Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween fun

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Monday, October 25, 2010

What do I do all day?

People ask me this a lot. Here's the answer.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Cruise, Part 1 - The Carnival Dream

Dave and I were able to go on a cruise for our (in chronological order) Honeymoon, 1o year anniversary, Mother's Day 2010, my 34th Birthday, and our 11 year Anniversary. :) That's a lot to cover, but it was worth it. We went for 7 days to the Western Caribbean. We went on the Carnival Dream to Cozumel, Mexico, Belize City, Belize, Isla Roatan, Honduras, and Costa Maya, Mexico.
It was a lot harder for me to go on the cruise than I thought, but it was well worth it and I loved, loved, LOVED the quiet time alone with my husband! (click to see some of the first pictures!)

One final mom post, then on to the cruise!

One last thing then I'm probably done. I wanted to mention that I have several friends who have struggled to have children. They have been through unimaginable heart-ache. It makes me angry and frustrated when other people treat their ability to bring children into this world as a right or just something to cross off their "to-do" list. My opinion is that you should cherish a child. Not just be those people who say they love their children, but be those people who truly DO love that they were able to have children. I'm not saying that I'm always as patient as I should be, but I definately appreciate the fact that I have them. Being a parent is not a responsibility that I take lightly. I look at my children daily and wonder how it was possible that God gave ME such an amazing gift and responsibility. To all of my amazing and deserving friends who's life has not allowed them this joy - remember that God is just and merciful - your time will come! To those who have children - be grateful for the crayon on your walls and the handprints on your windows!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Stay At Mom - part 2 - from a less emotional view

I only have a few minutes, but I wanted to add a few additional comments. First of all, I wanted to thank everyone for the support comments. I know there are tons of women who stay home with their kids and many are super moms, someday I hope to be more like all of you! I wanted to take a minute and add somethings that I have been thinking of since I posted this post. My point was not that I, personally, want recognition for what I do, but more that I want society to recognize the importance of it. I know that women go to work for a lot of reasons. I know that some need to feel the fulfillment of a career, others do it out of necessity to care for their families. I'm not saying that many don't have legitimate reasons for doing it. I have my reasons for staying home. I will share a few of those but I wanted to add that all reasons aside, we live in a society where we are told to be accepting of everyone no matter what - so why does that NOT apply to people trying to do what they think is right?
I said in my last post that staying home with my kids is the "right thing to do." In a world where the line between right and wrong is so blurred you may wonder what I mean by it being "right." So, here are my reasons... My number one reason for staying home is that a prophet of God said, "Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. 'Children are an heritage of the Lord' (Psalms 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, to teach them to love and serve one another, to observe the commandments of God and to be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives-mothers and fathers - will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations. The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded on the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activiites. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred reponsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or tother circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed." That's it. A prophet of God told me that it is my responsibility to care for the children, to nurture them. I can't think of a way to do that except to be WITH them.
I have a degree in psychology. It doesn't mean much, except for the fact that I took a bunch of classes in college and I focussed a lot of them on children and development. One of the things I learned there is that children attach themselves to their primary caregiver. This is the strongest bond created that allows the child to feel safe and secure and aids in proper development. There is a bond that is between parent and child, no matter the daily routine, but the greater bond is between child and primary caregiver. I imagine that if you send your child off to a daycare center, where there are several providers who switch off, the child will fail to attach to anyone and this can have developmental consequences because their physical needs are met, but not many of their emotional needs. If you send the child to someone's home, where there is one provider but lots of children, the child will bond to that provider but not necessarily have all of their emotional needs met. If you have a babysitter, nanny, au pair, etc. come into your home, this is ideal because the child will bond to the provider and usually have more of his or her emotional needs met. In this case, parents will be seen as an authority figure, but not a secure bond, like when I send my kids off to school, they have a similar bond with their teacher. Now what happens to a child who forms this bond with a caregiver and then the provider goes to a different daycare center, the nanny leaves for college, or the parents find a cheaper option? The child will morn a loss, because it's like having a parent die. Then they attach to the next caregiver and it all happens again. I don't think it's fair to the child and not something that they should be put through. My point is that when I say I'm doing the right thing, I mean it's the best choice for my children - or any children. No one can argue that a day care center is AS GOOD AS having a parent stay home. My biggest pet peeve is that people have children with no intention of raising them. It is not the job of a babysitter or the school to teach personal morality. I had an experience this last Spring that I think speaks volumes and makes my point perfectly. I was at the playground with my kids and talking with a friend. At the same park there were 2 nannies who had come to talk while the kids they watched played. One of the boys had brought his bike to ride around the track. This boy, probably around 5 or 6, brought his bike over near me and rode very slowly towards me, he ran into my leg with his bike. I thought maybe he had done it on accident so I ignored him. He then backed his bike up and ran into me again. I looked over my shoulder and saw that the nanny was looking in my general direction but was still talking to her friend. I was annoyed. I softly asked the boy not to run into me again. I watched as the boy backed up and came right towards me again. I was now angry. I leaned down, grabbed his bike and firmly said, "Stop! It is rude and inappropriate to run into people with your bike. You need to stop NOW. Do not do it again." I felt like putting him in timeout, but knew that would never work, I then turned around and saw that the nanny wasn't even watching - it made me angry. I was about to find out who he was and knock on his door to talk to his parents, but he didn't run into me again, so I let it go. If the mom had been there, I am confident that I would not have needed to discipline him. It's late and I need to go to bed so I will leave with this: I agree that there are some women that it would not be better for them to be around their children all day long - it's certainly not easy and not for everyone - those are the families that should consider having a stay at home dad.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

