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

Monday, March 30, 2009

Such a talented girl

Becca has been working to earn her Young Women recognition by completing various values and projects. She completed her last project just shy of turning 15, which happens in two weeks.

For those of you not familiar with the young women projects, well, you should be impressed. :) To earn it, the girls have to complete six goals and then a 10-hour project in each of seven values (faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, and integrity). The church just added an eighth (virtue) that girls will need to complete as well. Our program leaders said if girls finished before March 31, then they wouldn't need to do the requirements for virtue. However, Becca decided she would just go ahead and do it anyway, and she has finished all of her projects.

Some of the things she did for her projects included earning money to buy her own scriptures and then marking relevant scriptures in the colors of the YW values; writing personal stories of lessons she has learned in her life wrt choices; serving at the library for 10 hours; learning more about drama by participating in the Joseph play last year; sewing her own modest clothing; and sewing heirloom-type things, including embroidering a handkerchief she used at a temple dedication and sewing a blessing dress for a future daughter.

She's done a great job on these projects, and she's found some great talents that will serve her well throughout life. (I should also mention that Becca also just brought home a 4.0 GPA. Yes!)

Anyway, I thought I'd share some of her work in these pics. She made both this shirt and skirt:

And here is the blessing dress she sewed for a future baby. I keep telling her she just cursed herself to have all boys. ;)

My favorite part (and not just because it was my idea :) is the flowers on the front. Aren't those cute? We had to buy clear thread to sew them on. I never knew they made clear thread ...

Way to go Becca!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

65 Roses

Anyone heard of the disease 65 Roses? Actually, that's the nickname for Cystic Fibrosis -- often kids can't say Cystic Fibrosis, so they call it 65 roses.

I'm happy to say that they have started newborn testing for CF in Utah beginning in January of this year! Hooray! It's such a simple test, and they hadn't been doing it before now. My niece, Lauren, would have a MUCH healthier lung had she been diagnosed as a baby ... or anytime sooner than she was. Needless to say, she's doing well now, but we continue to hope and pray for a cure.

One of the things we do to help is raise funds for research. There is a walk every year where we raise funds, and one of the ways we're doing it this year is to sell stuffed animals. They are soooo cute! And we're giving them to anyone who donates a minimum of $5. I plan to get one for each of my kids for Easter.

I'm VERY excited about this one:

Yes, it's a bear dressed as a pig. She had to know when she ordered it that it would be perfect for Tyler. (The costume can come off of the bear's head, too.) She also has bears dressed as a horse, a cow, and a duck. She also has dogs (sharpei-looking) dressed as a dalmation, a tiger, and a giraffe.

Here are some others for donors ...

Hot dog:

65 Roses:

BYU bear: (We also have U of U, but you'll have to buy those from my sister!)

I love these kitties with yarn all over them:

Very soft kitties:

"The tassle that's worth the hassle":

Medical bears:

Cheerleading bears (I think she just got red -- not for UofU, but for Springville High School):


Let me know if any of you locals are interested in donating and getting any of these cute animals for your kids. :)

Friday, March 27, 2009

Gas bill

I'm not normally one who gets excited about a bill. I mean, who likes receiving and paying bills?

However, I have to say I was really happy yesterday when I received my gas bill. Our first month in the house, the bill was more than $150. I figured something had to be wrong, so I called the company, and they said that was consistent with the figure for the same month in the prior year. Are you kidding me?!?

The next month we noticed that our water heater was leaking, so we figured that was the cause of the high bill, and sure enough it hasn't been that high since. However, about 1 1/2 years ago we installed a programmable thermostat, and that has helped tremendously! We weren't always on top of turning the heat down, but with the one we can program, we can set it to switch automatically at pre-determined times.

The nice thing is that I can keep it kind of cool (freezing out Marilee whenever she comes over :), but if I get cold I can bump it up a few degrees, and then it will go back to its normal programming at the next time interval we programmed. It's awesome! (And I don't say that just because it's so sleek and has a stylus ...)

Needless to say, we started equal pay, a program where you pay the same amount every month of the year for your gas. Obviously that's very helpful in budgeting. Anyway, when we started the equal pay program, we were paying $79/month.

Since getting our new thermostat, it has continued to drop every time they re-adjust the amounts. In our bill yesterday they had adjusted it yet again. We're now paying $39/month for natural gas! Yes, it's cut our bill in half!!

Consumer reports said that it would take something like five years to recoup the costs of a programmable thermostat, but I guess we're the exception -- it has already paid for itself and then some. Yes!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Color Blind

So, out of the blue one day Tyler said to me, "Mom, our new president doesn't have brown skin."

I asked him why he said that. He said, "Because I looked at him and his skin isn't brown." I asked why he even though to look at his skin, and he said it was because I told him that our new president was black. (Oh yeah, that talk about this being a big historic moment probably pointed out something that my kids wouldn't have noticed otherwise ...) My response? "Okay. Whatever you think."

I decided not to try to clarify, because I don't want him to look at and notice differences in people, especially racial differences.

