's aware of me.

If you want more information on this and the exact plan, let me know.  I'd happily share it with you.  Not sure if just works because of my personality or if others would benefit from it too.  Knowing what it feels like to be overwhelmed, I'm happy to share whatever I can with anyone else who might be in the same boat.

Drinking the Cheerios

One of my children, who for this post, shall remain nameless, woke up on the WAY wrong side of the bed this morning.

At the breakfast table, this child was offered a bowl of Frosted Flakes.  NO!  This was not part of this child's agenda.  Thinking this was just a mistake on the Warden's part, I offered, from upstairs, to eat the Frosted Flakes.  I had seen the child bring up the box of Honey Nut Cheerios, so I was on the inside track and knew what this child wanted.  The Warden hadn't been in the kitchen for this.

The next adventure of the morning happened not even a minute later with, "I don't want the big spoon!"  WHAT?!  Did I hear that correctly?

I came downstairs at this point, regretting the offer to eat the Frosted Flakes, and gave a choice, "Would you like to eat it with that spoon or no spoon?"  I waited calmly for the answer and received none.  The rule is, if they choose not to choose after a certain period of time, I get to choose, so I chose the no spoon route.

Things, obviously, weren't instantly happy, and over time, things started to deteriorate even more with this child missing a ride to school because of the lack of spoon situation.

Luckily, I was going to be taking other siblings to school later, so this child could also get a ride if there was complete control for the rest of the time between then and the time I drove the other siblings.

Let me just say that from that moment on, there was peace, and the Cheerios went down without another sound...and without a spoon.

The beautiful thing....There was not one moment of stress on my part.  I stayed composed.  The problem was left in the child's shoes (or maybe I should say bowl).  Will there be another problem like this in the future?  Probably, but I hope something was learned from today.  Hard to say.  We'll see.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Wall

I've hit the blogger's wall.  I feel like I've run out of things to write about.  There have been people that have asked about how I organize life with all the chaos of seven kids, and so I'm thinking I'll head that direction.

Here's the honest truth....

I have struggled from the beginning with balancing kids and home.  It's been a constant struggle.  Some people, it seems, find this so easy, and I'd love to hear your pointers if you are one of these.  I have come up with a few answers, and it's made life quite a bit easier.  So, if you are also seeking answers, I'd love to know if you try any of mine out and how they work for you.

The beginning of the quest for a clean and orderly home started with the book.  I honestly love this book and still read it about once a year.  I was then directed to Sidetracked Home Executives by Pam Young and Peggy Jones.  The edition I had was written back in the '80s, I believe.  It made house cleaning into a kind of game with a box of cards that you moved from day to day, week to week, month to month.  I enjoyed it, but it wasn't something I could carry on for long periods of time.

The principles in these books stuck to some degree or another, but I think Flylady made the biggest difference.  Her principles were just what I needed.  Here's the drawback--her website is a mess and very hard to maneuver through.  Also, she sends out a huge amount of daily reminders to one's email inbox thus leading to more chaos.  Kind of counter-productive.

About a year and a half ago, I'd had it.  Always feeling like I was on the treadmill and never moving forward.  Not only not moving forward, but losing my footing and falling off altogether.  Very frustrating!!!

So, I decided that I needed to get a grip on it all, and was sure I could do it all, but there was NO WAY I was going to be able to do it alone.  I knew there was only one being who could help me.  No matter how many online sources I looked to or how many wonderful homemakers' examples I followed, I had to lean on the One who knows me best, so I got on my knees and earnestly prayed for help.

That has made all the difference.

I will share what I learned tomorrow.....

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

Well, I didn't get my hands on The Hunger Games in time--my own fault, and my forgetful brain, but in searching for books to read, I ran across Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister by Gregory Maguire.  In reading the synopsis, I was more than intrigued.  I checked it out from the library and started reading it yesterday.

I LOVE it!

Needless to say, it's the Cinderella story written from the viewpoint of one of the ugly stepsisters.  I'm only 100 pages in at this point, but I'm glad for this decision.

Gregory Maguire is the author who wrote Wicked.  According to Inmate #1, who reads like there's no tomorrow, there are a number of off-color things in that book.  This book is similar.  It's not a matter of bad words and language spewed out.  It's a man who comes in boasting about his manhood publicly.  Was I shocked and dismayed at it?  No.  It was written in a very humorous, but intelligent way.  The wording alone in this book makes it worth reading.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Are You Waiting...

...for me to say something clever?



Nope.  I got nothin'.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Wedding

I'm going to a wedding today at the temple.

This one's a funny one because if it were a civil marriage, The Warden and I'd probably be sitting right in the middle of the aisle.  We have known the bride since she was about five and the groom since he was serving his mission.

We knew her when we lived in Monmouth.  Amazingly, wonderful, open, humorous family.

We've known him (mostly through his parents), as we've lived here.  Extremely talented, warm, sweet family.

I would venture to say that both mothers are on my list of people I want to be like when I grow up, which I don't have any plans of doing any time soon, but if it were promised that I'd be like them (both of them), I'd probably agree to it much sooner.

