Perpetual Plan B

Monday, December 12, 2011

Let The Season Begin....

 Here are a couple photos from the Nativity scenes the kids at our church did for the Christmas party on Saturday.

Here is the cute little Joseph.   He looks kind of familiar, doesn't he?

Joseph, Mary and the donkey.

 A nice, quiet little Nativity. 

If only Christmas could go back to being that simple again.

Merry Christmas!

Worst Mom EVER (Christmas Edition)

Well, this holiday season has started off just like the last few..........with Austin being very, very NAUGHTY!

I have been trying to figure out when to take him to see Santa, but I really, really want him to be good, even if it is just for ONE day, before we go.

Here are just A FEW of the things he has been doing lately:

He has found - and eaten - more than his weight in candy, almost every single day.  I don't know how he always manages to sniff out where I have been hiding the treats, but he does.  Since he has been eating so much junk, he is not eating the healthy stuff, making him mean and very, very  unreasonable.

He won't clean his room, he won't do his homework, he won't go to bed on time, he won't brush his teeth, etc., etc.

And another thing, he has now earned the code name "raccoon" because of his penchant for "borrowing" things.  Little, shiny things.  (Remember the  jewelry incident from last spring?)  He actually came home from the live Nativity that our little town puts on with two little LED candles in his pockets.  He swiped them from the luminaries they had, lighting the pathway there.  I have also found many of the fake coins they use in school to learn how to count out money.  I don't dare take him anywhere, because I'm afraid of what he may pick up "accidently".

Austin has been so naughty that our elf,  Nutmeg Jim, has even come and gone home already.  Nutmeg Jim even brought Austin a lump of coal instead of a present, which Austin was able to trade in for a book when he got his room clean, with a LOT of help from yours truly.  Once Austin earned the book, he kept saying "A book.  I got a book."  (Like, what was he expecting, a million dollars?)  Funny thing, it was a book he had asked for (I think there was even some crying involved) a month or so ago.  I told him to give the book a chance for 10 minutes and he LOVES the book.  He was just being a pill.

Anyway, I have just had it with him.  I am so DONE with him and his attitude.  I THOUGHT I had it under control until last night.  Earlier in the day, I had found what was a brand new bag of marshmallows in the family room.  There was about a third of the bag left.  I'm pretty sure I could figure out who had eaten them.   Then last night Ally asked if she could have some marshmallows in her hot chocolate.  We found the bag, EMPTY.  Austin, of course, said "I didn't do it."

I blew my top and said those fateful words that I will NEVER, EVER be able to take back:

"When you see Santa I bet he will take you off his lap and throw you on  the ground and JUMP on you!

Yes, I actually said "jump".  Not  something llike "accidently step" or "tiptoe around".  Ally swears I threw the word "kick" in there too.  I didn't know I had such violent tendencies hidden so deep inside of me.  I wonder if I need counseling.  (Actually I wonder if AUSTIN will need counseling.)

In reply, Austin ran BAWLING from the room.  (Which is actually the same reaction he had when he got the lump of coal.)  I was HORRIFIED!  I didn't mean to say that at all.  I really am not a mean mom.  I'm probably in the situation that I am in with Austin being so naughty because I am too nice of a mom.

So, I've pretty much squashed any holiday spirit we were still hanging onto around here.  Austin seems to have forgiven me this morning, but I still feel terrible.

(On the upside, I'm pretty sure that he still believes in Santa Claus, because I didn't know for sure until he got so upset.)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Two Great Quotes:

I have recently run across a couple of worthwhile quotes.  They are too great not to copy and share:

1.    "What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?" (from Sophia's blog.)

2.  “Real friends are those who, when you’ve made a fool of yourself, don’t feel that you’ve done a permanent job.”  Erwin T. Randall      (from Taffy's facebook page.)

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

One More Confession From My Life Of Crime, Newport Edition

I shoplifted.  Yep, I did it. I confess. 

I was an adult too.  I even made my 12 year old daughter act as lookout.

Now before you decide to "unfriend" me.  Let me explain:

I've mentioned before that one of my most brilliant ideas is the "12 year old trip".  It actually came about because around the time Morgan turned 12, I needed a vacation.  In a big way.  Austin was turning 2 and I had been home with one kid or another (or pregnant and too sick to do anything worthwhile) for 12 years straight. 

I needed a vacation that was REALLY a vacation.  Not a family trip.  Not a vacation that involved sippy cups in any way.   And, especially a vacation where I could call the shots;  eat where I wanted, do what I wanted and, most importantly, RELAX.  You get the idea.  (For the record, I don't think my husband knows the meaning of the word relax.  I've needed a vacation to recover from about every other vacation we've been on together.  I'm not complaining, we've gone on some pretty great trips together.  It's just that none of them involved hanging out and doing nothing for any stretch of time.)

I tried to figure out who might be the perfect candidate for my vacation and it dawned on me that Morgan was at a  pretty good age to travel.  She was old enough to be a fun companion, we liked to do lots of the same things AND was still young enough that I could sway her to like my ideas for what was fun.  And I was excited to get some quality one-on-one time together.

So, I proposed the idea of a 12 year old trip to the family.  Once each of the kids turned 12, I would take them on a trip, just the two of us.  Morgan was thrilled with the idea, Hal was nice enough to play along and Ally wasn't so thrilled, even though I promised her I'd take her on a similar trip in 3 years.  (She ended up going to New York City, lucky girl.)

For our trip, Morgan and I picked Newport, Rhode Island.   Well, to be totally honest, I picked Newport.  She went along with it and seemed pretty happy when I explained about the mansions we'd see, and everything else we would do. 

When Morgan was a baby, Hal and I had driven with some friends of ours, the Trettes, from Boston to Newport.  They showed us the mansions and Hal and I had walked along the cliff walk quite a ways and then back while the Trettes stayed in the car with Morgan.  We didn't get to actually go into any of the mansions, just look at them.  I had been dying to go back ever since then, but didn't think Hal would ever really want to go on a trip and do just that.  So it worked out great.

Morgan and I had a ball, staying in a fun bed and breakfast with the best food, touring the mansions, etc.  We also hung out at the beach one afternoon so she could swim in the ocean, which was a little chilly, but we were able to collect some shells for souvenirs.  We just had an all-around good time. 

The day before we left, Morgan and I checked out the little shopping area down by the wharf.  We bought some fun souvenirs and ended up at a t-shirt shop.  We found Morgan a Newport t-shirt and then we saw a navy blue hoodie that she liked.  I liked it too.  It only came in adult sizes, and the smallest one was a medium.  It was the only one that size.  The rest were large or bigger. We decided to buy it anyway, since it would fit me and she would grow into it in a year or two.

We picked up the hoodie and the only medium left didn't have a string.  I really didn't think it was a big deal because that's when all the news stories were coming out about taking the strings out of your little kids' hoodies so they wouldn't get hung up on them on the playground.  I can't remember Morgan being too upset about the string either, so I'm not sure why I decided that we needed to have a string in our hoodie.  I asked the girl at the counter if we could just take a string out of one of the other hoodies and she told me no.

I don't know why I was so surprised that she said no, but I guess it made me more determined that we needed that string.  I was  paying for a whole hoodie and by darn, that included a string.  She told me it was either buy that one without a string or buy a different size with a string.  No discout for the one without a string either.

Well, I guess I just needed that string more than I needed to be honest, so after talking to Morgan I decided that I was going to get a string for that hoodie, one way or another.  So, you guessed it, with Morgan acting as lookout, I stole a string out of one of the other hoodies. 

