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

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Mom emotions

When they say having a baby changes your body, they aren't joking. What I didn't expect, though, was how it opened the floodgates of emotion. It's not that I didn't have emotions before, it's just that I was able to control them when speaking with others. That is sure history. Now when something is touching, it makes me so emotional I cry. It has to be something better than a commercial, but I'm not so great at hiding emotions -- especially when I'm talking to someone else about something touching.

I blame it all on motherhood.

Another way I've been changed by motherhood is that I now have these irrational fears. I mean, you joke about moms worrying about her family being dead on the side of the road, but now that I'm a mom I understand!

For example ... When we lived in Covington, we had a different bathroom set-up called "jack and jill" bathrooms. Basically the shower was in its own room with two doors leading out to the two different bathrooms -- the master bath and the other bathroom. I would sometimes lie in my bed at night and think about what I would do if someone broke in. See, the master bedroom to the master bath door didn't have a lock. Nor did the shower to the master bath. Nor did the bathroom to the main bathroom. However, the bathroom to the hallway did. So, I imagined someone breaking in and me sending Paul in to lock the boys' room while I ran through the bathrooms and locked the bathroom door, then shut the shower door, then shut the master bath door, then shut the bedroom door, all the while hoping one of us would have time to call 911.

Sigh. I really never had these irrational of fears before becoming a mother ...

And now that we're doing construction I have more worrying due to the big hole on the side of our house. Tyler is not afraid of the edges at all, and now there's rebar sticking up. They put little caps on, but I just imagine him falling in and being speared by some rebar. Aaaagghhhh! I didn't used to be so morbid in my thinking ... but motherhood changed my mind!

I was going to say something else about how motherhood changes our brains, but now I've forgotten what it was I was going to say. :)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Goodbye, Pontiac

With the news of Pontiac being discontinued, a local talk radio had a segment about American car companies and what's happening with them. I couldn't resist -- I had to call in and say to let them fall! It's not that I want people to lose their jobs. However, why support an industry that creates sub-par products?

I've mentioned our ridiculous repairs on an American car that's less than 5 years old. I haven't even mentioned its power window that doesn't work or the CD player that works intermittently -- just the repairs we have done and the $800 repair that we know it needs. Sigh. And this is for a car that is less than 5 years old!!!

Paul wonders why the emphasis on the car companies. We knew plenty of people who were burned during the dot com fallout, and the government let that happen. What was the result? Internet companies smartened up, got decent business plans, and Internet commerce is thriving. I don't believe American car companies would die completely, but I do think they would produce a better car if they were forced to make their own ends meet.

My brother said with the amount the government has given these companies, they could have instead given every American a $10,000 credit to buy an American car. (Don't know if he was being facetious or not, but I wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't!) If I had a $10,000 credit to buy my piece of junk I would complain about it a lot less. :) And if they're willing to give vouchers for us to be able to continue to watch TV, then why not to buy American cars?

This also makes me wonder -- American cars are less expensive than foreign cars, because you have to pay for quality. So, shouldn't their spreadsheets look pretty similar? I think the problem is even more than lack of quality -- it's lack of good, sound business management. (Sad considering how many business management majors and graduates we seem to have these days!) I've come to learn that many, many companies that fail do so because of bad management -- not because of bad business. Sigh. If only executives had to be a little more accountable, then I think things would be different.

In the meantime we'll continue to drive our American piece of junk and hope and pray we can live with all the broken parts until we can afford a Honda or Toyota.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

To be a woman of faith ...

When I worked back in public relations, I felt powerful -- I rubbed shoulders with top-notch executives and was responsible for some pretty cool media coverage. I felt unstoppable in fulfilling my callings at church and important in my singles branch. I felt empowered, imaginative, energetic and smart.

And then I became a mom.

Somehow now I feel like I don't know nearly enough, I realize I don't really have much power, and the energy is gone. Oh, and that smart thing -- I remember when I was smart ...

