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

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Genealogy, I am doing it!

So, I helped plan a couple of huge genealogy PR events in Seattle that were great successes. However, I hadn't really done much family history myself. I prefer to preserve what we have rather than trying to research my ancestors. For example, I worked with my mom to scan in pictures from her dad's missionary service in Tonga in the 1930s, which was great. We also typed in some letters he had written home, but most of the letters he wrote were lost in a fire with much of his memorabilia. However, we have preserved what we can and have shared it with many in the family.

Becca, on the other hand, is very interested in finding her roots and figuring out what she can do to benefit her ancestors. She has started to research where she came from, and she would like to do the temple work for all of these ancestors.

Anyway, Becca's middle name (Effie) was named after her great-great-grandmother who shared the same birthday. Becca researched the info she needed and performed Effie's baptism several weeks ago at the Provo LDS Temple. (Pics of the temple follow -- the first is from my nephew's wedding in January 2007 and the second is Becca's first temple visit in 2006. :)


I had the chance to finish Effie's temple work this weekend, and it was a wonderfully touching experience. I have no relation to this lady, but I am raising her great-great-granddaughter. It was a sweet feeling to think about these generations being bonded because a 14-year-old was faithful and got to work. Becca has had almost nothing to do with her Nielsen side, so she is determined not to fail her ancestors like they "failed" her.

What a wonderful example of faith and forgiving Becca has been. She has overcome a childhood of neglect and fear to become exactly what it is she wants to be, and I'm grateful to say that is a young woman of faith. She has been blessed with a strong testimony of the Savior, and she is a great example of His love and forgiving.

I'm so grateful that Becca has her mind focused on the temple -- they are wonderfully peaceful and beautiful places to spend time! I look forward to the day when all of my children are old enough to go into the Lord's house, and I hope they all live worthily to do so.

I am eternally grateful that Paul and I were married in the Salt Lake City LDS Temple for eternity and that our family is sealed together forever. That's part of the good news of the gospel, and I love it!

Following are bad scans of that wonderful wedding day of ours nearly 8 years ago:


Don't I look happy? If you think I was happy, you should see Paul:


He's happy to be stuck with me. :)

(For those not of our faith, please read about temples here and baptisms for the dead here.)

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Star Wars Party

For Tyler's birthday party we HAD to have a Star Wars theme. In fact, Tyler told me back in April (Zachary's birthday) that he wanted a Yoda cake. Well, in July we started looking for Yoda cake toppers and found that they were discontinued. Huh?

Good thing that the new Star Wars movie came out this month! That meant Walmart was stocked to the gills with Star Wars toys, including a small figurine of Yoda. Score! We got that and I also surprised him with the R2-D2 that he really wanted. Can't quite tell if he likes what he got ... ;)



I happened to find german chocolate brownies on the day-old bakery rack, so I bought two of those and put them together to be the cake. I figured the german chocolate frosting with sprinkles looked like the swamp, which was the scene he wanted me to re-create. Not my best cake, but definitely my easiest! What I didn't think about is how picky of eaters kids are these days! Oh well ... I told them they could scrape off the frosting if they wanted. One poor boy wouldn't even drink Yoda Soda. It's green and it has Yoda's name in it -- what more could any boy want? (Apparently water ...)


We had a Jedi training course in the backyard (an obstacle course) and let them run that several times. I loved that my nephew Nicholas took his light saber with him on the course -- that's a true Jedi:


Then we played a game where they had to "rescue" Padme and Leia by popping balloons and finding their pictures inside. I put slips of paper into almost all of them to throw them off. The boys LOVED popping the balloons:


Then we had our final Jedi game where they earned their light sabers. Paul and I had made light sabers using animal balloons and flashlights. The kids thought they were SO cool, and the whole thing cost less than $10 for 11 kids. Not bad, eh? :)



Here's Tyler with his birthday buddies, each of whom got to take home Wookiee Cookies:



I think they all had a good time. If not, at least Tyler did and I'm off the hook until next year. :)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Happy Birthday, Ty Guy!

Today is Tyler's seventh birthday! Am I really old enough to have a 7 year old? Anyway, I am so grateful for such a wonderful little boy. He is so thoughtful and caring and is just so darn cute!

When he was a baby I had hundreds of comments about his wonderful eyelashes. They are great! I even had one man who had the nerve to tell me it was a waste on a boy. Whatever! Tyler's daddy has wonderful eyelashes, and I have never felt like they're a waste!

Tyler is an awesome big brother. He is so excited to help Zachary learn his letter sounds and start reading. He is great about thinking about others. One day in kindergarten I got worried when the teacher came over and said she needed to talk to me. I figured maybe he had poked someone or done some other little boy thing. However, she talked about how awesome he was with the new little boy in class. She had asked him to try to be his friend, and she said he kept trying to include the boy over and over, even if the boy said no. She was really impressed, and I was so happy. I'd much rather have a thoughtful little boy than the smartest kid in class any day!

