Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Venting, Priorities, blah blah blah...

Okay. I HAVE to vent this one out...

I was at Walmart doing some grocery shopping today. Buying milk, cheese, anything I can get there because it's less than the grocery stores, then I head over to Dave's Market for the fresh stuff. So, I have my cart loaded with canned goods, dairy, some hot dogs, and some frozen items, and I have Matthew and Brooklynn with me. This lady is ahead of me in the checkout line, and her cart is filled beyond capacity. Truly, this woman had a talent at cart-packing. Her cart was filled with a couple matching comforter sets, a couple of candle do-dah thingys, an X-Box 360, and a brand spanking new 26+inch tv/dvd combo.

Hmm...no judgement on my part, people are entitled to buy whatever they feel like, fine with me. UNTIL!!! They have the audacity to make comments like these!

I make a nice comment on how pretty her comforter sets are, and she tells me that she "just couldn't not buy them, she saw them and loved them." and then she admits that "I actually didn't come in here to buy comforters, my two boys are at the dentist right now, and I promised them that if they were good for the dentist that I would buy them an X-box and a TV for their room."

So, I'm totally taken aback. In fact, I'm thinking..."WOW! I totally lost the parent lottery here! Gee Mom and Dad! I was good for Dr. Cutforth all of those years...and what did I get?" (of course I'm kidding guys.) So, I say "Wow, they're pretty lucky boys! How nice of you!" and she says, "Ya, but the dentist is gunna kill me, cuz now I don't think I have enough cash left to pay him."

But she doesn't stop there. She takes a glance at my cart and says, "Wow, you sure are buying a lot of food." "I wish I could afford to feed my family that well." OKAY. Here is the point where she left herself WIDE OPEN for my judgements...but I was very proud of myself. I kept all of my meanest thoughts to myself...thoughts like, "hey, return the x-box and tv and you'll have about $500.00 to spend on food today!!!"

Instead, I simply smiled...took a deep breath, and said, "I sure wish I could afford an x-box and new tv!" (I decided to let her off the hook for the comforter sets and candles...who knows? Maybe she really did NEED new comforter sets and tacky candles!)

There ya have it folks. Everyone has different priorities as to what they do with their finances...for 6 out of the nearly 10 years that Andy and I have been married we've been students, and now we're students living off of loans which we carefully budget to support a family of 6. Not easy. Sometimes you have to not buy the things that you just "Have to Have"...because that's what you do to make things work.

I do regret one thing about today. I lied to that lady. oops. I don't wish that I could afford an x-box...nope. If I had my choice...it would be a Nintendo wii.

Ahh....that was therapeutic. Thanks.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Growing Children

Our first summer out here, we didn't plant a garden because we didn't get all moved in and settled until the last week of July. (Yes, this is the house as we came to it...quite a bit different now.)

Our second summer, we did plant a garden. The kids loved it. They planted corn, peas, carrots, beans, pumpkins, butternut squash, and tomatoes. The rabbits loved it to. And the squirrels thought it rocked. The chipmunks thought we were wonderful people. And our little deer family, who lived in the back field that year became so at home in our backyard that the daddy would casually walk along my flower beds eating the blossoms...he especially liked the red petunias. The wildlife did leave us a few tomatoes, squash, and 4 pumpkins...but they devoured everything else. This, however, did not discourage the kids from going out nearly every day to weed, water, and...watch the plants grow. As the bunnies and gang would clear out more garden space, our children also had more space to plant peach pits, apple cores, banana peels, and old grapes in an attempt to plant a fruit orchard. Needless to say, our harvest was not very fruitful...thank goodness for Giant Eagle's produce section.

Our third summer, we actually went out to Idaho to visit...we figured after two years, we needed to know that the Rockies still existed outside of our memories and imaginations. I cried when we finally got onto I-15, and for the first time in my life, sagebrush looked really nice.
We decided that planting a garden would be useless because we'd be gone for three weeks, and by the time we got back the plants would all be eaten anyway. So, we skipped the garden planting. Before we left, our elderly Jewish neighbor, Harvey, who likes to give me lots of free gardening "opinions"...it's really not advice....it's his opinion on what flowers he thinks I should plant each year...and each year I smile and then plant whatever I feel like, well Harvey told me that we should plant a garden, and that my roses were dead. I know, random. But...we did not plant a garden that year, and my roses flourished.