So excited to get to be with these great people in such a wonderful place.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Reading Update

I finished reading Maximum Ride last night.  I really enjoyed it.  I like books that I can relate to, but in this case, there wasn't one character I felt was "me."  The characters were my kids.  Just like Inmate #1 told me, Max is her.  No question.  I spoke with #1 about this last night, and she shared with me that her friends had told her that the main character in the next book I'm reading is her as well.  Should be interesting.

The next book is The Hunger Games.  I think nearly everyone I know has read this one.  I, on the other hand, had to have a class to make me slow down to read something enjoyable.  I've heard The Hunger Games is hard to put down and that the rest of the series beckons you after you finish the first book.  I am telling you now, I'm stopping at book one.  Too much else to read for this class.

Today is the day I take #s 6 and 7 to the library, so hopefully there'll be a copy for me.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Oh T!

We're sitting at the table eating lunch.  #7's eating cheese--lots and lots of cheese.  #6 says, "But babies don't eat cheese."  I replied, "You're right, little babies don't eat cheese.  They only drink milk."  He agrees, pats his chest and says, "Yep.  Just from your nostrils....or a cup." 

His nostrils must be in a different place than mine are.

Kettle Corn Popper

Here's a link to the popper we have.  Enjoy!  It's was definitely one of our best purchases.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Here's Another One for You

As I've mentioned before, Inmate #1 comes home from school everyday and makes kettle corn for us.  Today, she gave it a little extra something that you might like to try if you do kettle corn.  Along with the sugar, she throws in a little bit of pumpkin pie spice--somewhere around 1/4 tsp.  SO YUMMY! 

I'd love to hear if you try other things too.  Let us know what's good.

Bread in a Crockpot

This is amazing.  I had no idea you could make bread in a crockpot.  I had never heard of it.  I found it in a ward cookbook from my sister.  From beginning to end, this takes about three hours.  You have to have one of the more oblong crockpots--one that holds a bread loaf pan.

The first thing you want to do is preheat your crockpot on high for 30 minutes.

1 pkg. dry yeast
1/4 c. warm water
1 egg
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1 c. lukewarm water
1 tsp. salt
1/4 c. sugar
3 1/2 - 4 c. flour

In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 tsp. sugar in 1/4 c. warm water.  Let it stand for a little bit until it foams up a bit.  Add egg, oil, lukewarm water, salt, 1/4 c. sugar, and 2 c. of the flour.  Beat with an electric mixer for 2 mins.  With a wooden spoon, stir in remaining 1 1/2 to 2 c. flour til dough leaves sides of bowl.  Place dough in well-greased bread pan; cover very loosely (I used foil).  Place pan in pre-heated crockpot.  Cover and bake on high for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until the edges are browned.  Remove from crockpot and uncover.  Let stand five minutes and then tip out of pan.

YAY for Old Friends

Today on facebook, I found that it is the birthday of the youngest son of some of our dearest friends.  This day is significant because it was on this very day, eighteen years ago, that they approached us at church and invited us to dinner and to celebrate Logan's first birthday.

At that time, we were living in Monmouth, Oregon, home of Western Oregon University, and we were going to school.  We'd been married for nine months.  We were poor, so we never went out.  It was study and work all the time, but we were newlyweds, so life was good.

These dear friends were just another of many tender mercies in our lives.  They saved us from the doldrums of school and poverty.  Nearly every weekend, they would call us and invite us to do something fun.  Usually it was dinner and a movie in Salem--the big city (HaHaHa).

The thing that still baffles me about this is that they had four children.  We had none.  They were established, we were just starting out.  Why us?  Why did they go out of their way for us?

I don't know if I will ever understand this, but it was an incredible blessing.  We love these people.  I joke around that they saved our marriage, but part of me really wonders if that was their purpose, and we just didn't know that.

Thank you Andy and Carol for your love for us.  We love you right back!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Inmate #7 in her new dress....

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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Whirlwind of a Day

I've been hearing about pillowcase dresses lately and decided that I wanted to make one.  I bought the cutest pillowcase and just happened to have ribbon that matched.  I was going to make it last night, but my iron was absolutely DEAD when I plugged it in.  This morning a friend lent me one, so I was off and running.  The other issue was that my sewing machine has been tricky lately, so I had to mess around with it for about 20 minutes or so before I could begin.  Once I got going, it was done in no time flat.  Here's how it turned out:

At this time of night, Inmate #7 is in bed, so I'll take a photo of her in it tomorrow so you can see her in it.

With the machine fixed, it was time to sew on some scout badges.  I did a couple--always tricky cuz who really knows the proper placement of all 4,000 of those buggers?  Ugh!  Too much else to do, so I put them away until another day--story of my life, but now that the machine's fixed, I won't hold off so much.  Plus, I had food to make and had to crack the whip, so the house'd get cleaned up for company.

I have to confess, I stayed in my pajamas until about 5:30 this evening.  Can you believe it?  I NEVER do this, but when the kids get up before I do, I have a really hard time getting my act together.  This morning, it was Inmate #6 with a bad dream.

