Perpetual Plan B

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Morgan Learns a New Word

When Morgan was about 7, she was watching t.v. one day and a new ad came on. It said, "She's hot, she's sexy, she's...(whatever else it said). Morgan turned to me and said, "What does "sexy" mean?"

I thought about it for a minute, trying to come up with a kid-friendly response. Finally I said, "I guess it's what some people say when they think someone looks good in a swimming suit."

(I know, it was a lame answer, I just couldn't think of anything any better off the top of my head.)

I tried to clarify my definition by adding, "It's also kind of what people say when they think someone is cute, so some people kind of try to mean it as a compliment, but don't go around saying it to your friends, because it's not really the best word to use."

Morgan seemed to accept this answer and I could tell by the look on her face, she was really processing what I had said to her. Again, I said, "I really don't want you to use that word."

She nodded in agreement, really looking like she understood.

Then she said to me, "Don't worry mom. You might be cute, but I don't think you're sexy at all."

Austin, the Cereal King

Austin is the king of the cold cereal. He would eat it 24/7 if I let him.

I usually don't buy very exciting cereals, I mostly stick to Cheerios (which I hate), Raisin Bran and Frosted Mini Wheats. There's also our old standby, oatmeal, too. I have to say, I can whip up a mean bowl of Peanut Butter Oatmeal.

Once in a while Hal or I will buy the expensive sweetened cereals. A big problem with those (besides the obvious) is the fact that the kids will go through a whole box in one sitting, especially Austin and Ally.

Right now we have Lucky Charms at our house. I have been using it as kind of a reward for Austin. Today, I was being lazy (because I wanted to get some blogging done) and I said he could have some Lucky Charms with his lunch. I told him he could have them if he had a fruit and a vegetable first.

I had an apple already cut up, but it had been sitting here for a while, so it was starting to go brown.

He said, "I don't want this apple, I want another one that is red and yellow and green and gold......" as he launched into a pretty good rendition of the song from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, using mostly colors found in apples. It was kind of funny.

Not funny enough, though, to win him the Lucky Charms without the healthy stuff first. I got him a new apple (of course I ate the old one, it's what moms do, isn't it?) and also got out some baby carrots.

He sat there for a minute at the bar and then I heard his next try.

He said, "Mom, I really just want the Lucky Charms. I'm not really attracted to the apples or the carrots."

He got the Lucky Charms.

(Where do these kids get these sayings?)

Lexi Learns to Swear

(In this post, I have to call her Lexi, because that's the name we called her then, but it's really Ally that I'm talking about.)

When Lexi was 4 she "accidentally" said a couple of disturbing things.

One day we were standing outside our house and Hal's business partner (at the time) came by. He stayed (as he usually does) for quite a long time. When he (finally) left, Lexi said, "Goodbye B-tch." (Instead of Butch, which is his name.)

I stood there for a minute trying to decide if she really said what I thought she said.

As if she could read my mind, she said it again, "Goodbye B-tch."

Ok, I thought, there's no way she could know what that word means. It was an accident.

Then she looked at me and giggled and said, "Oops, I said B-tch."

So, of course, we had to have the little discussion about how that isn't nice word, etc., etc. I really have no idea where she had heard the word.

So, problem solved. Or so I thought.

A month or so later, which was a couple of weeks before she started school, we went to Bear Lake. After we'd been there all day, I took her up to the bathroom to change, etc.

When she was in the bathroom and started changing her shirt she said, "Oh, I wanted to bring the other sh--."

Again, I froze and my thoughts swirled, "Does she know that word? Was it an accident?" And so on.

Well, she answered my questions pretty quickly. She giggled and said, "Oh, I said sh--."

I had heard somewhere that you should explain what certain naughty words mean so kids would just know and then the novelty would wear off from using them or whatever. I would never suggest doing this for the reason you will see at the end of this post, but I was young(er) and dumb(er), and it sounded like a good idea at the time.

I calmly asked her if she knew what the word meant. She said no, so I calmly explained that it's what some naughty people call it when they use the bathroom. (Well, what would YOU say?)

She seemed to take the whole conversation in stride, so I hoped that was good enough. Then I remembered that she was going to start Kindergarten soon so I was really worried that she might start showing off her new vocabulary and that it would not go over well.

I said to her, "Now Lexi, I don't ever want you to use this word again, do you understand? That is a word that you will get in trouble for if you use it at school. If you use that word, you will have to go to the Principal's office and I don't think you will want to do that."

She looked at me innocently and said, "So does that mean I shouldn't do this:" and then she put up her middle finger at me and said "Sh--."

I would have collapsed to the floor if it wasn't a dirty public restroom.

We talked again about naughty words and what it meant and why you shouldn't do things like that. Finally the conversation wrapped up and we joined Hal and Morgan outside to go home.

"You guys were gone a long time." Hal said.

"We'll talk about it later." I replied.

So we all got into the car and were going merrily on our way. We got our usual raspberry shakes and chocolate malts. It looked like it was going to be a pleasant trip home, which I really needed at that point.

All of a sudden, out of the blue, Lexi said, "I know what sh-- means."

Hal slammed on the breaks and started sputtering, "Where did you hear a word like that?"

She answered very calmly, "Mom told me."

My Great Tip to Save Money (It's almost as good as my great beauty tip from last week.)

Stay out of stores. Just don't go.

If you don't go shopping, you probably won't spend money.

(Unless of course you like to shop online, then you have a whole other problem altogether.)

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lunch with Linda

I had lunch today with my friend, Linda Ewing Redd. Linda was my best friend in 5th and 6th grades. We walked to school together every day, even in freezing cold temperatures. By the time we got to school, we would have frost all over our hair. We were still kind of friends in junior high and didn't do much together in high school because we were interested in different kinds of things at that point and I had a dumb boyfriend, so I didn't do much with any of my girl friends.

If I could change one thing from any day of my life, I'd go back to the first day of 10th grade and break up with the loser boyfriend and enjoy high school with a lot less stress. (Ok, so he did have one redeeming quality. He was cute. Not enough to base a relationship on, so remember that girls.)

So back to lunch. This is an example of how things usually work in my life.

I am punctual to a fault. It's probably MY only redeeming quality. I always show up 5 minutes early because I don't want people to have to wait on me. I know how annoying it is to wait on other people so I try not to annoy others. I'm cool that way.

I got there and checked in at the hostess area and sat down at the end of the bar to wait for Linda and my other friend, Cindy. I knew Linda was coming for sure but Cindy wasn't sure if she'd make it or not. Once I sat down, I realized that I didn't bring anything to do while I waited. I usually have a book or a Reader's Digest or something. I was feeling kind of conspicuous, because at The Bluebird, where we were having lunch, the end of the bar where I was sitting was pretty much right in the middle of the restaurant, out in the open. I also had to sit turned out because they had a bunch of rolled up napkin bundles on the bar in front of me.

After about 10 minutes, I decided to start fiddling with stuff in my purse because I was feeling pretty self-conscious by then. I pulled out my little cheapo cell phone and pretended to be doing something important on it. By 1:15 I was starting to get a little annoyed. It's one thing to be 5 or even 10 minutes late, 15 is pushing it. I called my mom to have her call Linda's mom to get Linda's cell number so I could call her and see if she was just running late (or if I was possibly at the wrong place, etc.)

For some reason I stood up while I was on the phone and walked toward the front of the restaurant. (I was sitting on the end of the bar in the middle so I could see both the front and back doors.) As I was walking, I saw another girl sitting at the opposite end of the bar. Wouldn't you know it, of course it was Linda, looking as annoyed as I was feeling. She was smart enough to have a newspaper to read. I'm not sure when she came in, but I know she wasn't there when I got there because the bar was all empty. Later on a man came in and sat exactly in the middle, so when I looked down the bar I couldn't see her and when she looked up the bar she couldn't see me.

We laughed at that one and each of us had the hostess vouch for the fact that we'd been there a while. After thinking about it, I was a little annoyed with the hostess. She knew I was waiting for someone and Linda said she told her the same thing. I'll let her off the hook because I said I was waiting for two people, and maybe that's what Linda said too, but you'd think the hostess would have put two and two together. She had at least seen both of us there waiting for someone for quite a while. I asked the hostess if that happened very often and she said it had never happened before, which surprised me.

Anyway, we had a nice lunch and caught up on lots of things. It was nice to know we still have some good similarities in our lives, even though in some ways they are quite different.

Next time she comes up to Cache Valley we will let our 4 year old boys play together while we catch up some more and play pool in the basement.

That's all for today.

What a Thoughtful Child

A Proactiv commercial came on the other day.

Austin said, "I'll buy that for you mommy."

I thought, "Maybe he doesn't know what it's for." There's always a chance isn't there?

I said, "Do you know what that is for?"

He said, "Yes, you can use it to get rid of the red dots on your face."

Gee, thanks.

Question of the Day

What's the point of going to bed early if I can't fall asleep?

And, while we're on the subject, why can't I stay asleep once I finally fall asleep?

Also, why can't I think of something interesting or worthwhile to think about while I can't sleep?

It hardly seems fair! (Send me suggestions, please!)

Monday, February 23, 2009

A Phone Conversation with Ally

Today I took Morgan to buy some new church shoes. While we were at the store, Ally called me.

She said, "Mom, some place called Alliance Capital called looking for dad. They said they have something of his."

A lady from there had called me a couple of times last month because they keep getting the bank statements from Hal's business account sent to them accidently.

