Monday, October 31, 2011

Obligatory Halloween Pictures

I detest pumpkin carving, and usually (if we do it) put Mike in charge. But this year I must have caught a nice bug or something, as I not only allowed my kids to carve pumpkins, but I did it right along with them!!
Ellie, bless her heart did every single part of it herself. She turned down every offer of help and instead stuck with it, sawing, cutting and digging away until she had a darling little pumpkin face carved. And then, guess what winner mother neglected to take a picture of the finished product!?!
Check out that horse yours truly carved from Joshua's outline. Do you know how hard it is to carve a pumpkin in the first place, let alone a horse pattern drawn by a four year old!!

Megan and I were thrilled to have recently discovered, Barney Halloween on Netflix. Megan received it on VHS for her 2nd birthday, and it quickly became both of our favorites. The VHS died a sad death due to close to a million views. Oh--it was SO FUN singing along to the old Barney favorites I've tried to remember over the years.
And then of course there was Halloween Night.
And that folks was Halloween day around here.

The Dreaded Day

Halloween is my least favorite holiday ever.
My kids aren't really big fans of it either. (Hmm-imagine where they get that attitude from.)

Last week was Joshua's Preschool Halloween Program. I sent a picture text of Joshua to Mike during it and he replied, "Why didn't he dress up?"
(excuse the bent cowboy hat that was found stuck under the bed three minutes before preschool departure time)

My older boys will be cowboys (the youngest a horse), even though my BFF declared she would not give my boys candy if they show up at her house on Halloween night in their cowboy clothes, because, "They won't be dressed up."

Oh the technicalities of a silly old holiday.

On Halloween Eve, we had a family birthday dinner. And yes, I even had dry ice coming out of the cauldron filled with apple juice. To which Megan questioned, "For not liking Halloween Mom, why are we having a Halloween party."
It wasn't.
It was the October/November family birthday celebration.

At which Hank was the most popular attendee.
Although the dry ice experiments before it was thrown out were very popular too.
Now we're waiting for the dreaded evening of trick or treating, which actually isn't so dreaded this year as Mike and I struck quite the deal with the older two kids. They'll be no spousal arguing around here about who has to take younger kids out trick or treating.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thanks, But No Thanks

Luke's 4th grade class had a creative assignment last week. They were asked to bring a home-baked dessert cut into the shape of Utah. The brownies, cake, rice krispie treat or dessert of choice needed to be frosted with white frosting and taken to school on Friday morning.

The students would then decorate the cake with 'mountain ranges', 'lakes' and flags marking important places in Utah. According to the teacher's note, the dessert would then be brought home "to enjoy eating together as a family."

Excuse me?
Now I'm really not exactly a germophobe, but eating a dessert that has not only been transported to and from school by a nine year old boy on a school bus, but that has sat on a school desk for six hours being poked and prodded at by the said nine year old boy and who knows how many other students in the class is just not high on my choice of caloric intakes.

I didn't mean to offend Luke with my honesty when he asked if we could make Rice Krispie treats for his Utah dessert. Immediately upon him asking, I declared too abruptly, "What a waste of ingredients!" to which sweet Luke (knowing they are one of my favorite desserts) replied, "No, you can eat them when I bring them home."

I didn't say much other than, "I'm not sure how edible it will be with how many hands will be touching it all day."

Luke, the one who frequently needs reminding to wash his hands when returning from 'Hank's house', the rest room, or horse lessons, assured me he would keep the dessert safe while at school.

Friday afternoon, I happened to be sitting on the front porch as Luke approached the front yard from the bus stop. As soon as Luke got within hearing range and before any personal greeting to his dear mother, Luke declared with a proud grin on his face, "Mr Mills was really strict about making sure no one touched each other's Utah desserts, so it is totally fine to eat."

