Friday, October 30, 2009

Snow Day Aftermath

The sun is shining and the kids are back in school today. But they were late. Our school has a "gentle start" policy. Kids are supposed to arrive between 7:35 and 7:45am. If they are not at school be 7:45 they are late. Usually we try to leave home at 7:30 so we have plenty of time for things forgotten at the last minute and to pick up the little girl up the street. Today was no different. We went out to the garage at 7:30; the girl was waiting a few buildings up the street; we were on time. Unfortunately, as I was backing down the driveway, another car turned onto our street and I had to stop halfway down the driveway for them to pass. Unfortunately that meant I lost all my momentum and I was stuck. For the next twenty minutes the girl's great grandmother and I pushed, pulled, dug and salted, trying to get the car out of the driveway, over icy ruts, and onto the street. Eventually another car paused to give some helpful advice (I imagine they were Colorado natives and not California and Arizona/Florida transplants like the old lady and I are.) and with a little more effort we got loose and were able to get to school. We arrived at 8:00. The kids were late and had to get slips from the office. I felt bad, but I don't know what more I could have done. I hate driving in snow.

Yesterday the kids enjoyed playing in the snow most of the day. They built a fort, a snow witch, and snow angels. They threw snowballs at each other. They visited with Mary Lee, our elderly neighbor up the hill directly across from us. They came inside when they were frozen with soaking pants and socks and changed into dry ones. An hour or so later they would go back out. (And come back in later with soaking wet pants and socks and change into dry ones...) I washed laundry yesterday. I may need to wash some more tomorrow.

Tonight is our ward's Trunk or Treat. I'm wondering if the church parking lot is going to be plowed or if kids are going to be wading through knee deep snow to get to the car trunks. Hannah is concerned that her dress is going to be too cold. She'll have to wear it over something else I guess. Trick or Treating on Halloween could be fun with all the snow drifts. Hmmmm. I think I'll send the kids out with Steven and I'll stay home to pass out candy.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Snow Day

The kids have a snow day today!!! I'm so glad. That means I don't have to go anywhere at all today. I can stay home, read, bake, clean, deal with bored, sopping wet, freezing children. Hmmmm. Maybe it won't be so wonderful after all. Oh well.

Here is the view from our front door this morning. Our flower pots look like ice cream cones!

Yesterday wasn't as bad as I feared it would be. I was able to renew my library books online so I didn't have to go to the library. My Visiting teaching companion called to say her children were sick so she wouldn't be going, and when I called the sister I was going to visit, she encouraged me to stay home and we had a nice long chat on the phone. John's scouts was canceled last night too so the only place I had to go was to school and back. Dropping the kids off at school yesterday wasn't a problem. I managed to get up the hill and back down without much difficulty. Picking the kids up was a little more of a challenge. I left later than I had planned to and so I wasn't able to park as close to the school as I would have liked. I left Peter in the car where it was warm and I trudged out into the calf deep snow to collect the kids and lead them back to the car. I had forgotten my umbrella and a sweet lady outside Josh's classroom gave me a sheet of plastic I could hold over my head. John forgot to zip up his back pack and somewhere along the way he lost his reading book, his student planner and his homework. (Of course he didn't mention he was missing them until he got home!) We made it back to the car okay, but then I had some difficulty getting the car moving again. I was stuck on a slightly uphill slope, against the curb, with cars both in front and behind, and other cars passing on the side. Eventually the stream of cars passing diminished and the car behind me pulled out and I was able to back up a little way to a point where I could pull out and head for home. We dropped off the little girl up the street (Yesterday was her first day of school here and I'm giving her rides to and from school.) and then attempted to pull into our garage. I couldn't do it. The upward sloping driveway had not yet been plowed and my poor van couldn't make it up the hill. After trying for several minutes I turned around and parked on the side of the street--on the other side of the street. Steven was able to put the car in the garage when he got home from work several hours later, after the driveway had been plowed. The kids had a blast playing in the snow all afternoon. I'm sure that will continue today as the snow continues to fall. It should stop tonight and tomorrow should be clear. But for now I can enjoy a lazy day of not going anywhere, not doing anything. I love it!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Snow Blues