I was worried for a moment earlier this year when Tyler complained about having to sit by a little girl in his class who I know is black. Of course, that is all I know about her, so that was my first fear when he said he didn't like her. When I asked for clarification I found out the real reason: She kept taking his pencil and wouldn't give it back. Totally "legit." :)

I don't know why I was even worried as my kids have never shown any sign of knowing a difference in skin color. And why should they? Although Utah County is primarily white, my kids have cousins who are half Hispanic, and others who are half Asian. (Truly if you consider how pale I am, I can be considered a color beyond white! ;)

Anyway, I hope my kids never outgrow being colorblind.

Jury Duty

I'm not sure if I mentioned that once again I was selected for jury duty. This is my third time in about six months, but I have yet to go to the courthouse. I figured I'd be called off again the night before having to appear, which is what happened in October and February.

Because of that I just kind of forgot about checking to see if I needed to go. I didn't remember until 8:15 a.m. that morning, so I quickly called to verify that I had been called off. Guess what -- I hadn't! So I checked the letter to see when I needed to be there ... 8:30. Dang-o!

I called Hilary and she said she'd be over as quickly as possible. (THANK YOU, Hil!) I brushed my hair, got dressed, grabbed a fiber bar (which I ate in the courtroom against rules -- mostly b/c I saw the court reporter eating something, too), and ran out to her car. I got there by 8:45, which impressed me -- especially since I couldn't find a parking place and had to park across the street and run in. (Fortunately I didn't park in the next door parking, because I saw a lady putting a ticket on the last car as I left the courthouse! Mind you, I had Hilary's car, but I don't think she would appreciate that. :)

After going through security and verifying that my phone didn't have a camera, I went up to the fourth floor where I was directed. Nobody was there. The doors were all locked. I was afraid I'd missed my chance and didn't want to face the fine I'd have to pay for missing jury duty ...

Fortunately just as I was wondering what to do a bailiff came out to see if anyone else had arrived. He took me through a room and down a floor to the court room, where the rest of the potential jurors were watching a video about jury service. Once I was there and realized I could relax, I was actually intrigued by the whole process and how we'd be selected.

After the movie we were randomly assigned to seats in and in front of the jury box. I was seat #7, which was one of the comfy swivel seats in the jury box. I've never seen seats THAT comfy on a TV courtroom ... but I've also never watched real court on TV.

When the defendant walked in I was surprised to find it was a man probably in his 60s. I thought, "What kind of trouble would this guy get into at this age?" I sat there and wondered what kinds of questions we would get to see if we were biased about the elderly. I thought about how horrible it would be to be in a trial, because once you walk in as the defendant, all of us are looking at you to see if you LOOK guilty. (I better never be on trial, because I look ornery and guilty all the time! :)

Anyway, the judge entered, thanked us for our service, and proceeded to find out who was missing. Another lady named Denise wasn't there -- glad it wasn't me, because he told us those people will be fined and possibly jailed (which I doubt ... but I don't even want a pointless fine!). The judge had us sworn in, then put up a list of questions he had us answer, like where we live, education level, what we do for a living, if we are married, what our spouse does for a living, if we have children - how many and their ages, if we belong to any clubs or organizations, any magazines we read regularly, favorite movie, favorite book, etc.

Going through 30-something jurors took a bit of time, but it was interesting to see what kind of variety we got. The judge then asked the attorneys to introduce themselves and their clients, as well as any lawyers in their firm to make sure there was no prior association of any of the jurors in any way. Then he explained this was a case dealing with a car accident and the plaintiff was seeking damages from the defendant.

So, on he went with car accident questions, which applied to you, any of your relatives or close friends: Have any of you been to the chiropractor? Anyone had a negative experience with a chiropractor? Anyone been injured in a car accident? Anyone sued someone else for damages due to a car accident? Anyone been sued for damages in a car accident? Anyone feel it is wrong for someone to seek damages after an accident?

Whenever someone raised their hand, they were asked for further clarification. I mentioned that Paul and I had been to the chiropractor due to being rear-ended. I also mentioned that Paul had been in a serious accident as a teen, had more than 20 surgeries and has permanent damage. I also had to mention that Paul was sued by someone for damages for aforementioned accident. When the judge asked what the results were, I had to confess that I didn't even remember! (Turns out the statute of limitations ran out before the lawsuit was started or something like that ...)

Anyway, then the attorneys and the judge left the room to discuss the jurors, and they called out a few here and there for clarification. Then they came back in, thanked us again, and said who would remain on the jury. I noticed that a few of the people who were selected hadn't even said a word after their introduction. Interesting how they based it all off of knowing a few things like their education level, favorite media and family status!

Although it would have been interesting to sit through a trial and watch the whole process in action, I was grateful to be released after only two hours since it was a two-day trial. It's interesting to think, though, why did they pick who they picked? Needless to say, it was a first for me to be sworn into a court of law.

I wouldn't mind if that's my last experience in a courtroom. And if I do go back, I sure hope it's as a juror and not a plaintiff or defendant!