I asked Ally, "Is it some mail?"

"No." she answered, "It was a female."

Austin's Antics

Austin has a new annoying habit. Whenever he doesn't get his way, he bursts into tears and goes running out of the room, complete with the sound effect of "WAHHHHHHHHH".

It kind of reminds me of a hormonal teenage girl. The first time or two it was funny but it is getting old. When you try to talk to him about it later, he always says "Well you (or whoever else upset him) hurt my feelings."

This happens a lot at mealtimes. It's usually because he wants dessert first or more of something that's not healthy or I tell him he needs to eat a fruit or a vegetable before he eats anything else.

We did have a couple of funny incidents with Austin yesterday. While we were all eating dinner, he kept asking for a grilled cheese sandwich (which he eats practically every day for lunch).

I told him no and kept eating. He asked again, so I told him it wasn't on the menu.

All of a sudden he started giggling really hard and then pointed at me and said "Menu! Good one mom!"

Last night he was back to his old tricks and wouldn't go to bed and was just a little pill in general. He was in the bathroom and I was in Morgan's room, which is next to the bathroom and I whispered to Morgan, "I am so T-I-R-E-D of him acting like that."

Well, he must have bionic ears, because from the bathroom we heard, "Well I am P-O-Y-T-M-B of you too!"

He does actually know how to spell the word cookie because we've spelled it in front of him so many times.

There is one more thing that got me laughing last night. Hal must have told him he couldn't have something and to go to bed, so Austin, true to form, went bawling from the room.

I went to see what I could do and if I could just get him in bed. While I was trying to calm him down he got in the last word.

"Mom," he said, "Dad's not my secret boyfriend any more!"

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Two Ideas to Make Church More Fun

One of my goals in life is to make going to church more bearable. (Well, I guess it's not really a goal. I don't have any authority over how church is set up or how to change it. Maybe we should just say it is an "interest" of mine.) I keep telling Hal to ask the Stake President if we can shorten church, even by a half hour. I think three hours is just too long, even for me and I'm at the point in my life where I actually want to go to church (most of the time).

Last night on the way to the dance we were discussing why Mormons always feed people at every activity. One of the big reasons is to get people to go to things. I was saying that there should be a way to reward people who always show up because it's the right thing to do and not because they are being bribed by the prospect of a cookie or two.

I do have to admit, I have been guilty of trying to find out what the treat is ahead of time and then deciding if I'm going to go or not to certain meetings. That has only happened a couple of times for meetings I consider semi-optional.

While I'm in a confessing mood, I might as well fess up to Womens' Conference last year. My mom and I found out that her Stake was having better food, so we went to her dinner before the meeting, skipped the meeting altogether and then went to a movie. We also considered then showing up at my Stake Center to have the post Womens' Conference treat that they always have, but we decided that that would have been pushing it a little. (For the record, I did tape the Womens' Conference, as I always do, so I could watch it later at my leisure.) My mom is a convert, so maybe I should have set a better example. I'll have to work on that. That can be an actual goal.

Anyway, back to what I was saying. Last night Hal and I were thinking it would be fun sometime if, on an ordinary Sunday, when church started at 9:00 he could get up and say "Since you showed up today, instead of having Sacrament Meeting, we're all going to have ice cream." (More refreshments, we can't seem to get away from it, can we?)

I actually think that would raise attendance in general if people knew that once in a while, at random, the Bishop would reward people who showed up.

The second idea came to me during Sacrament Meeting today. We had a couple of youth speakers, one that was actually really good, and then a husband and wife spoke. The last talk started getting a little too long for my short attention span. It was actually a pretty good talk, I just think he may have gotten off the subject a little.

I started thinking it would be kind of fun if church was like The Gong Show (google it). If someone went on too long or got off subject or started teaching something that wasn't quite right they could get "gonged". I actually pictured myself sitting there with a little mallet ready to hit the gong. Don't you think that would be a good calling for the Bishop's wife? (Then he could overrule me if I was wrong. Well, maybe not. That might kind of make me mad.)

I started trying to think if there was a downside to this whole scenario, but I honestly couldn't think of one. Even if I were giving a talk and got "gonged" that would mean I wouldn't have to finish my talk. Works for me.

That's all the bright ideas for today. I need to go get ready to go to New Beginnings with Morgan for the Young Women.

I wonder what they'll be serving for refreshments.

No More Polkas Please!

Last night we had our Stake Valentine Dance. (Yes, a week after Valentines' Day, I noticed that too.)

This is something we look forward to every year. They usually have dinner and a floor show, but what we are really there for is the dancing. And watching everyone else dance.

It's amazing how many older couples are really good dancers. People just don't get all dressed up and go out dancing any more, like they used to. (I was actually quite surprised by how many women wore pants, which I hadn't seen before at one of these dances.) I keep telling Hal that we need to take lessons but he's been less than enthusiastic. He keeps saying we can do it when things get less busy (like that's really going to happen).

When we were younger, we had some friends, the Bridenstines and the Womacks, that we used to do things with on a regular basis. One night we decided to go dancing at the Elite Hall. It was fun, because Hal and I know a few basic swing-dance moves that we pull out on special occasions. At the end of the night, right as the last song ended, the saxophone player headed straight for Hal.

"What did you think you were doing?", he asked Hal. "You threw off my timing."

"What do you mean?", Hal responded.

"You threw off my timing.", he said with a very accusatory tone.

"What?", we asked.

"You threw off my timing. It's slow-slow-quick-quick, not slow-quick-slow-quick." (Or something like that. I've blocked it out somewhat because of what came next.)

He then grabbed me and proceeded to dance around the room. I do remember that he smelled really sweaty and it was not a pleasant experience. I was also pretty ticked off because any shred of self-confidence that Hal had in the dancing department pretty much went out the window for quite some time.

That is a true story. I kid you not. I wish I would have dared tell him off but I didn't. We should have told him his saxophone playing was throwing our dancing off.

Anyway, back to last night.

It's fun to see the couples that are around our age and their "moves". I told Hal that I can see why people like to drink at dances. I think I could probably do a lot better if I had a little alcohol in me. I'm very self-conscious and I have no rhythm as it is. But, it is fun and by the end of the night, you really don't care.

Hal's Second Counselor, Dan Bryan, and his wife Becky were at the dance. They are fun, we like them a lot. Becky reminds me a lot of a young version of my mom. I have to say, the girl can dance. When they announced a spotlight dance, she got right in the middle - by herself, and did a fine job.

My friend Kristi Forsberg was there helping, along with her husband Brian. It's fun to have a night with just adults to catch up with everyone and just visit without worrying what your kids are doing. I talked to Teresa and Shane Bertolio for quite a while and Kevin and Dorothy Womack, and we also sat with the Hugies and the Prices and Robert and Jennifer Saunders at dinner.

They had door prizes for people who remembered to bring their tickets and also people standing on the star with a certain number. We joked at our table about what the prizes would be. Hal said that the prize should be to get out of paying tithing for a couple of months. That went over pretty well. Most of the prizes were actually packages of Starburst and leftover food, like bags of rolls. The kids would have liked that. One of the prizes was actually a dance off between the two couples standing on the numbers that they called. Just not winning that made it worth not winning anything.

We had one incident that was not so pleasant and could have been a lot worse than it was. They started playing a polka, which I know how to do, so Hal and I started dancing and skipping around the room in circles, like you are supposed to during a polka. We had to stop once in a while because we got dizzy. We started off again, so proud of ourselves for doing so well when WHAM, next thing I knew, Hal was on the ground and then I tripped on him and fell too. He had accidently slammed into another enthusiastic polka participant, who fared better than we did, thankfully. I'm glad we weren't seriously hurt. At our age we could have broken a bone or something. My poor friend, Jeannie Smedley, saw the whole thing and she just looked sick about it until we assured her we were really fine. Her husband, Wes, only saw us on the ground, so he thought it was funny. I can't blame him. I'm sure it was pretty entertaining.

So that's pretty much the end of my aspirations to be a professional polka dancer.

All things considered, it was a pretty fun night.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My Great Beauty Secret (It's Free Too!)

Yes, I discovered the best beauty secret ever. I discovered this quite by accident when I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, bemoaning the fact that my 41 year old skin is now getting wrinkles along with acne.

I already know that life isn't fair, I don't need it to show up on my face to remind me. (If I can't be cute that means I'll need to start developing a good personality so that I'll have at least one redeeming quality.)

So, here's what I discovered and it made me look so much better! (Are you ready?)

I took a big step backwards.

That's all, but I did look much better, fewer wrinkles, acne not as noticeable, just better. That's really how other people see you anyway, nobody stands as close to you as you are in the bathroom mirror. At least not me. I'm a big fan of "personal space".

So then I smiled. And I looked even better.

Until I noticed the deeper "smile lines" around my eyes.

Hmmmm, what is the solution here? Botox? Stop smiling indefinitely?

Nope, I did the only thing I could think of to do under the circumstances.

I took another REALLY big step back.

Austin's Strange Habit

Austin has a quirky habit. He loves colored pencils. Not necessarily to write with, he considers them his friends.

Every day that he goes to preschool, he can't leave until he has at least one colored pencil in his backpack. He also won't go to bed unless he has a colored pencil with him. Right now he sleeps on the floor, so sometimes he leaves the pencils on the floor and they get stepped on and broken. He takes it very personally if you break his favorite purple pencil. I know this from experience.

