Perpetual Plan B

Sunday, December 27, 2009

What to Get for the Twilight Fanatic Who Has Everything

My mom is really hard to buy for.

She goes to town about every single day so you can never find something she hasn't seen before.

She doesn't ever wait to buy things she really wants so that's a problem too.

I don't want to get her something she doesn't want or need because she has too much stuff already (like most of us). Because if this, it's really hard to surprise her with anything for fear she already has it or doesn't want it.

She loves Twilight so anything having to do with the movie or the main character would be ideal, but she has already bought it all. I kid you not. (I won't even go there, but if you want to read more about my mom's crazy obsession, you can read about it in the old posts in May. I think it's somewhere around the 14th.)

Anyway, some of us kids went in on a new garbage disposal and installation that my parents REALLY needed. Since that wouldn't be really fun for my mom, we also got her some movie tickets, which she asks for every year and then I dusted off my rusty PhotoShop skills and made her a Christmas card.

I hope I won't get arrested for any sort of copyright infringement.

(My mom said not to show it to my dad, but she didn't say anything about posting it on the blog. If you see her (because now you all know what she looks like), please be kind enough not to mention it. Thank you.)

How to Have a Merry Christmas in Just 15 Easy Steps:

Here's ONE way you can do it. I wouldn't recommend it to everybody.

1. Go to your family Christmas party on Christmas Eve, even though you have a huge lump in your stomach. Figure it's because of the extra family stress this year.

2. Leave family Christmas party a little early because you are cold (and it doesn't seem strange that everybody else seems just fine) and not feeling great anyway. Also there is lots to do at your own house, including the kids acting out the Nativity with their new puppets.

3. Arrive home at 7:30.

4. Start throwing up at 7:35.

5. Drag yourself downstairs around 8:00 to watch the Nativity puppet show. Cry because you are so happy.

6. Drag yourself back upstairs promptly after the Nativity is over to throw up some more.

7. Throw up about 200 more times for the next four hours. Feel thankful you didn't get around to putting away that pile of clothes on your bathroom floor. (FYI: sweatpants make a nice pillow in a pinch.)

8. Wonder if Santa is going to be able to make it to your house this year. Wonder if it would scar your children for life if you died on Christmas Eve (AND Santa didn't make it to your house).

9. Drag your weary carcass to bed around 1:30. Start thinking about all the last minute things you didn't get to do, like putting out the orange rolls to raise. Worry again about what the kids will think if Santa hasn't been here yet when they get up.

10. Instruct your tired husband where everything is and thank your lucky stars everything is already wrapped and color coded so he just needs to put all the gifts with the red Santa tags in one pile, etc. Cuss in your mind because it hurts too much to cuss under your breath that you didn't have the stocking stuffers equally separated and have to instruct him on every little thing as to which stocking they belong. Vow (again in your mind) to separate them out next year.

11. Try really hard to get some sleep and just hang in there until 6:00 a.m., which is the time the kids have been told it's safe to show the whites of their eyes. Every year they are threatened bodily harm if they show up even a minute sooner.

12. Wonder why you haven't heard anything yet and it's 6:45. Drag your carcass downstairs again and get as comfortable as you can while you get ready to watch the magic happen. Send husband to find the darling children. Feel like crying again because they have been playing a game to let you sleep in a little longer.

13. Watch the usual mayhem and merriment ensue. Feel very, very happy to be well enough to enjoy it from your little spot on the living room floor.

14. Drag yourself to the couch in the dining room. Lie semi-unconscious while the kids play with their new Christmas paraphernalia for a few hours. Feel sick all day, especially while the nice breakfast casserole you lovingly prepared the day before is baking (finally at noon). Realize that it's a bad sign that the smell of good food is so repulsive to you.

15. Go find your throw up bucket "just in case" and find this lovely, heartfelt message in it:

Feel happy again because you know someone truly cares, even if it is a guy in a magazine.

(Note: I am writing this on Sunday as I wait for our dinner to finish baking. Later today I will eat my first solid meal since Thursday. Let's all learn from my mistake. If there are no Clorox wipes left at the grocery store to wipe off your cart handle, please don't lick your finger to make it easier to open the produce bag for your cilantro. That may not be the reason I got sick, but then again, it just may be. Hope you all had a Merry Christmas!)

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Worst Birthday of My Life (So Far)

Once in a while I've mentioned the fact that there was a crazy medical mistake that happened to me last year. I've kind of avoided mentioning what it was but now may be the time to spill it, especially since I'm so relieved that it is over. Feel free to laugh at my expense.

Well, being the frugal people we are, and seeing that we'd met our medical deductible last year because of my shoulder surgery, Hal and I were discussing if there was anything else that needed to be done medically that year.

I had a check up with my dr. (actually physican's assistant) and asked her if everything looked good. She said actually that my bladder might be falling as a result of my hysterectomy two years before and that I might want to get it worked on so I wouldn't start having problems.

Well, that's all I needed to hear. The thought of having any type of bladder problems was enough to scare me into wanting to fix things before that happened. I had had pneumonia twice when I was very pregnant with Austin and that was enough for me to know that it would not be a fun thing to deal with. I signed up that day with the doctor she suggested.