My thoughts on being a stay at home mom

I was recently visiting this website and thought that her opening comments echoed my own thoughts. Then, I began thinking about what exactly ARE my thoughts about motherhood and staying at home. I am disappointed when people immediately look down on me because I don't have a job. Apparently, you can't have respect in our society without a career (or a job at McDonalds, both get better responses than being a stay at home mom). I have a job, in fact, I have several. All of them more important that working at McDonalds AND than having a high-income job. The difference is that I don't get paid. A year ago December, I was talking to 2 women who worked at the elementary school. One was expecting her first grandchild and the other her first child. I, too, was expecting - our 4th. The turned to the topic of when the one was going to come back from maternity leave. She said it would be the 3 months offered by the school. I smiled and said, "unless you take one look at that sweet baby and decide you can't ever leave his side, you may never come back." She turned and in a tone that I will never forget but can not be portrayed properly in writing said, "I would never do THAT." The tone was filled with disdain, as if she was saying, "why would I ever lower myself to do THAT kind of thing." I felt attacked, even a little embarrassed and completely not sure what to say. Without trying to sound hurt, I simply said, "Well, I can't imagine letting anyone else see my children take their first steps, say their first words, or any of the other magical moments in their lives." The older one then said, "Oh, well, we working moms tell the babysitters not to tell us when they do those things, just to let us discover it for ourselves so we think it's the first time." Conversation was over and I left feeling a little lost, even a bit defeated. I'm right here, I know I am, so why am I the one that feels bad or wrong? It's the same with everything else in our society, it's backwards (that's another long topic altogether). Well, I'm tired of feeling old fashioned and being told that somehow I'm inferior because I choose to take care of my own children and don't get paid for it. I'm not out to be the most spectacular homemaker in the world (like Stacy) or my kids' coach for every sport on the planet (likeLauren) or a fantastic gourmet cook (like Alexia) or a SuperMom (like Anne) or a perfect house keeper (like just about ALL the other moms I know). My kids will likely have fond memories of me being stressed out because our house was too messy, them not being able to find clothes because the clean ones were piled high on the couch, not yet folded and put away, and that dinner consisted of veggie pasta with cheese dumped on it quickly. They will likely have lots of memories of me at the computer, sending emails, doing church assignments, and checking facebook :) . I know they will remember me getting angry and yelling at them to the point that I have to put myself in time out. I know that their memories won't always be fond ones, but they will ALL have me in them. I will be here when they leave for school, I will be here when they get back. My kids will not always have a clean house but they will always know that I love them. Which brings me to my jobs. What is a mother for? My job is to make sure that I produce moral productive members of society. There's no advanced training, other than a briefing in the hospital of how to keep the baby alive and clean. In my case, I have received on the job training which has included how to take apart and put back together just about everything in the house and I believe I can now withstand any sort of torture known to mankind. I have learned a great many useful things such as: no home should be without duct tape and spackle, no one in their right mind should ever buy Sharpies or crayons, any important document can become scratch paper in a matter of seconds, some things are REALLY easy to flush down the toilet, other things aren't so easy to flush, and most of all, that life just isn't fair, but it is fairly just. Why do I choose to stay home with my kids? Because it's the right thing to do, and because I get paid in hugs and kisses - who can beat that?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Marissa, don't be shy!

Sometimes, people read blogs and don't leave comments. That's fine if you don't have anything to say, but if you do want to comment, then go ahead. As a note: Even though, I am having issues with spammed comments, I am still keeping my blog and comments public. I love comments and hope that you will feel comfortable leaving them. I have gone to comment moderation, so I will have to approve your comments, but please don't be shy!! I like knowing who is stopping by for a peek. I'm sorry I haven't been publishing lately, but I do still have 4 kids, 2 callings, 1 house, and 1 husband. I'm a little tired and a little busy!! Hope to hear from you soon!!

Worry Ghost

I still need to blog about the lake and I promise to do that soon. I wanted to write about the Worry Ghost before I forgot. It all started a week and a half ago at Family Home Evening. Dave taught a lesson about keeping certain things out of our house. He was talking specifically about what they watch on TV and why Mommy and Daddy have rules about it. He told the kids that we want to keep our house free from bad things so the Holy Ghost can come into our home. He mentioned keeping the house clean as another way to invite the Spirit. This week at FHE, Dave was out of town and I taught the lesson about how the Holy Ghost can help us to feel happy, but He can't come into our home if it is really messy and dirty. Being messy distracts us and makes it hard for us to feel the Spirit and it makes Mommy feel anxious and that isn't happy for anyone. Last night, we were getting ready to go pick Jaclyn up from the airport and I told the kids we needed to clean up to get ready for her to come. They picked up the toys in the family room (mostly) and went in the other room to get my shoes on so we could leave. Miana followed me.

M: Mom, the Worry Ghost is coming.
Me: The Worry Ghost?
M: Yes, he is coming.
Me: Do you mean the Holy Ghost?
M: Yes, the Holy Ghost. He is coming to our house.
Me: What is He going to do here?
M: He is going to break stuff.
Me: Miana, the Holy Ghost is nice, he's not going to break anything. He comes here to help us be safe and feel happy.
M: Mom... I so sorry, but the Worry Ghost is not coming here, he is with his family.
Me: He's with his family?
M: Yes, he's with his family and is not coming here.
Me: Oh, I see.

That was pretty much the end of the conversation. She was really cute and I loved seeing how her brain works. Apparently, she was really worried about this ghost coming here. That night, when we got home she looked around the house and said, "He didn't come. Mom, the Worry Ghost was not here." This morning, when she woke up, I opened the door to her room and she said, "The Worry Ghost is coming to help us clean up." :) I just smiled. At least she's not afraid of him any more!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

New Calling

Today I was sustained (and set apart) as the Young Women's Secretary in my ward. I'm excited to work with the other leaders and get to know all of the young women. This will be my third time serving in a YW's organization. In January or February of 2000, when I was newly married, I was called as the Ward Girl's Camp Director. In March or April, they decided to call me as the First Counselor in YWs. I held both callings until after camp at the end of June. We moved out of that ward in December. In the next ward, I was called into YWs in late 2004 as the Personal Progress Specialist. The ward boundaries changed soon after and I was in a newly created ward. I was immediately called as the Beehive Advisor. In August of 2005, we moved out of that ward.
Today, while being set apart, I was blessed that I would be able to share the experiences that I had while in the Herndon Ward as a Young Woman and the other experiences I have had in my other YW callings to make a difference in the lives of these Young Women. This hit me hard! I felt so strongly that I do have something to share from my own experiences. I also remember that he said that I would be blessed to love and appreciate the wonderful YW that I will work with. I am so excited to get started and be a part of this wonderful organization!!
--PS-- I am keeping my other calling until they can find someone to replace me but I am having a hard time thinking about giving it up! I am the Cub Scout Committee Chair and I LOVE cub scouts!! I need to dedicate my time to the YWs program so I can't do both. I believe very strongly that if you are in a Presidency, that needs to be your only calling, so I know it's time to let go, but I am really sad about it. --