Oh, I forgot to say that as I rushed out on the kids I tried to explain that I was going to be one of the people who could say, "Guilty" or "Not guilty." Apparently my description wasn't exactly clear. When I got home, Zachary excitedly asked, "Mom, did they say you were guilty?"

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Nurturing Yourself

I went to an enrichment a while back about nurturing yourself, and I now realize I never shared the fun things I learned. Our leader was a neighbor of mine who is a professional life coach. I thought it was an interesting class, so I thought I'd share it with my friends, most of whom are women who may not nurture themselves enough. :)

Elder M. Russell Ballard said, "Sisters, find some time for yourself to cultivate your gifts and interests. Pick one or two things that you would like to learn or do that will enrich your life, and make time for them. Water cannot be drawn from an empty well, and if you are not setting aside a little time for what replenishes you, you will have less and less to give to others."

There you have it straight from a General Authority! We were then asked to write down 10 things we like to do, and 10 things we feel good after doing. (In case you're wondering the difference -- There are things I love doing like scrapbooking and playing games with my kids. However, there are others -- like cleaning or exercising -- that I don't like doing, but I always feel good after I do them.)

From these things, she said to pick one thing, and schedule it in -- pick a specific day and time you will do this thing, and then give yourself a reward for actually doing it. She said it is also a lot more effective if you make yourself accountable to someone -- if I you know you have to report back to someone, you are more likely to do it.

President Gordon B. Hinckley said, "In all of living have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured." He also said, "Find a purpose in your life. Choose the things you would like to do, and educate yourselves to be effective in their pursuit."

Then we were given homework -- answering the following questions:
  • If you had three months to live, what would you wish you had done or experienced?
  • If you had a year to pursue anything you wanted to, what would it be?
  • If you were transported to your 85th year and were asked to review your life, what would you say?
  • If money were no object, what would I be/do/have in my life that would make me happy? (MAID SERVICE for me!!!)
  • If I could be with people I chose, what would y relationships look like?
  • If the functional part of my life was taken care of, what interests would I pursue?
  • If someone else saw me living my ideal life, what would they describe?
  • If I took classes in areas of interest or need to improve, what would the class topics be?
Anyway, I hope you all take time to make sure your well is full, and that you nurture yourselves once in a while. Reading friends' blogs is one of the things I do to get a little nurturing -- and something that I can do quickly and easily without interruptions from kids. Murphy's law: As I went to type that sentence Shayla started grabbing my arms and saying, "My turn!" Ha! Nurturing over ...

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Get me to the church on time

My family has a habit of arriving at church just as the meeting is getting started. I don't feel terrible about this, but I have been a little annoyed with myself that we're not getting to church before it starts. It seems that no matter how much time it seems we have, somehow we arrive right as it is starting.

So we had a little family meeting to discuss the issue and we made a plan to get to church on time. This morning we implemented the plan perfectly, and ... sure enough we got to church on time! Actually, we got there 10 minutes early. I was very happy ... at least for a moment ...

Now let me preface this with a warning that I guess I was feeling a little Laman/Lemuel-ish today. I was so happy to get to church on time (and actually get a seat on a bench!), and then a member of the primary presidency said, "Would you like to teach Tyler's class today?" Apparently there was a mix-up with the sub they had planned, so they needed a last-minute teacher for this class of seven 7-year-olds. Ugh! And to say, "Would you like to ..." I was honest. I said, "No, but I will."

Normally I really don't mind teaching primary here and there. But for whatever reason, today I was just annoyed by the whole thing. I love the teacher for Relief Society on the fourth Sundays, so I always look forward to her lessons, and now I had to miss it. I also had to miss part of what the Sacrament meeting speakers said so I could read through the lesson I was to teach.

By the end of church I was having a much better attitude, especially when I taught the kids about baptism and thought about how close Tyler is to being baptized. I think he'll be one of those lucky kids who gets to be baptized on his birthday. We're only five months away from him turning eight, and I am so excited to see his excitement grow over the next few months as he prepares. This class had only one girl who had been baptized, and it was fun to see them all talk about how soon they would be able to be baptized. We talked about Jesus' baptism and how they can follow His example by being baptized by someone with the priesthood of God.

Although I ended up with an okay attitude (definitely not a great one, but not nearly as ornery as I started), I may have to re-think the getting-to-church-on-time plan ...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Mulan pics ... finally ...

Yes, Becca's Mulan play is finally over! It was a lot of hard work for the students and teachers, and it was great. We weren't surprised, because this is our fourth play to attend at the school, and they have all been phenomenal!

We have a lot of fun watching, because in addition to Becca, there are about 10 other kids from our neighborhood in it. And Becca is good friends w/the boy who was the leader of the army (you know, the one whose song Donny Osmond sings in the Disney version?). They got a kick out of him getting that part since last year he was Joseph in Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat, which also has an obvious Donny Osmond tie ...

