Friday, October 31, 2008

Halloween Traditions

My Grandma S made hundreds of red jello popcorn balls every Halloween. Kids came from all over for those treats, even though Grandma lived on a busy street. Parents who had received them as kids brought their own little ones to collect their own Halloween popcorn ball.

I always managed to take my kids to Grandma's house last. She loved seeing the kid's costumes. We'd hang out for an hour as the trick-or-treaters dwindled, visiting Grandma and talking about everything while the kids played with toys or read books to Grandma. When it came time to go home, Grandma would fill a grocery bag full of the remaining popcorn balls for us. Here is where I admit to greed: I would let the kids have one popcorn ball each and horde the rest for myself. There, I said it. I'm greedy. My flaws are many and glaring.

I am missing Grandma and her popcorn balls tonight. I didn't have time to make any so I popped a quick batch of popcorn (using my new Whirly-Pop. You have GOT to get one of these! Have you noticed the ingredients and salt amount in microwave popcorn?) and topped it with butter and cinnamon sugar. I thought that it would at least be sweet like popcorn balls.

Tasted great.

Still craving popcorn balls.

I miss Grandma.

Last night, as I was driving home from swim practice, I started thinking about Grandma's popcorn balls....and soon big fat tears rolled down my cheeks. I told Grandma how I missed her. I told her that I needed the rest of her recipe for Date Pinwheel Cookies (the baking instructions are left out of the family cookbook she made). I told her that Mom and Daddy are coming home and how excited every one was in my family. I think she heard me.

Tomorrow I will make red jello popcorn balls one day late. And I will make sure that my calendar has a Halloween list of things to do next year. Between the decorating and the costume planning (which didn't happen too much this year for obvious reasons - see Wed. post) will be "make time for popcorn balls". I think my kids will like that tradition.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Checking, one..two..three...

The photo journalist slyly zooms in on her target (from the second floor balcony - just trying to test out the zoom on this baby.)
And the oblivious teen is, well, oblivious.
His preteen brother is not so oblivious. "Mom, what are you doing?"

Preteen Secondborn goes back to obliviousness as he shows his love for The Love Magnet. We are all powerless to resist.

The next day....
Thirdborn is Student of the Week, thereby granting him power to invite his parents to lunch. Thereby also granting him power to dictate what is for lunch. Unfortunately, nutrition is lost on him as he requests Mc. D's
The Love Magnet joins us for lunch.
(See the shiner? Yep, I gave that to her. I didn't realize that A) she was behind the door, and B) she is exactly eye-level to the door handle. Lucky for me, The Love Magnet loves to show her shiner to everyone she meets and tell them "Mommy did it.")

Thirdborn and his buddies.

The Love Magnet and one of her many admirers. The Love Magnet is not smiling because she insisted on continuing to chew her french fries.

Finally we get a smile from The Love Magnet and Thirdborn all because Mr. Wonderful is there.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I hate waiting for the unknown

Tuesday morning I woke 4 a.m. with severe chest pain and my right shoulder numb. The pain got worse in just a few minutes. Mr. Wonderful called for an ambulance and I was whisked off to the hospital.

(One of my girlfriends has asked if the firemen and EMTs who showed up were cute. How on earth should I know?! I was in pain worse than no-drugs-labor. Besides, no reason to rate the cuteness of firemen and EMTs when Mr. Wonderful blows them all out of the water.)

I should have just had Mr. W take me to the hospital. He got there at the same time as the ambulance. It felt like the ambulance took every road construction project on the route to get to the hospital. Someone really needs to redesign those things for a smoother ride. Mr. W's truck would have been much more comfortable.

The ER dr. ordered blood work, EKG, chest x-ray and a MRI. After all this was done, ER doc ruled out heart attack and pulmonary embolism (that's a blessing right there. I thought I was having a heart attack.) ER doc thinks it might have been a esophageal spasm due to acid reflux (I don't get heartburn, what on earth is he talking about?) or an ulcer. He has prescribed an ulcer med (that gives me heartburn) and Prilosec. I have an appt. with my personal physician this Friday to discuss everything and decide where to go from there.

Since I don't know if this will happen again, I had to cancel going to UT to see my parents come home from their mission (Mr. W. can't go and if I had another attack while driving, well, that's just an accident waiting to happen.)

ER doc also gave me a note to stay home from school this week and rest (part of his prescription. I didn't ask for it.) My profs have all been good about it. I'll spend the time studying....and playing with my new birthday toy thanks to Mr. W's parents, my southern grandmother M, and my own budget. A brand spanking new sweet Kodak Z1015 IS.

You're gonna see more pics on this blog.

(PS - please pray for me. I'm a big believer in prayer. I want really good news come Friday.)

Saturday, October 25, 2008

What I...

