Monday, May 28, 2007

It Stayed Inside for More Than Two Weeks...

A couple of weeks ago, Mason found a caterpillar on our front steps. He was absolutely delighted and begged to keep it. I washed out a peanut butter jar, put lots of holes in the lid and together, Mason and I made a home for him with a little twig, blades of grass and some nice green leaves. Well, that little critter munched through those leaves in no time. On day two we gave him some more. Then our little friend grew lethargic. I admit, I was nervous that we just hadn't created the right kind of habitat for the fuzzy fellow. Then, about three days into his stay in our jar he disappeared. We looked between some of the leaves and saw a cocoon! How cool is that? Mason was thrilled! The caterpillar stayed in there for what seemed like an eternity to Mason. Yesterday, as I was making dinner, I glanced in the jar and saw a moth! It was a bitter-sweet moment for Buddy because he knew it was time to say good-bye. We took the jar on the back deck and lifted the lid. It took a little while, but the moth eventually flew away. Mason thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience, as did the girls. And I must say, that is my kind of pet! I'll welcome another caterpillar next spring; I'm sure Mason will be on the lookout.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Beautiful Saturday

Yesterday was a really beautiful day. The morning was somewhat lazy in that we didn't have to get the whole family out the door for a morning baseball game. I did get up at 5:45 to take a friend to the airport, but even that wasn't bad. I ran to the store and got some milk for all to have a happy breakfast and then we just kind of hung out for a little while. I ran Maia to piano and sneaked off to the library BY MYSELF while she was there. That was criminally enjoyable.

Anyway, when Maia and I got back from piano, Michael wanted to go on a family hike. Now, normally, any family activity requires quite a bit of preparation from me: locating and filling water bottles, packing snacks, diapers, and wipes, etc. But for his hike, Michael did all the prep. I was impressed, shocked, and grateful. When I got home from piano, he hoisted his backpack on his back and said, "Let's go!"

We loaded up and headed to the trail. The hike wasn't long, but it was quite nice under the canopy of trees. We hunted for creatures and the children were all thrilled to spy a millipede, toad, butterfly, and beetle. We stopped at the Middle Patuxent Overlook and enjoyed Michael's backpack fare: leftover pizza, Gogurts, apple slices, and watermelon. He had even remembered to pack wet wipes so we could do some clean up! After our little lunch we walked back to our car (in an unusually anti-Mommy display, Mackenna would only let Maia hold her hand for the entire journey--"Maia, hold you me my hand?").When we got home we were quite hot so I turned on the sprinkler (I was ignorant of the current water restrictions--oops!) for the kids to play outside and cool off. Then, it was nap time for the little ones.

After naps, we headed to a graduation party for one of the teenage girls at church I used to get to teach. It was really fun. They had a giant inflatable water slide, so the kids all had more swimsuit fun. The food was great and it was just nice to sit and chat with friends while the kids ran around having the time of their lives.

When we got home, we divided the children between our three tubs and showers and scrubbed them clean. We did our bedtime routine and put them to bed. I was a little sleepy so I suggested that Michael and I lay down and cuddle for just a second before I had to go reclean everywhere the kids had been during the day. Ha ha. Good intentions. I do remember trying to get up at one point to put a load of laundry in, but Michael told me just to rest another minute. Then it was this morning! That's right, Michael and I went to bed at like eight o'clock. And boy, did that feel good. What better way could there be to end such a beautiful day?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Drama Club

Maia was finally able to join the school drama club this year. She has done drama summer school before, but to join her school's drama club, you have to be in third grade. She really enjoyed her months of rehearsals and was so excited to perform in the big show. It worked out that both my mother and Michael's mother and her husband were able to come, as well as my sister, Amber. My Maia is such an expressive girl; I am so glad she has had this outlet this year. To be honest, I am relieved that it is over. Our family just has enough going on at any given time that I always feel a little jubilant when something ends. Is that terrible? Anyway, I was so happy to see my sweet girl with a smile on her face as she danced around on stage. It reminded me of the high I used to feel while performing when I was younger. I guess she more than just looks like her dear old mom.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

How fun is this for a Jane Austen fan?

