Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!
From our funny farm to yours.

Christmas Eve pajamas 2009

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Toilet paper usage # 17

What do you do when your son asks you to tape toilet paper to his face?

You oblige, of course.
Because it just so happens to complete the outfit.

And it creates super cute copy cats.

Toilet paper and a seven year old's ingenuity- you gotta love it!

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Christmas card

I have to preface this post by making it clear that rarely can I blog in "real time". There is always something else that needs to be done, the words for the experience aren't there, or like this particular experience, it wasn't finished yet. I started this post in September, but couldn't finish it because it wasn't finished with me... until last week. I was finally able to 'record' it today.

Company was coming. That meant one thing… house cleaning. And lots of it!

A prominent feature in this deep cleaning whirlwind always includes de-cluttering the desk. I have an image to uphold and I certainly didn’t want my guests to think my desk always looks like the paper shredder threw up on it. So I sorted, filed, and threw away, and somewhere between unused, expired coupons and statements of all sorts, it showed up again.

A Christmas card.

Addressed and stamped.

Unmailed and unopened.

I come across this same card every time I clean the desk and each and every time it goes back there to be dealt with at another time. This ritual has continued for the last twelve months. I can’t throw it away. There isn’t anywhere to file it. I can’t even send it this year. The addressee, my Grandma Viola, died the morning I was to mail it.

My mom phoned me the night before to let me know that Viola had suffered a stroke. She told me that she was still lucid, but she was having a difficult time eating. I’m not dumb, I know what those words really meant…Viola wasn’t doing well and her time left here was short.

I knew that her 93 year old body was failing, as we had visited her earlier in the year and I found her dramatically changed from our last visit. I left the retirement home trying to stave off the flood of tears until I was in the car and my face hidden from the kids. I failed miserably- the dam broke. Luckily, Richard explained to the inquiries of”Why is mom crying?” that it was hard for me to see my grandma so weak, frail, and bedbound. But I knew it was more than that- much more. I knew that this was the last time I would see her in this life.

Even with such knowledge, I had been in denial and figured there was always more time. Now with a phone call, I was facing the reality that time had run out.

I felt badly, that as always, I was behind and hadn’t even gotten her Christmas card mailed yet. Mom said it would be good to send it anyway and perhaps, it would get there in time. So I gathered the card and a family picture, I addressed the envelope, but I couldn’t write the sentiments in the card. Words failed me. How do you adequately express to someone who is dying how much you love them and what the part they’ve played in your life has meant to you? Words were not enough, so I went to bed determined to try again after a night’s sleep.

Moring came and so did the words. But even as I penned those words, walked the card to the mailbox, and put up the red flag, I knew. It was too late. Another phone call from my mom confirmed it. I retrieved the card from the mailbox and laid it in its final resting place on the desk.

Arrangements were made and so was our trip to LaGrande for the funeral.

I have never been one to deal well with death. My emotions run close to the surface and I become the leaky faucet you can’t fix. I don’t cry for those who have passed; I know they have been welcomed into loving arms. It’s the loving arms left behind which are now empty, the great-grand children that are too small to remember the loved one that filled the void, the absence that must be endured until we meet again, that is what I cry for.

I did pretty well at the funeral. I held the tears mostly at bay, forming a headache from the built up pressure, until the reading of Viola’s life sketch. As my mom read about the grandma I had know my whole life, I realized I never really knew her at all. It is a devastating feeling when you learn more about a loved one at their funeral listening to their life sketch, than you did from visiting with them in life. I didn’t know she played basketball, that she worked in a bank, or that she loved to fish the lakes of my beautiful British Columbia.

I simply didn’t know and I hated myself for it.

Grandma Viola is my step-grandma, but since she married my grandpa before I was born she was the only grandma on my mom’s side I’d ever known. She was loveable, quick to laugh, and always had a candy dish filled to the brim, waiting to rot our teeth out and spoil us senseless- just what grandmas are supposed to be. I never felt like I was a ‘step’ down from her “normal” grandkids. She was always interested in how we were doing, what we were doing, she even asked questions about boys, and always wanted to see my latest dance or gymnastic routine. Sure, she lived 8 hours away from us, but we visited once or twice a year, corresponded through letters and phone calls, and I always felt connected. She loved me just like a grandma should. She loved me… that was the one thing I knew for sure- Grandma Viola loved me.

Sitting in the chapel enduring the remainder of the funeral, as I thought about the things I had just learned, I wished for 10 minutes, just 10 more minutes to visit with her, ask the questions I now desperately wanted answered; learn the most important things about her I should know. And now every time the card makes its way to the top of the pile I call a desk, the same wish passes through my mind; last week’ s de-cluttering session was no different, but the answer was.

As softly as the falling snow that flitted outside my window the words fell into my conscious thinking.

“You already know.”