Anyway, I decided to dress Shayla in her cute little Oriental outfit for the play. I even put her hair in a bun so she'd fit right in. Isn't she cute?

Well, I wanted a pic of the two cuties together, so I went to find Becca once we arrived at the school. They had just started the cast meeting, so I told Shayla she could just walk in and give Becca a kiss. I figured that a few people would notice and think Shayla was cute, but I didn't think it would go anything beyond that. Boy was I wrong!

When Shayla walked in, the ENTIRE cast said, "Awwwwwwwwwww!" She gave Becca a kiss, which everyone also responded to with a unified, "Awww ..." I could hear the girls saying how cute it was and the boys were smiling. Oops -- that's one way to interrupt the meeting. :) The teachers thought she was so cute they were going to take her picture. However, Shayla doesn't enjoy the spotlight like her big sis, so she ran right back out of the room back to me as soon as the kiss was over. We got TONS of comments about how cute she was at the play -- just walking around with her was a joy -- I could hear people just whispering and pointing her out to each other. It was cute.

Anyway, I DID get a pic of the two cuties together:

Becca's kimono was supposed to be a solid color, but we missed those instructions even though it was underlined. We were more focused on what colors it was NOT supposed to be, so we missed the solid part. However, I think hers looked better than a lot since it was just a slight pattern of butterflies and swooshes, which would be perfect for a kimono. She got lots of compliments on it, which is great since it was such a pain to sew! :)

Here are a couple of pics of Becca and her friend Georgina in action:

Becca played a double role. In addition to the ensemble chorus, she was also a soldier. They never have as many girls as boys in the play, so girls often get to play boy parts. Here she is being a tough soldier:

Here she is with her buddy Madison, who I mentioned above. He was good as the army leader, but I can't tell you how great he was as Joseph! We still need to buy the tape of last year's performance. (Spanish Fork Cable Network recorded it so we could watch it on TV, too.)

And another pic of Becca w/her good friend Georgina:

Becca was very emotional when the play was over. This was her third school play at this school, and I think she realized how much fun she's had and that it's now all over at this school. I'm sure she'll have just as much fun at her high school as well!

Almost forgot!

I almost forgot the excitement for Paul's birthday! I came home from scouts Tuesday just in time to get Paul's birthday dinner started. The boys asked if they could write in the driveway with chalk so they could surprise Paul when he got home. I said sure.

Then 10 minutes later Becca said, "Denise, look outside!" I thought the boys had written something really cute she thought I should see. However, when I looked out and saw this:

Yes, that's probably the entire volunteer fire department! I took this from Shayla's bedroom. I was totally surprised as I hadn't heard any sirens ... at least that I remembered. (We hear them often enough going up the canyon that if I heard them I probably just ignored them.) I felt terrible, because I had just driven past that home no more than 10 minutes before and waved to this neighbor as she was arriving home and getting her little boy out of his car seat. I hadn't seen any smoke or anything.

Apparently their laundry room caught on fire while she was out. (I'm guessing lint maybe was stuck in a vent or whatever that problem is? Anyway, they had the same dryer we have, which is relative new, so that is a little worrisome!) I still don't know how bad the damage is, but I feel for them -- they just re-painted and re-carpeted throughout the house. After our painting I know how mad I'd be if we had a fire! (Not that anyone is happy about a fire ... but you know what I mean.) I think I'll go over and offer my paint services for anything they need to fix ...

Oh, and the boys did draw cute things on the driveway for Paul to see when he came home ... and they enjoyed seeing a few fire trucks while they were doing it. (Maybe I should teach them to come in and get me when a fire truck is at the neighbor's!)

Birthday attempts ...

I've never made Paul a fun cake for his birthday. I figure he's too old to care about a cutesy cake, so usually I just make one with green frosting and call it good. One year I did make skor cake, which is to die for, but other than that he just gets good ol' plain cake.

So this year I thought I'd surprise him. I decided I'd do something from Dr. Who, which is this strange British show he likes to watch. I tried to decide between the Tardis (Dr. Who's time-traveling machine that basically looks like a phone booth) and a Dalek (a freaky-looking robot that goes around saying in a monotone voice: "Exterminate! Exterminate!"). From my descriptions, you can guess which seems a bit more exciting -- the Dalek.

Here's what they're SUPPOSED to look like:

So, yeah, how exactly am I supposed to make that? I decided to try anyway. Becca's friend who watches Dr. Who w/her family (her dad is British) suggested to use whoppers for the bumps. Perfect. As for the black around the top? I decided to use air heads, because there was one episode with a red Dalek. Yes, I'm mixing them up, but here's my final product:

Oh, after I finished taking the picture I wrote in frosting around the bottom: "Exterminate Age 32!" I was impressed w/my work. Therefore I was heartbroken (although not too terribly surprised) when Paul had NO IDEA what it was supposed to be. Sigh. So much work ... At least the boys have enjoyed eating the cake. I think it looks so disgusting to Paul he hasn't even had a piece. Oh well. At least now I know the cakes with green frosting will get eaten -- and are a lot less hassle! :)

And did I mention we got Paul a binary clock for his birthday? Here's what it looks like:

In case you're wondering, the time on this photo is 2:08:54. Because it includes the seconds, it's constantly blinking. And as you could tell from Paul's geeky poem, this gift was just perfect!