It's snowing this morning. It may not stop until tomorrow afternoon. If I could just sit inside, curl up with a book, and maybe sip hot chocolate, I would really enjoy it. It is pretty where it hasn't been walked on yet. I like looking at the smooth expanse of blank snow, like a canvas waiting to be painted on. Unfortunately I had to take the kids to school this morning. I usually go to the library on Wednesdays, and I have a visiting teaching appointment in a few hours. Then I'll need to pick up the kids from school, and I'll need to take John to scouts tonight and then go back an hour later to pick him up. I'm going to see if I can renew the library things that are due so I can cross that off my list for today, but the other things I can't really cancel. I am grateful that our new van has front wheel drive instead of rear wheel drive like our old van had. I don't get stuck nearly as often. It is kind of scary though when I'm pressing on the brakes and I can feel them grinding against the ice on the road trying to stop--while I slide. I consider myself very blessed that I haven't hit anything or anybody yet.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

When Steven Doesn't Feel Well

I hate it when my husband gets sick. I know he can't help it usually. I know that I shouldn't get upset at him, especially when he needs my sympathy and help more than ever. I still don't like it. Yesterday Steven came home from work, and without saying a word, without even letting me know that he was home (Dinner was ready; I was back in the bedroom wondering what was keeping him) he just sat down at the table for dinner. He could have sat there for five minutes before I finished what I was doing and came out to the living room and saw him. I gathered the rest of the family for dinner and we ate, but there was an oppresive silence over the table. I asked him how work went, and apparently something had happened at work and he'd had to redo some project he'd been working on. He said he was tired. He looked like he was tired- that heavy, sullen kind of tired like he wished the world would let him off for a while and he could get back on in some other universe far away. After dinner he retired to his room and started doing a crossword puzzle. I helped the kids with their dinner time chores. I helped the kids get their laundry put away. I helped the kids start cleaning the guts out of our pumpkin. When it was time for Family Home Evening I went back to invite Steven to join us, only to discover that he had gone to bed for the night. So we had FHE without him. We finished carving the pumpkin into a jack-o-lantern, but it wasn't the same without him. I finished getting the kids ready for bed and listened to their prayers and tucked the younger ones in, and turned out the lights and went to get myself ready for bed and read my scriptures in my bathroom so I wouldn't have to turn the light on and disturb his sleep. It felt lonely.

This morning he got up as usual, but he still looked and acted tired. The morning routine went as usual. He woke the kids and got them moving. We had our morning scripture reading and ate breakfast. Then he dragged himself out the front door to go to work. Apparently he didn't feel sick enough to stay home, but he didn't look well enough to me to be going to work either. Maybe he felt like he needed to go to finish that project. I don't know. It seems like this is happening more and more often lately. I miss him. I miss the cheerful, loving man that he can be when life is good. I miss the sweet husband who greets me with a kiss and a hug when he comes home and tells me about his day. I miss the loving father who enjoys playing with his children. I miss the comedian who always has a wisecrack to make me smile. I miss the companion who helps me with kids, dishes, housework, etc. when I've had a long and exhausting day dealing with temper tantrums and potty training. I hope this is just a passing bug that will pass and he will return to his normal energy and happiness.

I wonder if he is so tired because he is angry about something. Is he upset about something that happened at work or is there something that I'm doing that is causing this? Have I been neglecting him because of my worries and concerns in figuring out my new calling? What can I do to help him? Should I be trying to make him exercise for the benefit of the endorphins or whatever it is that makes people feel happier when they are getting regular exercise? How can I get him to do anything when I can hardly talk with him?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Of Boys and Beds

Friday evening we went to the furniture store to buy a bed for Peter. It's about time. Way back when John was a tiny baby sleeping in a bassinet, we bought a Little Red Bed (LRB). It was a toddler sized bed. I think it was used because the mattress was already a bit torn in spots. Hannah loved it because it was just her size. We moved Hannah out of the crib and onto the LRB so that John could have the crib. Life was good. She slept on that bed until we moved to our condo here. By then John was ready for a real bed, and Josh was getting close to needing the crib. So we aquired some bunk beds. The LRB went into retirement. Eventually Peter came along and needed the crib and Josh was old enough for a bed. Hannah was reaching an age where she didn't want to share her room with her little brothers, so we bought her a day bed (without the trundle that fit under it) and moved her into the room that had been our office. Josh skipped the LRB and went straight to the bottom bunk of the bunk bed. A couple years later, Peter started climbing out of the crib, and we pulled out the LRB for him to sleep on. I don't know if it was because the LRB was getting old and tired, or if Peter was just harder on it than the other kids had been, but it didn't last very long after that. The metal bars that supported the mattress started to bend and sag, and after a while we decided to retire it. Since then, for about the last year or so, Peter has been sleeping on the mattress on the floor. Why did we wait so long to get him a bed? Well, the main reason is that the room isn't very big. The bunk bed kind of dominates the room, and I thought it would be too crowded to have another twin sized bed in there. I didn't want another toddler bed because Peter would outgrow it soon, and we'd need to get a twin size bed eventually.

