A whole bunch about us you may have never wanted to know.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer "break"

So, today is the last full day of school for my kids. Tomorrow they have a half day and then they're out for the summer. Am I ready for this?

What is it about summer break -- as kids we look forward to being done with school, but by the end of school we look forward to going back. As parents we look forward to being done with the hustle and bustle of getting homework done, getting breakfast in time to get out the door and various projects and activities. However, we don't necessarily look forward to spending all day everyday with our kids ...

Last summer the kids weren't too bad. However, I've already noticed a change in Tyler -- first grade has taken away his ability to think about what to do next. He'll say to me, "Mom, I don't know what to do now." He used to play for hours without being told what to play. Now when I give suggestions he doesn't like most of them and gets, well, a little cranky.

I plan on keeping my kids VERY busy this summer so they have little time to complain or get bored (a word that is not allowed in our house). They're going to have typing practice, piano practice, chores, and math and reading review ALL summer. I plan it every year and am not good about doing it, but this year I think I have to for my sanity ... or at least what little is left.

If you have any great summer ideas, send them my way since we start our break sooner than I feel ready!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

My "new" hand mixer

I helped my sister with her charity yard sale for Cystic Fibrosis a couple of weekends ago and came home with a few "new" items, one of them being a hand mixer. This mixer was brand new -- still in the original packaging and never used. However, this "new" blender is actually 25 years old.

Am I nuts for picking up such an old appliance? Last year my sister Rebecca gave me a hand mixer she got as a wedding gift. I haven't used one for years, because I lost one beater and have never bought another one. However, the blender she gave us was TOO powerful! Even on the lowest setting things were flying out of the bowl everywhere. Needless to say, I used it once and returned it to Walmart. (BTW, Becky, thanks for the $11.)

Yes, I could have bought a new one then. But I figured that I've gone this long mixing by hand that I could keep mixing by hand. Then there it was at the yard sale new and never used -- and my sister GAVE it to me since nobody else bought it. Yup, a free new hand mixer. Can you believe nobody else bought it? :)

So, again, why would I want something so old? I am of the opinion that older applicances are a lot more sturdy and reliable. My parents bought a freezer in 1970 and it still works just great. Do you think the freezer we bought a couple of years ago will last 40 years? I don't think so. In fact, our freezer was one of the few that still had a 10-year warranty on it. Now manufacturers give a 1-year warranty. ONE YEAR! Any appliance you buy gives you only one year warranty. Excuse me, I spend how much and you guarantee the quality of your product for only one year?!?

Anyway, I've seen people who still use blenders, slow cookers and ovens that look ancient -- but they still work. In fact, I once went to an Enrichment meeting where they had us each cook something in a slow cooker. The women were joking about how you could tell how long someone has been married by how old their slow cooker looks. They teased me for being a newlywed, which I was in comparison to most of them! :) But their old 20 to 30-year-old slow cookers still worked.

So, although my hand mixer is nearly 30 years old already, it should last me for another 10 years or more. Now if I can just keep track of BOTH beaters this time ...

Friday, May 23, 2008

Alien Song

I'm guessing everyone on the planet has seen this short. I LOVE it!!! I came upon it in y2k and have had it saved on my desktop ever since. Mind you, I've been through several work and home computers since then, but I always make sure I have this easily accessible.

I recommend you watch this ANY time you need a pick-me-up. It ALWAYS makes me smile! Paul and I got to wondering where the creator is these days. Any guesses? We think this animation still looks great, and it was done almost 10 years ago. Anyway, we Googled him and found out he is right where we figured he would be working -- Pixar.

I hope you enjoy this at least half as much as I do. I don't know how you won't ...

video

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Strong, Capable Women

I debated between the title I used and "Water Woes." I am not great about focusing on the positive, so I'm going to try to do that more. And in this case, the positive is "Strong, Capable Women."

This morning Hilary called me at 7 a.m. to say that her basement had water in it and wondered what she should do. I knew that the key was getting the carpet dry as quickly as possible, so we started by bailing water out of the window well where it was coming in. (We got an inch of rain yesterday in Spanish Fork, and probably another inch since I saw that on the news! Turns out her neighbor's rain gutter extension was pointing right at her patio, which led to the window well. Ugh!)

