Monday, April 30, 2007

The Cougar in Me

I am feeling rather nostalgic; I just passed the ten-year anniversary of my college graduation. On the one hand, I think Where have the past ten years gone? It seems like just yesterday... On the other hand, I think Wow! I really must be getting old to have graduated from BYU ten years ago! That seems like a lifetime ago. It's kind of weird to try to reconcile both schools of thought in my one little brain.

I loved my college experience. I mean, I really loved it. I loved being around so many LDS kids; I'd never lived in such an atmosphere and I just ate it up. I had my share of roommates--some with whom I will share lifelong friendships and others from whom I learned important lessons about learning to get along with others. I worked several jobs in my years at the Y: telemarketer (I'm always polite to them on the phone; I've been there!), custodian, laundry worker, folklore archivist.

I remember my bitter-sweet feelings on graduation day. I was so excited! I was happy to be done with homework. I couldn't wait to read only books I'd chosen. I was happy thinking about not writing paper after paper (we English majors did have our fair share of those). But, I was sad to leave. And a little scared. I wasn't sure what was going to happen in my life. I wasn't married (the horror!) and didn't have a job lined-up. I did have my boyfriend, my Michael, and he was fun, but I wasn't sure he was what I was looking for. I had all of these conflicting feelings going on at once.

Despite my butterfly-filled stomach, I had a great time with the whole graduation thing. My roommate, Kimber, and I took tons of cheesy photos in our caps and gowns (the pics are MIA in my house right now) and my entire family was there to cheer me on (thanks to my brother's wedding taking place the next day).

I was the second of my parent's children to graduate from college. Neither of my parents is a college graduate and they very much encouraged all of us to go on and get a higher education. They sacrificed quite a bit in order to help seven of us go to college. I recognize and am extremely grateful for that. I can't imagine the story of my life without the chapters at BYU in it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Flashback Friday!

I must credit my cute friend, Lynette, with the whole "Flashback Friday" thing. She does it on her blog and I think it's a neat idea.

This photo was taken September 1, 1997 at Yosemite National Park in California. Michael and I had just gotten engaged the week before and I think his mom was curious about her new daughter-in-law-to-be, so we took a road trip. We drove my little beaten-up Honda Civic for the thirteen hour trip to central California. We had a nice weekend with Michael's mom and stepdad. I had met them before--at their wedding--when Michael and I were newly dating, but hadn't really spent any time with them. They were very welcoming. We enjoyed a day trip to Yosemite; I loved seeing the breath-taking scenery. I think this was the time Bill (Michael's stepfather) showed us how to pan for gold on the way home. To tell you the truth, I had completely forgotten this little trip until I saw the pictures. It's nice to remember.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Wanna do a joke?

Okay, so this post has nothing whatsoever to do with ballet, but I was looking for a picture of Teensy and her best friend, Selena. Then, because Teensy's eyes were closed (again!) I felt I should post a picture of her with them open. So, there you go--two ballet photos to go with a nonballet post.

So, Marlee and Selena are three years old and totally best friends. They are together a couple of days a week and truly miss each other on the days they spend apart. Like many good friends, they have their personality differences. Selena is very easy-going and Teensy is the bossiest bit of goods you'd ever care to meet. Somehow, Selena does not mind this and they get along famously (for the most part).

The other day they were playing in the basement while I was folding laundry and I witnessed this exchange between my older (by 3 days) and wiser (in her own mind, to be sure) daughter and her sweet little friend.

Marlee: Hey, Selena...wanna do a joke?

Selena: Ok!

Marlee: Knock! Knock!

Selena: Come in!

Marlee: No! You're supposed to say,"Who's there?!"

Selena (nodding): Oh.

Marlee: Knock! Knock!

Selena: Who is it?

Marlee (exasperated sigh): Carrot

Selena: Oh, hi, Carrot. Do you wanna come in?

Marlee: No! You say, "Carrot who?!"

Selena (nodding): Oh.

