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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Flat Stanley and a little creativity ...

So, I went to parent-teacher conferences and was handed a new project for Tyler to work on: Flat Stanley. For those who have read the book, you know that Stanley is flattened and therefore able to mail himself to various places around the world. (This is what I've been told as I've never read it myself.) Anyway, for the project Tyler drew a picture of himself (Flat Tyler) and we're supposed to mail it to family and/or friends around the world.

I don't have a problem with that. However, what I do have a problem with is what they're asking my family/friends to do once they receive this project. They want people to write an entry in the enclosed travel journal (in both English and their native language), send photos of local sites, and send it on to a new place to visit. However, since this will take a while, they also ask people to send postcards immediately so we can know where Flat Stanley has been.

Is it me, or does this seem to be asking a lot?

Yes, I have friends in a variety of states who could help. I also have friends in the Caribbean and Switzerland (who could then send it to Iran), and my sister-in-law's family is in Korea. However, do I really want to subject any of these people to so much work when it's not even their own child?

Maybe it doesn't seem like much to others, but I'm lazy about printing pictures or going to the post office, so both would feel like an inconvenience to me.

Would it be terrible to cheat a little? What I'm thinking of doing is asking people to e-mail me photos of local places and write something I can print to include or copy into the travel journal. Yes, this would be a little more work for me, but it is MY child who is doing the project. Then I can go develop all the pictures at once to include. And then I can keep the info for when other children down the line are asked to do this project ...

So, I think that's what I'll do. And instead of calling it cheating we'll call it being creative. Just don't ever mention this use of the word creative to any of my kids ... :)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Clearance is awesome

So, yesterday morning Tyler needed help snapping up his jeans. Yes, they were a bit tight. I asked if they were too uncomfortable to wear, and he insisted they weren't. Whatever. So, I decided I would head out and buy him some new pants to wear.

I went to Walmart guessing that's where I'd find my best deal. More than $10 for little boys' jeans? Sigh. Everything seems to be going up in price. So, I bought him three pairs, which ended up being more than $30. Sigh again.

Well, later I needed to run to Kmart for something. I almost never go there. I don't know how the one here in town stays in business, because there is hardly ever anyone there. In fact, I had my prescriptions there for a long time, because there was NEVER a wait. (I've since transferred them to Macey's because of their drive-up window.)

Anyway, when we went in we discovered that they had racks and racks of boys' pants on clearance. Hello! I got distressed wrangler jeans with cargo pockets for $4. I got athletic pants for $2.50 (and the matching jacket for $3). I got khakis. I got cammo. I got a total of six pairs for Tyler for only $21. Yes!!! I also got two pairs for Zachary and three pairs of size 10 for Tyler to grow into.

Last week Paul and I stopped by Kmart to return something and happened upon their gym shoes on clearance for $5. I got a Spiderman pair for each of the boys and a Dora pair for Shayla. I think I should stop into Kmart a bit more often ... Maybe this is how they stay in business -- people come in to get their AWESOME clearance and then tell their friends. I love great deals! :)

Needless to say, I've got to make a trip to Walmart to get back a bit of money ...

Oh, and did I mention that DREYERS GIRL SCOUT COOKIE ICE-CREAM is out! YES!!!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Happy Memories

I discovered this week that sucking on a cough drop while falling asleep isn't the best idea in the world. No, I didn't swallow it and almost choke (that apparently would have been a quieter scenario). What DID happen is that my hubby woke me up four times telling me that I was breathing funny and that he couldn't get to sleep because of it. I didn't point out that he snored horribly for TWO YEARS, during which I got very interrupted sleep. (The good news is that it was a side-effect of a medication. I told him to ask the doctor about it, but the doctor acted like Paul was silly and that snoring wasn't a side-effect. Good to know ... except that when he went off the medication his snoring stopped as well. So glad once again that a doctor knew more than a little ol' housewife.)

On to brighter topics. I am finally diving into a project I've wanted to undertake for quite a while: typing my mission journals. It has been a blast! I cannot believe how many things I had forgotten or how much fun I had on my mission. When I think back I remember a few outstandingly (is that a word?) hilarious stories and people who made a real impact on me, but I had forgotten SO MUCH! Needless to say, I'm only a third of the way into my mission and I'm LOVING all the reminiscing I've been able to do. It has also motivated me to get back in touch with a few mission friends, which is how I found out that my first area (Alma, Georgia) just got their own building that will be dedicated next month. Hooray! No more meeting in a little section of a strip mall ...