As I stopped to ponder what these words meant, I found that perhaps my Christmas card wasn’t my last expression of love to my grandma, but hers to me.

The most important thing I should know was that she loved me.

And now there are no questions left unanswered.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Benism- Closet Time

Today Mr. Ben decided to eat his breakfast in the pantry.

I was busy doing other things around the kitchen and wasn't paying much attention to his destination picnic, until he asked me to move his breakfast companion, a little, white, rabbit stuffy, down from the higher cereal shelf where he left it after retrieving the Lucky Charms box. I handed the rabbit to him, he moved his cereal bowl into place, and gave the stuffy a squeeze saying, "Okay, say my prayer for me." where upon the stuffy repeated some recorded apostate prayer over Ben's breakfast.

It made me wonder about the scripture found in Alma 33:7- "And when I did turn unto my closet, O Lord, and prayed unto thee, thou didst hear me."

I wonder if He still hears and answers the recorded prayers of stuffys in behalf of lazy 5 year old boys?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


A depiction of one of the hundreds of reasons why I love my brothers....

Nose pickin' ipod lovers- Nathan, Dan, & Dad

...they are so photogenic.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Thanksgiving Leftover

On the way home from our Thanksgiving weekend Ben treated us to this little serenade. No matter how many times we heard it, how out of tune it may have been, or if the words weren't exactly right, it still brought a smile to my face and reminded me that even after a less than stellar holiday, I am a blessed woman with much to be grateful for.

So tonight before the giving thanks of November ends and we head into the excitement that only the Christmas season can instill, I reflect on the performance of a sweet boy's favorite song and I give thanks.

I give thanks for a little spirit that is drawn to the truth of a particular song that teaches him who he truly is and why he is here.

And the part where he still thinks his parents are "kind and dear" is something to be grateful for too.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Giving Thanks

As I sit here in my parents family room staring at the unfinished walls in the mismatched pajamas my good husband dressed me in yesterday because I was too weak to dress myself, I find it fitting to be sick here. I am laying on the couch where as a girl I watched "The Sound of Music" while I waited for the virus or infection that had taken up residence in my body to move on. Today it is the same, except today the movie is "Charade".

Cary Grant always has a way of making me feel better. But today Cary's magic doesn't work so well. After all, it is Thanksgiving, and I am sitting in a basement- alone.

It is okay really, when I don't think about what I'm missing; turkey, potatoes & gravy, yams, stuffing, and pie. Really the food has no appeal to me; my tender tummy warns me against it. It is the other things about this holiday that I miss today. 

It is gathering with a large group of family, much too large to fit in anyone's home, but we do so anyway. It is the 50 or so (I lost count a long time ago) grandkids & great-grandkids running around in between all the adult bodies perched anywhere they can comfortably or semi-comfortably fit. It's the plotting of the most efficient routes amid the scattered newspaper ads to aquire the best early morning deals on Black Friday. It is catching up with my sister-in-laws while the men catch glimpses of football through their tryptophan induced slumber.

It is the experience of Thanksgiving I miss. The experience of being together.

But luckily for me, I married into a family where they love to be together and do so every chance they can get. Most holidays, monthly Family Home Evenings, missionary comings and goings, weddings, baptisms, baby blessings, and in a family of 10 children there are a lot of those. So now I can happily look forward to the Christmas season and all the family gatherings that will ensue. I can look forward to the experience of being together again.

And hopefully, by tonight or tomorrow, I can look forward to a plate of leftovers.

Those are some things I can definitely be thankful for.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Predicting the Future

It seems everyone around me is excited for Christmas. Some of my friends are already listening to Christmas music (which I think is a sin, until after Thanksgiving) and one of my friends in Canada even has her tree up.

I am not there yet folks. I am having a hard time wrapping my head around Christmas this year and it's bugging me.  And then the fact that it's bugging me starts to bug me.

Maybe it's because Thanksgiving isn't even over yet; it is still in fact, a week away, and  my children are on their 2nd or 3rd Christmas lists already.
Maybe it's because all my Christmas money is still tied up in a dedicated savings account waiting for its maturity date. That's got to be it... Shopping would definitely make me feel better...
Maybe, it's because I have a cold; my head is foggy and my teeth even hurt, plus being snotty always makes me a little snotty.
Maybe, it's because my hubby's supposed vacation time next week has gotten eaten up by a business trip, yet again...
Maybe, it's because I am stressing over being asked to substitute and teach Relief Society this Sunday.  I haven't been in RS for how many years, let alone ever taught it, so I really hope the ladies in my ward like to play concentration and color pretty pictures to take home because that is the type of teaching I'm used to.

But there is one thing I am enjoying about the upcoming Christmas season; something a mother can never use to early in the year, but works particularly well with Christmas only a month a way- the phrase "Santa's elves are watching."
Even the most whiny, disobedient, and unruly child feels the power of that phrase- especially mine.  Call me evil, I don't care. A mom has to do, what a mom has to do, to get things done and the phrase is it.

