Thursday, December 31, 2009

Double Digits

I don't know about you, but I am ready to send this year up in flames and start anew. Oh the resolution possibilites... Double digits are always better right?

Monday, December 28, 2009

Making Up For Lost Time

I failed. I committed to thirty days of gratitude and did 11ish. That's less than fifty percent. That's terrible. In my defense, we have had a broken collar bone, Sucrose Guy traveling extensively, my mom move in with us, my mom move out into her own house, the flu, and Christmas. But, just to make sure I complete the task at hand, least I be a quitter...and to assure you have have many things to be grateful for, I give you the other 19ish things that deserve a little thanks in my life.

12. My bed. Oh how I love this piece of furniture. It comforts me at the end of a long day and reminds me there is always tomorrow.

13. My dogs. They never mouth off and really isn't that reason enough?

14. Christmas vacation. While two weeks off school is a tad bit excessive, I love spending time with the kids and not having a schedule. I love doing things at our own pace rather than living by the dictates of the calendar.

15. A roof over my head. While the house we are currently in isn't my favorite. It is a roof over my head and shelter from the uber harsh Arizona winter.

16. Service. There is no better way to be reminded of what you are blessed with than to serve another. No matter how bad I think my problems are, I have come to understand with every act of service, I am grateful I have been given the burdens I have and not the trials and tribulations given to others I have known and served.

17. Fuzzy socks. To slip on a pair of fuzzy socks on a gloomy day kinda makes the day seem ok.

18. Tutoring. I love to see the wheels turn in the minds of young people and to see the kindling of a fire when a child begins to understand a concept and a whole new world opens up to them.

19. The writers group I go to. They humor me by laughing at my jokes and they think I am smart. It's a little boost to the ego every time I go. Everyone should have a place to go where they can feel that.

20. The peppermint dark chocolate ice cream at Cold Stone only available during the holidays. This mouth melting ice cream in combination with crushed oreos is the best dessert ever. The fact it is only available one month a year makes it that much better.

21. Date night. They seem to be less frequent than I would like, but I love when we get to spend time together and remind ourselves of why we dated and got married in the first place. It is on these occasions I am reminded that I not only love him, but I really like him.

22. My car. Although we are currently a one car family, and have been for a year now, AND I just had to spend an arm and a leg on it in "scheduled maintenance," I am so grateful to have four wheels to get me around. I am not going to sugar coat it, I hate exercise and I am glad I don't have to ride a bike everywhere I go.

23. Teachers. My kids have great ones and I can never underestimate the importance of great teachers.

24. Technology. It is pretty much a given that if I was required to hand write letters to keep in touch with friends and family, I would be in trouble. I am grateful for modern technology in all its glory that allows me to keep in touch and watch families grow up.

25. Texting. Technically I know it's technology. But it is in a class all on its own. I love that there is no longer a need for a 45 minute friendly conversation to borrow a cup of sugar. A simple "do u hav sugar i can borrow?" solves the daily dilemmas of life.

26. Laughter. It truly is the best medicine.

27. Family. Everyone needs a tribe to which they feel like they belong.

28. Chicken and waffles. Yes, my birthday present this year was a trip to Lulu's Chicken and Waffles and it did not disappoint. All the servers wore t-shirts that said "Ghetto Hen." I have decided I need one of those.

29. Super Target. While this store is sooooo dangerous for me, I love that I can get my kids clothes, computer supplies, birthday presents, and my groceries in the same place. Those people at Target are geniuses!

30. Joy. I will always be grateful that I have it, but more importantly, I am grateful I know how to recognize it in all its forms.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Very Merry Christmas Indeed

In a year where it would be easy to forget what is really important, Hollywood, Curly, and the Wee one have certainly anchored me in rememberance. Joy is found in the little things, and in the time spent together. This is what I will always be most grateful for.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Wishing and Hoping

Dear Santa,

I really am trying to find the Christmas cheer and be grateful for all I have been blessed with. But the offspring are making it difficult. I don't know how you do it managing all those elves! Why aren't you crying every day asking them if they hate you? Is Mrs. Clause the enforcer in your home so that you can maintain your holiday cheer through the season? I guess if I could eat cookies and hot cocoa all day and find social acceptance in being a "jolly soul" I wouldn't mind the 20 pounds I put on drowning my cares in sugar.

This morning Hollywood stepped in the sleigh in front of the tree and is now complaining his foot hurts. He said it was dark and he couldn't see it. I say he probably thought it was funny to sit in the sleigh and pretend Rudolph was guiding him. I told him limping or not, he was going to school.

Shortly after pedaling pain relievers to both of the older ones and racing to get them in the gate before the morning bell rang, the wee one came running in with her nose scrunched and trying to blow snot rockets. There was an open bag of fruit snacks in her hand and before she even said it, I knew what she had done. I spent the next fifteen minutes with a pair of tweezers dislodging the half chewed fruit snack from her right nostril. Upon successful extraction, she joyfully exclaimed, "yea Momma you did it. Good job!" I reminded her that fruit snacks do not go anywhere but our mouths to which she replied "got it."

Curly's really been a trooper with her broken collar bone (the Motrin is largely facilitating this). But yesterday, she tripped over a cord and fell on her way out the door to school. Then, at lunch, a kid at school plowed into her shoulder which brought on immediate tears and a trip to the nurse. She told her teacher she was fine and stuck out the rest of the day. I am sure it had something to do with the fact they were building gingerbread houses and each got to take home a giant bag of candy and treats.