Fortunately my parents had a pump we could use toward the end of our pumping. My mom dropped it off in perfect time since we had just decided our bucket wasn't getting enough out.

After pumping out as much water as possible we set to work downstairs with a couple of shop vacs getting the carpet as dry as we could. Then we had to pull up the carpet and suck out more water. We ended up not trying to save the foam pad since it was too wet (and therefore heavy!) so we cut it out and took it out to the garbage can. Then we got the carpets up and put fans on them to try to dry them out.

Here's the amazing part -- we did it with just the two of us. Okay, we did call my mom and dad for advice, but the actual doing it we did ourselves. I would have never thought the two of us could do it -- we've never done anything like that before. In fact, I'd prefer to leave it to the men as much as possible. :) However, Hilary's man is out of town and mine was on his way to work, so we went ahead and did our best and succeeded.

Now those of you who knew the Palmer/Ross duo would have no problems accepting that we are strong, capable women. However, if you were to ask the Brown/Roberts duo we may not be so sure. Kids have a way of wearing you down and making you feel weak and incapable. But Hil, WE did it!!! I guess we do have a little kick left in us after all ... I didn't doubt you did since you run a household almost single-handedly. However, now that we know, could you keep the water out of your basement so we don't have to do that again? ;)

Monday, May 19, 2008

Obsessed

Yesterday at church we read a scripture that said something about a blossoming thistle. It reminded me of a woman in my parent's ward who is obsessed with the color purple. I really do mean obsessed. Her daughters are named Violet and Lavender. (Wouldn't Paul be happy -- he wanted to name all his kids colors ...) Anyway, someone asked them what they named their son: Thistle. Yes, the blossoms on a thistle are purple. Oh, my!

So, that got me wondering if I've ever been obsessed about something so much that it was obvious (and maybe even weird) to everyone around me. I realized our children's names weren't based on obsessions. I really think it would be funny if we named our next daughter Jetta since Paul LOVED the Jetta he bought in his bachelor days. (It got sold when we had Tyler since it was a little too pricey.) There is even a little girl on the Clifford cartoon named Jetta ... although she's the rude, selfish girl on the cartoon. I would do it for a laugh, but I don't think I like the name Jetta enough to do it.

So, no obsessions in names. Any others? I am a bit obsessed with scrapbooking, but not to the point that most people have even seen my pages. I'm obsessed with chocolate, but who isn't? Maybe I need to find an obsession. Paul and I see shows like Wife Swap and wonder if we are extreme enough at anything to make a good swap and therefore a good show. We can't figure out anything that would make a good swap for us -- we're pretty healthy eaters, but not to the point of cutting out goodies. We aren't the messiest bunch, but we aren't the cleanest, either. We don't get our kids involved in every little extra-curricular activity, but we don't sit on the couch all day, either. Are we just too ordinary?!?

Which brings me to yet another point: I plan on one day starting a PJNG scholarship at BYU. None of the recipients will know what PJNG stands for, but I'll share the little secret with you. This is going to be the Plain Jane/Nice Guy scholarship. It's going to be for someone like me -- too poor to pay for school, but whose parents make too much to qualify for grants (but not enough to pay for my school, either). Not smart enough to get an academic scholarship (after Freshman year, anyway), but smart enough to have a good overall GPA (3.6) and an even higher GPA in my major. Someone who tries to get involved in extra-curricular activities to gain experience and contacts, but who realizes the real reward of joining these activities is the new friends you make (which makes it worth the time and effort involved). It was going to be a Plain Jane scholarship until I mentioned it to my college friend Cameron who pointed out that he was just as average -- you know, a "Nice Guy."

In any case, we're too average to afford paying for a scholarship right now. But one day some public relations student at BYU is going to appreciate that extra money to appreciate how ordinary they are ... although they won't know that it was their plainess that earned the scholarship. In fact, maybe earning my scholarship will bump them up to a little above ordinary? Hadn't thought about that one. I guess I'll have to tweak the details before the scholarship begins.