So I unveiled the phrase the other day when I could no longer stand looking at the playroom that looked more like a war zone; complete with overturned furniture and all. Dallin and Ben were given their orders- clean the playroom and remember...Santa's elves are watching. They worked, but I didn't get up there to check it out until yesterday and I found it still needed a lot of work.

Dallin stayed home from school since he threw up during the night in his sleep...first off, before I go on, someone please tell me how that is possible?  How can you sleep through vomiting? Anyway, since he was feeling well enough to play soccer in my kitchen, I figured he was well enough to clean. So I herded them up to the playroom along with all of the phrases:
"It won't take that long."
"You'll feel so good once it's done."
 "Daddy will be so surprised to see it clean when he gets home."
 And of course,
"And remember, Santa's elves are watching."

I opened the toy room closet and found this from the previous cleaning attempt...

If Santa's elves are watching, I predict coal in two boy's futures.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Not your mother's church music

Around our house on any given day there is music. This was even truer last week during "Turn Off the T.V. and Get a Life Week". There was a lot of listening going on in the Parke household. Unfortunately, it was mainly of just a few songs- over and over and over and over... My kids really know how to ruin a good song for me. It had gotten so bad that this morning, I told a friend I thought I felt like I was going to gouge my eardrums out if I heard "Fireflies" one more time. But in all honesty, I can't complain too much because when I was able to gain control of the music choices my family most likely had to endure listening to my current favorite song also. So I guess we are even.

As much as we love our contemporary music, on Sunday, they are given the day to rest and we cue up the 'Church Music' playlist. 296 songs and over 20 hours of music takes good care of us on Sunday and most of the time puts us in the right frame of mind fitting for the day. Most of the time...

A few months ago, we came home from church and I began making Sunday dinner. True to form, I turned on my laptop, opened iTunes, clicked on 'Church Music' and hit the play button... and Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Mak'er" started playing. Not exactly the Kenneth Cope or Afterglow type music I was expecting.

I knew I had clicked on the right play list, but I double checked to be sure. Sure enough I had the right playlist, but ‘Church Music’ had been added to by about 100 songs that were definitely not church music. I figured that either my playlists got crossed somehow or church music had really changed in the last week. Anyway, I spent a good hour moving all the non-Sabbath worthy songs and forgot about the incident until about a month ago.

With Benjamin in pre-school he has learned his ABC's and a month ago that was his favorite song. He would sing it over and over and over and over... I was experiencing the same eardrum gouging symptoms I have been having lately. Figuring that distraction was my best line of defense against the never ending ABC song, and since our Primary program was about a week away, I decided to download all the Primary songs we would be singing into a playlist. It was pure genius. We could practice and learn the songs we desperately needed to and hear the ABC’s sung in different keys, tempos, and expressions- as cute as they were, a little less.

When I told Ben what I was planning to do, he sat excitedly waiting for the songs to download. They finished and I clicked play… and “Don’t Tread on Me” by Metallica started playing.

I don’t think I have ever moved as fast as I did right then to stop that song from playing any longer.

Ben was wide eyed and at a loss of what was going on and questioned why I stopped the music. You try explaining to a 5 year old why we can’t sing Metallica songs for the Primary program… It’s not so easy.

So I checked the playlist and sure enough it had happened again; non Primary songs had been moved into the Primary playlist. I was getting a little miffed at iTunes about now, but you know what, it sure made me take a good look at and think about the music I have downloaded. Still, I had no idea what was going on with iTunes or why this kept happening.

But I have a theory.

I will tell you, but only….if you promise not to laugh.

My computer is possessed.

Back in high school I had this boyfriend who listened to the above mentioned group that begins with a ‘M’ and ends in ‘etallica’ and after spending much time with this boy, I grew to like a few of their songs. These songs just happen to be those which I downloaded, right before this iTunes music switching happened.

Call me paranoid, but now these songs sit unchecked as not to be played in one of my 'less active' iTunes playlists.

Just for the record, I would just like to report that the Primary program ended with out any strains of Metallica from the mouth of my son, but don't worry he had plenty of other irreverent and embarrassing behavior to frustrate me with.

So in the end, since I am now a mother and must be forced to grow up and cast off my bad habits, I guess that some things really should stay back in the glory days of high school… right along with old boyfriends.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


In August, during the training for my 10K I hit a wall.  I didn't know what was wrong with me. Normally, I wake up at the same time every day, whether I want to or not, and I don't have a difficult time getting the bed off my back. But I found myself sleeping in and pulling myself from under the covers terribly difficult. I was tired and felt like I dragged most of the day accomplishing very little.

My runs were even worse.  I was supposed to be building up my mileage to make it through the upcoming race, but found myself barely making it through 2 & 3 mile long runs. My legs acted like they had no clue what I was trying to make them do and my stamina had decided to take a vacation.