The only date available for my surgery was December 15th. This was not a big deal. It was supposed to be a pretty easy recovery, though I wasn't supposed to lift more than five pounds for six weeks. I could do that, no problem. I had Christmas all wrapped up and ready to go, "just in case" because in the back of my mind I was remembering that I was one of those kinds of people that if something could go wrong, it probably would.

Well, it did. In a big way.

The dr. accidently punctured not one, but two holes in my bladder.

The funny thing is that I had talked her into only giving me a local anesthetic because I don't like general anesthesia, I think it messes with my short-term memory and it makes my hair fall out. She agreed, only if I promised not to have any complications and freak out. I jokingly told her then that if there was a complication to be had, it would happen to me but that I would remain calm. Somehow in the conversation I learned that there was something called a "bleeder" that would be bad. (She was actually having the same surgery the day after mine, and she said that's what she was worried about.)

Anyway, she must have been in cahoots with the anesthesiologist because when it all went wrong he must have spiked my i.v. with something else. All I can remember is waking up once and a strange man in a bow tie was looking at me, where I didn't want him to be looking.

I asked "Who is that?" and they said "Dr. Callister, he's just checking to make sure everything looks ok." I said, in front of him, (yes, I blame the drugs) "He's my father-in-law's urologist and we hate him." Then I promptly went back to sleep.

The next time I woke up all the dr.s were gone but the o.r. techs were still working on me. I saw a big, long tube winding around all over my stomach, full of blood. I asked, "Is that my blood?" and they answered, "Yes." I then said, remembering the term "bleeder", "Oh, that's bad." and then went back to sleep again.

I ended up staying overnight and the next day in the hospital. I then had the pleasure of going home with a full-on nursing home catheter, bag and all. Let me just say that when and if the time comes, I've already instructed my kids to just shoot me and put me out of my misery if I ever have to use one of those things ever again. One thing people don't realize is that there is some constant pain involved with sporting one of those beauties.

Ironically, my father-in-law had the same thing going on at the same time because he was dealing with prostate cancer. It gave me empathy for him that nobody else could understand. That is the one thing that makes me feel like everything that I went through was maybe a tiny bit worthwhile.

It pretty much wiped out any thought of going to any social functions for the rest of the week. The only thing I REALLY wanted to go to was Morgan's orchestra concert at the mall. There is something so soothing about hearing just strings play the Christmas songs. (I'm still trying to find a Christmas cd with only strings.) It was also going to be her last concert since she'd decided not to take orchestra any more in school.

Morgan was also playing her viola in the church Christmas program that Sunday. If ever I would have an excuse to miss church I think this would be it, but I still kind of wanted to hear Morgan play since I missed the other concert. Well, funny thing, a girl who had not been going to church for a long time ended up calling me and asking to come to church with me that week. I explained the situation and told her I couldn't drive but if she would pick me and the other kids up and we go in early and sit down and leave early (so I wouldn't have to talk to anyone because I wasn't exactly in the mood) then I would go with her. Well, she agreed to it, which I was kind of hoping she wouldn't, so we went. I had to find a tote bag that was color coordinated to my skirt to drag around my you-know-what bag, holding it somewhat under my skirt so nobody would see the cord that attached it to me. I better get extra brownie points in heaven for that one.

That day, once I was situated back at home, my friend, Melinda, called me. This is when another bad thing happened. I was sitting in bed and I climbed out to do something and I stepped on the tote bag. I heard a little click, but I didn't really think anything of it. Later I was walking around my bedroom and I saw these funny little trails across the carpet. Slowly it dawned on me what had happened. I must have stepped on the clip that held the opening in the bag (where you empty it) closed. Those were trails of (I really don't want to say the word here) what was in my bag.

I told my friend that the worst thing had just happened. She knows me very well so she started laughing. She then said "No, you're not even thinking yet about what the worst thing is." I asked her what she meant and she said, "The worst thing is that YOU are going to be the person who will have to clean it up." Unfortunately, she was right.

That was Sunday. The next day was my birthday. I was so miserable after almost a full week with the stupid catheter.

The good news was that it was also the day I got to take out the stupid catheter, so in a way, maybe it was the best birthday present of my life.

Of course, that's not really saying much, is it? (Read previous post.)

It's My Birthday!

Note: reading through some of this makes me wonder if it might sound a little too depressing and sad. Please know, I really am over most of it, it is just the facts and some of these stories are actually kind of funny NOW. Not so much back then.

Usually I don't like to make a big deal about my birthday, but today I'm going to really enjoy it.

I've decided that I've had a chip on my shoulder about my December 22nd birthday practically all my life. It's time to just own it and celebrate unabashedly.

Besides, I've had some pretty lousy birthdays. Compared to a lot of them, about anything would be a good day.

First of all, being that close to Christmas, it's easy to get lost in the shuffle. Let's face it, even I don't really feel like eating cake just for the sake of eating cake when there are so many other treats lying around. (And besides, who do you think would have to make the cake?)

Also as a kid, pretty much without fail, my mom would always look startled on my birthday. Then she would (not so) subtly sneak over to the Christmas tree, rifle around, grab a present and yank the tag off of it. Then she would come over and hand it to me. Voila', instant birthday present. We really didn't have a lot of money so I'm sure it was a burden on my parents to try and come up with more presents at that time of year.
One year my dad made me do chores on the farm with him on my birthday. He had me go with him right after school, help do whatever it was we were doing for a few hours at his farm and then, after dark and in the middle of a snow storm, his car broke down on the way home. I still remember exactly where it was. Ironically, I now live within a couple miles of the spot and remember it somewhat fondly now. Back then I was not thrilled to be cold, dirty, tired and pushing whatever version of little junky car my dad was driving that year up a hill in a blizzard.