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Hard day and worth every second

In describing my experience at the store this morning I said, "I had to pinch her to make her cry, because crying in pain was better than having her do what she was doing before." Yup. It's true. First Miana refused to sit in the cart and with 2 other kids in the cart, I allowed her to walk. She did fine for the first 2 aisles where she stood on the front of the cart. Then she decided to actually walk (or rather run). She started climbing on boxes (it was shelf restocking day) and I told her that if she ran off again or climbed on anything, she would have to ride in the cart. We went to the next aisle and there was big dolly/cart thing that had a couple boxes on it, she ran to it and climbed on. I picked her up and put her in the cart and she immediately started screaming. Finally, she started yelling actual words. "I can't sit down, it doesn't fit for me!" Fit for me is her way of saying she doesn't fit somewhere or something doesn't fit her. Anyway, I cleared a space for her and showed her how to sit down in it, she refused and stood there screaming for 2 more aisles. Then she yelled, "it's falling on me, it's all falling on me!" for the next 3-4 aisles. She then got angry and pushed all of the food into a big pile in the cart with the salad and bananas at the bottom and sat down on top of them. We went to check out and she was still yelling and screaming and whining. I sat her down and the cart and pinched her leg so that she would stop. She sat down and quietly cried and rubbed her leg. I didn't really hurt her, I barely even pinched, it was just enough to get her to stop yelling. I finally got out of the store just to have Miana yell and scream in the parking lot and cry all of the way home - why? Because her shoe fell off. Yes, her shoe fell off so we should yell and scream for 10 minutes. I got home, put her shoe back on because she wouldn't get out of the car with it off. The next 5 minutes went like this: I took Tayla into the house, opened the back of the van, Tayla came out of the house and was running down the driveway, I chased her, put her back in the house, tried to give a bag of groceries to Miana who dropped them on the ground yelling, "it's too heavy!", then I chased Tayla down the driveway again, put her back in the house (at this point we still have not gotten any groceries into the house), I then gave a bag to Carter who started into the house but couldn't get past Miana who was just standing in front of the stairs to the house, I then took the last 6 bags of groceries out, loaded them on my arms, and told her to move, Carter then pushed past her and although he didn't hurt her or knock her down, she fell to the ground crying and wouldn't move, I about dropped the groceries, went out of the garage and through the front of the house so that I could get inside and get the first of the groceries in. I still don't know if all of the bags ever made it into the house. I went out to the garage and shut the door so Miana could only come into the house or stay there. When she saw that I wasn't going to get her, she stopped crying and simply walked into the house. All of this was made worse by the fact that Dave is in Cincinnatti so I knew I wouldn't get any help at all. I was done being a parent by 10am. At 11am my mom stopped by, she couldn't stay long but just having another adult made it so I could make it to nap time and feel like I could be a good mom again. It was a long day, but as hard as it felt at the time, it ended with my oldest child leaving the house for a few minutes and saying, "Don't worry, Mom. I will be back soon to hug you!" He is a good boy and really helps me make it through the tough times! Miana and I are once again friends. I have gotten over the morning stress and moved on. I love my kids and hate when it all feels too hard to handle. I'm grateful for little moments that make everything better!!!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Spencer's lesson

I hesitate to post this on such a public place, but as I do use this as my personal journal and record of what goes on in our lives, I feel it was necessary. Although it was personal for him, it is a moment that has brought me great joy as a mother and I wanted to share my joy and not just focus on the funny or unfortunate things that happen to us.
A week ago Spencer and I were working on his Faith In God book. Faith in God is a program at church for 8-12 year olds. There is a book with goals/assignments that help children learn and grow spiritually. The 8-11yr. old boys can use some of the items in the book to earn their Religious Emblem for cub scouts. Spencer and I work on these items on Sunday afternoons. One of the items was to tell the Joseph Smith story in your own words and talk about prayer. Spencer decided that he would teach Family Home Evening the following day and teach about J.S. On Monday night, he told the story and it went very well. Afterwards, he came up to me and said, "Mom, ever since I taught about Joseph Smith, I just feel so good! I want to do good things, I want to help people, I want to be nice." I explained that what he was feeling was the Holy Ghost and that it was trying to tell him that what he had talked about was a good thing and was true. After we spoke, he was so excited that he ran over to Dave in the other room to tell him that he was feeling the Spirit. He was on cloud 9 for several days and after a few days he came to me and said, "Mom, I just can't wait until I get to give a talk again because I want to feel the Spirit again!" I told him that he could teach FHE again the next Monday, which he did last night. He is growing to be such a wonderful young man and I feel that he will do great things in his life. I am lucky to have him and honored to be his mom!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homework Fun - don't read if you're easily offended or have "sensitive" eyes

Tomorrow is the last day of school. The boys are excited for summer to come so they can play and play and play and play. At our school on weeks like this that tend to have lots of parties, they stagger parties so that there aren't 1000 parents trying to park at once. We don't have a lot of parking and there are usually only about 10 extra parking places on any given day, so having class parties all on the last day of school, when you then have 20 cars per class 3-5 classes per grade, just isn't an option. Spencer's party was on Tuesday from 12-1pm and Carter's party was the same day, 12:15 - 1pm. Their classrooms are across the hall from each other, so that works out nicely. The girls and I went to Spencer's class for pizza and then went across the hall to Carter's class for ice cream. It was perfect!

