Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year. We have a lot to be thankful for:

After two weeks of frantically stripping, sanding, painting and repainting, I screwed on another batch of newly painted kitchen cabinet doors Thanksgiving morning. I just have the upper east side of my kitchen to go: four cupboards, seven doors. My new goal is to finish those by Christmas.

I love having sisters living close enough to visit! Heather and her family returned to Colorado from Alabama, where they've been for the last six months, just in time to join us for Thanksgiving. April and her family also came up from Fort Carson to join us. We had thirteen people sitting around our tables for Thanksgiving, and I loved having them! (It's a good thing I'm not superstitious at all.) I'm also grateful that they didn't mind feasting mostly on side dishes while they waited for the turkey to finish cooking.
Cousins gathered to watch Steven play a game on his cell phone.
 I'm thankful that when our turkey did finally finish cooking, it tasted really good. I guess soaking it in brine for two days really helped. We had plenty of leftovers and I didn't mind eating them for the next two days.

I'm thankful for my wonderful husband who spent the entire day after Thanksgiving moving furniture, taping up newspapers, and painting the ceiling in our living room and dining room, while I hung out with the kids in my bedroom watching movies and playing games.

I'm thankful that my children can think of many things to be thankful for. After a FHE in early November, I taped a poster board to the wall and told the kids to write on it things they were thankful for during the month. Two days later, it was pretty full, with things from books and the ability to read to prophets and temples. By the end of the month it was jam packed with names of family members and pets, as well as things like imagination, air and dirt. There were even drawings and illustrations for many of the things we were thankful for. It was a great reminder for us of the many, many things God has blessed us with.

I'm thankful for the Christmas season that is coming up. The radio has already started playing Christmas music a week ago. My Christmas shopping is pretty much done. The tree and decorations went up Saturday. Now I can relax and enjoy the holiday season, and remember the greatest gift of all, the Son of God who came to earth as a baby to atone for our sins and allow us to return to his presence and enjoy eternal life. As a friend in Brazil used to say, "Que Benção!" What a blessing!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Computer Woes

My computer is sick. Very sick. I think it has caught a virus of some sort and it really isn't up to its normal speed. We have antivirus software (McAfee) installed on our computer, but it didn't catch whatever it was, and it still refuses to acknowledge that there is a problem. McAfee's realtime scanning keeps switching off for some reason, and then freezes when I turn it back on. The worst part is how slow the computer is. I log on and come back five minutes later to actually open a program. Five minutes later that program might be open. Anything related to the operating system is as slow as molasses in Alaska in January. I haven't been online much, just checking email quickly and getting off, before random tabs start opening up when I least expect it. I'm getting really behind in things that need to be done on the computer because it is such a pain to be on. Most of the time I've been on the computer in the last week has been spent trying to rid the computer of the virus, but to no avail. I just don't know enough about the computer or viruses in general, and I don't know what websites I can really trust to help, and which will get me into worse trouble. One day last week I got a really big scare, when I turned it on and only got the "black screen of death", totally black except for a white curser arrow. I turned it off again and didn't turn it on again until much later in the day when one of the kids wanted to try it. It worked for him, and it has worked (in its slow, painfully limping way) since then. I'm thankful for small blessings. I'll be grateful to have the computer working properly again.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Hair Cut

I don't like having my picture taken, but I took this one this morning. And then I photoshopped it to lighten the dark smudges around my eyes and get rid of the most annoying of the spots on my face.

The point of the picture (I know you couldn't tell just by looking) is supposed to be my hair. You can see the ends of it resting on my shoulder. Steven cut several inches off it on Saturday so it went from almost down to my waist to just a few inches past my shoulder. While it has taken me a day to get used to it, I really like it. Thank you Steven!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween 2010

Another Halloween has come and gone. I didn't spend much time or effort on costumes this year, but let the children choose what they wanted to be, and let them figure out their own costumes, helping as needed. While we didn't get a family picture, Steven took these pictures at our ward Trunk-or-Treat on Saturday night.

Hannah chose to be a duck. At her request, I bought her a yellow shirt and a couple foam visors and made her yellow pants. She made her own wings and put it all together.(You can't see the yellow visor that formed her tail. It was really cute!)




John wanted to be homework. I bought him a couple sheets of posterboard, which he wrote on so it looked like a sheet of homework. He had Hannah cut a bite shape out of it, and I attached it at the top with some pieces of yarn so it would hang from his shoulders. In hind site, I probably should have attached it at the sides somehow too. Oh well.
 
 Joshua had his heart set on being a monkey, so we recycled a monkey costume from a couple years ago and he was thrilled.
Peter was a dog; supposedly the dog who ate John's homework. I bought him a brown shirt, a hat that included ears and a dog nose, and I bought him a tail. The night of the Trunk or Treat, he couldn't find the tail, and he didn't wear the hat! He loved the cake walk though, and came home with three big plates of goodies. 

Steven and I didn't think about what we were going to wear until that night. I ended up wearing my Renaissance dress again, and Steven wore his hat. 
Here is my head shot from Saturday night.
This picture was from back when I first made the dress a couple years ago, so you can get the full view.

Even though the kids didn't go trick or treating on Halloween, they got plenty of loot from the Trunk-or-Treat and it was soon spread over the table as they compared, traded, and designed their own creations combining different candies.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Trying to Grasp The Artist's Way

A couple years ago, my mom told me about a book called "The Artist's Way". It was supposed to help artists discover or recover their creativity. Curious, I looked it up at the library, and read it. It was interesting, and had a couple basic premises, one of which was to write "Morning Pages" or at least three pages, handwritten, every morning. They could be about anything and everything, but the point, as I remember it, was to get out the stuff that is milling around in the subconscious. It could be used to get out frustrations, to explore new ideas, or whatever. No one else was ever supposed to read them, they were totally private and personal. At the time I was intrigued by the idea, and tried to it. Within a couple of weeks, I stopped. Writing first thing in the morning wasn't happening for me. I couldn't sit down and write anything until the kids were at school, the house was under control, and I felt I had time to write. Another problem was that I was trying to do them in long hand, and that wasn't working for me. I can't write out by hand as fast as I think! Not only was my speed bothering me, but my hand started cramping up on me and I'd have to stop and stretch my hand before I could continue writing, and by then, I didn't always remember what it was I had been about to say. I gave it up. Maybe someday I would go back to it.

Recently I came across a site called "750 Words". It was created as a fun way to do Morning Pages online. Unlike a blog, whatever is typed is totally private. As a fun bonus, it counts your words for you as you type and it also keeps track of information about your typing such as typing speed, moods, topics, how long it took you to reach 750 words (which is their estimate of about three pages handwritten) and how many days in a row you've written. They have challenges people can sign up for to see if they can write 750 words every day for an entire month, and they have badges that people receive when they accomplish certain tasks. Anyway, I'm trying it. I've written three days in a row, and I'm hoping to continue. I think I really function better when I have an outlet for all the stuff I have that I'm trying to keep track of. Maybe having that outlet will help this blog from becoming negative as I gripe about the challenges in life, and I can focus here about the good things that happen.







Thursday, October 28, 2010

What happens when Mom gets sick for one day?

I was sick on Monday. My head ached, my stomach ached, I had no appetite, no energy, and spent the entire day on the couch not throwing up, but burping up smelliness. Steven was kind enough to drive the boys to school in the morning, so I only had to leave the couch to take Peter to kindergarten and pick up the kids after school. Hannah made dinner. I slept.