When we got home, my mom said, "Did you know it is Holly's birthday today?" to which my dad replied, "Oh, happy birthday."

Another year I asked my mom to fix lasagna, as it was a favorite food that I rarely got to eat as a kid. She must have been in a bad mood because she said something to the effect of, "What makes you think you can tell me what to fix for dinner?" (She didn't usually talk like that.) I answered sheepishly, "It's my birthday." I can't remember if I got the lasagna or not.

What I do remember is that I've only had one birthday party my whole life. I was in fifth grade. We gathered around with lots of girls my age in our little living room. I'm sure there were no decorations or games, but there was probably cake and ice cream. My mom had said she would drive the girls home and she had a hard time getting one girl home and got the car stuck in a muddy, snowy field. My mom was not happy when she got home and kept saying, "Never again." And in reality, I never really did have another birthday party.

The year I turned 30 I felt like celebrating, so we invited a lot of the neighbors over to go Christmas caroling to some of the other neighbors homes and then we had treats and hot chocolate back at our house. That really was a fun night, though we didn't tell anyone that it was for my birthday. I just wanted to have fun and not make it about me. That was probably one of my best birthdays.

Later on, as the kids started school, I learned about the concept of a half-birthday. Since my kids are August birthdays, the teachers have them celebrate their birthdays six months later, on their half-birthday.

This seemed like a great idea to me, except for the fact that my half birthday falls on June 22nd, which is always during Nibley Heritage days and the Nibley City play, which my kids usually take part in and I'm always busy with costumes, practices, etc. It is also Landon's (our son who died from a heart defect) birthday so I generally don't feel like celebrating that day anyway.

Two years ago, our little family did celebrate my birthday a week later than my half-birthday and we had a ball. For the life of me I can't remember exactly what we did but I do remember we all had a good time and had planned on doing it again every year.

Last year I tried to talk them into doing the same thing but I think I asked too much of them. I've always thought it would be fun for our family to have one of those old-fashioned photos taken, complete with costumes. Somehow everyone always seemed "busy" when it was time to plan it. Maybe next year.

Sometimes, if there is a good movie showing, I can talk Hal into taking us all to the movies for my birthday. We've done that a couple of years, though Ally threw up on my (40th) birthday (A helpful hint here, NEVER leave the toilet lid down at night. If someone throws up and the lid is closed it hits the lid and goes ALL OVER the bathroom. Not fun to clean up on your birthday.) so she didn't get to go that year.

We also went out to breakfast on my real birthday one year with the kids, which was really fun. Usually though, the kids are still in school and don't get out until the next day. I like to think of it as the school district's way of wishing me a happy birthday. I think it's the best gift of all.

Anyway, I haven't mentioned my worst birthday ever yet - last year. This is getting too long so I will write it and post it later tonight, so you'll have to stay tuned. It's quite the story, even for me.

Hope you all have a great day, in honor of my birthday!

Note: I did just remember one really great birthday memory. About five years ago I woke up around 2:30 a.m. the night before my birthday and smelled something really good. I thought I was dreaming. The next morning I found out that Hal had stayed up and baked me an apple pie in the middle of the night. Nice, huh?

Added addendum: Today for my birthday surprise I found out that my son's teacher thinks he has ADHD (for real). That will teach me to ask what I thought was a rhetorical question on my birthday. She sent home a two page note to list her observations. And, from being in the classroom myself, I can see where she's coming from. I have a few theories of my own that I want to test out first. I'm sure I'll have more to comment on this later - after I get over the shock.

Monday, December 21, 2009


This is what greeted me as I closed the bathroom door to get a towel after my shower the other day.

There is something rather disconcerting about finding a smiling teenager giving you the thumbs up while you are standing stark naked in the privacy of your own bathroom. I don't care if he was spouting a holiday greeting, there are some lines you just shouldn't cross.

Plus, now I have to think of a REALLY good place to hide him. Something a little more creative than her underwear drawer, which is where I usually place our friend, David Archuleta.

Any suggestions?

All Austin, All the Time

That Austin is a card.

He has been SO naughty I can't stand it. The Easter Bunny is now benefiting from what Santa is not going to bring.

On Sunday morning Austin started to tell me what was inside "the snowman bag". After listening to him ramble on about "this color tissue paper" and "that card" and "some more tissue paper" it finally dawned on me to ask him exactly what snowman bag he was talking about. He pointed to it and I recognized it. It was the bag that Morgan had put a birthday present in for ME.

I chastised him and told him not to open ANYTHING without asking me first. I told him I was kind of upset and needed him to do something to make me feel better about the way he had been acting lately.

He very piously said, "Mom, just think of the Christ child."

What a little pill.

Later that night he was holding something of mine and I said, "Please put that down so you don't break it." He held it up and calmly said, "Too late." That did not go over well, especially after he said, "Well, you can just go buy a new one."

I definitely need to do something. This mommy needs a long time-out.

Here is the one thing that redeemed him that day:

That morning at church it was our Christmas program, complete with lots of musical numbers. Austin had brought a bunch of little toys that snapped together to form a long skinny shape. He usually calls it his magic wand.