So this year Santa, will you bring me a vacation? It could come in the form of a hotel for one just to sleep uninterrupted for the night, or a trip to Hawaii, whichever is better for the budget. At this point, I would even take a sound proof room with padded walls and a door that locked from the inside. If it is convenient, just pick me up in the sleigh when you drop by on Christmas eve. Free airfare is always a bonus.

Gotta run, the wee one has been in the bathroom an awefully long time and she's quiet. That's never a good sign.

Still Believing,


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Where is the Love

One little monkey jumping on the bed
She fell off and smacked her head
Momma called the doctor and the doctor said
A broken clavical isn't very magical
So no more monkey jumping on the bed.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Make New Friends, but Keep the Old...

I have never really considered a myself a great friend. I am not entirely thoughtful, I never write thank you's (even though I always think I will), I don't call often, and I discovered last night when I awoke at three in the morning from a terrible nightmare, that I will leave you to fend for yourself if we are in a room together with a psychopath. I am so bad that while I was searching through my digital photos for a picture with friends, I didn't have a single one so I had to google images of friends for the blog picture.

Nevertheless, there are those who will still call me friend. So to all of you, I say thank you. I have learned something from every one of you. There are some of you who will tell me my butt looks terrible in plaid (you get extra thanks!). There are some who will listen to me whine about mundane things. There are some who will let me cry on your shoulder. There are some who let me entertain you so that I can feel like I am good at something. What would I do without all of you? Probably shrivel right up and melt like the wicked witch of the west.

Today, and always, I am grateful for you. Next year, I might even try to be a better friend. Well, at least maybe I'll work on hugging without cringing.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Eternal Family

For several months now there has been quite a heated debate over a new temple to be built in the city of Phoenix. There are a couple dozen people who have come together in vehement opposition of it being built. Throughout this time frame, several planning committee meetings have been well attended and emotions have run high on both sides. According to Arizona law, the church has the right to built a temple here, to light it however they want, and to have a steeple height of over 70 feet since steeple height is unregulated in the state. The issue is a grating of a 10 foot variance to accommodate the height of the actual building. In every preliminary meeting, the committees have always voted in favor of the variance approval. Last night was the City Council meeting in which the Mayor and Council would cast the deciding votes regarding the issue. The meeting was held in the Opheum Theater downtown to accommodate all of the people in attendance. The theater was filled to near capacity, yet only 98 people present were in opposition. Vehement opposition.

For the past several weeks, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints have been encouraged to attend this City Council meeting to show their support of the temple. When I heard it was on a Wednesday night, I nearly dismissed the idea of going entirely. Logan has football games, I have tutoring, and another commitment was scheduled for this night as well. But as the days on the calendar flew by, I began to think, "what if I don't go and the variance isn't grated. What if I could have taken a stand and didn't."

Admittedly, it is a little known fact that I do not in any way shape or form enjoy confrontation regarding issues of a religious nature. Most people who know me are surprised to discover I am a Mormon. I have come to realize this probably because while I have an infinite amount of faith in the gospel, I do not often take a stand. Thus, my palms began to sweat profusely when I slapped on the neon pink name tag which read "I Support the Temple" in big black lettering just before entering the theater.

I knew in that moment I had boldly professed where I stood, and they I may be beaten in a dark parking structure for it. I knew, that if asked, I needed to show others why I know temples are important, and why it is important for Phoenix to have a temple. It's importance is not found in the sales tax or other revenue that will be brought into the city as a result of people coming to the temple. It is not in the increase of property values which often accompanies temples being built. It is not in the peace I find in walking the gardens of the temple grounds.

The importance of this temple being built rests in the family. Within the walls of the temple, families are sealed together forever by the priesthood authority of God. This means that the family unit is sealed together for time and all eternity. Relationship persevere beyond the grave and our mortal existence. Because of the temple, I know that what I have worked so hard here on earth to create within my family will be carried on into eternity. I believe that is worth taking a stand for.

Today I am grateful for temples. I am even more grateful Phoenix will soon have one.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The Long Road

Today is a big day. A day filled with more gratitude than even I have words for. Since 1971 Momma Bear has worked with the Michigan Department of State. She started part time as a clerk issuing driver's licenses and car title transfers. She retires today as the head of the Motorcycle Safety Division for the entire state.

There has been so much I have learned watching her throughout her career. She has taught me persistence, and diligence. She has taught me courage in pursuit of a better life. She has taught me to be fearless in the face of opposition. She has taught me independence and strength. As an adult, I have come to understand the sacrifices she has made for us as her children.

Today several chapters end and a new one begins. There are still many pages left to write in her book. There is still so much she has to give. There are still many lessons I have left to learn. The first begins on Saturday when she calls the southwest her new home.

Friday, November 27, 2009


Yes, I know I missed yesterday, but let's be honest, who doesn't focus on what they are thankful for on Thanksgiving. We spent the day with the scarecrow and his wife and her parents. We sat around the table eating a delicious meal, followed by desserts, and then a few card games. We chatted about this and that, and there was a heated discussion about whether Beef Stew or Spinach was more plain. I voted beef stew, but those in opposition argued at least beef stew can be seasoned, spinach is just spinach. I argued in favor of the spinach because it is colorful, flavorful, and quite healthy. I even used the word "saucy." Scarecrow suggested I dress up as a leaf of spinach for Halloween next year and see how many people call it "saucy." He's rather snarky that one.

I ended the evening with a picture to send to Momma Bear, and the word courage came to mind. As I focused the frame and did a little jig in a failed attempt to get the wee one to smile, I realized every person in the picture lived their life with courage.