Now before you think I go around stealing things on a regular basis, let me assure you  that is not the case.  I'm so nervous about anyone even thinking I might shoplift that if I need to get something out of my purse in a store I will go right up to an employee and say "I need to get something out of my  purse, so I want you to watch me so you know I'm not putting something in it from the store."  Of course now that I think about it, that seems much more suspicious than just unzipping my purse to get my shopping list out of it.

Anyway, I felt so nervous the whole time I was paying for the hoodie and t-shirt.  I can't remember where exactly I stuffed the string, if I put it in a pocket or up my sleeve or just what I did.  I do know I was just sure they had a hidden camera watching and that they were going to follow me out of that store and arrest me with my impressionable 12 year old daughter watching the whole thing.  As soon as we were far enough away from the store, I stuffed that string in the hoodie as fast as I could, to hide the evidence. 

Let me just say if I were going to start committing any sort of crime, it wouldn't be shoplifting.  I don't know how people do it.  I just felt sick the whole time.  I had a boyfriend once, and it was a pretty long term relationship, that I caught shoplifting.  We were in Kmart  for some reason and I turned to say something and thumped him in the chest and my finger hit something hard and it rattled.  It took me a minute to realize that he had shoplifted a cassette tape.  That was pretty much the end of the relationship. 

So back to the hoodie.  Morgan wore it in good health for many years.  She finally gave it up,  probably because she is pretty much fully grown and it's still too big for her.  So now it belongs to me. 

String and all.

(On a much more positive note, I am going back to the scene of the crime in a month or so.  I am so excited!  This time I am going with one friend to visit another friend who lives in Connecticut.  AND we are going back to Newport one of the days.  After our family roadtrip a few weeks ago, I have sorely needed a real vacation.  Looks like I'll be getting one.  Yay, a girl trip!)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quote From The Fridge

I tore this out of the newspaper a month or so ago and stuck it on the fridge. I keep thinking it's going to get lost in the shuffle (it's only about an inch big), so I thought I'd put it here.

"You are good. But it is not enough just to be good. You must be good for something. You must contribute good to the world. The world must be a better place for your presence. And the good that is in you must be spread to others." Gordon B. Hinckley

It's one more thing to think about as I go through the usual back-to-school assesment of my life and what I want to accomplish while the kids are in school. It seems like I'm always trying to make what I do matter. Deep cleaning the kitchen, clearing out clutter and re-arranging and organizing things are always first on my list each fall. Worthy goals, yes. But nothing that would be reported at my funeral as having long-term meaning to anyone else.

It's also a time I promise myself that I will start reading my scriptures regularly again, exercising and drinking more water. AND it's always a time that I swear that THIS is the year I will get into a real routine so I don't waste so much time trying to decide what to start with each day. I've never, ever considered myself a perfectionist, but I think I spend so much time trying to figure out the perfect routine (for me) that I just have never figured out any routine at all. Also, I guess if I take better care of myself, I will be in better shape to help take care of others.

So, here is the tentative routine, off the top of my head and definitely ready to change as I see fit:

Monday: laundry and deep cleaning day, clutter
Tuesday: floors and bathrooms
Wednesday:  errands and grocery shopping
Thursday:  volunteer at elementary school and  big cooking day
Friday: paperwork and special projects

I also need a basic daily schedule and I need to also schedule in some FREE time, so I don't feel guilty for sitting down and reading a book. Funny I don't feel guilty wasting time on the computer, but I don't feel like I can just sit down and read, which I honestly love more.

Ok, so that's a jumble of thought, but it's nice to get it out of my head and onto (virtual) paper at least. I'm also realizing that I forgot something very important, adding in what the kids will do to help each day. My friend Linda gave me her basic schedule last year and she included that, which was a great idea.

Anyone out there have a great schedule that works for them?

Friday, June 10, 2011

My New Motto

(Stolen from Katie, without even asking her permission.)

The Purse That Almost Got Me Arrested

It's cute though, right?

So the story is, that when I went to Italy I knew I wanted to get my sister-in-law a purse. The timing was convenient, since her birthday was about two weeks after I got home.

One of the first things our tour guide told us was to make sure and not buy purses from anyone who had them on the ground. Blanket or not, the ground was no good. On a table was ok, they were legitimate vendors, but the illegal ones apparently had them on the ground, ready to swoop them up and take off at a moment's notice. She also said that any buyers were subject to a $1,000 dollar (or euro, I can't remember which) fine AND - to add insult to injury - would have the purse confiscated.

No problem, we thought. We can live with those guidelines.

Our shopping got off to a slow start, so one of the first shopping days we went to an outdoor market. I didn't see anything that really grabbed me until right when we were leaving. On a table (thankfully) I found a cute bag that was mustard colored and looked like it was woven. It was cute, though you could tell it wasn't great quality. For the price though, 5 euros, I was pretty happy with it.

I wanted to get a purse for myself too, so I was going to try and buy two purses that I liked and would be happy with, in case I ended up with either one of them. I was going to let my sister-in-law pick.

Over the rest of the trip though, I didn't see any other purses that I particularly loved. (At least not ones that I could afford. I fell in love with a few in a shop in Venice. My friend Julie bought one that I absolutely loved. I'm glad that at least she got to have it, since I couldn't. See what a good friend I am.)

Anyway, it got down to the very last day, the very last couple of hours, stopping to look at purses everywhere we went. We were by the Pantheon and there it was, The Purse. The one I'd been looking for. The one I knew I was going to get for my sister-in-law. I went up to the guy and asked how much. He told me the price and I tried to decide in my head, converting euros to dollars, while also trying to remember exactly how many euros I still had, if I could afford it. It was the last day, after all and I was down to not much. It was definitely more than I had wanted to spend, especially for a knock off. I turned around, hoping he'd play the game.

As I walked away, he lowered the price a little. I turned and offered him less.

"Good quality." he assured me. "Very good price."

That wasn't the problem. It was the lack of funds at my disposal. After bargaining a little longer, we came to an agreement. I couldn't believe it! I had finally found what I hoped would be the perfect purse for my sister-in-law.

I walked around, happily clutching at my prize. We walked through the Pantheon, all the time I felt so happy and relieved that I had finally found what had eluded me for days.

When we walked back out, I was surprised that the purse sellers were no longer there. That should have been my first clue.

We walked back to Piazza Navonna and I was happy to find some women we had met and become friendly with on our tour. I was so excited to show them the purse. I eagerly got it out of the bag and was holding it up like a trophy to show them. They oohed and ahhed appropriately.

I couldn't figure out what the little Italian couple next to them started getting so agitated over. They started shushing me and making gestures. Finally one of the ladies from our tour said "I think you'd better put it away."

We then noticed the little "paddy wagon" that was parked in the square. Believe it or not, the back was full of confiscated purses!

I couldn't believe it! In my excitement of buying "the purse", I had forgotten our guide's warning of not buying one off of the ground. I didn't know what to do then. I was already carrying a purse and the one I had just bought was in a plastic bag. I tried to keep it hidden as well as I could, but I was definitely spooked. I walked around for the hour or so that we had left, looking over my shoulder. I swear there ended up being a policeman or two on every corner from then on. I forgot every once in a while to keep it hidden and would grab it by the handles and carry it like a purse. Luckily I had enough women around to remind me to keep in under my arm. I was actually glad to pay the money and hide out in a public restroom for a while.

Well, we did make it to the bus, where I breathed a sigh of relief.