Well that day it magically turned into a baton to lead music with. He stood at our bench and started leading, right along with the chorister. He was actually pretty good, even on the beat. I let him stand in the aisle, hoping the choir director wouldn't get angry with me. He did look awfully cute.

During the next number he stood and did the same thing.

Later, the young men and young women in our ward went up and sang a Christmas hymn. While they were all heading up front Austin disappeared. During the song I figured out where he was. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the very top of a multi-colored baton waving along with the music. Austin was standing front and center, leading the kids while they were singing. I started sweating profusely. My husband was up there singing with the kids and he was not amused.

People were awfully nice though. The regular church chorister said to my daughter, "He does a better job than I do." I've had lots of people comment on how cute it was and how he actually kept good time, speeding up or slowing down right along with the music.

So, am I raising the future conductor of the Tabernacle Choir?

Ummm, probably not but a mother can dream, can't she?

I wonder if Craig Jessop ever got a lump of coal in his stocking.

One Of These Things Is Not Like The Others

My Christmas spirit has come back.

I had been under a lot of stress from extended family issues, mostly because of dumb circumstances, not really anything anyone in particular had done. But, I was not really feeling the love this holiday season.

Until Morgan got out the glue gun and made these wonderful puppets for me.

I had seen them on Joann's blog a few months ago ( and LOVED the idea. Every year I try to get the kids to act out the Nativity on Christmas eve, but with only three kids, it's not very easy.

This should solve the problem. Three kids = six hands.

Like Joann, we made them using only things we had around the house, which forced us to get a little creative sometimes. (I act like I'm taking credit. I did help - a little. I looked up the scraps of material and stuff.)

So, I know you want to see them. See if you can tell which one doesn't belong.

Mary, Joseph and baby Jesus

The shepherds

The wisemen (I think the one on the right looks a little bit like Howie Mandel.)

The innkeeper and the angel

And the nun
I can't really explain the nun, but I do think that she turned out kind of cute.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Secret Shame

I lied to my child.

It was a pretty big whopper too, not just a little white lie - like the kind you tell that will spare someone's feelings. It also wasn't usual type of lie that I tell my children - like how I always say there aren't any cookies left, when really there are four more in the freezer, just waiting for me to have a nice little snack.

I'm embarrassed to admit what I did. On the other hand, it was probably just a brilliant idea, gone horribly wrong. (Sound familiar?)

Austin had been asking for Zhu Zhu pets since August, right after his birthday. I looked at them and they seemed kind of cute and a lot less trouble than a real hamster, which I always had growing up. No smell, no mess, no feeding and best of all, if the hamster dies, you just get new batteries.

Well the problem was, as most people know, there were no Zhu Zhu pets to be found. I checked every toy store from here to Salt Lake and beyond every time we went anywhere out of Cache Valley. The Toys R Us guy in Provo disgustedly told me that the Ebay crowd was out in full force, staking out the shipments and hoarding the hamsters for a profit. Not nice.

Well, we're not made of money here so there was no way I was going to pay a fortune for a toy hamster. If he still seemed interested, I'd try to pick him up one for Easter or the next birthday, or some other occasion.

I did find another little hamster toy, complete with a ball, on Amazon for about $12 total. Great. He would have to be happy with that. We had plenty of other things for him and my Christmas shopping was already done.

Until one day I came home from church and there was an e-mail from my sister-in-law, telling me that had the Zhu Zhus in stock RIGHT NOW. Of course, Sunday or not, I was curious to see if this was true. I was somewhat relieved to see that they were sold out already so it took away the moral dilemma of if I should break the Sabbath and shop online.

I e-mailed her back and said thanks anyway. I should have told her I was done, I really should have.

Because she called me two days later and said "They are in stock RIGHT NOW!" So I ran to my computer RIGHT THEN and bought some. Of course the offer of free shipping for any order over $75 made me go nuts. The main thing I really regret about this whole thing is that I had the little car and garage in my cart and then took it out at the last minute because, well, actually I really can't even remember why I took it out because I was pretty sure I could return anything extra I bought to the ShopKo store. I think I thought it looked weird.

Anyway, I started to get buyer's remorse, so I started asking around to friends of mine with kids about the same age to see if anyone would want anything extra I didn't want. The second person I asked was thrilled. Her little boy turns 4 three days after Christmas and she had given up on the idea of getting Zhu Zhu pets. Since I had the other hamster with a ball, I told her I'd give her a hamster and the ball, which is the only piece she really, really wanted.

Of course the next time we saw an ad for Zhu Zhu pets, Austin told me that the ball and the car with the garage were the ONLY parts he really wanted.

Well, I'd already commited to my friend, so keeping the ball was not an option. So I watched and I waited because ShopKo said they would have more available every day until the 18th.

I started checking out every hour or so starting the next day. They finally had some things in stock, but not everything (of course not the garage) but I was able to get another ball and a few other things.

I basically ended up getting the identical set and some extra pieces, again with an extra hamster, that I had already bought for us for my friend. (Because to get free shipping, again I had to pay $75 or more. I figured extra hamsters were better than not enough. Even if I have to return them to ShopKo, it would be worth it.)

So, the first batch of toys came yesterday and at first I thought they were junk when I tried to put some together. I was kind of panicking, even though I knew as a last resort I could take it all apart and return it. I still had the fake hamster in a ball so I put each of them together and tested them out. The cheaper one worked much better.