While we were in Spencer's classroom, the teacher and I were talking about how well Spencer is doing and what nice young man he is becoming. She chuckled and said, "I have something to show you. You can have it, as long as you promise to keep it forever, for the rest of his life." I agreed and she handed me a piece of paper off of her desk. It was a copy of Spencer's very last homework assignment from June 4th. The assignment was to say what you thought you were going to do for July 4th and draw a picture. When Spencer doesn't want to do his homework, he actually will take a lot longer to do it, try to spell everything right, and put some effort into it (he does this because he's trying to prove to me that it takes too long to do.) When he just does his homework to get done quickly and be able to go out to play, he doesn't try to spell things right and doesn't put ANY effort into his drawings. June 4th was a day that he just wanted to get it done and go out to play, it was also a day that I just glanced at the book to see if he had written something and saw that there was a picture. I didn't take the time to read it... a mistake I will not make again...
It says, "Independence Day is on July 4. We are going to shoot fire works."
The teacher told me that she had made copies and was passing them out to everyone at the school (teachers, not students) She said it was the highlight of the year. Then she told me that the best thing about Spencer was that he didn't even know it was a bad word - I wonder how long that will last!

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

FHE - Carter Style

Transcript from Monday night:
(As we gathered in the family room)
Me: Time for Family Home Evening!
Carter: I want to give the lesson... I have something to talk about.
Me: Oh. Okay. Carter's giving the lesson today.
(we sang and had an opening prayer)
Me: Okay, Carter, we turn the time over to you for the lesson.
Carter: I want to talk about vehicles.
Me: Okay... ??? What do you want to tell us about vehicles.
Carter: Um... They have engines and use gas to go.
Me: How does this help us?
Carter: Um... because an airplane is also a kind of vehicle and they are faster than cars.
Me: How does this help us in our lives?
Carter: I don't know.

It was a good Family Home Evening!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Hooray, hooray! We're off to Luray!!

On Memorial Day weekend, late on Saturday night, Dave says to me, "I think we should take the kids to Luray Caverns."
My initial reaction is, "What!?! I have been with them all week, I want a day to relax, do nothing, and not stress out!" So, I started doing some research ready to tell him that it was just too far away, too expensive, and too much of a hassle to deal with it. I did some research and found that admition to the caverns, a museum (actually 2 museums but we really only wanted to do 1), and an outdoor maze would only cost us $90 for our family of 6 - not bad for this area where it costs $8 for a kid to get into a matinee movie, more than that to go to a tiny petting zoo, etc. So... not too expensive. Then I found out how far away it was... 2.5, 3, 4 hours away? Nope. 1.5 hours from here... not too far. Too much of a hassle, probably, but it might be worth it if the kids liked it. So, with 2 out of 3 in his favor, I agreed. It was time to make plans. I immediately thought of cub scouts and remembered that there was a belt loop and pin about geology and wondered what we needed to do to help Spencer earn that. One of the requirements for the pin is to visit a place of geological importance - hmm... Luray definately counts!
Once I sorted out what needed to be done there, I was able to start getting excited about this trip. We woke up on Monday morning, packed up lunch, water, snacks, and juice boxes, packed an extra change of clothes for each of the girls, and packed everyone into the car. We left at 7:40 and arrived in the parking lot in Luray at 9:05. There were very few people there and we were able to get a good spot. Dave bought tickets and we went in. Dave, the boys, and I were all given head sets for the tour.
It was pretty nifty. As you walk through the caverns
there are signs with numbers on them. Each sign has a number 101-119 for the adults and a corresponding 200 level number for the kids tour. [For example, sign 101 also had the number 201, sign 102 also said 202, etc.] You see a sign and type that number into your head set and it plays the part of the tour for that area. It was great and the kids were able to do it on their own (more or less).
They don't give headsets to children under the age of 5 (both because they don't listen to the whole tour and they are more likely to ruin it) so Miana was fairly disappointed and Dave and I spent a lot of time with our ear phones on Miana's ears.
After the caverns, we stopped by the car for a quick drink and off to the outdoor maze. It was just hard enough that no one was bored, but easy enough that no one was in tears ready to quit. They had four goal markers for you to find and a stamper for you to stamp a card each time you got to one. It was very well done and lots of fun. After the maze, we went into the car and carriage museum. The boys liked looking at all of the old cars and seeing what is the same and what was different.
Dave then took the girls out to the car to change diapers, and get them in their car seats while I let the boys each pick out 4 crystals (one for each kid) as souveniours. We also bought a rock identification kit (has 15 rocks 5 each of igneous, metamorphic, and sedimentary) - another part of Spencer's geology belt loop and pin. We then went to a park, had lunch, and headed home.
Overall, it was a fantastic trip and worth every second of it!!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Basement update as of Friday, Painting is done!

Coming down the stairs
The rec room (sorry it's so dark)
The bathroom shelves (just to show the color)
The bedroom - the same color as the bathroom
The media room is gray with a touch of blue, which is different from the rest of the basement which is blue with a touch of gray(notice that dave installed the in-wall and in-ceiling speakers)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Basement In Pictures

It has been a long 2 months for me. I have constantly had to deal with loud noises, banging, weird smells, stuff everywhere, and if that weren't enough, I also had guys downstairs in the basement doing similar stuff. We started towards the end of March and this week they finished the painting. It's exciting to see it all coming together. Next week they are doing the tile work, then it will be 1 week of finishing touches and carpet. Here are pictures of the basement up to Monday of this week.

Step 1: Framing
a) half media room/half bedroom b) hallway/media room/bedroom/bathroom c)bedroom d)rec room

Step 2: French Door and Big Window
a) rec room b)bedroom window

Step 2.5: (plumbing, electrical, wiring, and insulation)
a) bathroom plumbing

Step 3: Dry wall
a) rec room towards stairs b) rec room towards door

Step 4: Shelves and Priming
a) media room shelves b) bedroom c) rec room towards stairs d) bathroom looking at shelves and door to bedroom e) closet in bedroom

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

If you ask me if I have mustard, I just might slap you...