The Warden had signed us up to feed the missionaries this evening.  Just to illustrate my ditziness lately, because of all the things we had going on tonight, we offered to take dinner to them.  On our way, I realized that I had forgotten one of the main ingredients that goes in the main dish.  Still edible and yummy, but what was I thinking?

After dropping off dinner, we headed off to the home of some good friends.  They were having an Argentine dinner.  They do this every so often and invite families from the ward who served missions in southern South America.  Since the Warden served in Paraguay, we were invited.  YAY!  I was asked to make Ensalada Rusa.  It's a potato salad.  I looked up the recipe on and made it.  I make a pretty good American potato salad (thanks for my mother-by-marriage's training), so this was just not up to par in my book.  I'm not sure how authentic it turned out.  I didn't stick around long enough to hear.

We hung out with these friends for only about 45 minutes because we had 25 teenagers heading to our house at 6pm. 

The kids arrived, we had pizza and soda.  Each person brought $3 for pizza.  I took off to get pizza--all the boys went along with me.  It was so fun to have all those boys in the car.  We bought ten pizzas from Little Caesar's--we cleaned them out---and stopped at Albertson's for the soda.  When we got home, more kids had arrived.  Some of the kids watched a movie; some just stood or sat around and chatted, and at 8pm, we drove them off to the church dance. 

After dropping them off, I went to buy diapers--emergency.

Now, Inmates #3-7 are in bed, and the Warden and I are sitting in the front room waiting for the dance to be over--11pm.  We'll bring the kids back to our house for them to wait for their parents to get them.

Bed is going to feel so good tonight!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Kettle Corn and Community

LOVE this show! We tease Inmate #3 that she's going to marry Abed. We also have kettle corn nearly everyday. Inmate #1 wanted a popper for Christmas. Now that she has one, she comes home from school and makes it for us. It's so WAY yummier than the microwave kind, which is all we had before this.

Sadly, we have no huge spoon. What can be said other than, no lightning strikes in our backyard. **ho hum**

I have planted this here, so I can share it with the Inmates when they get home from school...while we enjoy or kettle corn, of course. Enjoy!


It's Friday!!!

That's the only thought that got me out of bed this morning. I LOVE Friday.

The heat was turned on last night (we usually use the pellet stove, which does a beautiful job heating the house. I will take a photo of it sometime. It sits in the corner of our family room. It looks very pretty there while the fire burns. It's waiting to be cleaned, so once it's cleaned, then I'll take the photo). The furnace doesn't do nearly as good a job at keeping the house warm, but because the carpets were still a bit damp from yesterday's cleaning, the Warden turned the heat on and went to bed.

The heat was up too high last night. I woke up too warm. I didn't want to get out of bed.

I volunteered at the elementary school today. I love my kids' teachers! I love that they let me work with the kids. In Inmate #4's class, I usually do math. It's so rewarding. Today we worked on rounding decimals. In Inmate #5's class, I usually get to read with the kids one-on-one. The funnest (yes, I used that word) thing about the whole experience is when the teacher says, "I'm going to have you work with Mrs. ...," and the kids cheer. I didn't put my name there because it's not just me. They do it for any mom or dad that helps out, and I love that! Nice to be wanted.

I have my friend's kids here right now. She's at a doctor's appointment. It's Friday, so it's movie day. Yay for Netflix; they're watching Kipper right now, but bummer that Netflix is doing away with the DVD portion of their service--HUGE bummer. That will limit what my kids get to watch. We rely on our Clearplay to cut out so much of the skanky stuff in DVDs for the kids.

Anyway, they're down being entertained, while I'm figuring out my reading schedule for Maximum Ride. The Named was great for someone about the age of 12-14-ish. It's part of a series, I think.

The clean carpets are very lifting. Outside it's grey and drippy, but inside, it's so nice and bright and clean. Love it!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What am I Doing?

Sitting here all ready to do some kind of post tonight, but I just realized that before I left for a meeting tonight, I was on the last chapter of The Named.  It's gotten kind of exciting.  So, the post will wait for tomorrow.  Btw, Inmate #3 has mono.  None of the rest of us are sick, and with her, you'd never know it.

Bought groceries today, "and there was much rejoicing...yay."

So glad it didn't come to this!

For Real?

So, just a couple weeks ago I started pondering, not negatively but realistically, about how I'm doing as a mom.  I found many, many areas that could use improvement.  I thought back on the years when I had one, two and three children and how much simpler life was--lots of diapers, but just simpler.

I am in the remarkable place of finding myself, weekly, with women I admire--women I'd really like to be like someday.  I have actually had this experience my whole life.  I have to assert that so many LDS women, those who humbly go about truly living their religion, are some of the most AMAZING women on the earth.  Refute me if you want to, but I'd assert that if you do, you and I have different views on just what an "amazing woman" is.

Ironically, yesterday, I received a letter from American Mothers, Inc.  As I read it, I thought it MUST be a joke.  It had to be.  It stated that I am a "candidate for the Young Mother of the Year selection process for the state of Oregon for the year 2012."  Say what?  Yes, I did recheck the envelope, and it did have my name on it.

