Thursday, May 29, 2008

Home Alone

Here in Maryland, there is a law for everything! For example, it is unlawful to leave a child under the age of eight unattended. For various reasons, we've never left Maia unattended even though she is nine and a half. Since Mason just turned eight, I thought that we could try letting them stay home together when the opportunity presented itself.

Said opportunity came on Tuesday afternoon. Poor Fireball (Mason's toad) had been without food for a little bit too long (it's not our fault, but that saga would be a post itself) and I needed to run to the pet store for some small crickets (yum). Maia was doing her homework and Mason was watching T.V. so I thought this would be a great time to try this new leaving-kids-at-home thing out.

I wrote down my cell phone number, reviewed the rules (keep the doors locked, don't let anyone in, don't tell anyone I'm not home, etc.), loaded up the little girls and went on my way.

When I pulled back up to the house, Maia and Mason flew out the front door and descended upon me in a frenzy. Mason was clutching some papers and the telephone and was in tears. I asked what had happened. Here's the scoop:

Apparently, Mason came up to the living room and was sitting there while Maia was in the dining room doing homework. Only Maia wasn't doing homework anymore. She was making "The Plan." This, of course, was what Maia and Mason would do should an intruder have entered the home when I was not there. She shared the plan with Mason and it scared him. Then, she wouldn't let him call me on my cell phone because she didn't deem his frightened state a big enough emergency to bother me. The papers Mason was clutching when I got home were the one with my cell number written on it and the one of Maia's sketch of "The Plan." Poor kid.

Okay, here is the sketch:

You'll notice that Step #1 of Maia's plan shows Mason being in the living room when menacing-looking stranger appears outside the front door (you might want to click on the plan to take a gander at the angry eyebrows on the stick-figured pedophile).

In Step #2, the front door is swung open and the intruder gains entry into the house.

Step #3 shows Mason sprinting to go get Maia for help.

Step #4 is when Maia is on the move to fix the problem.

In Steps #6 and #7, Maia's plan of action is revealed as she picks up the phone and dials 911.

So, I can just imagine little Mason sitting in the living room when Maia brings him this "Plan." He probably looked at it and noticed that it had already started (he was already watching out the window) and therefore the rest would surely come to pass. Poor kid.

Needless to say, I reviewed the unlikelihood of a stranger breaking in while I am gone for a quick errand. I assured them that they can call my cell phone anytime, even if it is not a "real" emergency and they are just scared.

I don't think the experiment was a complete failure because last night Mason said to me, "Mom, you know when you were gone and Maia and I were home alone? Even though I was crying when you got home, it was kind of fun." And I must admit, only dragging two kids, instead of four, through the pet store was kind of fun for me!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

For those of you without Googlereader

There is a new post chronologically listed before "Playing in Utah."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Playing in Utah

Last weekend I took a trip to Utah. I know, I just went there a few months ago, but there was a wedding that I just couldn't miss so I went again! Let me just mention that there is never enough time for me to do all I want to do and visit all the people I'd like to visit in Utah. This totally stresses me, but I try to do my best. I do have a brother and sister who live there and this trip was about a wedding as well. As if all that weren't enough to keep me busy for 5 days, I called my best friend from BYU, Melissa, who lives in California and had her fly out to meet me so we could run around and play. Anyway, instead of making a long prose-filled post, I am going to list the highlights.


*After Melissa picked me up from the airport, we went to visit her grandmother. Talk about a funny old lady! I used to visit with her a lot in college and as I backpacked across Europe I gathered various thimbles for her to add to her decorative thimble collection, but did she mention that? No! She told me that what she remembers about me was how I wanted to marry "that boy" and how he broke my heart and how sad I was. I assured her I'm over him now and happily married to another boy.

*Melissa and I stayed up until 2 a.m. chatting and giggling like we were 19 again.


*Melissa and I started the day with a beautiful walk through the hills around my sister's house

*We weren't dressed and ready to leave the house until 11:00 a.m.--the naughtiness of it all!

*Whitney, Mel and I met Jamie (the bride of the wedding I attended) for lunch.

*We shopped out little hearts out.

*Whit, Mel and I got pedicures--mine is a little more orange than coral, but that's okay, because Whitney's art on her big toe resembles more of a solar system than a simple flower.

