Tuesday, May 22, 2007

DH and I spent the past weekend in Virginia, touring Washington DC and supporting one of DH's younger brothers as he graduated from med school at UVA. It was a fabulous weekend. We needed every relaxing minute as the crunch times now starts the countdown to Moving Day.

DH is in the top pix on the left side of our new doctor. The family on the left is Darling Sister-In-Loves family. The pix on the right is my In-Loves with our new doctor. The graduation was a lot of fun. We cheered loud when DBIL came down the aisle.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Our New Home

We are now the proud owners of a new home. Darling Husband called me to tell me that he signed his name (a million times), signed my name (a million times) and then had to sign his name again every time he signed mine and state the fact that he had power of attorney. He also initialled (here and there and everywhere), initialled my initials (here there and everywhere), and then initialled his initials by my initials (here there and everywhere) to show that he had power of attorney. The poor man now has a very sore arm, wrist and hand.

Darling Husband kept calling it "My House" as in mine, not his. I told him it was our house. He replied that it was our house and he liked our house but he bought it for me because I loved the house and I am the one who is in it all day. Isn't he absolutely sweet?

Please pray for us to sell this house we are currently living in. No one has come to tour it yet. I am trying to have faith.

Sunday, May 13, 2007


First of all, I have to say I am grateful for my Mom. It was through watching her with my siblings that I learned mothering skills. Sitting by her in church, I learned how to sing parts by listening to her clear alto voice. I remember her sitting on the floor between the doorjambs to my and my sister's room and my brothers room when I was a child, reading "Summer of the Monkeys" and using all of the voices (I love reading to my kids and, yes, I use all the voices). She was the mom who made the best Ascot hats for my sister and me to wear when we were in "My Fair Lady" in high school. She encouraged us to bring our friends over to hang out at our house and made sure the freezer was always full of ice cream. She always encouraged me. Thanks, Mom.

Every Mother's Day my Darling Husband makes me a gorgeous breakfast. This year he baked eggs wrapped in thick-cut pepper bacon and topped with melted brie, served on garlic bagel toasts. There was broiled pineapple, fruit shortcakes made with strawberries, mango, and bosc pear. There were fresh kiwis and blackberries. There were dark chocolate kisses and melted chocolate. He shopped late when I was asleep and then got up early to cook and serve it all before 7:30 because we had church at 9:00. On top of all this, he is as sick as I am. Now do you understand why I call him Mr. Wonderful?

Today was our last day teaching the 10-11 yr old boys in Primary, including our own son. I loved having this calling with DH. He had never had a Primary calling before. He got along very well with the boys and we had some great teaching moments. The boys were eager to learn and brought up some great discussions during our 4 1/2 months with them. I'll miss each one of them with all of their humor, quirks, and expressions. I especially loved teaching my own son. I hope he didn't suffer too much. ;)

Tonight we watched the finale of Survivor with the older boys. During the last part of the game, one of the contestants proved that he truly had no integrity. I am grateful my boys caught onto that. The show promoted some of the best discussion we have ever had with our older children about integrity and how we treat those around us. I loved having this heart-to-heart conversation with both DH and myself counseling and listening to our children.

Yesterday,I got to talk to my Mom on the phone (I wish I could have talked to Daddy, too). I can't wait to move so we can set up a video phone. DD asks for her Gamapapa every day and will love seeing them. So this gratitude is for modern technology. I can't wait to get that video phone set up so I can see Mom and Daddy.

I am also grateful for modern medicine. This cold would be unbearable if it weren't for decongestants, cough suppressant, and ibuprofen. If it weren't for them DH and I would not be able to get things done during the day or sleep at night.

I'm grateful for prayer. That connection to my Heavenly Father is something that I cherish. I can report on my day, ask for strength for what is to come. I can share all of my thoughts, including what I can't verbalize because I don't quite understand it myself. His love is unconditional and all-encompassing.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Boat + Water + Sunshine = :)

Today I woke up sick, with a list of chores to get done and not quite the right attitude to do it. Darling Husband informed me at lunchtime that we had been invited to go boating with Darling Brother In Love's family.

I am not the boating kind of gal. I told DH that I really needed to get the house straightened up and had a whole list to do. I told him that I was not feeling well (my voice is nearly gone) and told him to take the boys and have fun. Half an hour later, DH came up to me, put his arms around me and told me that I really needed the break and "it'll be fun". I grudgingly shaved my legs, put on the swimsuit, and we headed out to the lake.

DBIL has a big boat. DBIL has a sweeeeet boat (as DS#3 says). DBIL's boat seats 18 people (I saw the occupancy limit sign stating that fact). We got in and headed out, all the kids under 12 yrs old in a life jacket. The day was in the 80's, the sun was shining, and miracles of miracles, I was starting to relax.

