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

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

House progress

I'm trying not to bore you all TOO much with details about our addition, but I thought I'd post a few pictures of the progress ...

So exciting!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Losing weight ...

So, I seem to come and go in my desires to lose weight. I guess the desire is always there, but the actual motivation to do something about it isn't. Anyway, I reconnected with an "old" high school friend (Gwen) and we have started walking together. That is a blessing to me as I get VERY bored exercising ... We took a before picture (although I can't post it since it was with my mom's camera) so that hopefully we can compare it with an after picture in a few months.

Anyway, Gwen has started a blog for people who are more than 200 pounds who would like to be less than 200 pounds. She hopes for this blog to be a support group where people can motivate each other, share ideas and tips that really work, frustrations along the way, etc. If you're interested, check it out at http://minus200club.blogspot.com. Just know that it's in its beginning stages and will have more and more as we move along this slow quest ... but we're open to ideas and encouragement from anyone -- even if you ARE one of those skinny minnies. :)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Off to 1st grade ...

Kindergarten is over! I'm not exactly sure how I'll get Tyler to go to school next week when Zachary doesn't have to ...

Anyway, the kindergarten graduation was very cute. I can't believe my baby boy is six years old! I can't say I'll miss picking up from kindergarten, but Shayla will sure be lonely next year without her big brother to annoy! :)

Here is Zachary with his kindergarten tech (Mrs Kingery, left) and his teacher (Mrs Barber, right). Way to go Zachary -- only 12 more years to go! ;)

Way to go, drama queen!

Becca received an award Friday morning for being an outstanding drama student. She was one of only two students to receive this award. (There were only four other drama awards given -- two for technical crew, and two for outstanding play performance.) I thought this was great considering she has never had a major role in any of the plays. The teachers recognized her for being good at drama and especially for having a good attitude and working hard. If she keeps that up, there is no stopping her. Way to go, Becca!!!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Jr High Field Trip

Yesterday I accompanied Becca's junior high school on a field trip. I had never gone on a field trip with anyone older than elementary kids, and I wasn't so sure I would like it -- mostly because of teenagers trying to be cool instead of enjoying things. However, it ended up being more fun than I anticipated ...

Anyway, we started by visiting a Krishna Temple that is here in town. They have a lot of animals on their property, so the kids loved that. They all got a kick out of the peacocks and thought they were great:

I wasn't quite so excited as I had neighbors growing up who had them, and they are noisy birds. :) They also had fish that came when you clapped. That was cool -- trained fish!

Of course, the favorite of most of the kids were the llamas. They have a bunch of them there, and they had the kids just take the reigns and bring them out of their pens. Becca started leading one out (which she was scared to do anyway), and then it sneezed on her. That was the end of her llama fascination. :) I did convince her to hold the reigns one more time so I could get this picture:

It was actually interesting to note, though, because the llama was nice and calm before she took the reigns, and when she went to take them it perked up its ears and started backing away. I didn't realize animals could sense fear THAT easily!

Anyway, they let the kids lead the llamas around, including up the steps of the temple (to show what good pack animals they are on steep inclines). They also had the kids go to the bottom of a hill and race up it with the llamas. I got some great shots of some of Becca's friends since she was done with llamas quite a while before the races.

Going to the temple was a nice cultural education for many of these kids who live mostly around people of the same faith. I thought they asked good questions. When we learned about their belief of reincarnation, I started to wonder how Krishnas ever eat since they are so worried about karma and not eating anything that was/is alive. He said that plants are okay, even though you can be reincarnated to be a plant if you didn't fulfill your human obligations. I don't think I'd ever want to eat if I thought of things that way! He also said that rain is little demigods being allowed to come back to the earth to become wheat, etc. and re-enter the cycle. Made me a little uncomfortable to think of that when it sprinkled later in the day and a bunch of demigods were missing the grass and instead ending that round of reincarnation on my shirt instead ...

Anyway, it is a beautiful building:

We ran out of time to do yoga, but they sang/changed to us instead:

I guess the instrument he's playing is a mix between an accordion and a harmonica. It was interesting -- I've never seen one of those before.

Then we were off to one of the local sports parks to do some geocaching. There are some public ones at the park, but one of the kids at the school had created one as well, and we did his. Each clue (A, B, C, D, & E) had a question and two answers with coordinates. (For example, how many people get married in Las Vegas every day? If it's more than 125, go to this location; if it's less than 125, go to this location.) We had two GPS units, so we entered both answers (since we didn't know any of them) and went to the closest one.