I'll tell you what though, if that's what it feels like to be a criminal and have to constantly look over your shoulder I think my life of crime has come to an end. I do also feel sad for allegedly giving money to terrorists, so I guess I'm especially glad that they got Osama Bin Laden last month. (Not sure if the two situations are even remotely connected, but I'll take whatever means I can to make myself feel less guilty about the whole situation.)

Friday, May 27, 2011

Revisiting Italy - The Umbrella

I am finally at a point where I can think about my trip to Italy last fall. I don't know why, but this is one of my favorite memories. I am a little off-kilter, I know.

Airport security must have searched my bag before our flight to Italy. By searched, I mean RANSACKED. I didn't realize how bad the damage was until the very first day in Rome when I tried to open my umbrella because it was starting to rain. It looked a little mangled and when I opened it up it was severely broken.

Well, I didn't want to get wet, so I used it anyway. I got some strange looks, including from many people on our tour. I guess it was pretty embarrassing for people to be seen with me. I tried not to let it bother me because by darn, I did NOT want to buy another umbrella. I had brought mine from home and THEY broke it. It was the principle of the thing. At least that's what I told my cheap self.

I don't think we used our umbrellas again until we were in Florence and that day it rained pretty hard too. By then we knew all the people on our tour well enough for some of them to comment to me to throw the darn thing away. Again, I just figured I could make it through this one more day and it would be fine. I had lots of perfectly good umbrellas at home so I was not going to buy another one, especially when I needed to save my money for necessities, like gelato and scarves.

Anyway, by then even my mom was embarrassed to be seen with me. Actually, now that I think of it, she had probably been embarrassed from day one.

Our little group had been walking a while and were close to the Pitti Palace, so I said I'd run ahead and check on ticket prices and hours for tours so my mom and some of the others could rest a little.

As I was walking up by the line to read the sign that had the information posted on it I realized that people were looking at me and talking about me in Italian (at least I think it was Italian). I thought that they were thinking I was trying to get ahead of them in line, so I was going to try and explain, but then I figured out what was going on. They were making fun of my umbrella. All these little old Italian (I think) people were literally pointing and laughing at me. One even took a picture. I don't think I have EVER felt so self-conscious as an adult as I did right then. I was so embarrassed that I literally turned and ran away (yes, just like Napoleon Dynamite).

Well you can bet that my umbrella ended up in the first garbage can I could find. The sad thing is that that was the only day I took the time to do my hair and straighten it, so it was pretty much a waste of time. I should have just slept in a little longer. Oh well.

Note: This photo was NOT taken by the people who were laughing at me. It was taken by my friend Julie, who I met on our tour. Ironically, it is the best photo of me from the whole trip. I don't think the umbrella looks too bad here. You can't see the worst mangled metal spike thing that wasn't attached to any fabric and kept poking me in the head and catching my hair in it. I think by this time I'd either bent it up or broken it off completely.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What The "Dumb" Kids Do

One day, when Morgan was about 6 or 7 I found a name scratched right into the front newel post of our staircase. The one that was the most visible from the front door.

It said "Dad".

I found that fairly comical, even though I was a little ticked off about the damage.

Morgan must have heard me talking to someone else, saying that only the dumb kids carve their own names into things. We also joked about how it really must have been Hal that had carved his name to throw suspicion on someone else.

That must have gotten her thinking, because a week or so later I noticed on the other side of the bannister a new name, "Morgan".

I was NOT amused.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Think You're Having A Bad Parenting Week?

So, here's part one of the long version of a very long story. I'll post what I wrote two weeks ago now, and then once I can stand it I'll post "the rest of the story". (Parenting makes me TIRED some days!)

Let's start with some seemingly unrelated facts:

My mom is cleaning out some stuff in her house. One day she brought over a big box full of costume jewelry that she said we should go through together sometime.

Morgan got asked to the Junior Prom the day we left for vacation so when we got home we went right to the dress shop so they would have time to alter whichever dress she chose. The prom was less than a week away, so that was pushing it time-wise.

The dress she picked out this time is a pretty brown one with some nice beading on it. Her rhinestone jewelry wouldn't look good with the dress, so we asked my mom if we could look through her jewelry and see if she had anything we could use.

We got the box out and started going through it, piece by piece. Austin started looking pretty interested and got right in there with us and started digging through things. He started grabbing rings and watches right and left. I had to tell him to stay out of things.

It turned out that my mom didn't have anything that was just right for Morgan's dress. She wears a lot more black, so I told Morgan we could see what I had. I wear a lot of brown, but I don't have a ton of jewelry, like my mom. And all hers is a lot nicer than what I might have. Most of hers came from QVC. Mine usually comes from Kohl's or Claire's (or Kmart, to be honest). I do have three nice rings that I realized I had never really talked to the kids about before. They are from when they were born. I bought a nice ring for when Morgan, Landon and Ally were born, that I was planning on giving to them (or their wife) when they grew up. When Austin was born we didn't have extra money, because I wasn't working anymore, but I decided he can have Landon's ring to remember his brother. (Weird tangent, I know.)

I started to put my mom's jewelry away and Austin threw a fit, asking if he could have at least a ring or a watch. I handed him a gold watch that was pretty tarnished and worn out. He then begged for a ring. He'd never had a ring and he'd always wanted one (and he was crying). So, I gave in and gave him a gold ring that looked like it was made out of tiny chain link. I tried to pick one that I thought nobody else would really want. My mom did have some really nice rings and among them was my grandma's college ring and also my mom's mother's' ring, which I was surprised that my mom had put in the box. I wonder if she hadn't really looked at anything before she sent it, just threw in a couple of jewelry boxes and miscellaneous shoe boxes of things to sort out later.

We then got out my things and I showed the kids the rings from when they were born. I also came across Hal's grandpa's wedding ring that he had inherited. I have to mention here, because it is so ironic, Hal HATES jewelry. As in, he gets wigged out if he has to pick up a ring or something. That's why it is so ironic that it is almost comical that he ended up with his grandpa's ring and his brother got the sword that was used in the Battle of Waterloo. Hal is a huge history buff. Oh well. Anyway, I showed the kids that ring too and Austin was very interested in it.

After we looked a little and Morgan found a couple of necklaces to try when her dress comes back, I put all the jewelry away. That was pretty much the end of this story, as far as I knew. This was on Saturday.

Monday, late in the afternoon I was in the kitchen starting to fix dinner. My nice neighbor, Valerie, called me. She said, "I have a strange question to ask you. Our neighbor girl is here and she has a really nice ring with a green stone that she says Austin gave her on the bus. It looks like a REALLY nice ring. Not one a kid would have."

For a minute I started to say I didn't know what she was talking about and that it was probably fine, but then it slowly dawned on me . . . . . . my mom's jewelry! Austin was pretty interested in it. The only thing I couldn't figure out is why he gave it to that particular girl. He was better friend's with Valerie's daughter. I told Valerie that yes, I definitely needed that ring back. I had her ask the girls if they had seen any other rings. The whole time I kept stirring my dinner, trying to make sense in my head of what had happened. She checked and the girls said he had a bunch of rings in ring boxes at school, and on the bus AND at church.

I then hung up the phone and tried to talk to Austin, who vehemently denied everything. It is REALLY hard to get any kind of concrete information out of someone who just doesn't want you to know how bad the situation really is. He started crying hysterically and saying he was sorry he'd ever been born!