I was frustrated.

I decided the time had come for me to do something I had been putting off all summer. I went on e-Bay and ordered a Garmin running watch with GPS. I had been wanting one, but figured by running the trail with markers and using a stopwatch I could get away without spending the money and still time myself just fine.

I was wrong.

My new toy arrived and on my first run using it I couldn't believe how I ever got along without it. Running would never be the same. With just a glance at my wrist I could instantly see my pace,  know exactly just how much further I had to go to reach my desired distance, and see exactly how long I had been running. It made all the difference. Why?

Because it was feedback.

I knew exactly how my performance was. It helped me realize I was doing better than I thought I had been and it gave me that boost to make it through those hard weeks when all I wanted to do was quit.

A few weeks ago, I experienced a change that caused me to question my performance in a different aspect of my life. Change is not always bad; sometimes it is very good and sometimes it just is. This change was a mixture of the three.

I had been serving in our Primary Presidency for what would be 3 years in March.  I was privileged to have served with some wonderful women I greatly admired and had learned a great deal from.  We had a great time serving together and had become good friends as a result. Now we were being split up and sent in all different directions with new callings.

As well as being fun, those years had been trying too. We all endured pregnancy and had babies in that time which presented a little more juggling, stress, and chaos. We had husbands who frequently traveled for work or needed to be away for other reasons leaving complete responsibility of our homes and children on our shoulders along with the various other duties we had to fulfill. There were times I'm sure we wondered if it was really worth it, if we were making any difference to the children we taught and yes, there were days we just wanted to quit.

Needless to say, we started feeling a little burnt out.

Then the news came that soon we would all be released. The dam of emotion broke; sadness & relief worry & wonder. At first, I was more relieved than sad. Life was crazy; I was struggling and felt like a change was the prescribed remedy. But as the day got closer to our release the worry and wonder took over. 

A small part of me wondered; was it just a time thing that we were being released now? Why not wait until the first of the year or when our 3 years were up? A bigger part of me worried; was I being released because I had become so burnt out that my performance wasn't what the Lord needed it to be or was it simply  because a wise and omnipotent Father saw a child's need for a rest? 

The next Sunday in church I received part of my answer.  The new presidency invited us to join them and the Primary chidren for the last 10 minutes of closing exercises where they presented us with 'Thank You' cards signed by all the children. As I stood in the front of that Primary Room receiving my card  in front of all my little friends, I felt completely out of place and like I no longer belonged there. 

You would think this experience would make me sad, but it didn't. It was feedback.

I realized it was time. I had my turn and now it was time for someone else to share their testimonies with my friends and to grow from the experience of serving them. My stewardship no longer belonged there; it was time for me to progress elsewhere.

The rest of my answer came a few days later when one of those sweet Primary girls showed up on my doorstep with her mother holding a plate of cookies she and her Primary teacher had baked (3 different kinds- Wow!) and a homemade 'Thank You' card. The cookies were delicious (esp. for breakfast) and the individual gesture was greatly appreciated. In fact, it made all the difference to me.

It was that boost to help me through the tough days where I still struggle. 

It was feedback. 
It made me glad I hadn't quit and gave me hope that maybe my performance had been enough after all.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Rumor Control

This post is just a disclaimer that my last post was in NO WAY an announcement of things to come in 9 months time. In fact, I gave a few of my baby things away Tuesday with only an tinge of sadness & regret. I have a race to run in May and it would be extremly hard to do so being 7 or so months pregnant.  So sorry, no babies from this factory again anytime soon, if ever.

The cravings as far as I can figure, are just my body's way of wanting to add to my own figure. You know like an animal fattening up for protection against the cold. That or the weight I have lost is trying really hard to find me again...

BTW- I forgot to list Oreos, french toast with peanut butter and maple syrup, creme brulee, and hot almond punch...sigh.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


My mother's famous crepes with peach syrup.

Warm cinnamon rolls iced with cream cheese frosting,
meatloaf, scones dripping with honey butter, bacon,
gooey chocolate chip cookies straight from the oven, mashed potatoes and gravy, pecan pie, McDonald's Cheeseburgers, German pancakes, pot stickers, crepes with peach syrup, pumpkin pie, crisp bean burritos, hot chocolate pudding over vanilla ice cream, carrot cake, hot chocolate piled high with whipped cream, coconut cream pie, caramel apples, fettuccini alfredo.

Just my latest cravings...and how I know that old man winter is sitting on my doorstep waiting to coat my world in a blanket of white.

Bring it on old man.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


I'm not sure if viewing this counts for 'Turn off the TV and Get a Life Week' or not, but so I can in good conscience say I did the challenge in all honesty, I have not watched it. Your comments will have to tell me how it turned out. Regardless, just know that the real thing was amazing. It left me speechless and teary eyed.

Thank you Veterans for bravely and unselfishly preserving the freedom of the land that I love.