It was really fun to try to figure them out. Then when we found the small silver capsules, they had a clue as well. "There are how many supreme court justices?" When you thought of the answer you plugged it in to the final location at the bottom of the page. Once you had them all you could go to the final location and get the prize.

Here is Becca trying to figure out which way to go:

And here she is finding one of the capsules:

Her group found all but two, which was more than any other group .... and I barely even helped. :) Some of the groups couldn't find one right off, so they gave up and just sat down. Funny thing is that we went to the table where they were sitting and found one right underneath one of the girls! When we said we thought it was at their table they said we were nuts and that they'd looked for it everywhere. We started looking and found it pretty easily. It was funny.

Anyway, that was MY last field trip of the year. I actually rode on the school bus with them, and it made me think back to my bus days -- UGH!!! (Notice it's in caps? It really was that bad! :) I realized I hadn't been on a bus in something like 18 or 19 years, and that the bus I rode the ENTIRE time was 76-C. Yes, a bus built in 1976 transported me to school into the 90s. Crazy to think how old it was ... maybe that's why my bus driver was always so cranky! ;)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Funny, funny ;)

I laughed out loud reading from the Bible a few nights ago. I guess I shouldn't read so late at night ...

I was reading about Christ turning water to wine in Cana. It was John 2:9 (King James version) I found to be hilarious:

"When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,"

Didja notice it? Did you see how the servants knew the wine was made from water? And then the wink? Yes, it was the wink that made me laugh ... I think because it fit there perfectly. You've gotta wonder if that was inspired punctuation to fit the story. :) Or if I've just been online a little too often lately. ;)

See how wonderful the wink is? I think it's even better than the smiley face ... probably because I'm all for a good joke.

I saw last year there was a party to celebrate the anniversary of the smiley-face emoticon and kudos for the man who supposedly created emoticons. Turns out the media have it wrong once again ...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Useful Websites

So, after reading recently about my sister-in-law discovering allrecipes.com, which I have used for years, I figured it would be good to share convenient/important Web sites I use. I'll list a few that I use regularly, and I ask that if you have any favorites you post them in the comments.

Of course, as mentioned, www.allrecipes.com is a favorite for any and every recipe. Not only can you get the recipes you like, but you can look through the comments to see if there are tweaks that make the recipe even better. You can search by ingredient (like, how am I going to use all this zucchini?) or just put in key words. You can also put in your own recipes, which not only gives you the nutritional value of them, but it also makes your recipes available to you wherever you are. My hubby keeps telling me I need to do this so I can have my recipes handy when I'm at my mom's house. Maybe one day ...

Another one I couldn't live without is www.screenit.com. They try to get you to join, but you can access the info without a membership (just not the week of a new release). It tells you about any movie that has been in theaters for like the last five years, and even some from before that. Before seeing any PG-13 movie, I check it out. Each movie's page has a table at the top that tells you how much violence, profanity, drugs/alcohol, nudity, etc. there is in the movie. It says none, mild, moderate, heavy or extreme for each category. Then it goes through the movie and its themes, and tells you specifics on what swear words are said and how many times; how drugs and alcohol are used; what kind if imitative behavior there is and how bad the attitudes are. It's awesome. Actually it's very good, because it has saved me from seeing some movies that I really shouldn't be seeing. I'll never let my kids watch anything PG-13 (and I check out some PG as well) without checking it out first. Of course, that is after they're 13 anyway ...

I love the debt paydown calculator at http://www.bankrate.com/brm/Calsystem2/Calculators/DebtPayDown/Default.aspx. It helps you know which debts to pay off first. For example, when I entered all of my debts, it told me to pay off the car before the second mortgage. The second mortgage has a higher interest rate, so I would think that should be paid first, but the second mortgage is a tax deduction where the car loan isn't. Cool! We had it planned with this debt paydown calculator to have our mortgage paid off in only about 17 years ... but that was before we decided to add on. However, paying an extra $50/month for our car for the past 6 months has shaved off an entire year of payments. Crazy how it can do that, so check it out!

A few other sites I enjoy checking out once in a while:
  • zillow.com (to get approximate house values of any neighborhood)
  • utahrealestate.com (to check for new houses or to see what the neighbor's is selling for ... but obviously only applicable in Utah :)
  • criminalsearches.com (to see anyone's criminal history)
  • dmarie.com/timecap (to create a time capsule for anyone that includes info from the day they were born -- president/vp, price of milk, headlines, popular toys and TV shows, etc.)
  • coolest-birthday-cakes.com (gives some great homemade cake ideas, although some are so much work I just laugh at the thought ...)
  • I have bookmarked two games in popcap games that are very addictive: bejeweled and zuma. If you haven't tried them, maybe you shouldn't. :)
So, there are more than a few sites I recommend ... now clue me in on the ones you love! :)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Flat Stanley = SUCCESS!