What I learned to make today at Auntie M's baking class

What I won for going to Auntie M's baking class

What I bought after Auntie M's baking class

Where I wish I was right now (with Mom and Daddy and twin sis and niece)

What I am craving right now

What I have to study tonight

What else I have to study tonight

Friday, October 24, 2008

Surprises in Psychology

On Tuesday my Psych class revisited the moral question of $100 (see The Missing Moral Compass post). I didn't get a chance to respond as my prof was trying to get to the point and move on. However, the next question was just as interesting:

"Why do you do nice things for your significant other?" The class answers were "Because you want something in return". I had enough of this and raised my hand.

"Why not do it because you love him?"

My psych prof stopped in his tracks and stared at me. "For love alone? You're kidding, right? You're not kidding. Are you altruistic and would return the $100 lost in the parking lot, too?"

I stated that I would and then waited for the death trap I knew he was laying for me. I even told him I was expecting it. He surprised me instead.

"I admire you. No, I am not kidding. I really admire you."

As Mrs. Man would say, color me surprised. But only for a minute. My prof now wants to meet Mr. Wonderful. He wants to know if I keep Mr. Wonderful drugged and duct-taped in a back room so I can claim how wonderful our marriage is. I've told this to Mr. Wonderful, who is quite keen on coming to my class to hear for himself the outrageous statements of my prof and peers.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Wouldn't the Love Magnet Look Absolutely Darling In THIS?!

Check out this blog called Grosgrain Fabulous for details.
Oh, yes, the Love Magnet would look absolutely darling in this. I wonder if Thirdborn would mind changing his costume from a vampire to a courtier?
(Maybe a vampire courtier? D'you think he would mind?)

Monday, October 20, 2008

News from the (Love Magnet's) Heart and Happy Birthday to Mr. Wonderful

Today we went to see a new local cardiologist recommended by our pediatrician. The Love Magnet showed she still remembered the routine for being weighed and measured. She held still for the echo. (Proud Mom Moment: when the radiologist (echo-ologist?) asked her to take off her shirt, the Love Magnet looked at me and asked if it was okay. We have been talking every day about modesty and that we show no one our private parts, not even doctors, unless Mommy or Daddy are there. The Love Magnet remembered and did exactly what we told her to do. Woo-hoo!!)

Then we met with our new pediatric cardiologist. She listened to The Love Magnet's heart for a few minutes and checked her all over. Then Dr. Cardiologist turned to me and said "If I didn't see the scar, if I didn't have FOUR INCHES of paperwork sent to me from PCMC telling me exactly what was done, I would not know that your daughter had heart surgery. Her heart sounds perfect."

Perfect! (I love the sound of that word.)

What a present to add to the 40th birthday of Mr. Wonderful. Mr. Wonderful loves that I am older than him (but he was conceived first - I was born three months premature. So there.) We had a quiet family dinner at home (Garlic Lovers Shrimp and Scallops over pasta, Caesar salad)and a purchased cheesecake since I didn't have time to make a cake today. I think he enjoyed it. He loves his new birthday present (running shoes. REAL running shoes.) The only thing that would make this day perfect is if we got miracle news that our house in Utah sold.

Pssst. Anyone want to buy a fabulous 4 bedroom family house in Lehi? Leave a comment and I will let you know the details.

Leave a comment anyway. Tell Mr. Wonderful Happy Birthday. Tell The Love Magnet hooray for her heart.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes

Brother #4 and his family came to visit. The kids had so much fun with their cousins - especially The Love Magnet as she got to hang around girls for three days. We were going to take the girls to a local tea shop for a tea party but....I can't stand the idea of paying $25/person for something I know I can do just as well at home. I decided to do just that - make it at home. Why else would I have a formal dining room in my house?

We trekked over to a British import shop and picked up currant jam, clotted cream, "Lemon Cheese" (we call it lemon curd), and chocolate covered biscuits (cookies). The Love Magnet was checked out of school as it wouldn't do to have a proper Afternoon Tea without her. At home my auntie made cucumber-mint sandwiches while I made cream scones and heated water. We mixed a bunch of herbal teas (peach/raspberry/mango) and served it with honey and fat-free half-n-half. Auntie brought over her tea cups (I didn't have any) and I set the table with my wedding china and cream colored linens.

A new tradition was born! All the girls had a great time (and asked if we could do it again the next time they came). They brought their own fancy hats and provided one for me. We found a bright red straw hat in The Love Magnet's dress-up box for Auntie. (Yes, we took pictures. You'll have to wait for Sis-In-Love to email them to me. Trust me - they are cute.)

Things I would do differently: make my own lemon curd and hunt down more authentic recipes so I could make things in advance. I served a tinned golden syrup cake from the import store that was tasty - it must taste fantastic when its homemade. I will also be checking TJ Maxx for British comestibles as it would be cheaper than the local import store. I'll have to start collecting tea cups (I adore mismatched sets) and hunt for proper tea things. I might have to start a collection of fancy hats and gloves, too. After all, we must be proper in these things.