Scarecrow exemplifies courage every day by not being defined by a life altering medical condition. One which would leave me rocking in the fetal position in the corner of a dark room. Cosette demonstrates courage by following her heart and living within a set of circumstances that are not part of the dream she built for herself. Hollywood showed much courage by maintaining his standards despite being bullied at school for them. Curly showed courage in attempting to read regardless of the stumbling books she faced and now reaps the fruits of her labors. The wee one probably demonstrates the most courage of all. She has the courage to do naughty things every day in spite of the fact she knows she will be totally busted for them. Her precocious nature is undeterred in sprinkling pepper on the play food, smashing play- dough against the walls of the closet, and lathering the dog in sun tan lotion, because at the end of the day, the thrill of the experiment is more meaningful to her than the time out she receives. Lets just hope she follows in the footsteps of those before her and uses her powers for good not evil.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Fortune Favors the Brave

It's been a crazy day around here. Between the baking of pies and rolls for the big turkey day tomorrow, cleaning, work, and school, the last thing on my mind was dinner. So after picking some more of those delicious tangerines and grapefruits, we headed off to dinner. It's been awhile since we have had Chinese, and one of my favorite places is over by Grammy's new digs, so we decided to have dinner there.

This particular establishment has these savory cream cheese wantons as appetizers. I mean who can't love a deep fried crispy dough stuffed with cream cheese, green onion, and watercress? While debating whether to purchase 4 or 6 of these bite size pieces of heaven, I was informed that Wednesday is Wanton Wednesday and they are only a quarter each. At that price it was easily determined that 10 would be the perfect amount.

After a feeble attempt to enjoy a delicious dinner with a maniac two year old, a sassy six year old, a grumpy nine year old, and a tired husband, the fortune cookies were quickly distributed. We all took turns reading ours, and sucrose guy read his last. His said "You will have a good position and a comfortable salary." He thinks it was fate he received that particular fortune in that particular cookie, when really he could have received any other cookie with one of our forgettable fortunes just as easy.

Either way, with $.25 wantons and a fortune like that, how can I not be grateful for today?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Food for the Soul

Tuesdays just might be my favorite day of the week. On Tuesday, it's all about the music. For a few hours every week, I don't have to be a mom, a wife, a teacher; or think about the bills, the laundry, or what to make for dinner. I just sing. I have come to understand that part of who I am craves the opportunity to create. Everyone needs that. To be creating something, or feel validation in something they are doing. Music and writing do this for me.They make me feel connected to something bigger than myself and my day to day struggles.

Today was an extra special Tuesday since Pilgrims and Indians sang too. There was one adorable little Pilgrim standing proudly on the end of the second row with the rest of the "blue group." She was accompanied by rain stick and maraca shakers, and four little drummers. But the music teacher looked like she took a few hits from the peyote pipe before the performance. I might too if I was orchestrating 80 Pilgrims, Indians, and turkeys. Or maybe she was just in her creative zone...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Sucrose Guy

There are certainly more than ten things I could list for the many reasons I am grateful for this guy, in fact, if I thought about it long enough, I could probably do 30 days of gratitude all on the subject of him. Sure he drives me a little bonkers on occasion, but mostly, he does things for me I would never do for him.

When we were married only about 3 years, both Logan and I had the flu. Not just any flu, but the mother of all flu's. The kind where you can't even lift your head from the pillow without projecting all kinds of nasty from your mouth flu. It was so bad we even gave it to the dog, so he was left to clean up after all three of us. On his birthday no less. Three years later, when that flu came back around for him and he spewed all kinds of nasty all over the bathroom door in his feeble attempt to make it to the toilet, I was not so generous to return the favor of cleaning up after him. There are a lot of things I can do, but vomit, even from kids, is something I am just not capable of dealing with. That there is just a small sampling of the many things he sacrifices for me.

Today, we are just grateful he is coming home. We have missed him, so now, we are off to the airport to fetch him and give him a grand welcome home!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Here We Are Together

Did I really commit to 30 days of gratitude? Seems a little excessive. I am already struggling at day 3. Hmmm.

Today was a rather sad day for me. I was released from being the Primary Chorister at church. To some, teaching 100 kids songs every week might sound as apealing as repeatedly stabbing yourself in the eye with a knitting needle. But for me, these little people are a bright spot in my week. I love their crazy comments, I love their smiles and their laughter, I love that whenever I see any of them at school, or in a store, or at the park, they always come up to say hello. The younger ones will even run up with their arms wide open for a hug.

Being with the adults really isn't as fun. They don't enjoy human spinner. They don't jump up on their chairs when singing "Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam." They don't even sing "Jesus Wants Me For A Sunbeam." This whole hanging out with people my own age is definitely going to take some getting used to.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


I love autumn. I love everything about it. The crisp air that almost burns when entering the lungs, the hues of red, yellow, and orange in the turning leaves, the smell of apples being pressed at an orchard, and the taste of a warm cinnamon sugar doughnut at the mill.

There are not many of these things to be found in central Arizona, but there is one thing I can always count on. The pumpkin patch. For me, going to the pumpkin patch in October for Halloween is as big of a deal as putting up a tree in December for Christmas. This year sucrose guy thought perhaps we needed to bypass the trip with the grim financial forecast we are experiencing. I told him I would take to the pole for a few nights if I had to so we could go. The compromise was taking a hit from the grocery budget.

Growing up a city girl, I have always found a certain novelty in visiting farms. The baby pigs in a pen to pet, the little yellow chicks running around pecking the ground, the shimmering black cow mooing, and the goats eating from my palm all bring me delusions of having my own animal menagerie one day.