Well, we got all the pictures collected, printed and put in Flat Stanley's "travel book." THANK YOU to everyone who helped me with Tyler's Flat Stanley project. It was actually a lot of fun to have pictures e-mailed back to me and for Tyler to see his drawing throughout the world.

I hope you can see these pictures well enough since I had to make collages to include many of them, and I didn't even put them all here. I think I ended up with three countries (Japan, Korea and Switzerland) and 10 states (Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming).

Tyler was especially excited to see his drawing next to several LDS temples -- one in Tokyo, Japan, one in Switzerland, and one in Sacramento, California.

Okay, I'll also mention that I cheated on two photos ... can you tell which ones?

Here he is on board a plane with Lee (my bff's hubby) from Denver, Colorado to Rawlins, Wyoming. Lee's comments were hilarious -- like how Stanley has a gift for paperwork, and that on the radio his voice was a little flat. He also put Stanley at the controls during one of his flights. He claimed it was a little tricky to get in-focus pictures while also trying to fly the plane ... This collage also has Stanley around Spanish Fork with Tyler:

My friend Naoko in Japan went to town for us! She is amazing!!! Thanks so much for the many, many pictures and descriptions, Naoko. I loved all the beautiful sites, and Tyler's favorite was Naoko in front of her morning train, which she said is so crowded that your breathing suffers. :) Look at these awesome shots (including ones with her new finacee!):

And here are pics of the Tokyo temple and missionaries in Japan. At the bottom of this collage is Stanley with Suzan at the Swiss Temple and LDS meeting house next to the temple, as well as Stanley at Snoqualmie Falls, Washington, which is where Paul and I were engaged:

Stanley got to visit my friend Melissa in California. While there he got to go to the library (with her son) and had a tea party with her daughter. What delightful hosts. :)

The bottom three of this collage are Stanley at Coastal Carolina University (where Uncle Brandon teaches), as a star in a Korean movie (thanks to Brandon's in-laws in Korea), and Stanley seeing a ship come in at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Stanley also got to visit Kaylee in Notus, Idaho on her farm. Tyler loved that she told us the horse and cow's name. He also visited with cousins in Tempe, Arizona, where he got a picture in front of a huge cactus and attended a horse parade:

It's just too bad we can't reuse these pics when it's Zachary's turn to do his project in 2nd grade. However, I sure feel like I did it a much easier way than was suggested by making Stanley digital. Thanks again for everyone's help. I hope you let me know when your kids need help with projects!

BTW, could you pick out the fakes? I sent Stanley to about four people in Washington, and none of them were able to come through for various reasons. We had to have one from the state where Tyler was born, so I pulled up one of our old photos from Snoqualmie Falls and added his Stanley. And the other fake is the one from Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. I pulled the picture off of a friend's blog (they lived in Hawaii until recently), and her son's hands looked just perfect for holding Stanley ... although he really was just pointing his hands forward with nothing in them. Pretty sneaky, huh? The more I learn about Photoshop the more I learn that you can't believe any pictures you see! :) But the rest of these Stanley pics are all legit.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers' Day

Happy Mothers' Day to all of my mom friends out there.

I have to start by saying how I feel blessed beyond measure for having a wonderful mom! She is one of my best friends, and I have loved spending the last few years going to her house every Wednesday and Friday (her days off) and sometimes on Sundays, too. She hasn't gotten sick of me yet. :) She is an excellent example of service and love, and she adores her grandkids ... not that she's biased or anything. :) I love you, mom, and I'm sure going to miss you when you go on your mission. Will you get sent home if I still call you everyday? ;) I'll sure have to wean myself away from that ...

Today I also feel blessed to be a mother. Four things that make me happy to be a mother:

I started the morning by receiving my first gift: Mom homework. It's a booklet of homework that is due on Saturday -- I have to decorate a heart, do some addition, and some multiplication. Thanks, Tyler! He also made me a few coloring books, an activity book, and a book of notes. My favorite note says, "Mom, I love you because you're nice to other people and sometimes to us." Priceless.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Miscellaneous updates ...