Valerie came over a couple of minutes later with a ring that WAS really nice and I didn't even recognize as one of my mom's that I had seen because there were so many of them. Valerie then told me some more information. Austin had also told the girls that he knew where the rings were hidden and also mentioned a wedding ring. Well, I RAN to my room because on Sunday I was sitting in church and had realized that I forgot to put on my wedding ring. It was Monday and I'd been home all day so I hadn't bothered to put on any jewelry. My ring wasn't where I had left it, but I did find it close by. I went back to Valerie and was talking again when I remembered the rings of mine that I had shown the kids. I sent Morgan back to check on them in my jewelry box. It took her a while, but she said it looked like they were all there. After a few more minutes, what Valerie had said rang another bell in my head. Wedding ring. I had shown Austin Grandpa Fronk's wedding ring. I sent Morgan back again to check on that one because she said she didn't remember seeing it. She was gone a LONG time, so I let Valerie go then because I was quietly freaking out. Morgan hadn't found it yet, but after searching we finally did find that ring. Valerie also reconfirmed the fact that Austin had taken rings to church AND given one to the Primary teacher. (So why hadn't SHE called me?)

Morgan then remembered that he did have some kind of fancy boxes in the pockets of his church pants, so she started searching around to see what she could find. I do remember thinking it was awfully easy the day before to get him to hand over his magic wand and long pointy finger on a stick thing that he is always sneaking in his pants at church. Usually he puts up a fight and sneaks them into his Primary class. I should have known something else was up.

By this time Austin could tell he was going to be in some pretty big trouble, so he high tailed it out of there. He ran to his room while Valerie was there and I couldn't find him for a long time. Really, there aren't many places he can hide in his room and I knew he hadn't run back past me so he had to be somewhere in one of the bedrooms or bathroom. I checked under all the beds and in all the closets. Finally, Ally (my fabulous middle child) found him hiding under his covers like the little coward he is. (Yes, I am still mad, even almost two weeks later.)

Well, after a long, mostly one-sided conversation with Austin; me conversing and possibly yelling at times, him crying hysterically, I found out a little more. Austin admitted he had also given a ring to his friend Dallin, along with Martha and the Primary teacher. Valerie had called back saying that her girls also saw him give a ring to a boy named Jackson and some unidentified "blond girl" on the bus.

(to be continued, because I am too emotionally wiped out to finish...)

Edited to add: Long story short - recovered 3 rings; never got back anything from "Jackson", though I talked to two different Jacksons' moms and never figured out exactly which blond girl on the bus was the recipient of my son's generosity. This was also the same week my daughter, Ally, split her head open at 6:30 a.m. the day I was supposed to talk to the bus driver. When I finally did talk to him, a week later, he said I should have talked to him the week before and it was probably too late to do anything about it.

Anyway, here is the result of Ally's misfortune, eight shiny new stitches, luckily somewhat hidden in the eyebrow region.

And here is Morgan in her prom dress with the one necklace that kind of matched it.

Here's hoping that next week is better. (And NO, I haven't told my mom yet, so if you see her, just smile and say "Hi." and then just keep on keepin' on. Thanks.)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Apparently I Need Reading Glasses Too....

Ok, so I was getting ready for bed the other day. On my bathroom counter I found this cute little card that said "Uplift With Courage". It seemed like a nice little sentiment.

I started thinking to myself that maybe I should stick it on the mirror in the kids' bathroom, just to give them a little boost.

Maybe it will inspire them to be a little nicer to the kids at school or in their group of young women at church, I thought. Maybe it will inspire them to run for President someday. Maybe, just maybe.....

Maybe I should have looked a little closer. Upon further inspection I realized that it actually said, "Uplift with COVERAGE".

Uplift with coverage? Huh? What does that even mean?

Then I realized where I had seen that little card before. It came off of the bra I had bought the day before.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

An Enlightening Conversation

Me: "I don't like my new glasses. I think the lenses magnify my eyes, which also magnifies all my wrinkles. They look worse when I wear the glasses."

Morgan: "Let's see. Put them on and then take them off again."

I did what she said and, much to my chagrin, she told me: "Nope, it's not your lenses. Your wrinkles look the same. You can just see them better with your glasses on."


And in other news: I have now started to get over some of the truly traumatic parenting events from last week. Not sure if I'll recover from at least one of them. Austin is now banned from any and all jewelry.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My Budding Artists

Ally is really good at drawing dragons and warriors and stuff. AND she does have some mad nunchuck skillz - for real. She took karate and everything and has a nice orange belt to prove it.

(Is it "numchuck" or "nunchuck"? It sounds like numchuck, but when I google it, the most legitimate sources say "nunchuck". What's up with that?)

Morgan said it took her over three hours to do the shading on my upper lip.

Apparently there's more where THIS came from.

(But hopefully I won't be the recipient of it. I don't know if my self-esteem could handle much more.)

Thursday, March 24, 2011


I am in awe of my daughter, Morgan.

She got a 35 on her ACT.

That's almost a perfect score. In fact she did get a perfect score (36) on her English and reading sections. She got a 35 on her science, which surprised even her, and then her math was a 31, which is still a great score - in fact it's the same as her composite from the last time she took the test.

AND she was really sick the day she took the test. She had already missed 2 days of school. She was so sick, I told her not to worry about the test at all and that she could take it again in a month or two.

I'm sorry to brag here. I just couldn't keep it to myself. I'm so proud that I'm bursting.

Bursting, I tell you.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Random Photos And The Short Stories That Accompany Them

This is a pinata of Summer Wheatley. We ended up with it after a Napoleon Dynamite party at our friends' house last night.

Ally won this bling as a prize. Austin was VERY sad, so now he is the proud owner. He started out as Pedro (hence the leftover moustache if you look closely) but is now Kip.

This is the new rug I got for the laundry room. I was going to paint it this shade of blue (with some new white beadboard) but now I wonder if there is enough blue in the rug. I like the rug because it reminds me a little of how they decorated The Wynn in Las Vegas. (And it looks "happy". I try to surround myself with as much happiness as possible because there is a lot of junk out there that could drive me crazy if I let it, and sometimes I do.)

This is what our downstairs bathroom looked like last week. It is now painted, though to be honest I don't totally love the color. We were trying to work with what we had. Hopefully it will work for 5 or 10 years and then we can deal with it again then. I'll show the finished room when I get the trim up and change out the light fixture and hopefully frame up the mirror too, which may take a few weeks.

This is what the walls looked like from removing the wallpaper and border from the top half of the room. Not sure what happened, if the walls weren't primed before the wallpaper or they had to use extra strong wallpaper paste to put the border on. All I know is it was a pain to fix.

This next one makes me laugh. Every time I look at it.

Here's the story: I happened to have a good hair day a couple of weeks ago. I really wanted to have a picture of myself because good hair days for me are few and far between and I wanted photographic evidence. I was too embarrassed to ask anyone to take a picture of me but I finally asked Morgan and she halfheartedly snapped a photo but it wasn't very good. It was from far away and kind of dark. I really wanted a good picture, so I tried to casually snap a candid looking shot of myself while I was pretending to watch t.v. Unfortunately I missed most of me - except for my nose, but I got a good shot of Morgan. This photo is funny because it looks totally staged but it isn't. That's just what she happened to look like right then - like she was caught with her hand in the cookie jar. Unfortunately it isn't a very flattering angle of her either. Maybe next time she'll take her job more seriously when I ask her to document an important occasion.

And last but not least, the picture that had Hal laughing so hard he was crying and he totally offended Austin's 1st grade teacher......