It's amazing how my kids have made me realize that I really am not in control. But then again, was I ever?

Sometimes being a mom, especially a stay-at-home mom, feels like maybe it's not enough. And maybe that's true in the world's eyes. (Let's face it -- the pay stinks. ;) I think that's Satan's way of trying to get us to undermine the power we have as moms and as women of faith. I've been thinking a lot about a quote that was in a recent Visiting Teaching message:

"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. ... We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith." - Margaret D. Naudauld (Ensign, Nov. 2000, 15)

I realized that being a woman of God, especially a mother who is a woman of God, makes me influential, powerful and intelligent. I probably have more influence than any career-woman out there, no matter her connections or fortune. Don't believe me? How about a prophet of God:

"The righteous woman's strength and influence today can be tenfold what it might be in more tranquil times." - President Spencer W. Kimball (Ensign, Nov. 1978, 103)

And one more to really make me feel empowered:

"Every sister who stands for truth and righteousness diminishes the influence of evil. Every sister who strengthens and protects her family is doing the work of God. Every sister who lives as a woman of God becomes a beacon for others to follow and plants seeds of righteous influence that will be harvested for decades to come. Every sister who makes and keeps sacred covenants becomes an instrument in the hands of God.” - Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (Ensign, Apr. 2002, 66–73).

The Lord certainly loves His daughters! He understands our influence and the power that can come from happy, inspired children and families. I am so grateful that He recognizes the importance of motherhood and that His servants remind us on a continual basis that the world's opinion doesn't matter. Yes, the pay stinks. But the benefits are the best I've had yet. :)

Thursday, April 23, 2009


When we bought this book I had no idea how much Shayla would love it. She is convinced the little girl in it is her. It's adorable. In fact, it's pinkalicious ...

Happy birthday, Zachary!

I'm a couple of days late, but I'm still amazed it's been six years since Zachary surprised us with his arrival into the world. (Yes, coming nearly 2 weeks late wasn't the surprise -- it was the being a boy part. Still glad Hilary ran to the store and got us a BLUE outfit so he didn't have to wear the pink one home. :)

Zachary started the day opening presents and was thrilled to get Pokemon cards. I have no idea how he even knows what they are, but he wanted some. Now he can play Pokemon games ... if he can find where Shayla put them. He also got some moon sand. I'm wondering if I'll regret that one ...

After school we had a little party for him. It was mostly a play group where I served cake, but that's what you get when mom is distracted and thinking of other things (let's face it -- the force wasn't with me). He wanted it to be a Star Wars party, so I went and bought cake toppers from a local grocery store:

Not bad, eh? The light sabers actually lit up:

Betcha can't guess who helped me with frosting the cake:

After dinner we also got to attend the school carnival. The free face painting was done by the "older" students. Shayla wasn't so sure about having an 11-year-old boy paint her face:

The boys had their artists paint light sabers on their faces:

Tyler's teacher went in the dunking booth, so the boys both got a kick out of dunking her. Zachary's third ball hit the target, but it didn't dunk her, so they let him push the button. Tyler concentrated on his aim his third throw and hit the target dead center. Let me tell you how exciting it is for a 2nd-grade boy to dunk his teacher!

In the first pic you can see the ball hitting the target, and then in the next two you can see her falling in:

Anyway, it was a fun day, and I can't believe my baby boy is 6! Zachary is a very sweet boy. Last night I found a note under my pillow that just said, "I love you." What a little sweetheart. He's so good with Shayla (when he's not trying to aggravate her), and I'm so glad he turned out to be a boy -- I can't imagine our lives without him! Happy birthday, Zachary!

Monday, April 20, 2009

So far, so good ...

Recently we have gotten VERY sick of our kids not listening and/or complaining when we ask them to do something. It was getting to the point that we were putting them back in time out, which we haven't done for probably a year with them. They complained mercilessly when I started making them get dressed before breakfast a few weeks ago. (I did this because otherwise they would eat breakfast and then play and not get ready for school.)