Here's my gratitude for Brother #4 and his darling family as well as gratitude for new traditions. I'll have to come up with a guy tradition so the boys do not feel left out.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes

1. Today was Stake Conference - not to be confused with General Conference. For those who are confused, a Stake is made up of a bunch of wards (congregations) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Its run pretty much the same way as General Conference. The Stake Leaders speak along with a few others about a general theme. Today was all about Strengthening the Family. There is also a Stake Choir that sings (of course I was a part of that). Our stake is so big that we had to have two sessions. I enjoyed being able to listen to the different speakers from both sessions and also singing the choir songs and the congregational hymns. I'm grateful for the instruction given and the peacefulness that I felt during the conference. It fueled me for another week.

2. We've moved our Family Nights to Sunday to accommodate Firstborn's schedule (he has swim practice on all weeknights). Tonight we watched movie together and made sopapillas for dessert (at the request of Firstborn) while Secondborn made Orange Julius from a recipe he learned in his Family Science class. It was a fun night and a good way to end our Sabbath.

3. As it was my birthday last Tuesday, and I happen to share that birthday, I want to share my gratitude for the most wonderful twin sis. I will admit that we fought as teens over clothes, space in a shared room, and only one boy (neither of us married him so its all forgotten). But she was, is, and ever will be my best friend. She was the first one to tell me I had to marry Mr. Wonderful ( I knew that! Someone needed to tell him that!) She is my cheerleader. I am President of her fan club. Heavenly Father knew we would need each other. We must have been best friends in heaven.

4. I'm grateful that Thirdborn earned 100% on his spelling test! His teacher gave him a modified list last week and he nailed it. As soon as the school bell rang, he ran to the car and slapped his test on the window so I could see the score before he opened the door. The first thing he wanted to know was "When can we celebrate?", which means "Can we get a shake at Arctic Circle tonight?" Mr. Wonderful took the three younger kids to AC while I had a bit of quiet time. Thirdborn is excited for school this week and is already talking about the next test.

5. I'm grateful that Secondborn was put on another soccer team. I know that I was apprehensive about this. But this team he is on did not have anyone who liked to play his position and welcomed him with open arms. Secondborn is happy. We're still a bit miffed that the league didn't place him sooner as he has missed three games. But he played one yesterday and has at least one more next week.

6. I'm grateful that Firstborn has (finally) started calling around to make a decision on his Eagle Project so he can get it approved. Its past time to get that ball rolling.

7. I'm grateful that my brother called to arrange a time to come visit this week. I can;t wait to show our guests around our town. Well, actually they are going to have to do the self guided tour while I am at school. At least I'll have most of Friday and half of Saturday to play with them before they head back.

8. I had my AP Lecture exam on Thursday and I felt great about it! There were a few questions I was not sure on and based my answers on the Latin breakdown of the vocabulary. When I checked my text book after the exam I found that I got it it right. I'm eager to see my score. As I turned in my test, I thanked my prof. for helping me out with the organic chemistry and told her how much better I felt about this exam. The studying paid off.

9. I'm also grateful for my Art class. I have had fun trying to draw and I did better than I ever thought I could. Print making is coming up, which I am looking forward to. I spoke with my art prof. after class on Thursday. It turns out that she has a soft spot in her heart for Speech Language Pathologists as they have needed them with her boys. I hope I can get to know her better.

10. My parents are on their last twelve days of their mission. I'm so grateful for the time they have spent there. Check out their blog for the latest stories as well as the blogs of some of the other DR Congo missionaries. Links are to the right.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Missing Moral Compass

Yesterday in Psych class, this moral dilemma was posed to the class:

"You see a $100 bill lying on the ground in the school parking lot. A car had just left that space but you did not see the driver drop it. You do not know to whom this money belongs. What would you do?"

One guy said he would use it for gas money. Another said that he would use it for gaming. Lots of suggestions were shouted out with their reasoning. "It's a blessing from God." "I need it more." "Finders keepers."

Not one person said they would try to locate the owner or at least take it to the Student Services office.

My integrity is worth more than any money. I knew without question what I would do. But I didn't speak out. I was afraid that the professor would try to psychoanalyze me and I didn't want the debate. It seemed as if I was the only one in the room who saw this in black and white.

Even my professor said he would keep the money. He often presents his lectures as if he were doing stand up comedy so I wasn't sure if this comment was serious.

The lecture went on. One guy told of his mom trying to support her family on a waitressing paycheck. She would skim the till whenever she got the chance and told him that the restaurant would never miss it - besides they needed it more. When the professor asked if that made it right, the guy answered "Absolutely. It kept us from starving." Others also talked about lack of morals as if it were the norm. Have I been so out of the loop that I didn't realize that many people were like this? Were they just showing off for the class? Do people really think that there are no boundaries to accountability? Is being virtuous and honorable considered puritanical?