Wow!  Of all the together and with it and wonderful women I know, I can give you a thousand names of women who should be on that list.  I'm not among them.  The women who nominated me are amazing women.  They are truly wonderful mothers and human beings.  Wow!  I'm just blown away that they'd consider me.

I figure sooner or later someone'll get ahold of my blog or my facebook page, read through it and learn the truth.  If they want someone who always has a spotless house and perfect children, I'm so out of the running, but if they want someone who loves her kids, I'm totally in on that one.  What can I say, my children are not perfect, but we mesh well.  I love them; they love me.  It all works, but that's just because God put us together.  He knew who I needed.  For that, I'm grateful!

So, what to do?  I feel completely honored.  I know I won't win the thing, but it's just an honor to be considered.  I hope I don't discredit their entire program just by my very presence.

I'm just plain Jane not fancy Nancy.  My kids don't know how to set a proper table, but they're happy.  Does that count?  I can't even promise that they're completely clean when you see them, but they're polite--most of the time.

We'll see where this goes and what this brings.  Could be an interesting ride.  Me in a fancy dress going to fancy things....hmm.  I see the potential for disaster here....

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Experiment - Day 2

Kids'll be home from school in an hour and a half.  I figure I'd better get a post done while I can.  I'm hoping to also have a few minutes to drag myself a bit further through The Named.  It's a cute story idea; just not a lot of realistic dialog and the writing is really plain, but Inmate #3's gonna love it.

Next, I'll be reading Inmate #1's favorite book--Maximum Ride.  She once said she identifies with the main character.  I guess that's what really makes a good book when it comes right down to it--somehow identifying with it.  I once told my librarian friend about Inmate #1's feelings, and she said that wasn't good.  When I asked why, she said, "Max is just so responsible.  She has the world on her shoulders."  Interesting!  I guess I'll be seeing what this is all about here pretty soon.  There is no question that as oldest child, Inmate #1 takes on a lot of responsibility.  She's very good at it too.

Well, day two of the experiment, and it's all good.  Remarkably so.  I even had kids thinking ahead yesterday.  I made cookies with raisins, oatmeal, nuts and chocolate chips in them--wanted to make sure that they had grain, fruit and protein all covered.  They all loved them and asked for more.  They each even took two and put them in a bag for lunch for today.  Woah!  Planning ahead?  Unheard of. 

Even my teens, who struggle in the morning to get their lunches made, had lunch ready by the time they went to bed last night.  Heaven forbid you should be the last one getting your lunch made at this point. 

By tomorrow afternoon, we'll be back to normal.  We'll see if they are at all changed by what they've experienced.  Yah, I doubt it too.  I keep getting this picture in my mind of MacCaulay Culkin pulling all the ziploc bags and glass jars full of gross things out of his lunch bag as he offers to make the lunch trade on Uncle Buck.  Hoping we don't end up like that tomorrow.  But if we do, maybe there's a better chance for a more indelible change.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Little Study in Insecurity

Unlike many of my peers, my parents were raised during the Great Depression.  Both were born in 1927.  I honestly think there is a different way that people look at life when they've done without.  This is what I was raised by.

Most of my peers and their parents, I would venture to say, have never lived without.

This morning, my children woke to a strange new world--a world without.  Well, not exactly "without," but with a whole lot less than they're used to.  I saw different wheels turning in my children's brains as they prepared to start the day.

Let me explain....The Warden gets paid on Thursday.  The grocery budget has been spent.  In months in the past when this has happened, I have dipped into another budget to buy more of whatever we've wanted (you'll notice I use the word "wanted" not needed.  I decided this month that I'm not going to do that and see what happens. 

So, I will buy food on Thursday when that portion of the budget has been replenished.  I also must explain that like nearly every other LDS household in the world, we are not lacking by any means.  The pantry is full.  There are also apples and oranges in the fruit bowl on the counter.  There is bread that has been pulled from the freezer.  There are cans of tuna in the food storage.  There is one gallon of milk in the fridge.  There really is plenty here.  They are not going to starve.  It's just not the stuff like they always get that they end up throwing half away.

But...there is no string cheese.  There are no baby carrots.  There are no bananas nor applesauce in those cute little packages nor little tiny boxes of raisins.
Let me also tell you that part of my reasoning for doing this is that I've slowly watched my children become pickier eaters.  They have thrown away very edible, even delicious food without even a second look.  UGH!  Any really wonderful things are eaten voraciously immediately.  There is no rationing so that something can be kept to even put in a lunch.

One morning, on facebook, I commented how wonderful it was to have leftover lasagna for breakfast.  The replies were very funny to me.  I am a leftover for breakfast kind of girl.  Leftover anything I'd choose over cereal or pancakes or even French toast.  One comment was, something like "Eww!  I only eat it for dinner."  Basically, if it's not eaten for dinner, you toss it down the drain.  UGH!!!  No way!  Send it over to my house.