We have a huge assortment of colored pencils in the car too. He drags them to church, Grandma's house and anywhere else we go.

If we leave a certain one somewhere he remembers it and talks about it for days.

He's also starting to get picky about what colors he takes with him. Right now he's partial to brown, orange and blue. Some days he'll take any color but red.

Ironically we have an abundance of red pencils.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Very Random Thought

In the spirit of my anti-Facebook mood, I thought I'd just post a random thought here.

I hate Justin Timberlake.

As in, I can't even stand the sight of the guy.

I can't remember ever trying to listen to his music (Ok, I have heard SexyBack) but I don't think I'd like it just because it's by him.

I'm sorry if this offends anyone. (If it does, you might not want to ask me what I think about "Fred" on YouTube.)

Kids Say the Darndest Things

When I was expecting Ally, Morgan was two and a half. Somehow she had come up with the idea that anyone with a big stomach was going to have a baby. (Because really, how do you explain that to a two year old?)

One day I went to my work to pick up a check and I brought her with me. I was standing there talking to a group of older men. We were all standing in a circle and Morgan suddenly broke away from me and poked them each in turn saying "You have a baby in your tummy and you have a baby in your tummy and you have a baby in your tummy." (I think she skipped the two skinny ones.)

I was so embarrassed! I mumbled some sort of quick apology and then we left.

A few weeks later, my Aunt Shirley was visiting from Albuquerque. She and my Uncle Deloy and my grandma were all at my parents' house sitting on the couch. We'd been visiting for quite a while when Morgan again broke away and said "You have a baby in your tummy and you have a baby in your tummy." When she got to Aunt Shirley, she hesitated. Her eyes got really big and she pointed at Aunt Shirley's chest, which is quite large. Finally she said "You've got TWO babies in your tummy!"

It's a good thing Aunt Shirley has a good sense of humor!

Glitter Toes

The girls and I have great plans to do our own "glitter toes". At the salon it costs about $30. Since that's not in the budget now, or even when we do have some extra money kicking around, we decided to do our own.

Ally and I bought some glitter at the beauty supply store. It is only $1.00 for a little jar of the really fine glitter. I picked out a nice, conservative mauve color and she picked out silver. I kind of talked her out of the blue or green.

Last night after the kids had gone to bed I decided for some reason that I just had to go ahead and do my toes. (I started at about 10:15.)

I got out my clear polish and I couldn't get the lid open. I brought it to Hal and he couldn't get it open either. I finally gave up and went to see what other clear polish I had. The only thing I could come up with that was remotely clear was one that already had little blue glitter things floating around in it. Since I'm not good at being patient once I've made up my mind I'm going to do something, I decided to go ahead with what I had. (Out of the 8 or so polishes in my container, roughly half of them were either blue or green. I don't know why my girls always bring home the strange colors from birthday parties. I haven't decided if it's because that's what they pick, or that's what is left over after everyone else gets to pick.)

It was obvious that the blue glitter wasn't going to look good with the conservative mauve, so I went ahead with the silver. First you put on a coat of clear (in my case, blue glitter clear). While it's still wet, doing one or two toes at a time, sprinkle the glitter over the sticky polish. It's good if you can do this over a piece of paper to catch the excess. Then you can put it back in the jar when you're done. After all toes are coated with glitter, brush on another coat of polish and re-glitter your toes. Next put on more clear polish to seal it. You're supposed to put on two top coats, but I didn't want my toes to get too blue, so I only did one. We'll see how well it lasts.

Here is the final result. They are actually a lot more blue than what shows up in the photo. These are colors I would never pick on purpose, but it is kind of fun for a week or so.

(Note to self: Remember not to wear open toed shoes to church.)

Great Day Yesterday

Yesterday was just what I needed. My friend, Kristi Forsberg, and I went to Layton. She had to pick up cookies for the Stake Dance on Saturday night, so we decided to make a whole day of it.

Now Kristi is my kind of girl. I just love her! She is so sweet and so nice and never has an unkind thing to say about anyone. She's the kind of person I want to be when I grow up. (Ok, so she's actually younger than me, I still want to be like her.) And, in the spirit of full disclosure here, I should mention that she is very cute. An all-around great girl.

On the way down to Layton, we had the great Facebook debate. Should we or shouldn't we keep doing it? Apparently they arrested a local stalker who was finding out where to go from the girl's status reports. (So from now on, it's probably a good idea to say where you've been, not where you're going. That's your helpful hint for the day.)

First we went to Taipan Imports. We each bought a few little things, but not too much since neither of us really needed anything. It was just fun to look around at everything that is available. I'm hoping to paint and kind of tweak the family room sometime in the next few months, so maybe then I'll actually need something. I was happy to see that birds look like they may be the big thing for this spring. I love bird decorations!

Next we headed off to Target. While there, I ran into some friends, the Cook family, and Travis told me that Target has finally purchased land in Cache Valley! Target and I go way back. When Hal and I lived in Texas we had a Target and I loved it. I had never heard of it before then.

Kristi and I were looking for some shoes I had seen online, but, sadly, they only had size 10 and above. (They were on clearance and the good stuff goes fast!) We did manage to spend a lot of money in the dollar section. I have Austin's Easter basket pretty much taken care of. I'll have to come up with a little more for each of the girls, but not much.

I also ended up buying a cute church outfit for Austin. It's a size too big so he may need to wait for next year to wear it. It has a little pinstriped vest that he wanted to sleep in last night.

My favorite purchase is a secret surprise that I bought for our family for St. Patrick's Day. We take our St. Patrick's Day very seriously here. Last year, as usual, we had the "green" dinner. I colored a 2 liter bottle of cream soda green, like green beer, and Morgan drank so much that she hasn't touched the stuff since then. Cream soda is the only carbonated beverage I like. I drink it about once every two years.

So, after Target we had lunch and then headed back home, hitting the Lofthouse cookie place first.

Great day, great company, what more could you ask for? (Oh, and the sun was shining too!)

There are only two things that I wish would have turned out differently. First, I forgot to tape Oprah while I was gone. I haven't watched Oprah more that 5 times since it started up again in September, but the mean organizer guy, Peter Walsh, was going to be on and I like to watch him get after people (we could use a little more of that here). Second, I bought a package of leather cleaning wipes for our car seats and couch at Target. When I got home I couldn't find them in my bags, though it was on the receipt so I know I paid for them. On the way home we kept hearing something kind of rolling around in Kristi's car so when I couldn't find them in my bags we just assumed they were still in the car. I stopped by her house again after karate but we couldn't find them anywhere. I called Target today to see if I'd left them there but they didn't have any record of them being left at the store. Strange, but if you're going to lose something, it's nice to lose something that is only $4.00 and totally replaceable, don't you think? (See, I can be optimistic too.)

We decided that we need to do this more often, so I am looking forward to May when we plan on doing it all again.

Don't you love having something fun to look forward to?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Question of the Day:

Is the glass half full or half empty? (And yes, I do realize that this is a cup. It is way cuter than our clear drinking glasses.)

I finally know my answer.

I have never been a "glass half full" kind of girl. I'm sorry if that offends you eternal optimists. That's just the way it is.

I'm also not entirely comfortable with the "glass half empty" mentality, though I lean more heavily toward that way of thinking.

Today it just kinda dawned on me.

If the question is, "Is the glass half full or half empty?", my reply would definitely have to be:

"Who keeps drinking out of my glass?"

Ally's Identity Crisis (Warning: EXTREMELY long post)

Growing up, I always thought it was weird when people (usually girls) would change the way their names were spelled. I know a lot of girls who had names with a letter "e" on the end that just opted to drop the "e". I didn't think that was entirely legal and it always bothered me. You couldn't just change the name your parents gave you.

Or could you?

This is my daughter, Ally. Isn't she cute?

She wasn't always named Ally. I bet you want to know the whole story.

When our second daughter was born, we gave her a name. It was a nice name too. I'm rather partial to it because I got to help pick it out. Her full name is Alexandra Gail Fronk.

Alexandra is just a name we liked. I was kind of going through a European history phase, though I hadn't gotten around to reading Nicholas and Alexandra yet. If I had, I might not have named her Alexandra. (Come to think of it, she does kind of act like her. Maybe it was meant to be.)

Gail is after my mom. Morgan's middle name is Roberta, after Hal's mom, so it worked out nicely that we had another daughter. I like middle names that mean something. My middle name is Ann, which I hate and it has no meaning. Of the girls my age growing up in our ward, at least 5 of us have the middle name Ann. That's a pretty high percentage for such a boring middle name. Our sons' middle names are Hastings, after the little town where I grew up (until late elementary school) in Nebraska and Hendricks, which is my maiden name.

Now back to my story. It gets to be quite long and tricky. I hope you can keep up.

When Alexandra Gail was born, we had planned on calling her Lexi. I liked the name Lexie, but Hal has a sister named Cami, (with no "e" on the end) so we did it that way in honor of Cami. I secretly only agreed with it once I realized that if I ever decorated Lexi's room with something with her name on it, and you had to pay by the letter, it would be a little cheaper. Looking back, I wouldn't recommend using this thought process. It really only saved us about $3.50 total, probably not enough to make it worth giving up a spelling that you really like. Lexi did seem like a little more grown-up spelling too, though, so when she was 30 maybe it wouldn't be too little girlish. (And of course I had kept in the back on my mind the girls - at least two - who had dropped the "e" on purpose.)