This is our final summer here. After much debate, we decided to once again plant a produce section for the local wildlife. Except this year, we thought we'd make it open only for the especially gifted and talented wildlife by putting up a fence around it. It will be interesting to see what our harvest is like. The kiddos were so excited to plant their garden again. We did make straight rows...but I don't know how many of the seeds actually got into the rows, and I do believe that some of the corn seeds accidentally got tossed over Harvey's fence...so Harvey may be pleasantly surprised to have some Mormon corn. He did make a point to come over and inform Andy that after examining our garden, he thinks the rows are too close together. Thank you Harvey. But the point really isn't to see how many carrots we can salvage from the bunnies, or how many ears of corn we can get, or even how many big red juicy tomatoes we can pick right from the vine...the point is...well?

1. "The Prophet said to plant a garden, so that's what we'll do!" (see primary children's songbook)

2. When the kids are busy pulling plants (oops, I mean weeds, of course they don't pull up the plants) then they're not busy playing computer games, or watching movies, etc.

3. When the kids are busy digging in dirt, then they are learning about bugs, and earthworms...you know, it's science in action.

4. The kids love watching the little seeds turn into plants...and when it's "their" garden, they really do take ownership of it and learn responsibility.

5. If nothing else, we get to carve huge pumpkins at Halloween right from our own backyard, now what is better than that?

6. It gives Andy an excuse to get out the chainsaw and clear out the dead wood from the golf course trees...because somehow clearing out dead wood greatly reduces the number of bunnies who get into the garden.

7. It gives Sherrie an excuse to NOT go on as many grocery runs...because someday the plants will bear fruit, right??

8. It gives the neighbors something to gossip about...the neighborhood kids something to wonder at, the neighborhood wildlife their very own produce section, and Harvey something to give advice about...thereby bringing a sense of fulfillment to the entire neighborhood. In fact, I think in future, gardens will be more popular sources of neighborhood togetherness than block parties.

9. Okay, I was going for ten...but didn't make it. I know...you readers can fill in the last two great points of planting a garden...come on, let's have it!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Looking on the Bright Side

Here in Cleveland we have a lot of rainy mornings in the Spring...and I always try to get my kids dressed for the weather before they head out the door for school. I had to take this picture of Rachel though, because it was just too funny. There was not a chance of sunshine in the forecast, or in the sky...dark as it could be with rainclouds, yet she puts on her sunglasses. I asked her why, and she said "because it might be sunny at recess Mom." Well, there you have it, the optimism of a Kindergartener. :) This picture was from last week. Today, we have the same rainy forecast and it's dark and cloudy outside...but maybe it will be sunny by recess??? (and my house does not usually look so ransacked...we were doing painting in the girls room, and had the entire contents of the closet and dresser, etc. in the living room. I promise, it doesn't look like that everyday!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Happy Mother's Day

Every year, Mother's Day just keeps on getting better and better. It's so fun to watch my kiddos be all secretive and everything about how they're going to help Daddy surprise me. This year, Tay and Rachey both made me things at school, and tried to be all sneaky about it when they brought them home. Rachel made me a bookmark, which I LOVE because I'm always reading, and I'm usually in the middle of several books at once so I always love a new bookmark. :) And Taylor made me a fun card and wrote that "Even though you make me clean the litter box, you are a good Mommy and I like how you take care of me, feed me good food, read me stories at night, and play with me." hmm...that card is definitely making it in the "keep until they're adults" box. It was hilarious.

The Primary's singing in Sacrament Meeting is always a highlight of my Mother's Day. This year was Brooklynn's first year singing as a Sunbeam. She was so excited to go up there. Two times she stood up to go up to the front and I had to ask her to sit down because it wasn't her turn yet. When it was time for them to sing, she made sure that she was standing right in front. It just cracked me up.

