Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

The pure joy of opening a Pillow Pet.

The Love Magnet wanted to help everyone open their gifts.

Seriously, she insisted on helping EVERYONE.

Auntie, Uncle, and Cousins came to dinner after which everyone competed on Rock BAnd Wii. I think Thirdborn won.

Relaxing and watching new movies.

Hanging out and enjoying each other's company.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Activities

The annual high schools Christmas choir performance. This year Firstborn was singing in Acapella choir. They were great. It brought back so many memories of high school *mumble-mumble* years ago. Too bad this choir doesn't also sing Hallelujah chorus and O Holy Night with alumni. I'd go up there and sing.

No pics of this, but my stake also had their Christmas fireside. I directed the YM/YW choir in Peace, Peace, Peace and the stake choir in The Hallelujah Chorus. I love my singers - they sounded beautiful. Their singing always starts the Christmas season for me.

We decorated the tree and put up the Christmas village. I'm missing at least three buildings and have no idea what happened to them.

Now the neighbor treats are done, I'm going to make gingerbread and sugar cookie dough for cookie decorating tomorrow. Dinner is simmering on the stove. Fall semester is done so I don't have to stress over studying. Life is good.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Ultimate, Most Fabulous, Tee-rific, Uber Cool, Awesomest Christmas Gift EVER!

I know it is hard to see behind Mr. Wonderful and Firstborn - that is a helicopter. I decided that a gift of an experience would be great this year. Since Firstborn wants to be a pilot ( of planes, not helicopters, but that might change) I bought them a helicopter tour to see the Christmas lights downtown.
It rocked.
I thought I would be scared silly due to my fear of heights. It was just incredibly cool. We flew around the capitol building, past the historic area, and around downtown. The view was amazing. So worth every cent to see the look on my son's face.
I am now the very cool queen-mom who won't quit patting herself on the back.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Coming up for air.....

I'm typing this while laying on the couch. The Love Magnet is snuggled against my side, fast asleep. For once, she isn't snoring. Poor thing, at least her cold seems to be getting better.

I thought that as soon as finals were over, I'd be totally relaxing and posting and baking and shopping and planning, no. Scratch the relaxing part. Other than Mondays epic sleep-in-til-eight-a.m. (which was amazing, thankyouverymuch), I've been uber busy getting together graduate school applications. My Statement of Purpose has been edited (thank you so much, Cousin Anna) and all that is left is making sure the GRE scores and transcripts get to where they need to go.

Baking and treat delivery tomorrow. Wrapping happened this afternoon (I've lost one present already. It can't have gone far since I put everything in my closet and don't bother to hide it).

I prevented Thirdborn from buying handcuffs for The Love Magnet. I knew he would end up handcuffing her to something just to keep her out of his room. Instead, he was very smart and bought her a recorder/tambourine set so she would leave his recorder alone. The Love Magnet bought Secondborn a new wallet to replace the one he lost (it comes with a pocket size pliers/LED light/knife/screwdriver thingamabob that will surely be useful).

I arranged for the most fabulous gift for Mr. Wonderful and Firstborn: a helicopter tour over downtown to see the holiday lights. I figured since Firstborn wants to be a pilot, and Groupon had a fab deal of half off the tour, it would be perfect. Perfect was supposed to happen last Saturday night but was canceled due to weather. Rescheduled for this week. I'm really looking forward to seeing their faces.

I also bought and framed professional pics from Mr. Wonderful's first triathlon. I'm sure he'll be excited to see those. I am so proud of his accomplishments and I wanted the pics to be an ever-present bragging reminder of how cool he is.

The Love Magnet has requested that we make sugar cookies this week. So tomorrow a batch of sugar cookie dough and a batch of gingerbread dough will go into the fridge for Thursday. In the meantime, I have a house to clean. We are hosting Christmas dinner this year. I have new place mats (scored 80% off at Kohls) and a few things to make in advance. Christmas dinner will be ham with a whole mustard and apricot glaze, Grandma S' cranberry sauce, pickles in her cut-glass pickle dish, brie and crackers, hot crab and artichoke dip, and a gingerbread, lemon curd and blackberry trifle along with a place of Christmas cookies. My aunt and uncle will be bringing veg, potatoes, and their famous homemade bread.