Anyway, here are a few pics to stroll/scroll down memory lane ... and to show my new friends what a cute little kid my "oldest" was! (He was the oldest, although he's not now. Now we call him our first child and we call Becca our third child. Confusing, huh? :)

With sunscreen in his hair (which never looked normal afterwards, so I just spiked it) and chocolate on his face:


A great big brother from the start. He was never jealous of our new baby, even though he was just 20 months old:


How much cuter can this boy get?


He would love to be a firefighter one day:


And if you know him you know that he LOVES piggies!!!



This was him on the last day of first grade with his home-sewn bear Adam Tyler Brown. :)


We love you, Ty Guy!!!

Go, Mommy!

So, we were a bit surprised by John McCain's VP pick of Sarah Palin. Of course, we were hoping for Mitt Romney and thought he'd be the best pick. However, I'm kind of excited about McCain's pick of Sarah Palin.

Palin is a mother from five from Alaska (the youngest is only four months old!). She understands the oil industry, which is a critical topic right now. Being governor of Alaska has given her executive experience, and she's been a reformer throughout her career. She grew up as the daughter of educators, her oldest son is in the Army, and she has a special-needs child (her new baby has Down Syndrome). I think it was smart of McCain to pick her, and brilliant for her to ask women to help her shatter the glass ceiling that Hillary Clinton cracked. (I would never vote for someone for just being a woman, but I'm sure there are plenty of people who would.)

I think Obama's VP choice was horrible -- a good ol' boy who continually puts his foot into his mouth. Yes, like we want someone like that offending North Korea or Iran and putting our country at risk ... Anyway, that VP selection said to me that Obama really doesn't want the change he claims he's all about. And McCain showed with his pick that change is exactly what should happen -- including having a woman on the ticket for the first time in GOP history. I also love that she's an outsider -- her introductory speech was a breath of fresh air, unlike every other person on any ticket who just sounds stale.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no political pundit. I enjoy politics, although by choice I'm not educated enough on most topics to really debate them well. In fact, Paul and I have divvied up areas of intelligence, and politics is HIS category. :)

I LOVE that Palin has five children. As a SAHM, I feel like the intelligence of mothers is looked down upon in our society -- especially those of us who choose to use our intelligence to stay home and raise wonderful kids. We have brains, even if we choose not to use them to become executives and community leaders!!! I feel like the selection is a boost to moms throughout the country. I've heard contradictions about whether she's pro-choice or pro-life, and I hope she is pro-life. I don't know how any mother isn't.

No matter what happens, this will be a fun election to watch unfold.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

First Days of School

Well, my kids have started school! It seems my house is very quiet right about now ...

I always look forward to the kids starting school because of the structure it provides, but I wish the school day weren't so long! :) Anyway, the kids were very excited to start, and of course we have to take pics of them on the first day of school.

Becca is starting her first year of high school. Crazy! (We won't even discuss that in a year she's eligible for a learner's permit ...) I am very nervous about this year. Becca is very smart and does all her homework, but sometimes she forgets to hand it in. It stresses ME out! I hope I don't get this stressed with all my kids. Anyway, she's taking two honors classes and is also involved in a Shakespeare competition team that meets three times per week after school. Let high school craziness begin ...
My little Tyler is already in second grade. Did I really become a mom that long ago? It seems sometimes like I've been a mom forever, and other times I can't believe it hasn't even been seven years. Tyler is doing great in his new classroom -- at least from what I can tell. The boy gives me no details about his school day, which is probably the main reason I needed to switch his teacher the first day of school. He was so excited to get this Power Ranger shirt from a cousin to wear his first day. It's even his favorite color:
And my baby boy Zachary has started kindergarten! He is generally an extremely shy boy (he'll glare at people instead of answering their questions), but he seems to be really braving it out. I put him in a class with his twin friends so that he would feel more at ease, and he sits at the same table as one of them. Hopefully this means he'll talk to the teacher before the first month of school is over. He was excited to go and is really ready to start reading. Here he is ready to go:
As for Shayla and me, well, we'll enjoy some time alone together. I thought it would be much easier to go to Walmart this morning without all the kids, and I was right. What I didn't expect was for Shayla to all of a sudden expect to be carried everywhere instead of riding in the cart or walking! What's up with that? I didn't oblige, so we spent some crying time in Walmart. (Good thing she's not a screamer!) I was still in and out in only 30 minutes, which may be a new record!
In any case, here's to a great school year!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Names

So, I'm always on the hunt to have the perfect name for our next baby. Am I pregnant? (The obvious question people ask when I start discussing name options.) No. But I always have thought I should have a name before I get pregnant and hormonal and name the baby some hideous name that I'd regret for the rest of my life. (Notice I didn't mention specifics? I have some, but I didn't want to offend anyone named Henry, Herman, Bertha or Dorcus.)