*Melissa dropped me off at the Jordan River Temple at 5:20 p.m. so I could be Jamie's escort when she went to the temple for the first time. It took me about four minutes to place no less than six frantic phone calls and find out that Jamie was waiting for me at the Mt. Timpanogos Temple. Oh, dear! Long story short, I hoofed it from the temple back to the highway where Whitney and Shawn picked me up and took me down to the right temple. I made it there at 6:28, missing the initiatories, but making it in time for the "pep talk" and the endowment session at 7:00 p.m. All's well that ends well, I guess, but tears were shed and I limped the rest of my trip on the six blisters I got from walking 1.8 miles in 4 inch heels and then barefoot to get from the wrong temple to the highway. Crazy! On the upside, I did get two catcalls and two whistles while I walked. It's been a while since that's happened.

*Going to the temple with Jamie was actually quite a beautiful and special time. That deserves it's own point.

*Once back at Whitney's, Melissa and I watched the last two episodes of Lost and stayed up chatting and laughing together like we were nineteen again. Again.


*We started the day with a trip to Wal-Mart to buy moleskin for my throbbing blisters. I rode the electric cart, much to Shawn's embarrassment.

*Whitney and Shawn introduced Mel and me to the yumminess of Zupas, a great sandwich place.

*Mel and I went to visit my brother, Joel, and his family. My nephew, Jackson, cooed and smiled at me nonstop. He is just adorable! He makes cute baby noises incessantly!

*Mel and I went on campus and made a few purchases at the BYU Bookstore before heading to our old jaunt, Hogi Yogi and partaking of "fat free" goodness. (FYI--$2.13 no longer gets you a medium; we marveled at that and all the other changes that have been made since we moved there 15+ years ago.)

*After I limped through the University Mall, we drove up to Lehi to meet Melissa's mom, aunt and cousin. While I was at BYU, I would spend Easter, Thanksgiving and other various weekends with Melissa at her aunt's house in Sandy, so it was fun to see her and her daughter again.

*My sister-in-law, Kim, met up with Melissa and me at Thanksgiving Point, where we took advantage of Whitney and took the Segways out through the Gardens. First of all, those gardens are utterly gorgeous. Secondly, those Segways are even 12X more fun than they look. I won't go into details, but when Melissa had a slight accident in the Italian Garden I might have had a slight accident in my pants. Oh, come on, it was just a drop. Boy, did we laugh! Whit met up with us and didn't find our crashes nearly as funny--something about each Segway costing $5,000 and her losing her job. Blah, blah, blah! They were fine when we finished.

*My brother-in-law, Shawn, joined our little group for a showing of What Happens in Vegas. I've never been an Ashton Kutcher fan, but there was a scene in the movie where he's wearing this black suit and a crisp, white shirt and his hair is kind of slicked back and oh...I might have been converted. Anyway, we all laughed at the film and more than once I thought Kim was going to have a turn at peeing a little in her pants.


*I went with Whitney and Shawn to church.

*Joel, Kim, Courtney, Aubree, Easton and Jackson came for a fabulous Sunday feast. They also brought along their Wii and introduced me to the games "American Idol" and "Dance, Dance Revolution." Frankly, I was much better on the former, but blame the blistery condition of my feet on my complete botching of the latter. All in all, I have to say that the Class of '92 (both Shawn and Kim are my age) was well represented, but I think Aubree's crooning and Courtney's lightness on her feet stole the show.

*Joel, Whitney and I discovered that we were Mom's only babies who weighed over 9 pounds at birth, so we thought we'd take a photo together. We call it, "The Three Fatties."
*I spied one of my favorite quick reads, Can You Keep a Secret? (I know, I know, Janae...) on Whitney's bookshelf and plucked it off after Joel's family left. I read it all night, taking a break only to meet Whit's cute neighbors and their new puppy. It was great to sit and read without getting interrupted by children or feelings of guilt. (As an aside, I'd like to note here that Chica's neighbor, April, was in awe that I have four kids and thought I looked younger than I am. She is now my new best friend.)


*Melissa and I did some more shopping (she needed a few specific things and we hadn't been able to find them yet this trip) in the morning.