And Marlee started the whole joke over. She started the Carrot joke like three times before moving on to Banana and eventually gave up without ever having successfully delivered a punch line. It was just so funny to listen to. My Teensy was so frustrated with her friend and tried so hard to teach her the whole "Knock! Knock!" joke concept and Selena just had all the patience in the world to try it over and over again. She never lost her cool that she wasn't pleasing her bossy best friend. Eventually, they saw that it wasn't working, so they moved on to a different activity. They seriously just crack me up.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Fairies ARE Real

Anyone who has spent more than two minutes with my darling eight year-old, Maia, quickly learns two things about her. First, she can't be still for a second. Second, she loves fairies. I mean, she really loves fairies. Those geniuses at Disney started a whole new fairy line of merchandise, so when your little girl does finally outgrow princesses, she's got another new fascinating genre just waiting for her. Maia owns, has read, and rereads all eight of the chapter books about these Disney fairies. She builds "fairy houses" in the yard out of sticks and leaves. She dreams of "owning a pet fairy." She's quite obsessed.

This tends to bother her father a little bit because she really thinks that fairies are real. No amount of logical discussion can persuade her that this is not the case. I only get frustrated with it when she relentlessly begs to have a fairy and I have to tell her that is simply not possible. She doesn't believe me. Michael thinks she should grow up and face facts, but she is only eight.

Anyway, on Friday a package was waiting in our mailbox. I grabbed it and took it in the car with me to go pick up kids from school. It was addressed to Maia and the return address clearly said, "Tink. XXXXXXXXXXXXX Arlington, VA 22206" She couldn't believe that she had gotten a package from Tinkerbell herself. She ripped open the padded envelope and pulled out a card. "Maia, may your day be sprinkled with pixie dust. Love, Tink," it read. She was ecstatic. The envelope also contained a t-shirt. She opened it and gasped, "It's Fawn, Mom! Tinkerbell's friend, Fawn!" Fawn is not a fairy with whom I am familiar. None of Maia's books is about her, but apparently she is a resident of Pixie Hollow and therefore a friend of Maia's. The fairy pictured on this shirt, Fawn, is wearing a skirt that is sewn onto the shirt in a 3-D way. "Oh, this skirt is made from spider silk!" Maia exclaimed. I was thinking what in the heck is spider silk? As if to answer my silent question, Maia went on to explain, "Fairies weave their clothes from spider silk so this must be spider silk on this shirt!" She was in heaven. I mean, I just cannot write enough about how my sweet daughter is into fairies.

Don't think she and Mason didn't have a very lengthy discussion about how Tinkerbell could know where she lives (from her visits to where she goes to create her own fairies, or course). For every question they had, they quickly came up with a "reasonable" explanation (she's never actually entered her address into, but they didn't consider that).

As she was getting out of the car, she stuffed the shirt into her bag and mumbled to herself, "I can't wait to show Dad!" Then her voice lowered two octaves and she said in a slightly-mocking tone,"You know, Maia, fairies aren't real!" I had to bite the insides of my cheeks to keep from laughing. She didn't want to show her dad her shirt because she was excited about the shirt; she wanted to show her dad the entire package to prove to him that Tinkerbell and all the fairies in Pixie Hollow are real.

This morning, while she was supposed to be getting ready for school, I caught her writing a thank you note to Tinkerbell. At first, she told me, she was going to email Tink via the Disney website, but then she remembered the envelope with the return address. She is really excited to have Tink's address. "I guess there must be an Arlington in Pixie Hollow," she reasoned.

While I was doing her hair this morning, I noticed her patting a piece of paper sticking out of her pants pocket. "What's that?" I asked. "It's Tink's address. Arlington, VA 22206." She MEMORIZED it. "I'm going to show Eli and Rebecca Tinkerbell's address so they can write her letters, too!" I hope my sister is prepared for all the fan mail she's about to receive.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

On Quilting

Okay, I would never say that I am a quilter. To me, that implies a certain level of expertise currently not found in my brain or fingers. I would, and do, say that I like learning how to quilt. I started learning years ago. My very first memory of actually quilting is sitting next to my mother with some other ladies in our stake who were working on a quilt to celebrate to opening of the Chicago, Illinois temple. My mom was a great and avid quilter and had taken us to the "bee" where she was to contribute to this special quilt. I remember picking up the needle and doing a couple of stitches. I really had no idea what I was doing; I was only nine years old. I seriously only put in a couple of stitches--two or three--and then stopped. It was harder than it looked! I still recall the horrible, private humiliation I suffered when a woman returned to the quilt after a short break and said, "Some of these stitches are just awful. I mean, look at these!" And she proceeded to rip out the sad stitches I had just put in. My feelings were hurt, but it's okay; I lived to quilt again!