Someday, I will have the white salt box house with black shutters on 6 acres of sloping land with one brown spotted cow, 4 baby chicks pecking the corn meal scattered about, and a pink pot belly pig lying on the front porch next to the dogs. Noticeably absent will be the nasty, pellet pooping, stinky goats that run up and ram you in the bum when you are not feeding them enough.

Until then, I will always be thankful for the pumpkin patch.

Friday, November 20, 2009

An Attitude of Gratitude

It's been a rough week. I have been channelling my inner grumpy Gus. Or maybe I feel a little like Alexander and his "terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day." Either way it's not good. Last week at church I was asked to be the Assistant Compassionate Services Leader. I cried. I told them they have the wrong girl, because I don't really like people. They laughed. I wasn't kidding.

Then I saw this video and felt like a loser. I know how much I have to be grateful for. I really should start expressing it more and show more joy, less sarcasm. To this end I am attempting an experiment. I am going to express my gratitude for the little things every day. Things like the play dough smashed against the back inside wall of the craft closet compliments of the wee one while I was vacuuming yesterday. I am going to chronicle gratitude for 30 days. Perhaps it will help me show more compassion to those I serve (Umm, doubtful). Perhaps my heart will grow from it's current condition of "two sizes too small." Or, perhaps, it will just help me develop the habit of writing every day. But let me start with today.

Today, I am grateful for the free tangerines we are picking from a family friend's tree. They are truly delicious. The juice runs down your arm before you are even finished peeling them. They are also sweet enough to stave off even the wickedest craving for gummy bears. I hope the same can be said when the chocolate pies at Thanksgiving appear.

So tell me, what is it you are thankful for?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oh No She Didn't

She looks so innocent lying there. Like maybe that's how she behaves all day. Well that would not exactly be true. Something inside of her has awakened...and I am not going to lie, it's a little beasty. She is not the first of my children to have this awakening. In fact, we are three for three. It is during these awakenings I want to send them on the slow boat to China for a six month cruise.

But because there are now two older siblings to try and outwit, she is getting pretty crafty. Last week when we went to Costco, I promised her a churro. Upon receiving said churro despite questionable behavior in the store including a rousing game of "Where's Waldo," she immediately licked one entire side so that I couldn't share it with her. Did I mention she's two? Two.

This week's antics include squirting carpet cleaner into the tv while I was trying to srub out the blueberries she mashed in the carpet, resulting in the tv shorting out and being unusable. She has peed countless times on floor because she didn't want to stop what she was doing to go to the bathroom, most notable was was when she peed at the table because she didn't want to leave her dinner. It was not quite the cooking compliment I was looking for. She has stuck gum in her eyelashes, stickers up her nose, drawn on every wall up the stairs, and painted her foot with white out from daddy's office. Yesterday I found a pink streak of lip gloss down the dog's back. She's lucky she's could very well be her life saving mechanism.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

This is Halloween

I must admit, Halloween is my favorite holiday. After all, it is a holiday with the sole purpose of collecting and consuming as much sugar as your insulin receptors will allow. In our house, it is also the only time I can talk Hollywood into going shopping with me. We go to lunch, and then we plot out where the best place is going to be to find the perfect costume. We get to talk about friends and things happening on the playground. This time we even had to have the conversation about the difference between when a girl says she likes you and when a boy says he likes a girl. Which boils down to the difference between "like" and "like like" Aren't forth grade girls supposed to be into Barbies and Easy Bake ovens, not my son?

Then it's Curly and the Wee one's turn. This year they decided to be matching kittys. We had to scour the valley looking for the right size. We found it about 45 minutes away and headed off. The conversation with a six year old and two year old is quite different than that of a nine year old. We sat on the bar stools at Johnny Rockets for lunch and talked about who was nice at school over grilled cheese squares. We talked about getting our nails done and what color they would be. The wee one interjected a few thoughts, but mostly she just blew bubbles in her root beer.
When the big day arrived, the pumpkins had been carved, and the mummy dogs consumed, we headed out with some friends for the big night. The four big kids were done about an hour and a half into it. Not the wee one, she was a warrior. We kept asking, "Are you done?" The answer was always, "Not yet."
The next morning she locked herself in the bedroom with the dogs and consumed 2/3 of the haul. A preempted strike was then formulated by Hollywood and Curly to protect their loot. If only they were so vigilant with the laundry.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Gotta Feelin'

With a little of this on Mondays...

And a little of this on Wednesdays and Fridays...

And a lot of this in between...

(yes that is an entire tube of lipstick on her face, we won't even talk about the fruit snack wrapers all over the floor)

My bedtime is inching up a half hour every day.

At this rate, I will be going to bed at the same time as the kids by Thursday.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

In The Name of Love

The other day while I was at physical therapy getting work done on this,

There was a scrawny, pimply faced 20 year old talking about a concert he had seen the night before. He began to drone on about how horrible the lead singer was, and that the stage wasn't even that great. After about five minutes, he said the unthinkable. That the band was old and needed to just go away. Since I knew there was only one concert in town the night before, and I was there, I immediately sized him up and knew I could take him in a throw down. And throw down I did. Because after all, when Bono brings you nothing short of a deafening night of sheer joy, you must make it known that you worship at the alter of U2.

And so I give you the same reasons I gave in my physical therapy throw down in defense of Bono, The Edge, Adam, and Larry:

1. This was the largest set EVER built for a concert, however, despite the cost, the band insisted general admission tickets be sold at $30 to allow those on a budget in a recession could still receive the U2 joy.