*We met her uncle, mom and grandmother for lunch. This is the uncle whose house I used to visit with her.

*We met up with her aunt again and did more shopping with her and Mel's mom. I might have purchased three new pairs of shoes. My size is so much easier to find in Utah than in Maryland. Too many people have big feet in Maryland, I've decided. In Utah, there were 10's and 11's everywhere! See why I had to buy while the buying was good? I'm the victim here, people!

*After a dinner where we met up with another of Melissa's cousins and her family, I said good-bye to my fun friend. Melissa and her mom headed back to the airport to fly home to Cali and I hitched a ride back down to Thanksgiving Point where Whitney was working.

*Chica took me on a quick golf cart tour of the Gardens and then Jamie came and picked me up and took me with her to spend the night at the Saunders' house.

*Jamie and I went to bed right at midnight, but we did spend a little time giggling and chatting about her imminent wedding day/night.


*I styled Jamie's hair for her wedding. I've now done her hair for her prom, her baptism and her wedding. I told her that I'll do it for her when she's in labor, too, if she wants--hee hee.

*We went to see her parents at their hotel before going to the temple (the Jordan River Temple--see why I went there on Friday?) Anyway, I did her sister's hair. I teared up a bit when her dad said good-bye to her. Her parents were not coming to her marriage ceremony and I thought it was a tender good-bye. Jamie was happy and bouncy and very strong. "I made peace with this decision long ago," she told me. What a strong girl. I am so proud of her and feel so lucky to have been able to be a part of her journey.

*A woman in the temple asked me if I was the mother of the bride. This is certainly a low-light of the trip and starkly contrasts with what Whit's neighbor had said just two days earlier. See why April is now my best friend? I may be old enough to have four kids, but certainly none of them is old enough to be a bride!

*I assisted Jamie in getting dressed for her wedding and loved watching the joy on her face as she was sealed to her sweet Aaron for time and all eternity. I couldn't help but shed a tear as the ceremony took place. Outside, it was a gorgeous day and Jamie looked breathtakingly beautiful for all her photos. There's nothing like the glow of a happy bride!

I love this photo of her hugging her grandmother while her dad is all smiles in the background!

*I drove with Jamie's family from the temple to the wedding luncheon. They are very kind, good people.

*After hitching a ride back to Whit's work, I spent the afternoon with her there until she got off.

*Later, I borrowed Chica's car to go to Joel and Kim's one more time. We watched "Utah's own David Archuletta" on American Idol and my niece, Aubree, schooled me in a game of Go Fish. Jackson kept a wary eye on his Aunt Mendy, much to my chagrin. His big brother, Easton, wanted nothing to do with me either, but he sure loves his dad!

*Whit and Shawn took me to the airport at 11:00 p.m. where I waited until almost one to get on my flight home.

I didn't sleep very well on the plane, but I won't complain. I had a great trip, thanks to many.

My fabulous husband was happy to spend 5 days with his kids. He was actually grateful for all the time he got to spend with them while I was gone. I'm not saying that he wasn't glad to have me get home, but he really enjoyed having more time with his kids. He also only had to think for a minute when I told him about Jamie's wedding and that I wanted to go to Utah to attend it. He's very supportive like that. Thanks, Jorge!

Thanks to my little Chica and her Shawn for being fabulous hosts to Melissa and me. We enjoyed our delux accommodations and felt so at home chez vous. Merci!

Thanks to my fun, fun friend, Melissa, who bought a plane ticket to Utah just to meet me there and play with me. She's a keeper, that Mel. I've been having fun with her since my first week at BYU. She keeps a visit with me as a yearly priority and I appreciate that. Thanks for being such a fun friend, Melissa!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Aunt Infestation!

Admittedly, this is an odd title to a post about Mother's Day weekend. I do have my reasons. To me, this weekend was less about mothers to me and more about aunts. Three aunts, to be exact. Don't worry, I'll elaborate.

Aunt #1: Aunt Donna. This Saturday was the 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration for Michael's great aunt and uncle, Donna and Dick. It was over in Salisbury, MD at a lovely reception center. It was quite a special affair and I am so glad my Michael and I got to attend (thanks to my father-in-law for babysitting all day; it was a "no kids" affair).