I feel so blessed to have had so many wonderful experiences. I still won't say I'm grateful for the tough ones, but my mission really was an awesome experience -- especially for the spiritual growth I had. Of course, I'm so glad I kept a journal so I can be reminded of these experiences over and over and over.

And if you're wondering -- no, I don't currently keep a journal. Now that I have kids I'm really bad about that. However, I have taken to "scrap journaling" where I scrapbook pages about my kids, the things they say, and my thoughts on life. It's basically a journal with pictures, and I'm LOVIN' it ... when I get time to do it.

That reminds me, maybe I ought to scrap a page about my favorite former snorer ... ;)

Oh, and on the scrappin' note: Bad news from my FAVORITE scrappin' pub, Simple Scrapbooks. They're going under and only have three issues left. I'm so sad about it ... but not nearly as sad as my friend Autumn who was just asked to be on their board about two weeks before they got news of their end ...

Once again, the "economy" claims another good thing. Let's not mention that about six months ago Simple Scrapbooks changed their website into a site that now STINKS so nobody goes there anymore. Couldn't be that, right? Couldn't be that advertisers don't want to pay to advertise on a site that is dropping numbers faster than the numbers on Wall Street. Nope, just the economy ... Amazing how bad management can get away with blaming the economy and people just accept it. Sigh ...

Thursday, January 22, 2009

I'll take it

Yes, as I mentioned, I feel like we are drowning in clutter. However, upon further reflection, I'll take it! We've had several difficult and depressing scenarios played out recently among family and friends, so I've decided I'll stick with my clutter problem and not worry too much about it. Mind you, I'm still trying to get rid of some clutter, but if that's my main focus at points throughout the day, I'll be happy that's all it is.

Now I have a question for those of you with older kids, especially older girls. Do you just let her walk out of the house looking like a fool? Okay, "fool" might be exaggerating. But what about styles (sometimes self-invented) you just don't think look good? And I'm not talking about bad trends. I have seen lots of looks on my 14-year-old I just don't like (the bun nearly killed me when it got as big as her head), but I kept quiet. My sister says to just let her go no matter what. Do you all agree? These are definitely things that don't really matter that much, but I also don't want other kids her age laughing at her behind her back. I don't have any reason to think that they are, except that I laugh sometimes after she leaves. Am I horrible?!? She's the only girl I've seen wearing THREE layers of shirts EVERY day ... and usually at least one of the layers matches nothing else she's wearing. (I'm horrible -- I get a kick every time she straightens them again and again to make sure you can see all of the layers.) Again, one of those dumb things that I'll be happy to "worry" about ...

Monday, January 19, 2009

I'm drowning in clutter ...

So, once again I am going to try to de-clutter my house. This is never easy for me, because I can't stand to throw things away that bring back good memories or make me smile. I have letters people have written to me years ago that I just can't throw away. I do feel like I'm turning a corner since I'm realizing that it's okay if I forget some things -- even if they do make me smile when I think of them.

I had to laugh at my little sister when I asked if she wanted a program from when she played her flute in an orchestra on Temple Square. She basically threatened my life if I ever again offered her "sentimental crap" that she may have long since forgotten about. So I guess the trick is in the chucking -- and then know you'll forget about it and just be fine.

Anyway, we feel like we have outgrown our house, so we're considering our options. (Bad economy = great interest rates. :) Anyway, we've decided to get our house ready to sell, and then even if we decide to add on, we like our house better. This is where the de-cluttering topic comes in. Even worse than that, we have to re-paint the entire house.

Yes, the paint job here has driven me nuts since we moved in more than three years ago. However, at the time we were antsy to get out of my parents' basement, and I was pregnant anyway. So, we decided to live with it. Now we realize nobody else is probably going to look past such horrible paint. (Doesn't help that the people tried to touch-up with paint before they moved out and used the wrong color in some rooms. Oops!)

So, we're preparing to paint. I didn't ever think I'd be excited to paint. Mind you, I've never painted anything in my own home. I've helped countless other people paint (and, yes, I'm going to remind them all of that when I'm ready to go :), but I've never painted my own place. It actually is very exciting to think I can be done with these terribly painted walls and too much green in our room. (Yes, every wall is green ... a good color of green, but too much green!)