We had no problem with Shayla's name since it was one I've loved for years and Paul liked it, too. The boys were a different story -- especially with Zachary. Needless to say, we combed hundreds to thousands of names trying to find the perfect name. And finally we agreed on Zachary.

Turns out our little Zachary very much likes his name, too, and dislikes people to call him Zach (unless you're mommy, daddy or Shayla). Paul said his brother Rob(ert) was like this until a teenager. I thought that was hilarious! I figured that since we're pretty laid-back people our kids wouldn't ever have this issue. However, turns out whenever Tyler or Becca calls him Zach he says, "Don't call me that!" as if it's a swear word or bad name.

Okay, so we'll call you Zachary. Any idea who difficult of an idea that is for people? I never thought much of it until recently when I've had to clarify it for people several times. His swimming instructor, soccer coach, etc., say, "What's your name?" He says, "Zachary." Then they proceed to call him Zach from then on. Uh, did he say Zach? No, he said Zachary. He's a little shy, so I don't think he dares tell people not to call him Zach. (This is a great moment for mommy to use her "assertiveness" and step in to clarify.)

I had a co-worker named Annemarie, and she said people constantly called her Anne. Marie wasn't her middle name, it was part of her first name. She had a different middle name. I thought maybe that would only happen with names that sound like two full names. Nope. Happens even with shorter names. I didn't realize until somewhat recently that my sister Rebecca will let only family call her Becky. (She's not shy to tell anyone who tries, either. :) This weekend at Paul's mom's wedding there was a Josh and a Joshua. Joshua said to Josh, "Have you ever tried to get people to call you Joshua? It's nearly impossible!"

Anyway, as humorous as I think it is that he's that particular, I'll respect Zachary's wishes and make sure others do, too. And since I can't always be there, Zachary will learn to deal with being called Zach by either accepting it (which Paul's bro Rob did as a teen) or standing up and correcting the offender (like my sister Rebecca).

Here's a picture of the cutie after finally getting his own "Hawaii Friday" shirt:


And Shayla, who we thought we'd call Shay and rarely do, got yet another Hawaii Friday dress as well, so I have to share that adorable pic. She's got nearly as many as grandpa at this point! (Although you can see she's sick of pictures in them. :)
In any case, girls' names are now stumping us. Any suggestions? I love Ashley, but it's so common. Others I love I can't get Paul to agree on (Emily, Alexa, Megan). We both like Felicity, but is that weird? At least we have 9+ months to figure it out. :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

So long, 7 Peaks

Our family went to 7 Peaks last night for maybe the last time this season. They're only open until Sept. 1 (strange, in my opinion), so we wanted to go one last time before we no longer have season passes. We have barely gone this year -- it seems like too much of a pain and it's always soooooo crowded. In any case, we won't be buying passes again next year and are grateful we got them for free this year.

Well, last night was probably not the best night to venture out. Of course, it was the only night we have since soccer starts tonight, but it ended up being quite cold! A storm blew in right as we got there, so it was completely overcast and actually had a very light sprinkle. It was freezing if you were out of the water. Didn't help that the heaters were broken in the lazy river and one of the kiddie pools.

Oh well ... we stayed and played until Shayla's lips turned blue. The boys finally went down the slide, which Paul photographed to prove, and Shayla got a little bit braver herself. Who knows -- maybe one day we'll actually have kids who will swim.

Here's Tyler entering the water -- he was so cold he didn't want to go down. I bribed him with a cookie so we could get a picture. Oh, I mean, I positively reinforced his decision ... :)
We were so happy that Zachary started having fun on the slide. Usually we can talk him into going down, but he's so nervous about it that it's no fun for him. This time, though, he really seemed to have fun going down:
I just got this Dora the Explorer beach towel on clearance, which made my little doll VERY happy. She looked super cute wrapped up in it. Not sure if you can tell her lips still aren't normal-color:
I'm thinking maybe next year we'll get a backyard pool ... if I can convince myself that one of the kids won't drown if we do!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Whirlwind Weekend

This weekend was crazy busy, but not too stressful since we were sans kids. Paul and I flew up to Washington for his mom's wedding. I haven't flown on a plane for years, and our flight up was really bumpy. It didn't help that the man across the aisle was trying to entertain his son by saying, "Uh oh, uh oh" just moments before the plane dropped a bit. The poor lady next to me gasped and grabbed her arm rest. She was quite embarrassed by her reaction, but that's how I felt inside!