About six years ago, my dear, dear friend Jill reintroduced me to quilting. She is a very patient woman with a mantra any student loves to hear: it's good enough. At first, I only made baby quilts and only with her assistance, but now I am comfortable enough to go solo if I so choose. Luckily, I really don't have to choose that because she has opened up her house twice a month for a "Quilt Night." We quilters-of- various-levels-of-expertise can lug our fabrics, sewing machines, rotary cutters, rulers, and mats to her house for hours of fun (sometimes too many hours). We help each other (although to be perfectly honest, Jill does 99% of the helping), learn together, cheer each other on, "ooh" and "ah" at each other's fabric choices and laugh. It's really wonderful. We all work on the same pattern at the same time, but make quilts of different sizes using fabrics of our own choosing.

This is my first "Quilt Night" quilt and it is unlike any other quilt I've made for two reasons; first, I kept this one for myself and second, I hand-quilted it. I was really reluctant to give hand-quilting a try since I already knew how speedy machine quilting can be. Jill had told me, "Trust me, Mendy. You'll love it," and she was right. It was so relaxing to sit and hand-quilt the layers together while I listened to a book on tape (multi-tasking at its finest). And my kids love it. The whole time I was working on it they couldn't wait for it to be completed. Now, they like to snuggle under it in our cool basement. They all want it to be theirs individually, but I say it belongs to the family.

I think my favorite thing about quilting in general is how you look at a pattern and say, "I like that one. I'm going to make that quilt." and then you go and choose fabrics that are more "you" than the ones in the picture. And you cut those big pieces of fabric down and then sew them next to other little pieces you've cut. And soon you have a new big piece of fabric that is more beautiful than all the other pieces were alone. It's a whole deconstruction/reconstruction thing where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. And your quilt may or may not resemble the one in the picture that you originally liked, but that's okay; it's a great quilt. I just love that.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Getting to Know Me

For hours and hours I could...
snuggle my little girls on the couch
read a book

I feel best about myself...
when I make Michael laugh
right after I get a haircut

I absolutely cannot stand...
mimes (not talking is just not natural to me)
dried spit in the bathroom sink

I am afraid of...
jellyfish--ridiculously so
dying while my children are still young

I love to splurge by...
getting a French pedicure
going out to dinner

I save by...
clipping coupons and shopping the sales
having compact fluorescent bulbs in my house

I am trying to work on...
not getting my feelings hurt so easily
pondering the scriptures more

In high school...
my best grades were in chemistry and French
I was on the Homecoming Court

In college...
I hardly ever spoke in class (except Folklore classes)
I graduated unmarried, unengaged--from BYU

I feel I'm a good mom when...
I take my kids on a outing (park, zoo, etc.)
my girls have hair bows in their hair

I regret...
being dropped by my piano teacher for not practicing enough
not keeping up my Romanian (but I have no one with whom I can keep it up!)

I could never have too many...
hours in a day
good friends

What about you?

Friday, April 13, 2007


Today my boy is seven! I can't believe it. I still remember that Thursday afternoon seven years ago when the contractions started. I kept drinking water and laying down on my left side so they'd stop. My sister, Amber, still makes fun of me for trying to stop "false labor"--it was my due date, after all. Anyway, a few hours later, the contractions were steadily 5 minutes apart and I knew there was no denying the inevitable: my baby was coming. I actually talked on the phone to my sister-in-law, Lindsey, who was in labor at the same time and my brother, Joel, whose birthday is tomorrow. Joel was a little weirded-out that he was going to share his birthday with two nephews. As things turned out, he only has to share with one. After an extremely uncomfortable ride to the hospital, the nurses checked me an pronounced me a "3." I literally sat up in horror/confusion/frustration/anger and said, "That's it?!" Luckily, there was a reason for the ridiculously-more-intense-than-Maia's-labor pains and I had my sweet baby boy in my arms in less than twenty minutes. Even with only his head out of the womb the nurses exclaimed, "This is a big baby!" And he was. He was 21 inches long and weighed 9 pounds 8 ounces. Two pushes and he was out--heaven.

Okay, only someone with very little vanity would even post such a photo of herself. The only reason this photo still exists is that it is such a great photo of my prego-belly. You gotta love the ankles, too.