I hate mustard. Growing up, I never liked it on sandwiches, hot dogs, or hamburgers. I don't like the way it tastes by itself at all. As a teenager, I found that I did like just a hint of it to make the perfect potato salad. When I went to college, they had a perfect blend of mayo and mustard that they called sandwich spread. It was amazing. The mustard was barely detectable but it gave the sandwich that little something extra. Just after my mission, I was at my grandma's house and I heard my aunt say, "Dad used to always say that to make the perfect sandwich the mustard needs to be touching the meat." I was intrigued by that statement and wondered if it really mattered where you put the mustard in the sandwich. I started craving a hint of mustard on sandwiches when I was pregnant with Miana. I still don't like the way it tastes by itself, but I usually like just a hint of it on sandwiches. I do think the sandwich tastes better when there is a little mustard next to the meat, I don't know if that's a fact or if that's because I think of my grandpa every time I am putting it on my sandwich. No matter the reason, I choose to have mustard in my house. Some days I wish I didn't.
Miana got a brand new bottle of mustard out of the pantry, opened it, took the foil seal off the inside, and dumped the entire bottle on the carpet in the dining room. (Those of you wondering where I was, I was playing with Carter in the next room. Miana often plays quietly with her dolls in the dining room. She was in with me just a few minutes before this was discovered.) Here is the carpet after scraping off globs of mustard, cleaning it with the Bissel spotlifter, using 2 different kinds of carpet cleaner, a Hoover steam cleaner, Wink laundry stain cleaner, RIT tough stain remover, oxy clean, and pouring Clorox 2 directly on the carpet. I think I went over it about 30 times with the steam cleaner. This is the current (and permanent) state of our dining room carpet.
Paige asked me if we could buy a rug to cover the stain. I said, "You mean like the one already in the room that we bought to cover the big blue stain in the center of the room that Spencer did when he was Miana's age?" Yes, I've been here before. I will likely be here again.
It may not matter where you put the mustard in a sandwich, but it does matter where you put it in the pantry.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

PokeMom (and PokeNana)

While waiting for my mom to meet us to run some errands yesterday, my children were in the back seat talking. At one point I had to jump in the conversation for some clarification.

Spencer: TyPhlosion isn't here yet.
Carter: I hope TyPhlosion comes soon.
Me: Who's Ty Frozen?
Carter: Nana.
Spencer: It's Ty-Phlo-sion
Me: Nana is TyPhlosion?
Spencer: Yes. TyPhlosion is a Pokemon.
Me: Who am I?
Spencer: Onix.
Me: Onyx? That sounds cool.
Spencer: Well, maybe you should be Vulpix.
Carter: Yes, you should be Vulpix.
Me: Onyx sounds cooler than Vulpicks.
Spencer: Onix is a boy.
Me: Could I be Onyxa?
Carter: Onix is a rock guy.
Me: I don't want to be a rock guy.
Spencer: Vulpix is a cat... and a girl.
Me: I guess I am Vulpicks.

Yes, I am now a cat-like, female, Pokemon named Vulpix. Hmmm....

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A morning out

Today we had to take Tayla to a quick doctor's appt. When we were leaving, the doctor asked Miana to give her five. Miana wasn't paying much attention and instead of giving the doctor a "high five" she smacked her in the face. That was great.
Then we were off to the store. Tomorrow is Carter's birthday so I let him pick out a few things for dessert this week. He got cookies to take to school tomorrow, a chocolate mint pie for dessert tomorrow, and a cake mix and frosting for me to make him a cake for Saturday when we have some family over. While we were doing self check out ( the only lane with no one in it) I asked Carter to bag the groceries while I scanned them. Miana climbed out of the cart and decided to "help." After she pulled off (and pulled apart) an entire group of plastic bags, I finally got her back into the cart. We finished up and left as quickly as we could.
In the car, Carter started doing math problems. Lately, he has been showing off by challenging himself to harder problems. After figuring out what 102 + 103 was, he decided to ask me a question...

Carter: What's donkey + donkey?
Me: 2 donkeys
Carter: Wrong. Double donkey. (he chuckles) What's donkey + donkey + donkey + 4?
Me: That depends, does the 4 mean 4 more donkeys or is it just the number 4?
Carter: 4 more donkeys.
Me: Then the answer is 7 donkeys.
Carter: No, it's 4 donkeys and 1 squirrel. You were wrong.
Me: Oh, I didn't know that there was a squirrel.
Carter: Well, there was a squirrel.

I now know that 3 individual donkeys equal 1 squirrel and can not be combined with the 4 additional donkeys to equal 2 squirrels and 1 donkey, that would be incorrect. Also, 4 donkeys do not equal 2 double donkeys, that is also incorrect. Good to know.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tonight's Homework Assignment: Probability

For Spencer's homework, tonight's assignment read: What is probability? Write down something that is "certain," something that is "possible," and something that is "impossible."

I wanted to make sure he understood the concepts so I thought of an example. I said, "Let's pretend that you have a bag of M&Ms. It only has blue ones and green ones. If you reach into the bag and pull something out, what is certain that you will get?

Let's take a break and explain what I was looking for... I am looking for "it is certain that you will get M&Ms, it is certain that you will get a blue or a green, etc." When I ask about possible the answers should be "green" or "blue." For impossible, I am looking for an answer like, "a red one, a yellow one, etc." Now back to my question:

Let's pretend that you have a bag of M&Ms. It only has blue ones and green ones. If you reach into the bag and pull something out, what is CERTAIN that you will get?

Spencer looks up at me and with all seriousness replies, "You will get fat."