Needless to say, we made it there safely. We went to the beach on Friday with Paul's family and spent hours there. It was a lot of fun, and enough to give everyone a sunburn for the wedding photos. I said we should pose one where it looks like we're all fighting. Because of the red faces, maybe people would believe it. :)

I spent most of the time up there STUFFED! Our good friends the Kommavongsas fed us very well -- probably a little too well. I think I gained five pounds in just that one weekend. We were bummed we weren't going to be able to eat with them more (only one dinner) since they are such awesome cooks. They decided to show us that their skills extend beyond dinner and made us some very delicious and filling breakfasts. I've never had such a wonderful breakfast burrito -- I was only bummed I was still too stuffed from the day before to eat another one! Anyway, thanks Amp & Julie for being such gracious hosts and friends. They didn't even get offended when we ate and ran, which it seemed we did the entire trip up there. :)

We loved seeing Paul's family, who rarely gets together with everyone. I said that at the rate we're going, we won't see them all until Paul's mom dies, and that's a good 30 years away! We'll see if we can't make it happen much sooner. (Seeing everyone, not the funeral.)


In any case, here are a few pics. The first one is of me and Paul -- we just looked nice and had to document the moment:
This is the cute baby I got to play with all weekend (Paul's sister's daughter Emma):
This is my favorite picture from the entire weekend -- the flower girls (cousins London and Raychel) trying to catch the bouquet:

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Mommy Moment

So, the kids started school today and I've had one of those moments you just don't want to have as a mother ...

Last week at the park I ran into a mom of one of Tyler's soccer teammates. When we told each other who our children had for teachers, she informed me that she'd heard that Tyler's teacher was, well, "blunt." I think that's how she phrased it. I'm not TOO concerned about blunt, so I mentioned it to a neighbor who also has the teacher, and she said she'd also heard that the teacher was stern. I can handle stern.

So, we went to the school and met his teacher. She seemed nice enough, although I was still cautious. I figured I'd give her a chance and see how it went. Then I ran into a lady from my ward whose opinion I greatly respect. I feel like she has her head on straight and isn't going to be unfair about her opinion of someone. So, I asked her about this teacher. She said, "I would switch him out of the class." She said that this teacher was a yeller. She said that although her older child was fine in the class, she knew her next child wouldn't be, because he got more answers wrong. That made me sick to think a child would get into trouble or feel intimidated because he got the wrong answer.

Still, I didn't want to go on someone's opinion since Tyler is a laid-back little boy. Every time I asked a new mom, they gasped when I said who he had. I heard she was impatient with kids. That didn't help. However, Tyler's buddy was in the class with him, so I was determined to try to make it work out.

When I came home I called Paul and explained the situation, and he agreed that maybe we should give her a chance. So, I tried to concentrate on other things I was doing, but I couldn't. I went and prayed and said I was going to leave Tyler in the class and to help me feel calm about it. I didn't. I felt sick. I didn't know if it was paranoia or inspiration, but I figured it didn't matter -- I had to do something. Besides, even if HE would have been fine in her classroom, I don't know that I would have been fine sending him there everyday. I knew that if there was a problem (even if the problem was with another student and Tyler got intimidated about that), then I wouldn't know about it until I saw personality changes and it was way beyond where it should get. Tyler's not a big communicator about what happens at school, so that worried me.

So, I called the principal to express my concerns and see what she had to say. I thought maybe I'd feel better after discussing it with her. She wasn't at the school, but they said she'd be back in 30 minutes and would call me. I waited an hour and tried again. No answer. I waited 15 minutes and tried again. No answer. I then hopped in the car and drove to the school. The doors were locked and the office was dark.

At this point I decided that I had to change his teacher; however, I also knew that I wouldn't be able to reach the principal until morning (the day school started), and that worried me. I called Paul to tell him that he needed to let them know he'd be late at work the next morning, because I needed him to stay with the kids while I spoke w/her. Then late last night I realized that they may take the concern more seriously if both parents came in. So, this morning we called my mom to have her come watch the kids for us. (Thanks, mom!)

I'll be honest: I was nervous. I didn't have any firm reason why he should be switched, just an impression based on what I had heard. I didn't know how this was going to go. The principal said that in the past this teacher had had a problem, but that she had made great strides in her classroom and that last year there was no yelling. I said she couldn't know that for sure, because she wasn't in the classroom full-time. She said the other teachers could hear, though, and that it had improved dramatically. I said that was great, but that I still didn't want my son in the class.

I explained to her that I wanted to give the lady a chance, but that I felt wrong about it. I even mentioned to her that I prayed that all would be well and then felt sick and that I couldn't ignore that. I said I would even feel comfortable telling the teacher that my gut told me they weren't a good fit for each other, and that I would imagine she would understand that. The principal said that the teacher was going to be devastated, and that she would think it was the principal doing it to her. I told her to make it very clear that it was our decision. She said it didn't matter, that the teacher would hold her accountable. I said that maybe the teacher should seek professional counseling if she had those types of issues. (These aren't my problems to deal with. Although I do feel bad for offending the teacher, I can't let that ruin a year of school for my son!)

The principal also said that the district was going to be on her case because the class sizes are so skewed (since so many parents request not to have this particular teacher). I said that I guess that was a problem she needed to figure out, because that sounds like a problem with the teacher.