So why did we buy him a bed now? Well, for several reasons. For one thing, the mattress is being held together by duct tape and the tape is loosing the battle. Another reason is that Lindy is coming to visit next week with her husband and baby. Usually when people come to visit they either sleep on Hannah's bed (if it's just one person) or on the hide-a-bed sofa in the living room. Unfortunately, the hide-a-bed isn't very comfortable, and the living room isn't very private (Remember we have 4 kids and 4 cats). Where could we put Lindy and her husband and her baby that would be big enough for them and have privacy and quiet enough for a baby to sleep? Our answer was to get a trundle bed that will work with Hannah's bed. This way they have the privacy of a bedroom and a more comfortable bed large enough for two to sleep on it, even if it does have a crack down the middle.

So Peter gets a new bed. Yes, it is a trundle bed, but that makes it more mobile and versatile. The mattress is new. We still have his old one (currently stored under the bunk bed) for him to sleep on during my sister's visit. Yes, the boys' room is crowded with two big beds in there, but there isn't much we can do with that until we move--whenever that may be. Have I ever mentioned that I want to move? I'd love a house with four bedrooms.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Reading List

Lately I've been reading a lot. Most of the books I've read recently are geared towards young people, and I've been borrowing Hannah's books to read while she is in school because they are good! If anyone is interested, (and has similar taste in books, and would like some light reading) here is what I've been reading:

The Cat Who.... series by Lilian Jackson Braun.  These are detective/mystery type books, but there are actual cats involved. The books in the series stand on their own and don't necessarily have to be read in order, but sometimes it helps because it gives you more background on the characters involved.

Eragon by Christopher Paolini. I read this a long time ago along with its sequel, but I wanted to refresh my memory before I read the third book in the series. Strong influences from Tolkien and David Eddings.

Percy Jackson and The Olympians  series by Rick Riordan. It helps if you have some basic knowledge of Greek Mythology because in the book those immortals never die.

Fablehaven series by Brandon Mull. Brownies, demons, witches, elves, magic. What's not to enjoy?

Charlie Bone and the Children of the Red King series by Jenny Nimmo. Reminiscent of Harry Potter, but lighter reading. Very fun. Jenny Nimmo has also written several other enjoyable books.

Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. Okay, I haven't actually read this recently, but it's on my list of books to read next because they are really funny (with Dave Barry as an author how couldn't it be?) and the third book just came out. This series is prequel to James Barrie's Peter Pan.

Another good author I've read some good books by is Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted).

I guess that's it for now. I'm thinking I might go back to Jane Austin sometime soon, but I've enjoyed this venture into children's fantasy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Random Thoughts

I have a lot on my mind this morning. Yesterday afternoon I had two girls over from the family up the street. I was watching them so their Grandma could get a chance to rest. They had a blast playing with my kids. Apparently their mother is still in the hospital, and their dad has bleeding ulcers. I wish there was more I could do for them.

Our bishop also is in the hospital suffering from complications of the H1N1 virus. He has viral pneumonia, was having a lot of difficulty breathing, and is now in a drug induced coma for what could be a couple weeks or a month. We are praying for him and his family. As a result of all this, he was unable to participate in setting me and my counselors apart for our new callings last night; his counselors had to do that instead.

While I was being set apart, one comment that was made in the blessing struck me particularly. I was told that the Lord has been preparing me for this calling for a long time. I guess that is why so many of my callings so far have been in the primary. I have served as a teacher in both Junior and Senior Primary. I've served in the nursery. I've been both pianist and chorister. I have several ideas of how things should be done, or what could be done to be better. I have an appreciation for how much effort can go into each of these callings. I understand much of the struggles and challenges that people in these callings can face. I've been concerned by the fact that I haven't served in a presidency and I'm still figuring out how that is all supposed to work, but I guess if the Lord has called me now, he must think I'm ready. It is definitely humbling for me as I realize how much I need the Lord's help.