Tuesday I was feeling a little better. My head still ached a little, and I was still feeling a bit weak, but I was well enough to get up, wash some laundry and straighten the house a little. I decided not to help out in Peter's class like I usually do on Tuesdays, and spent that quiet time resting rather than exposing twelve kindergartners to whatever bug I had.

Yesterday, (Wednesday) I was straightening the house and trying to get caught up on neglected housework when I realized I had forgotten to go to a breakfast at the school  for John, who was selected "Physical Education Student of the Month" by his PE teacher. Oops. While Peter was at school, I had to go shopping. We were out of kitty litter, and the fridge was looking bare. So I trudged out to Sam's Club to replenish our food supply. I returned home very tired (still not feeling 100% better from being sick), but proceeded to put away the groceries and find spaces to stash our growing food storage (we're nearing a six month supply of all nonperishable stuff!) I was almost finished and ready to collapse when I looked at the clock and realized that the kids had been out of school for half an hour, and they weren't home yet. Ideally on Wednesdays, the boys walk home from school on their own, but one of them has a tendency to get distracted along the way, stopping at playgrounds, petting dogs behind fences, throwing tantrums on the sidewalk, etc. So I headed out, up the street to see where they were. I found them at the top of the hill. John told me that Peter had taken off his shoes earlier and they had a hard time getting them back on him! Ugggghhhhhh! Anyway, we returned home and I was finally able to flop on the couch and rest. Kind of.

That morning I looked inside Josh's backpack and discovered four sheets of unfinished homework! It seems he hadn't done any of his homework while I was too busy (from the primary program and practice during the weekend) and too sick to check up on him. I had asked him if he had homework, and he just stared at me like I was crazy for suggesting it, shrugged and ran off. So, Wednesday afternoon, while trying to rest, I had to keep a sharp eye on Josh to keep him working on homework. I'd catch him playing, and he'd tell me, "I was thinking!" How long can a seven year old "think" about what eleven minus two is? I think he finished one of the sheets, started on two more, and left one still untouched by the time we sent him to bed last night. I don't know what I'm going to do with him.

Today I take Peter to school in half an hour, then I need to go to Walmart to finish the grocery shopping and get some clothes for John who told me this morning that he didn't have a single pair of pants to wear! He finally put on the ones he wore yesterday and I'm left wondering: what happened to all his clothes? It hadn't been that long since I'd done laundry; maybe two days. But apparently he only has three pairs of long pants to his name, and one of those is for Sundays.

So what's the point? I guess that it is hard for me to catch up on everything when I've been sick. I'm really sick for one day, and spend the next four days catching up - getting the house cleaned up again, getting the kids caught up on homework, the laundry situation back under control. The remedy? I guess I can never get sick. Either that or I need a lot more help from my family when I do.

PS. One of Peter's shoes has been missing since Monday. He's been wearing his Sunday shoes to school all week. I've searched and searched, but there is no sign of it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

John Setting Records

A few days ago, John came home from school and told me he thought he had set a school record that day. Every day during his lunch recess, John runs around the track at his school. Five times around the track is one mile. Over the last couple years the number of laps he can run before the end of recess has been steadily increasing. On Wednesday, he ran a record breaking 8 laps! He told me he ran at a steady pace the whole time, and ran faster than he usually does.

Wednesday afternoon I bought him some new shoes. His old ones were literally run to shreds. I wish I had taken a picture of them.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The End of an Era

My last fish is dying. I wrote him a haiku:

The last fish is sick
Limp, it drifts, waiting for death.
I'm like a vulture.

I feel guilty, watching and waiting for him to finally die. I've enjoyed having fish. When we first got them, about six or seven years ago, I loved sitting and watching them swim around. It was relaxing. The first night we had fish, the molly started popping out babies and it was an adventure counting how many we had, when the number increased daily, and then decreased daily as the small fry were either eaten by bigger fish or caught in the filter. Only one of the babies survived to adulthood. Over the years we had many kinds of fish. Besides mollys, we had neon tetras, zebra danios, plecostumus, a shark, snails, and even a frog, as well as other types of tropical fish I don't remember the names of. But now it is the end of an era. About a year ago, when the four cats settled in and started stalking the tank, I stopped replacing fish when they died, and the numbers started to decrease. Finally, a couple months ago, we were down to one - a bright pink fish named Lava. He was a schooling fish, but his school, and everyone else had passed on. He endured a lot longer than I thought he would, but yesterday he was settled on the bottom of the tank, unmoving. I thought he was dead, but when I came back later to scoop him out, he had moved and was slowly drifting behind a rock, weakly swaying his fins. I fed him, but I don't know how much food he got, since he couldn't swim up to the top of the tank for it. Last night, he was still moving, sluggishly. Poor guy. This morning, I think he is dead... he is at the opposite end of the tank from where he was last night, but he is lying on his side now, and I don't see his fins moving. Maybe now I can take down the aquarium and clean out behind the dresser it has sat on for the last several years, too heavy to move. Now we can paint the wall behind it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Too Busy!!!

I'm sitting down relaxing for the first time today. And I have an hour before I need to be off and running again. I have so much that I need to do and I don't know where to start, or what I have time to start, or if I even want to get up and moving. It's kind of nice to just sit here. This morning I got the kids off to school, threw a load of laundry into the washer, cleaned out the kitty litter, straightened the house quickly, made sure Peter had a lunch and his backpack and I had my Primary things, transferred the laundry to the dryer and tossed another load into the washer, hopped into the car and dashed to my presidency meeting. After the presidency meeting I drove by the library to drop off a couple books, then took Peter to school, where he ate his lunch on a picnic table near the playground, and then went to class. From there I got gas and picked up some milk and bread, returned home to put away the groceries, pull the laundry out of the dryer (folding mine and Steven's, and sorting the rest into the kids' buckets) and transfer the other load into the dryer. And finally I could sit down to relax, check email and Facebook, check to see what bills need to be paid, and write a blog. In about an hour I'll go pick up the boys from school, help them with homework and listen to the younger ones read, make refreshments for FHE tonight, prepare and eat dinner, pull the other load of laundry from the dryer, have FHE, get the kids prepared for tomorrow (i.e. lunches and back packs packed) and get them to bed, and then go to bed myself.

Tomorrow will be similar, except that I am going visiting teaching and volunteering at Peter's class instead of having a presidency meeting and shopping. Sometime I need to find a viola for Hannah to rent. Paint buckets in my entryway and bare white walls are calling to me. With cooler weather I need to find where I stashed away my warmer clothes and I have a hankering to start another sewing project. Later this week it will be less busy in a way. Wednesday is early dismissal day, so the kids will be out earlier, but I don't have other things scheduled until parent teacher conferences at the middle school and John's scouts that evening. The boys will have Thursday off school so I'll have them home all day, plus an auxiliary training meeting that evening. Parent teacher conferences at the elementary school and a doctor's appointment for Hannah are scheduled for Friday. I wonder when my life got so busy. I used to have days when I had plenty of time to do whatever I wanted. Where did they go?

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Random Adventures - Things I'll look back on and laugh at... Someday

Steven left early this morning to head back to camp. This is the second three day weekend of his Woodbadge scout training. The last several days he has been busy making preparations - everything from coming up with quick jokes and meaningful stories to share to writing "Owl Roost" with rope on a large board. He has been thinking about goals, and planning with other patrol members in order to create a scouting related board game. And this morning he left on his adventure. He'll be back Saturday evening with stories to share. Until then, we're on our own.