It was very fun to watch a reenactment of Aunt Donna and Uncle Dick's wedding. Michael's Aunt Carol, now in her mid-fifties, came first scattering rose petals on the ground like she did as the flower girl fifty years ago. They had various members of the wedding party present and it was really cute.

My Michael, still loosened up by our church's High School Reunion Dance, joined me on the dance floor more than once. He was out there with me and all his aunts and cousins all afternoon. The DJ played our song and while I looked at my handsome husband I thought I could so do this four times more and it wouldn't be enough. (We've been married ten years.) It was so fun to be with him in that atmosphere of love. I really do love this man.

Another highlight of the day was chatting, laughing and visiting with his relatives. We don't get to see too many of them that often, since they live all over the country, so it was great to take this time to eat, dance around, and have fun with them. I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for his Aunt Cara, who used to play with me and my roommate, Kimber (her niece/Michael's cousin), at BYU before I even met my Michael.

Nancy in the back, Michael, me and Cara in the front.

This weekend I feel I got to know another of Michael's favorite aunts better which brings me to...

Aunt #2: Nancy! Michael's Aunt Nan is only like three years older than he so he basically grew up with her. He always speaks of her adoringly, but I've only visited with her here and there over the years because she lives in Boise. Well, she wanted to come out to the big anniversary party so she called and asked if she could stay with us. Of course, we welcomed her with open arms.

The kids had a great time playing with "Aunt Antsy," as Mackenna calls her. She is really fun and I am glad she called and stayed with us. I hope this is just the first of many trips out here to visit. She didn't mind the noise of the house, thanks to her earplugs, and let the kids jump all over her.

Of course, between Mackenna and her, it was the battle of the babies. Nancy is the youngest of the eleven siblings in Michael's mom's family. I did have to laugh at her when she tattled on my toddler. In the end, they were great friends and Nancy eventually learned to share her Lifesavers candies (she's letting Kenna bite one off the role in the picture). Please know that I am just teasing if you're reading this, Nancy! We all love you!

Nancy left to go home to Boise Sunday afternoon, so we dropped her off at BWI and then headed up to my parents' house for a little Mother's Day dinner. This brings us to ...

Aunt #3: ME! That's right, this weekend, I became an aunt for the 28th time. Yay! Emmaline Lily was born on Friday and came home from the hospital on Mother's Day. She is everything beautiful and pure. My sister-in-law, Laura, was so kind to let her two day-old baby get passed around by her aunts (not that she had a choice) and to let me smell her (even though she thinks it's freaky--what's up with that?).

So, that's it. My Mother's Day weekend about aunts, aunts and more aunts. Just so you don't think that I wasn't appreciated over here, let me tell you that I was. I was spoiled with breakfast in bed and an iPod. What a fun new toy! And I got to hold a newborn and smell her sweet, fresh-from-the-womb scent. What could be better than that?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

A Good Deed

This week I pieced the above quilt top for a church service project. The women of my church in the area are making patriotic quilts for wounded soldiers. The quilts are taken to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and given to the soldiers. I am really proud to be a part of such a worthwhile project. While I was sewing the top I thought a lot about all the men and women (and their families) who sacrifice so much for the benefit of others. This is one small thanks from one appreciative American mommy.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Mother's Day Pleasantries Begin

This morning at Teensy's preschool I attended a Mother's Day Luncheon. It was quite a lovely affair thanks to lots of planning and preparation from my friend, Rebecca (and to the other moms who each contributed part of the meal).

Before we are lunch, the kiddies serenaded the mommies with two songs. Of course, as soon as my Teense saw all those eyes on her (you know how scary the faces of your own mother and your preschool teachers can be), she darted behind me and hid under my skirt for the remainder of the performance. She's such a little spitfire; it just cracks me up that she gets so shy in front of groups!

Anyway, Rebecca had taken individual photos of the kids on Tuesday and added those photos to some paper flowers whose petals were actually cut-out hand prints of each child. The "garden" was all over Rebecca's house and looked adorable.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch which included homemade bread still warm from the oven! Thankfully, my Mackenna was so busy enjoying her grapes, strawberries, ham and Doritos, that she didn't have time to even think about chewing on my limbs!