Tonight for John's pack meeting they are having a Halloween party so I'm trying to finish up the kids' costumes. I finished Hannah's headpiece yesterday and bought rope for belts. Hannah was trying to sew a quiver for John out of felt. It is cute, but rather small. John tried to make a crucifix for Josh out of foil, but it didn't stay together very well. I love to see my children using their skills to help each other. I wonder when and if I need to step in and help when the things they make aren't working out. At any rate, I'll post pictures of the kids wearing their costumes. I think they turned out cute!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

A Chance to Serve

Yesterday I found out about a family that very recently moved into our ward and is now living on our street. The mother was in critical condition in the ICU with the swine flu. She has three children, ages 8, 4 and 9 months. Our Relief Society president had asked one of my counselors to watch the children this afternoon, and she left our presidency meeting that morning with the intent to go buy diapers for the baby and then go watch the poor kids. They were in my thoughts that afternoon. Last night as we were putting our kids to bed, I received a phone call from the RS president telling me that the children were now being watched by a couple of 18 year old girls in our ward, but that the baby was running a fever. She asked if I had baby Tylenol, and if I knew what dosage to give him. I have children's Tylenol, and I found a dosage chart, so I grabbed the medicine, the book containing the chart and my bathroom scale and headed up the street to their home. The baby was warm, but had been given a bath and didn't seem to be burning up any more. We figured out the baby's weight and were able to figure out the correct dosage and give it to the baby. He looked sleepy, but was crawling around, pushing a toy across the carpet when I left. I met the 8 year old girl, and she seemed really sweet. She is in 3rd grade, just like John, but although she knew she would go to the same school as my kids, she didn't know which teacher she would have yet. I think the 4 year old had already been put to bed.

With all my feelings of being overwhelmed and trying to figure out what I am supposed to be doing in my new calling, it was nice to have an opportunity like this one. I had a chance to serve someone who needed it. I had what was needed, I knew what to do, and it was something I felt comfortable doing. I hope I can have more opportunities like this one.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Primary Happenings

Today was our ward primary program. It went wonderfully well. Except that I almost skipped the fourth verse of the first song. Whoops. Oh well. Everything else went well. I even played the piano for "Baptism" without a hitch...up to tempo. John memorized his part this morning before church sometime and I didn't realize he had it memorized until he did it and he was outstanding. Hannah gave a short talk about her baptism, describing it in detail. Josh and Peter both gave their parts. The primary children sang loud and clear, especially the one seven year old boy who always sings loudly, and with lots of enthusiasm. The closing song was Families Can Be Together Forever. The primary sang the first verse, the congregation joined in on the second verse, and then there was a little interlude (which I wrote) and the primary sang the chorus from "The Family is of God". It was awesome, and I cried through the closing prayer.

Earlier in the meeting, I was sustained as the primary president. I have many mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I'm relieved that I've finally been sustained, after sitting on it and thinking about it for three weeks. Now I can actually call a presidency meeting and start figuring out what I'm doing. On the other hand, I'm still clueless. People started looking to me to make decissions, like what are we going to do for sharing time next week. Incidentally, I wasn't released as Primary chorister this week, and a new chorister has yet to be called. The sister I've been trading off with as chorister just bought a new house and today was supposed to be her last Sunday. So next Sunday I'll probably be doing the music as well as whatever else I need to do. I feel overwhelmed right now; there is just too much that I need to think about. I'm glad the program is done. that's one thing I don't have to worry about anymore. Several people have assured me that I'll do fine, that I'll be a wonderful primary president. I hope so. I appreciate their confidence in me. I plan to do my best and serve as the Lord would have me serve as well as I can.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Peter's Imaginative Birthday Party

This morning Peter came to me with his hands full of his stuffed animals (his four favorites) and told me that it was their birthday! "Penguino is 4, Little Blue Bunny is 3. Monkey is 2 and Chippy the Chipmunk is 1." He proceeded to have a birthday party for them, wrapping presents in things he found around the house, and then he made me take pictures of the birthday boys with their gifts.

Then he brought me a piece of paper to write about the party. First I had to list the animals having the birthday(Chippy the Chipmunk, Little Blue Bunny, Monkey Down and Penguino), then list the presents they received (ball, checker, bear) and what the presents were wrapped in (blanket, boots).

When we left to do some grocery shopping he insisted on bringing all four animals along, and stuffing them all into cupholders for their car seats. He was disappointed when I wouldn't let him take them into the store, and so he sat them all on my drivers seat to wait while we were in the store. I thought it was cute.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Jump Start for the Day

There is nothing like the adrenaline rush of waking up 40 minutes late to get a person moving in the morning. Especially when that means I have only 20 minutes to get three kids dressed, fed and packed up to leave for school.