2. Who else can bring together a sold out crowd of 90,000 that included the likes of Mohammad Ali and John and Cindy McCain. I mean Desmond Tutu on screen, Black Eyed Peas on stage and John McCain in the audience? Can't get any more juxtaposed.

3. Nothing sounds quite like 90,000 people singing Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For.

4. Bono singing Stuck in A Moment with nothing but The Edge strumming an acoustic guitar is what the angels will sound like in heaven.

5. You know it's a good day when you are in the bathroom at Cardinals stadium and you feel nothing but pure joy even though you have to stand in line for 20 minutes to relieve yourself of the Diet Coke you spent $6 on.

6. Who else has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize for a campaign that has sent 34 million African children to school, with an additional 4 million children vaccinated, and can sell out stadiums around the world? Nobody, that's who!

7. Where else can you have the roof of a stadium open and see the stars above while three giant disco balls create a galaxy of their own within the walls while dancing to With or Without You?

8. When you are having a year like we are, and your mom surprises you with tickets to a concert you have talked about for months, and then fly's out to watch your kids for said concert, you begin to see how people become saviors for one another.

So to the goth kid I still see three times a week, add some Joshua Tree, a little Auchtung Baby, sprinkled with All That You Can't Leave Behind, and a few No Line on the Horizon to your ipod. Educate yourself in the school of musical genius and then come talk to me.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

I Would've Loved you anyway...

Turns out we didn't need the idontknowhowtosmile vaccination at all.

Like most childhood ailments that I tend to obsess far too much about;

They just out grew it.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Brand New Day

Crazy hair day for a crazy life!

Not so long ago sucrose guy (we are far to poor to call him sugar daddy, but he's still sweet) and I were in the car having a discussion about the experiences we have had in the past year and why different experiences are not readily coming to us. He suggested that I need to write down the experiences we were having so that we could reflect on them, and learn what we needed to learn so that we could move on.

I immediately dismissed the idea, since nearly every day he tells me that I need to write more, sell a book, blah, blah, blah. This in combination with the fact that I not really into journaling, and the fact that I am not into overly personal blogs, was enough to swiftly give him my usual brush off. He however, is quite used to my tactics and made me give him a date by which I would promise to write the experiences down. I grumbled, but being more fed up with life circumstances than I am blogging, I have met the day of my deadline and am sitting at the computer writing them down. Kind of...

Growing up my aunt used to have a large crystal that hung over the kitchen sink in front of the window. Even on a cloudy day, the prism would reflect light from several different surfaces. I think trials are much in the same, in that they can be viewed from many different angles. The cheery "oh I am so blessed because I have this this and this angle." The dodgy "I'm fine" angle. The optimistic "well I know it could be so much worse" angle. And the forgotten perspective angle of "Holy crap when is this going to be over?" I have mastered many of these angles. However, my favorite is the "complain about everything minor in your life to everyone around you so you don't have to talk about the real stuff" angle. Since we are just being honest, and he is making me write it all down, I will tell you sucrose guy latched onto the "I don't want to talk about it" angle for most of this year.

Before I begin the list of experiences we have had this past year, I must tell you I have heard every pep talk on the planet. We have had our names put on prayer roles, we have had council, and we have had help. Above all, yes I know, it could be worse. We have friends hold newborns only a few hours before they left mortality, we have had friends loose battles with cancer, we have had loved ones struggle with disease and financial ruin. I am grateful what I have maintained and grown through this year. I am grateful we have been provided for and most importantly that we have not been swallowed up in despair, but rather found great joy in the things around us. I am grateful that even after short selling a house and losing $200,000 on a house for a job transfer, Nathan having two kidney surgeries, then losing his job, being out of work for four months, completely dissolving all of our life savings, finding a new job but at a 65% pay cut and no health care, praying the kids don't get sick because we can't afford to take them to the doctor, a kindergartner who struggled through the first year of school, a son who has struggled immensely to find his place in this new world we moved him into, and me being completely immobile for a month after tearing all of the ligaments in my ankle that we have still found joy in our lives. I am grateful that I still know how to laugh at life and all that it entails.

I am grateful that while I certainly have had moments of disbelief at being able to financially survive another day, I still find joy in having dinner together as a family, swimming together at the pool, acting out Book of Mormon stories in Family Home Evening, and brownie Sunday. Because at the end of the day, I know that happiness is my responsibility, no one can find it for me, and no one can take it away.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Morning Song

I fear I may have missed my calling in life. Sure, I enjoy cracking jokes, writing, singing in large, very large groups, but really what I love is food. Any kind of food. Right down to scrounging for the change at the bottom of my purse to sample the new favor of gum from Orbit.

I am the one who tivo's shows on the Food Network. I am the one who secretly wishes I could attempt the "kitchen sink" challenge on Man vs. Food. Not because I believe I need two gallons of ice cream to soothe myself, but the thought of choosing six flavors of ice cream to ping upon thousands of my taste buds is my idea of going to my happy place.
All of my dream vacations revolve around food to some degree. Before I die, and preferably before I am 40, I must visit Hershey Pennsylvania. I believe heaven is waiting for me there in a giant tub full of warm chocolate at their chocolate spa. On my bucket list is also Vermont, to not only see the trees change in the fall, and witness the sap dripping from trees, but also to commune with Ben and Jerry in all their glory. I must visit England, not just to see Shakespeare's home, and the bridges William Wordsworth sat upon while composing, but to bask in the glory of as many free samples I can consume without hurling at the Cadbury factory.
However, the one attainable manna that has alluded me in the 11 states I have resided is the chicken and waffles. There is no combination I am more fascinated by, and nothing my taste buds crave more than the heat of the hot sauce against the moist juices mingled among spices in a beautiful piece of fried chicken all while the wafting aromas of vanilla and warm maple syrup from a crisp waffle await me.
I have scoured Zaggat in search of the manna. I have tried to convince my husband that two hours is not an unreasonable drive for a perfect meal. This unattainable meal has now become more than a bucket list check to mark off, it has entered the realm of birthday wishes. I dream of a birthday not with cake and ice cream, but a nice big candle in the middle of a piece of fried chicken atop a waffle... I've always been a simple girl...