So we had our little Lexi and life was good.

Until the week after she was born and people kept spelling it wrong. My personal least favorite way was Lexy. It looked too much like the word "sexy". I couldn't get over it. I kept looking at my sweet baby girl and couldn't bear anyone thinking of her as "sexy Lexy". I called a family conference and said "I propose we change the baby's name to Allie. That way she is still Alexandra and it is a cute name too."

Well, Morgan (then age 3) had a fit. She kept saying "No, she's my baby Lexi."

So Lexi stayed Lexi for a few years.

One day when she was three and a half, she came home from preschool, just disgusted. She said "I don't like my preschool teacher." I asked her why not. She said "I don't like the way she talks to me."

Well, she had caught my attention with that remark.

I asked, "What does she say to you that you don't like?" (I knew my daughter and her temperament. I wasn't too concerned yet.)

She said "I don't like it in the morning when she says 'Hello Lexi'."

"Um, okay," I said, "What do you want her to say then?"

"I really want her to say 'Hello, Thomas'."

Well, that seemed rather out of the blue. I knew she was a fan of Thomas the Tank Engine, but I didn't know it had reached that extent.

So I asked the preschool teacher to call her Thomas for a day or two and do you know what? She refused. Just flat out said no. (I'm sure she gave me a reason, though I can't remember what it was.)

So we found a new preschool for the next year. And this teacher knew how to humor children. I kind of thought the Thomas thing would blow over by then, but it did not. In fact, she was so worried that the teacher might call her some awful name like "Lexi" that she made herself a little name tag to wear the first day.

(I will insert the picture here as soon as we get a new scanner. Believe me, it's worth the wait.)

So she was Thomas, and life was good again in her little world.

The preschool teacher even went as far as put her name down as "Thomas Fronk" on the class list. She became "Thomas" pretty much everywhere we went, church, school, neighborhood, etc. This caused a couple of funny situations, like when moms of boys in the preschool would just assume she was a boy.

Also, Hal has a brother named Thomas Fronk and my sister-in-law was less than thrilled. She also wasn't thrilled when we named her Alexandra in the first place, since she has a son named Alex. I assured her repeatedly that she would never, ever be called Alex. It would always be "Lexi" as far as I had any say in it. I lost all control in the situation a lot sooner than I ever could have anticipated.

So "Thomas", or "Tom" as her preschool teacher eventually shortened it to, seemed pretty content. That is, until springtime when she discovered Hello Kitty.

The girls and I LOVED Hello Kitty. I grew up too poor to buy much of anything Hello Kitty when I was younger, so I was thrilled when she made a comeback in the '90s. One year for Christmas the girls got pretty much EVERYTHING Hello Kitty, pajamas, game, dolls, toys, hats, etc.

Then, without warning, "Thomas" started calling herself "Me-me". One day I asked her "Where did the name "Me-me" come from?"

She looked at me like I was the biggest idiot and said "Don't you know? It's Hello Kitty's twin sister." (It did sound vaguely familiar.) It should be noted here, that as a four-year-old, she had already mastered the art of the perfect sarcastic tone of voice.

Well, she was right. Hello Kitty does, supposedly, have a lesser-well-known twin sister named Mimmy (pronounced "me, me"). By then "Thomas" could spell somewhat and had spelled it phonetically, and somewhat ironically, Me-me, complete with hyphen in the middle. (Maybe that was a cosmic Freudian slip. With her everything tended to be "me, me, me!", especially at that age.)

So, again, the understanding preschool teacher humored her and she became "Me-me" for the rest of the year.

And then Kindergarten came. "Me-me" was somewhat reluctant to go to school. I was more than ready for her to go. Long story short, she refused to go at all, unless she could be called "Me-me" officially at school. And I assure you, she is the kind of child who really would. not. go. unless she wanted to.

(I think it should also probably be noted here that I'm the kind of person that likes things neat and tidy, no messy little ends sticking out. I have had to realize, in my life especially, that life IS messy and I just need to deal with it. Having a child who constantly changes their name is the ultimate challenge for a person like me that likes things cut and dried. Just thought I'd throw that in.)

So I made sure she got the sweet, little lady who had taught children for many years and really loved them and wanted them to love school too. And she loved my daughter and was wonderful with her. She even humored her in the spring when she decided to change her name to "Liana", who was one of the friends of the little Kelly dolls that were supposedly Barbie's little sister or daughter or something. (I did think the Kelly dolls were cute. Much cuter than Barbies. I think we ended up with every Kelly doll ever made, including the African-American one that I looked all over Connecticut and New York with Barbrina Beck to find for her. That is another whole story in itself. Another LONG story.)

(Insert photo of Ally and Liana doll)

Well, first grade came and along with it her first grade teacher. She did NOT humor children who picked names that were not their own. I told my daughter she could pick her name again that year. It just had to be either Lexi or Alexandra.

Well, wouldn't you know it, she picked Alexandra, a name that we had never, actually, ever called her, even though it was her real first name. (I have learned since that if I give her a choice and I have a preference, not to let her know what I want her to pick, or at least have her think I want her to pick the option I really don't want.)

So Alexandra went to first grade. And she had a cranky teacher that called her "Alexandra" in a cranky voice, even when I was in the classroom helping. It kind of made ME tired of the name Alexandra.

But she kept it. And she started 2nd grade. Another teacher I didn't particularly like, but like a good parent, I kept my mouth shut.

Then in the middle of the year, I discovered something disturbing. Her teacher had been callng her "Alex". (I had a new baby at home, so I didn't spend as much time in the classroom that year.) I don't like the name Alex for a girl, so this was a problem, especially since I had promised my sister-in-law that my Lexi would "never, ever" be called Alex. I told my daughter to ask her teacher not to call her Alex any more. (I was too chicken to ask her myself.) But somehow between that and the kids in her class already used to the name Alex, it stuck. "Well, there's always next year." I thought to myself.

She was Alexandra (and subsequently Alex) all the next year too.

Throughout all this, we started calling her Lexi again at home. Her grandmas and cousins still call her Lexi. Sometimes people at church will use the wrong name and then look at me apologetically or say "I don't remember what name to call her." I just say "I don't blame you and I don't care what you call her. (It's true, I really do!)

So, somewhere between the end of third grade and the beginning of fourth grade something happened. The name "Ally" started popping up here and there. Before I knew it, Ally was the name of choice. I know how she came up with it (and she hates it when anyone brings this part up). There is a girl that is Morgan's age and her name is Ally Stolworthy. She is a very cute girl and probably nice, her dad is nice. (He was friends with my little brother.) I'm pretty sure my Ally got the name, with that particular spelling, from her.

To me, there are at least two problems with this name. First of all, I really don't love how she spells it. Second, and probably more annoying: our cat's name is Alley. (We got Alley when Ally was 2. Did you follow that?)

Actually there is one more big reason I'm so bugged about them having the same name. It is that if the cat gets run over with a car and I have to call my husband, crying that Alley is dead, he might think I mean my daughter and then he'll be so distraught I won't be able to explain that it's the cat, not our daughter.

What are the odds that this would actually happen, you ask? Do you know our family at all?

Don't you think that's a good enough reason to change one of their names?

It has now been two and a half years since she has been Ally and I keep asking her what it will be next. She says she thinks she'll stick with this one.

Do you know why I believe her?

Because she knows I don't love it. But I do love the fact that she's her own little person and she knows what she wants. She just learned a little early about a girl's prerogative to change her mind.

I'm just sharing this story as a Public Service Announcement to anyone who will be naming a child in the future. Don't ever use the name Alexandra. I'd stick to names that can't be messed with so easily if I were you. (And I'd stay away from that final "e" too.)

Something Simple That Makes Me Very Happy

I'm so ready for spring!

Look how cute these little flowers are. They are one of the things I gave Hal for Valentine's Day this year. (I'm no dummy. I give him things that I like too. Don't tell, but they were only $1.25. Worth every penny, I assure you.)

They look kind of like the African Violets I used to try and raise when I was younger. They reminded me of my Grandma Jennie. She had quite a knack with the African Violets.

I, on the other hand, am quite a disappointment when it comes to raising high maintenance plants. (High maintenance kids and pets, I do an ok job with - if I do say so myself. I don't have the patience for high maintenance plants.)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Insomnia and Negotiating with a Terrorist (I Mean 4 Year Old)

It is a nice, snowy morning. I don't mind it, especially since we don't have to go anywhere today! Yay! Oh, except for karate later. I forgot about that. Austin's class was cancelled this morning so it's fun to be home on a day we would usually be gone. Tuesday is also usually grocery shopping day, which I really detest. I'll have to see if we can limp along with what we have for another week.

The only problem with a snowy morning is that our internet has been out. When it rains hard or snows hard, for some reason, the internet doesn't work. Or it's really spotty, which is almost more annoying.

The good thing about no internet is that I get a lot more done. I need to put myself on a schedule. Maybe I'll think about that today while our internet is out. I'll post this when I can get it up and running for a second.

Last night was not a fun night. Austin wouldn't go to bed and he wouldn't use the bathroom either. He said he was too tired. He finally fell asleep in MY bed so I made a nice, cozy little nest for him on the floor and put him in it. (He's getting REALLY big!)

At exactly 3:09 a.m. Austin crawled back into bed with me. Ok, whatever, I was tired. And he was warm and cuddly.