I figured I'd give a few random updates on happenings in our lives ...

Becca's adoption is moving forward. It's going slower than we had hoped, but what do you do once you have paid the attorney? Every time we call I think he charges us, so I try not to make too many calls, but I do call when I need to. Becca's mom has signed off in agreement to the adoption. Her dad has agreed to it verbally (why not -- he hasn't been in her life since she was 2 years old, and it will save him nearly $20,000 in child support!), but he hasn't signed the paperwork and submitted it yet. Hopefully he will soon or we'll have to pay a sheriff to serve him. Sigh. Becca is very excited at the opportunity to become a Brown, and we're going to have a party for her once she does!

Our construction is also moving forward. Between this and aforementioned item, we will sure be broke! :) But at least we'll be happy ... Anyway, they have broken ground, poured the footings, poured the foundation walls, cut a hole out of the basement to connect it with the new section (making a muddy mess in my boys' room in the process!), sealed the foundation and moved the gas meter (no more going through the foundation wall, I suppose). So, in the next day or two they should pour the floor, and next week they'll start framing. Awesome.

I happened upon a couple of construction workers in the middle of a bet. Apparently one of them found a worm, and the other said he'd give him a dollar to eat it. So he did. I offered to take a picture for proof, but I didn't. I wish I had, because the worm-eater actually died two days later! He was just 17 or 18 years old and had a seizure and died. Very sad. My contractor showed up the next morning just heartbroken. So sad as I feel bad making fun of his worm-eating when he's no longer with us ...

Anyway, we're trying to figure out where we can do our own labor to save costs. My dad sealed the foundation for us, and we saved an "old" window well to reuse. We're going to put in our own kitchen floor and paint ourselves. We're also trying to make decisions and finding we don't have exactly the same tastes. I don't know how couples make a house from scratch! :) We're just hoping things continue to move along quickly, because we're without an a/c for now. I've been very grateful for the cool weather.

As for our kids, they're all looking forward to summer. Becca has a lot going on in the summer (girls' camp and a trek), but I also anticipate her missing her friends about two days after school is out. Tyler is struggling to go to school nowadays, and our construction doesn't help. He'd love to just sit and watch all day if he could. Since he can't, he just grumbles about having to go to school and asks how many more days until summer break. Fortunately our school ends in May!

I have to say that I'm also looking forward to summer break. I really enjoy lazy summer mornings, although a little exercise would be good, too. I was being so good about exercising (3+ times per week), and I now haven't exercised in about two months! I don't know how to get back into the habit, because I am sure enjoying being lazy ...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Baseball dads ... sigh ...

So, my boys are playing T-ball/baseball this year. We skipped last year since we played spring soccer since I make them choose one or the other. Anyway, this year they chose baseball.

Then last week my sister called to see if I would be an assistant coach with her. Turns out the city didn't have enough parents sign up to be coaches, so they were calling parents to ask for volunteers. She said yes. Then she dragged me into it ...

So, we had our first practice this week. (We're not being anything extreme like the kindergarten T-ball coach for Zachary who has 2-a-week practices. Hello!) No, we skipped the first week and are having one-a-week practices from here on out until games start.

So, we're in the middle of practice pitching (underhand -- gasp!) to the boys to make sure they can all hit the ball. They're in machine-pitch this year, so it's a step up from T-ball. A dad walks out to us and says, "Can I give you a little advice?" Rachel and I looked at each other like, "Oh, brother ..." He then informs us that pitching underhand is going to make it so that none of the boys will ever be able to hit from a machine since the stance is TOTALLY different if you're hitting an underhand pitch as compared to an overhand pitch.

I told him that I wasn't comfortable pitching overhand, so he'd have to work with his son at home if he was worried about it. He said, "Oh!" and then proceeded to spend the rest of practice watching closely what we were doing. Did he volunteer to pitch overhand for us? Nope. For that matter, did he volunteer to coach? NO!

I guess the city warned my sister that parents would be there left and right to tell her what she is doing wrong, and they told her to inform them that if they don't like her coaching style they can volunteer themselves next year. Yes, as long as we're not screaming at the boys and excluding any from playing, back off!