Seriously though, my favorite part about the whole program was when Teensy gave me the tissue paper flowers she had made me and also presented me with a questionnaire Miss Rebecca had filled in with Teense's answers. It reads as follows:

My Mom

My favorite thing about my mom is...
she loves me.

My mom always helps me...
clean my room.

My mom's favorite thing to do is...

My favorite thing to do with my mom is...
clean with her.

My mom's favorite color is...

I help my mom by...
making cooking dough.

My mom likes...
to clean because our house is messy.

My mom is special because...
I love her.

At least she mentioned cleaning three times more than she mentioned cookie dough. I love the little glimpse into her perspective on things. How funny that she didn't say making cookie dough is her favorite thing to do with me. Instead, she said she helps me by making cookie dough. She's the victim here, people!

It was a mommy-feel-good affair and this mommy couldn't have needed it more!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Cure for Toddler Bites?

I offer some advice for any dear friends and devoted readers who are also mothers to young children. First, a background story (warning: this is an ugly tale).

Let's say I have a "friend" who walked about a mile to pick up her children and some neighbor children from school. Hypothetically speaking, this "friend" wanted to leave her two year-old at a neighbor's house since her toddler doesn't enjoy a lot of stroller time. The toddler, we'll call her "Rose," refused, and insisted that she wanted to ride in the stroller and go to the school to pick up her brother and sister.

This "friend" zipped up to that school rather smoothly with Rose sitting pleasantly in the stroller. When it was time to begin the journey back home, however, Rose lost it. Completely and utterly. She wanted to have a mile-long piggy back ride home. Clearly, her mother wasn't a fan of this plan. A battle of wills commenced. (Side note: When Rose involves herself in a battle of wills, she's in it for the long haul.)

The child began to scream and cause quite a scene. Much to the dismay of my "friend," this scene was witnessed by countless other mothers and children walking home from school. People starred. Older children came to offer the clearly-abused toddler solace. There was tsk-ing a plenty heard by my "friend."

My "friend" did her best to ignore the tantrum. By and large, she thought the tantrum would run its course and she and her brood (eight children total, including all the neighbor children) would peacefully resume their trip home. That's not exactly what happened.

Rose continued to scream the entire trip home. And then for another 10+ minutes. She refused to put her feet on the stroller's footrest and, instead, opted to drag them on the sidewalk in such a manner that my "friend" had to push the stroller with only the back wheels on the ground so as not to scratch all the toe nails off her daughter's feet. Are you getting a mental picture here, of the spectacle? (One woman; eight kids, one maniacally screaming while rearing up and scraping her feet for a mile...) At one point, Rose managed to Houdini herself out of the tight stroller straps and spring free. When my "friend" wordlessly manhandled the child back into the re-tightened straps, her arms were met with Rose's teeth. Three times.

That's right. Even now, six hours later, there are bruises with teeth marks on my "friend's" arms. Should I mention the swelling and the broken skin on the worst of the bites? Not pretty, dear friend and devoted reader, not pretty.

As you might imagine, getting over this event was not easy for my "friend." She basically wanted to lock Rose in her room and go into her own closet to curl up in the fetal position on the floor. But she did neither.

She quietly distributed an extra-special snack to her other three children. There might have been a distressed phone call to her husband. It wasn't long before Rose quietly came up and apologized for biting Mommy.

Thankfully, her husband came home a little early and said he'd take over dinner so she could run to the store. Here's where the advice comes in, dear friend and devoted reader. Never, never go to the grocery store if your almost three year-old has just terrorized you to the point of physically marring your body and has made you feel like you are certainly the worst mother who's ever lived to have raised such a monster.

You might wonder why it's not a good idea to go to the grocery store under such circumstances. Allow me to give you a few reasons: Double Stuff Oreos, Betty Crocker Warm Delights, Nestle Mini Chocolate Chips, Martin's Potato Chips and Duncan Hines Chocolate Chunk Brownie Mix. What was I--er--I mean, what was my "friend" thinking?!?! Clearly, the next time Rose has a bad tantrum, my "friend" needs to find another way to feel better about it!

Quotation of the Month

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

-Jill Churchill