Today being a single parent wasn't too bad, considering that he is usually gone at scouts on Thursday evenings anyway. I painted the ceiling in our hall today, and I think it looks pretty good. It's definitely better than the bare wallboard that has been exposed for the last month or so since we scraped off the popcorn. Unfortunately, when I took down one of the light fixtures something black fell on my head - one of the caps that cover where two wires join had broken in half and detached. I called a friend of ours in the ward who knows about electricity, and was told the remaining bare wires are dangerous! I was told not to put the light fixture back up, and not to turn on the light. He'll stop by some time tomorrow with a new cap and hopefully he'll help attach it too. I'm glad that I called him to check and didn't just put the light back up and forget about it.

In other news, yesterday Hannah lost her viola. She was bringing it home from school to practice, and had stored it in a storage compartment on the bottom of her bus. Apparently the door wasn't secured because when the bus turned a corner, Hannah, who happened to be sitting near the back of the bus, saw an instrument fly out into the street. She saw someone pull over and pick it up, and there may have been an accident as well, however, she didn't mention anything to the bus driver. On reaching her destination, she realized that the lost instrument was hers, and she arrived home in tears. We hopped in the car and drove back to the intersection where it had been lost, but there was no sign of it. Returning home, I had Hannah make some "Lost Viola" signs to post at the intersection in the hopes that whoever had picked it up would see them and call, while I placed a call of my own to the school district transportation department to let them know what had happened. When the posters were made, we returned to the intersection and posted the signs. Later that evening, I received a phone call from the head of the transportation department. He said he had spoken with risk management and they would cover the cost of the viola. I was tremendously relieved to not have to pay the $400 replacement value!!! He said to get another instrument, and have the teacher call him. I wrote a note to Hannah's music teacher explaining what had happened, and giving him the name and phone number of the guy I had spoken to at the transportation department. After school today I asked Hannah what happened when she gave her teacher the note. She told me that her teacher made a phone call (I assume to verify what I had written in the note). Unfortunately there aren't any more school owned violas left to give her. She was loaned one to practice during class today, but I don't know what she is going to do in the future.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Personal History #10

Did you grow up with music in your family?

Yes! Steven has told me that being around my family is like being in a musical; people have a tendency to break into song at the least provocation. We are a very musical family. My Mom plays piano. Both of my parents always sang in the ward choir at church, and my mom has conducted the choir at times. My mom taught me and most of my siblings how to play piano. Some of my favorite memories are of standing around the piano while my mom played, singing songs - especially the ones where we could split into parts. Frequently we would be working in the kitchen to clean up after a meal and someone would start, "I've been working on the railroad..." and before they got that far, everyone in the room would have joined in, some even making up their own harmonies. I loved it!

My children sometimes wonder how I know so many songs, because I still like to sing while I work. Sometimes they are songs that they know, like the Railroad song, Hymns or Primary Songs. Sometimes they are songs they have heard on tape or CD, like "I'm a Mormon" or "My Turn on Earth". Some times they are songs they have heard me sing so much they are used to them and can sing along, even though they don't often hear anyone else sing them, like some of the Joy School Songs ("Doodle Caboodle" and "Fred, Fred" are a couple of my favorites). Other songs I sing I don't even know where they came from originally except that I heard Mom sing them - like "Bill Grogan's Goat" and "Sweet Violets".

I don't think my parents were the originators of the love of music in my family. I imagine my grandparents must have had music in their homes as well. I remember one time at my Grandma and Grandpa Asay's home when I was playing their piano, I played "High on the Mountain Top" out of the hymn book that was there. When I was finished, my sweet Grandpa called me over and thanked me for playing that song because it had special meaning for him. His Great Grandfather, Joel Hills Johnson, had written the words to that song. I love the heritage of music that I have received and I'm glad that I can pass that on to my children.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Personal History #9

Were you or do you remember anyone in your school class being punished by a teacher?

The first time I remember being punished was in a very early grade when we read something about spitballs in a story book. The teacher asked if anyone knew what a spitball was, and I attempted to show her what I thought a spitball was. The teacher was not impressed or amused. I had to wash off the desk and sit with my head down on the desk for a while.

I mostly remember the threats more than I remember actual punishments. In elementary school, we had a folder of our work that we brought home every week on Tuesday, and we had to bring it back the next day signed by a parent. It was called the "Tuesday Tattler". One of my teachers - and I honestly don't remember which one - told us that if we forgot to bring it back signed, he (or she) would hang us upside down by our toes from the flag pole! I remember wondering how one would go about doing that... but I never got to see it done. I imagine if it ever had happened, the teacher would have been fired and sued by the child's parents.

I remember a social studies teacher at La Paz Intermediate school had an interesting policy regarding throwing things into the waste basket: if we made it, it was okay, but if we missed we would get a detention. There were those who took the risk and ended up in detention after school.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The End of the Garden

Josh posing as a scarecrow in the garden.
Our gardening days have come to an end and the little garden plot has been laid to rest. For this year anyway. It has been fun. We didn't plant tomatoes this year, and instead enjoyed broccoli, carrots, peas, beans, onion and corn plants. The broccoli was a new experience. It grew, the flowers appeared, and we hacked off the stalk and ate it cooked with cheese melted on top. Good stuff. The peas and beans grew well and plentiful, and we enjoyed several meals with them both cooked and raw. The onion was one that started sprouting in the fridge, and was transplanted to the garden, where it proceeded to grow tall... I'm not sure how new onions are supposed to grow though. I imagine it is like other bulbs that should be planted in fall... but when do you harvest bulbs? I don't know. We enjoyed the plants, anyway. The corn was a plant that Josh brought home from school last Spring. It took a while to get going, but eventually the ears emerged and grew. We kept hoping that they would grow larger... but before we knew it they had been on the stalk too long, and were withered and brown. Oh well.  Then there were the carrots. We planted a lot of them, and the majority were harvested today. The largest are about 4 1/2 inches long and 2 1/2 inches in diameter. Now I'll have to figure out what to do with so many of them!
All the carrots harvested today

 As I said, it has been fun, but as the weather starts to cool, the time of the garden has passed. After General Conference this afternoon, Steven went out, harvested the carrots, and dug the remaining plants under. May they decompose, return their nutrients to the soil and produce a bountiful harvest again next year.



Friday, October 1, 2010

Personal History #8

Tell about what you did while visiting your grandparents or aunt and uncle.

My Grandma and Grandpa McClellan lived in Hayward, California. My Grandpa owned a construction company, and much of the materials storage and management must have been based at his home because the long, downward sloping driveway led past the house, past an office, garages, woodpiles and tool sheds, on its way to a river that marked the end of the property. The huge area was a great place to play hide and seek. I have memories of looking for raspberries or blackberries to pick in the very back of the property, and pineapple guavas from a plant closer to the house.

Inside the house, there were wonderful things to look at and see. I remember a statue of a knight in armor, a plethora of books, and lots of paintings and knickknacks that seemed fascinating to me. There was a collection of toys stored in small tables in the living room, including beads that could be strung together in long chains and a stereo picture viewer where we could insert pictures and look through the lenses and the images would appear in 3D. (Similar to this.) I remember watching Grandma put together a puzzle, and maybe solving a puzzle or two myself at her house.

My Grandma and Grandpa Asay lived in Bountiful Utah during much of my childhood. I remember a creek running across the back of their property as well, except they had a small bridge crossing it. I remember playing in that creek once or twice. We must have visited them in winter once because I also have a vague memory of playing in the snow on their downward sloping back lawn. I remember helping Grandma pick cherries from a tree in the back yard. They were delicious! Card games and puzzles seemed to be the past times at their house. I remember that the walls of Grandma Asay's house always seemed to be covered with her paintings and photographs, and it was fun to look at them and try to figure out if I knew the people in the pictures.

