Saturday, August 30, 2008

Called To Serve

Have you seen it yet? The Mormon Tabernacle Choir is now producing music videos. I love it!

Called To Serve

I couldn't find it on youtube so you'll have to click on the link above and watch it. Enjoy!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Good Friends

Brent Fryhoff and Jay Johnson are two of my choicest friends. Brent and I have known each other since 5th grade when I moved to St. Charles, Missouri. Jay moved to St. Charles around our sophomore or junior year. It's amazing how you can know someone for a relatively short amount of time yet bond together as if you had been friends since time began. That's how Jay fit in. We went to college together; we served church missions (Brent-Argentina, Jay-Italy, David-Venezuela) at the same time; and we've stayed in touch ever since we returned home 9 years ago and transitioned into adulthood.

Not much has changed.

Each of us has now turned 30 and we decided it was time to have a reunion and hike Mt. Timpanogos again. We had hiked it together 12 years ago while attending college.

This first picture is for my mom. (reminder: if you click on the pictures they get bigger) Both my mom and sisters were quite concerned for my safety. I was no longer 18 and they didn't think wrestling with my 5 kids counted as sufficient exercise to tackle such an excursion. Plus, pneumonia the week before didn't help my case. But I insisted that everything would be fine (and it was).

I was in Richmond this past week at a leadership conference for work. John Spence was our keynote speaker. He didn't really share anything new...just a different perspective. But he was effective and inspiring. One role as a leader is to inspire the hearts of others. I reflected upon this hike not even a month ago. Shortly after we began, we could see the summit of Timp behind a ridge far in the distance.

As we journeyed closer, the elevation, my backpack, and my legs were not helping me. I had not prepared for the additional weight that a sleeping bag, tent, and essential camping gear place on one's shoulders. It was a hard lesson to learn.

But here's what inspired me: seeing the summit off in the distance and knowing the satisfaction I would have from that vantage point; looking back to see the view I had already earned; enjoying my current surroundings; and good friends who spoke words of encouragement...and kept moving forward knowing I would follow them.

That is a visual that will stay in my mind for the rest of my life. Our goals need to be clear...we need to know what we're working towards. Occasionally, we need to look back to see how we got to where we are. We need to enjoy where we are currently. And we need to surround ourselves with good friends who will walk the path with us.

Here are a few pictures from the journey:

It was everything I needed it to be. We talked as only friends can. And we had a blast. Now Brent is back in California. Jay is home in Georgia. And I'm in Virginia. I miss them. But I look forward to our next reunion in the future. Thanks guys!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Anya is braver than Daddy

Daddy took Anya to the dentist today. "Dr. Cook...dentistry with a mother's touch." Makes you feel more at ease, right?

I was at ease. Anya kept saying she was scared (with a smile on her face) as we were driving to the dentist. She was pretty clingy as we got out of the car. I whispered to her that I had said a prayer for her and everything would be ok.

Here's a shot of her smile last Friday (to the right):

The pediatrics office was very open and friendly. The assistant that came out to get us was very welcoming and helped Anya temporarily forget that they were about to cause her great pain.

At our previous appointment, the pediatric advised us that Anya needed 6 teeth pulled....SIX! The teeth that were coming in were behind the baby teeth. They weren't pushing the baby teeth out and there just wasn't room for the permanent teeth. Because of the size of her mouth, she may need some permanent teeth pulled in the future. After today, I don't know if she'll go back!

So we go back to the operating room. We turn on The Incredibles and the assistant begins to apply the numbing agent with a q-tip. Then the pediatric came in to apply the numbing "juice." The "juice" references a shot. They gave her at least eight doses...probably more...but I lost count. After six shots, Anya couldn't feel anything anymore. But her upper lip swelled to the point I thought it was going to burst...literally. I asked if that was n-o-r-m-a-l and the assistant said, "her upper lip is kind of swollen, huh?"

I think that's the time I started to feel really hot. And the room started to move a little. Then my head got really light and I broke out in a cold sweat. But I was allowed to sit on the chair with Anya so I could be strong for her. I took a couple of breath's and kept providing Anya with encouraging comments. She really was brave.