I looked at the stretched piece of blue candy that was now resembling the Great Salt Lake and tried to ignore the finger prints I could see in it. I tried to look past the pieces of cereal depicting the Wasatch Mountains that I was certain had been placed by little school boy fingers, as Luke talked about how yummy it will be to eat it as a family.
Instead, I decided to grab my camera and capture the big, proud, school boy grin. The bright sun prevented me from capturing the perfect picture. As I reviewed the picture on the little camera screen--it wasn't the squinty eyes or subdued smile that disappointed me... It was the dirty fingernails and fingers proudly holding  the Utah dessert pan belonging to my nine-year old dessert-maker son who had grand plans to share his creation with his mother.

I oohed and aahed over that thing. I made a fuss of every lake, mountain range, river and sign.

Then a couple of hours later, I did what any good mother would do...

As Luke gathered with four friends plus three siblings at the back door looking for a mid-afternoon snack I suggested, "Oh Luke, why don't you share your dessert with your friends. They'll love it."

Completely forgetting any plans of bonding with his family around a Utah shaped brownie dessert, Luke proudly cut up and served his friends the piece of their choosing.

Unfortunately there was none left for me.

Darn it.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

MY 90210 Towel

I'm not ashamed to admit that while in college, I was an avid watcher of the television series Beverly Hills 90210. Further, I'm not ashamed to admit that if I had cable television, it is quite possible that me, a non-television person would probably spend far too much time watching re-runs.

I'm also not ashamed to admit I still have a Beverly Hills 90210 beach towel (with portraits of Brandon and Dylan from 90210 claim).  Although a few years ago, Mike declared it to be a 'rag towel' and it never quite recovered from whatever Mike used it for. My red and black 90210 towel's new home then became the 'rag towel cupboard' in the garage.

When I mop the floor, I like to walk on the wet parts with a towel. I usually always choose my 90210 towel to complete the task.

Even though the towel is among rags, I still feel a little possessive about how and what it is used for.

I wasn't exactly thrilled the other week, when Brandon and Dylan's faces were used to dry off... HANK!!!!!!

But I was quick to forgive, and after a couple of washes and extra rinses in hot water, it resumed it's place in the garage rag closet.

WELL, Monday morning during my laundry day, there were the typical rag towels in the laundry room sink waiting to be washed. (Mike had cleaned his truck.) As I started putting them from the sink to the washing machine, I NOTICED MY 90210 TOWEL HAD BEEN CUT INTO SMALLER RAGS. I was BEYOND furious, and Mike was DANG lucky he didn't answer the phone right then and there. By the time we had our 'confrontation' on the driveway later that evening I had cooled down (somewhat).

When questioned "WHY IN THE WORLD COULD YOU NOT HAVE CUT UP ONE OF THE OTHER 16 RAG TOWELS?" Mike's response with his crooked smile (that always softens me) said:

"I love getting a reaction out of you."

He cut up MY 90210 towel for 'A REACTION'?
I'm still working on forgiving my dear husband while Brandon and Dylan now sit in four nice equal pieces in my garage.
I may never mop the floor again

(I couldn't help but do a quick search online to see if those towels are still available. I found one. The description clearly states, "Never used." Too bad I can NOT say the same for mine.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Loud and Clear

Forget all the sentiments about thoughtful homemade gifts or handwritten notes I wrote about yesterday. I received THE.BEST.BIRTHDAY.PRESENT.EVER. a couple of days late. Yesterday, my brother James and sister-in-law Kristin, gave me this:

I love it.
Some of my kids love it because they were able to come in promptly at dinnertime because they heard the first call.
Drew is scared of it.
Megan is mortified that her mother is going to become known around the neighborhood as the 'Megaphone Mom.'
And Mike, well I think his thoughts regarding it most closely relate to Megan's.

A couple of months ago our neighbors told me that sometimes if their television is turned off and their house is quiet they can hear me yell, "LUUUUKE, COME HOME." (Which incidentally, Luke is the most obedient child to come running home the very first time he hears his name being called.)

I'm hoping my new gift will help me not have to yell quite so loudly that the neighbors will hear. But on the other hand, they will probably hear me loud and clear no matter the noise level in their own house.