Anyway, my friend Heidi was devising a system where she used bucks w/her kids' pictures on them. I was going to wait for her to tweak the system and give me her advice, but I got impatient and created my own kids' bucks and system.

Tyler bucks:

Zachary bucks:

Becca bucks:

Shayla bucks:

Last night I sat the boys down and briefly explained the system. They get a buck for getting ready for school in the morning -- getting dressed, eating breakfast, brushing teeth and putting jackets and backpacks by the door. They get an extra buck if they get dressed without complaint (since this has been a sore spot lately). They also get an extra buck if they complete all of these items by 8:35 a.m.

I have created a chart with the various ways they can earn bucks -- doing their daily chores, setting the table, doing homework, getting their teeth brushed and p.j.'s on in 10 minutes or less, going to bed without playing or talking, etc.

Each buck is worth 15 minutes watching TV, playing the Game Cube or playing on the computer. Each boy has the capability of earning 8 bucks per day ... unless they're really good and earn bonuses.

Becca's bucks are a little harder to earn -- she only has four opportunities to earn them: being ready for scripture study on time, doing her daily chore, a bonus one for not having to be reminded to do her chore, and dishes. (Her extras come from babysitting, handing in all her homework, and using a kind voice w/her siblings.) However, her bucks are worth 30 minutes each. I'm especially glad about having the bucks for her now since she's been having some fun online with friends lately.

As for Shayla bucks, they're all for show so the little one doesn't feel left out. But aren't they the cutest bucks we've got? :)

So ...

How was our first test of the bucks? Magical. Wonderful. Best thing since sliced bread.

The boys went to bed last night quicker than they have in a long time -- there weren't even any last-minute "I need a drink" attempts. What about the morning, which was my main concern? They were up, dressed, and done with breakfast before I even came out of my bedroom for the day -- which happened at about 8:10 a.m. YES!!!

They received their bucks, which they also feel gives them a little bit of freedom. Zachary asked, "So we don't have to do our chore before playing the Game Cube?" I said, "No, but if you do your chore first you get a buck that lets you play for an extra 15 minutes." He thought that was SO COOL!

I'm sure the novelty will wear off a little as we move forward, but as long as they want to watch TV, play on the computer or play the Game Cube, I think we've found a winner ... (Thank you, Heidi!!!)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Blue prints

Last night we picked up the blue prints for our addition. I can't even tell you how excited we are! Now we'll get bids for all of the different elements and see how much this bugger really will cost us. We're hoping we're getting enough out to at least finish the upstairs, but we'll definitely be cutting it close. In any case, we'll have plenty of space for lots of visitors once this is complete, so start your trip planning, eh?!?

I was going to post a layout of the front view and main floor layout, but .PDF has outsmarted me for now ...

(Paul) - I have added the front view and main floor layout....

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Shayla's new haircut

As you can see, I've put a bunch of posts on because we had a very busy weekend!

This weekend we also got Shayla's hair cut. I tried to get her to cut it the same day as mine, but she was tired and cranky. So, we figured we'd do it another time.

Well, one day she had the scissors out and my niece Kimmie caught her with them before any damage was done. We then started to teach her that only Alyssa (my cosmetologist niece) can cut your hair. The next time she saw Alyssa, she said, "Alyssa cut my hair?" Alyssa didn't have her stuff with her (and was heading to work), so she said next time she'd cut it. Well, Shayla has asked for it several times since, so we had Alyssa bring her stuff the day of the Easter egg hunt.

Mind you, although Shayla was excited to have her hair cut, she was not very cooperative during the haircut. She just wanted to snuggle with me. I think it made her nervous to have so many people (many cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents) watching. We gave her a sucker to try to hold still, but it didn't work extremely well.

In any case, here is how long her hair was before:

Here she is being squirmy wormy:

And here is my adorable "baby" after:

We weren't going to get her an Easter dress this year but saw a nice, cheap one (with sleeves!) at Costco the day before Easter. What a little cutie we have!