Then the dentist pulled out the tool to extract the teeth. I moved to a chair close enough that Anya could still hold my hand. The dentist explained to Anya that she might hear a crackling Rice Krispies. By the third tooth I was having difficulty breathing and began fanning myself. The dentist noticed my reaction and told me to put my head in between my legs.

Anya was very brave.

They provided me with water. Anya got to select two prizes. I didn't get any. I sat for a moment, regained my composure, and carried Anya out to the lobby. I was fine by the time we left (after I got over paying them $200 to cause pain to my little girl...fortunately the insurance covered the other $300).

I offered to take Anya because I figured this kind of procedure required Daddy. Perhaps Mommy will go next time.

This is how our princess looks now. Her upper lip is still a little swollen...but it has come down dramatically. Anya was very brave.

We came home and she put in Pride and Prejudice (Keira Knightley version) and was very happy. I'm still trying to figure out why a 6 year old girl is so infatuated with Pride and Prejudice. Something about that is just very adorable to me.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Photo shoot

Someday we'll have a succesful family photo shoot, right? I think my expectations are way too high. Five kids...all under the age of 8...and I expect them to smile at the same time and do whatever the photographer says.

This morning couldn't have gone any better. The kids were great! Even James was happy this morning and excited to get dressed. We planned to leave the house by 9am and we were on the road at 8:58. It was a delightful ride to Richmond. All 5 kids were in pleasant moods.

As we were getting the kids out of the van, I realized James had a deep red line all across his forehead. I gasped...but Karen and I were both able to laugh about it. He had put a rubberband on his head for a good portion of the trip and left quite a mark. No big deal. Karen and I both were stress-free and laughed and helped James stay at ease.

The kids played quietly as we waited our turn. No fights, no one was crying, and James' red mark was slowly going away.

We walk in to the room for our pictures. I sit in my place...Karen takes her place with Luke, Mark and Anya take their place and then James takes his place...

It was then that James decided he didn't want to be there. He sat down and put his head in between his legs and refused to budge. If any of you know James...Karen and I both knew it was over. James is stubborn and independent. We talked quietly with him. We asked him what he needed. But it was over before I even realized there was going to be an issue. The morning had been flawless. Karen and I couldn't have done anything differently.

Someday we'll have the perfect family picture (please humor me a little here).

So, although a partial failure in my book, here are the shots that were salvageable.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The votes are in!

It's official, although there were demands for a recount by certain persnickety fickle minded boys. No names will be mentioned in reference to a seven year old and five year old who had to be re-convinced that they had actually wanted Medieval Times as a Halloween costume prospect. (I'm not really sure who's idea it was initially, my best one was the days of the week, but none of the kids like it, o well!)

But, it is settled. I used the remember you get to have a sword tactic and got them re-excited about it. Then I sat down and discussed with them the particulars of what they wanted their costumes to look like. Then I asked myself why I do this every year! However after some stress, pattern searching and deliberation we are on track and the piece list has been made. Now we start watching for pattern and fabric sales on key pieces. Whew!

Here are my amusing anecdotes from this week:

Anya and James having an argument about how James assumed that Anya had assumed that James was assuming about something and Mommy always says that you shouldn't assume anything! (Honest, I do, and they really did say it just like that.)

Peter was found using the bath towel hooks to very seriously hang all of his green bucket of monkeys. Don't know why, but it was rather amusing at the time.

Winding up Sunday night/Monday morning sharing my bed with, count em', three kids. Amidst the tossing and turning were James' complaints that Anya thought he was Daddy and cuddled too much.

While changing Peter's diaper this evening (stinky), I finished wiping his bum, and while I rolled the diaper he kept his cute little legs straight up in the air and could not resist the urge to shake it a little to the music. I think Mark had a They Might Be Giants cd in and Peter's little body started to bounce like an aerobic exercise. Left and right, and left and right . . . trust me it was funny.

Well, I'll sign off. David is in Delaware tonight and I am a little tired. Thanks to all who participated in our poll. Once the costumes are made in the next umm, two months, we will definitely post pictures.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

If the goats can do it...

Jay had THE line of our excursion. "If the goats can do it, so can we." Little did he know that he would soon be eating those words.