Friday, September 25, 2009


The joys of teaching your own children are sometimes never realized. The emotions involved when reading with a first grader is something akin to having water continuously dripped on your forehead for 12 hours. The ka-ah-t cat ih-z is ah-nn on th-eh the rah-uh-gh rug. Then there is the practice of Anger Management when interrogating the 4th grade parolee on whether or not there is any homework tonight, and if not then why is the teacher sending home notes every week about missing assignments. My personal favorite is when asked, I respond that indeed 2+2 is 4, the response fired back by a 4'2" person is "no it's not, my teacher said it's 5." It is at this point, the wheels fall off the bus, and I can only reply through clinched teeth, "go ask your dad."
Since I started tutoring, I have discovered this is a common trend in parenting. My favorite thing after each class is to watch the parents first peak their head in the door, as if to assess the damage and sweep for land mines before entering. Once they trepidatiously cross the threshold of the room, they gingerly walk over, and with one eye nearly closed as if to receive the final blow, ask, "how'd they do?" When I am still smiling and respond enthusiastically, "great," a look of shock, then relief washes over their face.
Between the three classes I have, there are nine students. All but two of them have ADHD. All of them are hysterical. Last week, when I was reading a story out load to them, I told them to close their eyes and imagine what a windy day in fall would feel like. One of my 2nd graders instantly shot up his hand and said "Miss Kristi, my imaginary is broke. It's like someone went inside my brain and turned it off, so do I have to close my eyes?"
Teaching other people's children is a joy I receive two days a week. Every Tuesday and Thursday for a few hours, I get to be smart and know what I am talking about. Every Tuesday and Thursday I receive the joy of parents telling me that the tutoring homework is done without the weeping, and wailing, and gnashing of teeth, and that they are amazed. For me, every Tuesday and Thursday is a little like a Stewart Smiley moment when I can look in the mirror and say, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and daw gone it, people like me."

Monday, September 14, 2009

On My Own

I love words. Very rarely am I at a loss for them, and there is so much to be conveyed with words. Who couldn't love a word like onomatopoeia. Or when doesn't a good "gosh friggin' dang it" make you feel better? Over the years I have become particularly fond of the words squishy, zen, serendipity, clandestine, smoky, and a few others which shall remain nameless in this here family oriented blog.

But the greatest words to be heard in the house lately have been, "Momma, I gotta go potty." After the initial frenzy to get the wee one to the pot before any accidents occur, there is a moment I have standing there in the bathroom, resting one arm against the marble sink, that I swear I hear the sound of a cash register spinning and the click of coins rolling to a stop in their bowl at the edge of the machine.

Upon completion of potty duties and the "atta girl, way to go, you're such a big girl, I'm so proud of you," congratulatory speech, the corners of my mouth turn ever so slightly in the upward position as I mentally erase diapers from the grocery list, and convert their monetary value into a good book or a pack of chocolate covered strawberries.

Now, about that forth one...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

When I See You Smile

We all know my trifecta rule that cannot ever be accomplished in my life. You know, the thin, rich, pretty trifecta. It is a life long examination in humility for me. See, if I actually ever achieved the trifecta, I would be unbearable to be around. I know this about myself. However, it would seem part of the trifecta mentality has seeped itself into my self identity. Until I see photos of myself.

There are few things in life that serve as a greater reality check than photos. So much so, we have not done a family photo since before the wee one was born. Each time the photos are downloaded to the camera, I carefully scrutinize them for any and all signs of myself. For me, it's a little like pulling off a band-aid. Somehow it hurts less if you just hurry up and get it over with. In those rare instances I find someone has captured me on film, I think to myself, "Really? I look like that?"

In my own mind, and in the mirror every morning, I may not be a beauty queen, but I certainly don't have dark circles down to my 47 chins, and my eyes are not closed from the weight of my cheeks pushing the bottom lid out of existence. There is a moment when I first see a photo with me in it, that I do a reference check. Yes, the tree looked like that, the sand was that color brown, Hollywood looks like that, Curly did her own hair that day, the wee one definitely didn't match that day, but it wasn't worth the battle...then horror fills my soul when I realize "holy crap, I am a little further left of my trifecta than I thought!"

My only hope in all this is school photos. In particular, Hollywood's first grade school photo. Every time I see it, it makes me laugh. I find comfort and hope in it. I know he doesn't look like that. I know he is a handsome boy who was cursed with the idnotknowhowtosmile disease.

The disease is contagious and spreading in our home. School pictures where this week. We practiced smiles for two days in front of the mirror. As we practiced, I saw the idontknowhowtosmile germ jump from the corner of Hollywood's pursed lip grin to the center of Curly's bottom lip. The lip instantly closed, covering all teeth, and as the germ crept it's way to the edge of her eye, the lid closed in defense. Apparently, a few germs hitched a ride to the brain via the snot rockets because while engaged in this rediculous smile, Curly proudly proclaimed, "Look mom, isn't my smile beautiful?"