I read recently, in regard to finances, that you should never tell your children that there's not enough money for something because it will make them feel insecure.  Puhleeeze!  Oh yah, you should lie to your children, tell them they can always use a credit card.  They can always file for bankruptcy.  My children have heard it plenty from me.  My children hate it, but I hope they are learning the value of a dollar and the value of working for that dollar.
The other sorry thing for all of my children but one is that their lunch accounts for school lunch are limited as well.  I put enough money in for them to buy one lunch a week each month.  They can use that money as they wish.  At this point, only one child could buy lunch today.  It was funny to see the different attitude that child had this morning.  It was clear that the lesson hadn't been learned in that case.   The others considered carefully that tuna fish sandwich and apple that went into the bag and quickly realized that if that didn't get eaten, it couldn't be thrown away because then, what would he eat for lunch tomorrow?  If you take it, you eat it, or don't even make it because someone can use it the next day.

I feel the value of children learning these lessons at a young age.  I don't want my kids to be out on their own before they finally learn the cost of things and the price of things.  I am grateful that our home isn't a place of continual lack, and I credit God for that blessing.  I know He takes care of us, but I want my children to realize this as well.  We are entitled to nothing.  All that we get is because we work for it and are blessed for that work.

We'll see how the next few days go.  Could be rather interesting.

Monday, January 17, 2011

New Header

Oh MAN!  How I LOVE the new header!  I figure, since I give each of my family members a non-name name, they should each be wearing a disguise.  I put the photo on photobucket and just played around with it.  I found the stickers and had some fun.  It was really tricky getting the sticker just right on Inmate #7.  Inmate #4's is my fave.  It just makes me smile!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Life is Good

Inmate #1 and I walked home from church today.  I think I take for granted the relationship I have with my kids.  There are no awkward pauses; no uncomfortable topics.  I love being around them.  My kids aren't perfect, but it's their imperfections that make them so darned loveable.  I guess I'm a just a little bit shocked that they still think I'm okay.  They don't mind being seen with me in public.  Am I doing something wrong?

Inmate #2 asked to make cookies and is currently making something yummy to share with us all.  The only thing is he chose to make the cake mix cookies with a red velvet cake mix, so the dough looks disturbingly like playdough.  EEK!!!  Have I ever mentioned how much I truly HATE playdough.  It's the smell.  It gives me a headache.  It is one of the worst smells in the world.  And they say it's non-toxic?  He offered to let me lick the bowl....Umm NO!

Inmates #4 and 6 were playing legos together nicely (yes, those two words are in the same sentence and in a row--SHOCKING!) in the front room when Inmate #1 and I arrived home.  Almost turned around to check the address.

Inmate #7 decided to clean up after her brothers and started putting the legos in a plastic bag while singing, "Happy. Happy."  That's what she makes me in so many ways.

Wow!  How does life get better than this?

Tomorrow is a day off from school.  Do you ever feel like these are wasted days?  I wish I had a formula for making vacation days worthwhile for everyone.  During family council, Inmate #2 said he wanted to go up the Gorge.  NO WAY!  They NEVER want to go there, but they were all nodding in agreement.  Who are these children?  When we mentioned the fact that we're living in a daily torrential downpour, they said they didn't care, they just wanted to go for the burgers in Cascade Locks.  Oh, I agree, SO worth the drive, but do I want to drive the main freeway in continual rain with the big ol' semis driving by?  Nope.  I don't think so.  Not even in the van the size of a UPS truck.

We have a little bowl with about a hundred ideas for family activities in it.  We used to draw one a week and had a goal to do something fun together weekly, but we haven't done it in awhile, so today the bowl emerged.  Every kid pulled a strip of paper out and, without reading it, put it in the middle of the table.  We ended up choosing to play basketball together and head to Jamba Juice afterward.  I'm not a sports person--let's see...C+ in folk dancing.  You know where my strengths don't lie, but I'm in.  I'll be around for a good laugh, I'm sure.  At least no one else'll be around.  I don't mind making a fool out of myself in front of my offspring.  They will all just know to be more thankful for their father's genes when the day is over.

On the down side, Inmate #3 still has a fever plaguing her.  No one else in the house is sick **knocking on wood.**  She has no cough, no runny nose, no vomiting, no nothing.  The fever will break for a number of hours and return again by evening.  I'm taking her in tomorrow morning to have some blood work done.  We'll see what we learn.  This has been way too long.  She had a fever two Sundays ago and was out of school for a day.  It was gone for the remainder of that week and returned the following Sunday--last Sunday (a week ago).  Although it has broken twice, there has not been a day this week in which she didn't have some amount of fever.

Regardless, it will be wonderful to have everyone home.  Looking forward to a fun day and a good week.

I read this post to the fam just now.  The response from the Warden was, "But what about the Warden (yes, he called himself the "Warden") making dinner?"  He does this each Sunday, but again, I'm taking him for granted.  Such a good man, and such a good dinner.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

AMAZING Oatmeal Cookies

Elaine Baum’s Oatmeal Cookies

1 c. shortening or marg.
2 eggs
1 c. sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 ½ c. flour
1 t. salt
1 t. soda
3 c. oatmeal
2 t. vanilla
½ c. nuts &/or choc. chips (both can be omitted)

Bake at 375 for 8-9 min. until chewy.