Paul's main point was that it's not about the teacher -- it's about the student, and this wasn't right for our student. She finally consented, although I could tell she was very annoyed at having to do so. I mean she almost didn't want to talk to us anymore. She said this teacher is all about what's right for the students. She said she wished parents would stop gossiping, because this teacher really had changed. I told her that was wonderful, but that it still wasn't right for my son this year. I reminded her again that I had wanted to give the teacher a chance, but I totally felt wrong about it, and you can't ignore a mother's intuition or inspiration, and nothing the principal told me would change how I felt after praying.

Anyway, she made the change, and I asked if she wanted me to talk to the teacher. She said no, that this was probably going to upset her and possibly put her in tears. I said I was sorry about that, but that I had to do what was best for my son.

I did feel bad that we left Tyler's buddy in there since they had looked forward to being in class together. I really did feel bad for the teacher, too. I imagine I'd be a teacher much like her, which is why I'm not a teacher! :) Anyway, I quickly found out that a neighbor boy happens to be in the class Tyler was transferred to. Turns out there are a few girls from our ward in there as well. The neighbor boy's mom said she didn't know whether or not to say anything to me when she found out Tyler was in the other class, because she didn't want to worry me. I'm glad, though, that I found out before he started school!!! My brother had a horrible second-grade teacher, and it affected his whole schooling after that. My mom said she still regrets not changing him, and I don't ever want to feel that way. The longer I left him there, the harder it would feel to change him.

Needless to say, we went back to school for Tyler to meet his new teacher (who hadn't been informed about the change -- oops!), and I felt great about her. It's her first year teaching, which I LOVE! New teachers are so enthusiastic and genuine that I'm very excited for him to have this experience. I'm grateful that I will have peace of mind about sending him to school now, too.

These are the kinds of experiences that just are frustrating, because you don't want to look like a worrier or over-protective or pushy. However, we as moms have to be our kids' biggest advocates and do what we feel is best for them, even if we can't explain why we have that feeling. I had an impression last month that I didn't even realize was an impression until later, and following through on that thought protected my son from a predator. I am eternally grateful for the gift of inspiration through the Holy Ghost that can be ours when we live worthily. I don't know how anyone is a mom without seeking that gift!

Monday, August 18, 2008

Demolition Derby

This weekend my parents took us to a demolition derby. We thought our boys would like it, and turns out we were right. What we didn't expect was how much fun we had watching those cars smash into each other!

The first round was very exciting, and two of the cars couldn't be separated after the end of the round. They had a tow truck and a huge tractor trying to get them apart. The chain on the two truck broke trying to pull it so hard. It took them a really long time to get those two cars apart. Turns out one of the two took second place overall.

Oh, and speaking of scoring, I had never been to a demolition derby, so I didn't realize the cars had to have a qualifying hit (to a car still "in") every two minutes. They apparently also get points for being more aggressive, but since I wasn't in for the pot of money I didn't find out all the rules (I value my spine/neck strength more than the $3,000 first prize).

I was shocked at how long some of those cars kept running! You would see a tire completely on its side (barely attached) and the driver would gun up the car and still go around smashing into other cars. That part made me laugh a lot. We had one car that somehow ended up on top of the cement barricade unable to get down. That was another tricky one for them to figure out at the end of the round.

Here are some pictures from the fun. Look at the trunk on this car after his first round. What amazed me even more was that he came back for another round! (I couldn't believe how often I thought a car was out for sure, and then it would re-appear for another round!)

This is the car that ended up on the cement barricade (gotta love the paint job):

For whatever reason, I really wanted this purple station wagon to win. Can you imagine a purple station wagon winning a demolition derby? Obviously, that wasn't the case:

This is how they got one car out of the arena after its round:


Most of the cars were pretty beat-up to begin, so I knew this car looked just way too pretty at the start:

Here's what it looked like more toward the end, although I think it still did another round after this one:

And really the pictures don't tell the full fun of the event, so here's a short video clip to help you see the real action:

video

We finally left since the kids were starving and the concessions were sold out. From what I understand we missed the best two rounds -- during the Powder Puff competition one of the girls flipped her car upside down on top of another one (nobody hurt), and the last round had to have the jaws of life come get a guy out. (He hurt his shoulder but was okay otherwise.) I don't know how those guys don't get hurt more, especially since many of them weren't wearing shoulder seatbelts, and none of them had windshields to protect them from flying metal! (We did see one with chicken wire, which I thought was a good idea -- although then he had to get into his car through the window instead of the windshield. :)

On the way home I kept thinking we should ram into everyone who got in our way. Maybe it's a good thing Paul drove, huh?