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Headaches, Hassles, and Hammers: Beginning the Basement

Sometime near the end of February, Dave said to me: I think we should refinance our house and take out money to finish the basement. We did a little research and it appeared as if we might actually be able to do it if the price was right. We guessed (and really, it was a guess) that it would cost around $25,000-30,000 to finish it. We set up appointments with 3 contractors. We liked the first one (Thursday night visit), loved the second one (Friday night visit), and third canceled because his daughter was in the hospital (Saturday morning visit.) On Monday morning, we got our first estimate back $47,000 but he would take off $2000 if we wanted to do the painting ourselves. Um... Wow! The next day we got the next estimate back, it was under $35,000 for everything we could possibly want including some custom built-in shelves. This was from the contractor we liked better anyway! We called several references and each time we were told, "We had to hire him to fix what another guy messed up, we wish we had just hired him from the beginning." One lady invited us to her home to show us what he had done for her. His attention to detail and creativity were astounding. We decided to go with him. We were told by several people afterwards that we could probably finish our basement for less. We told them that we know, but we are paying for peace of mind, quality of work, and Dave not needing to do any of the work (his time is much too valuable to me.) So, he put together a contract and set March 15th as the start date. We called the bank to find out if they would refinance us - nope, they need our loan to be only 75% of the worth of our home (we didn't know exactly the percentage, but knew it was more than that.) We called the financial division of our insurance company - nope, they had a maximum of 80%. We knew we would be between 80-85% so that wasn't flexible enough for us and both of these companies wanted $9000 in closing costs, something we just didn't have. Finally, I remembered a comercial I had heard years back about a company that did no closing cost loans. Basically, they give you a slightly higher rate on the loan so that they don't have to charge an origination fee. But, that's not what the comercial claimed nor is that what their website says. Both say, "No Closing Costs." I spoke with the broker assigned to us and asked very specifically about the closing costs. I was told that there were no closing costs. When my husband got home from work, we spoke with him again, this time we asked about the closing costs and were told that our only out of pocket expense would be the appraisal fee of $400, that everything else would be rolled into the loan. Everything else? The next day, I spoke with him again, asking for clarification I was told that there are some fees that are standard and can't be helped, he quoted those to me and said that they just don't charge an origination fee. Feeling like he had adequately answered my questions and that his closing costs were significantly lower than the other companies, we quickly proceeded to gather the required documentation. On Friday, we received some paperwork in the mail. The numbers just didn't add up. Also, there was a $1800 origination fee listed. When I questioned him about it, he said he would look into it and let me know. I felt uneasy the entire weekend. I felt like he was trying to pull one over on us. I just couldn't shake the feeling. Late Sunday night, Dave and I said we would contact a couple more brokers on Monday to see what they could do for us as a back up. Monday was 2 weeks before our expected start date on the basement, I was getting nervous. We found a broker that had worked with my dad and he was very responsive to us and promised that we could close, "within 2 weeks." Feeling more at ease with the situation, we called and canceled the other broker. He called back the next day to find out why we had cancelled. I wasn't home at the time and when I got home, I quickly sent him an email, explaining that although he was very pleasant and easy to work with we were uncomfortable with the claim of "no closing costs" that somehow included thousands of dollars worth of closing costs and that simply rolling them into the loan was not the same thing as not charging them to us. I asked him if he would please submit the refund for the appraisal that we had paid for but had not been done. He sent me a very hateful email telling me that it was not his fault if I didn't understand the difference between a "no points loan" and "no closing costs" and that he had only ever claimed that we not going to pay points on our loan. What?? That email was the first step in a 4 week nightmare. Although he agreed in his email to refund our $400, he did not do it. I had to email him 2 more times before he finally did it. Our new mortgage broker did not request our appraisal to be done as a rush, so, even though we got our information to him on Tuesday, we did not hear from the appraiser until Friday to set up and appointment, he was not able to come until the following Tuesday and would not get his report turned in until Thursday or Friday. That Friday, we did not hear from the appraiser but we did receive a letter from Title Company saying that our closing was scheduled for March 25th in Woodbridge (2 hours away.) I frantically called to find out why we weren't closing as close to March 15th as possible and why we were closing at a location 2 hours away. I was told that it was a form letter and that they would work towards having us close closer to home and closing sooner. The whole thing still had me very nervous. On Tuesday morning (the day after we were supposed to start work on the basement,) we finally heard back from the appraiser. Good news! The house appraised high enough so we could do a conventional loan and cover all of our closing costs, phew! Finally some good news. I was assured that the loan would be passed onto underwriting and that we could close by the end of the week so we should go ahead and sign the contract. We signed a contract with the contractor and paid him his down payment with the promise of being able to afford the basement by the end of the week. He required a sizeable payment on the first day of work. He set his start date as March 25. More good news. We would be able to close this week, get the money in the account, and then have him start. On Wednesday afternoon, I still hadn't heard anything on a close date and time so I called the broker. He said he would call me back. I found out on Thursday that the loan still hadn't gone through to underwriting. I was told to call his manager if I had any questions. The manager told me that Friday was going to be our broker's last day with that company and that he (the manager) would be taking over our loan. I was frustrated and angry. After several more phone calls I was told that we would close until Wednesday at the latest and that the money would not be available to us until 3 full business days after our closing. On Monday, I still hadn't heard anything on being able to close. I called our new broker and he said he was sorry for the delays and would give us a lower interest rate to say sorry. On Tuesday afternoon (we are now 3+ after contacting this company who assured us we could close "within 2 weeks") I received a phone call from the processer telling me that she had just barely submitted my loan to underwriting and that we should hear something by Friday. WHAT!?!?! We were promised just last week that we would be closing NO LATER THAN Wednesday. I called our new broker. He assured me that this was not the first time the loan had been submitted and that this was a resubmit and that he could have the loan papers to the title company within 20 minutes after approval and be all set for closing anytime after that. I told him that was not what she had indicated and he said he would call me back. An hour or so later, I got a phone call... this was the first time it had been submitted. It had sat for an entire week without anyone doing anything on it. That's not an exageration. Tuesday to Tuesday. No one can account for any work that was done on it during that time. He again appologized, gave me the new loan rate and said he would try to get it through underwriting quickly. It was approved Wednesday afternoon and ready to go. I immediately contacted the Title company to set up our appointment to close. She said she needed to contact the closing agent to set it up and asked for my schedule on Thursday and Friday. I told her Thursday was much better because Friday was a really crazy day, with me being busy from 12:30pm-3pm and absolutely could not change that. Thursday morning, she finally emailed me to tell me that she was about to call the closing agent. Late that afternoon, she called me to tell me that he was ONLY available on Friday afternoon and wanted to know if we could close at 1pm on Friday. What?!? Why did you ask for my schedule if you were going to totally disregard it. I had a doctor's appt. for 2 of my kids that day and would not be able to change them. She finally said that he could come at 4pm. On Friday, at 1pm, I got a call on my cell phone asking if we could move the close time to 2pm. Um, no, the soonest I can be home is 3pm, as I stated in my email. He said, "great, I will be there at 3pm." Um, okay. I will rush home. I walked into my house literally 3 minutes before he pulled into the driveway. I didn't have time to tidy the house or anything! We closed on Friday at 3pm. That's Friday, March 26th. Nearly 4 weeks after first contacting a company that said they could close within 2 weeks. We didn't get our money into our account until the following Wednesday. It's sooo frustrating. But now we have our money, the basement has been started, and we have paid off our van. It's sooo nice! Yay! It's all over!!