This photo is from my twenty-first birthday--a month before I entered the MTC, three months before I left for Japan.  The year prior to this, I had left BYU after my sophomore year to return home, running from a disastrous relationship.  I was working on re-building my self-esteem.  Over my shoulder in the photo is my dear friend.  She also had things going on in her life that she hadn't planned on.  Unsure times for both of us.  I think others knew we were each hurting, but we were the only ones who knew everything. 

We hung out together.  Hours spent at her parents' house and mine.  We went to church activities together.  We were each others' listening ears and lent each other our shoulders to cry on.  I can't count the hours we spent just sitting out in the car in my front driveway talking and healing.  Some may call it the "alignment of the stars."  It was almost like we were designed for the tasks we had to perform.  God knew I needed her.  She was a tender mercy. 

Before facebook (shall we call that BFB), I hadn't seen her since I got married.  That was eighteen years ago.  It ended up that we had a common facebook friend who lives in my ward.  She reconnected us. 

I went to a church meeting and the people there were all bashing facebook.  I have to admit, when you seek out time wasters and past flames (and attempt to reignite them), facebook is a bad thing, but there is a lot of good to be found there too--as with all things in life.  I, personally, am grateful to facebook to reuniting me with this friend and so many others.

Last night, she brought her daughter and came for dinner.  We created a video for her mom's memorial service.  She's the friend, who I mentioned in a previous post, whose mom passed away this past week.

All those years ago, did I ever really tell her how much she meant to me?  Did I ever thank her for the tears she caught and the time she took on my behalf?  I'm so glad I get to do that now.  I hope that someday I will get to repay all those who have blessed my life.  Thank you Julie, I love you!

Friday, January 14, 2011

The L to English Dictionary

At 18-months, the language is coming right along.  Everything requires translation, so here is your dictionary....

dah = yes
nuh-nuh = drink or food
mommy = mommy
pee = please
da-tu = thank you
daddy = daddy
Bubba = big penguin
baby = baby or dolly
na-na = banana
Mimi = Maggie (our dog)
Didi = Aedan
woo woo = dog's bark
weird sound from back of throat = meow
shake of head = no
wave = bye
happy = "Happy birthday to you"
hot = hot
poopy = no meaning yet, but the boys thought it would be a lot of fun to teach her that one.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Can't Sleep

I called the doctor's office this afternoon.  Although Inmate #3's fever was broken most of the day yesterday, and plans were to send her back to school today, it returned again last night just before bed.  Since it was low-grade, I was still going to send her, but by this morning, it was back up past 100.

By this afternoon, I decided it was time to check with the doctor.  I called in, and they asked me to bring her in for a 5pm appointment.  We did so.  She has no other symptoms but fever and sleepiness.  Her eyes have been sickly looking.  She's had an intermittent headache and now has achy knees.

We got her in to see the doctor around 5:30.  They were very backed up.  The doctor decided it could be one of three things--strep, influenza or mono.  Her feelings was it's flu.  She's a strep carrier, but her strep test came back negative, so there goes that theory.  I think I'll be taking her in tomorrow for a blood work-up to rule out mono.

When I got home, things were a bit chaotic.  At bedtime, I went to my room and found the gummy bear vitamins sitting on my bedside table, open with the lid sitting next to the bottle.  Ugh!  There were still vitamins in the bottle, so that's a good sign.  I knew exactly who'd been having some gummy's tonight.  I approached Inmate #6.  He told me that he hadn't had any.  Then I pressed.  He assured me he'd only had two.  This could be true, and he knows he only gets two.

So, here I am up tonight, checking and re-checking on my little ones.  I read online that you can't o.d. on these kinds of vitamins, but I still worry.

I just found out that a good friend of mine lost her mom yesterday.  This friend and I hung out when we were in our early 20s.  It's been since then since I've seen her mom, but she was a very smiley, nice lady.  She was always very sweet to me when I'd go over to their house.  I'm sad that she's gone, and I feel for this friend.  How come, even though I've been through it, I still don't know what to do for her?  Shouldn't I know?  There were so many people who did nice things for me when my mom died.  I wish I would have paid better attention.  I guess the biggest thing I can give her is my understanding.  That was one thing not a lot of my peers could give me.  I was twenty-nine when my mom died.  My friends hadn't experienced it.  I think they did the nicest things they could have done in the circumstances, but I wish just one of them would have truly understood what I was going through.  So, that's what I will give her.  I will feel it with her.

This is just kind of middle of the night blithering....

I went to a baby shower this evening.  I love this woman who is having a new baby.  When she told me she was pregnant, she shared some of the rude things that people have said to her.  I heard a few of those things said in jest this evening.  I kind of got a little irritated.  It was all said in good fun, but in this situation it's hurtful.  If you haven't been in this situation, how would you know that?  I spoke up and shared what a huge blessing Inmate #7 is to our family.  She is quite possibly the biggest blessing we've ever had, and believe me, we've had some big blessings.  To watch the big boys in our family care for her and love on her is wonderful.  It has brought a balance to our home that could have come no other way.  Babies are just plain blessings whether we plan them out or someone gifts them to us.  I'm grateful for our little gift.