(Look--it's my first two-post day! I'm a real blogger now!)

Okay, so I don't know how right or wrong this is, but I think it's fun. My friend Melissa had this on her blog. Check it out!

I am Anne Elliot!

Take the Quiz here!

Maybe I turned out to be Anne because I recently read The Family Fortune, a modern retelling of Persuasion. It was quite enjoyable to an Austen buff such as myself (although I would love to "edit" a couple of little parts)!

A Visit with the Grandparents

This photo depicts my children and some of their cousins on their dad's side of the family. Grandma Margaret and Grandpa Bill recently finished their second mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are here visiting. While they were staying with Michael's brother, they made a treasure hunt game with my niece, Nina. Sunday, after church, the whole family came here for dinner and mayhem. The kids all did the treasure hunt and found 2 chests full of trinkets like candy and head wear--princess hats for the girls and feather headbands for the boys. All of the kids proudly put on their hats and we herded them together as best we could for the photo opp.

This morning, I took my little girls (all three of them with Selena) and my mother-in-law and her husband to Brighton Dam. We missed the time when the Azalea Garden was in full bloom, but still had a nice time. Some of the azaleas were still blooming and the weather today is too gorgeous for any outdoor activity to be a total bust.

The girls loved the different colored blossoms (who knew that there are azaleas that have a light-colored center, but are dark purple on the outside?) and looking into the water to see the little fish. They also loved the little gazebo right by the entrance to the garden.

There was a
lone goose there--eating fallen flowers and
who knows what else. Mackenna kept trying to call the goose over to her,"Gooskey! Gooskey! Come here, Gooskey Gooskey!" It was really cute. It's definitely somewhere I need to
revisit earlier in the spring next year.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Cleaning Rhythm

Okay, so this is a totally lame thing to write about, but it's late and I'm on a quick break--from cleaning. I just did some clean-up in my laundry room, a toad of a space. It really is something you have to see to believe. Only someone like me, who never had her own washer and dryer before buying this house, could appreciate that room. Anyway, I did what I could to organize it (with no garage and it being the like 5% of our house that isn't finished, it tends to be somewhat of a catch-all) and cleaned it up as best I could.

Next, I am going to tackle the playroom. I'm not going to organize all the toys into their proper bins because my nieces and nephews are coming over tomorrow and I am not crazy. But, I really do need to find the floor so that children can actually play in there. It was looking pretty good until Friday when there was no school and I babysat a couple of extra kids. It's totally getting late now--almost one in the morning--but this is my favorite time to tackle the play room. Michael thinks it's so strange.

What can I say? I have kind of a rhythm with cleaning times. Mornings are the best for straightening my kids' rooms. That probably has something to do with changing their sheets or smoothing their covers after they make their beds. I like to use nap time to get my main level back together nice and neat. There's something about all the bright midday sun coming in all my windows in the living room and kitchen while I clean up in the middle of the day. I enjoy that. It seems almost wasteful to spent those good hours doing duties in the basement. But late at night, long after I'd usually go to bed, I love to dig into that playroom. I like to take the portable DVD player in there and listen to a good sing-along movie like Mary Poppins (if only I could play "Tidy up the nursery" like she does!) or The Sound of Music. Sometimes I'll choose another favorite like, An Ideal Husband, though; it depends on my mood. I love the feeling when it's all done and the room looks so inviting for my children, but I know it will stay clean for several more hours until they awaken. And then when they go in there they act like it's Christmas morning. "Mom! You cleaned the playroom!" "Wow! I've been looking for this..." Sometimes there's even a "You cleaned the playroom? Thanks, Mom," in there. Maybe I like to do it at night, in part, because it glides my children's dispositions into a sunny place immediately the next morning. That's totally worth some precious sleep.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Play along!

