Thursday, October 30, 2008

What is it they say about the best laid plans?

Well, interpeeps, I had some grand ideas for posts this week that I was hoping would pull me out of my blogging slump.

I was going to find all the old Halloween photos from years gone by and post them here so you could ooh and ahh at my darling babies, you know, when they were babies.

I was going to make a really yummy soup and post pictures and directions to entice you all to make it.

I was going to let you into the world that was my frighteningly pious 19-year-old psyche and share some old journal entries I just found in the basement.

But, these good intentions have gone by the wayside. And come tomorrow morning, I will be waking at the unholy hour of four a.m. for a little spontaneous road trip with the family.

See, when your husband happily tells you he has taken Halloween off from work, don't mentally start making any plans for lunch dates, afternoon matinees, or any other afternoon delights. For, you see, about three-point-seven seconds later, he will sweetly bring up the fact that there is a BYU game in Colorado this weekend, and wouldn't it be great if we all went?

So, we're going.

I'm actually excited because it means I will get to spend time with one of my favorite sisters-in-law (sorry, she's blogless or I'd link) and I get to sit in the car for several uninterrupted hours with a large stack of books by my side.

And I get to miss church. (Which is definitely something my pious 19-year-old self would not be happy about. Please don't tell her. She'd definitely have words to say about that.)

So, Happy Halloween. And, I guess, Go Cougs.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pretending to be what I want to be

Recently, I have decided that if I want to ever get any better at this photography thing, I'd better start taking pictures of people other than my own children.

So, I begged and borrowed, pleaded and whined, and stole a baby or two from friends. Here are some of my favorites. I know I have a long way to go, and a lot to learn, but it's very fun to take pictures of children I don't acatually have to pay to pose for me. Mine have become so sick of it, that they will not comply unless given cold, hard cash.

I know, right? Who said they could be such selfish capitalists?

Lucky for me, most of these babies and kids are too young and nice to know any better:

Got any kids I can practice on?

Send them only if they work for free. This ain't no paying gig.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Spiderweb Cookies revisited

It's that time of year again, interpeeps.

No, not the time of year where we finally pull out that naughty french maid outfit and decide to hooch it up at the PTA party.

It's the time of year where we raid our children's trick-or-treat bags and steal all the good chocolate.

Don't even pretend you don't do it.

But I just made these today, as per our annual tradition. If you want the recipe, see the post I did on it last year. You won't be sorry. They are so, so good.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

On pumpkins and musicals

In case you were wondering:

We did go to HSM3. Probably the worst of all the three movies. It was BEYOND PAINFUL. And I am a girl that likes my musicals, be they high school or otherwise. But this one? Horrible.

Although, she thought it was the best movie ever. (But don't believe her. It was pretty bad.)

Just ask them. They'll tell you how painful it truly was.

But I survived the mess. They survived the rest. And here is the end result:

Happy weekend!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Is it Monday yet?

Hi, there.

No time to chat for the following reasons:

1. The kids are home from school today.

2. I have 1,873 things to do, but will not get to any of them. See number one for questions on this.

3. High School Musical opens today and I have a six-year-old girl who cannot stop talking about Troy, Gabriella, and Sharpay. She is literally clinging to my legs, begging to see it RIGHT. NOW. (the child is clinging to my legs, not Sharpay, in case you were wondering).

4. I have two boys pouting in the basement, praying to be left home from the movie in which the characters sing and dance spontaneously, which, apparently, is a fate worse than death, according to them.

5. I have a child with virtually no long pants, and cold weather is now upon us.

6. I have another child who had outgrown his church pants and cannot fake button them another Sunday.

7. I have no milk in the house.

8. I am in dire need of a McDonald's diet coke. See all of the above for reasons on this one.

9. I have foolishly promised the children some pumpkin carving today. Oh, how I hate that sticky, gooey mess that lives inside the pumpkins. I can just feel it squishing in my fingers right now and I'm already grossed out.

10. I will soon have a gigantic mess of pumpkin innards to mop up off my floor.

Happy Friday, all.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Driving me crazy

Something that has always been interesting to me is the vast differences when driving in other states. Sure, we all live in the same country, we all get fat at McDonald's together, and we all cheer for the Red Sox (at least those of us with good taste, anyway). But when it comes to getting behind the wheel of our cars, we become something else entirely.