That night I told Mr. Wonderful what happened. I said that I wished I could go back to that moment and say what I thought. Mr. Wonderful pointed out to me that I should never fear when truth is on my side. When I berated myself for missing the moment, he commented that there would be more chances.

Unfortunately he is right. I believe my Psych class is missing their moral compass. Other subjects will come up where I will have the opportunity to speak out. I'm hoping that I am not the only one.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Bad, BAD sportsmanship


Two weeks ago during Secondborn's soccer game, there was a fight. Not between players. Not between parents. The fight was between the coaches. I didn't see the actual pushing and kicking, but I did turn around in time to see one coach chasing the other and all the dads running onto the field to break it up.

Since our soccer association has a zero violence policy, both coaches were banned from ever coaching in the league again. Because of this, the coaches two sons quit the team along with the kids whose families were close to the coach (believing that our coach was wronged.) The only kid now left on the team is Secondborn.

The league wants to move Secondborn to another team. But what kid is going to willingly give up some of his playing time so my son can play? He has no friends on this team. They have played and practiced together and are loyal to each other. Secondborn will be seen as an invader.

Today I called the league to ask for a refund. We told Secondborn that he could use the time to practice basketball until that season starts (thankfully its in another league). In the meantime, I am waiting for a call from the president of the soccer league who will most likely tell me why they won't refund our money. I understand banning the coaches and fully agree to that decision. However, it is not our fault that our son's team has dissolved. I'm really frustrated right now.

We did have a good talk with Secondborn about good sportsmanship. He actually brought up the conversation - he thought the coaches were nuts that they let their emotions get so high. "After all, Mom, its just a game. They were pretty stupid." I am so grateful that Secondborn has figured that out on his own.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sunday Gratitudes (on a Monday)

I spent the weekend in Utah being with both sides of the family. It was fun to be with everyone. Mr. Wonderful's family got together for a formal portrait. We wore black/kahki/red color schemes. The pictures were supposed to be outside, but with the pouring rain we ended up at the office building that Mr. W's brother #2 owns. After that we went out to dinner....all 33 of us. Unbeknownst to me, dinner was a party for me. Actually, dinner was a wake for me. Because I turn the big 4-0 tomorrow. Since everyone was already in black, the Sister-in-Loves donned black veils and made me a "Happy 40th" sash to wear. The Love Magnet helped me to open my presents but I did blow out my candles all by myself. My mother-in-law thought it was all insulting and worried that I would be deeply offended. Au contraire, I felt very loved. (You love me! You really love me!)

Mr. Wonderful gave me my birthday present early.

Oh, yes, I got my Garmin! He bought me a Garmin 405. After doing some research, we discovered that the 405 still had bugs that needed to be worked out. We returned the 405 and bought the 205 (305 has a strap-on-heart monitor that I did not really want). I can't wait for my 205 to come via Amazon (along with three running books aimed at women, one of them a marathon training book).

Sunday, we watched General Conference and got together with my family for lunch. I made Creamy Chicken Chili and baked rolls. We talked about my parents coming home in less than a month and made plans. The kids ran wild with their cousins. We had a good time.

Now we're back home and back into the weekly grind. I miss my family already. so here is my Sunday Gratitude (on a Monday) for the family I was born into and the family I married into. I love you all so very much and I'm grateful that Families are Forever.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

High School Words

I finally figured out where The Love Magnet learned about High School Stuff.

Sky High. Cute movie. One problem: its also the movie that taught her to break the Third Commandment. (If you don't know it, its in Exodus 20:7.)

There is more. I also figured out that the movie Antz was where she learned to say "D*mn it!" (Since my brother helped make this movie, I am going to blame him. The only reason we have it is so we can see his name in the credits and swell with pride over our brush with greatness.)

I guess I need to go through all of The Love Magnet's favorite movies to see what other High School Words she is learning. She loves to quote them all word for word as she watches them. Now I have the unenviable task of trying to teach her not to say certain things.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Happiness is....

Finding my communications book after believing that The Love Magnet took it for a bit of light reading (She has been caught reading my psych textbook while lounging in her bed waiting to be tucked in.)......and, no Mom, it wasn't under my bed. (I knew you were thinking that.)

Finally (finally!!! Oh Happy Day!) finding research that works for an upcoming communications paper.

Three whole quiet hours of uninterrupted work to find said communications textbook AND complete the research.

Happiness is not..... APA format. MLS format. Chicago style format. (Especially when you haven't done anything like this for 18 years.)

Happiness is....Mr. Wonderful telling me that I am being too hard on myself when stressing about school and not being able to keep the house in order (yet. This is a goal I'm still working on.)