5th graders performing "God Bless the U.S.A" in ASL.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

We think we can. We think we can.

Did you know that this week is "Turn Off the TV and Get a Life Week"? Well it is. And if you haven't already, I invite you to join in...all the 'cool kids' are doing it.

Ashton took the challenge from his teacher and is working toward a party consisting of pajama wearing, cereal eating, and cartoon watching fun.  Knowing this challenge would be no easy task for Ashton, my Nintendo DS addict, Richard, Dallin, and I decided to join the challenge for moral support. It started yesterday and so far it has been pretty easy.

My biggest worry was bedtime. We are bad parents who let their kids watch a show or two while they are nodding off to dreamland, but after FHE last night that was a non issue.

Ashton chose to have a dance competition for our FHE activity. I really hope there are no hidden cameras in my house; although, I would have loved recording Dallin's break dancing (he's actually pretty good), Emma's twirling until she was dizzy, Ashton dancing ballroom style with his little sister, and Ben just trying to get his little body to move with the rhythm. It was hilarious and the type of moment a mother wants to freeze in time. And it wore them out. Completely. Halleluiah!

Oh... are you wondering who won our little competition?

That's right, with a little booty shaking, hip swinging, and the clincher... 'the centipede', I showed them all up!

Whoever said you wouldn't need the stuff you learn in jr. high?!?

Monday, November 9, 2009

Mom & Dad date night

Happy Birthday Richard!

Dating is hard.

And it doesn't get any easier once you're married.  When you get married the dynamics of dating just change.  Sure you don't have to worry about making the right first impressions, but you do have to worry about continuing to endear yourself to your spouse; making him/her think you are still the most adorable creature on the face of the planet even when they wake up to your scary bed head, horrid morning breath, and ruddy, no make-up face every morning.

I am sure it is for this very reason we have been counseled to date even after marriage.  Once a week we should take a timeout from mom and dad duties to go out and get away, where we can try to be the cute and charming selves we once were; to reconnect, and remind our spouse why they fell in love with us in the first place. Right? Well, I'm sure that is what they intended when they suggested having a date every week, but in our real world- it does not work. 

You know it has a lot to do with budgets and other boring stuff, that I won't get into, but I will just say that hiring a sitter to watch 4 kids while we go away for an hour or two, let alone the 3 plus it takes to do dinner and a movie (cha-CHING!),  is not feasible.  So we have improvised.

Friday night is Movie Party with the kids and Saturday Night is Mom & Dad date night.  Every Saturday between 8:00 and 8:30 the kids are banished to the upstairs and we take our places on the loveseat, him on the left, me on the right and we begin our date.  Most often with an accompanying bowl of popcorn or plate of nachos, we catch up with our DVR. Like any other parent who has children with homework and extracurricular activities, there is not time to watch live TV, so we record our favorites like Ghost Hunters, Psych, Monk, & the Mentalist to watch on Saturday night. Sometimes we watch a movie. Other times, like tonight, we sit each with a laptop occupying our lap and we blog side by side. Yes, we still interact; we read each other's work, he gives me suggestions at things I can improve on, and I admire the way he can write. I share fun or thought inspiring blogs I read throughout the week and he catches me up on the news and most things political.  We may sound like nerds, but it works for us.

Well, kind of.

See the problem is that the kids never stay in bed, or upstairs for that matter, like they are supposed to. There is always the need for one more drink, a bedtime snack, or one last plea to lay with them. By the time they are settled it is usually near 10:00 and with Richard being a night owl and me being more of a morning person, by 10:30 or 11:00 I have trouble holding my eyes open and I usually fall sound asleep missing the end of whatever we were watching.

I am such an exciting date.

For this reason I decided to surprise Richard for his birthday, which was the last week in October, by taking him out on a real date. I figured it was time that I put a deposit in the proverbial "relationship account" and that really he deserved to go out and not have his date fall asleep on him. 

I really love when we do get to go out. Eating somewhere new where I haven't had to fix the meal and going fun places where the only one I have to take to the washroom is myself, is a major draw for me, so I was pretty excited about my little plan. I hired a sitter and when Richard came home on his birthday he was completely surprised to find me dressed up and ready to go out. I wish I could say he was excited about it, but it had been a long day at work, he was bordering on a headache, and I think he really would have rather just stayed home. But he went and did say it was nice to have time with just me.

Since it was his birthday, I told him we could eat out wherever he wanted to, but for a man that travels a lot this is not music to his ears, as it is mine. He determined that since restaurants hold no allure for him, we should just eat in the mall food court since we had decided to see a movie after dinner. So he had a chicken quesadilla and I had Panda Express. Maybe it was not the fanciest of birthday dinners, but it fulfilled its purpose by filling our stomachs, and we headed off to enjoy the movie.