Oh, he also got a few seasons of Everybody Loves Raymond on DVD. If any of you have missed my fav all-time episode of Ray throwing Deb into the fridge, we've now got it on demand. :)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Geeky Poem

A friend sent me a link to this poem that I find extremely hilarious.

< > ! * ' ' #
^ " ` $ $ -
! * = @ $ _
% * < > ~ #4
& [ ] . . /

The translation:
Waka waka bang splat tick tick hash,
Caret quote back-tick dollar dollar dash,
Bang splat equal at dollar under-score,
Percent splat waka waka tilde number four,
Ampersand bracket bracket dot dot slash,
Vertical-bar curly-bracket comma comma CRASH.

PS: If you couldn't tell this post was from Paul

Happy Birthday, Paul!

Happy happy birthday, my love! I don't have anything witty or charming or love-filled to say to you, but I do hope you have a most wonderful day!!!

For his b-day, Paul got a binary clock ... and even better, a case of Henry Weinhardt's root beer from his pal Scotty (who brought Paul a gift even though it was his own b-day!). Anyway, Paul LOVES stuff and has been happy every night since. :)

Anyway, I recently came across a list of questions about Paul. Hilary asked him a bunch of questions for my bridal shower (back in y2k), and then she asked me the questions to see how many I would get right.

I thought it would be interesting to see how I did now, just a few months after our 8th anniversary. Turns out that although I know him better now, I apparently know him less. :)

Here are our answers ... then and now ...

Favorite color:
Paul (y2k): Green
Denise (y2k): Green

Paul ('09): Green today ... I change all the time
Denise ('09): Green

Favorite breakfast cereal:
Paul (y2k): Crunch berries
Denise (y2k): Grapenuts

Paul ('09): Frosted Shredded Mini Wheat
Denise ('09): Frosted Shredded Mini Wheat

Favorite pet:
Paul (y2k): Oreo, who had a brother named Butterscotch
Denise (y2k): Oreo

Paul ('09): None
Denise ('09): Oreo

Favorite boys' name:
Paul (y2k): Cyan
Denise (y2k): Tyler

Paul ('09): Tyler AND Zachary (so I don't leave one kid out)
Denise ('09): Paul (for the same reason :)

Favorite hobby:
Paul (y2k): Biking
Denise (y2k): Computer stuff

Paul ('09): Computer games
Denise ('09): Computer games, specifically Civilization IV

Favorite hymn:
Paul (y2k): #2 - The Spirit of God
Denise (y2k): The Spirit of God

Paul ('09): #2
Denise ('09): #2

Favorite computer part:
Paul (y2k): Motherboard
Denise (y2k): Pointing device

Paul ('09): CPU
Denise ('09): Memory

Favorite girl's name:
Paul (y2k): Shayla
Denise (y2k): Theresa

Paul ('09): Shayla
Denise ('09): Shayla

Favorite day of the year:
Paul (y2k): St. Patrick's Day - my birthday
Denise (y2k): Christmas

Paul ('09): My birthday
Denise ('09): Thanksgiving

Favorite scripture:
Paul (y2k): Ether - "weak things made strong"
Denise (y2k): Same

Paul ('09): Ammon defending the flocks
Denise ('09): Nephi ... "I will go and do ..."

Favorite Christmas song:
Paul (y2k): Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer
Denise (y2k): 12 Days of Christmas

Paul ('09): Rudolph
Denise ('09): Chipmunk song

Favorite vacation spot:
Paul (y2k): Walla Walla or Key West
Denise (y2k): Florida

Paul ('09): Disneyland
Denise ('09): Cruise anywhere

Favorite item to buy at the grocery store:
Paul (y2k): Root beer
Denise (y2k): Root beer

Paul ('09): Henry Weinhardt's root beer
Denise ('09): Root beer

Favorite number:
Paul (y2k): 4 or 11 (4 is favorite of the two)
Denise (y2k): 4 or 11

Paul ('09): 256 or 2 to the 8th power (the largest number represented with an 8-digit binary number)
Denise ('09): 17 (date of b-day)

Favorite board/card game:
Paul (y2k): Monopoly
Denise (y2k): Monopoly

Paul ('09): Train game (Ticket to Ride) or bean game (Bonanza!)
Denise ('09): Train game (Ticket to Ride - Europe version)

Favorite food:
Paul (y2k): Biscuits and gravy with sausage cooked the Southern way
Denise (y2k): Pizza

Paul ('09): Denise's homemade egg rolls or sweet and sour meatballs
Denise ('09): Biscuits and gravy. But of food he actually gets? Cowboy burritos or Salisbury steak deluxe.