So much better, in fact, that I wished that Austin could see the difference and then he would probably be ok with getting the fake one.

Well, here's where I came up with my brilliant plan, but also made my fatal mistake. I didn't hide the rest of the Zhu Zhu paraphanelia.

Then I told Austin the big fat (sort of brilliant) lie. I told him that I have a secret job for Santa testing toys and let him play with both kinds to prove that the cheaper one was better. At first he went along with it but then he found the rest of the stash.

Long story short, we pretty much set up the whole Zhu Zhu pet set and played with it all day and all night. Austin had a ball. Even the hamster ball that didn't work well at first got better because I figured out a few tricks to keep it together.

Hal is not pleased.

Well, in keeping up the authenticity of my story, the toys all disappeared in the middle of the night because I said Santa would need them back for the next day. Austin slept with the hamsters so I had to pry them out of his warm, little hands, just like the Grinch would have, as he was dreaming away.

Well, there was no good place to store the toys so I hid them as well as I could in the library. They kind of take up a bit of room. My lie was beneficial because Hal was downstairs working on the heater a few days later, and Austin accidently found the toys. He came upstairs and mentioned off hand, "Santa sent you some more Zhu Zhu pets to try out."

One of the hamsters doesn't work real well, but I guess that's the price you pay when they are rushing toys through production this close to Christmas to try and keep up with the demand.

My sister-in-law (enabler) called me from Target last night to see if I wanted the fun house, which we both wanted from the beginning (and now I really don't need.)

Of course you know what I said.

"Could you get me two?"

(Because, after all, I do have a friend who is going to be very much into Zhu Zhu pets as soon as I can unload half this stuff on her.)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Kids These Days

On Saturday I said to Austin, "Hurry and eat your breakfast, I'm going to take you somewhere fun today."

Austin: "The dollar store?"

Me: "No, better."

Austin: "The craft store?"

Me: "No, even better than that."

Austin: "What's better than that?"

Me: "How about going to see Santa?"

Austin: "And then can we go to the dollar store and the craft store?"

I don't think I can even spell the unhappy sound that I made when he said that.


Here Austin is telling Santa that he wants a set of bagpipes. Now he really is convinced that he is going to get a set of them! Don't ask me where he came up with that idea.

(This was before he decided he wanted a Ouija board. Good thing, or Santa might have reported us to Social Services. That would be very inconvenient timing with Christmas coming and all.)

Sunday, December 13, 2009

O Christmas Tree

I just wanted to look at something simple for a minute.

Why don't you join me?

Shoveling Snow (More Rambling)

Today the girls and I shovelled snow for over two hours after church. It made me rethink the idea of having another circular driveway in our next house that we are still hoping to build someday. The plans are finished in my head, and about half done on paper.

It was really wet, heavy snow. It was so heavy in fact that it literally broke my favorite shovel in two. I really don't feel like asking Santa for a new one.

(The word "shovel" looks weird as I am typing it here.)

Anyway, there is always a lot of time to think while doing tasks like this so I came to a few conclusions.

1. I am going to start thinking about my New Year's Resolutions now so I can be working on them and see which ones I can stick with until January 1st and then I can make the easy ones into official resolutions. This seems like a brilliant idea today. We'll see how it pans out.

2. A bad hair day (which I had today) is only temporary, thank goodness. (Also, as I found out, it can always get worse.) It almost made me happy to throw on a hat to go outside and shovel snow. I was not so happy when Hal called me from the church an hour after we were finished and asked me to bring him some lunch, which he has never done before so I figured it must be very necessary. I had to throw my church clothes back on and try to make some sort of sense of my now sopping wet hair (because it was still snowing that wet, heavy snow). Don't tell anyone but I still had my sweat pants on under my skirt. I think it just looked like I'd instantly gained 10 pounds. I'm sure nobody noticed because they were too busy looking at my wet hair.

3. Once again I pondered my most often thought about question - If you could have either one, would you rather have a cook or a maid? Today I figured out the answer once and for all. Cook. A maid seems so much more obvious at first, but then thinking about it nobody really can go through your stuff and sort it and know where to put thing like you can. Also, a cook would (I would think) do their own pots and pans and dishes, which would free up my time immensely. I would also think (hope) they would want to get their own groceries. Best of all, wouldn't it be nice to sit down to a home-cooked meal that you didn't have to do a thing for? Now how about doing this every night? Another point, you don't have to deep clean your house every day, just kind of tidy it up. You have to fix food multiple times a day. Now I'm starting to see why some people eat out so much. It does sound rather convenient, doesn't it.

4. I also thought (a lot) about how I can get a mudroom before we build the new house. The layout of this house just does not work for the stage our family is in. Since we have nowhere to put our wet clothes, this is pretty much what our living room looks like every time it snows:

Pretty welcoming, right? And this was even before Austin and I put our wet clothes somewhere so actually times this mess by two and that's what it usually looks like. AND that's not even showing all the wet boots sitting on the front mat.