Mason, my sweet boy, you are seven now and I hope I always remember how

*You read to your little sisters when they are sad
*You love to play computer and video games (this is a new thing)
*You and I have a deal; you are allowed to grow big as long as you'll always be my baby boy
*One time at school you earned a reward and your friend Ali didn't, so you gave him yours
*Your teacher, Mrs. A, says you are a great example to the other students of coming in and getting your work done right away
*Your favorite school subject is Math
*You weigh 62.5 pounds and are 51 inches tall--90% in both
*You give me kisses out of nowhere often
*You sing to Mackenna in your room at night
*You still don't like haircuts, but no longer cry while getting them
*You always make your bed without being asked or reminded
*You like me to imitate you singing your first song, Under the Sea ("Unnerdaseeee")
*You love riding your bike, riding your scooter, climbing trees and running
*You recently begged me to replace your tie-sneakers with Velcro ones (and I did)
*In your journal, you've copied verses of scripture and drawn pictures to go with them

I love you, Buddy!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

From the Mouths of Babes

So, when Mackenna was just learning a few words, I taught her this cute little game: I'd ask a question and she'd answer in her sweet baby sing-song voice, "Meeee!" Here are some examples: "Who loves Daddy?" "Meeee!" or "Who loves to eat apples?" "Meeee!" It really was quite cute, but I think she's outgrown it. Yesterday, I was holding and snuggling her and posed the question, "Who loves Momma?" Her quick reply? "Jesus." Who can argue with that? I guess my telling her that Jesus loves her has gotten through and she's even figured out that He loves others, too. Not bad for a twenty-one month-old.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Rollin' at the Egg Roll

Yesterday was the White House Egg Roll. It's quite a fun family event--and it's free! Well, there is the cost of a good night's sleep the Friday before, but other than that, it's free. Michael's the traditional camper of our family, but this year, since I am neither pregnant nor nursing, he told me I should take a turn to experience it. I was fine with that and honestly thought it sounded fun. Then I heard the weather forecast. Long story short, it actually snowed on us in line. It was quite cold, but we survived and got tickets to the great event.

This year there were several really neat entertainers lined up for the kids.
Miley Cyrus, of Disney's Hannah Montana did a couple of little concerts and Mary Pope Osborn, author of The Magic Tree House series, did a reading from a couple of her books. There were also tons of characters who walked around for photo opp's--anything from Peter Rabbit to Little Nutbrown Hare to a giant Peep (even Michael had to get his picture taken with that one). Marlee couldn't wait to get her face painted and loved the beautiful flowers a volunteer put on her cheek. Mason did the fitness obstacle course and got to pet a live crocodile at the animal station. Maia really loved the Miley Cyrus and Jonas Brothers concerts, but as an aspiring writer, I think she might have liked listening to Mary Pope Osborn even more. Mackenna seemed to love taking it all in and was especially enamoured with the bunny-ear visor she colored herself. I think my favorite part was that, for the first time in like four years, it didn't rain! It was a little chilly, but DRY. My kids all had such a great time. It was wonderful to spend the last day of Spring Break together as a family doing something so incredibly fun. It made my horrible night's sleep on Friday night all worth it!

Monday, April 9, 2007

Easter Finery

Here's a picture of my four adorable children in their Easter finery (Too bad Marlee's eyes are closed--in the shot where her eyes are open the other three aren't smiling). I am a little sad that Mason has rebelled against the cute sweater vests he's worn to church since his infancy. I guess I should be happy that he loves his sports coat and tie combo. He was happy to have new green tie and even got his first lesson on how to tie it. He loves to look more like his dad at church. Who can be really upset about that? What you can't see in this photo are my girls' shoes. When I took them shopping, it was all over when their little eyes saw the glitter. Much to my Maia's dismay, Target only had the glitter shoes for little girls. We got a hot tip that Payless had some for the older girls and headed there. I had gotten Teensy and Mackenna white glitter shoes (trying to curtail the complete impracticality of glitter shoes) and Payless didn't have white. They had bright pink, sliver, and gold. Maia was so happy and thought the silver would work, so I bought them. I mean, she's eight and a half years old and I've never bought her such ridiculous shoes; I guess it was time. The three of them were so happy to wear their new dresses and sparkly shoes. It made me happy to see them all so thrilled.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Of Mice and Mendy