I know some people paint often, but for me this is HUGE. Next thing you know I may actually look into doing some decorating ... but don't hold your breath. :)

Anyway, we look forward to more space, and that's also a motivating factor. Yesterday we sat down and planned out exactly how we would add on if that's the option we choose. (Our plans would add on 1,200 s/f to our 2,000.) It's exciting either way. Of course, I've been holding out to add on since we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE our ward, neighborhood, schools, location, etc. However, I realize what a pain that would be, and looking around at other possibilities is a little exciting.

In any case, we're not going to do anything (except for the painting) right now, but it is fun to contemplate ... In the meantime, hope that interest rates continue to drop to stimulate more pocketbooks than just our own. :)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Shanghai Shayla

So, I went to get Shayla from her nap a few days ago, and I was greeted by this:

Yes, she had emptied her bookcase and put every last book on her bed. I'm imagining she did this before her nap as there is barely room left for her to sleep. Glad to know my little cutie loves to "read" so much before she goes to bed. A favorite of all our kids is Blue Hat, Green Hat (Sandra Boynton), and I'm loving how Shayla says, "Oop!"

Anyway, on a date last weekend Paul and I passed an Asian store in the mall. We couldn't resist picking up one of the cute dresses for Shayla. (My brother saw her in it and started calling her Shanghai Shayla.)

I guess the red hair doesn't really fit the Oriental look, but we think it's cute anyway. We tried to get several cute pics of Shayla, and then she started goofing off:

And "fixing" her hair:

Apparently then she got really into the spirit of the Orient and got a Ninja sword to go after Zachary:
Could she get any cuter?!?

Monday, January 12, 2009

I agree with Facebook ...

So, I recently set up an account on facebook. This was mostly just to see some of my siblings' pages. I don't like it nearly as much as I like blogging, but it's kind of fun (and crazy) to have one place where friends from childhood, high school, college, mission, and single life in Seattle all merge in one place ...

In any case, there was a story on the news here recently that I thought was a very local story ... until I saw a friend from Seattle mentioning it on her page. It's about a woman who posted a picture of her nursing baby, and Facebook removed the photo after others complained about it. She is saying it's totally natural to nurse, and there should be nothing wrong with posting pictures of it.

Uh, I don't want to see you nursing. Now don't get me wrong, I'm fine with nursing, even in public, when it is done discreetly. However, I don't want to see any more than I have to! My question is this: Why would she WANT to post a picture of her nursing infant on a facebook page? And why don't some women think modesty rules apply when it comes to nursing?

Yes, breastfeeding is natural and good for babies. However, going to the restroom is natural and good for my body, but I'm NOT going to post pictures of it on facebook ... and I'm sure you'll all thank me for that! (There are reasons there are doors on bathrooms.)

Anyone who believes it doesn't affect people to be exposed to what I'll call blatant breastfeeding hasn't talked to my dad. He is STILL disgusted that he was exposed to a blatant breastfeeder when he was something like 10 years old. Hello, that was 50 years ago. Nothing natural about remembering something so horrific that you hoped nobody in the world knew you were related to the blatant breastfeeder.

In any case, I'm glad Facebook pulled the picture. Although some people didn't find it offensive, others don't find nudity, bad language or violence offensive. I'd rather they play it safe than sorry, even if a few people don't like it. After all, if nobody thought it was offensive it would still be posted now.

(On that note, I encourage you all to speak up when something is offensive so that things like that aren't left because nobody said anything ...)

Friday, January 9, 2009

I have a little confession ...

My confession is this: I'm the laziest person you know. Seriously. If you've seen my house you have probably guessed that. I am not about to clean after the kids go to bed; therefore, my house never quite gets as clean or uncluttered as I'd like it.

I was thinking about my laziness this morning as I tied my shoes. I realized that I haven't worn these shoes in a while, because I prefer to not have to tie my laces. Yes, imagine the exertion and effort it takes to bend over and tie shoes! However, for that purpose alone I didn't wear these shoes at all last winter. And that's precisely why I wear sandals all summer (this also knocks out the step of having to put on socks. Socks with sandals? Those people have their own issues ...).

I actually have shirts I haven't worn in YEARS because they require ironing. I keep thinking I should just iron them or get rid of them ... and yet I don't do either. Maybe one day I'll whip them out and people will think I've bought a whole new wardrobe. (Good thing button-up shirts really don't go out of style ... not that it would stop me from wearing them if I did get around to ironing them ...)

