Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's The Little Things....

I just wanted to share the no-money gifts we've received this month:

1. Having 15 deer appear in our backyard during lunch yesterday. Two of our young cousins are staying the weekend and loved the idea of woodland animals near our house. With the deer, the snow, and the season it looked very much like a picture postcard.

2. We took DD to Shriner's Hospital for her annual neck x-ray. The Atlanto Axial Instability is gone! I asked the dr. to repeat it again to make sure I heard him right. Oh, how I love miracles. Now her x-rays on neck and hips will be once every two years.

3. DS#1 has informed us that he has been voted "Best Hair Of The Eight Grade" and had his picture take for the yearbook. The best part of all this is actually a small victory. He wanted his hair long and it was a constant battle between us. The day we moved here my Daddy took him to get his hair cut. He told DS#1 that since Grandpa was paying, Grandpa would be dictating the haircut. Long, shaggy hair was chopped into a short 'do with a spiky top. He has worn it that way every since. I will be framing that yearbook picture.

4. DS#2 Now has so many friends that he could not invite them all to his birthday party. There is an endless stream of kids knocking on our front door asking to play with him. My Social King has polished his crown and wears it with a rakish tilt.

5. DS#3 is learning to read and spell. It was been fun to watch this awakening. Currently his favorite song to sing is to the tune of Aretha Franklin's "R-E-S-P-E-C-T". "B-L-A-C-K! Black is what I'm wearing today!" This is sung over and over like a broken record because his favorite jeans are black and due to the fact that he can't remember the rest of the song.

6. After months of working, DH finished the rennovations of our old house and it closed at the beginning of this month. We finally have him home on weeknights and weekends. We've had two Saturdays where there was nothing he had to do. We took advantage and played as a family.

There are too many gifts to list here but I keep them recorded in my heart. I do know how and where to send my thanks and it won't be with a handwritten note.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Happy St. Lucia Day!

St. Lucia Day is December 13, but my family traditionally celebrates the Saturday after. Instead of breakfast in bed we all gather around the table in our pjs. Instead of St. Lucia Buns and coffee, I make Orange Rolls and Stephen's Gourmet Cocoa.

Here is to celebrating traditions. My gift to you is my orange roll recipe. Tell me your holiday traditions (traditional recipes are always welcome, too!)

St. Lucia Orange Rolls

1 Tablespoon Yeast
1/3 Cup warm water
1 Tablespoon honey
1/2 Cup butter
1/4 Cup sugar
1 Cup scalded milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
3 Cups flour
6 Tablespoons butter
1/2 Cups white sugar
2 Tablespoons grated orange zest
1 Cup powdered sugar
1 1/2 Tablespoons fresh orange juice
In a small bowl dissolve yeat, warm water and honey. Let proof 5 minutes.
Meawhile, scald milk, turn off heat and add 1/ Cup butter and salt. Let stand until lukewarm and butter is melted.
Mix the proofed yeast with the milk mixture, eggs and flour to form a sticky dough. Lightly oil a large bowl, place dough in bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover and let rise in the fridge overnight.
Remove dough from fridge 2 hours before baking. Roll into a 1/4 thick rectangle. Mix softened butter with orange peel and 1/2 Cup white sugar. Spread orange zest mixture over dough and roll up. Cut rolls into 1" slices with dental floss. Place in greased muffin cups. Let rise until double in bulk.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
Let cool slightly. Mix together powdered sugar and orange juice and drizzle over orange rolls.
Makes 12-18 rolls.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

God Bless The Little Children.....

Last week we were getting ready for bed when DS#2 told me he needed two handmade puppets required for his book report the next day. The same time I remembered that DS#3 needed a VIP poster made for his birthday. Yes, I was up past midnight. Being the uncrafty person that I am, they were not spectacular but they were presentable.

The next morning I was exhausted as I put the VIP poster away for safekeeping until it was time for DS#3 to go to school. Not long before the buses came I found the VIP poster on the floor. The pictures were torn off. There was my Darling Daughter with half of a family picture in her hand.

I yelled at my daughter. (Condemn me all you want, I condemn myself even more.) DD smiled at me and said "I sorry Mom!" "No you're NOT!" I snarled back (oh, yes, I do condemn myself more than you do). DD left the room. I sat on the kitchen floor with a bottle of Elmers and a chopstick trying to piece the poster back together in the little time I had left. DD peeked around the corner of the stairs. "I sorry Mom?", she asked me. I didn't look up as I answered "No, you're not!" DD left again. I was rather enjoying my pity party on the floor when DD came up behind me. She put her arms around me from behind. I stopped my frantic gluing and turned to look at her. DD's bottom lip was poking out and a single tear coursed down her cheek. "Mom", she said softly, "I too sorry."

Leave it to my 4 year old to teach me about forgiveness. Who am I to say who gets to ask for forgiveness? Why did I hang onto my anger over what a 4 year old did? Christ taught us to forgive all men and my own daughter had to remind me of that. I put my arms around her and told her that I was sorry. She sat in my lap and showed me in her way that all was forgiven.

Before I became pregnant with my last child I would pray to our Heavenly Father to bless me with wisdom. His answer was to send me this special little girl. I hope He forgives me for all of the parenting mistakes I make.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

The Wisdom of a Kindergartener

DS#3 came home full of enthusiam for the kindergarten Thanksgiving celebration. "Mom, did you know that they ate popcorn but they didn't have jello?" He showed me the Indian costume he made, complete with headdress, paper grocery bag vest and shaker instrument. "And, Mom, they danced like this". (What followed was a cross between disco and howling-at-the-moon.)