As I was growing up, every Memorial Day we went to my Aunt Noreen's house for a family reunion. They had a home outside Greenfield, California, up a canyon, where there were horses, a colony of wild cats, several dogs, chickens, a swimming pool, swing set, basketball court, an outdoor kitchen with a large table containing a lazy susan, a guest house with a pool table in the living room, and a large yard where the annual wiffle ball game was played. When we lived in Goleta, we could go up and return home in a day, but when we moved to Mission Viejo, we had to go up the day before and spend the night there. We would spend the morning playing with cousins, waiting for it to get warm enough to go swimming, and then swimming for as long as possible. Lunch was a potluck with hamburgers, salads, chips and usually a birthday cake to celebrate my Grandpa's birthday. (My birthday was the same day as his, and I remember opening birthday gifts in the car one year and having the wind blow out my candles another year when we were camping near their home the night before Memorial Day.) After lunch was the wiffle ball game, and then time to return home, usually utterly exhausted. Those were fun days. I don't remember spending much time at other aunts and uncles' houses, so Memorial Days were our chances to really get to know our cousins.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Updates on Projects

So I'm a slacker and let weeks go by without posting. I'm still here. Here is some of what we've been doing:

In the process of fixing up our house, we completed step one: scraping the popcorn off the ceilings... and this included three bedrooms, a long hallway, the living room and dining room. Steven did most of the work (the master bedroom, the boys' room, the hallway, entry, the dining room, some of the living room), but Hannah and I both scraped her bedroom, and I did most of the living room.
 Once all the ceilings were done, the fun part began - painting! We started painting the boys' room, which now sports a flat white ceiling and beautiful blue walls. I hung some curtains, and now the room looks nice and cozy.

Boys room before the makeover: plain white walls, no curtains, blinds so ragged and broken we never used them.


Boys room after the makeover: blue walls and curtains. Since I took the picture I hung pictures on the walls. I think it looks great!
 Once the boys' room was complete we started on Hannah's room. I actually did most of this by myself last weekend while Steven was away at a Woodbadge scout training camp. Her room now sports light purple walls, white ceiling and bright rainbow striped curtains. (I don't have a before picture of her room - half of the battle in there was just cleaning it out enough to find the floor!)
purple walls, colorful curtains... I still need to hang pictures up in there again.
Meanwhile, the work on the kitchen cabinets progressed to a point - the bottom half of my kitchen is stripped and sanded down to bare wood. I haven't painted anything in there yet, and I haven't started stripping the higher cabinets yet.

Besides projects around the house, I also began volunteering at the school, helping Peter's kindergarten teacher for an hour once a week. Our ward Primary Program is coming up in less than a month now, and preparations for that are in full swing. I've taught myself to knit during this past year, and in the last couple months I completed a lap blanket and I'm currently working on a pair of socks.
As you can see, I've been a bit busy lately, but I will try to blog more often!!!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Personal History #7

Did you have a job as a child?

My first jobs were babysitting jobs. I babysat at home for my parents frequently, and I was lucky to be paid for it. I think I was about eleven when I started babysitting for a family across the street. They had two children, and I would babysit the younger one while their mom took the older child to a piano lesson once a week. We mostly watched the Disney Channel on TV and drank chocolate milk for the hour or so that I was over there. As a teenager I had more babysitting jobs for various families, although nothing on a regular basis, and I usually found more for me and the children to do than just watch TV.

I had a couple odd jobs for short periods of time, including watering a garden while a family was on vacation and tutoring a friend who needed some extra help in math.

My first real job was at the beginning of my senior year in high school, for an after school day care program. That lasted for about two weeks. I think I was really nervous the first week, but for whatever reason, after that first week the supervisor told me I didn't seem to be fitting in, and told me that I could work one more week, and that was it. The funny thing is that after she told me that, I felt much more comfortable with the job and I really enjoyed my last week there. I didn't get another job until I went to college, and then I found a job in a cafeteria on campus - first as a dishwasher, then in the kitchen, and finally as a hostess. I also worked for Molly Maids the one summer that I was home from college.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Personal History #6

What form of transportation did you have while growing up?

The earliest car I remember driving in was a brown station wagon, although I do vaguely recall an unused blue car (maybe a Chevy?) being parked in our driveway at some point in time in my early youth. I remember that the back seat of the station wagon faced backwards, and that I liked sitting there. The back seats in the car must have folded down, too, because I remember sleeping in the car the night before leaving on vacation, and it was all flat. Mom and Dad would get up early in the morning and we would be on the road before we kids ever really woke up. Of course, those were the days before laws requiring seat belts and car seats. Eventually our family grew to a size that required a van. I remember a couple of different blue vans in my teen years.

We were a one car family for most of my childhood. Dad would ride his bike to work. My siblings and I would walk to school and back, and my mom had the car to do whatever errands she needed to do. It wasn't until my older sister got her license and a job that my family acquired a second car. I don't remember the second car that my family had very well. It seems like it was a well used automatic four door sedan. I imagine I practiced driving that smaller car mostly when I got my permit. I know I didn't like driving the huge, 15 passenger van.

My first personal form of transportation was a bike I received for a birthday nine or ten. It had pinkish flowers on it, and read "Desert Rose" on a bar, so that is what I called it. Of course, with my over active imagination, I frequently pretended it was a horse. I loved racing down a steep hill on the way to school, and trying to go fast enough that I could get up the even steeper hill on the other side. I don't think I ever made it all the way up again. I did ride my bike to elementary school for a year or two, before I left it in the bike racks at the school over a weekend and it was stolen. My siblings and I liked to set up our driveway as a street. We'd post stop signs and street lights made of paper around the driveway, and then ride our bikes, tricycles and big wheels around the miniature "town". I think we also had roller skates - the kind that clamped on over our shoes and were tightened with a key.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Peter's Run-In With the Bees

Time: Saturday evening, around 7pm.

Place: Our neighborhood, a couple houses up the greenbelt. Exact location unknown.

What: Peter encountered some bees. Actually, I think they were wasps or yellow jackets. One way or another, he came home that evening crying loudly that he'd been stung, and even brought a couple passengers into the house with him, clinging to his shirt. He complained loudest about the sting on his finger and one on his head by his ear, but he also sported sting marks on his wrist, arm, back and next to his eye. While they hurt a lot, they didn't seem to swell up much that night.

The next morning, however, he was definitely swollen, making him look almost like he had a black eye at church. Peter thrived in the attention he received because of the eye. This morning, when the swelling in his eye and finger hadn't visibly decreased, I told him I needed to find something to give him to make the swelling go down. He replied, "No! I like my eye this way!" Apparently it doesn't hurt or bother him. I did, however, borrow some children's Benadryl from a friend (I didn't have any for children on hand.) and gave him some before taking him to school. Unfortunately his eye was still looking puffy and pink when I dropped him off a couple hours ago. I hope he tells his teacher he was stung by a bee, and that people don't think he's been beaten up!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Personal History #5

Where did you live while growing up?