Steven has been sick the last few days. His upper back and neck have been bothering him for a week and a half. It feels like he has been miserable forever. Yesterday he came home from work early and spent the evening reading in bed. Last night he kept making noises in his sleep: something half way between a grunt and a groan. Anyway, it was keeping me awake so I went to sleep on the living room couch. I kept waking up out there too, because one of the cats decided to come lay on me and purr and give himself a bath, noisily licking himself until I pushed him off. I wasn't laying in a position where I could see the clock, but suddenly I opened my eyes and realized it was light already. Suddenly I jumped off the couch and looked at the clock - 7:10, the time we are usually sitting down to breakfast after everyone is dressed and we've read scriptures and had family prayer! I rushed back to the kids rooms to wake them up and get them going. I peeked in at Steven, and he was awake but just lying in bed. He told me he was too sick to go to work today. Okay, I guess that explains why I didn't hear the alarm clock go off or him getting into the shower which is what usually wakes me up in the morning. I wish he'd told me last night that he wasn't planning on setting his alarm clock.

Hannah and John got dressed quickly and went to the kitchen to pack their lunches. I skipped showering and threw some clothes on. Josh took a little longer to dress, and couldn't find his shoes right away so I made him wear his Sunday shoes. I packed Josh's lunch, found his homework and packed his backpack while the kids ate a quick breakfast. Finally, we were ready to go, and Peter was still lying in bed. I left him there figuring Steven could watch him for the ten minutes it takes me to run the kids to school. Once we were in the car pulling out of the garage  - on schedule, I realized that we hadn't had a prayer yet that morning. I paused in the driveway and asked Hannah to offer a prayer for us. So Hannah, John and Joshua made it to school on time with breakfast inside them and lunches and homework in their backpacks. I returned home to shower and eat my own breakfast at a more leisurly pace. Now I can relax. I'm glad I don't have many mornings like this one.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Sad Life of a Fish

I feel sorry for my fish. We have had fish for the last five years, ever since our neighbors gave us a fish tank they didn't want anymore. One of the first fish we got was a black molly that had babies the first day we had her. Only one of the babies survived to adulthood, the others getting stuck in the filter or being eaten by the other bigger fish in the tank. Over the years we've had mollies, guppies, zebra danios, neon tetras, catfish, snails and a frog. We've had fish in stripes, solids and with spots. We've had fish in almost every color. When they died (after a couple weeks or a couple years) I'd scoop them out and eventually replace them with something new. I've cleaned out their tank about every other week for years, fed them every day with fish flakes or freeze dried blood worms, and spent a lot of time watching them, counting them, and searching for the hiding ones amongst the big rocks and plants. They don't demand attention. They don't remind me to feed them, although they always swarm to the top right corner when I open the lid--they know that food is coming. I'm not allergic to them, and they never get in my face or climb on my lap when I'm trying to read. They don't make loud noises or dig up my carpet. They are peaceful. They are relaxing. I like having fish.
About four months ago we acquired four cats. That must have been a terrible day for the fish. Suddenly they had predators stalking them outside the limited confines of their 29 gallon tank. Ishmael (the big black cat) decided the top of the tank was a good place to sit--whether because it is close to the flitting food, or because the light in the top is warm I don't know. All four cats spend hours sitting next to the tank watching the fish swim around, occasionally pawing at the sides of the tank when the fish appear to be close. What is entertainment for the cats on the outside must be terror for the poor fish inside.

Once in a while the barrier between the predator and the prey is removed: I open the lid of the tank to change the water and vacuum the gravel on the bottom. For about half an hour, the cats search for an opportunity to get past me and catch an elusive snack. While I am there, siphoning out the water, I can shoo the cats away when they come too close (standing with their paws on the top edge of the tank, occasionally dabbing a paw into the water.) Unfortunately, when the bucket is full, I have to leave the scene to take the water to the sink to dump it. Later I have to refill the bucket with fresh water, and I need to keep an eye on the refilling bucket to ensure it doesn't overflow and add chemicals to the water to make it safe for the fish. This is the opportunity the cats have been waiting for: unsupervised access to the snack bucket. Today I was refilling the bucket in the kitchen when I heard a splash mixed with a crash. I dashed into the living room to see a black cat streak away from the scene of the crime, water in the tank sloshing, and water dripping down the front of the tank and the dresser the tank stands on. I counted the fish. Thankfully none were missing. Eventually the water stopped splashing, my heart rate returned to normal, and I hope the fishes' heart rates did too. The cat's mission either failed or was aborted.