Austin came home one day saying that they had made silhouettes of themselves. I was so excited because Hal has a silhouette of himself at about that age (which I'm hoping we can get from his mom - he's not sure where it ended up) and I thought it would be fun to hang them together. I asked Austin how his silhouette looked and he kept saying "My head looks berry, berry skinny." I didn't think much more about it until Hal came home and tried to tell me how hilarious it looked. He said he just kept laughing and he hoped the teacher didn't see him, but he didn't think she did. The next time I went to help at the school I saw it. Austin's teacher said "Your husband was laughing at this so hard he was crying." I got the whole story from her. This was the first time she had ever done the silhouettes. Her student teacher had wanted to do them. They had a hard time holding the kids still while they traced the silhouettes and then the kids cut them out themselves. I think Austin looks kind of like a sleestak from Land of the Lost. I said something about his mouth and the teacher told me when she had drawn the silhouette, his mouth had not been open. He added that part himself.

I'm glad he doesn't really look like that!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

It Should Be Illegal For Old Women To Have Internet Access

Because it might make their children have violent thoughts about what they might have to do to get their mothers to quit calling them and asking the same questions over and over.

And over and over.

And over. And over.

And over.

Questions like "Which is my username again and which is my password?" and "My internet is little, how do you make it big again?" and my personal favorite, "Which button do you push to turn the computer on?"

And, hypothetically speaking, it is really annoying to have to remind your mom to use the virus scan religiously if she is going to be on the "hollywood" websites searching for news about Robert Pattinson. (Honestly, it's mainly just annoying to have a mom who does nothing more than spend her time looking up information on movie stars for hours on end.)

And, hypothetically speaking again, it is REALLY annoying to have to FIX your mom's computer after she has been on "hollywood" websites and got the computer messed up because she didn't know what a virus scan is and "forgot" to ask you about it. (Seriously, of all the questions she did ask, this is the one she didn't.)


It is also annoying when your mom says the reason we pulled up something that looked different from what saw at her friend's house on a particular website A YEAR AGO is because I must have spelled "Robsessed" incorrectly. Like, how many different ways are there to spell Robsessed, for Pete's sake? Then she smugly told me that I must have forgotten the .com and that's why it didn't look like she thought it should. It wasn't even worth explaining that if we got a website, I certainly did put the .com. And, just because it didn't look like it did at her friend's house is because they change information on websites every now and then. I won't even go there, it's like arguing with a toddler.

And people wonder why I would be "Team Jacob" if I had to pick a side.

I'm sure you must all be wondering why I'm not worried about her reading this and getting mad at me.

Well, let's just say that I'm pretty comfortable with her level of ignorance right now. I'm sure she doesn't even know what a "blog" is, and since mine doesn't involve Robert Pattinson, or any other Twilight characters or movie stars, I think I'm safe for quite a while.

Friday, February 25, 2011

My Daughter Is (Semi) Famous!

Ok, so I'm glad we have such talented neighbors/friends because every once in a while one of us will get to ride on the coattails of their success. Here is one such example:

If you look very closely, you might just recognize the "ghost", none other than our very own Ally. My very talented neighbor, Shaunda, wrote a fun young adult book and needed a dark haired model. We happened to have a spare, dark haired girl at our house and she happened to be available AND she came with her very own wardrobe. I'd say it was a win-win for all involved. (Especially me, since I didn't have to do a thing and I got to read a fun book with my daughter on the cover.) By the way, that is Shaunda's daughter, the lovely Joanna, also on the cover.

This was a fun and enjoyable book to read, though I don't want to give too much away. I do think it was written in such a way that girls AND boys might like it. It was written so descriptively that I actually had a dream (nightmare) that I was in one of the last scenes of the book and I woke up almost exhausted from what happened in my dream. It's not that it's a scary book at all - it isn't, but something that happened is something that would totally panic me in real life. (But we all know that I'm terrified of some normal everyday things - like public speaking. Or doing just about anything in public.)

Anyway, my thanks to Shaunda, who also has written and published other things - most notably The Book Lover's Cookbook. It's a fun book that has excerpts from many well known books along with recipes either from foods in the book or inspired by passages in the book. She even got some of the recipes from the authors themselves, like Roald Dahl.

This book is now available in print (on Amazon) and also on Kindle, for all your progressive young readers.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


The girls won't allow me to talk about them too much online these days, but I think I am still allowed to talk about the past when what they did was usually still cute and funny and not "embarrassing". So, here goes:

One year at the Nibley City Heritage Days celebration our friend's son, Daniel, caught a little frog in the park. My girls were about 4 and 7 at the time. They begged him to give them the frog, which he did, and we happily took him (or her) home. Even I was pretty happy with the frog. We named her (or him) Lily.

Well, the next day I started worrying about what we should feed our new pet. I bought her a little plastic terrarium and we got her environment as close to the one she had come from as we possibly could. I then called the pet store to see what kind of "frog food" they had.

"You need crickets." the guy said.

"Crickets? You mean you sell dried cricket parts?"

"No, they will only eat LIVE crickets."

"Live crickets? You have got to be kidding me." I replied.

"Oh no. We get them in regularly. You just need to pick them up every week or so and they'll stay alive until your frog eats them all."

Well, being the responsible pet owner that I am, I drove on into the pet store for my first bag of crickets. I purchased about 15 or 20 of them and we headed for home with Ally holding the bag on her lap in the back seat. At that time we were juggling between 2-3 different vehicles for some reason and I remember EXACTLY which car we were in, my mother-in-law's old (to her - "fancy" to us) Buick that was a nice silvery blue color. As embarrassing as it was to be seen in the "old lady" car, it was a pretty smooth and comfy ride. Probably the most "luxury" car I've ever driven.

The image of what happened next is permanently embedded in my brain.

I was driving along happily, contemplating the "Mother of the Year" award I would receive someday when blood curdling screams from the back seat assaulted my ears. Since I was driving I didn't immediately turn around to see what the problem was. Pretty soon I didn't need to turn around, I saw them.

Lots of them.


Lots and lots of crickets, jumping ALL over the car. Ally was deathly afraid of bugs back then (she still screams like that whenever she sees a spider and I swear that girl can spot a baby spider from about a mile away) and she was terrified. Somehow the elastic or twist tie or whatever it was that was supposed to be holding the plastic bag shut had come off. And they were jumping. All. over. the. car.

I could barely drive, it was like we had our own little plague going on right there inside the car, it was wild! (And hard to concentrate on driving I might add. Good thing I wasn't more freaked out by the crickets themselves or I might have crashed or something.)

We managed to make it all the way home, about a 20 minute drive, and I hurried to catch as many crickets as I could - which was only about 4 or 5. We fed them to Lily that day and the next one and then I convinced the girls that we needed to turn Lily loose where Daniel had found her "because she missed her mommy". There was no way in heck I was going to to through that again. The crickets were pretty expensive too, around $5 if I remember right.

I was pretty sad to let her go, because Lily was a pretty fun pet while it (he, she?) lasted.

Back to the Buick, that car is the same vehicle that we took to Nebraska one year where we caught fireflies and THEY somehow got out and as we drove along at night you could see one light up in the car every once in a while. We did get a few of them home where we promptly released them. They hung around and lived for about a week. Hal swears that about exactly a year later he saw them again one night. Maybe some of the other neighbors happened to bring some back from somewhere else, who knows.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

A Quick Peek At The Girls' Rooms

Since things are a little dreary around here, I thought I'd let you peek into the girls' rooms. I love the bright colors there, and I think both rooms turned out really fun.