House plan of the yellow house to the best of my memory.
I was born in Goleta, California, in the United States of America. The first year or two of my life was spent living in a condo with my parents and older sister, before my family moved to a small yellow house in the same town. This is the first home I can really remember, and it was here that I spent my childhood. The driveway in front of the house curved around the lawn, ending in a garage door that was perpendicular to the street. The front of the garage was concealed by two tall trees (which I spent a fair amount of time climbing), as well as a few smaller bushes. I remember that the garage wall frequently hosted a family of snails. I remember that the driveway had a low spot next to the lawn, where a muddy puddle would form after a rain, which was perfect for floating small paper boats. The front door opened on a short entry hall. To the right was the kitchen, straight ahead was another hall, perpendicular to the first. Turning right down this hall, one entered the living room, with the bulk of the room to the right, and further on, the dining room opened to the left, adjacent to the kitchen. Down the hall to the left originally were four doors - three leading to bedrooms and a fourth to a bathroom. Later on an addition was built ( I think there were four kids in the family at this point), turning one bedroom into a family room, and adding two bedrooms and another bathroom to the house. The back yard was large, and contained a patio, a grassy lawn, a swing set and a yucca tree, as well as a garden area. Next door resided two large black dobermans, who frequently stuck their noses through gaps in the fence and barked at us whenever we chanced to play in the backyard. I remember that if we stood on top of our swing set on a clear day and looked west, we could see the ocean. A couple blocks away was a 7-Eleven where sometimes Mom would send us to buy milk when we ran out between shopping trips.

About the time I turned 12, (and there were about seven children in the family) my family moved to Mission Viejo, California, where I spent the remainder of my youth. The house there seemed huge at first, with four bedrooms, plus a humongous bonus room upstairs as well as a large living room, family room, and spacious kitchen downstairs. The back yard was also a good size, with no scary dogs next door to discourage us from playing in it. My bedroom was up stairs at the end of a hall, the window looking out over the backyard. It was a great place to live!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Projects

The kids have been in school for an entire week now! Wow! They seem to be enjoying school a lot, especially Peter, who continues to tell me ALL about his day. I love it!


Our kitchen when we moved in
Our kitchen as it was when we moved in.
While they've been in school, I've been working on a project here at home. A few years ago, we put our house on the market, in the hopes that we could sell it and move somewhere bigger. In preparation for that, I painted our dark brown cupboards yellow. As you might be aware, we didn't end up moving, we are still here, and the paint has begun peeling from the edges of the cupboard doors and drawers. As part of the process of fixing up our condo, I thought I would repaint them.



 
Our kitchen after painting the cupboards
A drawer today
Monday I removed the five lower cupboard doors, smeared them with paint stripper and began the long process of preparing them to be repainted. In the process, I discovered what went wrong the first time - I hadn't removed the varnish on the wood doors before I started painting them! Apparently paint doesn't stick very well to varnish. So.... Not only do I have to remove the paint and primer that I put on the doors the first time, now I have to remove the varnish as well, and it isn't coming easily. The stripper gets some of it, but not all, and I'm having to sand a lot of it off with steel wool. Four days into the process, I finally have one side of each of those five cupboard doors stripped, sanded, and just about ready to repaint. I haven't started yet on the other sides, or on the thirteen upper cabinet doors, or the seven drawers, let alone the cabinets themselves. At the rate I'm going this will take me a month. I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.

A cupboard after stripping and sanding

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Personal History #4

What did you do when you were a child that got you in the most trouble and how did your parents handle it?

In trouble? Me? I was always a perfect angel! I never got in trouble!

Okay... I do remember one time... It seems I had an imaginary friend as a little girl. Her name was Suzy I think. Anyway, at dinner one evening I was pretending to be her and not behaving quite as nicely as my usually angelic self. My frustrated parents would tell "MaeLyn" to behave and I would reply, "I'm not MaeLyn, I'm Suzy!" Finally, my frustrated parents showed me to the front door and told "Suzy" to go home and send "MaeLyn" back. I ended up sitting on the front porch, a very confused little girl. I realized, of course, that I really was "MaeLyn" however, it didn't occur to me that I could just walk back in the door, say "I'm MaeLyn" and that all would be fine. It was very clear in my mind that my parents had just kicked me out of the house. I don't know how long I was outside that evening. I remember walking to the edge of our property, contemplating running away, but I knew that I wasn't old enough to cross streets by myself. It was also starting to get dark, and I didn't have a flash light or anything with me. It was a bit scary. I remember also looking at the houses in the cul-de-sac across the street and wondering which one of them housed the girl I was supposed to be finding and sending home. I wondered if my parents would like her more than they had liked me. I don't know what eventually ended that ordeal. Maybe I went back in on my own; maybe one of my parents came out looking for me. Either way, I don't think "Suzy" ever made an appearance again.

I have a very early memory of being spanked. I think it was because I wasn't getting my pajamas on fast enough. I always thought that was a dumb reason to have been spanked until I had children of my own. Now I understand.

I don't think bed time was the only time I was a slow poke. I remember times when I was supposed to do my chores, and spending a really long time in both cleaning, and playing, and cleaning some more. I often pretended I was a princess locked in a tower (which happened to strongly resemble a bathroom) and I had to get the "magic" mirror and sink perfectly spotless or the wicked witch (this role being played by my mother) would send me back to clean it again. I don't know how my parents handled my pokiness, or if they were just happy if the chores would eventually get done.

I seriously don't remember ever being in big trouble. Maybe my parents will read this and remember something I've repressed. If so, feel free to add a comment!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Personal History #3

List a few of the simple things in life that make you smile and tell why.

Okay. This may give away the insanity of how my mind works. These are a few of my favorite things:

Frogs. I'm not sure why. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that they are my favorite color, that they like water, and something about the shape of their heads make them look like they are smiling.

Daffodils. I love the delicate shape of these bright and cheerful flowers. They kind of remind me of a cross between a tea cup on a saucer and a trumpet.

Puffy white clouds against a blue blue sky. You know the kind of clouds I mean - the ones that are so easy to see pictures in. I like the contrast of stark white against blue.

The crisp snap of a fresh vegetable breaking in half. It doesn't matter if it is a carrot, celery, or, as I enjoyed yesterday, a stalk of raw broccoli, but I find the sound to be very satisfying to some random part of my soul. Come to think of it, biting into a fresh, crisp apple or opening a just ripe banana can also give that satisfying sound.

A cat lying in a ray of sunlight. The opportunistic creatures always find the best places to sleep!

The smell of a loaf of bread fresh from the oven. Or a hot apple pie, or just the smell of applesauce and cinnamon.

The feel and smell of freshly washed sheets when I go to bed. It's even better if they are still slightly warm from the dryer on a cool night.

Sunlight glistening off the ripples of water in a body of water, and it doesn't matter if it is a swimming pool, a lake, or the ocean. I love to watch the light reflecting as it dances on the water as it moves.

A full, resonant, resolved chord of music. My Mom occasionally plays the Grieg Concerto in A minor and I love hearing the chords and scales in the first movement.

Burying my toes in a thick, soft rug. I love the soft feel of the fibers between my toes. It brings back pleasant memories of standing on the beach and feeling the waves suck the sand out from under my feet, or squishing my toes in a giant oozy mud puddle. I get a similar thrill from plunging my hand into a bag of rice and feeling the grains run through my fingers.

And there you have it - ten simple things in life that make me smile, or that I find some subtle joy in. Go figure.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Personal History #2

What did your parents do for work while you were growing up?

When I was growing up, my mother was a busy stay at home Mom, with several young children at home. I don't remember her ever working outside the home until I was married and gone. She was always busy with something or other, but I do remember coming home from school to see her folding laundry while watching "Little House on the Prairie" or "Highway to Heaven" on TV.

From the time he graduated from college, my Dad worked as a computer programmer at a company called Burroughs, which merged with another company to become Unisys in 1986. He stayed with that company until he retired. As a result of the merger, our family moved to Mission Viejo CA, and I remember that one of the qualities they were looking for in buying a house there was that it be located within biking distance from Dad's new work. Dad almost always rode his bike to work and back.