5. Returning e-mails. I always feel like I need to answer back so people will know I got their message. Funny because I actually get annoyed by other people who send me unnecessary follow up e-mails. In e-mails I usually try to say something like, "You don't need to write back unless you have the information I need." I wrote someone an e-mail today about something I was going to do for them and they wrote back. Now I feel like I need to write again to acknowledge that I got their e-mail and thank them for thanking me. Otherwise I'll feel like they'll think I'm ungrateful. I just spent literally a whole day a few weeks ago deleting over 2,000 old e-mails in two different accounts. (Or was it 4,000? I can't remember if that was the total or the amount in each account. Anyway, it still took a whole day and I had nothing that was outwardly cleaner to show for it.) Also, I'm annoyed by how quickly people think you should respond. We have too much access to each other these days and it bugs me. Now when someone e-mails me and I'm actually sitting at the computer I still sometimes make myself wait an hour or so to respond because I don't want them to think I have nothing better to do than sit and answer them at their convenience. I don't want my kids to think that they have to be accessible to their friends or anyone else 24/7. What happened to the days we didn't answer our phones because we didn't want to talk to anyone that day because we were busy and didn't want to be interrupted? These days my mom will call and if I don't pick up or am out getting the mail, she'll say on the machine, "I know you're there because you didn't tell me you'd be somewhere else." Some days I feel like lying and saying I'll be gone all day so I won't have to pick up the phone for a few hours.

There were other things I thought about but they were too insignificant to put here or I just can't remember them.

This is one of those posts that I'll probably leave up for a day or so and then delete because it's so embarrassing.

But in the mean time, anyone have any arguments for or against either the maid or the cook? (And on The Brady Bunch, what was Alice? A housekeeper? Does that mean she was both a cook and a maid? And if that's the case, what did Mrs. Brady do all day? Or did she help Alice?)

And In Other News........

Austin just informed me that he wants a Ouija board for Christmas.

He is now banned from reading Calvin and Hobbes with anyone but Hal or me until further notice so that we can edit the content appropriately.

Another Holiday Mishap

First of all, as previously stated, we will definitely not be eating Chinese food again any time soon. I now have two reasons to wish we had just stayed home or gone to a movie instead.

The other day Austin and I mixed up some gingerbread dough so we could make our annual gingerbread men, women, reindeer, stars, etc., etc. The dough has to chill, so I placed it outside the back door because the fridge was really full of big pots from my ambitious week of making a different soup almost every night. Anyway, the weather then turned cold, as in below zero type weather. I figured the dough would be fine but did bring it into the fridge once there was room to get it closer to the right temperature to roll out. The dough was covered pretty firmly with plastic wrap but it had a little water on it from being outside. I drained it off and didn't really worry about it.

I had a busy week as usual, so after a day or so in the fridge I finally got some time Saturday night to start rolling out cookies. I moved the boxes of Chinese food that someone had stacked on top of the bowl of dough and pulled it out of the fridge. There was a little more water condensed on top of the plastic wrap so I started to pour it off again. This time the water was brownish, the color of the dough, so I was a little worried that it had gotten under the plastic wrap and made my dough soggy.

Well as soon as I poured the liquid off I could smell it. Chinese food. The box of leftovers had somehow tipped enough to leak onto my gingerbread dough. I was not thrilled.

My dough had been tainted by the remains of our Tiny Spicy Chicken.

What should I do? Should I throw it all out? Could I rinse it off? (Not a good idea I found out. It made the dough mushy.)

Could I cut off the parts that had been compromised?

Well, that's exactly what I did.

Now I'm as squeamish as the next person, and maybe even a little more so than most, so this was not really my favorite option. It's just that the thought of my lovely gingerbread dough being ruined and having to start over was more than I could take. I kept telling myself that ginger was a main ingredient in both the cookies AND the Chinese food so maybe it would be okay after all.

I cut off the obvious parts and went about my business. I kept sniffing around the dough once it was rolled out. If I came to a questionable part, I let Austin take his cookie cutters and have at it. I figured he's a kid and wouldn't notice anything funny as he eats it. So far he hasn't complained and he's eaten LOTS of cookies.

For the finishing touch I made my usual lemon icing to decorate them with. I just put in a lot more lemon flavoring than usual.

I just couldn't bring myself to try any cookies last night, because they all smelled like Chinese food to me by the time I was finished. They do taste pretty good today though.

From now on, I think I'll call them Tiny Spicy Cookies.

(I didn't give any of these cookies to any of the neighbors for obvious reasons, though I did consider - just for a second - taking some to the neighbors with the obnoxious Christmas lights. That wouldn't be very Christian of me though, would it?)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Nothing Kills the Holiday Spirit Like Projectile Vomit All Over Your New Rudolph Slippers

Yes, you read that correctly.

We went to dinner Thursday night to celebrate Morgan and Ally both getting 4.0 grades this last term. Hal and I promised we would do something fun, so we ended up eating dinner in a Chinese restaurant.

The food tasted a little "off" to me, so I mainly ate the one thing that tasted fine.

I sent Ally and Austin home with Hal, since we had driven separately, and Morgan and I hurried and did a little more Christmas shopping. We got home a while later and everything seemed fine.

Later, the girls went to bed and Hal and Austin watched Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer together. After that they started playing with the slippers and chasing each other around. Around 9:30 or so Austin started saying his stomach was hurting.

I asked, as I ALWAYS do when a kid says their stomach hurts, if he thought he might throw up. He didn't think so.

All of a sudden he got frantic, saying "MY STOMACH HURTS!"