Many pics coming up. But right now, my arm is asleep. I've got to figure out how to disentangle myself from The Love Magnet and carry her up to bed.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Extra Happy Birthday News

Secondborn is less than 2 inches away from being taller than Firstborn. Firstborn is not pleased.

Happy Birthday, Secondborn

Secondborn turned 14 today. In honor of his awesomeness, here are 14 fab things about Secondborn:

1. This is my generous kid. He used to spend all of his birthday money buying Christmas presents for his siblings (at least until we gently explained to him that it would be a good thing to spend some of it on himself).

2. Secondborn can get along with ANYONE. That is a rare talent, indeed.

3. We think this kid has all the Maori blood from his ancestors. He has the body type and the darker skin that tans easily. If he doesn't need to shave by the time he goes on his mission at age 19, we'll know he truly has the family Maori blood.

4. Secondborn is going to be a great cook. He loves cooking so much that he took the cooking courses at school long after he filled that requisite. He wants to continue on in high school. He doesn't have a desire to make this his profession, it's just something he loves to do.

5. Secondborn loves basketball even more than he loves cooking. He was on the school team last year and it was fun to cheer him on at his games.

6. He loves reading, particularly Rick Riordan, Brandon Mull, and James Dashner. His number one request for birthdays and Christmas gifts is books. (He takes after his mom.)

7. Secondborn still asks his friends to not swear around him. And they are careful to stop. One of them even apologized yesterday the second a cuss word slipped from his lips.

8. He has a quirky sense of humor. Tonight he was making up words to Christmas carols and laughing himself silly. Singing to the tune of It's beginning to look a lot like Chistmas" he sang "You bacon is starting to look quite crispy....". The lyrics didn't get any better, but we had fun laughing about it.

9. He loves the Utah Jazz and quotes stats about them all season.

10. He is his sister's best friend. He reads to The Love Magnet, carries her across icy parking lotsm, picks her up from school, and is her chief chicken noodle soup maker. The Love Magnet often tells everyone how much she loves her big brother.

11. Secondborn discovered girls this year. Unfortunately, his teachers weren't thrilled about it as it affected his schoolwork. Luckily he brought his grades back up and now keeps checking them against mine to see if he gets to pick the family vacay next summer. In the meantime, he now knows that liking girls fine, just don't talk to them during class.

12. He is a smart kid. He has been working on his 8th grade PACE project all year and scoring well with every segment. We're looking forward to his presentation at the end of the year.

13. Secondborn has turned out to be quite the thespian (and I am so proud!) His drama teacher was heaping on the praise during parent teacher conference. Apparently, Secondborn did a project that was stage ready beyond what the other students performed. Secondborn has never performed in front of us. We do get to see him when his class puts on a series of one-act plays in January. I'm so looking forward to that!

14. This kid has a testimony. He is really looking forward to being ordained a teacher tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Snow Day

We got a call at 5:30 a.m. The caller spoke Spanish. Mr. Wonderful thought it was a wrong number, hung up, and went back to sleep.
At 5:45 a.m. we received another call. This time it was in English: our school district superintendent had an automated voice mail sent to everyone announcing schools closed due to weather. I got onto my email and saw the same announcement had been sent in English AND Spanish. So that is what the first call was! My school posted a closure notice, too. Every one of us was excited for real honest-to-goodness SNOW DAY.

The boys trooped outside as soon as they had their bedrooms clean. The shoveled the driveway, threw snowballs to Doggie Girl (she loves to eat snowballs), and then disappeared with their friends to the neighborhood hills for some serious sledding.