After church while we were waiting for dinner to come out of the oven, Andy took all of the kids up to our bedroom and I heard a lot of giggling and various exclamations of excitement. Each year, Andy always finds ways to make my day awesome. I love it. So, after a while of this secretiveness in the bedroom, they all come running down and Brooklynn blurts out everything they wrapped up for me. (and I pretend to have not heard a word of course)

Here she is, so excited for me to open my "Birthday Presents." We couldn't get her to understand that it wasn't my birthday. She is still convinced that it was my birthday on Sunday. Okay, so I look at this picture and realize that her face does not spell excitement...but trust me, she could hardly contain herself. :)
And, the rest of the pictures will be a bit blurry. This is because of the excitement of my children. They could hardly contain themselves, and it just made me laugh. Here they are telling me which gift to open first.So, Brooklynn convinced me to open her gift first. She had wrapped it all by herself. And she did a great job. I think she used at least a half roll of scotch tape on it. I finally got it open, and it was a picture that she had colored in her primary class. It was so cute of her to wrap it up for me. I loved it. Sometimes, I wonder why we don't just wrap up little notes and give them to each other every day...what a little sweetie.Okay, and I think the kids' favorite gift was the kitchen shears. Funny huh. I can't get over it. They wanted me to go straight into the kitchen and cut something with them. The kitchen shears are now located on top of the fridge. I'm suspicious. You can see Brooklynn's fascination with them...that spells D-A-N-G-E-R.

And this was my favorite gift. As you can tell by the blurriness of the picture, I have just been tackled by three (although you can only see two) hungry children, and I deserved it because I was holding a box of chocolate cremes...yum. I had to open them up right then, and it took a great deal of personal sacrifice to share. Yes, I admit. I'm selfish when it comes to chocolate cremes. My favorite is raspberry creme in dark chocolate. So good. Anyway...Andy knows my weaknesses very well. :)
Mother's Day always makes me realize how blessed I am. I couldn't ask for more loving, imaginative, intelligent, bright children. When they gather around me and I can see them bubbling over with excitement to give me handmade, self-wrapped gifts...and understand that that is their way of showing me how special I am to them...it really just makes everything that I do as a mother so much more meaningful. And it makes me wonder in amazement at how Heavenly Father has entrusted me...with all of the shortcomings that I have...to raise them.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

When Mom's Away...the Baby Will Play

Matthew is now 14 months old, but as tall or taller than most two year olds, which means that he can reach things that most babies his age can't. Sometimes I'm amazed at the things he can get into. With his height has come the gift of speed. He is incredibly gifted at making "quick messes"...and is very creative about the mischief that he gets into. In fact, some of the things that he has done are unique to his siblings...I have to give him credit for that because being the 4th child, many things are "reruns."

For example, one day he reached up onto the top of my dresser and grabbed one of my jewelry boxes. I came up to my bedroom to find that he had emptied out the entire contents of that jewelry box into the bathtub, and then had emptied an entire bottle of shampoo onto them. Apparently, he thought that my jewelry was dirty and needed a good cleaning.

Another time, he got into Andy's sock drawer and put a pair into the fridge, another pair into the office garbage, and another pair into his crib...apparently just stocking up for later on when his foot would be a size 14.

He is also very dangerous around the toilet...he really enjoys watching things flush down...but I won't get into that.

This past week Andy and I have been busy painting the girls' room...well, Andy went on an errand run to the Home steal all your money Depot, and left me there painting. I had put up the gate so that none of the kids could come into the room. The girls were downstairs in the toyroom playing, and Taylor was reading. Matthew was just wandering around the living room playing with his toys...or so I thought. I was painting in the closet and I kept hearing a "plunk" sound, followed by the laundry chute door slamming shut. This kept happening, and I although I wondered who was doing that, I figured that I needed to keep painting and finish quickly.