Here's to hoping a vaccination comes out before next year's pictures.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crash Test Dummies

It is a very humbling experience to have an injury which leaves you less than mobile. The humiliation began a mere two hours after I tore my inoperable ankle ligaments. My dinner dates for the evening took a vote, decided I was fine since I "just rolled my ankle," and assisted my limping self all the way to dinner and a movie. However, my limping was quickly derailed by a doctor that assessed the ankle and went a little bug eyed when I mentioned that I went to dinner and a movie, and then drove three hours up north to meet my mom and the kids at my grandparents house. Stupid I know. It was after that jail break I was ordered to "STAY OFF IT" and my journey to total embarrassment began.

Having been carted around in wheelchairs and electric "mobility" scooters for the past three weeks I have begun to notice a few things:

  • First, there are not many folks under the age of 75 being toted around an airport in a wheelchair. So, when you roll through one with three kids in tow, people stare. And judge.

  • These judgements I totally understand. The more scooters I drag myself in and out of, the more I realize there are not many thin people that make use of them. I have become hyper sensitive to this fact while attempting to drive myself as close as I can to the Costco sample carts as to not fall over reaching for the latest tasty treat. If only they sampled more brussel sprouts, I wouldn't feel the need to stop.

  • Stopping a scooter is far easier to accomplish than effectively navigating turns. Suffice it to say, I now understand why trucks post the "Caution, wide right turns" on the back of their loads. Curly and I learned this when I clipped her foot and trapped her under the cart. I swiftly put the scooter in reverse to keep the crocodile tears to a minimum, but those obnoxious beeps accompanying the reverse mode tend to draw a crowd. A mean, judgey crowd of cranky elderly woman who shout nasty things regarding your inability to parent. Like I don't know I shouldn't run over my kids!

  • However, the judgements may have been a result of the "accident" in combination with the fact that those same kids figured out rather quickly that their little legs carry them at twice the speed the scooter carries me. Continuous games of Where's Waldo are not enjoyable inside Costco or WalMart. Please remind the wee one of this next time you see her.

All in all, I have found the scooters and wheelchairs to be enough of a humiliation. So please, you don't feed the bears at the zoo, so don't judge the fat people in the scooters. They may be old and frail. They may be young and weak boned. And chances are, they are not thinking "It is so cool to ride in a scooter around the store." It just beats sitting at home with one leg in the air.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Pack Up Your Adjectives

Last May I ran into a teacher in town and she said to me, "It's funny how different our count down is than yours." Never one to be outdone in the snarky department, I fired back through a smile, "Actually I love having the kids home for the summer." It wasn't a lie per say... it just stopped being fun somewhere around week six. Don't get me wrong, I love no schedules, no sports, no packing lunches, and no homework, but the fighting, and the words "I'm bored," really start to become intolerable.

We also learned this summer that while it may be true you don't shovel sunshine, the inferno of Phoenix can still leave you with a wicked case of cabin fever. So, the countdown to school began. Monday was the big day and the kids couldn't have been more thrilled.

Back to School night the week before school starts is our barometer of how the school year will go. Curly Sue discovered her teacher loves horses as much as she does. She also discovered several of her friends from church and kindergarten are in her class. She was very excited to start. The sucker from Mrs Arnold sealed the deal that this year would be her best yet.
Hollywood discovered his two best buddies from his class last year are in his class again this year, and that they got to pick their own seats. He also discovered when mom and dad are around, you have to pick a seat next the front of the class and away from your two best buddies. The disappointment of the latter discovery was tempered by the treat the teacher left at every one's seat.
The wee one re-discovered her love of being home alone with mom. No fighting with anyone, and all of the toys were hers for the plundering. I discovered that the tears shed from the pain of falling while getting out of the car in front of the school with 800 people watching are easily hidden among a sea of mothers wiping their eyes as their children file off into a new school year.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Bad Day

Lately, even Oscar ain't got nothin' on me. I am a grouch indeed. The reason? The toes on my left foot haven't touched the ground in three weeks. They miss the cool of the tile, the textured bottom of the tub, and even the fiery concrete of a Phoenix summer. They all wiggle, three bend, two tingle, none are actually broke.
All of this is a result of my renowned ability to trip on flat surfaces. I am not sure what occurred other than one minute I was confident, excited for a night out and vertical, and the next I was horizontal and alone on the floor of my mother's garage.
There was really no good reason the first phone call I made lying on the cool, grey cement with my left leg hoisted high in the air was to my husband 2000 miles away. But I must admit, when I am in any manner of suffering, I feel it important he suffer too. During childbirth, I nearly choked him and left all manner of claw marks. When I stubbed my toe and lifted it off the nail bed, I felt it necessary to punch him (partly because he was the reason I stubbed it in the first place). So, between heaving sobs of "I think it's broke, I think it's broke..." Nathan tried to assess the situation.
Eighteen days later, and with much of my life on hold, we are still trying to assess the situation. The R.I.C.E. formula is not working. The entire foot is still swollen. It has turned all shades in the later half of a rainbow, and hurts. Bad. Three days ago I finally conceded and went to the doctor who is now currently assessing the situation. It's not broke, but the ligaments are a hot mess. Tomorrow the Orthopedic Surgeon weighs in with his assessment. I sure hope some one can come up with a solution soon. Vacuuming in the computer chair is not as fun as it sounds.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Let it Be

A pilgrimage is defined as a journey to shrine of importance in a person's beliefs and faith. Going home this summer was a bit like that. Normally, when the plane lands and the oppressive humid air begins to instantaneously twirl your hair into frizzy kinks, and smears a film across your glasses as you walk from the runway to the air conditioned terminal, I think, "Ugh, I am so glad I don't live here any more." Normally, the airport terminal is dank and grimy, the roads are under construction, buildings are abandoned, lawns are unkept and overgrown, it's 95 degrees with 98 percent humidity, it's raining, and it's buggy. Normally, it's not the vacation I dream of.