The Love Magnet just stayed in her PJs. She doesn't have snow boots yet. She was quite happy to stay on the couch and soak in all the television I would let her. *sigh* I know, I am not winning any mom-of-the-year awards this year.

After lunchtime, the boys trooped in with their friends, drank copious amounts of hot chocolate and ate leftover lasagna, and tore through the house. They played with Thirdborn's new microscope set. Indoor hide-and-seek. Lots of yelling, wrestling, and "not it's".

I made a batch of gingerbread, threw beans and ham hocks in the slow cooker, and kept the hot chocolate maker going all afternoon. The kids left me in peace to finish up a project for my language assessment class, start another one for my aural rehab class, and get a few things done. It was wonderful. My house smells amazing, there are only a few muddy bootprints downstairs, and everyone was entertained all afternoon.

Can we have another snow day tomorrow? Please?

Monday, November 29, 2010

10 Great Things About Thirdborn

Today my Thirdborn turned 10 years old. To celebrate him, here are ten fabulous things about him.
1. This kid understands gratitude. He is so grateful for everyone and everything. He never forgets to say "thank you".
2. Thirdborn loves learning everything science. He was so excited to receive a microscope/science kit and a crystal-growing kit for his birthday. He loves studying animals and can rattle off science trivia that would astound you.
3. If you are new in school then Thirdborn will be your first friend. He seeks out the new kids and pulls them into his group.
4. This kid can climb. Take him to a climbing wall and he will beat you to the top.
5. Thirdborn is my sensitive kid. If he sees someone suffering, he feels such empathy towards them. Many times I have caught him with tears in his eyes when he sees someone who is hurt, homeless, or just sad.
6. Thirdborn loves Scouting. He never wants to miss a den meeting and comes home full of facts and ideas that he wants to try at home. (Let me just add here: God bless his scout leaders!)
7. He has silver eyelashes. It's really from vitiligo but we tell him that the stars in his eyes caused his lashes to go silver. He thinks they're pretty cool.
8. This kid thinks out of the box. He comes up with the craziest theories and coolest solutions. I think it might have to do with having dyslexia. Some of the most creative minds had dyslexia.
9. He is the spitting image of his daddy. Of all of our boys, he looks the most like Mr. Wonderful. I really should put their pics side by side in another post and let you judge.
10. Thirdborn is my hero. He has really struggled with his learning disabilities, yet I have never witnessed him to have a bad attitude about it. He works hard every single day and stays positive.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving 2010

Mr. Wonderful hung out with his little brother...

and Thirdborn played with the train sets, pinball machines, and air hockey table...

(seems more like Christmas than Thanksgiving, doesn't it?)

and the Love Magnet read aloud to anyone who would listen...

Secondborn made a batch of his famous Baconator Deviled Eggs.

Grandma Wonderful told of the lastest in the family history search. We now know that we have relatives who were abducted by pirates and made to serve as cabin boys until they escaped.

(Disney-Pixar will be calling soon for the film rights.)

I made my (famous only to me) Streuseled Sweet Potatoes.

(Actually they were very well received thankyouverymuch.)

Mr. Wonderful played with his little niece. She loved him, of course.

She smiled for everyone. Little Charmer.

Soon it was time to finish the platters and sit down for our meal.

We were requested by Grandma to each say for what we were thankful.

I'm thankful for this guy. Secondborn's sense of humor cracks me up every single time. I am so proud of his cooking. He is always so kind to others.

I'm grateful for this one, too. Firstborn has really shown his leadership skills as swim team captain this year. He is also learning to be more patient and it shows.

Thirdborn is my hero. He has really worked hard this year to do better in reading and math. He will be a great scientist someday.

I am grateful for the Love Magnet, too. Unfortunately, her pic did not load up and I can't figure out why.
Did I ever tell you how much I love my in-loves? Even when they threaten me for taking their pictures. They don't like cameras. Hah! Got Grandpa Wonderful anyway!