Oh, and since I mentioned Alyssa I should mention that she announced right before the haircut that she's engaged!!! HOORAY! She is a hilarious girl. She announced it as, "We're mostly engaged." The mostly is because they haven't set a date yet. We are so, so happy for her. I've already offered to take engagement pics, make a wedding invitation, design baby announcements, etc. :)

Happy b-day Becca

If any of you know anything about me, it's that my birthday no longer is important. See, it's just a place-holder for Becca's birthday, which is the day after mine. :)

Becca had a smaller party this year than she has in the past few -- thank goodness! (Mind you, it was by force, not by desire. :) Anyway, I am so impressed with her friends. They are such good kids. One of the guys gave her a MoTab CD, which she was excited to get. Then they put it on, and one of her friends even said, "Becca, you're lucky that you have friends who will listen to this with you." So true! I am so grateful that she has the friends she does, and she's the main reason I feel like we were led to this house/neighborhood. We are blessed to be surrounded by amazing youth (more than 100 in our youth program, even though our ward is 3 blocks wide x 1 block deep!).

In any case, she enjoyed her party, which was followed by a regional dance where she got to dance with her crush TWO times! Oh, can the life of a 15-year-old girl get any better? :) I'm not sure I'm ready for this ...

Easter morning (her actual birthday) she got to open gifts. She loves reading, so she got a couple of good books:

She also really wanted roller blades. She almost didn't get them, because the first few places we looked had then for $50 and up. Sorry, but no way! Fortunately Kmart came through at about half that price so she could get some. I took them out of the box so the weight wouldn't give it away right off, so she was very confused as she opened them:

Both Paul and my mom are convinced that she's going to break her arm trying out her new roller blades. Little do they know that that's just fine with me -- then she won't be able to drive!!! I know, evil ... but she thinks she's ready and I think she's not. As it is I won't even let her get contacts! Maybe we'll start with contacts and work up to driving ... sigh ...

Anyway, the cake Becca wanted was my favorite: orange poppy seed. This cake is DELICIOUS and relatively healthy as far as cakes are concerned since there's no oil. Here she is blowing out the candles -- although she didn't get one out on her first try:

So, since I love the cake so much I told Paul to count it as my birthday cake as well. Here is the recipe for anyone who'd like to try it. Believe me, it is magically delicious!

Orange Poppy Seed Cake

1 pkg yellow cake mix

2 T poppy seeds

1 c. fat-free sour cream

¾ c egg substitute (or 3 eggs)

1/2 can frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

1/3 c. water

¼ t. almond extract

2 T sugar

½ t. ground cinnamon


1 ¾ c. powdered sugar

2 T milk

1 T orange juice

1. In a large bowl, combine the cake mix and poppy seeds. In a small mixing bowl, combine the sour cream, egg, orange juice concentrate, water and almond extract and beat until smooth. Stir into cake mix just until combined.

2. Coat a 10-in. flouted tube pan (Bundt pan) with nonstick cooking spray. Combine the sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle evenly in pan. Pour batter into pan.

3. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack.

4. Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over cooled cake.

Easter fun!

We had fun this Easter weekend, as we usually do! It is such a beautiful time when the Earth is renewing itself, which reminds us of the Savior renewing hope and possibility through His glorious resurrection. I love holidays to remind me to teach my children more about the gospel and wish I didn't need holidays to remember more often!

This year we found a new way to color Easter eggs, and we're in love! We bought a kit to tie dye the eggs, and not only did the kids seem to enjoy it more than "traditional" dying, but it gave us much prettier, more colorful eggs.

The kit came with bags (sandwich bags) and paint (food coloring). You sucked up the paint in these tiny straws and dropped a few drops of paint into the bag. Then you spread around the paint, and add another color or two if and where you'd like. Then, viola, you have awesome-looking eggs. Much more fun than dropping an egg in a cup of colored water and waiting ...