Overall we had a blast and think next year we'll go and leave the kids at home. :) I highly recommend you join us!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Modesty

Our prophet and church leaders constantly remind us (and especially the youth) how important it is to dress modestly -- no tummies showing, shirts that aren't low-cut or tight, shorts that are long enough, etc. I never thought I had a problem with this until I became a mom. Is there an outfit anywhere that is childproof enough to be modest? I get dressed for church and feel like my clothes are nice and modest. Then I get to church, and the kids start crawling all over me -- the skirt comes up and the shirt gets pulled down. I have yet to find an outfit that can stay modest despite what my kids do to it. Sigh ...

Anyway, I read a recent Ensign article about dressing appropriately that really struck me. I haven't been tempted with dressing immodestly, but the other topic it addressed -- dressing appropriately -- is something I can definitely work on. The article mentioned how we're on the third or fourth generation of dressing more casually, and that we really need to remember not to dress too casually. When going to the temple, we are attending the Lord's house and should dress as such. When we are going to church it is to worship the Father and the Son, and we should dress up to show respect to them.

I am the first to admit that I am a VERY casual dresser. Part of it is that I am lazy (I can't stand to iron or put on nylons), and part of it is that I really dislike shopping and spending money, so I don't have very many nice things to wear. I think it doesn't help that as a stay-at-home mom it often doesn't matter what I wear since 1) nobody will see it; and 2) it's going to get ruined by the kids anyway. However, this article will definitely make me more aware of how I dress so I make sure to wear things that are respectful, not just comfortable, to church. I'll keep the comfortable to the days I can stay in my jammies. (As if there are any of those days! :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bedtime

My kids start school next week! I just can't believe the summer has flown by so fast considering we didn't really do much of anything except for enjoy some lazy days of summer.

In any case, the whole getting into a regular routine again is always a struggle. Tyler starts the school year not liking to be gone so much, because it doesn't leave him enough time to play. (I quite agree! :)

However, our biggest problem -- at least since moving to Utah -- has been to get them to go to sleep. How do other parents do it? My boys don't come out of their room with requests (water, snack, etc.), but they stay in their room and talk and play and whatever they can so that their eyes don't close. I know they need the sleep, because when they're up late they are CRANKY the next day. However, they don't seem to just be able to go to sleep on their own.

I give threats (no Game Cube the next day, etc.) that I follow through on, but they don't seem to make a difference. I have tried letting them read in bed before they go to sleep. I have tried telling them that if they stay quiet I'll come down and give them an extra kiss. All of these worked for a short time, but then they went back to staying up and playing. Anyone got any brilliant ideas there? The only things we've found that works are to 1) sit outside their door and tell them repeatedly to be quiet. (We've rarely used this option as neither of us want to go sit on the steps outside their door); or 2) Separate them. (This option makes Becca REALLY annoyed, because we have one of them go lay on her bed until Zachary is asleep since he's the first to fall asleep.)

In any case, I'm not looking forward to starting the whole process again in a couple of weeks, but my kids are all looking forward to going back to school!

Monday, August 11, 2008

Did you see that?!?

The Olympics are off to a great start! Last night was the swim of the Century! We watched the men's relay teams prepare as the commentators told repeatedly how the French team said they would crush the Americans. The commentators said he wanted the USA to win, but that he just didn't think it was possible. He said he had looked at everyone's past performances, their times, how they're doing now, and he just couldn't see a way that the USA could win.

Little did he take into consideration that THIS is the Olympics!

Not only did the USA BARELY sneak past the French for the gold medal, but they did so by coming from behind and shattering the world record time -- four full seconds faster than the previous record! THAT is what we always hope to see in the Olympics, and our men's swim team didn't disappoint!

I was also happy to see the Korean swimmer win a gold. (Don't know his name or remember what event he swam.) Anyway, during the last Olympics he fell in and was disqualified before the race even started. He was so embarrassed that he ran out of the venue before the race was even over. I love that he then won gold this year to make up for not even getting to swim in the last Olympics. (I know he's not American, but I have a heart! :)

And don't you love the "old" women competing this year? There is a lady competing in gymnastics for Germany who is 33 years old. This is her fifth Olympics! Isn't that incredible?!? And the "old" swimmer for the USA. She not only asked for extra drug tests beyond what the Olympic committee requires, but she has allowed them to store a vial of her blood so that if a future test becomes available to test for specific drugs they can test her blood to make sure she really didn't take any enhancing drugs. I hope she does great!

Tyler and Zachary are a little confused for the whole thing. For football we cheer for BYU, but not Utah (we stick to college football). For basketball we cheer for Utah Jazz, but not other teams, unless we're watching college in which case we're back to cheering for BYU again and not Utah. Now with the Olympics we're cheering for the USA. Tyler keeps asking, "Did Utah win?" He knows the difference (after us explaining a bunch of times), but he still says Utah instead of United States. I think he just forgets the long name of this country of ours. :)

Anyway, we LOVE the Olympics and hope they're as much fun for you and your family. (BTW, my boys said if I ever decide to go to the Olympics that they'll come cheer for me and give me a massage. Score! What should I compete in? ;)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Time off

I think one of the first things you learn as a mother is that you NEVER get a day off. Even if you've worked thousands of days straight without a break. Even if you've put in long hours evenings and weekends. Even if you've accrued thousands of "IOUs." Even if you're sick and your husband is taking care of the kids -- somehow they still sneak away from him and interrupt your rest.