But "enjoy" is not the right word to describe our experience with the movie 'The Invention of Lying'... "excruciating" is probably more appropriate.  We both loved Ricky Gervais in 'Ghost Town' and the trailers made the story of 'Invention' look intriguing, so we thought it was a good pick. But from the disgusting opening scene, which thankfully we were spared visually because of a film malfunction, but not audibly, we should have known we were wrong. Richard walked out of the movie more disgusted than he did when we saw 'Happy Feet'.

It was an agenda driven movie basically saying that God is a lie and that religion is just the rules made up to perpetuate that lie.  Even if you didn't catch that theme while watching the movie, which I'm not sure how you couldn't, I don't know how any Christian person could not be offended by the end.

I don't recommend it.

So we went home and paid the sitter for an evening of crap (sorry, about the language- sometimes you have to call it what it is) being pushed down our throats, enjoyed Richard's birthday treat of brownies (instead of cake) and tapioca (instead of ice cream), and after the kids were in bed we took our usual places on the loveseat where the usual activities ensued, including watching another movie.  And do you know what? I stayed awake until 1am without nodding off once. And even though the rest of the date was a flop, I think that definitely counts as a mini deposit in the 'relationship account' and I should get some credit for at least trying, don't you?

You may be wondering why I am posting this now, after all it is Monday, and no longer Saturday night, well... that's because... you guessed it- I fell asleep.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

I've still got it

The human body has always fascinated me. In school I was able to visit several cadaver labs which some might find disturbing or gross, but for me it was absolutely enthralling. The way everything fits and works together so perfectly, like the contours of a bone where a specific fossa allows a muscle to lay in perfect alignment to allow for movement to all the amazing organs working in synchronization to sustain and give life, it is in a word- incredible. We are truly 'miracles wrapped up in chemicals'- Wonderful, Gary Go.

These amazing bodies we've been given, I have found, also seem to be made for certain activities. The tall and slender build may lean towards ballet, the more athletic to soccer or football. Now, I am not saying that we are in any way limited by our stature; that would be quite prosaic of me; I may love to run, but the lean grace of a long distance runner is not something I possess. The short, squatty types such as I am, were made for a different type of activity; something I was once very good at. Tumbling.

Now this is when my blog becomes a brag. I'm sorry. But after having 4 children and being almost exactly 2 months shy of my 33rd birthday I feel pretty good that I can still do this. I haven't tried to do it since having my last baby 2 years ago, but I was out playing in the back yard with Ashton today and decided to try.


FYI- Just in case you were wondering...nothing "snapped". Thank you very much, vocal camera boy.

Autum and an afternoon with the Ash-man

Today was beautiful. Autum has graced us with her prescence yet again after a preview of winter to come and I am so grateful! I'm not ready for the icy clutches of winter; I haven't fully enjoyed fall enough yet. So as to not let the balmy weather pass us by, today that's what we decided to do.

And enjoy we did. The Ash-man and I put the tramp through it's paces before it is covered with a blanket of snow.
Here are some of our 'tramp tricks'.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween Heroes

Each year as my children carefully choose their Halloween costumes, I notice if they don't choose to dress up as some kind of monster or ghoul,  they choose to dress up as someone they look up to; a hero of sorts. Usually, it is someone who displays extraordinary skills, has super powers, or just gets to accessorize with some neat contraption or accessory. But above all else they have to be cool.

In years past, we have had everything from superheroes such as Batman & Superman, to our everyday heroes like firefighters and policemen.  This year was no different.  All 3 of my boys chose a specific hero to emulate.

Dallin chose to be a BYU football player (surprise, surprise).  Sometimes, I feel like we give too much glory, and definitely too much money, to athletes, especially professional ones. I do however realize that there is a lot of hard work and determination that goes into perfecting skills to be good enough to play on college and professional levels and those values are something I don't mind him admiring.

Ben chose to be a freedom defending army guy and a cute one at that. Unselfishly defending our country and getting to carry a really awesome walkie talkie and gun; definitely hero-ish.
(Making his toughest army man face.)

From the day we first began talking about costumes for this year Ashton, knew who he wanted to be. He wanted to be a superhero of different a kind this year...

... his school teacher, Mr. Z.

And he wasn't the only one...
(The Z Squad)

...two other boys in the class did the same.

Of course, in this picture it was Halloween and even heroes like to dress up, so Mr. Z was pretending to be Wolverine, but on regular school days this superhero dons his suit of slacks, dress shirt, and tie and sports his extra cool accessory-spiky hair. And between the combination of suit and hair he unleashes his superpowers on unsuspecting 5th graders actually making school a great place they want to be, inspiring them to work harder, and simply to be better.
We could certainly use more superheroes like that.