Here are the kids enjoying the fun:

We also got to do an Easter egg hunt with cousins Saturday afternoon. My kids are SOOOO lucky -- not only do they have cousins around their ages to have fun with, but their grandma has a park right behind her house! What more could a kid ask for? In any case, here they are making a few finds:

The pics of Shayla were actually in our backyard when we did a repeat of the Easter egg hunt on Sunday. The kids really wanted to do it again, so we did. However, instead of putting more candy back in the eggs, I put papers in each one with a number. Then we came in and took turns opening the eggs. As each child opened their egg and said what number they had, I told them what that number meant they had to do -- eat a piece of candy, sing a primary song, give someone a kiss, say something that makes you special, etc.

As a part of this Zachary was supposed to make a "taco tongue." I had no idea my kids couldn't do it! I tried to think of how to explain exactly how to do it, but we definitely got a kick out of Zachary and Shayla trying:

I hope you all had great Easters as well!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Happy b-day to me!

My family was great to me for my birthday. Paul and the kids made me breakfast in bed, and then he banished the kids so I could eat alone. (It almost worked, too! :) Shayla snuck back up and ate part of my food before realizing Paul was going to give her some for herself.

Then Becca said she had a surprise for me. She had taken the following pictures:

What fun kids I have! Paul was going to disappear w/the kids for the day (which did sound heavenly), but we had to shop for Becca's birthday (which is the day after mine), and there was a sale I wanted to catch for Zachary's b-day (10 days after mine). So, since we were out and about I also made him join me for a Costco run. Although the alone time would have been great, the thought was wonderful as well. (Watch out, Paul -- I might take you up on it another day. :)

After our Easter egg hunt, Paul and I slipped away to get a blizzard as well. Nothing beats a DQ Blizzard with Reese's peanut butter cups!

I still can't believe I'm mid-30's ...

Kinder Derby

Zachary's kindergarten had a Kinder Derby this year. The form that came home about it informed parents that making the car was a way for the kids and parents to bond. Uh, thanks but no thanks! We would rather bond while playing games together ...

So, Paul brought home a big box from work and some Styrofoam for the egg drop we have in two weeks (maybe more on that later). Anyway, I thought the Styrofoam looked perfect for bumpers, so we decided to use 'em. Zachary wanted light blue, but I wasn't willing to pay triple the price to get light blue instead of dark blue. I know, THAT was bonding!

Anyway, here's his race car ready for the derby (a parade around the school):

As we were walking into the school I couldn't believe some of the vehicles coming in. Some parents REALLY "bonded" with their kids! In any case, I hope this is the last year I have to bond with my kindergartner in this way ...

Here was my favorite car, a little girl in our ward/neighborhood/carpool. Doesn't it remind you of Sully on Monsters Inc.?

And this was all of the boys' favorites. I mean, the Millennial Falcon (?) from Star Wars ... what boy wouldn't love that? It also looks like some SERIOUS bonding.

We got a kick out of watching Zachary sing a few songs for the program part of it -- he really got into them more than I've ever seen him. Paul was able to catch it as well since he had Friday off for Good Friday. Now on to the egg drop for more bonding ...

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Adding on

Paul and I made a decision -- we're going to add on to our house. Of course, this all depends on financing coming through, but we're going to go for it! We're very happy that we will contribute to this lagging economy and give many construction workers work in these difficult times. We're even more happy that we will have more space for our family!!!

We'll be adding on 1,160 s/f, and I can't wait. The basement won't be finished as of yet ... but when it is the house will have one more bedroom, two new family rooms and a MUCH larger kitchen. I am excited about the kitchen part. When we were considering selling and buying a new place, I looked at one house with 3,500 s/f and a kitchen the size of mine. What's the point of that?!?