Then I remembered. He didn't ever use the bathroom. That meant he might very well go to the bathroom in MY bed. All of a sudden, I was wide awake. I tried to wake him up, but he was out.

I basically stayed awake the rest of the night, just waiting for something to happen. I wanted to be ready to move him quickly, if necessary. I'm not sure why it didn't dawn on me to just move him back to the floor. I guess I don't think so well when I'm tired. Come to think of it, I don't think so well when I'm fully rested.

Well, it would have been fine. He woke up at about 6:45 and ran downstairs (presumably to use the bathroom). Another night, shot to heck! Where is that Fairy Godmother when I need her?

So this morning Austin was out of control. More than usual. He kept jumping around with his light saber and thumping it on the wall. I kept asking him politely not to do that.

Then the negotiations began.

"Austin, please don't hit the wall with your light saber."

"I want to hit the wall. It's fun."

"I don't care if it's fun. I don't want you to do it."

"Why not? It's fun."

"Because you will scratch up the walls and I don't want you to do it."

"But it's fun."

"I don't care if it's fun. If you scratch up the walls, I will have to repaint them."

"Well, you can repaint them."

"No, I don't want to repaint them if I don't have to. I don't like to paint."

"But it's fun." (Do you see a common theme here? I knew I needed to come up with something really good if we were going to end this conversation amicably.)

"Austin, if I have to use money to buy paint, we won't have any money to buy you any more toys."

"Ok, mom. I won't hit the walls any more."

Do you think terrorists play with toys?

Monday, February 16, 2009

If I Had Three Wishes

If I had three wishes granted, it would probably surprise you what I would wish for.

1. First of all, I would wish for musical talent. I can't carry a tune to save my life. In fact when the kids and I play "Name that Tune" or I'm trying to figure out who sings a certain song and I try to sing it for them, all I usually get is very quizzical looks. They really try to figure it out, it's just that what comes out of my mouth is NOT what is in my head. It's frustrating. I don't want to be able to perform or anything like that. I just want to not humiliate myself on an everyday basis. (I did, however, sing The National Anthem on stage at The Hollywood Bowl, by myself, a few years ago. I bet you would like to hear that story, wouldn't you?) I also can't play an instrument except for a little piano. I think it has something to do with my bad hearing. (Let's blame it on all the ear infections I had as a baby. Every time my mom would take me in for a routine check-up, the dr. would say "These ears look terrible! She must be really fussy all the time. Why didn't you bring her in?" And my mom would say I wasn't fussy. I think compared to my older brother I was a model baby. (Ha ha.) Actually, I think my mom and dad just didn't take us to doctors. I can't remember ever going to the doctor as a kid and I do remember being deathly sick. Once I insisted on being taken to the emergency room and they promptly put me in the hospital. I really wanted to say to my parents "See. I told you I was sick!" But that would have been disrespectful.) Oops, getting off subject. The last part that goes along with this wish would be to fix my rhythm also. Along with not singing, I can't dance either. At all. It's really embarrassing. That's why I confine my boogie-ing to our kitchen, except for once a year when our Stake has a Valentine's Dance, which is coming up next weekend. I think the problem is that I can't really hear the beat. That's why I like the songs with a strong bass beat (is that how you write that?) in the background. So now that I think of it, maybe I just want my ears fixed for my wish. Whatever works would be fine with me. I'm not picky.

2. The second thing I would wish for would be 8 hours sleep. Straight, with NO INTERRUPTIONS! Between the high maintenance 4 year old and our high maintenance cat, someone (or something) is always waking me up. I don't think I get any REM sleep or whatever the restorative sleep is that you need. If I dream, I don't remember it usually, but I don't think I even get to the sleep stage where you dream. I'm working on the high maintenance 4 year old. We're starting to bribe him with treats. A few potential cavities for him vs. sleep for me sounds like a good trade-off. The cat is a trickier problem. If we forget to put her out at night, she jumps on me at either 12:30 or 2:30 a.m. The 12:30 time is almost worse because we usually go to sleep at 11:30, so by the time I mentally unwind, I've only been asleep for about a half hour. That is bad on my poor brain! The annoying thing is that Hal gets mad and yells at her when she wakes him up, so she is smart and only jumps on me. She knows which one I am in the bed and when she jumps she aims and lands right on my hip. Sometimes, when I'm really groggy, I make comments like tell her I'm going to make "cat casserole" out of her so it wakes Hal up and he says he'll take her out, but she's scared of him so he can get her down to the door, but she won't go outside, she just disappears into the dark house and then jumps on me about an hour later. When she wakes me up at 2:30 it's harder to unwind again and get back to sleep. So, basically, I'm walking around sleep deprived all the time. 8 hours, that's all I ask for just a few nights in a row. Once, when Ally was a few months old, we had gone to Ogden shopping the day after Christmas. I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30 and Hal, bless his heart, took care of the baby all night for me and I didn't wake up until 8:00 the next morning. I have never felt so good in my life. I felt like I could leap tall buildings in a single bound. I keep telling Hal I need to do that again, but with the kids older, I can't fall asleep that early because I keep wondering what kind of mischief they're getting into while I'm trying to sleep. One day when they're older, I'll sleep. Until then, I'll just look haggard. Maybe the lack of sleep is the root of my adult ADD problem.

3. And now for the third wish: Money. (Surprise!) It doesn't buy happiness, but it gives you options. And it buys security in an uncertain time with 3 kids that I need to help send to college (they already know they have to come up with some or most of it, like I did). And it helps in certain situations, like being able to finally build a different house that would fit our family situation - like Austin would have a bedroom by everyone else so he wouldn't be scared and would actually sleep in his own room and then I could get some sleep, which you now know I need more of. And last, but not least, you could (if you wanted to) help others with it, which I would love to do more of on a larger scale.

And that's what I'd do if I had three wishes. Just so you know, I thought about it last night while I couldn't sleep!

(Oh rats. I just thought of a fourth wish. I really, really wish I still had the hair I had in my 20s. It was so great I should post a picture here to make you all jealous.)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Sunday Miscellaneous Part 2 (Noise Pollution Edition)

Austin has a problem. I like to call it "noise pollution". The problem is that he talks non-stop. He doesn't talk to you, he talks at you. He talks more than any woman I know.

Now being sort of a quiet person myself, this is a problem. It's especially a problem if I'm trying to take a nap, like I was this afternoon.

Very rarely do I try to take a nap in the middle of the day. I'm one of those people who can't just take a short nap. I need about 3 hours or I'm groggy and cranky. Well today I decided the risk was worth it. That was a big mistake. Nobody else wanted to listen to Austin while I slept so I thought that somehow he might just settle down and take a nap with me. (What was I thinking?)

Here is only part of the conversation that followed (the only parts I can remember anyway):

Austin, looking at a pencil on Hal's night stand: "Mom, where did dad get this fancy pencil? I like that pencil. That's not fair that he gets a pencil like that. How can I get one? That's a really cool pencil. How come dad got one and I didn't?"

Me: "What does the pencil look like?"

Austin, pulling out the pencil: "It looks like this. It has ponies all over it. That's not fair. I want a pencil like that."

Me, trying to get him to be quiet so I can sleep: "You can have it if you'll be quiet and go to sleep with me."

Austin: "I don't want it, I don't like ponies."

Austin, now looking at a magazine I had on the bed: "Hey, look at this cake. Mom, look at this cake. Don't you think this cake looks so, so yummy? Do you think we should make a cake like that? Maybe we should make a cake like that this summer."

Me, looking at the cake with one eye: "That does look yummy. Maybe we can make one sometime."

Austin: "Well, it looks like it would take a lot of 'gredients. I don't think we want to because we don't want to use lots of 'gredients." (I don't know where that came from. I don't go around worrying about 'gredients.)

Austin, holding up these little craft things you build with that are made out of cornstarch and look like colored packing peanuts: "Mom, can I play with these in the tub?"

Me, sounding crankier because I'm tired: "Yes. Sure, whatever."

Me again, after thinking about it: "Oh. No you can't put them in the tub. They will disintegrate."

Austin: "Disintegrate, what does that mean?"

Me: "They will get all icky and gummy."

Austin, after thinking a minute: "Icky and gummy?" (he starts to giggle) "Do you mean icky and gummy like your hair is icky and gummy after your bad perm?"

Me: "That's exactly what I mean."

Austin: "My feet are hot. My socks are making my feet hot. I want to take off my socks. My feet are hot. Now if I touch my feet, my hands will be hot. I had some dreams last night (he goes on to describe the dreams but I can't really remember anything he said except for one with a girl with a big head and something black on her nose)...

Austin then started to quote every episode of the Harry Potter puppet pals. (A quick example is "I'm Harry Potter, school is for losers. I'm totally awesome...." said in a sing-song voice.)

I drifted off to sleep somewhere in there and woke up again about 15 minutes later when Austin came running up the stairs saying one of his sisters was mad at him. (His socks were still in the bed with me.) I told him to be quiet and either lay down with me or go somewhere else and just be quiet. I then drifted back off to sleep. Hal came home about 15 minutes later (around 4:15) and woke me up again. I asked him where Austin was, since it was quiet. He was actually on the floor asleep. Hal had to go back to the church for a Court of Honor at 4:30 so he said he'd let me sleep a little longer.

As soon as Hal left the room Austin popped up and started talking again. I now have a headache. I probably would have been better off if I would have just stayed awake.

I got up and started fixing dinner so it would be done when Hal got home.