So, here's a fun little game I've stolen (again).

Okay, as a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember! Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It's actually pretty cool (and funny) to see the responses. If you leave a memory about me, I'll assume you're playing the game and I'll come to your blog and leave one about you :) If you don't want to play on your blog, or if you don't have a blog, I'll leave my memory of you in my comments.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Interview Me!

Obviously, I've been in a blogging slump this week. Do you ever feel like you just don't have anything to contribute? Anyway, my darling friend, Corinne, offered to "interview me" I thought why not? So, here are her questions and my answers:

Name five things you can't live without.

Okay, it says,"things" so I'm thinking people are off-limits
1. Water for bathing (the "for drinking" is a given, right?)
2. Telephones
3. Toothpaste
4. Reading
5. Paper and pen for doodling and list-making

2. What are your secret talents?

This question assumes I have secret talents. Hmm... Well, I am able to bend all but one of the toes down on my left foot. It kind of looks like I'm flipping you off. How's that for a secret talent? More seriously, I really don't know. Maybe my talents are so secret I don't even know them! When I was in the MTC I made a list of my talents; the list included the toe thing, having neat hand-writing, making friends easily and being good with children (although since having my own, that last one might be debatable). This one is hard! I am a good baker, but to know me is to know my love of cookie dough, so there's no secret there!

3. Tell me about the person who has most influenced your life.

How could this not be my mother? For good or ill, I think that mothers are our biggest influences. You might say that's why I got into the business. My mom is pretty amazing. She is really dedicated to the gospel. She activated herself and went to church alone. She was determined to get married in the temple and refused my dad's first offer of marriage when he couldn't take her there. (He ended up getting baptized, they waited a year and then were married; the rest is history.) She dreamed of having eight children and when she did she thought she'd like four more! She watched one of her children die. This I cannot imagine. She spent almost four years in and out of the hospital comforting and fighting for her littlest boy. And then he died. I cry when my child gets immunized. She made us each feel special and unique. She was a different mother to each of us, which drove me crazy as a child (It's not fair!) but I totally understand it now. She went to work to help each of us go to college. Another thing I really appreciate is that my mom has lived in Pennsylvania for almost forty years and she really doesn't love it. All winter she says, "I hate winter!" My mom told me once that she agreed to the whole live-in-PA thing because she wanted her children to live near at least one set of their grandparents and have extended family around. I am so grateful for that; I loved my childhood in PA.
More than anything, my mom influenced my life by really teaching me how marvelous it is to be a mother. Because she made it look like she wanted to be nothing else, I didn't want to become anything else. And I love what I do :)

4. Describe a meal you like to prepare

I really love to make a good old-fashion Sunday dinner. I love to put a roast in the crock pot in the morning and smell it cooking all day. I like mix up some crescent roll dough to put in the fridge. My kids love mashed potatoes, so I like to make those. Anything my kids will actually eat is just wonderful for me to make! Some steamed veggies and a salad round out my dinner and make my vegetarian daughter happy. For dessert, I like to make just some yummy brownie sundaes--with fresh strawberries on top! Perfection!

5. What countries have you visited? Which was your favorite?

I have visited Mexico, Great Brittan, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania. I think that's it, although I could be missing somewhere. Pathetic, I know. Anyway, of course I am going to say that Romania is my favorite. I mean, I lived there for 16 months, was fluent in the language and the countryside is breathtakingly beautiful. Transylvania takes the cake. However, I recognize that choosing Romania might be considered a cop-out for the very reasons I chose it. Soooo, if I had to choose a country where I was just a tourist, I would choose Italy (although, I feel I must note that it is also the country where I was given the worst treatment because I didn't speak their language). Rome was just an incredible city to visit, as was Venice. But Rome, I don't know, it just spoke to me.

And the directions:
Want some questions of your own? Leave me a comment saying,"interview me!" and I will respond by e-mailing you five questions (if your email is not on your profile, email me your desire to be interviewed so I know your address). I get to pick them, and you have to answer them all. You will update your blog with the answers to the
questions.You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Flashback Friday!