And the record-for-future genereations "What did you used to eat for Thanksgiving?"
Later in the evening, we went to another brother-in-loves house for dessert. Grandma played with my sweet niece.
While I snapped Wendywoo snapping. This is the chickie who is AMAZING at decorating. See her decorating blog here. She has promised to come do my house (that is if they ever come to Idaho again). In the meantime, you could hire her to do your house.
My nephew and the boys escaped downstairs to play video games. Mr. Wonderful traipsed off with his brother to try to find a frozen pipe. That left my in-loves, my niece, and I to eat pie.
Happy Thanksgiving! Today I am going to the movies and then off to the Carl Bloch exhibit at BYU. I hope you have a fun day planned, too.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Over the river and through the woods

Actually, we should be singing "over the snow-packed freeway past dozens of flipped vehicles.." The roads in Idaho were horrible. We took it very slow and were relieved to make it past the border into Utah where the roads were clear.
I have really missed my mountains.
We made it to the Wasatch Front just as the sun started to go down.
The sunset kept changing as the clouds kept changing.
It became dark just as we reached Layton
Smack in the middle of the Salt Lake Valley is the home of the parents of Mr. Wonderful. Grandma Wonderful loves to collect toys for the grandkids to play with when they visit.
She even found a computerized chess board because she knew Secondborn loved to play chess.
We are so grateful we made it safely and are looking forward to Thanksgiving with family tomorrow. I'm making my usual Streuseled Sweet Potato Casserole and brussel sprouts with bacon and mushrooms. Secondborn is making is famous Baconator Deviled Eggs.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

GRE panic........and calm.....

I took the GRE last night. And I bombed it.

Actually, it was a practice GRE, the third practice GRE I had done, and the first one I tried while timed.

I hated that little clock on the screen. It ticked like a time bomb and shattered my belief in myself. I scored horribly low on that practice test. After staring at the computer screen in shock, I started to cry. Hard. Then I got to my knees and started to pray. Hard. The tears didn't stop, they just came faster.

Please, Heavenly Father, I can't fail.

I know the taste of failure. It has happened so many times. My whole grad school future hinges on being able to score well on the GRE. I prayed and cried, cried and prayed.

Mr. Wonderful heard about it late last night after the kids were in bed. He heard me out, let me cry on his shoulder, counseled me, and promised to give me a priesthood blessing the next morning.

This morning, before the kids were up, Mr. Wonderful gave me a blessing in which he reminded me whose daughter I was and blessed me to have a calm spirit and clear recall of the things I studied.

I felt calm. I was so calm during my morning class that my classmates wondered what was wrong with me. Usually I am talkative - not this morning. I breezed through a quiz I had in class this morning, then left to review for the GRE.

This afternoon, I entered the testing center still feeling calm. I filled out the paperwork, hand copied the paragraph stating that I would not cheat, showed I.D., and stowed all my belongings in a locker - including a watch they told me I couldn't wear. They even made me turn my pockets inside out. All I could take in were two pencils and four sheets of yellow paper.

I walked in calmly. My hands weren't even shaking.

Noise reduction headphones - on.

Place paper, pencils, and I.D. just so,

Scroll through the directions.

Deep breath and quick stretch.


I think I rocked the essays. The quantitative was stressful. The problems I could not figure out in 2 minutes, I did a best guess of elimination and moved on. At least I finished the section with 2 seconds to spare. During the verbal, there were only two words I did not know but I could break them down and make a guess between two of the five answers available.

I did better on the quant than I thought I would but not great. I wasn't sure if I did well on the verbal until I looked up the percentage. According to the ETS website (if I understood it correctly) I did very well on the verbal.

I need to talk to my counselor to see if my scores were good enough for grad school, or should I take it again and hope for better on the math. I won't have my full scores with essays for two weeks.

Overall, I feel pretty good. Calm. Really calm.

Hopefully that feeling will last all through Thanksgiving break.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Trials, frustrations, and tender mercies

This past week was a short school week for the kids. Parent Teacher Conferences.

