9 New Year’s Resolutions for 2009

This has been a big year for changes in our household. I quit my job of almost a decade, Daycare. YEAH! I'm now employed fulltime with a steady paycheck and PAID TIME OFF! What more could one ask for? Well, maybe more free time, but that is only a matter of better time management on my part. So in an effort to become a better manager of my time I have outlined a few goals for myself.

1. Watch more TV. Since I started working I don't watch more than about 2-3 hours of TV a week and I feel that void in my life.

2. Finish at least two books this year. I used to read a lot more than that but that also has fallen by the wayside since I started working.

3. Make a menu and stick to it at least two times a week. I usually don't have a problem making a menu and shopping for those items, but when I get home from work all good intentions fly out the window as I'm tired and the kids don't usually like what's on the menu.

4. Clean my bathrooms at least once a month. Since I started working this doesn't get done very often. You think I'd have the kids do it, but then I just have to come in after them and redo it since they still haven't figured out how to do housecleaning to my standards.

5. Get the mail daily. This has also fallen by the wayside. It is no longer the Long Awaited Daily Trip Outside that it used to be.

6. Call my friends and family more often. Now that I'm not home all day I have to really plan and make time to call my friends and sisters since I can't just pick up the phone whenever I want.

7. Remember to charge my cell phone every night and take it to work every day. My "smart phone" drains the battery every day. And I usually forget to charge it at least once a week, wreaking havoc the next day when I leave for work, at least when I remember to take it to work cuz I usually forget once a week. Then when I try to text the kids to see how they're doing, I can't and I have to call them.

8. Master Guitar Hero. My favorite game! Nothing more needs to be said. This will take quite a bit of time since I'm still on the easy level.

9. And remember "Less is More" whenever I'm in the store.

Wait! I see a trend here! If I quit working I could accomplish all these goals and more! Boy, working sure takes a lot of time out of your life! Who would have known?


The Aftermath of Christmas Treats

Christmas Day was quite uneventful at our house, despite the fact that there was mad unwrapping of presents, paper flying all through the air, and children squealing in delight. As usual those kids of ours made out like bandits! The Jolly Old Man brought the kids a Wii! They were so delighted and ecstatic to FINALLY have a Wii like everyone else in the world. Baby has been playing Lego Star Wars nonstop. Middle Child turned off his Nintendo DS for a few minutes yesterday in order to play Guitar Hero Aerosmith, one of the best games ever invented!

Olaf and I got some nice things from each other and Santa. But the best present of all was the new carpet cleaner stuck in a big box under the tree. As I opened it Olaf told me I could return it but thought it would be good since we have a dog. I figured we'd keep it cuz we sure could use it occasionally.

That night after I had put the kids to bed and turned on Guitar Hero Aerosmith and played for a while, Olaf, at the computer playing, looked in the other room at Tank and asked, "Are you all right Tank?" After asking this several times over the next ten minutes he turned to me and said "I think our dog has a cold."

I put the guitar down and went to check on him. I didn't know you could tell when a dog has a cold. Turns out he didn't have a cold. I flipped on the light and saw splashes of puke on the sofa blanket from the poor dry heaving dog. I sent him outside and threw the blanket in the washer. We let him back in and then as soon as he would start dry heaving I sent him back out for a few minutes. Unfortunately it was snowing and very cold and I didn't have the heart to leave him out for very long. Olaf went and put a big blanket over Baby's bed and Tank went to sleep with his boy. Unfortunately he still wasn't feeling good and soon he had puked all over the end of the blanket and it trickled down to Baby's regular quilt, pillow shams and blankets put on the ground to be out of Tank's reach, and finally the floor.

At this point I got a little frustrated. I put that dog back outside while I gathered up more things that needed washing. I then decided I wanted to go to sleep, it was midnight. So I took the pillow out of the kennel and put in a blanket. Then I wrapped a big huge blanket over the top and sides of the kennel. Then I let Tank back in and put him in the kennel and hoped he wouldn't get too sick. And if he did I hoped the blanket would catch any messes from flying all over the house.

In the morning I got up and noticed he had only gotten sick once, and of course most of it landed on the floor, but at least we have that cool new Carpet Cleaner. So I put the contraption together while I waited for my friend to shower. This way Olaf could get to work right away when he got home and wouldn't have to waste time. And then I went shopping with that freshly showered friend of mine.