At home we enjoyed the benefits of Dad's being a computer programmer. He brought home our first computer in the late 1970s or early 1980s, with its monochrome screen and DOS prompts. He wrote programs we could play on it, including a Taipei game, and I think I remember a virtual Rubics Cube as well!

Friday, August 20, 2010

School Has Begun - Part 2

Two days into the school year... so far so good. Hannah got her schedule with Honors classes yesterday, seems to know her way around and doesn't appear to have any worries about anything. She has decided to learn to play the viola in her orchestra class.

Both John and Josh say they like their teachers. Other than that, they haven't offered much information about what they did at school, other than which Special (Music, Art or PE) they had.

Peter is still loving kindergarten, and unlike my other kids, he actually tells me about what he did! Yesterday, he began with, "When we got to school the teacher showed us where to put our back packs..." he told me they played "mud tag" in PE, and the teacher read Brown Bear Brown Bear What Do You See to them, and then he started drawing a picture about the story, but he didn't finish so he'll need to finish it tomorrow. I'm glad he is enjoying it and I hope his enthusiasm lasts throughout the school year.

Meanwhile, in parent land, Steven has been contemplating going back to school for his MBA, and in the thoughts that we will probably have to stay in our condo for the next few years while our money goes into his schooling, we have decided to fix it up so we can stand to be here that much longer. This week Steven began the process of scraping popcorn off the ceilings. We've also begun selecting colors to repaint the walls (they're still the same boring white that they were freshly painted when we moved in), and started window shopping for curtains and carpet (to replace the stained and worn out carpet that was brand new when we moved in). I'm excited to have the place fixed up, having wanted to do some of these things since we moved in seven years ago.

So, now that I'll have about three hours a day when my children are all in school, I'll be cleaning, organizing, washing walls, shopping, painting, and fixing up the house. I think I'll have plenty to keep me busy for a long time.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

School has Begun!

It's official. My baby is in kindergarten, my oldest is in Middle School. All my children are in school, or were, for about fifteen minutes today.

I wasn't able to see Hannah off. She took off walking, headed for the bus stop at the same time I started loading the boys into the car to head to school. I didn't follow the bus to her school. I didn't take pictures in front of the school. I didn't even take pictures of her getting on a school bus for the first time (that wasn't a field trip). I hope she is enjoying her day. Last night we went to the open house at the middle school, and talked to someone about getting her into honors classes. Apparently her 5th grade teacher hadn't passed on the forms to get her in, but after the lady looked up her CSAP scores, she admitted that there was no question Hannah should be in honors. She took care of it, and Hannah's schedule should be changed either today or tomorrow. She was able to meet most of her teachers and find all of her class rooms last night, so hopefully she wont be feeling totally lost today. I still worry about her. I think I'm more stressed about her first day in Middle School than she was. She gets out early today - about ten minutes ago, actually, so I'll let her take the bus home and she can tell me about her day when she gets here.

Last night we went to an open house at the elementary school as well. We met all the teachers. (Two of the three are teachers that we've already had.) Today it was just a matter of finding the right line to get into at the school, and then the kids followed their teacher into the building. Peter was very disappointed that he has afternoon kindergarten and had to wait until after lunch. As soon as we got home from dropping off John and Joshua, he asked if it was lunch time yet, and he watched the clock all morning asking, "Is it time for lunch yet?" and "Is it time to go to school?" I'm glad that he was excited about it; six months ago when I'd ask him if he wanted to go to kindergarten, he'd tell me, "No, I just want to stay home with you."
Today is early dismissal day at the elementary school, too, so I'll go back and get the boys in just a couple hours. I hope they are enjoying their day, renewing acquaintances, making new friends, learning rules and procedures, getting comfortable. I think it is a nice way to ease into the school day. Tomorrow the real learning will begin.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Personal History #1

"Tell about an experience with one of your children's teachers."

Hannah turned five one day after the cut off date to get into kindergarten that year. No matter how ready she was, the school would not bend the rules in the slightest to let her in. Not having the means to put her in preschool, I kept her home that year, but got her kindergarten work books to work on. At home, Hannah learned her ABCs and was soon putting letters together into words and sentences.

A year later, she was allowed into kindergarten, just before she turned six. During the first week of school, she wrote a story, and her kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Wilson, was very impressed by it. She showed Hannah's story to the principal, and then to the district people and finally managed to do what I hadn't been able to do on my own - get Hannah moved up to first grade, where she would have been if she had been allowed to start kindergarten the year before. I will always feel grateful to Mrs Wilson for putting my daughter's abilities and education ahead of the rules and regulations the school district imposed.

The following year, John was put into her kindergarten class. While he, also, was able to read fluently on arriving in kindergarten, he had just turned five and his social skills and maturity level needed the benefit of kindergarten. Mrs. Wilson worked with him throughout the year, giving him books to read and other learning opportunities that were appropriate to his abilities. I think that she is my favorite of the teachers my children have had so far because of the attention she gave to them and their needs as individuals. Since then she went on to become a reading coordinator at that school, and then moved to another school as an assistant principal. I bumped into her last spring during the district Battle of the Books competition. She recognized me and remembered Hannah and John, but John didn't remember her!

Friday, August 13, 2010

A Confession, An Idea and A Plan

Last night I went to a Relief Society meeting where we learned about journals, family history, photography, and scrap booking. One of the sisters who taught mentioned that we need to find a method of recording life's events that works for us, and that a person can still get into heaven even if she doesn't scrapbook. What a relief! I have made a few scrap books - one for my high school years (as a young womens project), one for my college years, and one for my mission. (I put these together in the month or two after I came home from my mission, before I started working - when I didn't have much else to do.) I have put together about 20 pages since I got married, but that's it. For years my "scrap book" was my web site, but even that has been pushed to the side in recent years. As for journal writing, I have been a sporadic journal writer at best. I guess now the closest thing I have to a journal is this blog. And you can see how often I write here - not daily by a long shot, but more often than anything else. But it is a record of my thoughts and feelings, and I do record events that have occurred here.

Last night we each received a "journal bag" that contains a lot of slips of paper with questions on them - ideas for things to write about. (Besides the day to day current events, apparently.) So what I intend to do is write something every day (or at least every week day...) If I can't think of something current to write about, I'll pull a slip out of the bag and write about whatever the question is about. I'd really like to get into a habit of writing daily, and frequently I'm deterred by not having anything to write about, so we'll see where this gets me, and how long it lasts.

So, if you follow my blog, prepare for some more personal, more historic (like about my childhood) types of blogs. MaeLyn's Musings is about my thoughts - about the past, present and future.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Another Busy But Fun Day

Yesterday we went to an orientation at the middle school. I still find it difficult to believe that Hannah will be in middle school, and now it is less than a week away. Wow. I was grateful that they had a parent meeting, while the 6th graders were learning the same things and getting their tour of the school and trying out their lockers. I like that the school has a website where we can see what homework has been assigned (not that I'm worried about Hannah completing her homework, but it's nice to have a way to see when she should be studying or completing a project.) I like that we will be able to check on her grades any time online, and so won't be surprised when report cards come home. I like how the 6th graders get a six week introduction to each of the electives the school offers so they can make informed decisions when selecting their 7th and 8th grade electives. I am a little concerned that Hannah isn't currently registered for honors classes, even though we filled out the paper work for them in the spring, and her teacher last year was pretty confident that she would be... I talked to the counselor at the school yesterday, and hopefully we can get that straightened out before school starts.