Disclaimer: Both these photos were taken shortly after we moved in, when it was still fun for them to keep their rooms clean and school and real life hadn't started back up yet.

Here's Ally's room. We added the beadboard and I think it makes it look kind of fun and beachy, which is what she was going for. This aqua paint is BY FAR the paint that gave me the most stress. The first color was even more "in your face" than this one, if you can imagine it. Even this color kind of glows in the dark. But, she is happy with it so I guess that's mainly what counts. I do like the green that she chose as the accent color. I've also promised her that we can get rid of the Hello Kitty pictures in the frame as soon as we find something that is more "her" at this point in her life. I like the hanging Japanese lantern balls. We had some in her old room but I guessed at the size and ordered the wrong ones. I wish they were bigger.

Here's Morgan's room. Her bedspread was definitely the most expensive one in the house (like three times the cost of mine). But, it was the only one she really loved and I hated the first one she picked out so it was worth it to me. I love how her paint color turned out. We added the board and batten in this room. It was pretty much the same as in her old room. She got the Japanese lantern ball things too, and I wonder if it looks weird, since their rooms are right next to each other. Oh well. I do love her orange pillow. I found out there is a Home Goods store in the Salt Lake area so I made a special trip there and I think it was worth it just for this one pillow. I think I'm going to have to head back there again this summer. We were going to paint the pink tray she uses as a nightstand but we haven't gotten around to it yet. Also, she made a cute bulletin board that has her room colors plus pink in it, so we may just leave it.

Well that's it. Have a bright, cheery day!

Happy Valentine's Day!

Hey, I got roses! I don't usually get roses for Valentine's Day, so it was kind of a big deal. (Austin made the cute decoration in school.)

I don't generally love our white mantel, because it's a little too formal for me, but it matched everything else quite nicely for this month's decorations.

Over the kids photos is my favorite quote, because it's so true. Also my favorite photo of each of the kids. I thought the mantel needed something else, so I made the banner the day Hal took the kids to his mom's when I had bronchitis. I was supposed to be resting but I thought I'd "hurry" and make it. A full three hours later I was done. At least next time I make one (I'm thinking a "summer" one would be really fun) it shouldn't take so long, right?

Hope you had a great day too!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Blessings In Disguise

You know sometimes things happen that have a pretty big impact on us at the time but then for one reason or another we might forget about them. This is something that I haven't thought about in literally years, but then a talk I read this morning reminded me of it. I thought I'd better write it down now, before I forget again, because it made such an impression on me at the time and at least for a little while afterward.

I went out one day to see my friend Patty, who worked at a scrapbook store in North Logan that was owned by her mother-in-law. Somehow I missed Patty and she had already gone home, so I bought what I had gone in for and got ready to leave and finish up the last of my errands as quickly as possible.

As I was walking out I asked her mother-in-law a quick question, just to be polite. Well, either she is a talker by nature (like my mother-in-law) or was lonely, because she didn't give me a quick answer, she just went on and on.

Now, to be honest, I am not much of a "shoot the breeze" type of person. I'm not fond of small talk or filling up space and time with non-essential words. That said, if you see me in person and I talk to you for quite a while it means that either A - I enjoy talking to you as a person more than I enjoy talking to the average person, or B - I am putting off doing something else that I really don't want to do. Or, thinking back on this particular day, C - that I get trapped into talking to you and don't know how to end the conversation.

Anyway, I must have stood there a good 20 minutes trying to figure out how to gracefully exit the premises to get on my way. I think it might have been a school day, so I probably needed to get home before the girls got out of school and I wanted to enjoy those few minutes of peace and quiet that I would have to myself before they came home.

Finally, after what seemed an eternity, I was able to get on my way. I jumped into my car to do a last quick errand before heading home. I pulled onto the highway and headed toward Smithfield.

Less than a block later I realized that things were not looking good traffic-wise. Cars were backed up pretty tight, with nowhere at all to pull off or turn around. I was not happy.

We crawled along for quite a while, taking at least 20 minutes to get to the site of the accident, only a couple blocks away. I was surprised to see that it was very recent and that emergency vehicles were just then arriving on the scene.

Again, I was frustrated at the amount of time I had wasted, both in talking to Patty's mother-in-law and then waiting all that time to get up to and past the accident. I thought about it all the way up to Smithfield and all the way home. I kept thinking how annoyed I was that I wouldn't get my free time and how inconvenienced I was.

Well, luckily something started turning around in my head and I started thinking how inconvenienced the poor people in the accident were. It looked pretty bad, not just a little fender bender, and with the amount of emergency personnel and multiple ambulances that showed up I'm pretty sure the injuries were extensive. One thought led to another and then it dawned on me.

I was truly blessed that day. When I started adding up the timeline of everything, I realized that had I not been talking to Betty (Patty's mother-in-law) for that extra 20 minutes, I might very possibly have been one of the vehicles IN the accident.

I'm not one to think too much about guardian angels or even believe that I have any - at least not specific ones like some people do, but I feel pretty certain that I was saved from something pretty awful that day. I don't know why, but I really do feel that if I hadn't been detained that extra time, things would have turned out very differently for me that day.

For that inconvenient delay, I am truly grateful.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Embarrassing Conversation #697

The following is a true story. I'd like to try and change the names (okay, only MY name) to protect the innocent but as you will see, I did that and it didn't work out so well.

I was sitting in Relief Society on Sunday, a little freaked out about leading the music since it's not something I usually do.

As I was sitting there contemplating all that could go wrong, I realized that a new neighbor that I hadn't met was sitting right behind me. Austin is particularly excited because they have a little girl who is in his class at school.

I turned around to her and said, "Hi, I'm Austin Fronk."

Something in my head didn't click quite right, so when I realized my mistake I said, "Oh no, I'm sorry, I'm not Austin Fronk, I'm Morgan Fronk." (I'm not sure why Morgan's name came up at that time.)

I think I started physically shaking my head once I realized THAT mistake so I tried one last time.

"No, I'm sorry, I don't know why I said that, Austin Fronk is my daughter. He's in your daughter's class at school."

At that point my friend Lisa, who was also sitting behind me, started laughing and said, "Austin isn't your daughter, he's your son."

After that I don't really even know where the conversation went but hopefully the treats that Austin and I am taking them tonight will help with the situation.

Long vacation needed? I think we can all agree on that. (Or some very strong medication.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Next Day .....

So we got yesterday out of the way and with all the stress about the paperwork, final details, etc., on the house - plus extended family stress that I don't even want to go into (though I was dealing with it off and on all day and it finally came to a head right before dinner time), I ended up with a lousy migraine.

I hate migraines because they make me practically worthless for 2 days. Today I have the "hangover" feeling and still the tail end of a headache. (And no, I've never had a hangover in real life, though this is what I would think it would feel like. Weak and lousy feeling, sick to my stomach, etc.)

Hopefully tomorrow I'll be able to bounce back because I'm supposed to go put together some new bookshelves for my mom.

One last note:

We have one side of our fridge that can be seen (very obviously) from the front door.

I've been meaning to make a little chalkboard to put there to put quotes, notes for the kids, etc. on. It will probably be a while before I can get around to making what I am picturing in my head (and figuring out how to attach it to the fridge), but after some of the things that happened yesterday, I felt like I needed to put SOMETHING up there, especially something that our family needs right now. A little reminder of how we want to be.