Hal started telling him something, like "Get to bed." or some other thing, but I, noticing the urgency in Austin's voice, yelled to Hal to get Austin a pan IMMEDIATELY and to "MOVE THE SLIPPERS!" (I am a very practical mother.)

(I'm sorry if this is too graphic for readers who are squeamish. You might want to stop reading here.)

All of a sudden a stream of vomit, like I've only seen once before in my fifteen plus years of raising children, erupted from his mouth and shot across the dining room and all over and even INSIDE the Rudolph slippers that Austin was holding. It was not a happy moment for any one of us.

It was one of those situations where you just don't even know where to start cleaning things up. Austin himself was pretty clean, seeing as the vomit shot out away from him and ended at the slippers in his outstretched hands. Thankfully none of it seemed to get on the area rug under the table. Mostly it just landed across and to the side of all the bar stools in a pretty straight line. It was kind of like a dragon breathing fire. I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself.

Ok, I'll stop with the descriptions now. I'm making myself feel sick all over again.

We got him a pan then, which was a good thing because he made good use of it.

Anyway, I finally got him to the bathroom and into some pajamas and into his little bed on my floor, complete with clean bath mats and a clean pan. Then I had the marvelous task of cleaning up the "surface wash only" slippers. I must say once again, we Fronks are nothing if not thorough, at least when it comes to making messes. It was a most unpleasant task. I went over them again this morning to make sure I didn't miss any spots. I'm still trying to find my can of Lysol to finish the task to my satisfaction.

Friday morning Austin woke up feeling fine, so I'm sure it was the Chinese food.

Next time I think we'll celebrate by going to a movie.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Nothing Says "Holiday Spirit" Like a New Pair of Rudolph Slippers

The kids and I went Christmas shopping Wednesday night.

The shopping ended up being more about the girls trying on a LOT of clothes. Ally has shot up this year and outgrown all her jeans. Austin was not pleased because it took quite a bit of time.

He was bored, so I let him sit in the back of the cart and hold a few things he wanted to look at.

Somehow we ended up coming home with a brand new pair of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer slippers, in an adult size medium. They were $10 and Austin begged and begged for them.

He wanted them so badly in fact, that he shucked off his own snow boots and left them in the aisle, something that I didn't figure out until we were in another section of the store.

Every time I take Austin shopping I vow never to take him again because it is so expensive. It would be cheaper to actually pay a babysitter and our house would have a lot less junk in it, even though I usually only let him buy one thing on any given shopping day. He is pretty good at deciding between two different things which one he wants most and then he will put the other thing back. Usually.

Anyway, back to the slippers, I caved because, even though they are so big (it's the smallest size they had, so I guess he will wear them for a few years), they are awfully cute. I'm kind of a sucker for big animal slippers. We still have the Balto slippers I bought for Morgan when she was 3 or 4 and going through that phase. (Anyone remember Balto?)

Tune in tomorrow for the REST of the story.

The Return of Nutmeg Jim

Nutmeg Jim has been a bit of a slacker this year. He has usually written a note or two by now, or at the very least comes with a note - or bearing gifts - the first time he shows up and this year we have had nothing. Nada, zip, zero, zilch (you get the idea).

In fact, Nutmeg Jim, himself, was MIA for a few days. I looked in all the usual places but he was just not anywhere that I could think to look.

I decided it was time to step up the search and prompt him into some communication since Austin has been a little more on the naughty than nice side so far this year.

Well, a note did show up but there was still no Nutmeg Jim to be found.

Upon further investigation (and a few threats that Santa already knew what had really happened to Nutmeg Jim), we found Nutmeg Jim stuffed under the back of the Christmas tree, face down. Now it is extremely difficult to get behind the tree, I might add, so someone must have gone to a lot of trouble to put him there. I know because I'm the one that had to fish him out.

We found out that he was placed there by Austin, who had the bright idea that if Nutmeg Jim couldn't see him, he couldn't report to Santa that Austin had been naughty. (And this, coming from a kid that doesn't believe that Nutmeg Jim is real in the first place.)

Anyway, peace was restored until Morgan read the note from Nutmeg Jim to the kids. It pretty much said that Santa had a couple of lumps of coal reserved for a few special children and that they'd better shape up in a couple areas.

We'll see if intimidation is the right tactic to use this year.

Only time will tell.

Baby, It's Cold Outside!

I just sent this character out in the -5 degree weather to catch the school bus.

I'm not sure exactly who is he, but he looks pretty cute.

I just hope he comes home with all his digits intact, because frostbite is a definite possibility these days, even if it is only a block to the bus stop.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Another Conversation With Austin

In the car today:

Austin: "Hey mom, you know the light pole at (our next-door-neighbor) Logan's house?"

Me: "Yes."

Austin: "Well, your tongue doesn't stick when you put it on it."

Me: "How do you know?"

Austin: "Because I tried it yesterday."

Me, freaking out because it was WAY below freezing: "Austin, you know that's not a good idea..... Just because people do things in the movies doesn't mean you won't get hurt if you do it..." etc., etc., blah, blah, blah....

Austin, without missing a beat: "Mom when you get old enough to get a job, do you know what you're going to do?"

Me, not really sure which direction this conversation is going to go: "Um, I don't know."

Austin: "Well, I really want you to be the driver on The Polar Express."

Me, relieved: "I'll see what I can do. When I get old enough, that is."

Austin: "Deal."