And Tank was fine by morning. We don't know what he got into but it was probably some of the enormous amounts Christmas treats we have laying around the house.

Hope you had a Merry Christmas with your family!


Christmas Eve & Other Adventures

Every year we have a Christmas Eve party with the paternal relatives of Olaf's. It's always a lot of fun and the only time the whole family is organized to get together and visit. I love this tradition and it has been going on for several generations. Usually Santa comes but this year his invitation wasn't sent out soon enough, so he made other plans. But it was still great to see people we don't see very often, if not since last Christmas Eve Party.

Our drive home was quite adventurous though. We told the boys they could open a present at home since Santa hadn't come and given them a present this year.

Middle Child: Can we pick our own presents to open?

Me: No, I'll pick them out.

Baby: So you're kidding, we get to pick our own presents, right?

Me: I think I'll pick your presents.

Olaf: Or you can wait til tomorrow.

Baby: Christmas is tomorrow! I can hardly wait!! It feels like 5 more days it's so far away!

Me: Why don't you try to fall asleep? The sooner you fall asleep the sooner tomorrow comes! (even though I've been telling them this for years they don't seem to believe me and never take my advice.)

Middle Child: I'm so thirsty! Can I have a drink?

Me: We didn't bring you anything to drink. You should have drank more at the party.

Middle Child: I had plenty to drink! I'm dying!

Baby: You will pull over at the next gas station and get me and Middle Child a drink!

Middle Child: Even if it's only water!

Olaf to me: Love how they're telling us what to do like they control us.
Olaf to them: You will make it home just fine.

Baby: So we get to pick our own presents?

Me: When do you want to open them?

Baby: You're just kidding, right?

Middle Child: My stomach is getting groggy!

A little later, Middle Child: My brain is taking 80% of the water out of my body, it's dry.

Olaf: New symptoms for dehydration. Now I know what else to look for.

Baby: Christmas is taking forever!

Baby: Mamma Mia!

Me: Where did you learn that? (I promise he hasn't seen the movie)

Baby: Whenever I lose Donkey Kong says it.

Olaf: Yeah, didn't you know Mario & Luigi are Italian?!?!?

Middle Child: Dad, pull over and let Mom drive. Then we'll get home sooner!

Me: Dad is driving fast enough! We're almost home anyway, well at least more than halfway.

This is a small sampling of our conversation on the hour long drive home from Salt Lake City.

We Wish You All a Merry Christmas!


Happy Birthday!

Yesterday would have been Calvin's 14th birthday. I can't believe he was going to be that old. But then I thought that when he turned 12. Maybe now that he's old enough to be done passing the sacrament at church I won't cry every time I see the other boys passing it on Sunday. I doubt that will happen because there aren't enough 12 and 13-year-olds so he would still be passing the sacrament on Sundays, cuz he likes to help out others.

It was a day to remember yesterday. I came home early from work cuz I just didn't want to be there anymore. I know I feel that way most days, but I felt like yesterday was different, so I just left at lunchtime. Came home to Olaf plowing snow off sidewalks, driveways, and our little tiny dead-end street. (Guess what! I live on a private drive! I just learned last week the road is owned by the farmer, not the city. No wonder I have to call for them to plow snow every other year! And now I understand why our mailbox is off to the side of our house instead of being in front since that's not a public street.) He went to his sister's house and took the boys with him, on a sled pulled by the 4-wheeler! They called me from Sister Nurse's house needing clothing since they were soaked. It's only 1 1/4 miles to her house but they managed to fall off as much as possible. Boys!

That night we had decided to go out for dinner. We got ready to brave the third snowstorm. I had been storming off and on all day. And each storm would dump three to six inches. We got a candle and a jar and took it over the the gravesite. We lit the candle and left it there for him. I'm sure the falling wet snow snuffed the flame out quickly, but it was still going when we left. I had already received several calls from friends and family as had Chris to help us through the day. Just before we left we had a slew of visitors bringing us cards and treats to remember Calvin. One of his friends brought over a sign they had made and put it in the front yard. We discovered they had made two signs and put one at the grave.