But this year...this year was somehow different. Perhaps it was because Michigan is having its third coldest summer in history, which translates to the equivalent of a normal Michigan fall, which is what I believe heaven will be. There is nothing more beautiful than a Michigan fall with the changing leaves, the pumpkins patches, and the cider mills. It is breath taking.

Until now, I believed Michigan to only have one beautiful season. That was before I witnessed a sailboat glide by the lighthouse on the shores of Lake Michigan. Before I listened to the crack of the bat at Comerica Park. Before I heard my children giggle in glee jumping from a trampoline to an inflatable pool. Before I walked the tree lined streets with an ice cream cone. Before I went careening through grass planted sand dunes. And before I was surrounded in a backyard wiffle ball game by people from every stage of my life. People who have all contributed to my faith and beliefs in life. That night I saw the beauty of a state I had forgotten, and I discovered I had made my own pilgrimage home.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

So She Dances

"How do I love thee? Let me count the ways:"

1. I love that you always want to go with me wherever I go. Whether it is the grocery store, or shopping, you are always there to keep me company. I pray that never changes.

2. I love that your favorite thing to do is to get your nails painted. I hope the simple things will continue to be important to you.

3. I love that when you draw, and create stories, the princess and the knight get married in the temple. I hope you will remember how important eternal families are, even when the time comes to make tough decisions.

4. I love when we are in a store you ask to get something for Logan and Reagan. Your siblings are the longest lasting relationships you will have here on earth, I love that you are good to them.

5. I love that you want to be friends with everyone. Friends are important at every age.

6. I love your compassion. Your tender heart shines through in everything you do, from feeding the dogs, to helping Reagan wash her hands. It is a characteristic people will seek out your friendship for.

7. I love that you don't quit. Even when it is tough, even when the task seems impossible to complete, you see it through. This will serve you well in every aspect of your life. I am proud of you!

8. I love that you are a happy person and find joy in everything around you.

9. I love that you want to learn. Knowledge is the one thing no one can take away from you. You may lose a house, a car, a favorite toy, or even loved ones, but once knowledge is acquired it is yours forever.

10. I love that you let me call you "baby girl" and still love to snuggle. I hope that never changes!

There is so much about you to love. Mostly, I just love you because everything about you is unique to you and who you are. I am honored I was chosen to be your mom!

Saturday, July 11, 2009


There are many things you believe yourself incapable of doing before you become a parent. Things such as discovering the best way to navigate a onesie off of a newborn at 2:00am after a blow out of epic proportions. Or learning that the stomach flu is going around, after you catch the morning breakfast in the make shift cup from the palm of your hands because nothing else is available so quickly. You also become oddly comfortable with the sight of blood in large quantities. Like when your five year old runs in with blood pulsating from a four inch crack in the center of his forehead. The result of a meteor shower into the Buzz Lightyear pop up tent.

To this point I have been very successful in avoiding the dreaded tooth wiggling, pulling, and bleeding rite of passage for young children. As Hollywood started losing teeth in kindergarten, we were virtually obsolete in the process. The school nurse pulled one during recess, he swallowed one before he realized it was gone, and the others he diligently wiggled, bent, rocked, and twisted out on there way to the tooth fairy. There hasn't been one tooth I have to reach into a slimy, salivating mouth for and pop out...until now.

The past three weeks have been filled with corn on the cob less nights, delicate tooth brushings, and plenty of tooth rocking with the tongue. All in an effort to dislodge Curly Sue's two bottom front teeth. But it has all been accomplished with much trepidation. The four shiny quarters compliments of the tooth fairy have not been quite the same motivator they were for Hollywood. Fear has been the overwhelming motivator, or lack there of, in parting with the only teeth her mouth has ever known. She won't let dad near them since she knows he will dislodge them by any means necessary. She doesn't trust Hollywood anywhere near her face. Which means, it became a job for mom.

It started the other night as a ploy to avert bedtime. As I was wrestling the wee one down for the evening in our nightly match, Curly Sue ran in after brushing her teeth and huffed in panic tones "Mom, mom, my tooth is coming out right now. I swear, right now mom, ehh ehh ehh...I'm scared." To which I replied, "Come here, let me see." Wiggling the tooth back and forth between my fore finger and thumb I gently slid my finger behind her tooth, then slightly underneath, and popped it straight up and out leaving the small hole in her gums to pool with a lovely mixture of saliva and crimson blood. Before too much drama could ensue, and before the wee could escape my evening DDT, I told Caitlyn to go get a tissue for the blood and a baggie for the tooth and the tooth fairy.

When she awoke the next morning to find only one quarter, she briefly felt the pings of a wronged middle child, until Logan came in to show her the other three quaters had slid off the mattress and under the bed. Today, when the neighboring tooth became crooked and could essentially be rocked in all four directions, I again reached in pinched the tooth between my finger and thumb and gave the tooth a good yank.

Now, despite the temperature outside being a flesh melting 113, inside the house a cool breeze blows between missing teeth in Curly's mouth. And if you listen closely, you can even hear a whistle.