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Don't let the unnawears catch you unawares

Miana calls underwear "unnawear." I never know what to expect when I open the door to her room in the morning or after a nap. Usually she has every piece of clothing she owns out on the floor and she is wearing something unexpected. One Sunday morning, she came out with her swimming suit on and informed me that she was going swimming with Papa. I love the fact that she always has a plan.
Underwear and potty training don't necessarily go together in her mind. We spent 2 full days wearing underwear and only sitting on the potty once, but just to try it out, not to actually use it. In those 2 days she went through every pair of underwear we own, twice! My favorite is when she came out of her room wearing a plastic diaper cover with nothing under it and told me that she found more underwear.
This morning, I opened the door to let her out of her room and found her standing there in some clean underwear with another pair in her hand. "This is for Tayla," she announced and would not let up until I promised to put them on her. So... here is our underwear morning:

Monday, March 22, 2010

Pass the peas, please

Last night we had peas with dinner. I had a few left over so I put them in the fridge. Tonight, I gave the baby a few of the cold leftovers with her dinner. Miana saw them on Tayla's tray and wanted some. I told her they were just cold ones, but she didn't seem to care and ate few off of the tray. Then Carter came over and saw the peas and asked for some. We had just finished dinner and I was trying to clean up and didn't want to go through the trouble of heating them up. I told him that he could have some tomorrow at lunch. He started to cry. He wanted peas NOW! Miana tried to console him, "They just cold, Carter." He got over his tantrum quickly, I went on cleaning up after dinner. I finished up, turned around to see Carter and Miana huddled over the bag of cold (but not frozen) peas. They were grabbing them out by the handful and stuffing their faces as fast as they could... It reminded me of the last time we had M&Ms at our house. Next time you are at my house, don't be surprised if you hear things like, "If you clean up your room you can have a handful of peas."
I really love my kids!!

Monday, March 8, 2010

I don't even know where to start...

We are trying to refinance the house and I have been horribly stressed out in the last 3 weeks. We had a horrible experience from one lender and had to switch last minute to another. Why does this matter? Because it is a major reason why I need a vacation. Today, I had the overwhelming task of trying to get the house ready for the appraiser to come tomorrow. I've been really busy and had things for each child to do. The boys got home from school and Spencer started crying because I informed him that after homework was finished, he would have to do 2 clean-up jobs. Then, we could go out to play and come in and do 2 more. Apparently, at school they did speed cup stacking and he didn't get a gold medal. He didn't want to tell me that, I was supposed to figure out that's why he was really crying. So, homework took about an hour because he had "had a really hard day." Then, while he was cleaning up, Carter and I finished his homework and he went out to play. I needed to find some paint and while I was in the basement looking for it, Carter (almost 6 years old) came back downstairs to ask me if he could go to the park with some friends. Here's the conversation:
Me: Is an adult going?
C: Yes, Mr. B-- is coming
Me: Really? So it's okay if I call them and check?
He got the look which tells me he is lying and and I asked if he had lied to me, he admitted it, I told him that he could not go out to play at all and that he needed to go upstairs and wait for me to come up so we could discuss punishment. I was downstairs about 3-4 more minutes, came up and the phone started to ring.
Man on Phone: Ma'am, this is Deputy Randolph. Everything is fine, I just have your little one here and he said he had your permission to come up to the park by himself.
Me: No, actually, he just got in trouble and was told not to leave the house. He is absolutely not allowed to go to the park by himself.
Deputy: Oh, well, he was walking very quickly. Do you want to come and get him?
Me: Yes, I'll be right there.
Luckily, Denise had just stopped by to check in on me and agreed to stay with the girls. I threw on my sandals and ran up the street to the park. There I saw 2 police cars, one with it's lights going, parked on the side of the road.
I wasn't sure what to do or say. I got down on Carter's eye level. Asked him all of the "are you allowed" questions, made sure he knew all the right answers, and then turned and thanked the 2 deputies. Deputy Randolph explained that they were sitting in the parking lot and saw this small boy come walking as fast as he could up the street and cross it all by himself. Carter really is petite and doesn't really look like he is 6 (almost). The deputy looked at Carter and told him that he is too little to be able to see all the cars coming and that he really needs to have a grown up help him cross the street. I had Carter say thank you and shake hands with the 2 deputies and I thanked them and we left. As we walked home, I talked to Carter about crossing the street, I talked to him about being obedient, and we talked about consequences. He was not happy that lying, disobeying, and getting stopped by the police all carried punishments. He has pretty much cried and whined all afternoon about not being able to go outside to play. I told him that he shouldn't choose the first day in the 50s to be the day he gets in trouble. Too bad for him, tomorrow is supposed to be in the 60s... he'll be inside doing extra chores!
I really need a vacation... alone... well, maybe Dave can come...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The final week of January

The first grade share show: First graders get to do a musical presentation for their families. This was Spencer's second year getting to participate, next year we get to watch Carter do it, that's 3 years in a row of getting to watch!

The Girl in the Plastic mask: On Tuesday (Jan. 26) Tayla wasn't feeling well so I decided to take her to the doctor the next day. On Wednesday morning, Miana woke up with her cough being a bit worse and she said she didn't feel good. So I decided to take her in as well. Turns out that Tayla was just congested with a slight start of an ear infection. Miana, on the other hand, was diagnosed with RAD (reactive airway disease) which acts like asthma, but in this case, was caused by a virus. She had to be on nebulizer treatments for 2 days. She was a good sport about it and it went very quickly, but it brought back memories of Spencer in his dragon/dinosaur mask.

Spencer's very first Pinewood Derby: (January 30, 2010) He even won his first few races!