So, in honor of Mother's Day I thought I would post a fun photo of me and my mom. Due to my cursed scanner, my selection was limited to photos already on my hard drive and/or CD's. So, instead of a photo of just me and my mom, you get a bonus sister and sister-in-law in the deal!

This photo was taken WAY back on December 28, 2006 in the backseat of a NYC taxi cab. My mom, three sisters, sister-in-law, and family friend (who, in fact, thinks she is a sister) loaded up in my mom's mini-van and headed to the city for the day.

It is amazing how just one short day can feel like a real vacation when you are with your fun female relatives and sans children and responsibilities. Anyhoo, we took our time getting there--making a stop at Sonic, yummy cherry lime-aid! When we got into the city we went to Chinatown and bought fun "designer" purses. After that, we walked to Little Italy and had a fabulous dinner. Then we hopped in the cabs (as some in our groups had never ridden in them before) and raced to the theater where we saw Kristin Chenoweth starring in an adorable romantic show called The Apple Tree. We all loved the musical. We had a nice drive back to my mom's house. It was a great, fun day!

Although I am sure this would have been a fun trip with just my sisters, it was even better because my mom came with us. She is a really fun lady with a great sense of humor. And don't you just always feel a little more safe when you're with your mom?
I know I do. I still look to her for direction and advice. I am so glad to have such a fabulous mother.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Whirlwind Weekend

So, this weekend was so nonstop that it deserves a little documenting.

I spent almost five hours Friday afternoon on my feet in my dining room styling hair for
"Mormon Prom." I genuinely like teen aged girls (we're all 17 inside, I say) and have fun doing hair so this activity is actually quite enjoyable to me. It was a little crazy at the end when my children needed to be fed dinner in 20 minutes or less so we could head out the door to Mason's baseball game. And poor Kelly, the last one to be made-over (my friend Scarlett was doing their make-up; she's a true artist), barely made it back to her house with 45 seconds to spare before her date was supposed to come pick her up.

After going to Mason's game (Go, Muckdogs!) we came home and quickly bathed the kids and put them to bed. I had the chance to run up to the stake center and see the girls in their dresses with their dates at the Mormon Prom. All the girls were just gorgeous. I had to get photos of them all. Don't they look amazing?

Saturday morning I raced to the grocery store and came home to make a meal to take to a baby shower (it was a freezer meal shower). I took Teensy with me to the shower while Michael took the other three to Mason's baseball game (yes, another game just 16 hours after the last). After being in charge of the game at the shower and eating a yummy brunch, Marlee and I went to meet the rest of the family at the game. It was a Muckdog victory 8-2.

After coming home for a ten minute lunch, Maia and I jumped in the car and headed on our special adventure. She didn't know it, but Michael and I had decided that she needed to experience the Fairie Festival in PA. She was a little surprised to see we went to Grandma's house where we picked up my mom and her best friend, Cheri. The four of us headed over to the festival. Maia was really excited. It was a beautiful venue (I am partial to rural south central PA, what can I say?). There weren't as many activities as I would have liked, but I am definitely glad that I got to take Maia and that my mom came with us. It was a fun three-generation treat!

Maia and I raced back home where I did some quick dinner prep and clean-up and got ready for my hot date with my Michael. Michael and I went out to dinner to celebrate that he recently received Employee of the Quarter honors at work. Then we went to the stake Rose Ball. Sadly, with all the business of the day, there was barely time for me to comb my hair for the big event, let alone do an amazing coiffure (the cobbler's children have no shoes and whatnot). Anyway, my non-dancing husband and I had a great time chatting with friends and supping from the chocolate fountain.

We lucked out and didn't have to take our babysitter, Julie, home because she and her little sister actually had to spent the night at our house. (Their house was having some remodeling work done and no one was allowed in for the night.) Poor Julie had not brought her clean clothes, so her mom and sister showed up here at 11:30 with her overnight bag. Of course, we ended up chatting a little before bed.