DS#2 got on the 3-person tube with his cousins and they started the boat. (In case you were wondering, DS#1 was at a sleepover and not back when it was time to go.) Back and forth, over the wake, some of their jumps were 3-4 feet off the water. DS#2 did not look like he was having fun. He had a look of "I had better not fall off". His two cousins went flying after a particularly big jump. When we called out to him to see if he wanted to come in he yelled "NO!" I guess he was having fun. He went out twice more, was injured once (head bump which didn't stop him), and would not have minded if we had stayed all night.

DS#3 and DD took a turn on the tube with DH. (I wanted to veto this but DH reminded me that I need to let DD live a normal life and not coddle her.) I sat in the boat with my hands near my face and my heart thumping. I knew they would drive slow, and I knew DH was perfectly capable of taking care of the little kids, and I knew that they all had life jackets on but I still worried because I am the mom. They had a great time. When it was over DD shouted "AGAIN!" They took another turn after the bigger cousins.

DH tried wake boarding and did fairly well until during one fall he suffered a nasty rope burn that transverses his entire left side right underneath the ribs. It looks painful but he has not complained. I could tell he was enjoying himself.

The best part came when we put the orange flag up and all the kids jumped in the water with their life jackets on. DD spent time with her 16 yr old cousin and friend. It took a bit of coaxing to get her back in the boat when it was time to move on. When she finally was back in, DD turned to me and said "Mom, I was mermaid!" DD had never used "was" in a sentence before. At first I was so excited at this new development until it hit me that something greater had happened. DD had connected "mermaid" with her swimming in the water and had fun pretending. The word had not been brought up before, not even when swimming during our last trip to Boise. Pretending is somewhat abstract as usually brought about with suggestions from me. This mermaid experience was all on her own.

It was a nice ride back to the marina. DD kept requesting "Little Mermaid" songs to play over the boat's sound system. The marina was crowded but the boat was loaded back on the trailer without incident. We thanked DBIL and his family and headed home. Dinner was brats on sourdough rolls, oven fries and a broccoli salad with dried cranberries and pine nuts. We're all exhausted and relaxing until bed time.

I thanked DH for convincing me to go. Even if I didn't get into the (cold!) water because of this nasty illness, the sunshine and the family time did wonders for my attitude.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Sensitive Side of Dear Son #3

Last night my kids gathered around to call Darling Husband, who is out of town for a few days. He answered the phone....well he tried to answer the phone. DH sounded very sick and he was losing his voice.

I felt so bad for him. Being sick in a place where there is no one to take care of you is miserable. DS#1 and DS#2 both hoped that he would get well and and were considerate while they had their turn talking to their dad.

Then it was DS#3's turn to talk on the phone. He had heard me tell the older boys that their dad was sick and also listened carefully to the one-sided conversations as the boys told DH about their days. When DS#3 got on the phone, he already had a concerned look on his face. The concern grew deeper as he listened to DH try to ask him about his day. I could hear DH coughing as I held DS#3 next to me on the couch. Before DS#3 said good-bye, he had large tears in his eyes and coursing down his cheeks.

After we hung up, I put my arms around my youngest son and told him that we would get Dad home this weekend and DS#3 could help me nurse him back to health. My son was so worried. "How can Dad talk if he loses his voice? What if it never comes back? Will he be able to drive home when he is sick?" Who will take care of him at the hotel?"

The tears kept coming. DS#3 is by far the most sensitive of all my boys. He has empathy for everyone around him. He finds the loneliest kid at recess and brings them into his group. He loves taking meals to families in our neighborhood who need them. He includes so many people in his prayers who he thinks need extra blessings (He also tells Heavenly Father in every prayer how grateful he is for this "awesome world" that was created for us).

I finally dried the tears and took DS upstairs to tuck him in bed. His prayers that night were shorter than normal. Instead of blessing everybody by name, he asked for extra blessings for his daddy's well-being and blessings so our house will sell quickly before we move. He was so concerned for these blessings that I had to remind him to say what he was thankful for. He closed his eyes again and expressed his gratitude for a daddy who works hard for us even when he isn't feeling good, and then closed his prayer.

There are times when this child awes me. His single mindedness in his love for a family member, his ability to forgive so quickly, his awareness of what happens within and outside of our family dynamics. I'm grateful for the glimpses I get of his incredible spirit. I'm humbled to be his mom

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Does The I.Q. Test Really Matter?

Two weeks ago, I took my 4 yr old Darling Daughter to her school so the school psychologist could administer an I.Q. test. We sat down and talked about DD's attention span and how to keep her motivated while DD wandered the school room, looking at toys.