"We ate turkey and pineapple, but they didn't have pineapple, Mom, because that grows in Hawaii. We also had rolls and cake!" (Travolta-cross-point-and-awoooo!)

I finally got him settled down enough to hear my question. "Do you know who was at the first Thanksgiving?" "Sure, Mom" he replied. "Everybody knows that." (roll-the -hands-and-do-the-hustle)

"Sweetheart, why don't you remind me who was at the first Thanksgiving." (Big sigh from DS#3 as he stops his spinning to talk patiently and slowly:)

"The Indians and the Mormons!"

Happy Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Today one of my younger sons asked "Mom, when are we going to be rich?" There followed a conversation about most likely never being rich but having sufficient for our needs. As the day has gone on, I have been thinking about just how rich we are. Mind you, this is not the world's definition of rich. I've had a list growing in my head all afternoon:

1. We have been praying throughout October that our old house might sell before Novemember and "at a fair price". Our realtor called us on Halloween night with the news that an offer had been made and that he thought it was a fair price. We laughed at the wording and knew our prayers had been answered. The house closing will be the day after Thanksgiving. Not having two mortgage payements makes me feel rich, indeed. Having my testimony strengthened yet again about the power of prayer: Priceless.

2. My Dear Husband works hard so I can stay home with the kids. He has never once said anything disrespectful to me, nor said anything derrogatory about me to someone else. He compliments every meal (which the kids now do, following his example). DH is constantly making me feel loved and beautiful. He brings me flowers for no reason. He takes me on a date every week. He honors his priesthood and he is a good father. Having married Mr. Wonderful makes me feel rich, indeed. Being married to someone I love with all of my heart: Priceless.

3. This morning it was too quiet at my house (which you all know means that one or more kids are getting into trouble). After hunting around I found my 3 younger children. They were cuddled together in a quilt on one of the boy's beds while Dear Son #2 read to Dear Son #3 and Dear Daughter. Having peace in the house is rare and makes me feel rich, indeed. Seeing that my kids really do love each other: Priceless.

4. Today is Veteran's Day. I've always been interested in reading about the personal stories of Veterans in our country. I am constantly amazed at the sacrifices that are so willingly given. Right now in Iraq are stories about soldiers building schools in their free time, civilians thanking the soldiers for coming to help them get their country back, political leaders in that country risking their lives because they believe strongly in building a democracy. Most of these stories are not reported by mainstream media. It makes me think of what our Founding Fathers went through to build our government. Was it appreciated then? How many of them risked their lives? Living in America makes me feel rich, indeed. Being free to worship how I want, say what I want, and live where I want: Priceless.

What makes you feel rich?

Monday, October 30, 2006

God Bless The Primary Teachers for their Good Service

This morning while I was upstairs on the computer checking email, I noticed the sound of running water downstairs. I called down and asked DS#3 if everything was okay. He said "Everything is fine, just don't come down!" Oh, dear. You know when your 5 yr old doesn't want your presence it usually means he setting the house on fire. Or in this case, it sounded like he was flooding the house before he set it on fire. I did what all parents would do....I went downstairs.

DS3# is my very smart child who often gets in trouble. (Remember the Great Adventure?) I followed the sound to the kitchen where DS#3 was on a chair in front of the kitchen sink. Besides him on the counter were a lot of dishes. Clean dishes. It took me a minute to register that those dishes were not clean before. What on earth is going on.....?

"Surprise, Mom! I washed the dishes for you! We learned in Primary that we are supposed to give Good Service so I am giving Good Service to you. Did I do a good job?" His eyes sparkled and he looked anxious as if he wasn't sure of my reaction. I guess I looked dumbfounded at the moment. Before I could reply he went on. "Mom, Jesus gave Good Service everywhere He went and we are supposed to be like him. That is what I learned in Primary. Did I give Good Service?" I wrapped him up in my arms, thanked him, and kissed the top of his head. Then DS#3 helped me put the clean dishes away.

As I wiped up the water that had sloshed onto the floor during the "Good Service", I thought about the change in my son this morning. It was obvious that "Good Service" was a benefit to "Good Self-Esteem". My son was happy with himself. He talked about wanting to give more "Good Service". He talked about whom he wanted to give it to. For the first time in his life I saw him think outside of himself. He wasn't the center of his universe anymore.

I'm including my children's Primary teachers in my prayers tonight. I think I'd better send them a thank you note as well. I don't think they know my child has been listening in class It is obvious to me that they have made a big impression in the life of my 5 yr old. And due to the combined efforts of Primary teachers, school teachers, family and, yes, even his parents, I hope my son will want to continue to give "Good Service".

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Middle Child Syndrome

Sometimes I worry that my middle son feels like he is lost in the shuffle of my family. Usually I am proven wrong time and again. But this last parent teacher conference was different. I know it is tough to move to a new area and go to a new school. But what his teacher said really set off alarm buttons:

"Your son is at the top of the class in math and reading. He is so polite and behaves well in class. I just wish that he weren't so quiet."

What? My son? The one who, every year at teacher conference, is told that he is a great kid but he needs to learn not to talk so much? My child, the social king of the classroom?

"He knows the answers but often will just whisper the answer rather than raising his hand. I would like to see him contribute more in discussions and help out his class mates".

What? My son? The one who, ever year at teacher conference, is told not to help out his classmates so much, that they need to do their own work even if he knows more than they do?

I also found out that he did not play with anyone his age at recess. How could I not know these things? When I looked at him I realized he was embarrassed. This whole time he had been putting on a brave face when he really was struggling. I though he handled this move better than my other two sons. Why hadn't my mom-dar gone off about this?

So I pushed my own mom-guilt aside and tried to come up with a plan to help DS#2. That plan came to me in the middle of another sleepless night. It was a plan that seemed too simple to work.