I dread them.

It's hard to go in with a good attitude, even though I know that all the adults present are there in the best interest of my children. But it seems that every session is more negative and rarely positive.

This year it was a lot about The Love Magnet's potty accidents that started this school year and seem to be getting worse. There were also behavior issues. Then there was the 'less-able-than-we thought'. I managed to make it through the entire session without crying (a record for me) but still had to mentally steel myself and try to inhale the tears back through my tear ducts.

In Thirdborn's session, it was to see his test scores and the grade equivalent of his reading level. I do not hold much to the grade equivalent. At one point I realized that my body posture was showing my attitude and quickly uncrossed my arms and sat up straighter.

Trials and frustrations.

Thankfully, Mrs. A, the resource teacher, took me into her room and showed me Thirdborn's successes and that told me that she didn't think his grade equivalent was accurate, either.

Tender mercies.

Firstborn's and Secondborn's teachers all had interesting things to say. Some positives, some negatives, and some surprises.


I spent yesterday working on an assessment project that I desperately need to score well to improve my grade. The teacher said not to stress to much about it. But it is hard writing a diagnostic when I've never done it before, especially when I have to make up some of the testing data.


Today I stuffed my freezer full of chicken from a fabulous sale. It feels good to know that we have food and food storage. It's my sense of accomplishment this week, where my family is concerned.

Tender mercies.

Today, The Love Magnet helped me plant 60 bulbs in our front yard. We pulled weeds and roots. We found worms. I had accidentally cut one in half. The Love Magnet just thought it was a mama worm with her baby worm and declared "Oh, that is so sweeeet!" We watched them squirm back into the dirt. We counted bulbs. My daughter made sure that each one she placed in the ground had the pointed side up. As we were digging in the dirt, I had a prompting: "Savor this moment". It was the first time I had slowed down all week and did something not involving a textbook. The air was warm and the sun shined on our backs - the last gorgeous day of fall.

Tender mercies.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

She finally wants to be a princess..... OGRE princess.
1. Because there is no shiny/scratchy/satiny/slippery/lacy part of this costume at all.
2. Because she wanted me to paint her feet green. Not her face, she only wanted sparkly "really mommy lipstick, NOT CHAPSTICK, Mom, real lipstick" on her face. But she was obsessed with green feet. (No, I did not paint her feet green.
3. Because she wanted her daddy to dress up like Shrek. And Firstborn was supposed to be Prince Charming (he certainly has the hair for it). Secondborn was supposed to be Donkey and Thirdborn was supposed to be Puss in Boots. I was to be the Evil Fairy Godmother. We could have made this work so well......except The Love Magnet did not tell us her complete Halloween fantasy until right before it was time to go to Trunk-or-Treat at the church. Oops. Sorry, sweetie, even the Evil Fairy Godmother can not make costumes magically appear that fast. Maybe next year.
Other oddities:
The Love Magnet had it in her head that it couldn't be a proper Halloween party without a cheese ball. Where does she get this idea? She is not really into them. I don't even think she fully understands what a cheese ball is. But she was determined that we absolutely had to have one for her class party. She had to make do with apples and caramel like everyone else.
The Love Magnet wished everyone a Happy Halloween. The checkout at the grocery store. The crossing guard. The neighbors. All. Month. Long. Do you think she will be disappointed tomorrow or move smoothly into wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving?
Should I be concerned that TLM thought I would be perfect as the Evil Fairy Godmother?

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Homemaking grade - F

I attempted peach butter for the first time. I should have known that it wouldn't work well when I first prepped the peaches. They clung to the pit (whoops, forgot to check for freestone), and they just didn't smell peachy enough. It took twice the prescribed time amount to cook those down in my slow cooker. House smells great. Peach butter only made 3 1/2 pints, too sweet, and it doesn't taste peachy.

I should have stuck with apple butter and pumpkin butter. I know how to make those with success.