Finally we sat DD down at a desk and started the test. DD does not do well with line drawings, she works much better with actual photographs. She did do well with showing comparisons but did poorly on "which object doesn't belong?"

The blocks were divided diagonally down the middle into red and white - they reminded me of semaphores. DD was asked to stack them in a certain way with the colors all pointing the right direction. She would stack the blocks correctly but paid no attention to the direction of the colors on them.

The last part of the test was to give her a pencil (which she tried to hold correctly). She was shown different shapes with lines drawn inside: horizontal, vertical, one line, two lines, three lines. The different shapes were 7-8 in a row. She was asked to draw the correct lines in her own row of shapes provided. I doubted that my 6 yr old Dear Son #3 could have done this exercise before he entered kindergarten. DD drew all over the entire paper and presented the psychologist her own version of a penciled Rorschach test.

Last week I met with DD's preschool teacher, speech therapist, occupational therapist, adaptive P.E. therapist, the school principal, and the school psychologist for DD's I.E.P. I have heard that parents dread this. I feel like the teachers and therapists are all on my side. We laughed as we talked about DD's antics. She loves to sit in the teacher's or therapist's chair and "teach" the class or the next child in line for therapy. We talked about how social she is. DD is loved by her teachers and therapists.

The reviews themselves are not glowing but full of hope. DD is still trying to master some goals and has done well in others. The group gave me ideas of things to do at home to help DD improve.

Then came time for the school psychologist. I had never worked with her before the previous week. She seemed young, fresh out of graduate school. She started out with "Well, DD score very low in her I.Q. test but we expected that since she has Down syndrome." I was prepared to smile and nod - I know that DD is actually smart as she constantly surprises us with what she does know. I did not put much credit into an I.Q. test administered by someone DD had never met before. What I was not prepared for was the uproar that followed. Her teacher and the therapists started to tell everyone who would listen that DD was much smarter than that. DD was highly social and motivated. DD caught on once she understood the directions and worked well as long as someone helped to keep her on task.

I must say that it felt good to have these professionals on my side. Really good.

Friday, May 04, 2007

This is what's for dinner at our house tonight. It's been a family favorite for 7 years. Fast dinner and great for entertaining. Your kids will eat broccoli with this dish!

North End Penne with Chicken and Broccoli
serves 4

1 pound penne
4 Cups broccoli florets
3 Tlbs all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp pepper, plus more to taste
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 Tlbs olive oil
1 Tlbs butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/3 Cup fresh grated Parmesan Cheese

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, adding the broccoli to the pot the last three minutes of pasta cooking time. Reserve 3/4 Cup of the cooking water and drain the pasta and broccoli.

Meanwhile, combine the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Dredge the chicken breast in the seasoned flour. Cook chicken in 2 Tlbs oil in large skillet over medium heat until golden brown on both sides and no longer pink in the center, about 8 minutes total. Remove chicken from skillet, leaving the drippings in the pan. Let chicken rest 2 minutes and then cut crosswise into 1/2" wide slices.

Add remaining 1 Tlbs oil and butter to skillet. Add garlic and oregano and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Add reserved pasta cooking water and bring to a simmer.

Toss the hot pasta and broccoli in a large bowl with the sauce and the sliced chicken. Add cheese and toss again. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.

From Pagliuca's Restaurant in Boston's North End as featured in The New England Cookbook by Brooke Dojny

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

I have watched the PBS documentary "The Mormons" with great interest, curious at how the rest of the world perceives my religion. I have read blogs debating the validity of this work. I have listened to arguments on the radio about whether or not there is an accurate portrayal in the media of the things that are dear and sacred to me.

I hope that this will open dialogue between those who are curious and their LDS friends. While there were things said in a positive light there were other things that most active LDS members would raise an eyebrow at. As one person posted, "So this is what my nonmember friends and family think of my religion? No wonder they think we are peculiar." I welcome all conversation, but I take offense at an assumption that has been made. One that appears to be widely believed:

I have not, nor have I ever, been treated like a second class citizen as a wife and mother who belongs to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

I am an equal partner with my husband. He treats me with respect. Our decisions are made together.

I am a stay-at-home mom because I choose to be. This choice was made by understanding what is best for my family. This does not mean that I know what is best for your family. I have the most difficult and rewarding job on this earth. I do not need to find my identity outside of my title as "Mom". As a mother, my dreams and goals will affect everyone around me. Other dreams and goals pre-motherhood have not been squashed. They have been set aside for more important work and will resume at a later date.

Thanks for tuning in. I'm getting off the soapbox now.