I can often be found eating ice-cream while watching the Biggest Loser. We've joked about the irony of it. However, if any of you are also fans of the show, I'm glad to say I wasn't doing this during Tuesday's episode when trainer Bob said their show doesn't do us any good if we're just sitting and eating ice-cream while watching it. Paul and I just laughed ... and then considered dishing us up a bowl. (We didn't ... probably because we were both too lazy to go dish it out. :)

In any case, I just thought I'd mention how much I enjoy being lazy. I mean I REALLY enjoy it. It's a shame, though, because I rarely get the chance to be really lazy. I have decided that when my youngest goes to kindergarten, though, I'm sitting there for a week watching movies and doing NOTHING. Anyone's welcome to join me ... as long as you don't expect my house to be clean when you get here. (That'll happen the second week ...)

BTW, on an unrelated note (except for the ice-cream comment), Dreyer's Girl Scout Samoas ice-cream is out!!!!! I LOVE that stuff ...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Argentina is so beautiful!!!

These falls behind us are Iguazu Falls in Argentina. Aren't the beautiful?!? I bet many of you didn't realize that we went to Argentina last month ...

Turns out we didn't. However, my little sister Rebecca and her hubby Rob did. Amazing what you can do with 10 minutes and Photoshop when you get e-mailed a picture like this:

Anyway, these falls are AWESOME! I can't believe her amazing pics. Seriously, way more beautiful than pics I've seen of Niagara Falls. I won't post them all, but I will post one more from this tropical paradise ...

Random happenings ...

For whatever reason I can't sleep! That hardly ever happens to me, so it annoys me when it does. Zachary is still having nightmares, so he crawls into bed with me for a short time before I kick him out and he sleeps on the floor. Only problem is that he moves around a lot and grinds his teeth in his sleep. Grrr ... Besides it waking me up, I then lay there getting annoyed at all the dental/orthodontic work we'll have to pay for because he grinds his teeth ...

We just had a huge snowstorm! I peeked out my office window to see how much snow there was, and I couldn't see out the window because of the foot of snow in front of it. Last night Paul's normally 30-minute commute took him 1 hr 40 minutes. Ouch! When he called to tell me he was coming home, I told him I couldn't talk since I was trying to make dinner for new neighbors. Then when he didn't come and didn't come, I kept wondering if he was in an accident. I wasn't overly worried, but I did think a few times that I'd feel really bad if he died coming home and the last thing I said to him was, "I can't talk now!" I also then thought about how I'd resent these new neighbors if THEY were the "cause" of my not getting to talk to my husband for the last time. Sigh. What is it with mother brains that just worry about ridiculous things like that?!?

The good news is that Paul had new tires and windshield wipers for his difficult commute home yesterday. Yes, he went to get his car registered and failed the safety & emissions test because of his bald tires and bad windshield wipers. Oops. I knew we needed new tires, but not THAT bad. I'm glad I didn't realize how unsafe his car was ...

There's nothing like trying to drive on snow. Yesterday taking the boys to school I realized there was no way I was stopping at a stop sign near our house, so I just hoped nobody was coming the other way. Of course, a school bus was coming the other way! It was still far enough back that I just glided out in front of it and turned out of its way. Then the snowplows only plowed one lane, so it was like going over a single-lane bridge where you're trying to communicate with other drivers about who gets to go when. (Most of the time we both went half-way into the snow drifts to get past each other.) And then to have the snow drifts all the way across the road ... I'm sure this is making all of you REALLY miss Utah ... or wish you lived here yourself. :)

More randomness ... Last week we took Shayla back to the doctor. She was still being a bit cranky, so I was afraid her ear infection hadn't cleared up. Unfortunately our normal pediatrician was off, so we had to have one of his colleagues. This colleague asked if she was sleeping well. We mentioned that she wasn't eating normally, so some nights she was also waking up hungry. He then lectured us about not rocking her to sleep, etc. so she would learn how to go to sleep on her own. This just annoyed me. Her waking up hungry wasn't what we wanted his "medical" advice about. We value sleep and have NEVER done any of those things with any of our kids, even our oldest! In any case, I think I'll stick with my pediatrician.

Well, my alarm just went off, so I better go start my day ... I am so NOT a morning person ...