Don't you wish you lived at our house? If you are lonely, please call us up and borrow Austin for a day. We'd be happy to help.

Sunday Miscellaneous

Today I did not feel like going to church. That doesn't happen very often but today it did because of lots of dumb little factors.

I was extra tired from staying up later than usual (even for a Saturday). We watched School of Rock at about 9:00 and then started Ironman while we were waiting for Morgan to get home from a party. (Well, we had to finish Ironman didn't we?) I also got up late this morning, so we were running late. I hate it when you are trying to brush your teeth while still finishing up the last bite of cereal. I was also having a very bad hair day! (Worse than usual.) Hal called as we were trying to get out the door to see if I could find his keys and bring them. So that threw us off another couple of minutes. I hate to be late!

We had family prayer in the car and I told Morgan to pray that we would be glad we went to church today. The kids raised their eyebrows at that one but she did it anyway. Funny, this is the first Sunday in a while that one of the kids hasn't wanted to stay home. I guess it was my turn.

So we made it in time to slip into our usual spot, which luckily was still vacant. We had a couple of minutes to spare, so I walked over to the office to give the keys to Hal. On the way over, I looked at the speakers and didn't recognize the missionary but knew the other speaker so at least I knew sort of who was on the program.

When it was time for the missionary to speak, once he got up I realized who it was. It was Spencer Nielson, one of my old Sunday School boys from about 6 years ago. I was so happy to hear him. He actually gave a really good talk and he looked good too. I remember when he was in my class as a 15 year old kid he had this big moppy hair and was in a band called Stanley's Pajamas. That made my day to hear him speak. I quite enjoyed him as a rebellious teenager (he was always pretty good for me - his scout leaders, not so much). I really like him as a more mature young man. He had a tough mission in the poor parts of Hawaii and I think it did him some good.

After the meeting I went up to talk to him and I told him I hadn't recognized him at first. He told me he saw me walk past and he felt badly because I didn't say anything to him. Boy, I'm glad I talked to him later. (I might not have if I remembered how bad my hair looked, but come to think of it, it kind of looks like it did when he was in my class. Maybe he will think that I haven't changed a bit. Ha ha. I'm just saying that to make myself feel better. One of the few great things about being over 40 is that nobody else really cares what you look like. To them you're just old.)

After church we went home and I was glad we were done. I told the kids to get on comfy clothes and we'd just lounge for a while. (Luckily we had leftovers that we could just heat up and eat. When we have 9:00 church it is tough to get a roast or anything else big ready to cook before we leave.) Hal said he'd get home early today (2:30 or so - he's usually gone from 6:30 until about 4:30) so I need to get going on fixing something for him.

Austin kind of cracked me up because we made Valentine cookies and there were a few left. He kept wanting one so he'd say "I'll give you a hug and a kiss if you give me a cookie." Then I'd say "You can have one if you eat something healthy first." Then he'd counter with "I'll give you TWO hugs and THREE kisses." I finally talked him into eating an apple.

After eating part of two slices (everything but the peels) he said, "I know of a great game! I'll close my eyes and then you go get a cookie and put it in front of me and then you run away and I'll open my eyes and see the cookie and act surprised."

Well, ok, that one was pretty clever so we played the game. And to his credit, he did act pretty surprised.

Ally then came into the kitchen to get something and slipped on a big fluffy ribbon thing that was on the floor that I had used to wrap around a Valentine gift that I gave Hal yesterday. I can't believe how slippery it was. She really splatted. I'm glad she wasn't hurt too badly. The funny thing is, that after she fell, she "forgot" to pick up the ribbon. Austin needed a drink of milk to go with his cookie so I went into the kitchen to get it and I slipped on the same piece of ribbon. Luckily I wasn't hurt either.

I guess that's about it for now. I'm going to go read the book I got from the library last week. It is called Raising Self-Reliant Children in a Self-Indulgent World. Let's hope I can learn something from it. Last time I checked out a book like this it was Raising Responsible Children. I ended up losing the book and having to admit it to the librarian. She got a good laugh out of that and it finally did show up, much to my relief.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Focus, Holly, Focus

Ok, so I was on the phone with my lovely and extremely talented and fun sister-in-law, Kim, who is one of probably only 2 or 3 people in the world that I like to talk to for more than 2 minutes on the phone.

I started going through all my old e-mails in my yahoo inbox and realized it was time to do a little housecleaning. I was deleting old files right and left, which you can do easily while still having a conversation. Then I ended up where the new e-mail comes in and I had a couple of them, one from a wonderful and also very talented (what do these people see in me?) blogging lady named Sophia, who I have recently taken to corresponding on a regular basis. (Ok, so it was just since yesterday, but we've probably sent 5 or 6 messages back and forth via e-mail and facebook in the last 24 hours. I would consider that pretty regular for one day.) The message said to go to her blog, quickly. (Hope you don't mind if I post this part, Sophia. I don't think anyone you know reads my blog.) So, still on the phone with Kim, I went to her blog to see what the problem was. There was no problem, just a giveaway for the first five people who left a comment.

Well, there were already 6 comments but I thought it was nice of her to include me so I just left a little "hi" message and sorry that I was too late.

She wrote back and said I wasn't too late. (This is all while I was still on the phone with poor Kim, who had some legitimate things to discuss with me. By now I had started to give her the sidetracked "ahhhs" and "um hmms" and "oh, uh huhs" that I usually reserve for conversations with my mom, who doesn't have a computer yet, so I think I'm safe saying that here.) I was also trying to referee a fight between my two youngest because Ally kept stealing and eating Austin's Valentine candy. This made me mad because she had eaten the pieces that I had MY eye on.

So I guess I had won something. I thought I'd better go see what it was. I did go back and check the comments and I think a couple of the posts were from some of the same people, which is how, by default, I won a prize that I knew nothing about. Here is Sophia's post:

Friday afternoon fun!
Two posts in one day.... something that I rarely do. My favorite neice, Brooke, had this on her blog and I took the challenge because hey! any prize from Brooke will be a keeper! So, here's the deal: Something just for you especiially from me! The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me! My choice. For you. I loved Brooke's interpretation of this little game and here are her "restrictions and limitations":

1- I make no guarantees that you will like what I make!
2- What I create will be just for you.
3- It'll be done this year. (might be a little while)
4- You have no clue what it's going to be. It may be a story. It may be poetry or an article on properly cleaning your face before a masque. I may draw or paint something. I may bake you something and mail it to you. Who knows? Not you,that's for sure! (From me, it will more than likely brownies or a paper creation, because unlike Brooke, my poetry or painting wouldn't be something anyone would take seriously!)
5- I reserve the right to do something extremely strange. (I would have to add that I reserve the right to take six extra months in getting to the post office to get it mailed. But, you will get it eventually.)

The catch? Oh, the catch is that you must repost this on your blog and offer the same prize to the first 5 people who post on your blog. The first 5 people to repost and leave a comment telling me they did win an AWESOME homemade gift by yours truly!

Ok, so seriously, right now is the first I have actually read what Sophia wrote. What have I gotten myself into? Well, since these days all I have is my integrity, and that is barely hanging on by a thread, I guess I better do what I committed to do, even though it was while I was trying to do too many other things at once. (I think there is a lesson in here somewhere for me.)

I do, however, like the part where I could send something extremely strange. So, if you win and are strange, I will send you something to match your personality. :-) I'm not really gifted artistically, but I do like to bake. Somehow I don't think cinnamon rolls will travel well in the mail. How about fudge jumbles? I did read an interesting article about a missing Norman Rockwell painting that they found recently behind a false wall....

Now, back to Sophia, I've heard that her brownies are legendary. So great, in fact that she has said she will only share the recipe at her funeral. She is also extremely talented and famous in the paper crafts arena. (Oh, she was cleaning out old stuff, hmmm.) I even took a class from her quite a few years ago.

Ok, so here you have it. The funny thing is that I don't even think I have 5 people who read this blog. At least not that many who would admit to it. (And then post on their own blog.) We'll see how it goes. While I'm at it, maybe I'd better bake something for Kim to apologize!

Happy Friday!

Look at What Makes me Happy!

Look at this cute, ceramic bird. I just bought it and it makes me happy. I got it at Real Deals on a special and it only cost me about $2.50. I actually had that much cash kicking around in my purse. Right now it will live on my kitchen table. I'm not sure where the permanent home will be.

I like it because it reminds me of spring and I'm more than ready for spring. (If you look really closely, you can see that it's snowing again.)

My Version of "Twins"

Did you ever see the movie "Twins" that starred Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger? Well I live my own version of that movie every single day.

See these two girls? They are my daughters. They are full-blooded sisters and they are as opposite as night and day.

We had to do fertility treatments to get all our kids so some people who have known about this, and hadn't seen us for a few years and then saw us with two little girls, just assumed that one of them was adopted. They really don't look too much alike.

That's just the tip of the iceberg.

Here's where the "Twins" part comes in.

It's their personalities. I think if you put all their personality traits, good and not so good, in a big bowl and mixed it all up, you would come up with, well, me.

Morgan has all my qualities that are easy to get along with and Ally has, how do I put this delicately, my more "interesting" qualities. That's right. Morgan is the Arnold character and Ally is the Danny DeVito character, but not as extreme. (I'm going to hope that Ally doesn't ever see the movie or that by then she can look back on these days and have a really good sense of humor.) It's strange, because I can see different personality traits that I have had at different points in my life in them both. Traits I have had and tried, and sometimes succeeded, to overcome.