I have spent the last few days completely unmotivated.  I didn't really get dressed this morning until after I picked up Inmate #5 from school.  I even went to the fabric store in my sweats.  What a slacker!!!  I woke up this morning to fold the enormous pile of clean laundry that's been haunting the middle of my bedroom floor.  I got most of it done.  I noticed, when I woke up, that my fingers were very swollen.   As I looked in the bathroom mirror, it was apparent that my face had been too.  My stomach had hurt really badly the night before, and my throat had been dry for the last couple days.  I drank a big ol' bunch of water trying to get my throat to feel right yesterday, so I knew my swollen face and hands weren't caused by dehydration.

I sent an email to the doctor's office.  They called today and said it sounded like I was having an allergic reaction to the antibiotics I'm taking for the sinus infection.  So, now I'm off those.  They said that because it has been a week, they want to wait and see if symptoms return.  Oh, how I hope they don't.  Time will tell.  I'm wondering if the allergy had something to do with my tiredness and thus my lack of motivation.  Sure, let's blame it on that.  Heck, let's just blame everything on that, shall we?

Well, I'm going to go hop up into my little beddy-bye again and see if I have any luck getting my brain to slow down.  If not, I'll be back.

Bad Guy Assignment

If you read my stati (plural of status, right?) on Facebook, you might be aware of a little frustration I had with a certain assignment one of my children was given at school. Here's the actual status from a couple days ago:

"Just a bit bugged that my fifteen-year-old son has to research bad guys in history and do a report on one. Sounds like he found some pretty nasty stuff out there--no doubt. So, will they balance this with doing a good guy too? I sure hope so! Why don't we seek out the good and let the bad go its way?"

He had come home from school that day telling me about a man who had exhumed his mother's body and put her heart in a pot on his stove.  There were other gruesome things that he shared.  It was pretty disgusting.

Here's my status from the next day:

"Principal's wife, and I don't even know this...when I write an email of concern to a teacher, I'm cc-ing it to my husband, but do I cc it to the school's principal as well? Is that too hard core to begin with? I don't want to create a bit hubbub right off the bat, I'm just searching for clarification at this point. Thoughts?"

I was given some very good advice from some very good friends. Here's the email I wrote:

"Just wanted to send a quick email and voice some concern and request some clarification. To be honest, I'm not even positive that it's your class that G was referring to, so if I'm in error, I hope you'll forgive me for bothering you with this.

"G shared that he is currently doing a project about a 'bad guy.' He told me that he had chosen Darth Vader, which cracks me up but also relieves me quite a bit. Along with this, he shared that he had learned some very disturbing things about some real, true to life individuals. What he shared was the stuff of nightmares. There are sure a lot of creepy people out there. Thus, my relief when he told me he was doing a fictional character.

"I guess my concern is how much we delve into the evil that exists in this world. The other day I was reading about the young man who went on the shooting rampage in Arizona. As I read his description, emotionally he reminded me of a number of young men I'm aware of. I got to wondering what kind of things are being fed to these people in a mental and emotional way. Thankfully, G has someone to vent to, to release some of the disgust at the things he learned, but I'm wondering why we aren't working a little more to focus on those who have good things to offer this world--the heroes, the people we should be trying to emulate.

"My daughter has shared many of the things she has been learning in school these past couple of years and so many of them have had a negative slant. I know that kind of stuff is really cool when you're a teenager, but it disturbs me--the direction we are steering our kids.

"Can you help me find some consolation in this exercise?

"Thanks so much!"

I received a reply by that afternoon, and I found the happenings in this class very interesting.  I would actually love to be part of a unit of study like this.  I am sharing the teacher's reply without permission, but I am also leaving it nameless.  So, here's what I received:

"We are going to start reading a selection from the Divine Comedy by Dante Allegheri. The only selection that is in our text book is from the Inferno. In this, Dante places wrong-doers into different levels of Hell, based upon their actions. The reading is essentially a cautionary  allegory that reminds Dante to stay on the true path so that he may reach Paradise. The speech G is working on is called the bad guy/girl in history project; they are supposed to research a bad guy from history and deliver an informative speech on this. I encourage students to look at more than just serial killers or evil dictators; however, this is often who they gravitate toward. I too am glad that G chose Darth Vader. I also have another student researching Voldemort from Harry Potter.

"After they finish their research, I ask them to place their bad person from history into their own inferno that they will begin next week. In Dante's Inferno, the punishments fit the crimes, (ex. a couple who committed infidelity is continuously being blown around by strong gusts of wind, since they were so swept up in their own emotions. They are prevented from being together). This project is always one I am cautious with. Some students want to glorify how horrible their "bad guys" are. I do my best to remind students that the repercussions for their actions are severe.

"I am glad to say, however, at the end of this project we watch a touching movie called What Dreams May Come, with Robin Williams. It has dark moments, but the love his character has for his wife and his children shines through and it has a heartwarming ending. Moreover, this term we will read two romances, The Tempest by Shakespeare and The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde. Life has many ups and downs, bright and dark moments, I truly believe my curriculum reflects this (We begin the year with love poetry and end with a comedic love drama :)

"Thank you for advocating for your kid. G is a sharp young man and I'm glad that he shares information with you about what he is learning. He seems to have a strong sense of his own comfort level, and he advocates for himself, which is a vital skill for his success. I truly enjoy having him in class, and I appreciate your concern and communication with me.