The next day I gave DS#2 the neighborhood map and phone list and told him to call at least 3 boys and they had to be his age (our phone list has the ages of the kids in every household on it). We were going to host a late-over. For those of you not in the know, a late-over is like a sleep over. It has all the fun of a sleepover without the hassel of trying to get the kids to actually go to sleep. I bought the fixings for popcorn, rootbeer floats and brownies. We had plenty of movies to choose from. DS called 3 boys his age who were thrilled to show up. I put the younger kids to bed, served the food, and then got out of the way (I did check on the party surreptitiously every 30 minutes). For 3 1/2 hours our house was incredibly noisy and full of 4th-grade humor. There was popcorn on the floor, debates on where to have your mom buy the best pizza, seconds on rootbeer floats , silly jokes, and wrestling. I don't think they every watched the entire movie. At 10:00 we took them home (DS#2 was surprised to see how close everyone lived to us.)

I have since been crowned "Coolest Mom Ever", which I will be lucky to retain for 24 hours. In the meantime, I have the best reward of all. DS#2 has been smiling more often. We have more visitors to our house asking for him. He is noticeably kinder to his siblings.

I wish the solution to all of life's problems were this easy to solve.

Monday, September 18, 2006

I Believe In Miracles

On Friday night we turned on our new gas fireplace for the first time. Thirty minutes later my dear daughter put her little hand on on the fireplace and was burned badly.

We weren't sure how to get to the hospital in this new town, but we did know the general area so we took off. On the way we called my brother to ask if he could assist in giving DD a blessing. We agreed that we would head to his house after the hospital.

At the hospital, after a very long wait, we finally saw the doctor. DD was burned on her pointer, middle and ring fingers with the deepest part of the burn on her upper hand between the fingers and the middle crease of her hand. The ER doctor immediately started talking about 3rd degree burns and skin grafts and made calls to the hand surgeon and also to the University burn clinic to see if they wanted DD that night. We then called my dear brother to tell him we might not make it to his house, thinking that we would be transferred immediately to the university hospital. Dear Brother said he would meet us at the emergency room instead.

The ER doctor then told us that the doctor at the university burn clinic said to dress the hand and come first thing in the morning to the clinic. DD was given Tylenol with Codeine and a rootbeer chaser. Dear Brother showed up and assisted Dear Husband in giving our daughter a priesthood blessing. In that blessing she was promised that the pain would be minimal, healing time would be quick, and that she would regain full function of her hand.

DH and I spent a sleepless night. I fully expected to get up in the middle of the night to give DD another dose of Tylenol and codeine. The medication was supposed to last 4-6 hours. DD slept 9 hours pain free. When she woke up she told us that her hand hurt but was fairly calm until the medication was in her system and working again.

That morning we dropped off the boys at my parents and headed to the Univerisity Burn Clinic. When DD's bandages were taken off even our untrained eyes could tell that the burn looked different. Two doctors came in and started talking about 2nd degree burns and no skin grafts. DH and I looked at each other with hope. Then the head doctor of the burn clinic came in. He told us of the call he received from the ER doctor last night. But when he looked at DD's hand he said "Hmmm, that is not what I was told. That is not a 3rd degree burn." He then talked to us about how 2nd degree burns hurt the worst but that is a good thing as we do not want her to lose sensation in her hand. He discussed healing time (it would be about 2 weeks) and that she should be fine. The physical therapist taught us how to do therapy at home (no outside therapy required), and the nurse showed us how to bandage the hand and sent us home with a sack full of supplies to do it. DD princessed waved with her good hand to the entire staff as we left (and they waved back). We have an appointment for the end of this week.

DD has not complained of pain. We have kept her medicated for the weekend. She has not made bandaging her hand difficult.

I belive in miracles. I believe in the power of prayer and priesthood blessings. I believe that our loving Heavenly Father knows each of us. This weekend I have witnessed His love for my daughter.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


Today was the first day of kindergarten for DS#3. We had to wait all morning. DS started pacing around the couch right after breakfast (can we go now? Can we go now?)

A bus came, but not for DS#3. It was also the first day of preschool for my daughter. DS#3 looked on enviously as she boarded her bus. It didn't help that she was laughing non-stop and singing an obscure bus-song. At least he remembered the rule to stay on the sidewalk. Back into the house we went. Pace. Pace. Pace.

Finally, because I could not stand the pacing any longer I decided we would head to the bus stop 10 minutes early. We stepped out onto our porch to see the bus leaving the bus stop. DS#3 was devastated. I talked to the moms at the stop, it turns out the bus was traveling the route backwards and tomorrow it will be on the original time. Unfortunately, this meant that DS had to do the very uncool thing and have his mom take him to school. He glowered the entire way.

The kindergarten playground was utter chaos. No one knew where to line up (with 5 kindergarten teachers, no one knew which line they were supposed to be standing in). We missed our line by the fact that the crowd was blocking our view of it. I escorted DS into his kindergarten room. Apparently it is still cool to kiss mom good-bye. I made sure his bus number was pinned to his shirt. As I left the room I heard him yell "Teacher, I'm heeeeereeee!" I escaped as quickly as possible.

Now forward to mid-afternoon. DS#1 comes home from middle school. Half an hour DS#2 comes home from elementary school.......without DS#3. I asked him where on earth was my third-born? "I don't know Mom, he didn't get on the bus." Dear Daughter came home as I was frantically calling the school asking where my Angel-Boy was and did-they-lose-him? I had visions of him getting off at a wrong stop and being lost forever. The school radioed the buses and found DS#3 on a bus going in the opposite direction. He was able to tell the bus driver his name and my name. The driver called me and we arranged to meet back at the school.