So, I thought I'd take this chilly fall day and share my thoughts on local drivers in the states we've lived in. Hopefully, it will help you, if you ever find yourself in any of these places.


In Utah, if you want to change lanes, don't put your blinker on. For, you see, a blinker doesn't signal your desire to change lanes. It actually means the vehicle in the next lane over should immediately speed up, in order to prevent you from getting in front of him. Do not be surprised when you see lots of middle fingers pointed your direction in Utah.

But take heart, for when you arrive at your destination (likely the church Halloween party), you will discover the other driver is actually in your ward. You can thank him personally for the nice, friendly greeting he sent you on I-15.


Minnesotans brag about being "Minnesota Nice." That definitely doesn't apply to driving. What you most need to be wary of is the chain smoking, coffee chugging, big haired old lady. She WILL run you down in her pink Mary Kay Cadillac. These are hearty people used to living in an inhospitable frozen tundra eight months out of the year. They know how to drive on a sheet of ice without fear. There is no mercy on the road in Minnesota.


Boston is a scary place to drive. The drivers there have decided that the vehicle trying to make a left-hand turn onto a busy street actually has the right of way. There's no law that says this, but they have declared it so, and everyone does it.

And if have the gall to NOT stop your vehicle in the middle of the street to let them turn left (you know, because that seems like the safest thing to do when going 40 mph), they will pull out anyway. They will ram your car, yell at YOU, and miraculously not pronounce the letter "R" once.


Seattle drivers were a wee bit obsessed with the carpool lane. So much so, that it was a pretty frequent occurrence to see a single driver in that lane, with a blow-up doll in the front seat. I was actually pulled over once for driving in that lane, but not given a ticket because I had my two small children with me, who were not visible in their car seats. When driving in Seattle, beware any old clunker plastered with Kurt Cobain stickers. The driver is undoubtedly hopped up on Starbucks, has not showered in a week, and would probably ram your car if he saw you using a styrofoam cup.


Oy. California. Your best bet is to go 40 miles per hour OVER the speed limit, and drive defensively to avoid any accidents. Because chances are, you'll be the one to hit the Bentley, and they've definitely got more money to sue you with. Trust me when I tell you, the last place you want to be is between a giant pimped out Hummer, driven by a hungry anorexic woman, and her Botox appointment. She will crush you. And she will not care.


Missouri drivers are unlike ANY I have seen anywhere else. They don't actually go the speed limit here, they go S-L-O-W-E-R. It is SO ANNOYING. I am no speeder, but when I'm the fastest one on the freeway, you know something is wrong. The people here drive like every day is a leisurely Sunday drive. They look, this way and that, slow their car down to check out the homes, trees, dogs, and sky. I am doomed to be forever behind a slow car here.

So, internets, what are the drivers like where you live?

Friday, October 17, 2008

I am blogger, hear me roar

I was contacted recently by a PhD student who is writing a thesis on, of all things, blogging.

He randomly contacted about 500 bloggers and asked for help in filling out a survey. The questions were targeted primarily at a person's motivation for blogging. I was eager to help him, envisioning my brilliant answers paving the way for a groundbreaking thesis.

I imagined it impressing his professors - so much so - that they would seek me out personally in order to dig deeper into the great, vast, intellectually superior territory that is my psyche. There would be a bestseller book written. The Today Show would be calling. I would have my moment in the sun.

Yeah, I know. Came down off that cloud real quick.

But it did give me pause to reflect on my motivations. Why do I blog? Why, after almost two years, do I still do this thing? Why do I log onto the internet and prattle on about my everyday life for friends, family, and strangers to read?

There is a part of me that does it so I don't feel alone. Knowing, at this exact minute, there are thousands of women across the country, doing exactly what I'm doing, makes me feel part of a greater cause. It makes it easier, somehow, to laugh at cleaning spaghettios off the ceiling, or dealing with the sick kids, knowing that others are doing it, too.

Because maybe, if we had to deal with it all on our own? We'd just go with our instincts, let out the crazy, and break down sobbing. Or take it out on our husbands because they innocently went to work instead of spending the day covered in a child's throw-up. But suddenly, there is an outlet for the crazy things that happen. And then it all somehow seems more manageable because of that.

Reading blogs also plays a role. Once in a while, I read a blog that makes my struggles seem small in comparison. Tears have been shed when I read about someones baby girl being diagnosed with cancer, or someone longing for babies that just don't seem to be coming her way. I feel a kinship with these women and feel blessed by their ability to share their stories with the rest of us.