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Build a Bear Workshop fun

Thanks to G&G Palmer my kids got to finally go to Build a Bear Workshop. My sister has taken her kids several times, and although my kids love the bears, I told my mom there was no way I'd ever pay the outrageous prices to go there. However, Grandma knew the kids would love the experience and gave them each a gift certificate for Christmas.

The kids started off by choosing their bears. Wouldn't you know it -- the only zebra was $25. Wammy from the start. But our boy Zachary LOVES zebras since very few things in life also start with Z. Good thing Shayla doesn't care which bear she gets so we picked the "cheap" $10 bear for her.

Tyler was first to stuff his. They actually get to step on a pedal to start the fluff machine. Then when they get the bears to the "feel" they want (more or less stuffing), they get to put in a heart. The girl had them rub it on their legs so their bears would run fast, on their hearts so their bears could feel their love, and on their heads so their bears would be smart. Then they stuck them in and the Build A Bear people sewed them up. Here is Tyler rubbing the heart on his heart:

And in case you've never been there, this is the stuffing machine. The stuffing tumbles around in there until the kids step on the pedal (like on a sewing machine) to put it in their bears:

Zachary was so intently watching to make sure she didn't mess up on his new favorite zebra:

Shayla was a bit intimidated by the stuffing machine. She just kept staring at it with a glazed-over look on her face. We finally convinced her to try it out, and once she saw her bear "come to life" (that is, get stuffing instead of looking as flat as roadkill), she was content:

Zachary picked out what clothes he wanted even before he picked out his zebra. They were right where we walked in. Tyler saw a costume right away for Iron Man, so that's what he chose. (Turns out Iron Man's mask doesn't fit bears well, so he switched to a Batman costume.) Here they are getting their animals dressed:

Shayla was just so happy the whole time we were there. Here she has picked out the shirt she wanted (with Disney princesses) and some pants with little glitter gems. She was so happy she was swinging her arms around while I put them on:

Once her bear was dressed, though, it was back to staring intently at the stuffing machine: (Notice the cute rainbow shirt in the background that I TRIED to get her to pick.)

Once their animals were done they also immediately took them to "play" together. (You'll notice Tyler in the background still dressing his Batman bear.)

At the end they have computers where the kids get to name their animals. You can see all four kids enjoyed this part ... although creating new names was about as difficult for them as it is for us when we're expecting!

We actually didn't realize how YELLOW the store looked until we saw our pictures. Had I known I wouldn't have worn yellow, too. As it is, I think I blend well ...

When we went to the checkout, we pulled out the gift certificates from G&G. Funny thing ... Each card had a sticker on it that said if we used it by Jan. 4 we'd get 10 percent off. I was hoping that would help, which is why we went when we did. Turns out the girl took off 10 percent ... then another 10 percent for the next card ... then another 10 percent for the next card ... then another 10 ... then another 10. In any case, this meant we had more than $20 left on the cards, so we let the kids go back and get shoes for their bears. Becca also got a pair of glasses that match her own pretty well.

Shayla's little bear is named Alexa. That's because I got to help her name it, and I love that name. I have yet to convince Paul that it's an adorable name for a daughter, but then again, if he ACTUALLY agreed to it now it'd probably curse us to have boys for the rest of our kids. :) Anyway, once Shayla had shoes for Alexa, she insisted the bear should be able to walk:

Zachary couldn't think of a name for his zebra. I was trying to think of Z names, and all I could think of is Zeke. I think he has a Beanie Baby already named that, but he liked it, so we used it. Of course, now that he agreed to it he's asked me at least 50 times, "Now what is my zebra's name again?" Oops ...

Tyler also couldn't think of a name for his bear. So, Paul convinced him it really was okay to just call him Bat Bear. So, his name is Bat Bear Brown. Try saying that one fast five times! Of course, now he thinks he has to go to Build A Bear again to make Bat Bear Brown's secret identity. Sigh ...

Becca named her bear Emma. She loves the name, and we have a cute niece named Emma. Anyway, since we came home she's been planning additional outfits she can make for her little bear:

Once we got to the car and checked the receipts we realized about the 10 percent plus 10 percent plus 10 percent bit. I said to Paul, "I almost feel like we ripped them off. Then again, we just paid them more than $30 per stuffed animal. So, who ripped off who?"

Anyway, we had a blast and loved every minute of it:

Thanks so much Grandma and Grandpa!!!