Just one of those things that parents do that bug. Baseball is a little too "important" here, and I've seen enough to know that these attitudes are NOT exclusive to dads ... Let the fun begin!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Times change

Obviously the only constant in our lives is change. However, I've been thinking a bit lately about how different life will be for my kids than it was for me. I jotted down a few things that maybe our kids just won't understand ...
  • Our TVs had four channels: NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox. Oh, I guess there was PBS, too, but it never had anything good on. At Christmas time the TV schedule was a big deal in my house -- we got the newspaper insert that had all the Christmas specials that would play during the season, and we made sure we watched them. We had no way of recording them or watching them later, so catching them on the scheduled night was a must!
  • Speaking of recording, we were very early in the VCR purchasing, and our first VCR had a remote control with a cord attached from the remote to the VCR. We thought that was VERY cool.
  • Kids will never understand why we cringe at the thought of foil in our mouths. Or why we have so many silver teeth, for that matter.
  • Kids will never remember a world without AIDS like we can.
  • They also will never remember a world without the Internet. I came home from my mission and saw commercials with things like www.pizzahut.com. I had to ask someone what that meant!
  • Kids will never appreciate (or dislike) libraries like we did. They don't understand how cool it was to understand and use a card catalog or why encyclopedias were such a big deal.
  • Kids won't understand film. I'm glad to be done with it myself!
  • Kids won't understand why being lost at Disneyland or having a flat with no spare in the middle of nowhere was such a big deal. "Why didn't you just text someone on your cell phone?" Yes, children, that's right -- we didn't have cell phones! And how did cell phones get so small, anyway?
  • Kids won't understand the luxury of pausing/saving video games. I can't tell you how many times I was doing well on Yars Revenge (Atari) when it was time for dinner and I had to start over the next time.
  • Kids won't understand how we knew many of the celebrities' names. Hello -- there were only so many. Celebrities were real stars. Now there are so many, who can keep them straight? (And who cares to?!?)
  • Privacy issues have changed. It used to be that your neighbors knew everything about you and strangers didn't. Now strangers can know everything about you (via Internet) and your neighbors may not even know your name.
  • Identity theft is a new threat. I used my social security number as my ID number at BYU and had the number printed on my checks so I didn't have to write it on there every time I wrote out a check. Ouch!
  • Credit cards were not so prevalent. People actually saved up to buy things they wanted. Hopefully this economic slowdown will remind people of that idea. :)
  • You could find anyone in the phone book. And there was only one phone book. Now it's a gamble on whether or not you'll find the number you're looking for -- I generally go to the Internet first since it's easier.
  • Kids won't understand why it was such a big deal to lose a contact.
  • We now have about one phone per person in the house (no rotary phones, mind you). Sometimes I'm so lazy at my parents' house that I call my little brother in the basement instead of walking down the stairs to say something to him.
  • Speaking of laziness, I think our society accepts laziness more. Ugh!
  • And love letters are all but obsolete. Fortunately long-distance couples have web cams, e-mails and phones ... but there would be something nice to have love letters to refer back to. (Hint, hint Paul ... :)

Sunday, May 3, 2009

C'mon, women -- fess up!

So, for 8 1/2 years now (yes, our entire marriage), Paul has been shaking his head while I bring the groceries in from the car. You see, I am VERY opposed to making multiple trips, so I do anything I can to get all the groceries in at once. (Now that I'm having to shop for a family of 6 this isn't really possible, but I still load up to make as few trips as possible.)

Paul sees my arms draped with bags and me about to collapse under the weight and says, "You know you can make more than one trip!" or "If you would have waited I would have helped you." I can't even count the number of times he has said this to me.

A couple of weeks ago my dad was shaking his head at my mom saying how she insists on trying to get everything into the house in one trip. So maybe it's an inherited determination?

Well, Friday night we had our dear friends Scotty and Marilee over for one last time before they move. (Boo-hoo ... :( ) Anyway, as Scotty was taking stuff out to the car to leave, Marilee said how he takes a few things out to the car at a time and gets mad at her for trying to get everything in one trip.

When he came back in she informed him that they are not alone in that debate. It was hilarious -- Marilee and I were sticking up for getting it all in one trip while our husbands were saying how easy it is to make more than one trip. I was laughing so hard. But it got us wondering -- do any of the rest of you have this debate? Or is it just a coincidence between us our long-time friends?

Friday, May 1, 2009

I looked out the window, and what did I see?

Definitely not popcorn popping on the apricot tree ... No, instead of the sounds of spring, these are the sights and sounds I'm experiencing now:

And I'm lovin' it! So are the kids, if you couldn't tell. What's better than an eating an apple and watching an excavation?!? Tyler has already been pulled out of school early twice to enjoy the fun. Maybe I'm bad, but he's getting as much education bombarding construction workers with questions as he would that last hour of school anyway! :)