We only have four fish at the moment. I think the stress of their situation has shortened their life spans drastically, and they are dying off faster (all bodies accounted for except for the frog which just disappeared), and I haven't been replacing them. A couple of the remaining fish are schooling fish which means that there should be at least three of them. Now there are only two. I am left with the quandry: would it be better to buy more fish so the schooling fish can have comfort in their school, or to just let the remaining fish die off as quickly as possible to put them out of their misery? If I'd had the cats first I never would have bought fish. It would have been bringing innocent creatures home deliberately to reside in a torture chamber.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Beginning a Christmas Shopping List

The weekend is over. I really enjoyed having Kendra visit with us. She spent most of her time with her dad in Longmont, but we had time to chat and she entertained the kids with games on her phone and computer. It was good to see her again.

While Kendra was here she asked what my kids would like for Christmas, so she could tell their paternal grandma. I'm just over birthday season, and I'm not really ready to think about Christmas yet, but here is what I've come up with:

Hannah - craft supplies. [A knitting loom (like the kind you make hats on), yarn, fabric, tape, pinking shears, ribbons, crochet hooks] Books. [Horror, fantasy appropriate for a 10 year old advanced reader.] Clothes. [size 8. Long pants but NO jeans. Maybe twill or corduroy? long sleeve shirts]

John - Books. [mystery, fantasy appropriate for an 8 year old advanced reader, he also has interest in electricity and magnetism, magic tricks and origami] Clothes. [size 6/7, pajamas, long sleeve shirts, jeans]

Joshua - Dress-up clothes. [super hero cape and mask, chef's apron and hat, tool belt and construction worker's helmet] Clothes. [size 5, pajamas]

Peter - Movies. [Beauty and the Beast, Robin Hood (please only movies that were shown in theaters before coming out on DVD. No Dora the Explorer or the like.)] Learning Activities [computer games, books, activities appropriate for a Preschooler/Kindergartner.]

That's all I can think of at the moment. I suppose I should begin my own Christmas shopping soon, but I'm still gearing up for Halloween. Maybe I'll put out my Halloween decorations today. Hmmmmm.

Yesterday was my first time back to church since talking with the bishop two weeks ago. The rumors are running rampant and there is speculation in the air. Someone in the know is talking about things that shouldn't be talked about yet and there is at least one person who should be "in the know" and isn't yet... but she has already heard through the grapevine, rather than through official ways and means. That concerned me. I called the bishop this morning, and was told that their oversight has been discovered and will be remedied today or tomorrow. And the date of the change was moved up a week. So the "secret" will be out next Sunday. I never realized before how rampant the rumor mill is in our ward, but apparently it is very functional. Anyway, my predecessor in my new calling will come over tomorrow to answer my questions... I think I need to write them down because there are a lot I've come up with recently. I'm grateful that I will be serving with others with some experience and expertice.

Friday, October 9, 2009

I Need a Jump Start

Kids are out of school today. Hannah says it is a teacher work day and the teachers are tired of the students. My sister in law, Kendra, is coming to visit tonight. Her Dad, who lives in Longmont, had a heart attack a week or two ago and she is coming to visit him, but staying with us. So, I need the kids to help me clean the house today. How do I motivate them? I don't know. It is a cold day and I feel sleepy and my head is aching slightly. I need to wake up and get moving. Can you jump start a person without using caffeine or drugs?

It snowed for maybe twenty minutes yesterday, but there wasn't enough to stick. Today it is clear and cold. We may get more snow over the weekend. I don't mind the snow when I don't have to be out driving in it. I love it when I can stay at home, wrap myself in a blanket and read a book all day. It would be wonderful if we had a fireplace we could light and enjoy while reading a book, snuggled in a blanket while drinking hot chocolate. Hmmmm. I'm feeling a hankering for the holiday season. I came across our Christmas Tree a couple days ago when I was cleaning out our hall closet. For a few moments I contemplated setting it up now... but it is early October. Too early. We'll set them up the day after Thanksgiving, in about a month and a half.

I need to get off the computer and start working. Maybe I can take a short nap later. Maybe.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Adventures of the Destructo-Cats

Have I mentioned here the deal with the cats? I mentioned that my sister April brought them over when she came to babysit while Steven and I went on the Pioneer trek. I don't think I explained all the details. April's husband Dean left in May for a year's tour of duty in Afghanistan. April moved out of her house on base and moved in with my other sister Heather in Colorado Springs. Heather's husband is allergic to cats so she couldn't keep the cats with her there, so we took them in. When Dean returns and April and Dean find a home of their own that accepts cats, they will get the bigger cats, Ishmael and Abish, back. We will keep the kittens, Moroni and Lamoni, who are now as big as their mother. In the meantime, we have four cats in the house.