Later that night, when I went down to sort laundry, I realized that the plunking noises were actually a bunch of miscellaneous objects that Matthew had been throwing down the chute. I put them all on the steps and took a picture of them because I thought it was so funny. Here is his "chute collection."

Yesterday while I was making dinner, again with the gate up so he couldn't come into the kitchen and get into everything...I happened to glance around the corner because I heard sounds in the office. I caught him "figuring out" the computer. Here he is, caught-in-the-act. I LOVE the look on his face.
So, I get him down, and take him into his room with his toys, and ask Taylor to watch him. (Taylor was doing his homework) About 2 minutes later? I hear sounds in the office again, and this is what I see.

Yes, he is trying to explain to me why he actually needs to be on the computer chair taking the printer apart...apparently it needed a tuneup.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Just Beautiful

Last week we had a gorgeous day here in Cleveland, and after school Rachey and Brooklynn went out to our "field" to enjoy the sunshine. I went out back to plant some flowers to find them kneeling down together picking these small purple flowers...they just looked so cute out there that I couldn't resist running inside to grab my camera. So, as I got close to them I kept saying, "Just ignore Mommy and keep doing what you are doing!" They must just think I'm crazy sometimes. :)
I'm so thankful for where we live. In the middle of this noisy, busy city...we have this in our backyard. A field that blooms full of Irises and daisies in the summer. The trees and fenceline that are in the background are a golf course...making for a very quiet, very nice backyard.

Rachey spends so many hours each summer out here picking flowers. It looks like she's teaching Brooklynn how to do it as well. :) Now I'll have two cups of flowers in my kitchen window instead of just one!

So, Brooklynn brought out this umbrella to "keep the sun off". I thought it was cute.

Our Rachel is growing up. It's hard to believe that when we moved here she was only 3.

And now she's a beautiful 6 year old.

(if you click on the pictures, they will enlarge)

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The Boys' Room is DONE!!!

Okay. When we moved into our house, Taylor's room had off-white wallpaper with metallic blue and silver swirly things in it. It was AWFUL...to make it worse, it was peeling. And behind the peeling wallpaper was ugly brownish yellowish wallpaper glue. To make it even worse, the carpet was orangy browny shaggy stuff. To make it even worse...no, I don't really think anything could be all that worse...it was just plain ugly. But hey, we're students so...we deal with it, right?

So, over the past couple of years I've slowly worked on little things here and there...like the one day that I had just "HAD IT!" with that ugly wallpaper and tore it all down. Brooklynn thought that was so awesome, watching mom just start pulling the walls down. She immediately went into her room and started ripping her wallpaper...but that's another story for another post.

Long story short...the room is finished except for doors and flooring, which will come a little later. I love how the room turned out...it is so fun, and well worth the work it took to make it new!

I can't believe it, but I really didn't take any "before" pictures...but if you look in the background of this picture you can see where the wallpaper is only halfway there...and what's behind it is glue haze over old dirty paint.

And here is the room after all the work. I love it. I took about a month to do prep work...filling holes, sanding, filling and sanding again...etc.,etc. Then Andy showed me how to install a chair rail, and it took a while, but I actually got it on STRAIGHT and LEVEL!!! The fun part was painting. Tay has wanted a blue room forever...so I chose these two colors with white trim. Then I put a border of airplanes around the top of the room (so it looks like I may be making him a new quilt this winter to match the airplane theme) and I put the old blinds out on the tree lawn and installed...yes, my favorite...the 2'' faux wood blinds.

This is a closeup of the "buddy wall" as Taylor calls it. I think it turned out really fun. I am a collector of Willowtree figurines...and yes, I designed an entire wall around this "Brothers" figurine. Obsessed? Maybe. A strong maybe.

And here's the slideshow that includes all of the pictures from start to finish...enjoy!

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Rachey's Kindergarten Zoo Trip

Three years ago I remember Andy and I going on Taylor's Kindergarten Zoo trip. Funny thing...it was raining that day too. What is it about field trips and rain? Okay, even in Idaho where it only rains on three days of the year (hay harvest, 2nd hay harvest, and 3rd hay harvest) it always rained on my field trips...seriously...we should calendar the field trips for a certain day...and then secretly plan to go on a DIFFERENT day just to see if we can fool the rain! Anyway, it was a fun day despite the weather!