So, Thursday night when my sister offered for my boys to sleep at her house, I was very excited. No reading stories with them? No brushing teeth? No saying, "Stop talking and playing or [insert consequence here]" a bunch of times tonight? Okay, I guess we'll let them. :)

I should clarify two things here before going on: 1) Paul is actually the one who reads stories and brushes teeth with the boys. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE him for this as it is the first time all day I feel like I get a real break from the kids; and 2) We do love our children and enjoy spending time with them ... even though this blog may feel otherwise. (Just imagine working in a job you really enjoy, but working in that job all day every day, including evenings, weekends and holidays. Oh, and your co-workers are immature and throw tantrums regularly.)

Needless to say, we were gone much of Thursday night, so we didn't fully appreciate not putting the boys to bed. We did, however, enjoy picking up Blizzards from DQ and knowing we wouldn't have to hide them when we got home. :) Oh, and I was up much of the night with Shayla, who has a fever, so I guess it wasn't truly "time off," thus proving my point of us moms not getting time off.

Last night, however, was another heavenly moment: The Father & Sons campout. Paul took the boys and headed up the canyon with my dad and my sister's boys. I went out to dinner with my mom and sisters, which was a lot of fun. (I forgot my camera -- can you believe that?) Anyway, I still had to come home and take care of fevered Shayla, but she actually slept most of the night, thus making me feel like I had the night off.

Sidenote, since I'm great at getting side-tracked: Watching TV at night without Paul just isn't the same. Usually when I fall asleep during a show and wake up just in time to see the ending, he pieces together what I missed. :) I'm still trying to figure out the show I saw (or rather missed) last night. Also, commercials for scary movies are a lot more scary when my hubby isn't home!

As I sat down to type this blog my boys arrived home sooner than expected, so I'm back on the clock ... as if I ever REALLY got off the clock. Oh, and speaking of the clock, when do I get my paycheck? ;)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Go USA!!!

We LOVE watching the Olympics and are very excited that they start tomorrow! As you can see on the left, Paul added a medal tracker. (We're hoping it works right since he couldn't resize it.) Anyway, as of now it counts down the time until the Olympics. After that we hope to see lots of medals for our dear, beloved USA!

The economy

I hear over and over in the news all the horrible things happening with "the economy." We haven't seen any issues relating to the economy, so are we just being blessed, or is the media exaggerating things?

As for the job-hunting market, we had no problems there. Paul put his resume on Dice and Monster and started getting calls immediately. In fact, he interviewed with just two companies and both offered him positions. He is loving his new job, and it was even better that it was so easy to get. In fact, as of last week we were still getting calls asking if he was available to consider a new job. (Yes, he's a wanted man. :)

As for the housing market (at least in Utah), Paul and I have been waiting for it to level off. The market took off like you can't believe shortly after we moved here, and it's just now leveling off. Paul has said for the past two years, "The market can't keep going like it is!" Sure enough, he's right. From what I understand, the prices of houses haven't really dropped, it's just taking longer to sell houses now. You wouldn't guess that from my neighborhood -- just in the last month we've had three new families move in so quickly that the families moving out weren't prepared on where to go. They had anticipated the houses to take longer to sell, so one family had to move into a temporary place until they find a new home themselves!

As for the airline industry, according to a good source (Hil & Lee, can I call you a good source?), there is a decline/layoffs/bad economy every 9 years. Lee has been a bit annoyed with this cycle, because it meant he would be trying to get a job with the big-shots right as it's the "lull." Seems pilots know this, so why don't the news media? Probably because they don't look for trends, just current stories. (Reporters are overworked and underpaid, so why look for trends instead of the easy story? :)

In any case, with Paul's new job that pays more and has cheaper, better health insurance, we are feeling rich. (Just as a little side-note here, I'm guessing our version of "rich" isn't nearly as much as anyone else's opinion of "rich" -- in fact, I still won't even buy my boys new school clothes. But we are being blessed so much that it makes us feel richer, I suppose. :)

We figure that as long as companies have computers (FOREVER) then Paul will be able to find a job no matter what the economy really does. Phew! :) We hope you're all faring as well considering groceries and gas prices are enough to make anyone scream! (BTW, in Utah we're still at $4.07/gallon. What's up with that?!?)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Frenemies

I heard a new term the other day that I think is great, so I thought I'd share: Frenemies. You know, women who pretend to be your friend on the surface, but are really anything but.