May I just add here that I haven't bottled ANYTHING this year? No applesauce, no peaches or pears, not even grandma's salsa. I didn't bother to make strawberry or raspberry jam (still have a little left in the freezer from the previous year.) No one touched the plum vanilla jam from last year- that won't be made again. Grandma S would be rolling in her grave - I haven't even put veggies in my freezer. My garden is a bust. Mr. Wonderful wants to till it all under and forget it next year....until I sung to him the Primary song about planting a garden. I think the song is cheesy. But it got the point across - we plant a garden every year. Period.

I haven't attempted a major new recipe since school started. Most of my cooking has been from memory. Tonight is Dijon Chicken Stew with Potatoes and Kale - perfect for the windy, rainy day we've had. And I can do that from memory, too. At least I still can do nutrition.

Laundry pile? What laundry pile? mean that mountain over there?

It's Halloween. Dust and cobwebs are really in vogue right now.......sure.
(psst -I resorted to buying costumes this year, because I just don't have the mental energy to put anything together.)


Okay, so homemaking grade is shot for the semester, but I do get decent marks for mommy-ing. I still read books, check homework, and make sure they are wearing something clean and comb their hair before they leave for school.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Quality (study) time

The past two weeks have found myself and Thirdborn hitting the books. I have whatever over sized tome open, surrounded with binders full of notes, trying to type furiously on my laptop. Thirdborn has the latest stapled pages of homework. What should take him 10-15 minutes takes him two hours. But I have to hand it to that kid - he buckles down even when he doesn't want to.

Tonight while I am trying to get a project done, he works on spelling words that are in cursive. We have to write them in print so he can read them (remember, I was able to eliminate cursive as part of his I.E.P.). Some of the sentence structures are hard for him to figure out in order to determine the missing word from his lengthy spelling list. He asks for help when he gets stuck (which is nearly every word).

Math goes better this week. Now that he understands it, he breezes through his math pages. Thank heavens. He needs that confidence booster of being able to do it himself.

Huge breakthrough on the reading front tonight. He has a timed reading page he works on every week. At the beginning of this week he was reading 70 wpm. Tonight he read 112 wpm. He has never gone past 80 before. He was so proud of himself. I was proud. Mr. Wonderful was proud. Thirdborn can't wait to tell his teacher and resource teacher because he knows they will be proud, too. It's a huge moment for my kid who has dyslexia.

I feel bad that he has to stay up so late to finish his homework. We've tried working earlier, but The Love Magnet is a huge distraction. It is just easier and better for Thirdborn to wait until she is in bed.

I think that he likes the one-on-one time with me. We cuddle together for reading. We work side by side on our individual assignments. He might stop once in a while to check on what I am doing, particularly if it involves pictures or video.

Last night he became fascinated with the chapter and notes I was studying about craniofacial anomalies (i.d. cleft lip/palate). He asked intelligent questions. I showed him pictures of embryonic development and he was utterly fascinated. He asked if having a cleft lip/palate hurt. We talked about the social and psychological ramifications of having your face look so different from everyone else. He ended up telling his teacher at school and his tutor at the learning center today about cleft lips/palates. Nothing wrong with his brain. Get him curious and he loves to learn.

I think he has now added plastic surgeon to the list of what he wants to be when he grows up; along with forest ranger, conservationist, zoologist (specializing in raptors, of course), and National Geographic explorer and photographer, and inventor.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Mr. Wonderful whisked me a way for a relaxing weekend. No work phones. No textbooks. No notebooks. No GRE. No kids.
The kids were in good hands so off we went. It was quiet.

We dined here. We ate this. (Because my Cookies will want to know these details)

Our room was a bit froufrou for my taste, but it was comfortable. I loved it.

We breakfasted on smoked trout hash on our own balcony...

with this view.

We went hiking. (I really need to invest in decent hiking boots.)

And found our dream spot for our future cabin.

One of these days.....
In the meantime, I am now relaxed and ready to conquer.