After the orientation at the school, I felt like having a fun day out with the kids before school starts again. We went shoe shopping first(4 pairs of shoes, buy one get one 1/2 off sale, with a 20% off total purchase coupon - $43), then went to Little Caesar's for lunch. (1 large hot and ready pepperoni pizza - $5 plus tax) A couple of the kids had earned coupons to Dairy Queen for a free ice cream cone through our library summer reading program, so our next stop was DQ to redeem them. I bought ice cream cones for the other two kids as well. (2 ice cream cones at about $1.65 each - $3.30) From there we went to a movie theater to watch How to Train Your Dragon. (5 tickets @ $2.50 each - $12.50) The movie was great. I think everyone really enjoyed it, except for Peter who got a little scared near the end. When we left the theater, the thermometer in our car read 104 degrees. We came home, changed quickly and went to the pool to cool off for an hour (free). Then it was time for dinner. In all, it was a fun day. The kids were good, I wasn't stressed out, and we had a lot of fun. We even ran into some people we knew along the way. I started the day with about $25 in my wallet and came home with less than $5, (I paid for the shoes with a credit card; not cash) but the day was memorable. I hope the kids return to school with happy memories of time spent with the family during the summer.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Busy Week as a Single Mom

It's Saturday. Some time today, Steven should return home from the Scout canoe trip he's been on since early Monday morning. I haven't heard a thing from or about him, so I assume that he's okay. I hope he's having fun.

This week has passed kind of quickly actually. We've kept busy for the most part doing something or other and nothing too disastrous has happened. On Monday we went visiting teaching, to the park and swimming. On Tuesday we borrowed some movies and had a movie day at home. On Wednesday I had two visiting teaching appointments, then we went to the park and that night John had scouts. On Thursday we took Abish to the vet, and later we went to the library and then swimming. Yesterday (Friday) was spent shopping. We made our menu plan for August, from that we made up a shopping list, then we went to Sam's Club, came home and unloaded, then went to Walmart to complete the shopping as well as pick up school supplies for the coming school year. With four kids in school this year, it was rather expensive. I was happy that I only lost Peter once, for a few minutes. I don't like taking all the kids shopping with me, but I didn't have a lot of choice - it was either yesterday or today, and either way I was going to have to take them with me. Today so far we've been cleaning house, except for Peter, who last I checked, wasn't even dressed yet. What am I going to do with him???

I don't know what time Steven will get home today; I imagine sometime between lunch and dinner, but I'm sure when he does get home he's going to shower and then probably sleep the rest of the day. I look forward to having him really "with" us again. He has stressed about this canoe trip for almost two months now; I hope he can relax now that it's over.

Monday, July 19, 2010

John's Birthday

Yesterday was John's birthday. He turned 9. Before church (We have church at 1pm so we had plenty of time) I baked his cake and then covered it with a towel to cool while we were at church. (I once left a cake uncovered to cool... only to have a cat lick a bare spot on it! ) Church went as normal. I taught sharing time in Primary, and during our closing exercises we got to sing a birthday song to John.

We returned home to decorate the cake, pop a pizza in the oven (purchased the day before at Sam's Club) and eat dinner.
decorating the cake

After dinner, John opened his presents, including several packs of origami paper, a deck of cards, a couple books, homemade "Pretty Pink Pony" wrapping paper (compliments of Hannah), a tackle box and lock (for protecting his stuff from his little brothers) and a bat and balls. Later we sang Happy Birthday and ate our snowman cake and ice cream. John blew out his candles in two blows... the first one didn't count though, because he didn't blow out a single candle. The second blow got them all!John displays his gifts

The completed snowman cake

Blowing out the candles

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

My Latest Web Project

Over the last few days I added a page to my website just for my kids. There aren't any links to it from anywhere else on the site yet, but my kids have all made it their homepage. I thought I'd share.

http://stevenmaelyn.com/kidlinks.html


It has links to sites my children enjoy going to online, as well as a few other sites they could check out. Most of them have some educational benefits. They include sites for Hannah and John (like a scigames.com that has games about solar systems and stuff) as well as sites with activities Peter can do. (like PBSkids.org) There is a link to the Friend activity page as well as a MAD LIBS Widget that they can do right on the page. I plan to add sites to it as I find ones I think my children will like.

So, I was wondering if any of those who read this know of any fun, age appropriate sites I could add to it. Yes, I've tried Google, but there are so many options there, it's going to take me a while to find the good ones. I'd like to know what sites those of you with kids let your kids go to and play. If you know of any, please email me, or add a comment to this post. Feel free to let your children bookmark the page if they would be interested too.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Fun with Modeling Clay

Yesterday, looking for something to do, we pulled out the modeling clay and started sculpting. Hannah, always the artist, created an entire family! I was very impressed.

This is the entire family.

These are the parents.

These are the children. Notice the girl licking an ice cream cone and the baby with the rattle!

What a talented daughter I've got!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Just for Fun Quiz

I was cleaning out a file cabinet and came across this old geometry quiz. The kids and I had fun figuring out the answers. The answers are below, but try to figure them out before you peek! No actual knowledge of geometry is required. (Warning: these require some imagination and disregard for spelling, grammar, and the like.)

Match the correct term to its description:




1. That which Noah built.
2. An Article for serving ice cream
3. What a bloodhound does in chasing a woman
4. An expression to represent the loss of a parrot
5. An appropriate title for a knight named Koll
6. A sunburned man
7. A tall coffee pot perking
8. What one does when it rains
9. A small dog sitting in a refrigerator
10. What a boy does on the lake when his boat's motor won't run
11. What you call a person who writes for a hotel
12. What the captain said when his boat was bombed
13. What a little acorn says when he grows up
14. What one does to trees that are in the way
15. What you do if you have yarn and needles
16. Can George Washington turn into a country?
A. Perpendicular
B. Inscribe
C. Decagon
D. Center
E. Hypotenuse
F. Cone
G. Co-secant
H. Coincide
I. Axiom
J. Polygon
K. Tangent
L. Geometry
M. Circle
N. Arc
O. Unit
P. Hero








Answers: (I've put in some explanatory bits after some of the more obscure answers. Hopefully you'll get it without the explanation, but I put it in just in case. Let me know if there are others I should clarify.) 1N, 2F, 3D(Scent her), 4J, 5M, 6K, 7E(High pot in use), 8H, 9A(This one is probably the biggest stretch: Pup in the cooler), 10P, 11B, 12C(Deck all gone), 13L(My personal favorite, Gee! I'm a tree!), 14I, 15O, 16G(Course he can't!)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Gripe!!!

I am NOT HAPPY!!! I went to take a picture today and discovered that someone broke my camera!!! It looks like someone hit the LCD screen on the back with something sharp and hard. When I turn on the camera, it looks cracked in the middle with black streaks radiating out from the center. I can still turn it on and I can still take pictures, and download them to the computer, but I can't see what I'm taking a picture of (there's no view window), and I can't see what I'm doing to change any of the menu options. Grrrr! We didn't need another big expense. (We already replaced the fridge and dishwasher this year!) We'll probably have to live with it for now... but can I repeat? I am NOT HAPPY!!!!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Summer Days

I'm way overdue for an update, but it's been hard to find the time this summer.

The week after our South Dakota Adventure was busy. John had Cub Scout Day Camp that week. I was busy unpacking, cleaning, doing laundry, enjoying Kristy and Family's visit, and on Friday of that week I got to leave the other three kids with a friend while I went to help out with the day camp. That was fun. Since it was the last day, the boys got to shoot off rockets that they had made earlier in the week. They pounded stamps into leather, learned about putting up and taking down tents, learned how to play some volley ball, and played dodge ball. The challenge was keeping track of the boys' water bottles and making sure they were all drinking enough in the hot sun. John and I ended up leaving a little early, and I'm glad we did: at the time that they were supposed to let out, a summer storm had arrived and it was pouring rain and hailing!