I laugh daily with old friends who have moved away, and it is as though we still live in the same town. I see pictures of their kids and feel connected to their lives. This, too, is why I blog. These women are hugely important to me, and they are part of who I am. It's nice to not have to let that go, just because someone moves away.

I also blog so my kids will have a daily record of what they did and said. I do not look at it as a replacement for my journal, but a photographic supplement. The words in my journal will not be read by them until long after I am gone, but the blog? They can read that right now. They can know that even when they were hard, and even when I wasn't as good of a mom as I could have been, that they were loved.

The simplistic beauty that is our ordinary lives has been captured out loud. And to me, that is priceless. It's those everyday things that get forgotten. They were not scrapbooked or recorded until now. And lately, I find myself wanting to remember those things most of all. This is the good stuff. The sick kids, the spilled milk, the embarrassing stories, the silly time at the breakfast table. It's what is building our character, and shaping our lives.

I blog because I have a voice. It is not a voice that many people hear, but that does not make it any less important. Years from now, when I am old and gray, I want someone to know that I mattered. I want to feel that my life was lived well, with tears and with happiness. I want to remember the good days, the bad days, the struggles, and the ordinary perfection that was our little life.

I always want to remember what made me who I am.

We've all got a voice. The key is letting it out. I say let it out, blogging sistas. Let it out.

[Oh, and let us not forget that it's also a nice outlet for mercilessly mock your brother.]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The basic brown tee

Yesterday, my brother Daniel made a comment which I would like to address here. You see, he falsely accused me of wearing the same brown t-shirt in several different photos.

What he does not understand is that it is possible for a person to own multiple brown t-shirts.

I know he happily spends his days in a wife beater tank and dingy sweatpants (and who are we kidding, probably even wears them to work), but I feel it is my duty as his sister to help him see the possibilities open to him. He CAN own multiple shirts, even in the same color.

I know, right? It's like living dangerously.

Plus, I'd like to introduce you to my all-time favorite t-shirt. Internets, meet the basic tee from H&M.

They come in every color imaginable, fit snug and comfortable, and the best part? They are ONLY SIX DOLLARS. Which probably explains why I own at least ten in every color.

I have tried the $40 t-shirts from every store out there. And you know what? I always come back to my H&M tees. They fit just the way I like, plus they're long enough to cover the tramp stamp that I have across my lower back.

Okay. Well, maybe I don't have that. But if I did, it would cover it up nicely at those PTA meetings.

And guess what? If they wear out (as six dollar tees are prone to do), you can buy like 19 more. Because they're cheaper THAN SEEING A MOVIE.

So, Daniel, mock if you must. And be sure and stay tuned tomorrow when I model my 14 different black H&M tees.

Because spending a morning taking pictures of yourself for spite? Totally a worthwhile and productive endeavor.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A little photo mishap that he will live to regret

Let's say you are taking family photos in your backyard. You get a wild hair and decide to take a few shots of just you and your Husband. You know, because you don't have many of those.

You have the camera ready to go on the tripod, and the remote in your hand.

You both smile, and the shutter clicks.

Well, what happens when your middle child, unbeknownst to you, decides to sneak himself into the picture?

This, my friends, is what happens:

Looks like it's cropping for this photo. Unless we want to commemorate the dive Chase took?

No, I don't think so.
But I'm a fair minded person. And I've always thought that the punishment should fit the crime.

So here's a little shot of him that I'm sure he'd rather have buried in the archives for all eternity: I know. I'm such a mean mom.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Me not so suhmart no mor

Remember how a few days ago, I was all on top of my business and shouting "yes, I can" from the rooftops?

Nothing like a little slice of humble pie to bring you back to the reality of, "Umm, no, I really can't."

You see, I volunteer to help in my kids' classrooms. A lot. I like to be there, see how the teacher interacts with the students, and see how my kids interact with other kids.

Plus, I really have no excuse this year, what with them in school all day now.

So, I went to help in McKay's class for the first time this year. As soon as I enter the classroom, his teacher hands me a heavy math book. She points out the page the students are currently working on (which is multiplying with decimals). She smiles sweetly, and asks me if I'd feel comfortable teaching this concept to one of the groups, while she works with the other.

Panic immediately sets in. Math has never been my strong suit. But this is fifth grade math. Surely, I passed fifth grade math at some point in my life, right? I smile, and tell her, "Sure, no problem," and head for the white board.