The other night I made a batch of brownies. I was kind of in the mood for chocolate and I thought the kids would enjoy the treat the next day. So, I mixed them up and ate my fill of the delicious batter (actually-baked brownies are far less tempting to me than their near-liquid counterpart). Anyway, I pulled them out of the oven and just sat them on the stove before going to bed. The next morning I went into the kitchen with my children to discover our brownies had been ravaged in the night. The kids hadn't been downstairs yet, and although Michael does enjoy baked goods, he isn't known for scooping them out of the pan with his bare hands or teeth. I thought, "Great, we've got a mouse. EEK!" Of course, that night I went on a wild goose chase to find traps and even bought those ultrasonic pest repeller things that you plug into the outlets. Well, when I got home from the store Michael told me that while he had been reading in the living room, he heard a scratching noise and looked over and saw a mouse run up our couch and under the cushion! Could you die? I could! I ripped open the traps as fast as I could and went about setting them everywhere I could think that a mouse might run. A half hour later we heard the tell-tale snap. We investigated and discovered a mouse under the stove. Michael reported to me that it was still wiggling a little; we both felt bad. I really did feel for the poor little thing. I don't want to be a killer, but I just cannot cohabitate with rodents. I just can't. I prefer my mice in animated form, preferably altering a ball gown for a mistreated stepdaughter, you know what I mean? Anyway, fast forward a couple of days (and mice) and the saga continues. I took my kids to the zoo today (a promised Spring Break trip to the zoo is a promise --no matter the weather) and couldn't get out of the "Small Mammal House" fast enough. That place is full of rodents: naked mole rats, giant elephant shrews, etc. Just hearing Maia read the placards was enough to make my skin crawl. This whole mouse business just makes me feel...dirty. My house isn't that messy, is it? How can there be an entire family or colony or group or whatever-it's-called of mice living in my house without us even knowing? It totally has left a constant mildly nauseous feeling in my stomach. How will I ever know when they are all gone? HELP! Suddenly, I find myself longing for goats...

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

As Far As Kids Go, Eight Is Enough!

I give up resisting the urge to make a blog. So many fun friends do it and I genuinely enjoy reading their thoughts. I certainly don't need another hobby, but since I'm already addicted to reading blogs, I might as well write my own, Right?

My brother- and sister-in-law went on a cruise and left their four kids in the temporary care of another sister-in-law. When they left, they called to ask if Michael and I would step up to the plate and raise their children should the unspeakable happen. Naturally, we accepted.

My plan for Spring Break is to keep busy! I thought a trip to the zoo would be a great start. I invited Flora, who was babysitting my niece and nephews while their parents are away, and Esther, another of Michael's sisters, to go to the zoo with us on Monday. Initially, they liked to idea, but as Monday dawned, Esther was having back spasms and Flora was feeling overwhelmed by caring for 4 kids under seven (she has one 13 year-old). Plan B was for all of us to meet at Josiah's house (where Flora was house/babysitting) for a picnic lunch and some free play. It really is a great place for the kids--5 acres, barn with some animals, huge swing set that virtually rivals our nearby park, and a trampoline--not to mention all the cousins and grandpa who live there. Well, certainly there were scuffles between the boys and girls, but, by and large, everyone was having fun. While we were eating lunch, I kept wondering
what the heck would I do if I suddenly had 8 kids ages 8 months to 8 years? Perish the thought, right?

After lunch the kids were all out running and playing in the yard when suddenly I noticed Maia and Mason running for their lives...from the goats! "Nobody" had gone into the barn and freed Jack and Sara, my nephew and niece's goats. Maia was hysterical. Of course, the more she screamed and ran, the more the goats ran after her. She high-tailed it onto the deck and even into the screened-in porch. My grinning nephew, Ethan, held the door to the porch open so Jack and Sara could join her there. Maia climbed onto a chair and then up onto the table before jumping onto her Grandpa Skip, throwing her arms around his neck and squeezing his waist with her thighs. I grabbed Jack and Sara by their collars and led them out of the porch and off the deck, handed Sara over to Flora and proceeded to pull stubborn Jack back to the barn. The whole time I was trying to walk Jack to the barn, he was pulling the other way and making this horrible gagging noise ("Aunt Mendy, you're hurting him!" yelled Ethan.) Closer to the barn, Jack started to roll his eyes back in his head and make a louder, almost-bleating sound. My back was starting to hurt from walking all that way hunched over with a death-grip on Jack's collar and I was beginning to think that he was going to try to bite me. Then it hit me. I knew what I would do if I inherited 4 more kids and their estate. First thing on my To Do list: Get rid of the goats

Quotation of the Month

There is no way to be a perfect mother, and a million ways to be a good one.

-Jill Churchill