I broke all speed limits getting to the school. The bus pulled in a few minutes later. DS#3 calmly got off the bus, turned around, and politely thanked the bus driver. The driver commented on how smart and sweet DS#3 was during their ride. As the bus pulled away, DS#3 remarked to me "Wow, that was a great adventure". We drove home and reunited DS#3 with his siblings. DS dropped his backpack on the floor, laid down on the couch and promptly fell asleep. Apparently Great Aventures wear little boys out.

As a side note, I am highly tempted to print DS's bus number in big black numbers on a white t-shirt, which I then would require him to wear every day for the rest of the year.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

When It Rains It Pours

My daughter got her cast taken off today. She was so brave. No crying but she did keep her hands over her ears and repeatedly chastised Mr. Saw Man for operating his saw too loud. When she saw the skin on her newly bare leg, she thought it was "Yuck". Her skin is shedding after being covered for so long. My daughter does not like the feel of it.

We started the day at the fracture clinic of PCMC. We finished the day at our pediatricians office. DS#3 did not touch his pizza at dinner. DS#1 brought him to me and told me to look at his tongue. There were nasty canker sores all over it. Off we go to the ped. dr. office where DS#3 is diagnosed with Hand Foot And Mouth disease. What on earth is that? It sounds like something horses get. Apparently it is a virus that will last 3-5 days, is very contaigous, and affects kids under the age of 7. Once they have had it they will not get it again. The dr. also found an ear infection which DS#3 never complained of. This kid must have a high pain tolerance.

No sooner did we finish one medical dilemma (and resulting very big bill) that we found ourselves into another medical dilemma (and resulting semi-big bill). And the first day of kindergarten is a week away. I really wish we weren't on a first name basis with our pediatrician, orthopedist, cardiologist, pharmacist and ER. I like to fool myself by saying it is because my kids are just so darn cute. No, it really is because my kids are just so darn prone injury or illness. With 4 kids it seems like we are always dealing with someone's medical bills.

Here is hoping for a healthy school year. Please?

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Bless This Home......

We've dealt with my daughter's broken leg (tramp slip, we got the lecture from our ped.dr, and the cast is purple), moving to a new house ("Mom I can't find ____insert anything here___), four new school registrations (and the headache of finding birth certs and immunization records in moving boxes), the changing of the utilities (not to be confused with The Changing Of The Guard but with nearly the same pomp and circumstance), the lost mailbox (honestly,we couldn't find it and the post office could not remember where they put it), receiving mail for 5 different adults whom I do not know (how many people lived in this house before we bought it? It had to have been all at the same time), and The Mosquitos (yes, its supposed to sound like a horror flick. The stories the locals tell....).

Now if all of that sounded negative, it wasn't meant to seem so. It was stressful, irritating, and, in the case of the mosiquitos, rather freaky. My sister and her husband came to see the house. We got to talking and the time passed so quickly that it was 10:00 when they left. Someone had left the porch light on and when they opened the front door to leave..............
THE MOSQUITOS!!!!! (can you just hear the scary soundtrack?) There was a huge cloud. We slammed the door and DH ran for the bug spray. My sis and her DH left in a cloud of noxious fumes. The next morning I could actually sweep all of the bugs of the porch. I hear the city has started spraying every two weeks......

There are so many things I love about this community. Our ward is very friendly. Today DH found out that one of his old mission zone leaders is in our ward. There are so many new people that there is a "New Member Orientation" every week to help them out. Everyone is outgoing and trying to learn all of the names. Our records were read in our ward today. The counselor in our bishopric introduced me as Karen (um, no) and misprounounced our last name. I think we will be correcting people for quite a while.

I love the views. The area behind our back yard is green space. That view will stay intact. I love watching storms come over the mountains from my bedroom window. My kids love watching the storms from my bedroom window. As soon as lightning is seen, a shout goes up and everybody runs into my room and jumps on my bed. I then ceremoniously open the blinds to start the show. Oohs and Ahhs abound.

This community has so much to offer. This week school starts. I'm signing the boys up for fall sports. A local grain mill is holding a free pancake breakfast and tour of their factory (I am surprised the kids want to see it). We'll start attending story time at the library. We've discovered the local farmer's market. DH and I are enjoying the nearby attractions for date night. Life is starting to get back to normal. Thank goodness for routines.

My daughter gets her purple cast off this week. She can hardly wait to start dancing again. Instead of driving 30 minutes to get to her dance studio, I can now drive there in 10. A bonus indeed.

Tonight, after family scripture study, my DH gave a school blessing to each of our children. I even had a blessing (my kids insisted it was only fair that I get one, too. They are so afraid I will miss them while they are all at school.) Then we knelt together while my husband blessed our house. It is now official. This is the place we call Home.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Parting is such sweet sorrow...

We finished the new carpet and all the painting upstairs. We finished the cherry flooring downstairs. Then we went to look at a house.....

This house was supposed to be for my husband's "flip" business. It is a new house, two months old. Everything is done but the landscaping. The house also has a lot of equity in it that for some reason the sellers weren't interested in recouping in the sale price.

DH and I walked in. We knew this was where we were supposed to be. After praying for years and asking God to show us His plan for us, He shows us when we weren't expecting it. Next thing we know, we're moving in two weeks.

I thought the kids would be upset but they are actually excited. DS#3 is calling this "Our Big Adventure" as if it were the title to some fantastic book. I guess I will have to scrapbook the move in a separate book so that can come true. DS#2 only cares that there are sports programs in this new town. DS#1 just wants time to make friends before the school year starts.