The reason I think this is timely is because lately I've run into people who seem so short fused and, well, grumpy. Okay, to be honest, we've all had pretty short tempers here at home too. We've had a lot of big, important and stressful things going on. One thing that happens pretty often is that we ALL will seem to have had a bad day and somebody will snap at somebody else when a kind word would go so much further (farther?). We are all so wrapped up in our own problems that we are not thinking of the other family members and trying to help them in their own struggles. So, at least temporarily, I just printed this out and stuck it on the fridge. Don't you think it's a good quote?

Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. -Plato

(I kicked around the idea of just sticking it on a particular child's bedroom door, but then I realized that that might directly conflict with the message that is conveyed here.)

Monday, January 31, 2011


I now have a name for it.

I've never had bronchitis before and, to be honest, if you asked me what it feels like or what the symptoms are or what the cough sounds like I don't think I could even tell you. I just knew it wasn't pneumonia or a sinus infection, just a bad cold that kept changing and getting worse and a cough that wouldn't go away for almost 3 weeks.

So, after a trip to the doctor, medicine that is finally starting to help after 5 days and a steroid breathing treatment that I finally started today and think I did wrong, I think I may start to feel better tomorrow.

I hope. (At least the cough is getting a little better, though my ears still hurt.)

Anyway, in other news:

I am standing by for the phone call to go sign the papers to FINALLY relinquish the ownership of our other house from us to the new buyers. (I met them last week. They are young and cute and seem like they will be nice neighbors. Whew!) We've all been basically sitting around waiting since last Thursday. Stupid banks and their dumb paperwork. Why does it take so long anyway? I really wanted to tell them to just go ahead and start moving stuff in over the weekend, though I guess technically that would be a bad idea. Or illegal. I can't remember which thing the realtors said it was, but I guess we can keep following the rules and play nice.

Even if we think the rules are stupid.

The end.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Side Effects That Can Happen When You Have A Bad Cold/Cough:

I've caught Austin's cold. Not the sinus infection part, mine has been more in my chest/lungs and throat (oh, and ears too). I've also lost my voice off and on for the last week. My kids haven't been too sad about that part.

This cold has been paired with an especially brutal cough. The kind that makes you cough so hard that it hurts and also annoys pretty much everyone in the same room, plus the next two rooms over.

Here are some of the bad side effects of coughing really hard, listed in the order in which I noticed them:

1. You can get a really bad headache. More than once (a day) I've worried about the risk of stroke or aneurysm happening as a direct result of my cough, that's how bad it's been. Along with my antibiotics, I am now taking low-dose aspirin religiously, along with any migraine meds that may be necessary at the time.

2. You can feel like you have given yourself a hernia. Or a double hernia.

3. You can feel like you have cracked a rib (or two, or three).

4. You can feel like you have constant heartburn in your throat from the constant, raspy coughing.

5. It can keep you awake all night, which causes other issues, which are not fun.

6. At night in bed, while you can't sleep, if you turn your head sideways while coughing, you can feel like you cracked your larynx, which is not to be confused with your coccyx, which I actually did break when one of my children was born. It took almost a whole year to mend on its own. Just thought you might like to know that, in case you ever break your own coccyx.

7. You can feel like your lungs are burning so badly it feels like they are on fire and one of them might seriously rupture. (Don't you like my use medical terminology? I'm glad all those medical shows I like to watch are paying off somewhere.)

8. You can get a really bad headache along WITH any/all of the above, which actually happened today.

9. I won't talk about the mucous. You're welcome.

Another strange thing that has happened with this crazy cold is that last week, of course on the day I made the best chicken soup ever - despite feeling really lousy, I lost both my sense of taste and smell. It is not fun. I literally forget to eat or just don't feel like eating. I also forget to fix food for my family, which they have not been too thrilled about.

Even worse, my sense of smell is coming back, but I can only smell things which give me a severe headache, like certain lotions my girls have, some candles, the smell of something in the automotive department at WalMart, etc. Most of the 5 or 6 things I can smell now make me literally sick to my stomach. Doesn't that sound fun?

Ok, I'll stop whining now. Just thought I'd check in before I go take another migraine pill.

So remember, wash your hands! You do not want to get this from me or anyone else. Believe me, I really am trying to stay home as much as possible.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Awkward Family Situation #537

Ok, so it's no secret, Austin is obsessed with Harry Potter.

My mom, out of the goodness of her heart, bought him a Harry Potter shirt - he's never, ever had one - at Hot Topic, because they were going out of business and the shirt was dirt cheap. It was also kind of in his favorite color, kind of an orangish red.

She was excited to give it to him. He was excited to receive it.

The problem?

She brought it over (and she did warn me ahead of time that it was "a little big"), he put it on and then came the part where I didn't know what to do......

It is OBVIOUSLY a WOMAN'S t-shirt. It has a girly neckline and an hourglass shape and slinky-ish fabric. Luckily, since it has short sleeves, we have talked him into only wearing it for pajamas, but come spring it may have to disappear.

(Did I mention, it is OBVIOUSLY a woman's shirt?)

We did finally try to tell Austin it is a woman's shirt, but he will NOT listen. I think I just need to get online and find him a boy's Harry Potter shirt, even if it costs me a lot.

(I don't think I will post a photo, because I don't want it to come back and haunt him when he grows up and is a brilliant politician or something. He might get accused of "cross dressing, even from a young age".)

And really, should I say anything to my mom?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Weird Medical Fact Of The Day:

(I hope you're not eating right now. If so, you may want to read this later.)

Did you know that:

If you get a sinus infection and it gets bad enough, the mucous will start to come out of your EYES?

It's true. It happened to Austin, who will not allow me to post a photo as evidence.

I thought he had a cold, along with pinkeye. I was very relieved to find out from the doctor that it was "only" a sinus infection and that I wasn't going to have to wash virtually everything in my house.


Well, I am pretty sure we have definitely sold our home.

We haven't signed on the final dotted line yet, though we have signed and initialed many, many papers in the last couple of weeks, each one getting us closer to our common goal, transferring ownership from us to them. So, I guess technically it could still fall through, though I know that we and the (potential) buyers are all very serious about it - not that we have been able to meet them yet. The realtors have done a really good job of keeping us separated, as if they are afraid we will strike up a deal behind their backs and cut them out.

I do like what I know of them so far. A young couple, no kids yet - just like Hal and I were when we first bought the house. (I don't really feel like I can call it "our" house any more. I now think of it as "the" house, or even "their" house. I think that's a good sign.) The first offer was respectful, not the 30 or 40 thousand below asking price that I've heard some buyers are trying to pull. They asked for about ten thousand below asking, with closing costs. We countered back with four thousand below and six thousand in closing costs, keeping into consideration that we would still have to pay for the new furnace and air conditioning unit that will be necessary. After the cold winter we had last year with a furnace that only barely worked, I wouldn't feel good about selling it unless we made it right. I won't even go into how sweltering the last few summers were with a swamp cooler that either was on and leaked, or I kept off. It had to be replaced, no question.

So, we had a deal. Or so we all thought.

Then the appraisal came in.

Fifteen thousand below asking price, eleven thousand LESS than what we had agreed on.


Not only were we upset, they were upset also. They were still willing to pay what we had agreed on, even said they thought it was worth it (according to our realtor). The only problem is that the bank didn't see it that way at all. Not at all. And, to add insult to injury, the appraisal will stay on record, making it impossible for any appraisal to come in higher for 6 months. (Thank you President Obama, for the mess and the new guidelines that made this whole thing possible. None of us had any say over the appraiser. Now the bank orders whoever they want AND it was someone who is not even from around here. He told our realtor he was having trouble finding comps, which is basically where the final numbers came from.)