I don't have much time...because Laurel and I are playing together this weekend...but I got my pictures developed and had to share one quick story.

Here's a picture of Billy:

Here's a picture of Billy and his friends scaling the cliffs of Mt. Timpanogos:

You'll need to look closely for the white dots near the center of the picture. My courageous friend Jay (I can say that because he's in the Air Force and has done things most mothers never want to hear about) wisely stated that if goats can do it, so can we.

After we set up camp near Emerald Lake, Brent, Jay, and I set out for a sunset view atop Timp. Once you get above the tree line, there is nothing but rocks, some snow patches, and more rocks. And by the way, the rocks are loose. So the three of us, expert hikers that we are, saw a path in the distance and determined that we would be able to meet up with it eventually. So we kept our eyes on the path ahead and began hiking upwards. Sometime between "here and there," it became obvious that we were not on a trail. We questioned if it was even a trail used by goats.

I turned around to get back to the original trail while my brave friends continued their journey. I heard a rock slide while I was hiking back. And about the time I got back on the official trail, I saw this:

This isn't the kind of sight you want to see when scaling the face of a mountain. Brent said he saw his life flash before his eyes a few times. Jay followed behind Brent, but when he took his first steps, a few large rocks went tumbling towards Jay decided it would be best to wait for Brent to finish his descent.

Once Brent slid to the official trail, I saw him running towards me...moving out of the way of a rock avalanche created by Jay. Jay found a large rock to rest on while he determined the best strategy for his final descent.

I think Jay has determined to let goats do what goats do...and we humans will stick to the marked trail. It was great fun! We made it to the saddle of Timp in time to enjoy the sun setting over Utah valley.

I'll share more pictures later! I had a blast with Brent and Jay. They are two of my closest friends. We've decided to do this again in 12 years...with Billy.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Bubbles, the miracle toy and some other stuff

This past Wednesday we went to a friend's apartment to go swimming. Before actually going to the pool we played in the apartment for a few minutes. Kids love toys most of all when they are someone elses, so even though all the toys there belonged to and were suited for a 1 year old, all five of mine had a little party.

One of the best things was a bubble wand. It looked at first like a cheap lightsaber knockoff. Small handle, long tube full of glowingish liquid. Then my friend let us in on the magic by unscrewing the handle and pulling out a bubble wand loaded and ready to be blown. I was amazed. How clever! No sticky fingers, minimal drips, no tiny wand falling into the bubble bottle never to be seen again, you know. She said they had gotten it at Walmart, so naturally when we went into town today to run some errands, we stopped the the Walmart in town.

One HOUR later we walked out with a very sad bawling James, and a few things of candy to ease the suffering of the injury. Nowhere in the whole store did they have bubbles. I know lots of toys are seasonal and they don't stock them in the winter and yada, yada, but really! Bubbles! I felt terrible because I wanted to get them bubbles. We lost ours in the move (or I might have thrown them out during one of my cleaning purges) and they have so much fun with bubbles that I really wanted to do this for them.

We headed for home and I had a last chance thought, so I swung the car around, very safely mind you, and headed for ToysRus. They didn't have anything nearly so cool as the sword thing, but they did have some regular sized bottles, so I purchased a few. Now 7 hours later after two bouts of bubble time on the deck and one in the garage due to rain, the bubbles are gone. I am shocked. I think this is a classic case of me forgetting to let them have a childhood. I had to order Anya and James into the house 6 times tonight. INTO the house, not out like normal, but in!

I have found some even cooler bubble swords online that I just might be purchasing soon. So to all parents out there who are tired and worn out and need a break. Buy bubbles. They even have machines now for $13 at Target that will blow the bubbles for you. My kids can blow them on their own, but for little ones, that would be nice. Bubbles, the miracle toy.

In other news today, we had a very brief science/religion lesson it went like this:
Anya: Mom, why are we mamamals? (note, I did not mistype, she actually said it that way)
Mom: Because we are warm blooded, and have babies and have hair all over our bodies.
Anya: okay. (don't you love the innocence of her accepting whatever I say)

James:(very quietly and uncertain) I thought we were sheep.
Mom:(smiling) Well, figuratively we are. As in Jesus Christ is our Shepard and we are his sheep, but biologically we are mammals.
James:(feeling reassured) ok!