The Good News Is .... that some dear friends of ours moved into this area 6 years ago. Their daughter and DS#1 will go to the same school. They have horses and our kids love horses. Its a good thing.

The Good News Is ....the new house is nearly twice as big as the finished square feet of our current house. There are only 4 bedrooms but DS#2 and DS#3 will share the biggest kids bedroom. The Master bedroom is huge with it's own sitting area, double sinks in the master bath, a tub and separate shower, and a walk in closet that is bigger than our kid's current rooms. There is a common area that separates the kids rooms from ours that will be a great hangout area for the kids. The kids rooms each have a walk-in closet.

The Good News Is .... the kitchen is twice as big as the one I have now. There is a huge walk-in pantry. I will be able to put all of my kitchen things away in the kitchen!

The Good News Is ....there is a fireplace. A linen closet. A formal dining area just off the living room. So many extras that we do not have now.

The Good News Is .... that the new neighborhood is full of families with a wide range of kids. Our kids will have no problem finding new friends.

The Bad News Is.....we're leaving the house we built ourselves. The house we've lived in for 10 years. The only house my kids have ever known. The memories we have here are in the millions. My kids' birthdays and Christmases, family parties, cooking lessons, impromptu concerts, family home evening, scripture study, family prayers, late night talks. They have all been here.

The Bad News Is....we're leaving the neighbors we love. There are so many people here who are dear to us. People whom we've helped and who've helped us. We have laughed together, cried together, celebrated together, served together. People who have seen us at our best and at our worst, and have loved us .

The Bad News Is....I'm going to miss this place.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


Two weeks ago I came home from a disability conference to find that my computer no longer worked. I took it to the computer store where the guarantee was "Fixed in 24 hours". Nearly two weeks later I got the computer back with the advice to put my keyboard in the dishwasher (the problem was a dirty keyboard according to the computer geek at the computer store). I am a very trusting person...I put the keyboard in the dishwasher. One trip-to-the-store-to-get-a-new-keyboard later, I'm back on the Net.

I had no idea how much I depended on my computer until it was gone. I check email in the morning, do a bit of advocacy work, and read the news during breakfast. It was a habit that I sorely missed the past few weeks.

So nothing great to blog except to say I'm still standing. (now that song is in my head, its not even a good one....)

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ah...The Fumes Of Spring

Spring has sprung. The grass is ris'. I wonder where the paintbrush is? Yes, it is that time again where mankind wants to declutter, renew, and redecorate. What is it about gorgegous spring weather that makes us want to stay inside with home improvement projects rather than go outside and enjoy the season?

The fever has hit at my house. It all started with wanting a bed. A real bed, not just a bed frame. I shopped for months online and in furniture stores and could not find exactly what I wanted. That is, until 2 weeks ago when I came aross the perfect panel bed in the perfect cherry color that matches the current funiture I have.

If I am going to have a new bed then surely I need to paint the walls, right? While looking at our walls, I also looked at the walls in the other bedrooms and the hall and decided that they all needed painting. (Kids do amazing damage to paint, it would be good to give everything a fresh coat.) Easy project, with just a little elbow grease.

Of course after looking at the walls I had to look at the floors. The carpet is 10 years old (it's amazing how kids can ruin the carpet beyond repair). Okay, let's replace the carpet upstairs. It means I'll have to rush the paint job but we'll get it done and things will look great.

Then I started looking at the main floor. (Kids are incredibly hard on carpet in high traffic areas.) What if we replaced the carpet there with hardwood flooring? It would look gorgeous! Of course, that means repainting the rooms before the flooring goes in... Oh, and to save money, we'll lay the floor ourselves. We did it in the kitchen when we built the house. Apparently 10 years is enough time to forget the agony of laying your own hardwood floor.

Then I came into the kitchen where the original hardwood is. (What was I thinking, laying hardwood in a kitchen when I have young kids?) The flooring looked worn and warped where the dishwasher leaked. I would love to have tile in here, let's do it! We can lay it ourselves to save on installation. While we're at it, lets paint the cabinets white and change the formica counter to something granite. This will be great!


I'm halfway through the first painting project. All the other materials are ordered and there is no turning back. While I am still excited for all the new changes, I'm looking out at the gorgeous spring we're having and I feel like I'm missing out. These fumes are getting to me. I think a walk with my kids this evening will clear my head. I hope the daffodils are still in bloom.

Happy Spring!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Wisdom of a 5 Year Old

The following wisdom has come from DS#3 today during a 25 minute drive:

1. Eagles like french fries. They can smell them from miles away in the woods where they live. They like to fly down and bite them out of your hands. (Can you imagine, an eagle instead of a seagull chasing you down for your fries? Are you scared? We have just been informed that they like to bite them out of your hands. Or, bite your hands off.)

2. Teenagers can wear jetpacks to fly. They are responsible. They can also wear a ninja sword while they fly with their jet pack. (Would any of you trust your teen with a jet pack and a ninja sword? I didn't think so.)

3. People should share. They should plant gardens and grow food, like pumpkins that lay on the ground. Then you can eat pumpkin pie. Famers grow pumpkin pie, a whole bunch, and they give it to the stores. (It will be very interesting planning my garden this year. I wonder what he will want to grow besides pumpkin pie?)

4. Driving is, if you see a red light you stop. If you see yellow you slow down. If you see a green light you go fast. And if you see a blue light, you get to go super fast. (I truly hope he doesn't mean the blue light on top of police cars...)

I hope this has brightened your day. Everyone could use the wisdom of a 5 year old. (I knew I should have named him Solomon).

Monday, March 13, 2006

No One Takes Care Of Mom When Mom Is Sick....