"If you have further concerns, please continue to communicate with me. My door is always open."
I knew there had to be more to this scenario than I was getting from Inmate #2.  I love the resolution they are allowing the kids to make and the insight this gives them.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Just a Couple More Things

Who doesn't love Taylor Swift? I mean seriously. Her gangly awkwardness. Her beautiful face and hair. Her just plain, real person likeability. Her lyrics. And most of all, her videos. They are fun to watch. Some of them are practically works of art. If you haven't seen them, here are a few for your perusal. Enjoy!

This song is so sad, but the video is beautiful....

This one's for Inmate #1. What girl doesn't think they're going to marry this guy, but he's only 5'7" from what I understand, so she'll be seeing eye to eye with the guy.

Day 30- My Favorite Song

Does this seem really random to anyone else?  I kind of thought day 30 would have some kind of significance to the entire list.  In sync with the randomness of day 30, my favorite song is very random.

I honestly can't even tell you why I love this song so much.  I just do!

Here are a couple other favorites.

Sorry Josh! It just wouldn't have worked out between us. You need a shave.

Okay, this one is to be sung at my funeral. Yes, I do think about that. No, I don't expect it to be any time soon. Someday, I'm going to do a post outlining the program for my funeral; it that kind of twisted?

If you want to know others, listen to my playlist.

There you have it...30 days of...well...stuff. Hope you enjoyed it.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What I'm Reading

In the past few weeks, I've read:

  • Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff  (enjoyed it)
  • The Man without a Face by Isabelle Holland  (eh...not so much)
  • The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot  (loved it!)
  • The Edge Chronicles: Beyond the Deep Woods by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell  (surprisingly liked it--Inmate #4's gonna love it!)  This kind of book is usually not my kind of thing.  I had my mind made up about it before I even started reading it, so I read it out loud to myself just to make sure I didn't lose interest or my train of thought.  It was VERY action packed.  Every chapter has a new character and a new adventure.  Poor Twig has very little down time.
Today, I'm writing papers and submitting them.  Tomorrow, I start The Named by Marianne Curley.  I'm way ahead of schedule.  I didn't realize how much time there actually is to read during the day.  It also helps that I'm enjoying myself immensely.  I'll be sad when this class is over.  Sadly, I'm not one who goes out looking for something to read.

I am also reading Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson to Inmates #4 and 5.  So far, it's a fun read.

Day 29 - In This Past Month, What I have Learned  No.  There's got to be something.

I learned to make those brownies in a mug, and they are AMAZING.  I'm afraid that's going to be a staple for the next little while.  It is about time for a mid-morning snack.  Don't tell Inmate #3 after what she said about my eating healthy.  It might shatter her image.  She's also the one who thinks I'm a straight A student.  Oh poor child.  Someday that pedestal's gonna come crashing down.  I don't want to be there when it happens.  How do I let her down gently?

I've learned that when you start to feel scared or panicked about the future, look to God.  Trust Him.  Lean on Him.  This isn't new for this month, it's something I keep relearning, but it's definitely something I've learned this past month.

I've learned a lot from the scriptures in the past month.  I was surprised by how much I learned about Laman and Lemuel and the whole Nephi and Laban thing (which has always bugged me), I gained a little more insight about that.  I love that each time I read, I get new things out of it.  I finished the Book of Mormon on December 31st, so I could restart it on January 1st.  It was a good move.  I look forward to reading everyday.

I learned that all the usual Christmas hubbub isn't necessary.  Simple is good.

From my last post, the reason I decided I'm better in print than in person happened this past month.  I went out with a friend for a few hours.  She'd seen my facebook statuses and read my blog, so what else was there to talk about?  I don't live the life of a sky-diving, living on the edge, career woman who knows all that's in the news.  I live the quiet, isolated life of a mother of seven.  There aren't very  many of us, but it's funny how, if you get us together, there'd be plenty to talk about because we'd totally be able to relate to one another and the crazy happenings of our everyday lives.  To everyone else, it's just boring--can't relate.  I do understand that there are more and less chatty times for me, so I must be in a mellow mode.  I need to learn to be okay with that.

I'm becoming a really good motivational speaker and cheerleader for kids on losing teams.  **sigh**  Inmate #2 has been on winning soccer and basketball teams for the last number of years.  Our current high school has a terrible trend of expecting to lose.  It's AWFUL!  I wish they'd get themselves out of this funk, but it just seems to perpetuate.  Let's see if because the football team won state this year, it can help boost the morale of all the teams in the school.  That would be wonderful!

I'm learning to listen to my husband when he says I should go to the doctor.  Yay for him!

On the other side of that coin, I taught two of my boys how to make cookies.  I taught Inmate #4 how to really clean a kitchen.  It is absolutely sparkling right now.  Ahhh.  You know life is good.  I've continued to teach my children that they have my love and support and my listening ear.  I am learning to respond with calmness remembering that nothing is the end of the world.

I'm in a good place right now.  I'd like to remain here but life changes, and I know it has its ups and downs.

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