The following week we were finally able to settle into a regular summer schedule. We get the kids up around 7am for family prayer and scripture reading. Then we have breakfast and Steven leaves for work. Then we figure out how to get the chores done for the day. Lately we've been listing what fun things we want to do that day, and then listing the work that needs to be done before we can do those fun things, and then we set the timer and see how fast we can do what we need to do. Some days this has worked out better than others. We have been to the park several times, and we've been to the pool almost every day.

The kids are getting really good at swimming. Hannah, John and Joshua are all good enough swimmers that they can retrieve diving rings from the bottom of the deep end of the pool (9 feet). They frequently have contests to see who can make the biggest/smallest/funniest splash. Peter is proficient with his floaties, but doesn't have the courage to take them off yet.

Last Thursday we got our chores done and hopped into the car to go to the library, but when I turned the key in the ignition, nothing happened. I ended up renewing the things that were due at the library. We walked to the pool instead. Steven tried to jump start the car when he got home from work, but ended up buying a new battery so we could get to John's Rain gutter Regatta Pack Meeting that evening. We made it on time and had fun.


Another day the kids discovered a box of Steven's old Legos and pulled them out. We spent several hours playing with them, sorting them, building the train set and setting it up on the kitchen floor. The kids had fun watching the train go around the track, and seeing what happened to the little Lego people they stuck on the cars. One of the cars (the caboose) had sliding doors, and the kids loaded it up with Lego men, then made the train go fast, trying to make the people fly out of it. The kids also discovered that leaning off the front of the train can be a safer place to be than inside the caboose when the train is moving.




So we're having fun, getting exercise and tans, reading books and enjoying our summer.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Peter Is Five!

Yesterday was Peter's fifth birthday. It's hard to believe that my baby is already five years old. Last night we celebrated his birthday, he opened his presents and we had cake and ice cream. (The yellow hat was a gift from Grandma Hiatt.)
Yeah, it looks like a lot of presents, but most of them are clothes, school clothes for this fall when he starts kindergarten.
Here he is blowing out the candles on the cake that Steven made all by himself.

Happy Birthday Peter!!!

A Testimony of Temple Sealings

I attended my first LDS civil wedding on Saturday. The missionaries in our ward have been teaching a family for a while and they wanted to be baptized, but the parents needed to be married first. Our bishop officiated at the wedding, and there were several people in attendance - both their family and friends as well as many members of the ward.

I think what struck me the most was the similarity between the words in the civil wedding ceremony and the temple wedding ceremony. It was like someone had taken the temple ceremony and crossed out all the good parts and just left bare bones.  "Kief, will you take Bridgette by the right hand?" "...before God and these witnesses... " "...enter into this state of matrimony..." As I listened, I felt the Spirit testifying to me that while the covenant of marriage between a man and woman is important, the temple ordinance really is a lot more wonderful. I am so grateful that I was able to receive those wonderful blessings, to be with my husband and family not just until the end of my mortal life, but for eternity.

Kief, Bridgette and their two oldest children were baptized yesterday after our normal church meetings. I hope that Kief and Bridgette can receive those wonderful temple blessings a year from now, that they can be sealed to Brandon, Andi, Donavon, Cody and Eli. A temple sealing is definitely worth the work and the wait!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fathers Day

Finally
  A day
    To Celebrate
        His
           Elusive and
              Random
                  Sense of Humor.

Dad will
    Always be
        Young at heart.

Monday, June 7, 2010

South Dakota Highlights

We're back from our four day vacation to South Dakota. We did so much and had so much fun that it is going to be hard to limit what I write here to something that someone is going to want to read. But here goes:

Wednesday June 2nd.
--6:00AM -The house was locked up. The cats had food, water and litter boxes to last a few days, and the fish had a weekend feeder in his tank. We pulled away and began our adventure.
--Noon or so, and the rest of the day - Arrived at Beaver Lake Campground just outside beautiful Custer, SD. This was a wonderfully fun campground. We slept in a tepee, played at the playground, went swimming and played on a water slide. Here was enough fun to last us the rest of the afternoon!

 Here is our campsite. Our van was parked just to the left of the tepee, and the playground was a hop, skip and jump behind me when I took the picture.
Here is Steven inside the tepee, lying on our queen size air mattress. There was plenty of space for the six of us... There would have been space for twice as many people!
Here is the playground.
From Family Photos 2010
The kids don't seem to know how to use a swing properly.
Hannah and Peter at the pool.
Waiting their turn at the top of the water slide.
Hannah and John sliding down
Hannah lands in the pool at the bottom.
Roasting marshmallows for dessert that night
Thursday, June 3rd.
--After a delicious mountain man breakfast (eggs, sausage and hash browns all cooked up together), we climbed in the car and set out for Custer State Park.
Our first stop was the Visitor's Center where the kids received booklets with activities they could do to earn certificates. The kids spent a while filling out their books and looking around the displays at the visitors center. Here John works on filling out his activity book.
 
We had lunch at a nearby park where we experienced an unfortunate mishap: Hannah was stung by a bee.
After lunch, we returned to the visitors center, where a demonstration on gold panning was being held. The kids all got to try their hand at it.
We left the visitors center and set off on a drive on a wildlife loop around the park. Along the way, we saw buffalo, deer, an elk, and even some very friendly burros, who stuck their noses right into our car!
On the way back we stopped briefly at a stable so the kids could pet the horses.
Dinner that night was hot dogs cooked over the open fire.

Friday, June 4th
--After Coffee Cake for breakfast, we went to see Mount Rushmore.We took a fun winding road through three narrow (one lane only - honk before you enter) tunnels to reach the monument.
The monument was impressive, and we enjoyed a short hike on the grounds.
After leaving Mount Rushmore, we traveled to Rapid City, and eventually found the Chapel in the Hills, a beautifully carved reproduction of a chapel in Norway. 
The rest of our day was spent at the Circle B Chuckwagon. It was a blast! The kids played at a playground, locked themselves in a "jail", visited with a famous woodcarver, rode a merry-go-round, shot a pistol, ride ponies, and even participate in a gun show, before the delicious chuckwagon dinner and music show.
Josh shoots.
 Hannah is locked in jail.
 
Peter rides a pony. (The pony started at one point and started to run. Peter fell off, and it took a lot of time and patience to convince him to get back on.)
 John pets a pony.
The sherriff....
...and the Biscuit Bandit!
After dinner we enjoyed a fun music show.

Saturday, June 5th
--We packed up all our stuff, ate cinnamon rolls and pancakes for breakfast, and drove to the Crazy Horse Memorial. This just happened to be the day of the Volksmarch, when the general public is allowed to hike up the monument, and even walk across the great Indian's arm. Steven took the kids on the six mile hike while I toured at the visitors center, looking at the many exhibits.
Here they are at the starting line...
Getting closer...
Made it! Wow that guy is big!
Looking through the tunnel.
...And they made it to the finish! 
At this point, they found me, we climbed in the van, and headed the car towards home (via Nebraska). We ate lunch and dinner in the car, and never stopped until we reached home, about 8:00pm.
What a trip!

Shown here is only a small fraction of the 200 or so pictures we took on our trip. To see more, go to my Picassa Web Album for 2010 Pictures and scroll down until you get to them!