Anyway, I am not looking forward to the larger payment and have stressed about that. However, we feel it is right and will be a benefit to many more people than just ourselves. So, we're working out the mortgage, we have the blue prints being drawn up, and we're getting bids to get our sprinklers out of the addition's way. Who knew there were so many decisions to be made, and we're not even started yet!

Anyway, sorry to all my neighbors for the noise we'll create, but hopefully the extra space will help us be less cluttered and therefore a little more clean. That remains to be seen, I suppose ...

Saturday, April 4, 2009

I'm not a clutz ...

About a month ago I had an accident. You see, I was hurrying to get my kids ready for school and Tyler's lunch ready for him. I don't remember what I needed up on a top shelf, but because I'm short I keep a stool in my pantry. This stool is not any stool -- it's one from Ikea that's REALLY tall. It has two steps, and it fits nicely in my pantry to reach the top shelves.

Well, I got what I needed, and I stepped down and started turning around to continue my agenda. However, right as I stepped and started turning, I remembered that I wasn't on the first step like I thought I was. (I generally only need the first step, unless I'm reaching REALLY high in the pantry.)

Needless to say, I fell down, hitting the back of my arm on the corner of the cupboard as I fell, and I ended up on my back and hitting my head on another cupboard. I don't remember feeling pain like that before. I knew I had hit my arm REALLY hard. (Notice that's the third time I've "shouted" really at you?) Tyler asked immediately if I was okay, and I had to tell him I just needed some time to not talk. I hurt so bad! I almost couldn't breathe I hurt so bad. I ended up having to go up and lay down on my bed for a while, which meant my hurried efforts were in vain as the boys (and those we carpool) were late for school anyway.

After getting over the initial shock of it all, I realized that I better have a REALLY big bruise to verify my pain to those I told about my fall. Not to disappoint, my body got into action. I had a bruise immediately -- at least it was there when I first checked, which was about 15 minutes after my fall.

The next day my mom took a picture of my developing bruise. (Mind you, she had to one-up me and go get surgery on her eyes so she could leave the looks of my bruise in the dust!)

Yes, it did get darker and more colorful as time went on. I had the bruise for more than two weeks. This whole thing happened more than four weeks ago, and I still have a painful lump where I hit my arm. I don't know how people handle the pain of breaking a bone, because I didn't even do that and I still have pain a month later! My lump is getting smaller, and I imagine it will be gone in another week or two.

Note to self: When you get on the stool, remember which step you're on!

On the bright side, look at how pretty my eyes are when I wear blue. :)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

April Fool's food

So, as you may remember, I love to trick my kids with food on April Fool's day. (Last year's trick here.) Fortunately Leslie reminded me of a joke I had seen in a magazine years ago, because I was running low on ideas.

So, I got to work and made, um, cupcakes:

Yes, you'll notice they're not as pretty as cupcakes when I'm actually trying to make them pretty. But let me tell you something you may not have learned -- no matter how creamy you think your mashed potatoes are, they are still too chunky for cake-decorating tips! :) Yes, the frosting is mashed potatoes. And the cupcake is meatloaf.

This year we invited Hilary's kids for the fun. I told them that because it was April Fool's Day, we were going to have dessert first. Look at the joy:

Zachary was ready to dig right in, and was the first child to do so:

He wasn't sure he was tasting right, so he tried again three different times. Here are a couple of his reactions:

Then Tyler decided to give it a try. I mean, can something so yummy really not taste great?

I'll let his face answer that question. The funny thing was that Shayla sat there the whole time just enjoying anything pink and creamy:

Remember the picture right before they started eating? Remember those smiles? Well, you have to remember them, because they're nowhere to be found by now:

The good news for the kids (well, except for Brynne :) was that I had a really yummy REAL pie for dessert. That was enough to get all of these kiddos through their meatloaf. (I mentioned Brynne, because the poor girl finally got through her meatloaf only to discover that she didn't care for the coconut cream pie.)
I have only one idea left for next year (which also happens to relate to meatloaf), so if you have others, bring 'em on!