I was in the doctors office, sick and hurting from the neck up. After the myriad of questions and the poking, prodding, cold stethescope with commands of "Breathe deep..again...again...again", this statement was handed to me along with a diagnosis of sinus infection and a double ear infection.

I had been sick for two weeks. I had been down in bed for the last two days of those two weeks when I decided I had had enough and called the physicians office for an appointment. During those two weeks my family was solicitous. The kids asked if they could get me a drink. DH did a medicine run at 10:00 p.m. Dinner ended up being You're On You're Own (known as YOYO at our house) more than a few times. My older boys helped with the young kids.

It is not that no one takes care of mom when mom is sick. A more appropriate comment would have been "Mom never takes care of Mom when Mom is sick". More often then not, I forgot to dose up to ease my symptoms because I was too busy being Mom. Instead of seeing the doctor in the first week, I waited til I was miserable with pain. DH often tells me that I am impossible to get to the doctor, not because I am afraid, but because I'm so busy that I keep putting it off. In fact, the only thing that got me to the doctor was the fact that I WAS IN BED. Wait a minute, don't I often wish I could just lay in bed and read? Or sleep? I finally get my chance and I was in too much pain to enjoy it.

4 prescriptions and 48 hours later, I am making Family Night treats, getting dinner ready, the kitchen is clean and the laundry pile is diminishing. My head still hurts, but not as bad and it is getting better. To be honest, I rather like getting back to the Mom routine. Here's to taking care of Mom.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The End Of An Era

This past week we took down the crib. When we were first looking for a crib we had very little money. I saw a gorgeous sleighbed-style crib in an advertisement and made an off-hand remark to DH that I loved it. Next thing I know, he bought it for me. It was by far the nicest piece of furniture in our apartment. It was the only new piece of furniture in our apartment.

That crib was moved from apartment to house. It was a bed for 4 beautiful babies. It has seen its share of funiture abuse and has the resulting scratches and toothmarks to show for it. For 14 years it has been a part of our lives. I used to reach my hands in that crib just to feel my newborn baby breathing. I have a picture of my firstborn, with his white-blond hair sticking straight up, standing in that crib and waving to the world outside his window. I used to sit onthe floor beside the crib, reach my hands through the slats, and rub the head of my child that had a hard time sleeping on his own. I've watched my kids sleep at all angles in that crib and wonder how on earth that could be comfortable. I've even played peek-a-boo over, under, around, and through that crib with all four of my children.

For the past year, my DD has know how to get out of the crib. A contortionist of sorts, she lifts her leg straight up in the air and hooks her toes over the edge. Then this child (who is supposed to have low-muscle tone) lifts herself over with the grace of a gymnast doing a routine on the uneven parallel bars. She then hangs by her fingers on the other side until she can get her toes on top of the mattress through the bars and climbs down.

The only problem with this is that she can't get back in. DD has been know to wander into my room at all hours only to be put back in her own bed. We finally realized that she would get back in by herself if she could. So this past weekend we bought her a toddler bed. DD was so excited to see a bed just her size. She immediately grabbed her quilts and "made" her own bed with a flourshing "ta-DA!" thrown in at then end. She was very excited to have her own big-girl bed.

Now the crib is in pieces on my family room floor. I refuse to give it away as I want to save it for future visiting grandchildren. (That is such a strange thought. When I was 18, I could not imagine being in my 30's. Now here I am, on the upswing to 40, thinking ahead about grandchildren.) Today I will rub the wood with lemon oil and then wrap everything in a sheet and wonder where I will have room to store it.

I used to get excited about changes. Now, I am a little sentimental and I wish time would not have gone so fast. Sleep well, my little sweetheart. Don't grow up too soon.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

5 Random Things About Me (a meme)

1. I was a very ugly baby: I was born 3 months premature, weighed 2 lbs and was blue and hairy. I never had a cute baby pic until I was 6 months old and even then my mom cut my hair into a flat top since it wouldn't lay down. My twin sis, on the other hand, was a darling baby. I learned very early that life isn't fair.

2. Nougat makes me nauseated: When I was 7 years old I found a bag of 3 Musketeers minis that my mom forgot she had stashed for Halloween. Sinced I didn't like chocolate at the time, I cut all of the chocolate off and gorged on the nougat. The entire bag. Haven't been able to stand the stuff ever since.

3. I've always wanted to run in a marathon: Those who know me will laugh because I hate to run. I just want to see if I can do it. I learned to run flat-footed as a child (it was the only way to keep my shoes on my skinny feet) and would come in dead last in every Presidential Physical Fitness race in elementary school. I think I'm emotionally scarred.

4. I love rainy days: When the mountains turn dark and exquisitely detailed with the clouds hanging low on them. It rained on my wedding day. KMN!

5. I have a very dry sense of humor: and use it with a straight face. People would be offended if my darling husband didn't traslate for them.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

I Hope You Dance

Today was a day that every mom should have with her daughter. My only daughter started dance class a month ago. It is a performing group full of kids with Down syndrome. This particular group is made up of preschoolers. Dear Daughter (DD) is the youngest and also the shortest by a good 6 inches.

DD knows when it is dance class day. She gets excited the same way she does when the bus comes to pick her up for preschool. She sings all the way, throughout the entire 30 minute drive. She insists on walking by herself through the parking lot. When we get inside she says hi to everyone, including strangers.

She knows to sit on her carpet square. She warms up along with the teacher. Kids with Down syndrome are very flexible so it is a riot to watch them stretch their muscles. DD spreads her legs into center splits and then flops her chest completely to the ground with no effort. She touches her nose to her knees with ease. The only difficult part of the warm up is when the class has to jump. DD hasn't mastered this skill yet so she goes up on tip-toe and then bends her knees and tries again.