Overall, we had a pretty good week last week!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

January 23, 2010 - "I don't know if there is a record for this, but if there is, I think we came close"

We thought of everything... Printed the programs, set up the chairs, had nice pictures around, verified that everyone would be there, brought a change of clothes, and even remembered the dry underwear. It was all going to go smoothly, right?

Papa preformed the Baptism. The picture on the right is my favorite!

I have to document this or we may forget details, although I doubt it will be soon forgotten. The following account is from my own perspective and it may have been different for someone else. If you were there and want to comment to share your perspective on the events, that would be great, thanks!

Spencer got into the font and as my dad said the baptismal prayer he said, "... of the Father, and (he took a breath in) the Son, and of the Holy Ghost..." I did not know if he had said "of" where he took the breath or not. He put Spencer under the water and EVERYTHING was covered. They got out of the font and pulled the plug and went into the bathroom and started to change. As everyone filed back into the other room, my Brother-in-law says, "isn't it 'of the Son'?" Yes, it is. So he hadn't actually said it right. I took most of guests back into the other room and they were going to get Spencer and Papa back into the font to do it again without everyone watching. The problem was this... the water drains very quickly. It takes 2+ hours to fill the font, but only about 10 minutes to drain it completely. By the time they got back into the font and put the plug back in, there was only about 1.5 feet of water in the bottom. Dad said the prayer and tried to baptize him but he couldn't make it all the way under. So they tried 3 or 4 more times with no luck. They added more water to the font. By this time, almost all of the guests were back in the hallway watching - talk about pressure! They tried 3 or 4 more times with no luck and again added some water. At this point Spencer had a foot come up twice, a leg once, a forehead, an arm, and I'm sure I'm missing a few. I was watching from the side and saw my oldest son's face. He looked exhausted and frustrated. He looked up and I thought he was going to cry. He said, "We'll try one more time and then stop..." At this point, I thought, "oh, no! He's giving up!!" Boy was I wrong... He continued... "and then stop and add more water so we can try again." I have never been more proud of my little man. He handled the whole situation with a maturity I had never seen in an 8 year old before! I can't remember if there was only 1 time more or not, just that he was eventually baptized properly. It was a good opportunity to explain to our friends and neighbors who are not members of the church of the importance of performing ordinances perfectly and with exactness. It was a baptism that none of us will soon forget! (Note: No one actually counted, I thought there were at least 8 times, many others thought it was around 8, so we decided it was 8 times total. The counselor from the Bishopric that was in attendance thought it was much more than that, possibly 10-12 times. As BD said, "that's a lot of sins...")

Here are the family members that were in attendance.
Just for a record, Grandma Tarbet gave the opening prayer, Nana Peterson gave the first talk on Baptism, a musical number - "A Child's Prayer" was sung by Trisha Snow (the Primary Chorister, my Visiting Teacher, and Spencer's former tutor) and Jill Barnes (Spencer's Primary teacher), Papa Peterson baptized Spencer, Dave and Grandpa Tarbet were witnesses, Grandpa Tarbet gave the talk on the Holy Ghost, and Dave confirmed Spencer, and then we had welcomes from Emily Allred (Primary President) and Randy Christensen (from the Bishopric), Jaclyn Peterson gave the closing prayer. The music was led by Heather Ure (Spencer's Primary teacher) and Brother and Sister Allred took turns playing the piano. The opening song was "I am a Child of God" and the closing song was "If the Savior Stood Beside Me." It was a nice service and we are grateful to all who came and all who participated!

Here are some pictures of Spencer in his new suit. No, they aren't great, he was not in a smiling mood when I took them. I had to bribe him to smile in the last picture.

"Happy Martin Luther King Day!" AND Sleepy Girl AND The Party

On Monday, January 18, 2010 I woke up to find that the boys were awake downstairs doing something. They heard me get up and ran upstairs to tell me that I couldn't come down yet. I told them I would take a shower and first and they seemed happy with that. Later, when I came out of the bathroom, I found this:

and these cute boys yelled, "Happy Martin Luther King Day!!!!"

I came downstairs and found that in addition to making the cinnamon toast for me they had also cleaned up the family room and vacuumed it! As I thanked them for their great surprise Spencer said, "We only clean up on Birthdays and Holidays, that's why we don't clean up any other day."
Later that week, Tayla fell asleep in her high chair for the first time. Since this is one of my favorite kid occurrences (falling asleep anywhere, anytime) I took a picture and included it here:

Spencer was not feeling well and had a plethora of symptoms during the week leading up to his 8th Birthday. He started exactly 1 week before feeling nauseous and being very tired. Then the next day he woke up with a terrible cough, then the next day he seemed fine but still had a lessor version of his cough. Then the on Tuesday, just when I thought he would go to school, he woke up at 4:30am with diarrhea. Couldn't send him to school. Tuesday night, he had a slight fever, so not allowed to go to school. Wednesday he woke up fever free and I called the school and said, "he should be there tomorrow." Wednesday afternoon the fever came back, but worse. Thursday I took him to the doctor to find out that he had pneumonia but that he was not at all contagious. I had him rest all day Thursday and Friday I sent him to school with a note to not let him go outside and not to let him run around at all. I figured he could sit in a chair here all day or sit in a chair there all day. I also came into the school at about 11am to check on him to make sure he was not too tired. He was doing fine and seemed happy to be back at school. Friday after school we headed strait to Pump It Up for his Birthday party. He had personal rules about not running around, not working up a sweat and not breathing heavily. He did pretty good at taking breaks and taking it easy. He seemed to have fun and I am glad we decided to do it.
This is Spencer in the white shirt, they gave him one with his name on the back.

They even had some soft blocks for Tayla to play with - she loved it!!

The whole group of kids, so glad I didn't have this group at my house that day:

Spencer in his throne:
The cake: I wasn't paying attention and bought trick candles, normally not a problem, but to a boy with pneumonia, it made it almost impossible for him to blow them out in the first place, but to have them relight was very frustrating! I'm soooo sorry!!

Overall, I think it was a fun week. The weekend was just as amazing! (see next post)