Halloween 2009

With Halloween falling on Saturday this year it seems like we had 2 Halloweens- Friday at school  with the class parties and annual costume parade and Sat. at home. That made for a very fun Halloween! 
On Friday, I was able to help with both Ashton's & Dallin's class parties. I forgot my camera for Ashton's party, but it was held at a the home of a boy in his class who doesn't live far from the school. This boy's mom planned the whole thing and took up about 2 hrs with great activities.  It was fun and I am glad I was able to go and help.

Dallin's party consisted of making pumpkin puppets, halloween songs and poems, and lots and lots of sugar. The room mothers brought doughnuts & apple juice for refreshments and a girl in the class also brought cupcakes for everyone- every 1st graders dream... doughnuts and cupcakes both!
D with his teacher, Mrs. Anderson

The whole class in costume and hopped up on sugar.

These are the types of things 1st graders do when they've had too much sugar;
They talking in funny voices while their pumpkin puppet dances around, making their mom laugh.

They stick out their tongues at parents trying to get cute pictures; making the parents more successful than they planned to be.

And they give their friends "bunny ears" adding to the goofy face they are already pulling.

Friday night I had the chance to drive kids in Ashton's class to their Super Activity.  This was a special activity for those kids who had not missed more than 4 assigments this term.  We went to Doc's Pizza Buffet where they tried to out eat Mr. Z in pizza and then to Comedy Sportz, which is an improv group similar to 'Whose Line is it Anyway'.  It was very fun and the kids had a great time.
We were supposed to dress up for a costume contest, so I dragged out my witch and queen costume from the costume tote and Ashton and Richard both told me to wear the queen costume. After seeeing the pictures... I think they were wrong.  I think it should have stayed in the costume tote or better yet, gone in the DI tote to be given away. I can't believe they let me go out looking like that.
I'm hoping the pics look worse than I did in person.

Saturday we finally carved some of our pumpkins, most of which we actually grew ourselves.

Richard finishing Dallin's "Y".

Ashton with his pumpkin pre and post carving.  He did it all by himself this year. Very cool.

I did not buy Emma a costume this year.  She never really took to anything at the store and I wasn't even sure she would keep one on. So I didn't want to spend any money when I knew we had 3 or 4 costumes at home that would work just fine.  After trying out a cow costume for about 15 minutes, she decided to be a gorilla.
Not exactly feminine.

But she did want to leave on the Halloween skirt she had been wearing all day, so at least she was a girl gorilla.

For trick or treating Ashton wanted to have a different costume since he didn't think our neighbors would know who Mr. Z was, so he decided to be a ninja.
He had a hard time deciding what to be and waited until the last minute to pick his costume.  He told me that he thought, "he should be a spy or ninja, since that fit his personality." 
Try to keep a straight face, sitting in the car next to him when he says something like that.
He cracks me up and sometimes I wonder about the world he lives in inside that head of his.

The whole crew...

... doing what they do best on Halloween...begging for candy.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Fun Run

Last Friday Ashton and Dallin participated in their school's Fun Run.

I planned to run it with them since I figured I could this year without feeling like I was going to hock up a lung or keel over and die. But run, I did not.  Wednesday evening I had a nasty tension headache that through the night turned into a horrible migraine that lasted until Thursday afternoon. So Friday morning, I was drained, stiff & sore, a little hazy, and just watching those kids run made my head hurt.

So Ben, Emma and I stood on the sidelines and cheered on our boys and friends.

We also enjoyed experiencing the excitement of the awards assembly. It was really great to see the kids clap, cheer, and be legitimately happy for those who won.

Although, Ashton decided that after running a mile, sitting in the awards assembly- where he was spat on by a special needs child and was awarded nothing, the part that made the whole run "fun"- were the tongue color changing popsicles. I didn't have a Popsicle, but not being a fan of getting spat on; I tend to agree. Blue and green tongues are pretty cool.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


A few days ago, a favorite blog of mine posted this video and wrote about how we seem to be able to forge connections with complete strangers and yet not know our neighbor next door.

Obviously, I loved it or I wouldn't be sharing it with you here.

As the music's tempo increased and locales started going by faster, I was excited to see where he would dance next and I even got misty eyed from a couple of different locations that I have an emotional connection to myself. It made me smile, laugh, cry, and think. I identified with the question posed and thought about it off and on for the rest of the week- until Friday.

That's when I saw something that made me appreciate the connections we make a little differently.

First, I have to explain something so you will understand my appreciation.

My eldest child is sensitive. You know the characteristic you hope you won't pass on to any off your offspring, well he got the double whammy. My tendency to worry and Richard's relationship with anxiety fell squarely on his shoulder's.

We realized the depth of his sensitvity a couple of years ago when he started 3rd grade. It was his second year in this school since we had moved back to the states from Canada. He had done really well getting settled and making friends his first year, so we didn't anticipate any problems the following year. The first week went fine.

Then the dam broke.