Sunday morning was nice. My kids loved having Julie and Sara here. I actually got everyone ready and Mackenna took a nap in plenty of time for church.

Right after church I took the kids back to my parent's house for our monthly family dinner. Michael wasn't able to come because it was his turn to count the tithing money after church. It was great to chat with my parents, sister, brother and his family, grandma and aunt. Ahh, it's so relaxing to be with family, you know? The only bummer was that I was dog tired and had to drive back home; usually Michael drives and I nap.

So, that's is. That was my whirlwind weekend with two baseball games, two trips to PA, a baby shower, a hot date, a prom-crashing spree, and six hair do's. And now the week I call The Perfect Storm. Boy, I'm exhausted already!

The Perfect Storm

Last night, after being at church for over 10 hours yesterday, my dearly beloved informed me that this week he has church meetings/assignments/activities Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights. It's the unbelievable compilation of weekly, monthly, semi-annual, annual and rescheduled meetings all coming together in the same calendar week. He asked if I'd still love him. I assured him that yes, I would, as long as I can still remember who he is when the week is over!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Flashback Friday!

This is a photo taken in June 1998 the day my grandfather went through the temple for the first time. My mother was raised by two less-active
LDS parents. They were great people, to be sure, who taught her many wonderful things, but did not go to church. She went to church alone until she married my father in the Mesa Temple. None of my grandparents was able to attend, but my parents understood the importance of a temple sealing. After a lifetime of prayers on behalf of her parents, my mother was able to see her father go back to church and eventually to the temple. He was eighty years old.

I remember how nervous and excited Grandpa was. (And a little frustrated when my dad accidentally locked the keys to the rental car in the trunk when we were supposed to be leaving--oops!) Anyway, it was a beautiful day. One of my sisters and one of my brothers (with his wife and newborn) flew to Arizona as well as Michael and I and my parents. My mom was able to stand in as proxy for her mother in order for her parents to be sealed; I was able to stand in for her mother in order for my mother to be sealed to her parents. Those are tender memories.

From my grandfather I learned that it is never too late to make changes in your life and to become the person you want to be. From my mother I learned that you don't give up on people you love and that even if you have a less-than-perfect example, it is not an excuse to live your life that way. My mother has a perfect testimony of temple marriage and ordinances and really instilled that in all of her children. We are better for it.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Field Trip Fun

I had the pleasure of chaperoning Maia's third grade field trip today. We went to a really cool place with a really uncool name: Blob's Park. It is also known as Green Meadows Farm, a name far more appropriate for such a pleasant place.

The massive meadow is divided into four sections: Africa, Native Americans, Animals of the Lands, and Cowboys. Each station delivered a 20-45 minute educational and entertaining program. The weather was absolutely perfect and we enjoyed sitting out in the sun learning about lands and cultures.

I was in charge of Maia, her two best school friends, Eli and Rebecca, and a classmate named Bethany. After enjoying all the mini-shows, the four of us enjoyed our picnic lunches together in the middle of the big gorgeous field. Maia and I had our Tastykake cupcakes; it's a tradition. When I was a schoolgirl going on a field trip, my mother used to pack the biggest lunch imaginable and it always included Tastykakes. Now I do the same thing with my kids. Maia couldn't wait to eat today because she knew she'd have "those special treats grandma bought you when you went on field trips." To be perfectly honest, I, too, was anxiously awaiting lunch; those cream-filled butter cream icing cupcakes are like little bites of heaven!

The best part of the whole experience is just that I got to go. My status as a chaperon was on-and-off-again. My sweet daughter was just so excited for me to go with her on a field trip and spend a day with her and her friends. I was delighted to have this special time and make some fun memories. Together, we reported back to the family all the fun new facts we learned today. I guess you're just never too old to enjoy a good field trip.

Quotation of the Month

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

-Jill Churchill