We love the cats. They are soft and cuddly sometimes. They are all young and playful and provide hours and hours of entertainment, chasing strings, marbles, wiggling fingers, whatever. Ishmael loves me and frequently when I am lying down reading he will climb into the crook of my arm, bury his face in my hair and drool into my armpit. Abish will occasionally climb up and sit on my chest, effectively blocking my view of my book. Lamoni will lie down next to me within easy petting distance and purr loudly. Moroni will sometimes come close and endure being petted, but is as likely to attack my hand as submit to a pet. They are all loveable.

Ishmael (black), Lamoni (white feet) and Moroni (all orange) at feeding time

My issue with them is that they are Destructive! (Note the capital D!) Here are some examples:

I understand that cats inherently abhor a closed door. Steven and I don't appreciate cats walking and pouncing on us while we sleep, so we close our bedroom door when we go to bed at night. Abish and Ishmael don't appreciate this, and so they have proceeded to dig a whole in the carpet under our bedroom door. I've tried squirting them with a spray bottle of vinegar under the door, and they will run away for a minute, but return to making the loud popping noises that come with ripping all the tufts of carpet out of the mesh that is supposed to hold them. We've taken to closing the two cats in the hall bathroom when we go to bed at night, and since then the bare spot hasn't grown too much under our bedroom door, but the carpet just outside the bathroom (within reach of little paws stuck under the door) has started to thin.

Steven and I like plants. We bought a ficus several years ago, and since then have started several others from cuttings from the original plant. We used to have them strung across our window sill. When we bought our new van last year, the dealership sent us another potted plant as a thank you gift. Since the cats arrived, these plants have lived in terror of their lives. The cats seem to think the windowsill is their personal domain, so they can watch the squirrels outside I suppose. The plants were knocked over and dirt spilled on the carpet. The larger, heavier plants provided dirt for the cats to dig in, and occasionally deposit a smelly pile in. The plant from the dealership had it's leaves pulled out and eaten. When summer became warm enough we brought the plants outside to protect them from the attentions of the cats. The house looked kind of bare and drab without them, but at least they were alive. The weather is turning colder now. The dealership plant had to be brought inside. I placed it on top of the piano, but one morning while I was taking the kids to school, it got knocked down. We picked it up, but the poor thing is looking bedraggled and forelorn. It may snow this afternoon and I need to bring the ficus in as well, but I don't know what to do with them. Where can I put them where they will be safe?
Abish looking out the window

There used to be a small dent in the wall in the hallway where something had dinged it. I don't know what it was, and it never bothered me until it started growing. The cats  had discovered it and for whatever reason decided to enlarge it. They would leap up and snag it with their paws, and thereby remove chunks of  plaster and then drywall. Maybe they were trying to use it as a foot hold to climb the wall. But for whatever reason the hole has grown in size and depth to become an eyesore every time I walk down the hall.

There are other minor things they do from time to time. They sharpen their claws on our couch and chair, but since the furniture is on its last legs anyway I don't really care at this point. Those claws snag on other things too - like clothing and blankets. They don't seem to understand that the table and counters are taboo. The kittens have a problem with using the litterbox if it gets a bit too crowded, and since that is one of the kids' least favorite chores, and we have four cats using one litterbox, that happens if the kids miss just one day. So I have to check one particular corner of Hannah's room and the closet in the boys' room for smelly piles frequently.

Lamoni looking innocent
This morning I got up to take a shower and discovered a gaping hole in the shower curtain. Apparently the cats had been trying to climb the curtain by digging their claws into it, and the curtain ripped. So this morning I had to make a trip to the store to purchase a new one. How do I keep the cats from climbing the shower curtain? I would think the moisture on the curtains would be a deterrent, but apparently not. These cats don't seem to mind getting wet, whether with vinegar or water.

We love these cats, and we enjoy the hours of entertainment they provide. I just wish I was better at training them out of their destructive tendencies. 

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Odds and Ends

We turned on the heat this morning for the first time this season. It was cold! Tomorrow we may get our first snow. I enjoyed the summer. I wish it had lasted a little longer.

Yesterday I cleaned out my laundry room. Today I've been cleaning out the hall closet, organizing the games, and gathering up a bunch of stuff to take to Good Will. I had a bag in the laundry room, a box in the garage, coats that everyone has outgrown in the hall closet, odds and ends throughout the house. I'm really in a decluttering mood right now. I wish I lived in a bigger house, but I don't, and I don't know when I will, so I need to get rid of the extra stuff that is helping to make this house seem so crowded. (Not counting the four kids, four cats, etc. that I can't get rid of.)