Favorite season:
Paul (y2k): Fall
Denise (y2k): Summer

Paul ('09): Fall
Denise ('09): Fall

Biggest pet peeve:
Paul (y2k): "When people point to the monitor and call it the computer"
Denise (y2k): ???

Paul ('09): People saying Windows ME was the best OS ever (ie, people pretending to know more about computers than they do)
Denise ('09): Whining kids

Favorite kitchen appliance:
Paul (y2k): Toaster - "because I know how to operate it well"
Denise (y2k): Quizinart

Paul ('09): Toaster
Denise ('09): Griddle

Where want to live:
Paul (y2k): With Denise
Denise (y2k): In this area (Northwest)

Paul ('09): I like the Northwest
Denise ('09): Spanish Fork, baby!

Favorite possession:

Paul (y2k): Jetta
Denise (y2k): Jetta

Paul ('09): Mountain bike
Denise ('09): Nintendo DS

Sunday, March 15, 2009

So different

I've had a few experiences this week that just make me grateful for where I'm at and scared for what my kids will have to experience in their lives!

I spent many hours at the junior high school last week. I helped with the book fair a couple of days, and it was also Becca's school play, Mulan (more on that later). So, between the two, I spent hours at the school watching students and teachers.

I noticed at the book fair that one teacher brought in several of her classes. She was diligently going around to all of the students watching them and making sure none were taking anything. I was shocked when they left and she made them all pat themselves down. If they had a lump in their pocket she made sure they pulled it out to show her. (Glad she wasn't my jr high teacher as I sometimes kept feminine items in my pockets!) I was just thinking it was so unnecessary -- kids need to be shown trust! I felt like I'd rather have one person steal something than humiliate the whole class like that. (I was relieved when the parent next to me said, "I don't think that's necessary." I was glad someone else felt the same way!)

It was so easy to see that these kids are at such a difficult age! You could see some acting a particular way because they thought it was tough or cool. I guess as parents we just forget what these kids can go through all day! As I went one night to pick up from the play, I noticed a group of girls sitting in the back laughing and not paying attention. I noticed right away they were acting that way to impress each other. One of them pointed to her cousin in the play and said, "But really, she IS cool." The others laughed, to which the first responded, "Yeah, she is a nerd!" How sad!

The cast -- especially the chorus of extras -- came in often from the back where these girls were sitting. When they insulted one of the cast members right before she went on (to her face), I told them if they were going to be rude they should just leave. Grrrr! I could tell it hurt the girl's feelings, but she was too timid to say anything to these intimidating girls. It made me so sad for those who are too timid to stand up for themselves! (And actually even that anyone should have to!)

I've never worried about Becca in this regard, because she is very strong-willed and outgoing. I think no matter how rude and "scary" any 14-year-old is, they just aren't going to be scary for Becca after she's feared for her life with drug addicts coming in and out of her house. She is also willing to stand up for anyone, no matter how unpopular, which is a great gift she has. Once in guitar class when a boy knocked over a bunch of guitars and stands, other kids started laughing. Becca stood up and said, "Stop laughing and help him!" She then went up and helped him, which silenced the others in the class.

I sure hope my other kids get this fiesty courage to stand up for right, but I know I was a lot more timid than that in junior high school! I don't yet know how bold my other kids will be in these types of situations, so this gave me yet another fear for their futures!

Another "different" moment we had this week was going to the jail for fingerprinting. (We're starting the adoption process for Becca -- more on that later, too -- so we have to get criminal background checks.) We went into the office, and the tension there was so thick it was just silent. There were a bunch of people paying bail -- I guess Saturday morning is busy with people bailing out people who partied a little too hard Friday night ...

When it was down to us and a family who said they were also there for fingerprinting, we started chatting. Another couple came in for something with the jail, and it was so sad to hear their heart-breaking story about their 25-year-old who is addicted to drugs and in jail for shooting someone, and their 20-year-old who is on a mission. They raised them the same way, and yet one made good choices and the other didn't ... and the one who didn't is affecting the whole family to the point the 20-year-old thinks he should come home from his mission. It's heart-breaking how addiction makes people so selfish and dumb!

Anyway, when it was finally our turn (after waiting for more than an hour), we stumped the sheriffs. They generally do fingerprinting on a computer now and print out cards for people (like the family ahead of us applying for visas). However, our form had a specific place it wanted our prints, and they weren't used to this. They called their Sergeant to come do it since it was so unusual. He then had to track down an ink pad since they hadn't used one in so long. Then he made Paul practice before doing it on the form since he hadn't fingerprinted anyone that way for so long. It was hilarious!

Paul got a kick out of where they took us to do the fingerprinting -- their "entry-way" where they bring criminals in. The walls were padded, and the benches had rings with handcuffs attached to them. I must say that was a sight Paul and I had never experienced before ... and hope to never again! :)

In any case, being in these two places (which may not seem very different in their intimidation factor for some kids!) made me grateful that I survived jr high and that I NEVER have to go back!!!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Cute kiddos!