I am not willing to hang in there for 6 more months. Time to cut our losses and walk away. The stress of keeping two houses is too much, especially with warm weather and two yards to keep up. I don't really love yard work. Hal really likes it, but I thought last summer was going to stretch him to the breaking point with everything else he has going on right now.

I guess we are lucky because, according to our realtor, a lot of buyers walk away if a house doesn't appraise for more than they pay, so they feel like they are getting a good deal.

And, (according to our realtor again) we should take comfort in the fact that all houses are coming in way low these days. The only problem is that we bought the house we are in before all the houses were being appraised way low. Basically we're just out of luck.

So, we were back to the drawing board with the offer. Back and forth on the phone from them to their realtor, to our realtor, and back to each of us; Hal on his cell phone and me at home with a sick kid. I kept saying, "Can't we just sit down with them and hash it out in person?" Of course my realtor refused. She is pretty firm on this "no personal contact" idea. My main concern was that our intentions or the tone of our voices might get lost in translation somewhere down the line as we were trying to respectfully negotiate. I was pretty sure that we all had the same final goal, so I don't really feel that the deal was at stake, which was helpful. My stress level was already pretty high at that point.

So, back and forth it went all day. Negotiating and then renegotiating closing cost percentages, who will fix what, what can wait, etc. The final price was pretty much non-negotiable, it was the appraisal price (thank you again, President Obama). Even our realtor said she wouldn't tell a client to pay over the appraisal price.

But, we signed the final offer this morning. Two things for us to fix and a few more things to move out of the house. The tool shed is a whole different story, but one way or another it will get done.

We will move forward. Work on the remodeling here a little slower. Maybe take a little longer to get this house paid off. Not a big deal in the grand scheme of things. We are still where we want to be. We're still going to Disneyland as planned in the spring because I booked the tickets right after the first offer was agreed upon and before the appraisal messed everything up (I knew there was a chance things could fall through). Non-refundable tickets. I don't care. My kids haven't had a vacation for 2 years and I promised they would get one when we sold the house - remember, I called it our "vacation home" because as long as we owned it, we were not going to get a vacation. Austin has only been to Disneyland as a baby, so he doesn't remember it. (Of course he wishes it were Harry Potter World, but I keep reminding him he's not tall enough yet for the big ride. That still buys some time.) I'm excited to go and see him experience it for the first time (that he can remember).

(I guess I really have been stressing out about this more than I have consciously felt. My face has broken out in big boils, like I've only seen one other time - when Hal was put in as Bishop and we knew for two weeks before we could tell anyone. Now THAT was stressful. Not a fun secret to keep.)

I'm extremely glad the problems were with the appraisal and not negotiating back and forth with the new people. This way I'm really only annoyed with some anonymous institution and not my new neighbors, so it isn't personal. I am curious about how much their realtor has told them about US. (If he's like our realtor, they probably know nothing, except for our names.) I hope they don't have any negative preconceptions about us because of the trouble we had coming up with a final agreement.

That could make things rather awkward when we show up on their doorstep with cookies and introduce ourselves as their new neighbors.

Pillar of Salt

Well, it looks like we may have finally sold our home. The feelings are very bittersweet.

I hadn't really missed the other house one bit, hadn't really thought about it at all.

Until I needed to go over there for one reason or another.

I'd just figured that since I like our situation here better I wouldn't look back. I'm not sentimental like my husband or kids. I wonder if it's because I moved so much as a kid. Or the fact that most of my memories of the house I spent the longest time in growing up, and where my parents still live, aren't that great. (Don't get me wrong, I wasn't horribly abused or anything, we were just not a family that spent much time together so, being the only girl in a house full of boys and with parents who were occupied with other things, it was quite lonely most of the time. Thank heavens I knew how to read!)

Actually, now that I think about it, the house we are selling WAS the house that I've spent the longest time in, 19 years. That is more than double the time I spent in my parents' house, I lived there about 8 years.

Anyway, the last few times I've been over to our old house I've just felt a little sad to leave it. I wanted to stay and just look around in every room. There are so many strong memories that were made there. We brought all 4 babies home to that house. One of my babies took his last breaths on my bed in that house, while my husband and I held him. Not the best memory, but I'm so glad we were able to be with him and knew ahead of time that it was inevitable. Some people questioned our decision to bring him home to die, but I'm so glad we did. Our other kids ran, giggling, up and down the hallway between the kitchen and the bedrooms in that house for years. We've planted trees in their honor there. They started their first days of school since 1999 in that house, celebrated their first birthdays, their first missing teeth (the girls anyway, Austin is still waiting), their first baths and many, many more firsts. There was also some heartbreak in that house, many years of infertility treatments and disappointments and other things I'm happy to leave behind (like the memories of putting the play yard set together), but when I am over there I only remember the good times. I think I still like that kitchen better, even though it is a lot smaller than the one here. I miss the one long area of counter space where the kids and I rolled out countless cookies, or Hal made his apple pies and everything just made sense where it would go. Sometimes you really don't know what you will miss until you don't have it. There were a lot of good times in that kitchen.

But, when I'm not there I'm here, and I'm happy. Very happy. And I'm busy, which is good. Busy planning and doing and creating and living the many, many memories that I hope to have in this home.

This week we will be cleaning out the last of our things and getting ready for the new owners to move in. We are fixing up a couple of things. (Did you know that things break almost more easily in a home that is vacant? Who knew you should run the dishwasher once in a while so the seal won't dry out and crack.) We will be taking the last of our books out of the shelves that Hal built himself. We will be bringing them to this house, where we have plans for Hal to build more shelves for our many, many volumes of books. We are looking ahead and getting started on some of the remodeling that we had to wait on for the other house to sell. (I might actually get rid of the racing stripes in my kitchen after all!) We are looking ahead and feeling good. There is most likely new insulation and most definitely new windows in our future. Plus some new brick and some kind of new siding for the outside to make it more our style. A bathroom to repaint and remodel. And so the list goes on. There is a lot to do and it will most likely be stressful, but it will also be fun to see the progress as we make this into OUR home. The hardest thing for me will be to be patient. The numbers didn't come in well at all for our sale, so we will have to move a little slower than we had originally planned.

It will be interesting to see what changes the new owners will make in the other house. After all the work we've done here, I am curious to see what they will do to make it theirs.

Even though I am looking ahead and very satisfied with where we are right now and where we are headed, I have much more empathy for Lot's wife. It's going to be really hard not to look back, especially when you know that you are there for the very last time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Last year was the most emotionally exhausting, physically taxing and financially draining year we've had in a long time.

It was also one of the best.

Seriously, how does that even work?

Most years I'm just glad to be done and move on and hope things get better.

This is the first time in a very long time that I can look back and say, "That was a pretty good year." I can finally see some progress toward a couple of my major goals. (And yes, one of my major goals was to get ALL the kids in school all day. Now I can really enjoy them when they come home. And yes again, if you know me well you will know I was itching to get into a better house for our family. We had outgrown the other one about 7 years ago. We moved into it as a starter home with no kids, thinking we'd live there for 2 years and then find something we really liked, with a better floor plan. 19 years later, we finally made the change. Now I finally feel like I'm at home. AND we can all sit comfortably in the family room, which is a big plus.)

With that said, I'm excited to see what 2011 has in store for us here.