I am gathering up library books for a run to the library today. I'm still missing one that is due today. I'll probably just have to renew it. It is a "Bob book", about the size of a piece of paper folded in fourths. I know it is called "Dot", but I don't know what color it is, and I don't remember seeing it around the house. It could be anywhere... except in all the places I've looked for it. The last time I permanently lost a book and had to pay for it, it was underneath the dryer. I found it about a year later. I hope that doesn't happen with this book. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Thoughts about General Conference

I had a wonderful weekend. My sister April was here to visit. I got to watch all sessions of conference (all right, I kind of dozed off a bit at the end of the Sunday afternoon session... but I think that is all I missed.) The kids were surprizingly good for the most part. Hannah and John drew pictures and played Conference Bingo and Joshua and Peter mostly played in their room. I am grateful that we have the means to watch General Conference in our own home.

Many of the talks seemed to focus on bettering our lives, becoming a true disciple of Christ by doing our best, living what we know, developing Christlike virtues and especially, by loving and serving others. That reinforced the feelings I've been having lately, that I need to find more ways to be of service to others, instead of being so wrapped up in my own life. I'm still trying to figure out how I can do that.

I found the first couple talks Saturday morning to be especially meaningful to me as I seek direction for my new calling. They described how to receive, recognize and understand the influence of the Holy Ghost. I learned that I need to record the impressions and guidance that I receive, ponder and study what I have learned, or what I need to know, and then pray to know if the conclusions I have come to are correct. I need to thank the Lord for his guidance, and ask if there is more I need to know and repeat the process with any further inspiration I may receive. I need to be careful that my own emotions don't cloud or overpower the delicate promptings of the Spirit. I need to learn to recognize the way the Spirit speaks to me personally. I don't often have overwhelming feelings... usually I just feel calm, peace and warmth. I feel the need to soften my heart so I can be more aware of these subtle influences of the Spirit. They are so easy for me to miss! At the General Relief Society broadcast last week, Sister Julie B. Beck told us to "Never supress a generous thought!" I think I need to expand that to never supress a righteous impulse, because I think often that is the Spirit telling me to do something. Last Sunday we had our testimony meeting and I felt some desire to bear my testimony, but I didn't. I didn't know what I would say. I didn't want to have to climb over all my children to get out of our pew. I wonder now, if I had gotten up to bear testimony, if I would have been less surprised to receive the bishop's call after church that day. I know that my testimony is strengthened when I share my own testimony with others. Did I miss out on an important moment for my own spiritual development that would have helped me with this calling? I'm grateful that Christ's atonement allows us the opportunity to repent. I don't know where I would be if I couldn't. I am grateful that we have General Conferences every six months because they remind me of where I should be going, what I should be striving for. They help to awake me from my complacence and motivate me to continue on the strait and narrow path towards Eternal Life.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Hiatt Hotel

This year we have had frequent house guests. April comes for a couple days every month or so. My mother in law has been here. My parents and Heidi were here for almost a week. Amber and her husband came. April is coming again today. My sister in law Kendra is coming next week. Lindy and her husband are coming in November. Thinking about all this makes me feel like we are running a hotel: The Hiatt Hotel, with complimentary airport shuttle.

So, welcome to the Hiatt Hotel! We apologize that we don't have a private guest room for you to stay in. The hide-a-bed in the couch in the living room may be increased in comfort by removing the mattress from the couch and placing it on the floor. You might want to reconsider your lodging choice if you are allergic to cats, because we do have four of them right now, and they have free range of the living room at night. We'll do our best to help you be comfortable. We have plenty of blankets if you get cold. We have a swamp cooler if you get hot. The pool is open from Memorial Day to Labor Day. There are parks nearby with playgrounds and fields where you can play frisbee or launch model rockets (just try not to loose them after the first launch.)We have a volleyball net and ball, as well as horse shoes. We have a television set on which you can watch any of our selection of DVDs. (We have lots of Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks and Veggie Tales movies as well as musicals from "Lil' Abner" to "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying".) We don't have cable or scheduled programming, but there is plenty of entertainment from lively kittens and kids. You may even be favored with an original puppet show or other performance provided by the kids. Meals are home cooked; please let the chef know before hand if you have any food allergies or aversions and she will try her best to accomodate you. Please make reservations at least a day or two in advance, although earlier notice is greatly appreciated.