So, we stopped by the Asian food store Saturday to pick up a few items for egg rolls and a new recipe for Thai noodles. I generally try to stop by when I don't have all the kids, because it is a VERY small store. However, we were nearby and I decided I'd rather not have to drive back to Provo. (Yes, sometimes those 15 minutes feel like a lot more! :)

Paul said he wonders if they get curious to see a couple of two white people in the store. In the years I've been going there, I've only ever seen one other white couple, and they spoke some type of Asian language ... unlike Paul and I who are VERY white and VERY unable to speak any foreign languages, let alone an Oriental one! I think the owner picked up on that fact and was very surprised when I asked for a 50-lb bag of gluten rice. He said, "It 50 pound!" We said yes. He said, "It sticky." We said, "Yes, and we love it!" He seemed very surprised but rang us up.

He looked at our three youngest kids and said to Paul, "These kids all yours?" Paul answered him that yes, they were. He then smiled and said, "Oh, good job!" He then pointed to Shayla and said to the Asian woman behind Paul, "You need have one like this!"

I love it when other people think my kids are as cute as I do. :)

If anyone has any great Asian recipes to try (or Mexican, or Italian, or anything ... :) send 'em my way! We love new recipes, and I like to expose my kids to a variety of dishes so they're open to new things. I can't imagine how they won't LOVE the Thai noodles with peanuts in it, but we'll see ...

Oh, and a little note: If you are making any type of Asian food, the foods at the Asian store REALLY are tons cheaper than at the supermarket. I buy my soy sauce, curry, egg roll wrappers, etc. there. I've never priced tofu at the supermarket, but at the Asian store it was $1.40 for a large package of firm tofu I needed for my new recipe. Green onions are 33 cents per bunch, nice chopsticks are 10 pairs for 49 cents, etc., etc., etc. If you're ever going to buy a rice cooker, this is also a good place to go! (We actually steam our rice, so we don't use a rice cooker.) And if your kids DO come with you, they have fun treats for the kids that are totally new and different ...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Line upon line

I remember entering the Missionary Training Center and hearing various other missionaries talk about the moment they knew the truth of the gospel. You know, that moment when they were hit with the answers to their prayers. I almost felt silly, because I hadn't had one of THOSE moments. Although I had been taught from an early age and prayed regularly, I hadn't ever had a moment or experience when my testimony was solidified.

So, I decided I should get one of these experiences before I headed out to teach others about the gospel. I mean, how could I testify to them of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and the gospel of Jesus Christ if I had never had a confirming moment to refer to? Well, I knelt down to pray and my answer was, "You already know this." I felt silly for trying to dictate to the Lord how He should answer my prayers. Yet I was comforted to know that I DID know it, even though my testimony came line upon line and therefore wasn't as obvious to me as others' experiences were for them.

I heard a quote in Sunday School a few weeks ago that confirmed that even a prophet of God received his testimony this way. President Joseph F. Smith shared how he received his testimony:

“When I as a boy first started out in the ministry, I would frequently go out and ask the Lord to show me some marvelous thing, in order that I might receive a testimony. But the Lord withheld marvels from me, and showed me the truth, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, until he made me to know the truth from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet, and until doubt and fear had been absolutely purged from me. He did not have to send an angel from the heavens to do this, nor did he have to speak with the trump of an archangel. By the whisperings of the still small voice of the Spirit of the living God, he gave to me the testimony I possess. And by this principle and power he will give to all the children of men a knowledge of the truth” (Gospel Doctrine, 5th ed. [1939], 7).

I am grateful for those little promptings I receive every day that sometimes I don't even recognize as promptings. I know I give myself a lot of credit for thoughts and ideas that are really inspiration. Anyway, I just enjoyed this quote and thought I'd share it. I hope I can press forward in such a way that my testimony continues to grow here a little and there a little until I also know from the crown of my head to the soles of my feet.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009


Well, the sad news from our lives is that my 2-year-old is giving up naps. Sigh. I know I should be grateful they lasted this long (Tyler stopped napping at 24 months), but I sure had hoped we'd reach three years old with them. Now when I put her into her room for naptime, she plays. Yesterday Winnie the Pooh came out with sparkly shoes on his feet. I'm sure Christopher Robin would have saved the poor bear had he been around ...

My mom's surgery went well and she's almost completely healed. Her eyes looked something terrible when she was first done, which scared Zachary and Shayla. (Tyler just thought it looked cool that his grandma looked like she'd been in a fight with a sumo wrestler.) One of her stitches was hanging down below her eye for a while, and a lady in the temple told her that her fake eyelash was falling off. Oops. People are so helpful ...

I guess I should apologize if I offended any neighbors with my complaining about my car being junk. If you wonder why I should apologize to my neighbors for complaining about MY car, I'll explain. You see, within half a block of my house in any direction (okay, excluding north), there are four other silver Dodge Grand Caravans. There are even more in the houses in between that are Caravans of different colors, and others with minivans of different makes and models. But what are the chances of having FIVE of the exact same car within about 5 houses from us in various directions? Craziness. That's why I had to get an antennae ball on my car (sorcerer Mickey) so my kids would know WHICH silver minivan is theirs.