We finally made it to dinner. We had Chinese because we were afraid Mexican would be too sad for us and we wanted to make it a positive and upbeat day. Afterwards we went to Walmart to do a little shopping for someone else's Christmas. That was fun! That is our new tradition on Calvin's birthday. He was such a good kid and loved helping others that we will continue that in his memory every year.

When we got home we caught some neighbors shoveling our driveway. They said they were hoping to get it done before we got there, but we had 'caught' them. We just have some of the best neighbors. All in all it was a pretty good day, other than missing Calvin.


Dinner Served!

Tonight for dinner I made this. It was a hit! It was easy and yummy. And the best part was EVERYONE liked it! Middle Child had to pick the onions out but he still liked the rest of it.

I hope this season is a good one for you all. We are surviving the holidays this year, but doing well nonetheless. Baby is sooooo excited for Christmas. He can hardly wait. It brings me back to my younger days when it seemed like Christmas couldn't get here fast enough. And then as soon as it was over I was thinking about the next year!

Merry Christmas!


Safety First

A reminder from Baby as we make a second snowy morning commute this week.

"Safety First. Not second, or third, or fourth, or any of those other numbers. But Safety First!"


Like Mother, Like Son

Today I asked Middle Child if he liked the Eragon series of books.

"Umm, I only read a little of the first one," he replied.

"Why?" I asked, quickly followed by Olaf's "Why?" This Middle Child of ours has a penchant for reading books several times over.

"Umm, umm, umm, I just didn't really get into it," he explained hesitantly.

"Why?" we asked again. "Did you not like it?"

"Umm, no, not really," he told us.

"Why?" we were flabbergasted! We hadn't met a book this kid didn't like, until today.

"Umm, umm, I just didn't like the writing," he tried to explain to us.

Olaf burst out laughing! "Oh, I've never heard that from anyone else in this family!"

Middle Child decided that maybe it was ok to not like a book. "Hee, hee! I guess that sounds like a certain girl in my family that isn't my grandmas or aunts or cousins or sister-in-laws."

"What?" we both asked, a little surprised about the last one.


Santa Drives a Sleigh Among Many Other Things

Our church has a regular Christmas party, as do most churches. And, yes, there is the usual program with singing and a reading of some sort and more singing and hopefully some musical numbers which include jazzy piano, lots of guitars and sometimes other instruments, since we have quite a bit of talent in our congregation amongst the grown up crowd. And we always have dinner with lots of Do-You-Really-Want-to-Know-What's-In-That-Dish Potluck items to complement the cheap ham bought at the local grocery store heated up especially for this night. And the jewel of the evening is the visit from Santa. There were a few years when the Jolly Man didn't get to come and I was as bummed as the kids.

One of the best things about the Christmas party is the ability to hang out with my own friends while the children run the halls with their friends, causing all sorts of havoc, thus the need for ALL doors to be shut and locked. While they run and eat candy, run some more while grabbing more handfuls of candy, you can feel the excitement build during the musical program. And I get to gab socially with the few people who deem themselves lowly enough to associate with me and my conversation which always seem to run in the inappropriate direction no matter how hard I try to stay calm and good.

This year the under-12 children sang 'Away In the Manger'. The boys were supposed to sing the non-soprano part of the chorus in an attempt to show their manliness before their voice makes that change separating them from the females. Of course, Baby, against all orders, had left the room as the program dragged on longer and longer, and was nowhere to be found for his starring moment. We have few children in our congregation and very few boys, and he is the loudest singer amongst the boys. I'd been waiting for his boisterous "Asleep, Asleep" so completely out of tune and out of style with the reverent song. While Olaf tried to find him the song was done and over and the children were running around again, waiting for that special moment when Santa would arrive. Of course he didn't miss the moment, only we did since we ( as all parents) consider our child the most precious of all children. Magically, he showed up as soon as it was over.

About 4-5 years ago Santa came at the end of the party. He let all the kids sit on his lap, tug on his beard, and excitedly relay what they wanted for Christmas to the Man-Who-Delivers. There was lots of candy eaten by the young children, creating a higher level of excitement than needed. Just knowing The Man is coming is enough to send a child into a tizzy fit, coupled with candy and excessive running is a recipe for heart attacks. Good thing children still have clean arteries. This year Calvin and Middle Child had been asking us how Santa had gotten to the church. We explained the reindeer had dropped him off and were probably waiting on the roof. Of course, Calvin didn't believe everything we told him by this point of his life and so he checked. About a minute after Santa left he came running back into the church hollering, "Santa drives a Ford truck just like us!"