Monday, December 7, 2009

Kid Logic

Austin: "Mom, why don't you like handicapped people?"

Me: "I do like handicapped people. Why do you think I don't like handicapped people?"

Austin: "Because you never visit them."

Me: "What do you mean I never visit them?" I then start listing all the handicapped people we know and how and when I visit with them, including one person I visited with that day at church.

Austin: "Well, you won't ever park in their spots."

(It's nursing homes that freak me out. I hope he never figures this out or I'll never hear the end of it. At least I hope he doesn't figure it out until I'm old enough to actually be admitted to a nursing home.)

Friday, December 4, 2009

What Can You See From YOUR Kitchen Window?

Here's what I get to see:

(I'll have to just describe it since a photo really doesn't even begin to capture the full effect.)

I'm looking out my kitchen window through my back yard, as I often do, while I'm fixing or cleaning up dinner. For some strange reason, my eyes always seem to focus in on one particular neighbor's lights. The house is on the corner, through the block, but it is the only thing I can seem to see because it is so (hmm, what would be a polite term for obnoxious?) obvious.

I see some lights. Lots of lights. Lots and lots of blue and silver lights, blinking off and on in some weird sort of random pattern that makes no sense whatsoever.

(Actually, now that I look at it, it isn't so many lights, just how they are flashing.)

It almost looks like the mother ship has landed. I've never seen anything like it.

(Beam me up, Scotty. And then bring me back when Christmas is over.)

Now I feel guilty for being mean. I'll have to make them some raisin cookies to make up for it.

Yam Tacos?

You may have had one if you've eaten here lately.

Really. But you may not have known it.

My kids are terrible when it comes to eating vegetables so when the cookbook came out a while ago about how to sneak vegetables into other food I was all over it.

Well, this year for Thanksgiving I was assigned to bring the yams, which is a whole other discussion.

Shall we get sidetracked for a moment and discuss it?

My husband's family assigned me to do the yams a long time ago when I was first married. It was a good assignment for a newly married couple with no kids.

Two years later, when we ate with Hal's family again, my sister-in-law, Monica, was assigned the yams. I made some stupid comment like, "Just make sure you don't put any gross stuff like marshmallows in them." (I like my yams relatively healthier so I mash them like potatoes with just salt and pepper, a little butter, milk and some garlic salt.)

Well, I could tell by Monica's and my mother-in-law's reactions that that was not the right thing to say. There were marshmallows galore that year and everyone seemed very happy.

Now, whenever I am assigned the yams, as I was again this year, I have the dilemma of what to do. And I always solve it by doing both kinds.

This year I must have been feeling a little passive aggressive so all I did for the candied yams was dump some canned yams into a baking pan and cover semi-liberally with marshmallows. I heated those until the marshmallows browned. I also made my mashed yams and got quite a few compliments on both kinds. (Do you think people feel obligated to compliment you on YAMS? It doesn't really seem like it to me, so maybe the candied ones really were ok.)

Anyway, I had made a huge container of the mashed yams so I brought quite a few of them home. And this is when I realized that even I don't love to just sit and eat a dish of yams. (There are never any other leftovers for us to take home on Hal's side. It is a HUGE family. Lots of grandkids.)

So, of course being the good little homemaker that I am, I couldn't just waste the yams. I started thinking about what I could put them in.

The first meal I made was chicken and dumplings. I made it as usual (meaning like the last time I made it, which was roughly five years ago). Then I added a few huge spoonfuls of yams. They swirled around and blended right in. It even tasted good. I couldn't find my regular dumpling recipe that I got from my friend Patty, so I pulled out the Betty Crocker cookbook. I used their recipe and doubled it because it said it only made six dumplings and my family loves dumplings - at least I was sure they would - and then added some thyme and pepper to the recipe.

Well I'll tell you, by the time the massive dumplings were done, the dish should have been called "Dumplings with a trace amount of chicken and veggies and very little liquid". Don't get me wrong, the kids and Hal liked the dumplings but I honestly cannot figure out where in the world the chicken and veggies went. They certainly weren't embedded in the gigantic dumplings. I know because I checked.

Next I made tacos, which is Hal's favorite meal. He would eat them every week, no problem, if I would remember to make them.

Well, I still had the problem of all these vitamin-rich yams and what to do with them, so I threw some into the meat and bean mixture and it tasted pretty darn good, if I do say so myself. A little sweet, but I masked the taste with a little more taco seasoning. I really did think they were pretty tasty. Even better than usual in my opinion. Nobody said anything so I don't think they had any idea. I might have to try this again someday.

For the last of the yams I tried my luck with chili, since the tacos were so successful. This was not as good. You could see there was a strange texture and color to the chili. I had to confess on that one, which made everyone pretty reluctant to eat much of it, even though it tasted fine.

So, you win some and you lose some. But all in all I think I was pretty successful at using up the yams.

Tacos anyone?

So It's a Cultural Thing?

One day, a few years ago, I was talking to my mom about something that had to do with housekeeping, I can't remember exactly what it was. She made the comment, "We're Swedish, we only change our sheets twice a year." (Her dad is a full-blooded Swede.)

Ok, so let's get this straight: My mom is only half Swedish, so she would only be able to get away with changing the sheets four times a year. I, on the other hand, am just a quarter Swedish, so do you think I could get away with changing them only eight times a year?

That's less than once a month.

(Yeah, I don't think so either.)