I don't do well with fakeness, and I get annoyed at "surface" relationships with people who should be more (MIL in mind here). What's the point? If I don't like someone, I'm not rude, but I'm definitely not sugary sweet until I'm out of their presence. Fortunately I haven't had too many frenemies I've had to deal with.

Anyway, the co-author of Friend or Frenemy, tells us how to spot a frenemy:

• After spending time with her, you feel emotionally drained and exhausted.
• When you make plans with her, you hope that she cancels.
• When you call her, you feel relieved when you get her voicemail.
• You tend to communicate with her over email in an effort to avoid face-to-face conversations.
• She brings out the worst in you, often making you feel competitive and bitter.

I had to laugh that all of them are about "her" or "she." Are men better than we are? Or just not as "creative" as women? ;) I hope none of you have any frenemies, but if you do at least you now know what to call them.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

PTA

If you're big-time into PTA, you may not like my attitude in this post ... Mind you, I'm okay with the PTA, I just won't pay to join it. (Any of you local people reading my blog may be confused by this statement since I'm on the PTA executive board this year. I suppose I should back up ...)

So, every year (three now) that I've signed up kids for elementary school, they've asked if I'd like to join PTA. And every year I've said no. I repeatedly tell them that I'm happy to help with anything, but I'm not going to pay to volunteer. What they don't hear is that I don't want to support an organization that I don't always agree with. (A bit ago the new national PTA president had a gay son and tried to get all kinds of gay acceptance and programs in schools. Let's face it -- PTA focuses mainly on elementary schools, and although I disagree gay clubs and such at the high school and jr high level, I am STRONGLY opposed to anything like that at the elementary level.) In any case, from that point on I decided I wouldn't join PTA and fund an organization whose values may at times be questionable.

Anyway, at the end of last school year the PTA president of the jr high realized that I was a willing helper, so I got called to help with several events and activities, which I readily did. They asked if I would be on the board this year, and I said, "Sure -- as long as I don't have to join PTA." Of course, that's an obligation they require. I mentioned that I didn't want to fund the national organization, and that I was happy to help if I didn't have to do that. They left it there and I thought I was off the hook.

Then I received a call from the elementary school's PTA. (Yes, this was news to me -- you don't join THE PTA. You pay to join the elementary school PTA AND the jr high PTA if you want to be members of both. Isn't that even more ridiculous than joining once?!?) Anyway, they asked if I would be on their board next year. I gave them the same schpeal about not wanting to fund an organization that I didn't agree with, but that I'd be happy to help with anything they need.

The lady apparently was desperate, because she asked if I would pay the part that stays at the school if she paid the part that went to national PTA. (You pay $5 to join, and $3 of it goes to HQ. What does our local school get for that $3? Pretty much nothing but a bunch of materials parents don't really care about.) If you can believe it, I agreed. She said I would be the publicity VP, and that I should be excited, because it was an executive position. Little did she know that nothing about PTA is really exciting to me ... except maybe the thought of shaking it up ... (I guess they should be really glad I'm too lazy/tired to shake them up right now. :)

Some of these ladies at the meetings act like they're in a professional career, and that somehow the PTA is the most important thing ever! Really, I don't care. I think it's nice that we arrange things with the teachers and get parents involved. However, I don't think it takes the PTA to arrange that. I think we could have a generic parent teacher organization to do the same thing -- and keep the $5 all here in the school.

Mind you, I haven't brought up this idea yet as I've been to only two meetings. I'm just giggling inside at the thought of bringing it up and imagining the glares I'll get, especially from one lady in particular who is VERY passionate about the PTA. If I decide to do that at a board meeting at some point throughout the school year, I'll have to let you know how it goes.

For now I'll enjoy my "reduced-rate" executive position of doing publicity. Their idea of publicity is not at all what I imagined it would be, so I'll make sure to shake that up first. Fortunately we have a cool president this year who seems very lax about how things will happen. I'm hoping at some point I'll see the point of paying national dues, but I'm guessing I'll keep leaning toward a PTO and keep pondering how to get that to fly. Worst-case scenario? They call me an insurgent and kick me out of the PTA and NEVER ask such a rebel to be on the board again, :) in which case I volunteer for free as usual.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Flash photography

A little P.S. to the concert post ...

During the introduction they asked that nobody videotape the concert or use flash photography. A couple of people apparently couldn't resist or thought their flash was turned off. For the most part, though, people were respectful of the instructions.

However, those around me just thought I was horrible! I pulled out my camera and took a bunch of pictures. (At the beginning I was just messing around with my ISO, not really trying to take pictures of the performance.) Anyway, people kept whispering their disapproval. "She's got a camera!" "Look what she's doing!" You'd think I was a terrorist on an airplane! Needless to say, if they say no photography I'm willing to comply. Ditto if they say no FLASH photography -- but that still means you'll see my camera in my hands ready to shoot, san flash.