I love that I have learned to look for little moments and questions that I can use to my advantage. I always worried when I read others stories about things like that that I would never be able to do it and now I find myself doing it often and I am grateful that I have learned how to listen for the chances.

Oh, yeah, also these pics I just had to add. We got this sleeper for Luke at Target today partly because it was just too cute and more because he needed another one. Why after three other boys I don't have warm weather sleepers in the right size I will never know. Anyway, it and he are too cute. Note the little dog heads on the feet, I don't know why I think it's adorable, but I do.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I Wear My Sunglasses at Night . . .

So I can, so I can see . . .

Truer words were never spoken. (or sung)

My day was very normal and not exciting so I am capitalizing on my sweet husband's misfortune.

I got a call this afternoon. It was David. He made it up and down the mountain without much ado, save for some sore muscles and a sunburn. He will recover, so his Mother can rest at ease now.

I know, right you are wondering where the punchline is. Be patient. It's coming.

You know how much you hate it when you go somewhere far away for a visit and then the moment you return from this long trip realize that you left something behind. I cannot even recall how many times I have done that.

Unfortunately David will remember this for quite awhile. He left his glasses on top of Mount Timpanogos.

Luckily he has prescription sunglasses that he can wear hence the song. He just might be wearing his sunglasses tonight.

Here are some lovely photos the kids and I tweaked for this post. I have been playing on ivillage's make over matic lately and well, it's a lot of fun.

David, you know I love you. I picked the glasses on the left, the kids picked the ones on the right. Both look fabulous! Who doesn't love a man in oversized purple shades :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Slim Jeans

The search for jeans to fit my beanpole children. Perhaps search is an inadequate term, more like quest. The quest. Every year about this time I have to start thinking about who needs how many of which kinds of clothes for the fall and winter months. Normally I start this inventory and purchase process in September, but with family pictures being moved up because of the dental needs of a certain brown-haired daughter, I found myself needing to find jeans for Mark right now.

I have always had good luck in the past with Target. Their clothes seem to lean towards the normal sized kids, while Walmart's go for the hefty kids. It maybe that Walmart clothes are really normal and I have given birth to several stick children, but either way Target has worked best. That of course is where things gets fun because no matter what worked last year, kids are never the same size two years in a row. This is naturally a good thing, but still difficult for beanpoles. With David enjoying his early midlife crisis, I hauled all five kids to Target on Monday and scurried Mark through trying on five different brands/styles/sizes of jeans.

Straight leg, bootcut, slim, 7, 8, regular, loose! It's like a smorgasbord of jean choices for little boys! They all gave him that balloon pants look that screams My pants don't fit-pick on me!

(If you are feeling some very deep and buried issues about kids picking on other kids about their clothing you are very intuitive, but I really don't want to get into all of that right now:))

So we sadly left the store without jeans and I worried where I would try next.

I came home and measured his waist. Then I thought I would start checking online size charts to figure out what size they put him at. He is a 5, barely. For kids, sizes usually coordinate with their ages, so my almost 8 year old boy has the waist of a 5 year old boy. Great. He still has an eight year old legs. Then a ray of hope shone down (or out if you prefer from the glowing computer screen).

Old Navy. Could it be? The store I had dubbed as too expensive for me and with clothes sized for highly fashion conscious skinny people? oh yeah, skinny people! That's exactly what I have! Low and behold their size chart said that a 7 slim would have a waist of 21.5 inches and height measurements that match his height. So it was with great anxiety and anticipation that we arrived at Old Navy just as they opened this morning to attempt to get Mark jeans for the family picture as well as an outfit for his 8 year old pictures which we are doing at the same visit.

I picked out two pairs, one bootcut and one straight leg. The straight leg were the clear winners. We rushed back to grab a second pair cuz, who can beat 2 for 25 for boys jeans?! That's only 12.50 a piece which is actually less than the regular price for Target jeans that don't fit, and these actually fit. Plus I had a 10 percent off coupon, not a lot but it helps a little.