And all this thinking during Sunday School because we read a scripture that said thistle ... Maybe I should obsess about listening better at church! :)

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Interesting dance

A while back I went to a stake women's conference with Hilary. There was a performance by a BYU dance group, which was introduced as a modern dance piece. That was enough to make me groan inside and nearly tune out. No offense to any modern dancers, but I personally don't enjoy it at all. Usually I watch it and go, "Yeah? So?"

So, I prepared to be bored. Then the dance instructor came out and explained that they wanted to do something different, so they worked together to come up with the dialogue (yes TALKING) they would include in the dance piece. They were going to talk? Okay, this ought to be interesting ...

Turns out it was incredible. I was touched. I was moved. And I was shocked at how good it really was. Their statements were short quips, mostly beginning with I am. In the introduction they mentioned the power of those two words. I wrote down a few of the sentences I found powerful during the dance:

Can you see me?
Can you see who I am?
See me for who I am, not for who you want me to be.
See me for what I can become.
My body is NOT an object.
My body is a gift.
My body is wonderfully flawed.
My body is different -- find beauty in it.
My husband is not my identity.
My job is not my identity.
My children are not my identity.
My social life is not my identity.
My identity is who I am inside.
My life has meaning.
My life has purpose.
My life has direction.
I am beautiful just as I am.
I am happy just as I am.
I am enough just as I am.
Listen to me.
I speak softly -- don't you hear me?

It was incredible. I don't know that I can even convey here how really awesome it was to have these college students saying these statements. All of the girls were not your typical dancers -- one or two were heavier, and there was a little person in the dance -- and yet their dance was more moving than accomplished dancers I have seen in the past. Their statements made me feel like I can be powerful and enough just as I am.

The woman introducing the dance said that often women feel invisible -- even women of faith. We somehow think that if we're not perfect we don't have value. She said even soft voices can change nations, and that power is inherent in every woman's voice.

She also mentioned a great analogy of our work. She said that of the great cathedrals in Europe, nobody really knows who built them. However, God knows. And just like nobody really may know what we're doing with our lives and our children, God knows. He appreciates and loves us and knows the power we possess -- just as we are.

I'm sure this isn't coming through as powerful as I felt it, but hopefully it can inspire you other moms to know that we are changing the world, one child at a time!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Soccer fun

Tyler's spring soccer finished Saturday. This happened to be a very COLD year for them to start spring soccer. Oh well ... Tyler had a lot of fun anyway. And when I say a lot, I mean A LOT!

Tyler has decided that soccer is his favorite sport. This year he was a lot better about getting in and trying to kick the ball. (Last fall he ran around screaming, "Watch out!" and "We're going to score!" and such. Mind you, he never really tried to kick the ball, but I guess he figured he'd scare the other team w/his "threats." :) So, I was excited to see him get in and try a lot more this season.

He did something else this season he didn't do last time he played -- he had a lot more fun. Did I mention that? If the ball was near him, he tried to get in on the action. (He had an assist to the game-winning goal in one game and six saves as goalie in their last game.) However, he seemed to have even more fun when the ball was nowhere near him. He was great entertainment for me and other parents who happened to notice. And he didn't even need other boys for his fun, although they sure helped ...



Somehow I think he found playing goalie the most fun ...







There are lots more pictures where these came from! I guess I shouldn't have been so nervous having him goalie, because he loved. In between all his fun, he only let two balls get past him all season. By the way, did I mention that he had FUN?!? I think these pictures prove that ...

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Idol mania

So, are you a big fan of American Idol? I'm not really. I don't mind it, but it's not a show we ever really watch. However, my nieces are pretty big into it. Maybe you've heard there's a little Utah boy in the final three? Yes, yesterday David Archuletta came back for a visit. As it turns out he was swarmed by fans, including two of my nieces.

At least my nieces got what they wanted -- to see the idol. And even better, to be on the front page with him. This photo was on the front page of the newspaper today, and there are my nieces right behind him on the front page of the newspaper. I'm so proud. ;)



And for those of you who wondered, NO, they were not circled in yellow in the newspaper ...