Today DD managed to make it through the entire dance, participating in every step. She didn't even stop to run around the room in the middle of the practice. I was so proud of her. Part of the dance is to hold up two fingers when the lyrics say "two". It took DD four weeks to master a "two". We practiced every day and she wouldn't give up. Today she proudly held her "two" up and at just the right moment. Aww, small victories!

When we left, she absolutely had to hug everyone once, her teacher twice. She made sure everyone saw that she could "two" with the best of them. At the door, DD princess-waved goodbye to the entire room.

After dance class, we were given instructions for a dance uniform. Off we drove to The Glass Slipper, a dance supply store near her class. We had to special order a leotard as they didn't carry them small enough for DD. We'll purchase the ballet shoes when the leotard comes in. DD was enamored by the sparkly pink tutus by the register and the dance pictures on the wall. She wanted to touch everything silver, gold or glittery.

Today was a very normal, very satisfying dance day. When you get the choice to sit it out or dance......

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

It is NOT all about me......

I have finally come to the conclusion that taking care of myself is a good thing. I'm not talking about regular appointments at the spa for a massage and facial (although this would be absolutely wonderful.)

I'm talking about a few things that I do just for me. Getting up at 5:40 a.m. to work out. I would rather not get up that early, but it is the only time I can schedule exercise and not have to bring my kids along. I've discovered that having that time to myself in the morning, sharing yoga or a cardio workout with other women in my neighborhood is a good thing. I feel better about myself when I am done.

My hair appointment at the salon is another. Not the cheap by any means. But it is okay to want to look good for my husband. It is okay to want to look good for myself.

Third would have to by my book club. I go out w/out DH or kids and let someone else cook dinner. The evening is full of conversation, debate, and (depending on the restaurant) really good food. DH loves book club night. He spends some Daddy time with the kids (along with a pizza, movie and game). He knows that I will come home happy, refreshed and relaxed. Not to mention it is nice to have new ideas to discuss with him. Real adult conversation. The very best part.

Why did it take me so long to finally understand this idea? When I take care of myself it is not all about me. A woman's choices affect everyone around her. Husband, kids, extended family, friends......a woman is naturally a nurturer. The energy it takes to be a nuturer is tremendous. If science could bottle it up it would solve the world energy crisis.

Hey, here is an idea. In order to solve the world energy crisis we need to eradicate mom-guilt. Forget these t-shirts I see young hotties wearing that say "It's All About Me". I'm going to market a t-shirt that says "It's NOT All About Me". Only moms can buy them.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Dr. Scarehair is now in....

The 14 Days of Valentines are now over. Those who participated this year found great results. One girlfriend received her first piece of jewelry (other than her wedding ring) in 14 years from her husband. Another received flowers for the first time. A third has a date with her husband this weekend - its the first date in years. About time, don't you think? I know I am preaching to the choir here, but......treat your man like a king and he will want to slay dragons for you.

But now that the 14 DOV are over, does that mean we go back to life as normal? No. Absolutely not. I have hidden 14 red, pink and white note cards all over. In them are love poems, sonnets, song lyrics or book quotes. Each envelope is addressed to DH is a way that gives a hint as to what is inside (The one addressed to "My Snugglebunny" has the quote "I love you all the way to the moon....and back!") He has found 5 of them (and last night he read aloud the Shakespeare sonnet in his best Winston Churchhill voice). I am banking on the idea that it will take him a full year to find all 14. If he finds them before 12 months are up, I have more of the same cards stashed away to hide around the house, his car, and I will even sneak into his office at work. I might even come up with some original poetry. Ah, the things I will do for my man. Mr. Wild Thing, you make my heart sing. You make everything groooovy.

An added benefit to this experiment. My sons have been watching the activities of the past two weeks. It has been giving them ideas. I want my sons to learn to be romantic. Their wives shouldn't have to train them. (BTW, I didn't train my husband. Neither did his parents. He was naturally born a romantic. See, it can happen.)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

On the 14 Days of Valentine's my true love sent to me......

Now that the tune is stuck in your head, it is time to educate the masses on the 14 Days of Valentines. This is a tradition that I do for my Dear Husband (who will now be referred to as DH)every single Valentine's.

Each day of the first two weeks of February has a gift associated with that number. The idea being that creativity is more valued than commercialism (although commercialism cannot be entirely ignored). Some days have the same theme year after year, i.e. "On the 4th day of Valentines" is always a picture of our 4 children for DH's desk at work. This year it was a lovely pic taken by a professional photographer showing our children's true personalities. Each of them had pulled a silly/disgusting/scary/laughing face. On day #5 the gift is always fudge: at a local fudge shop, if you buy 4-1/4 lb. kinds of fudge you get the 5th 1/4 lb for free. Day #10 is always "Ten Things I Love About You" (it doesn't always list the same things).

Some days are original every year. This year day #6 resulted in a silly poem commemorating the fact that DH moved from New Zealand to America when he was 6 years old (so he could meet me, fall in love with me, marry me, all about me). Day #3 this year fell on date night so I wrapped up two movie tickets and a box of Redvines. Day #11 will be an 11-piece puzzle with an original sentiment.

DH feels loved. Oh boy, is he smothered in sentimental-sweet-love. And he loves it. For two whole weeks he gets the full treatment. It all ends on the big V-day where we put the kids to bed early and I make him a gourmet candle-lit supper for two. There is just one problem. This year somebody (who obviously wasn't thinking) planned the annual Cub Scout Blue-and-Gold Banquet on Valentine's day. 20 VERY LOUD boys. Silly cheers. And hotdogs.........Where is the romance in this? What were they thinking?! Somebody needs to be taught about the 14 Days of Valentines so this so-very-important-holiday will have much more meaning to them.