Almost happy ending. Two pairs of jeans that fit and a nice button down shirt that he and I both like (we rarely agree on fashion things, such as I don't consider olive green pants and a kelley green t shirt to be a good fashion statement). We got home and tried it all on again, just to be sure. He frowns. What?? What could possibly be wrong. "Mom, I really don't like light color jeans. I really like the dark ones." I had picked out one dark and one light for variety. He tried to tell me in the store, but I was in my "We're are done and out of here mode" and did not listen. I quickly reassured him that I was more than happy to take the light ones back and exchange them for dark ones. I certainly don't care what color they are as long as they fit! ahh. Victory.

Add to this lovely experience, a semi quick trip to a pool at a friend's apartment complex where, Peter refused to enter the pool, Luke screamed at the sight of water, I forgot to sunscreen myself and the other three whined about it not being shallow enough and that completes our morning and early afternoon.

We arrived home, ate lunch, had a what are we going to be for Halloween this year planning session-see poll to the left-and I colored my hair. (You see I did/botched a home highlighting kit last year which sort of reddish/blondish/bleached parts of my hair and it had grown out so that root to 6 inches down was my natural color and bone straight and 6 inches to tips was weird colored and damaged, which actually is good for my hair it gives it body. All the same I didn't want two toned hair for pictures) I am proud to have chemical stinky, but all one color hair now.

Then I started getting the kids ready for bed and noticed that some were hot and some were lying on the floor with headaches. Three out of five have fevers ranging from 99 to 101. This has been going on for a day or two now and I am almost certain it is just a bug since it isn't really bothering any of them very much, except Mark who has the headache and a cough. So I doled out the Tylenol, gave them water and put them to bed. Now I am off to clean up the kitchen and try and tie the twin sized quilt that is set up in my kitchen courtesy of the ward quilting group that was a near disaster last night. It could have been worse, but only if a rapid animal had clawed through the glass door and attacked. Anyway . . . .

David is camping up on Timp right now, though I fully expect to get a full blogged report when he gets home next week. Enjoy the evening and stay tuned for tomorrow's party: Playgroup and the Library. Will any have a near death experience? Will the books bring the needed solace?

Who knows? :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jury Duty

I got a Jury Duty Survey Letter today.

Sounds really official doesn't it? number 2 pencil, blue or black ink filling in little bubbles. Just like those standardized tests I took in elementary school. It goes over the basics, like are you a felon, do you live here, are you mentally capable of serving on a jury, stuff like that.

There is even a very strict warning on the back which reads:(in bold type and partly underlined)

If you do not return this questionnaire form fully completed you may be summoned to report at your expense for completion of the questionnaire at this office.

At my expense? Hmm, they sound awfully serious.

I ponder what to do. Did I mention that this letter came courtesy of the Jury Commission of McLean County . . . in ILLINOIS.

We moved seven months ago. But there isn't anywhere on this very official form to check a box that says I don't live in Illinois anymore. So I got on their website and emailed the Jury Commission to let them know how far my trip at my own expense would be.

They promptly replied with this

"Thank you for your information. I have deleted you from our list of potential jurors. You may destroy the survey sent to you."

Mostly I just found the seriousness of destroying the survey over the top. Most of the time, people say to disregard or ignore something that obviously cannot apply to you, but destroy! So I thought I would take a poll and see what everyone thinks.

Does destroy mean

a. throw away
b. shred
c. burn
d. crumple up and then throw away
e. frame
f. rip into tiny pieces, then burn and scatter the ashes on the wind

If this post seems a bit off, keep in mind that David left this morning for Utah. For a week. Don't get me wrong when you read this David, I am so happy that you get to go, but everyone knows it's tough to take care of kids alone. My usual relief shift is off duty for six days. Other than a few recorded headaches, some bouts of random crying, a few fevers, and a 10 month old who is teething, we are doing great. Those who know me well, remember what I was like when David and I were dating and had to be apart. This is kind of like that. The first day is the hardest, hence the somewhat quirky/sarcastic/mean posting. It is kind of funny too though, the post I mean. I will try to post each day, or at least if something funny happens. David, be careful and have fun! Power to the Superman Shirt!