Scrapbooking

Yes, I love scrapbooking. And as of late I've got a scrapbooking idol -- my friend Autumn. I love her pages, because they don't just look great, but they also have stories and thoughts on them. As you look through her scrapbook, you get to know her and her family. (See what I'm talking about at http://www.simplescrapbooksmag.com/gallery/search.ihtml?designer_idx=108702)

Now, she'd probably be embarrassed to know I'm blogging praises to her work. But believe me, she's the best I've EVER seen. (I'm her unofficial scrappin' stalker. I'll ask her how to become official later ... :) Anyway, the reason I mention her is because she's inspired me to include more stories and information on my pages instead of just scrapbooking cute pictures.

So, now whenever the kids say something cute, instead of thinking, "I need to write that down," I think, "I need to scrapbook that! What picture should I use?" That's why I scanned the pic of Paul in the previous blog and took pics of the boys in their Spiderman shirt. Otherwise that cute, fun story would be forgotten. Now it's going to be a memory they'll cherish ... or at least I will. :)

If I can't convert you to scrappin' your life, at least I'll have fun doing mine! It's a great hobby that happens to also preserve some fun memories. I also enjoy it, because I get to do it with Becca, my mom, my sister (we're working on the other 3 sisters :) and several friends. Hopefully you never get as scrapbook-mental as I am, though, because last week I looked at Shayla's dress and thought, "That would be cute paper!" Maybe I'll scan it! ;)

Friday, May 9, 2008

Superheroes

So, I mentioned in yesterday's blog about the boys sharing a Star Wars T-shirt. I know they're good about sharing shirts now, because they've been sharing a Spiderman shirt for about a year now. Every time it goes through the laundry I just ask them whose turn it is and they tell me.

Why do they share the shirt? It's actually a very cute story:

One evening as a part of bedtime stories, Paul pulled out his memory book and showed the boys pictures of when he was as young as they are. They got very excited when they saw his kindergarten picture, and not because Tyler had just finished kindergarten. Paul was wearing a Spiderman shirt!

Boys: “Daddy, what happened to your Spiderman shirt?”

Daddy: “I’m not sure. I’m guessing Grandma Brown got rid of it when I got too big.”

Boys: “Will you ask her? Maybe she still has it!”

Daddy: “I don’t think she still has it, but I’ll ask her.”

So, next time he was on the phone with his mom, he said, “I know you’ve got a bunch of stuff in storage. Any chance you still have that Spiderman shirt I wore in my kindergarten picture?”

Carol, who didn’t realize he was joking, said, “Well, Paul, that was a long time ago!” Paul explained how excited the boys had been about seeing their dad wearing a Spiderman shirt.

A few weeks later a package came in the mail with a new Spiderman T-shirt and a note from Grandma saying that she thought someone could use the shirt. I was worried the boys would fight over it, but they’ve been very good about taking turns. And each time they wear it, they do so with pride that they’re wearing a Spiderman shirt just like Daddy did.

I took pictures to scrapbook the story, so here they are. Check my gallery often to see when I finish the scrapbook page. :) Link to my gallery is on the bottom left of my blog.





Thursday, May 8, 2008

Star Wars yummies

I think I already mentioned that my boys are fascinated with Star Wars. I don't know how boys learn about it when we never mentioned it and it's something like 30 years old. Anyway, Tyler said at school they have a Star Wars cookbook that they can't checkout. Funny book to not be able to check out since I'm sure many kids can remember the recipes until they get home to try them ... :)

So, we finally checked our pathetically small city library and found that they have it. We placed a hold and soon enough they called to say it was our turn. Tyler was giddy. They've got some fun things in there to try. So far we've already done Skywalker Smoothies, C3PO pancakes and R2D2 treats (pictured below). Tonight I've promised them Yoda Soda. We also plan to make Wookie Cookies, Han-burgers and Jabba Jell-O. We've gotta get them all done and return the book by May 14, so we're going to have a couple of Star Wars-filled weeks.


Oh, and we lucked out last weekend and found a Star Wars T-shirt at a yard sale with Yoda on it. Fortunately they're good about sharing these days. Come on over tonight if you'd like to see it on Tyler and get some Yoda Soda ...