But the best year was when Calvin was only four. The children were once again putting on a program, except that was the whole program. They were seated on the stage for the whole Christmas program, never a recipe for success with my children. Calvin was only four and had never sat in front of a large crowd. We tried to get him to sit on the stand so he could sing, but he wouldn't. We suggested he sit next to Gus, his best friend, but even that didn't entice him to sit in front of all those scary people. Finally we gave up and let him sit with us and watch the progam. Near the end he decided it didn't seem to scary and went up on the stage to sit by Gus. But by this time another boy, Alex who would later become Calvin's other best friend, had decided he was sitting by Gus and had been the whole time. He wasn't about to give his seat up so easily. Calvin wasn't going down without a fight, he slugged that other boy. But the other boy was pretty tough to. They began to yell at each other as both parents came running to break up the fight and put an end to the embarrassment. We still, to this day, get comments about the Christmas fight. No warm fuzzy stories from my family about some boy claiming there really is room in his Inn for Mary & Joseph. Nope, we just provide ringside entertainment during the shepherd's vigil.


The Good in Things

Tonight we got back from a weekend trip. Of course we had a pile of mail waiting for us. Over time the mail has gotten back to normal and hasn't been as traumatic as it had been at first after our accident. But this weekend left us with a few surprises.

First off, Middle Child got his blanket. While still at the funeral he had asked his Grandma to make him a quilt to help remember his big brother, Calvin. Grandma's specialty is quilts, especially for the grandchildren. Grandma and Sister Quilter both made a quilt for the boys. While Baby's quilt came Monday, Middle Child's took it's usual sweet, Spanish Fork, time to get here. Most mail takes several days longer to get to us than to the top of Kilimanjaro. But I detract, DO NOT under any circumstances let me get started on the USPS. (Altho I do love our current postperson. His name is Obi (like Obi Wan Kenobi) and he looks like Shaggy from the old Scooby Doo cartoons! And he loves our dog!) But Middle Child was so happy! He quickly opened the box and proceeded to wear the quilt on his shoulders for the next two hours.

Then we got a letter from the University of Utah Eye Center. I thought they were pedaling Lasik and almost didn't open the letter. But it was something completely different and unexpected and wonderful. While still at the Hospital that horrible October 15 we were confronted with whether to donate Calvin's organs for others. That was an easy decision for us to make. Calvin always loved helping others. So we donated and were prepared to never hear again whether he helped anyone or not. But this letter told us how two people who had previously been blind now have eyesight! I couldn't imagine anything better, except Calvin still being here. These were grown ups and I can't believe how happy they must be! I'm glad this happened in time for Christmas so they can finally see the magical season for the first time.

As horrible as the whole incident has been I am happy to find little things like this where good has come from Calvin, even still.


Calvin's Plaque

This week Olaf had a plaque made to put on Calvin's grave. He then had his friend weld together a stand so we could put it in the ground. We did this because we wanted something to be at Calvin's gravesite until we decide what we want to put on a headstone and then have it made. And picking out a headstone for your child is something no parent should ever have to do but far too many parents have done. Just thinking about it creates chaos in my head and I can't concentrate and even think about what would be perfect for Calvin. When we get something picked out I will post it so everyone can see it. In the bottom picture you can see some of the things that others have left at his grave. I think it's neat that others come to see him. I'm glad that he touched so many other people's lives.


Where are You From?

I grew up in the Midwest, Iowa to be specific. But I've lived here in Utah for 16 years now! It's hard to believe it's been that long. The other day I was talking to someone at work and told them "I'm not from Here," meaning Utah. I thought about that later and wondered. "At what point do I say that I'm from Here?" I deliberated on this thought for a while and decided that when I had lived half my life here I could say that even though I'm not from Here, it's what I am. So when I turn the magical age of 45 I guess I will no longer tell people I'm from Iowa, but that I live Here now.



Best commercial I've heard in a long time:

"If you're a recreational opiate user call this 800 number. You may qualify for a medical trial where you can earn money."

I think it was the cops trying to make their monthly quota of drug busts.