Morgan is quiet, likes to spend time by herself, is happy spending all day on her bed reading and really tries to get along with everyone. She is not a drama queen. At all. Morgan likes to do nice things for other people and she is a straight A student. I've never, ever had to push her to do her homework. She is very responsible, like I've learned to become. She, also like me, does not like to get up in front of other people to perform. She does, however like to be in plays, which is where that similarity ends. You couldn't pay me enough money to do that. Morgan is a "long hair" girl. I've been known to cry a little (ok, a lot) if a haircut turns out even an inch too short. Morgan is cute with and nice to her little brother pretty much most of the time. I practically raised my last two brothers. Morgan and I have the most similar taste in movies and books, so when we are the only two people home, we have a little party and watch a video and eat treats and just enjoy being home alone together without dealing with "the others". Morgan has a sharp wit but keeps it hidden from most people. Morgan is quiet and likes quiet and she actually likes being good.

Ally, like me, can drive people nuts sometimes. She also has a cutting wit but doesn't hesitate to use it. Sometimes she has no internal editing tool (I'm very guilty also). She has come up with every way possible to beat the system when it comes to homework (ok, so we both have a history of doing literally nothing in a given class and just waiting to see if the consequences will catch up to us. They did.). Ally is my more lively side that only a few people get to see. She, like me, is an expert at getting herself into an awkward situation. That's why I will have many more funny story posts on Ally than Morgan. Ally likes to stand out, but then sometimes doesn't know what to do with herself when she is the center of attention. She (this is unlike me - really!) is DRAMA with a capital D. She is my, um, how do I put this, less motivated, messy self. Ally has most of the qualities I have fought hard to overcome over the years. But. She is so hilarious that I am cracked up on a daily basis. And when she is good, she can be the most pleasant person in the world. And she isn't afraid to scrub a toilet every now and then. Morgan wouldn't touch a toilet with a ten foot pole (except to use it, of course). Ally likes loud music and doesn't care who she annoys with it. (Um, I may have been known to blast a stereo back in the day.)

For the record here, they have actually switched places. From the time they were little babies, until the terrible twos were over (at age 4), Morgan was a terror. She was mean and cranky and just plain hard to get along with in general. Ally was a sweet, happy, quiet little child who then turned terrible two and just hasn't outgrown it yet. (We are still holding out hope.)

Over the years I have learned to stop treating them as "the girls" and deal with them as separate, very different, growing individuals. I have also tried to separate my feelings about myself when I am dealing with their different quirks. Sometimes I actually succeed.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Life Lesson I Learned from Brent Casselman

Isn't it interesting how one little comment, given off-hand, can change the way you look at certain things? Here's one that has stuck with me for a lot of years.

My older brother had a friend named Brent Casselman. And I was somewhat intimidated by him. He was older, he was cute and he was somewhat tough, though he was always nice to me. I really didn't know him that well because my older brother and I weren't close, so I didn't spend much time with his friends.

Well one day, (I think it was either 8th or 9th grade because I know I wasn't in the same school as the guys) I came home from school with my school pictures for that year. Russ, my older brother, and Brent were at my house. Somehow they knew I had brought my pictures home, so to be polite, Brent asked to see them. I did the whole "Oh, they're not very good..." speech. Then I handed them over. Brent studied them for a minute and handed them back. Again I said, "They're not very good of me.", fishing for a compliment.

And then came the line that totally changed the way I look at pictures of myself (or anyone else, for that matter).

He said, "Do you think you look better than that?"

Ouch. Well, I kinda hoped I did, anyway.

My feelings were kind of hurt at the time, but I have thought about that question over and over again. And it changed the way I look at pictures of myself.

Have you ever had a picture taken that you hated at the time and then looked at it five years later and realized that you looked pretty good back then? I usually hate how my hair looks in photos, but since my hair is getting worse over the years, I always like pictures better when I look back at them. (And I think "If only I still had that hairstyle.")

These days when I have a picture taken of me, which isn't often because I'm usually the one behind the camera, I do take a little more time to really look at it and think "Do I think I look better than this? Or is it pretty realistic?"

I'm still holding out hope that someday I'll have a picture taken that actually looks better than I think I look. And I can promise you one thing. When that day comes you'll be the first to know. (Because I'll post it really big.)

For the Record

I think I just need to put it out there that I am using this blog all wrong. According to the heading, I was going to chronicle our daily comings and goings and the general craziness of it all and the times I literally do have to go with plan B. Instead I am just throwing in a mish mash of random stories.

I either need to stick to the original program or rename the blog. So here are the two new titles I was thinking about: Either "For the Record", because it seems like that is the phrase I am typing more than any other OR "Organized Randomness" because so far nothing really has anything to do with anything else, but I like things neat and tidy, hence throwing the word organized in there to make me feel like there is some sort of rhyme or reason to this whole process (which, of course there is not, but I am easily fooled, so I just might believe it).

And now, since you've stuck with me so far today, I'll throw in a random story, just to make you feel better about yourself.

I went to the orthodontist today to get a new plastic retainer thing fitted. I wear it at night because I tend to clench my jaw while I'm sleeping and then I wake up with some pretty sore teeth. I've heard this is something people do when they are under extreme stress in their lives, which is a theory I believe in wholeheartedly. The good thing is that it looks like Invisalign braces, so it is not too bad to wear and it makes my mouth feel a whole lot better so it's worth it.

Well, the last time I went in was last December. I was getting ready for surgery the next week and trying to get all my Christmas shopping done that day because I wouldn't have any other time to go into town. I had a million things on my mind and not really enough time to do them all. As I settled into the orthodontist chair I happened to look at my feet. I couldn't believe my eyes. I was still wearing the shoes (they really are shoes) that I was using as slippers that morning because they are so comfy. The only problem is that my pants were tan corduroy and my sweater was tan and my shoes/slippers were black and HOT PINK!

This is the only article of clothing in my whole wardrobe, including pajamas, that has any kind of pink in it. I hate pink. I hate everything about it. The only reason I bought the darn shoes is because they are as comfy as slippers but have hard soles on them so I can wear them out to the mailbox, etc. They are mostly black, so I wear them when I wear black clothes, which also isn't very often because I really don't look very good in black.

So I sat there in a panic thinking "What is wrong with me? I never used to do things like this. (At least not on a regular basis.)" I sat and tried to come up with something I could do or say that would explain the stupid slippers that clashed big time with my outfit.

And then it came to me. It was too perfect but it just might work. When I got out of the chair, I would limp, pretending to have a hurt foot, which would explain the need for the comfy footwear. I wouldn't even have to lie and say I had a foot problem, the limp would speak for itself. Genius.

And so, the orthodontist came in, gave a glance to my slippers and proceeded. I smiled like there was nothing wrong, because in a minute he would understand exactly why I had them on. The assistant also noticed my feet. I could tell because she did a small double take. "No big deal." I thought to myself. We finished up everything and it was time to leave. My big moment to make everything right.

Except for one little problem.

I forgot.

I totally forgot to limp. I just walked out of there without a care in the world and went on my merry little way.

Sheesh. So much for my great idea. In their office, I'm sure I'm known as the girl with the black and pink slippers.

So today, I went back and I noticed that they all looked at my feet again.
But I had on my furry boots, so we all smiled and acted as if nothing had happened. I like people who are cool like that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Facebook: "Friend" or Foe?

In November I became a member of facebook. Not because I wanted to, it was just the only way I would be able to see my niece's engagement photos.

So I joined. And then it opened up a whole big can of worms.

At first I was just going to use it to keep in touch with some nieces and nephews, who I really do enjoy keeping in touch with. (Sometimes I like to think I'm actually one of them, not one of the "grown-ups".)

Then I used the e-mail option and it pulled up a few friends. This should be fun, I thought. Another way to keep in touch. And with pictures. So far, so good.

Next, I started finding people from my high school class, some of whom I hadn't seen in over 20 years. Again, a great thing. It was really great to see what they were all up to, how they were all doing, etc. It was fun to talk back and forth via little messages and see photos of how we all look now, how we all looked then, kids, places we'd been, etc.

I was a little concerned when my neighbor had an album showing off her impressive collection of tattoos, but luckily I already had an idea she was headed down that road so it wasn't TOO big of a shock.

And then someone wanted to chat. And then someone else, and another one and another, etc.

Let me just say, I am not a fan of "chatting". If I'm on the computer I don't like to be interrupted by just anyone wanting to say "Hey, what's up?" I have enough interruptions in my life that are necessary and I barely have time or tolerance for them. I'm not really a fan of small talk anyway. I don't like trying to think of something polite to say next. I'd rather ask questions when I really want to know an answer. I'm funny that way.

But then, I learned how to turn the chat button off and things were good again in facebook land.

I should mention here that I really do like the option of sending a private message. That makes is nice when you want to ask a question that you're not sure the person wants to talk about in public. (It also kind of makes me feel like a secret agent. In case you didn't know, I really wanted to be a secret agent when I was younger. - Well, last year I WAS younger!)

One day, I saw one of my brothers on facebook. This is a brother I'm closer to than most of the others but still, we are not a close family. I worried about his privacy, would he want to be "friends", and so on. Then at Thanksgiving I just came out and asked (in front of his wife, so he had to say yes) and then I became friends with my brother in a weird sort of way. I also saw another brother later. He is much younger and unmarried, so I really wrestled about the privacy issue. He was actually the "friend" of a "friend" so I figured he was fair game after that. When I talked to him in real life, he did say he thought it was weird that the other person sent him a friend request, since he barely knew her, except as my friend. Therein lies one of the curiosities of facebook. People who have maybe met you once before or know you through someone else all of a sudden consider you a "friend".