He couldn't sleep. He couldn't eat. Panic attacks started and so did the inconsolable crying. Going to school was out of the question. He would beg me not to go, but after some coaxing I would get him there only to end up leaving with him in tears. We finally got that the heart of the problem was that there was nobody he knew in his class.

No connections.

He was the only boy from his previous class that had been placed in his current one and of course, the girls he knew still had cooties. His problem all boiled down to this; it was hard enough to be the new kid and have to make friends one year, let alone two in a row.

The only way to solve the problem though was to go to school. And he did. And eventually he made friends. Things were better, he wanted me to walk him to class each day and would give me the "please, don't leave me here look", but at least he went.

There was a difference in him though. He was more particular about what he did, what he wore, and he became really concerned about what people thought about him. He didn't want to do or wear anything that might cause him to lose the friends and connections he had made. It intensified last year after a bully stopped a soccer game he was playing in to make fun of him.

The boy who used to love to dance in the kitchen with me to Elton John's "Crocodile Rock" won't even dance with me anymore.

That is why I was so surprised and delighted to be able to film my own little 'Dance' video on Friday morning following the Fun Run at the school.

I was only able to get 15 seconds of it- I wish I could have gotten more, but I will take what I could get. Just look at my boy "shaking his thang" with all of his friends (I like to think he gets his moves from me), but better yet... think of the connections he has made to make him feel comfortable enough to do it in public!

The good it did this mother's heart, who has the propensity to worry, was great. And perhaps, it is time I give "Crocodile Rock" a rest... it looks like I have a new dance to learn.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Costume Malfunction

I think most everyone would agree one of the charms of Halloween is dressing up. Having the chance to take a break from being our normal everyday selves and dawn the persona of someone else is alluring to me. Plus, I am always interested to see who or what my children want to emulate each year.

As a girl I don't remember buying a costume for Halloween.  We had an old cardboard box that was full of odds and ends of different costumes and masks that was pulled out and we were given carte blanch to do what we wanted.  I remember rummaging through it each year waiting for something to spark my interest, or better yet, creativity. Most of the time it didn't and I was left to come up with something else from other things around the house.

Some costumes I do remember are that of being a baby, a pair of cards with a friend of mine, a punk rocker, and a paper boy, which wasn't much of a stretch, since I had or shared a route for 7 years; the only difference was that I was naturally a girl.  But even if my costumes didn't amount to much, the fun I had trick or treating in them did and that is what Halloween was all about.

Each year I am always surprised at the creativity of some new costumes. I always wish I had a brilliant mind that could concieve such creative genius. But over the last few years I have been surprised in a different sort of way when shopping for various costumes. In order for you to fully understand, allow me give you a few examples.

When I had Emma, I wanted to be Little Bo Peep with her as my sheep.  So I started the hunt in stores and online and this is an example of the type of costumes I found:

Not quite the Mother Goose version I grew up with.

Richard's usual costume is a Pirate. So I decided to be a female pirate one year with this as one of my search results:

Can you imagine anyone (let alone me) wearing this trick or treating? Not exactly the "Pirates Booty" I had in mind.

So I am wondering if Halloween has changed since I was a girl walking the streets wearing pajamas, sucking a binky, with painted freckles on my nose, happily filling my pillowcase with treats? Do we now have to look like street walkers willing to turn tricks to get the treats?
If so, give me my ratty old pajamas any day!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Poky Vacation

Last weekend we were invited to enjoy a mini vacation in Pocatello, Idaho. You may not think that Pocatello sounds like a premiere vacation spot, but that is only because you don't know the awesome family we have living there.

My beautiful niece Aubrie had turned 8 and her baptism was scheduled for Saturday. Her parents, wanting all of their families on both sides to be there, had sent everyone a prior invitation to come and enjoy the weekend and celebrate with Aubrie. Knowing that we all couldn't stay at their house, they in all their generosity put everyone up in the Marriot Suites.
Our particular suite had a kitchen, complete with dishwasher, two bedrooms, and three TVs.
My kids thought they had died and gone to heaven.

Ashton enjoying 1 king bed.

Dalllin enjoying the other.

Benjamin loved the fold out couch.

Daddy & Emma snuggled in the chair.

Here's a rundown on the rest of the festivities...

There was golfing to start it off. Sorry, there are no golfing pics because we didn't get there in time. But honestly, we really suck at golf, so it was just as well.
There was lots of visiting.

A lot of eating.

We attended the baptism.

We celebrated birthdays & Aubrie's baptism.

We watched Landon (our nephew & #23) play the position of quarterback in his football game.

Pop Marlin snoozed.

We went swimming.

There was plenty of horsing around and goofing off.

We went to the movie.

(It was a cute show based on one of my favorite books as a child by the same name.)

But most of all we did what families like to do best......just be TOGETHER!

Dan, Natalie, & Nathan. (Andrew not pictured. We hope he and Vicki can make it next time.)

Many thanks again to Dan and Shaleece, for such a fabulous weekend and great get away!