To my surprise, things move along rather well. I find that I am actually pretty good at teaching the math. McKay gets over his instinctive embarrassment and even makes eye contact with me a few times, which is a huge victory in and of itself.

Well, just about the end of our time together, the teacher returns to the classroom with her group. At this moment, one of my students raises her hands and says, "Um, I got a different answer for that one." Before I can respond, the teacher notices my problem on the board, comes over, erases it, AND RE-DOES IT FOR ME.

Apparently, I am not so good at the fifth grade math.

I made a REALLY STUPID error and did not have my decimal in the right place. I knew it as soon as I looked at it, unfortunately a little too late.

But there, in front of my son, and all of his classmates, I looked like an idiot. I felt so dumb. I have no doubt she is wondering exactly what I had been teaching while she was out. I wanted to tell her that, "YES! I REALLY DO KNOW HOW TO DO THIS!"

But instead, I smiled, thanked her, and went to my car in a cloud of stupidity and shame.

And so, next week when I go in, I fully expect her to have a desk with my name on it.

Think McKay will be embarrassed if I have to repeat my fifth grade year?

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yes, I can!

Chase has been taking tae kwan do lessons for a few months now. He absolutely loves it. Through a thick Korean accent, Grand Master Rho has the kids repeat, over and over, the words, "Yes, I can!" It's a mantra that Chase has readily adopted to fit his 'just try and stop me' personality.

So, in honor of that, I thought I would give you some of the lessons I learned this week, in "yes, I can" style.

Because it's my blog, and, well, because I can.

Clicked off to hunt for free porn yet?

No? Good. Here goes. Things I learned this week:

  • I can survive two field trips in one week, even when one of them is spent chasing down other people's annoying wandering children at the zoo in the pouring rain.
  • I can recover from poison ivy. (Though can anyone tell me why the rash is gone but I am still itchy?)
  • I can clean out the kids' bedrooms and throw away five bags of plastic crap (all of which I am sure they will never miss).
  • I can tell the random caller from one campaign that I am currently undecided.
  • I can then field two phone calls per day, and one front porch visit in an attempt to sway my vote.
  • I can decide to never again admit that I am undecided.
  • I can enjoy my workouts again, thanks to a new TV season.
  • I can order my Christmas cards in October (please don't hate me. I'm diseased. I can't help it).
  • I can pay other people's children to smile for me in photographs.
  • I can actually watch general conference and not take a nap. Go me.

What did you learn this week?

Friday, October 3, 2008

How to take an Amish Country Tour

Step one: Read all of Beverly Lewis' books. Become obsessed with the Amish people. Discuss the Amish on a regular basis with your friends. Get giddy with excitement when the local community college offers an Illinois Amish Country Tour. Sign up immediately and ignore all mothering responsibilities to attend the day-long tour.

Step two: Board the bus for your Amish Country Tour, and realize, to your dismay, that you are the youngest people there, and I do mean the youngest by decades. Be grateful you can walk without the assistance of a cane and do not yet require Depends. Stop for bathroom breaks every 16 minutes on the two-hour drive. Try to recover from a very unmentionable bathroom incident involving one of the elderly passengers.

Step Three: Eat lunch a thanksgiving feast in an actual Amish home. Be very grateful for make-up and pretty shoes. Decide those two factors alone would be deal breakers in your husband's Amish conversion/go-off-the-grid-dream. Eat yourself sick on fresh bread, jam, chicken, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, fresh corn, and pie. Wonder why the Amish don't weigh 900 pounds. Realize all this food was made by hand instead of by Costco. Decide Amish work load is too hard. Call your Husband and break the news that you will not be converting after all.

Step Four: Get back on the Old Folks Mobile tour bus and begin the long drive back to St. Louis. Accept the impending 19 bathroom breaks. Laugh mercilessly with your friends. Make lots of jokes in Effingham. Search i-phones for You Tube videos and pictures of Rupert Penry-Jones, your new imaginary boyfriend.

Step Five: When, and only when, you are positive the lady in front of you is about to fall out of her seat for the eavesdropping, be sure to invent some stories about your friend's illustrious street walking career and nekkid bungee jumping escapades. Be a little frightened later when she tells you how much you all remind her of her daughter.

Step Six: When one of the bus patrons loses control and pees all over her seat, be renewed in your desire to spend hours a day doing kegel exercises.