Now don't get me wrong, I have really, truly enjoyed facebook, especially the first month or so when I was looking up friends right and left. It was fun, it was new, it was interesting. (And for the record here, if you are reading this, you are probably a friend that I would like to keep as a friend.)

Next I got a friend request from an old boyfriend. He was someone I dated after high school and it was not a great thing for me. He was not a nice person and it did not end well. He was someone I was glad to be rid of 20 years ago, why would I want him back in my life as "friend"? But then the stupid nice me kicked in. I started telling myself that this would be a good way to forgive him for being such a jerk. I could be the bigger person and stop holding a grudge. Whatever. Now every time I see his name in the status updates it just makes me mad.

I'm also getting more friend requsts from friends of friends, people I have not ever had a conversation with before, but kind of knew who they were in high school. And again to be polite, I click "confirm". And so again, in the status updates I just think "why?" (Does this make me a snob?) - Amended a couple of weeks later: I have really enjoyed some of these new "friends". Some of the nicer, quieter, meeker kids I barely knew in high school have done some really great things and I'm happy for them. I'm just now realizing that it's the "friends" that I don't know very well that have nothing better to do with their lives than party that I don't have much tolerance for.

I think some people like having lots of "friends". I'm not really in that category. I like keeping the friends I want and not looking at the numbers.

I do have to say it is a thrill to find someone I haven't seen for years and then out of the blue you get a friend request from them.

But it is a huge time waster for me. Because I have no self-control. And I like to see what funny things people are saying to each other. I'm a sucker for a great one-liner and facebook is full of them. The problem is that I check in all throughout the day to get a chuckle. And sometimes I do and sometimes I don't. I really, really need to limit myself or at least fold a load of laundry or something in-between updates.

Oh, there is one other issue. It kind of burst my facebook bubble. Someone I know had an affair. And it started on facebook. And I wish I didn't know about it. But it is a good reminder to be cautious. I do always wonder if any of my guy friends get nervous when I write to them. I really hope that I write things so they can't be misunderstood by either them or their wives. Because some of my guy friends are very entertaining and make me laugh. And I do love a good laugh. It's cheaper than therapy.

And that's why I'm addicted to facebook.

Our internet was off for about a day and a half and what do you think was the first thing I checked? You guessed it. (Well, I had to change my status.)

Words We (I) Shouldn't Say

Ok, sometimes I get no respect from my children.

Like the day they put Hal in as bishop of our ward. I was already pretty shell-shocked and just thinking "How did a nice girl like me get into a mess like this?" (Ok, so I totally stole that line from Marjorie Hinckley, but it is a good one, you have to admit.)

And then we got home and Morgan said "Mom, do you need me to write a list of words you shouldn't say now?"

Um, I think I already know which words I shouldn't say. That's why sometimes I feel like saying them. Especially these days.

My word of choice? H - E - double toothpicks. (Now my kids will probably read this and make me bleep it out. I'll just keep telling them it's a place, not always a swear word. And one of these days, they might actually believe me.)

Now, what do you think might actually provoke such an outburst from me. Well, I'll tell you. But first let me say, I'm not proud of it.

It's those darn missionaries.

They show up at the most inconvenient times. And then they expect to come in and they just STAY. We might be in the middle of a movie and it might be the only night all week the whole family is together but we shut it off and smile and they STAY. They can't come in when Hal's not here so they stand on my porch and STAY. I can be in an apron, up to my elbows in chicken guts and they will just STAY on the porch. And they will always want to leave me with a scripture. Last summer we actually read a whole page together on my front porch. Don't these guys know I already go to church? Maybe they've heard about my checkered past. More on that in a minute.

Anyway, it really ticks me off when I pull into the garage and there is a strange car in the driveway. It usually means I will walk into the house and there will be Hal with the missionaries, trapped, like a rat. I must have vocalized some of my annoyance in the past because now if there is a strange car the kids will say, "Now mom, if that's the missionaries you need to watch your language. Don't swear in front of them." And usually I don't. There might have been that one time that they might have heard me in the garage..... I can't be sure though.

Why do the missionaries make me feel so uneasy?

Because I am not exactly the typical bishop's wife type. I have to come clean. I sluffed Sunday School practically every single Sunday during junior high and a lot of high school too. I did this with my friends, Jalyn Rinderknecht and Tonya Cook.

The reason I remember it was junior high is because none of us were old enough to drive. That didn't stop us from sneaking out (no easy feat since my dad was the Sunday School police), stealing change from our parents pockets and then stealing a car, usually Tonya's station wagon or our big blue car, which I can't for the life of me remember even what it was.

Once we got our hands on a set of keys, we would take off across town to the old Smith's that is now something else, a strip mall of some sort I guess. We would walk in, buy some sort of ice cream or frozen yogurt and then proceed to eat it while driving clear back across town. I'm not sure why we didn't go somewhere closer. Maybe it was so we would have time to eat the evidence.

This went on for quite a few years. Now that I think of it, I know I have extensive gaps in MY gospel knowledge. (Austin must have inherited that trait from me.)

Maybe the reason the missionaries make me so nervous is my own guilty conscience. Or maybe not. I should repent and be nicer.

(To be continued some other day for the other words.... Yes, there are more, though not as shocking.)

Oh, and for the record, I don't swear every day or every week, or even every other week. Probably not even once a month. Just so you know. I feel better now. Thanks.

New Jeans and my Mild Case of OCD

Last week was very exciting. I got a new pair of jeans. This is worth writing about because they are not just any old jeans. They are CUTE jeans. They have flaps on the pockets, which I happen to like and they are long enough to wear with my furry boots that I've worn practically every day since the snow started to fly. (Ok, so most jeans are long enough, since I'm short. But they are also bootcut so they actually fit comfortably over my boots.) Another great feature about these jeans are that the pockets are big enough. I don't know why people who make jeans put little pockets on the back sometimes. Don't they know that if the pockets are little, it makes your behind look big. This is just common sense, isn't it?

Anyway, back to my jeans. They were cheap too. Just $15.97 at Sam's Club. Yay, I like getting something good for a good price, especially these days. And the timing was good. This fall I've gotten holes in the knees of all my good jeans. I only have two pairs of jeans left and one of them is a pair of "mom" jeans that I vaguely remember buying last year. (I always tell the girls, "Don't buy things you won't wear." Why didn't anyone say that to me?) Oh yes, one more great thing about these jeans. They aren't too low at the top. They are a little higher so you don't get the dreaded "muffin top". So far so good. I just need to take them in a little at the waist like I always do. I'm not a big fan of belts, especially since I accidently learned that my husband wears the same size belt as I do. (Ok, so he wears it on the loosest hole and I wear it on the tightest. That's still the same belt in my book.)

I would post a picture of me wearing these magical jeans, but that seems a little weird. I guess I could post them just sitting on my bed but that seems weird too. So you'll just have to use your imagination. I know, I'll post a picture of my furry boots. That ought to help a little.

So, you might ask, is there a downside to these jeans? Yes, unfortunately there is.

I washed my new favorite jeans, because that's what I do. I wash things before I wear them. It drives my mom nuts but I do it anyway. Because I'm a grown-up now with my own washing machine and everything.

I washed them and put them on the next day and then I thought, "WHAT?" They seemed a little tighter on one side than the other. Now that is not ok with me. That's a sensation I cannot get used to, no matter how much I love these jeans. It reminds me of the time I had skin cancer (I had a mole with melanoma) back in 1998 and they cut a huge chunk out of one side of my back. (I told you I've had some freaky things happen in my life.) The final biopsy literally involved them taking a 3" x 7" chunk of flesh out of one side of my back. I felt vulnerable and wounded but do you know what the worst part was? (Unless you've had this happen, I bet you don't know the worst part.) The worst thing is that it makes you feel like one side of your behind is a lot higher up than the other side. Like you've had it surgically lifted. I felt like asking the dermatologist if he could take another chunk off the other side to make it even. He did tell me that eventually it would even out.

And do you know what? He was right. Since the other side probably didn't magically lift itself up, I can only guess that the side with the scar eventually just fell back to where it started. Or it all just magically equalized. That's what I like to tell myself.

So back to my jeans, I kept them on and magically during the day they did start to feel better.

And then I looked at the bottoms of them in the back.

I noticed that on one side they dragged on the ground, but not on the other side. AHHHH. I really can't handle things being uneven. I really don't think I'm officially OCD or anything like that. I just really like things to be the same. (Ok, so I really hate it when people leave random numbers on the microwave when they are done cooking something and I can't set the thermostat in my car to an odd number, but I think that's a whole other issue altogether.)

So then I came up with a brilliant plan. I turned up the very hem on the longer side. It looks like it could have happened naturally. I'm proud of the fact that I can think on my feet.

So now, the problem is that I'm not sure if it's the jeans or my legs that are uneven. It's keeping me up at night. (Not really. Other things keep me up at night. Whether my legs are uneven or not hasn't really crossed my mind. Yet. At least not at night.)

I think there's only one thing to do. Wash the jeans again and see what happens. I can probably stretch out the one leg while they're wet if I need to.

I'm just scared they will come back out tighter on one side.