He did it!

Last summer we thought Tyler would be excited about learning to ride his bike without training wheels. So, we never put them on his new bike and practiced a few times. Problem is that my boys aren't the adventurous, do-anything type. So, he barely rode his bike at all last summer.

That made me think that maybe we should just put the training wheels back on so he can enjoy his bike this summer. Paul went out with him once or twice and practiced and we both tried to convince him that it really isn't TOO scary.

Needless to say, Monday night he got the hang of it and was off. Once he realized he was riding on his own he was determined to do it over and over and over. Then he wanted to try it on all different surfaces. "Mom! I taught myself how to ride my bike on grass!!!"

Here are some pictures of the success. The first couple of pictures he has his tongue sticking out while he concentrates. The look on his face in the last picture is awesome!



Kids are smart!

I'm going to try to post a video here to show you how smart kids are. For Zachary's birthday he was given one of those "hopper" balls. That's what we call it -- don't know if there's an "official" name. Anyway, Shayla's obviously not big enough to ride it, although she sees Tyler and Zachary having all kinds of fun on it.


I hadn't really even thought of her wanting to try it until one day I was standing in the kitchen and she dragged it in, set up next to the oven and started bouncing. Look at this:




video

Hilarious, huh? I guess I better make sure she doesn't try it while I'm baking something for dinner ...

Friday, May 2, 2008

"Chatty" Women

So, I'm guessing you've heard about the supposed study that says women say something like three times as many words per day as men? I've heard about it for years. However, it was just recently that I figured it out: They must have polled stay-at-home women and go-to-work men.

I figure that 85% (or more) of our words go something like this:

"Yes, I'll get you crackers and juice. Just a minute."

"I WILL get the juice after I get the crackers. Please be patient."

"I can't get the crackers and juice at the same time."

"I know you're thirsty now that you're eating the crackers. That's why I'm getting you juice!"

"It's time to go, so put your shoes on please."

"Please put your shoes on."

"Put your shoes on, please!"

"PUT YOUR SHOES ON OR YOU CAN'T WEAR ANY!"

"Run and go potty."

"Yes, you do need to go."

"Just try to go!"

"Did you flush and wash hands?"

"Then go flush and wash hands."

"I didn't hear a flush. Go flush!"

"Now wash your hands."

"You have to wash them again after you flush!"

"No, you can't have a sucker until after lunch."

"Because then you won't want to eat lunch if you eat the sucker."

"NO! You can either eat it after lunch or not at all."

"No, it's not time for lunch yet. It's 9 a.m. We don't eat until 11:30. That's two and a half hours from now. Would you like a snack?"

"No, you can't have the sucker as a snack!"

"You can eat the sucker after lunch."

"Because you won't want to eat lunch if ..."

Ever see one of those circle stories? Don't many conversations with your kids FEEL like circle conversations?!?

In any case, I'm glad I figured out the mystery of why women "talk" so much. I guess I figured this out just in time for Mother's Day.

And on that note, HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY to my mom, Paul's mom and all my mom buddies!!!

Mommy Minute

I'm turning into my mother. Things I said I would never do, I now do. (Big example -- I said I would NEVER fall asleep during a TV show or movie and then wake up and ask my husband what happened. Oops ... I do that regularly now ...)

Anyway, as I was typing my "conversation" above, I typed, "Just a minute." Reminded me that when we were growing up and my mom said that, we knew what she actually meant was, "Just a MOMMY minute." Did anyone else call them "Mommy Minutes"? That's when your mom says it will be a minute, and then it takes her another 10 or more.

I figured I'd never make my kids experience the Mommy minute. However, now that I have a zillion things going at once I realize why a Mommy minute even exists. I figure if I'm lucky, then at the end of the Mommy minute the kids have forgotten whatever it was they asked about and I'm off the hook ... although that isn't usually the case.

Unfortunately for my kids, they get to experience many Mommy minutes. Fortunately for them, though, it's usually because I'm doing something else they need or want ... although they will probably not realize it until they are parents themselves!!!

Mom, how you ever survived eight of us I just can't figure out ...