So let's change the subject from bad cars to good cars. I know I've mentioned Paul's awesome Toyota. We bought it back in 2001 and it just had its first repair (other than one belt being replaced years ago). He decided to check out its gas mileage, which he'd never done, and found that his car is getting 37.5 miles per gallon. Not bad, eh?

Anyone else notice that even Cheerios are expensive lately? What's up with that? I mean, can you get any more plain of a cereal?!?

I finished my online traffic school. I'm just now getting over the nightmare of all the pictures it showed to me of various accidents. Really, is graphic material supposed to help me focus more on the road? Anyway, one part that made me laugh (to the point I had to write it down so I could quote it accurately) was, "Do your part to make your next traffic stop safe and pleasant for everyone involved!" Uh, how exactly is getting a ticket pleasant in ANY way for me? If you want to make it even the slightest bit pleasant for me, then serve the citation with a candy bar! (Reese's Crispy Crunchy bar, if you please.) I'm not sure exactly how to make it pleasant for everyone involved if I'm receiving a ticket. Anyone found it pleasant to be cited?

And I'll end with some great news: I looked into Liz's advice of just lowering my car insurance's deductible to $100 to get free windshields whenever we need them. (Glass companies waive the $100 fee, and it isn't counted as a claim on your insurance.) Well, I checked into it, and it does cost more -- just over $2 more per month for BOTH cars to be lowered to that amount! I can't believe it's so small!!! Especially with Utah's new law, I'd encourage you all to check into it. I only wish the advice came four windshields ago ... today's bill was $170. Ouch! Of course, now that we have the lower deductible I expect no cracks for years to come. But that's okay -- it will take me four years to spend as much in extra insurance as it did for that ONE windshield ... and as I mentioned, this was the fifth one we've replaced in just three years. I'll probably cheer next time I get a crack that needs replacing ...

Anyway, I think my random thoughts have ended. I guess I'll go get in some "organized" thinking ...

Monday, March 2, 2009

Have a heart ... or at least a brain ...

I'm feeling very poor these days ... all thanks to my dumb car. No, this has nothing to do with the American-made piece of junk I own that still needs a $750 repair. This one has to do with the state of Utah and their "safety" guidelines.

Yes, it's time to register my car with the state of Utah. It's already a pain that we have to pay so much to register our cars. We had to do Paul's in December, so it seems expensive to have to do mine now. Let me also mention that these fees are painful EVERY time to me and Paul, because in the state of Washington it costs $30 to register your car. It doesn't matter how old or expensive your car is, it's $30 to register. Oh, and that $30 is tax-deductible. Nope, not here. In fact, when we first paid to register a car here, I thought, "At least this $150 is tax-deductible." Oh, to be so sadly wrong ...

So, I've now accepted that I have to pay $150 to register my 2006 piece of junk. What I wasn't prepared for, however, is the ridiculous laws that have changed since I last got a safety test done in 2007. I was sure my piece of junk would pass and was shocked when I got a big, fat FAILURE from the auto shop. Yes, there is a crack in my windshield. I knew about this crack, because it's the same crack I've now had for more than 2 years. I had a chip-repair guy do his thing on both sides of the crack, so it hasn't spread to the drivers' side of the car at all. I was happy about this, because that meant it passed two years ago. So of course it would pass this time, right? Wrong.

Oh, turns out they changed the laws about that. Now if you have a crack ANYWHERE in the windshield (more than 6 inches from the edge and larger than a quarter), your safety test fails. So, that 2-inch crack clear over on your drivers' side? Enough to fail you! I cannot even begin to comprehend the ridiculous legislation that created this new rule. (So much for helping the average joe!) Okay, so my dad's truck passes safety and emissions EVERY time, even though the seatbelts don't work? I'm failing to see how my passenger-side crack (the width of a credit card, approximately) interferes with my safety as a driver! I should probably mention here that Washington also has no safety checks on your cars to register them, either. Grrrr ...

I think I'm even more annoyed because of how dirty Utah roads are. Since moving here three years ago, we have replaced four windshields. Yes, four! This will be number five ...

Well, it's time to call my windshield guy. I've made it clear to him that I don't appreciate the invisible target he places on the windshields he installs, and that I'm sure he has some type of agreement with the construction/trucking companies to leave a little extra debris here and there on the roads. He must think I'm crazy, but at least he has one favorite customer who comes to him again, and again, and again, and again ...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Didja see it?

I must admit that I'm not generally out and about after dark. And when I am, I'm usually not paying attention to the sky and its happenings. Therefore, I was very glad when my friend Heidi called and asked me to get a pic of the cool moon and whatever was next to it. (We later found out on the news it was Venus.) She loved it because it looks like a face winking at us. Apparently Venus was a crescent as well, but you couldn't tell that since it's a little ways away. :)

Thanks for the heads-up, Heidi. I hope the rest of you saw it on your own. If not, enjoy ...