We had a fun group this year...Rachel, Olivia, Callista, and Gunnar...and Brooklynn of course. I was so impressed with the way that Rachel let Brooklynn join right in with her and her friends, and how they even held her hand, and how they included her at their lunch table. Rachel actually went and sat at a different table so there would be room for Brooklynn. Very impressive. :) What a fun day!

I felt a little bad for poor Gunnar being the only boy in our group...he was a good sport. :)

Here they are in the rain forest...we went here first because it was dry! There's an alligator in this tank that they were looking at underwater, he was submerged. And here they are looking at the Orangutan's (ahem. I don't know have to spell that one...okay orangish monkeys) This mother "orange monkey thing" had the cutest little baby that was climbing the ropes all the way to the top of the dome ceiling...the kids were pretty caught up in it for a while.

By the look on Rachey's face, I'd say that she just saw something really cool, or something really gross...I don't know which.

Here's a bigger group of some of Rachey's classmates...with a couple of siblings mixed in.

Brooklynn was feeling so grown up by lunchtime, that she just plunked herself right down amidst the "big kids" and started chowing. No big deal! :) It was really cute.
And here's Rachey, who was happy enough to move to a different table to make room for Brooklynn at the other one. These are some of Rachey's friends from school, Tamika, Caleb, and Larry.

Here we are after having good healthy nourishment. Notice how Brooklynn climbed up in the back with big sister. Seriously, I was so impressed with how patient Rachel was all day!!!

And little Matthew was a trooper. He was so happy to be carried around in the backpack carrier all day...thanks Andy! I wasn't up for it! (So I was sitting two rows back from Andy and Matthew on the shuttle...and these two old ladies were sitting in the row ahead of me...he was flirting with these old ladies, grinning and cooing....Matthew was flirting, NOT Andy...Andy wanted me to make that clear.)

Here's Rachey at the end of our day at the gorilla enclosure...look at how small her hand is next to the big guy's. Yikes!

Okay, and this is documentation that I was there...strep and all. (Don't worry, it's not contagious past 24 hours of taking antibiotics...and this had been a couple of days) But...I was seriously ready to go home and rest...those Kindergarteners wore me out!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

What I Do When I'm Sick

Rachel was the first to get it about two months ago. Strep throat. Yuck. Then Taylor got it about three weeks ago now. Well, guess what? It's my turn! Not just my turn, but also little Matthew's. So, we are hanging out in our pajamas and not feeling great, in fact we're both downright grumpy. Brooklynn doesn't think we're much fun right now.

Well, I didn't feel well enough to do any work yesterday or today...but I also just can't sit around. I'd rather sleep, but "ha ha ha" when you have small children it doesn't matter if mom is sick, life goes on...so sleep is out of the question. Hmm...what to do. Tada!!! I pulled out a project that needed to be done. A project that I was waiting to do until our remodeling took us to the living room...but hey, I did it anyway! So, here is my new welcome sign on our old wallpaper...in a few months you'll be seeing it against the new paint, but for now...here it is.

So, this is what it looked like to start...just a plain piece of pine...Taylor asked if I was making an airplane for his wall. Hmm.....glad he has so much confidence in my crafty skills!

Here it is on the wall. The lighting isn't the best, but I liked how it turned out. I bought some decorative moulding to put on the top and bottom and then I used different shades of paint to bring out the highlights of the profile.

What's fun to do with the moulding is to use a sponge brush and lightly brush over the top of it. Because the profile has high and low points, the paint only touches the high point. So, I just left the low points as unfinished wood. I used a really light coat of green for the base of the whole project so that the wood grains show through, and then (again with a sponge brush) used deeper tones of green to create shadows and highlights.

This was a fun little project! But now I'm just sitting here with a sore throat and no motivation to do anything else...not good. Oh...Loralee, I thought you'd get a kick out of the color I chose. (laughing)