I have informed DH that he will not eat anything at the scouting activity. To make sure of this, on Day #2 I presented DH with 2 red tapered candles along with a beautifully printed menu of our upcoming V-day Dinner: Wild Rice Crab Cakes over Field Greens; Beef Tournedos with Seared Scallops, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and Roasted Asparagus in a Browned Butter Balsamic Sauce; Fresh Berry Creme Brulee.

I don't think refusing the hotdogs will be a problem. Happy Valentine's Day, everyone.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Teen 'tudes........

Today is the day I officially become the mother of .......a teenager. (You thought I was going to say monster, didn't you? Go on. Admit it. You did!)

While my first born is currently going through the phase I do not fondly call "Teen 'tudes" (that's Teen With Attitude for those of you whose children are too young to go through this yet), for the most part he is a good kid all around. This term he pulled straight A's in school, say's "Yes, Ma'am" and "Yes, Sir" (a throwback to my paternal southern roots) and has never made me thoroughly ashamed of his behavior (although he has made me embarrassed a number of times).

There is one part of him that I am the most proud about. My youngest has Down syndrome. When she was first born, a friend of his came over and asked "What is Down syndrome?" I opened my mouth to give what I thought was then a good 3rd grade explanation when Dear Son #1 (hereafter referred to as DS#1) stood up and lectured. "Actually it is called Nondisjunction Trisomy 21. That means the 21st chromasome has 3 instead of 2. Doctors don't know why this happens. Its not Mom or Dad's fault. It means that a person with Down syndrome takes longer to learn things. But they can learn to do anything we do......." I was floored! DS#1 had been reading my textbooks. I had worried how this would affect my kids. DS#1 proved that they would be just fine.

Fast forward to a year later. We were at a BBQ with other families in our Down syndrome community. One of the families there (who had a new baby with DS) also had their oldest daughter who had Rhett syndrome. I don't know all of the terminology for that syndrome. This sweet girl (I'll call her Sweetgirl) was the same age as DS#1. She was in a wheel chair, couldn't talk or feed herself. Mentally and physically, she was a baby.
I was sitting by her grandma (who came for the express purpose of taking care of this girl so her parents could relax and meet other families). We were talking about this and that while watching all of my boys play volleyball with the men. The ball went wild, smacked Sweetgirl in the chest and landed in her lap. DS#1 ran up to us. He didn't look at the grandma or at me. He looked straight at Sweetgirl and said "Wow! Nice catch! Are you okay?" Sweetgirl laughed at him. DS#1 asked if she wanted to play, grandma said they would just watch, and DS#1 grabbed the ball and ran back to the game. Every few minutes he would wave at Sweetgirl and she followed him with her eyes for the rest of the evening. Her grandma turned to me with tears in her eyes. She had never seen anyone Sweetgirl's age react to her without cringing. Most kids her age were intimidated by the wheelchair, the drooling, or the baby noises Sweetgirl made. This was the first time she had witnessed her granddaughter's acceptance by a peer. And her granddaughter loved it.

Now my DS#1 is a teen. I have been told horror stories by parents in the neighborhood, their stories based on their own experiences. But I know something they don't. DS#1 is planning his Eagle Scout project to benefit our local Down syndrome community. He has tutored kids with ADHD in his first year of middle school. He wants to learn ASL as soon as he can.

We're still dealing with the brotherly fighting. DS#1 doesn't clean the kitchen (or bathroom or his bedroom) to my standards yet. He has a few other faults. But they are few - we can deal with the Teen 'tudes. Happy birthday, my firstborn. You're a keeper.

Monday, January 30, 2006

It's all about the food....

I have been accused by my darling children that I do not decorate enough for the holidays the way the rest of the neighborhood does. I do not have Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, 4th of July, Pioneer Day or Thanksgiving Day decorations in my storage. I have one token wood-sign-on-a-stake for Halloween and I only decorate the tree and the room it is housed in for Christmas.

Apparently my kids have forgotten a few things. Who makes an entirely green dinner for St. Patricks Day (and has to choke it down because certain things just shouldn't be green, like milk)? Who put together the neighborhood Pioneer Day BBQ as well as the neighborhood Halloween Party and Chili Cookoff? Who makes traditional Chinese Food for Chinese New Year? Who gets up early to make the traditional St. Lucia breakfast every December 13th? Grandma's swedish cruellers for Christmas Eve. Caramel Sticky Rolls for Christmas morning. Black-eyed peas for New Year's Day. Chile Verde for Cinco de Mayo. Mounds of sugar cookies for the day after Thanksgiving. Dyed eggs for Easter (and deviled eggs, egg salad sandwiches, and any other recipe for hard-boiled eggs I can find). Favorite foods for a child's birthday. A romantic Valentine's Day dinner at home (okay, that one doesn't count because the kids aren't invited to that one.)

My point being: Holidays at this house are not about decoration, they are about the food.

Most important to me, though, is what I do for my family daily. My table is decorated with a nice tablecloth and cloth napkins just the way my southern grandmother does her table. The children are taught to set the table properly. I cook healthy meals using whole foods the way my mother taught me. I grow a garden the way my pioneer-heritaged grandma taught me, and put up the produce for the winter months. One night a week, one of my boys practices his cooking skills or learns a new recipe by my side. Six nights a week my family sits down together for supper. In this day and age I consider that no small accomplishment. I'm proud of that.

So I don't decorate. I can live with that. Now I am off to accomplish our Monday tradition: Family Home Evening Treat (which tonight, by the way, will be Caramel Apple Cake with whipped cream.)