Perhaps not exactly a win-win situation.
But least my children will be on time for dinner.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Priceless Gifts

I guess while shopping at the store for my birthday, my kids reminded Mike that I wanted some new hand-weights. To which Mike replied, "I think we have enough things for now."

Luke, ever the thoughtful gift-giver, couldn't bear for me to go without them. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry when just after I'd unwrapped my gifts, I was presented with some '91/2 pound' weights. To which he exclaimed, "I even weighed them so they're right."

And then there was the heartfelt card from Ellie that told me,
"You are pretty much the best mom.
"You magic stuff, you play games, take me on dates, see you are the best mom!"   

And of course the homemade cake and card from Megan, the cowboy drawing from Joshua and the scribbling and assisted 'I love you' note from Drew.

I loved all my store-bought things, but really these other things don't even compare.
They're priceless.

I love that Mike helps 'remind' the children to do something from the heart as well as simply wrap a store-bought present.

Except for the home-made weights...

The credit goes entirely to Luke for those.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


My dear friend, Lesley just stopped by to wish me a Happy Birthday and expressed shock that I didn't have a birthday post up. So, I will quickly use a small portion of part of my birthday present (personal time alone in a quiet house) to wish myself a Happy Birthday.

(Megan was slightly disappointed that I didn't want a fancily decorated cake that she makes so well. Just chocolate cake and straight (homemade) chocolate frosting for me, thank you.)

My mother-in-law made a reference this morning about birthdays being like Christmas at our house.

What an insult! ;)
My birthday is better than Christmas.

At Christmas everyone is important.
But on my birthday, I am.
And I have no trouble admitting it!

Even when I have to fight Drew all through breakfast for the Birthday Hat that I was wearing... Drew threw an almighty temper tantrum crying 'want da hat', and Megan was shocked that I, the mother, would not give it to him and instead replied to her, "It's my birthday, not his."

I know, I know, I'm 37 and he is 2, which is why I eventually gave in.
By lunchtime-he knew better than to ask for it again.

Happy Birthday, to ME!!!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Worn Down

My friend recently referred to her years as a mother having 'worn her down'. She was specifically referring to the fact her youngest son was playing with a toy gun, which was something she would never had let her older son do. I couldn't have agreed with her more.

Though I actually laughed out loud at her musing, there was a part of me that didn't know whether to keep laughing, or start crying.

I'm worn down too. Remember all those mediocre parenting scenarios I described a month or so ago, well they just seem to keep getting worse.

Drew still takes a nap every day. It keeps me sane. Albeit he does it because I bribe him with candy. Drew sits on his bed and eats a piece of candy, while I close his blinds and gather his blankets. (Drew's bed is the one bed in the house that doesn't get made except when Joshua makes it for him on Saturdays!)

Joshua and Luke share a bed. They have for almost three years now, and neither wants to move. Joshua had a little bed wetting accident the other night, but nobody told me. The next night as I tucked the boys into bed Luke was complaining about how stinky and slightly damp Joshua's side of the bed was. I told him to make sure he stayed on his side of the bed and face the other way from the smell. I then said a silent prayer Joshua wouldn't notice the dampness. It was bedtime-not bed-sheet changing time.

The next morning I had 349 things to do, and Joshua didn't want to get dressed immediately. I let him run around in his stale-urine smelling pajamas until almost lunch time.

Ellie bought a brand new bottle of purple nail polish at our family store on Sunday morning. Tuesday afternoon while laying on Ellie's bed talking to Megan who was laying on her own bed, I saw a big splotch of purple nail polish on the carpet. I just sighed and told Megan to cover it up with a piece of garbage that was laying nearby.

A couple of weeks ago, Mike came home from work and noticed that Drew was still wearing the previous night's dinner on his face. It was a far cry from the day when I had just two children and a neighbor asked me if Megan had ever had a dirty face before.

A couple of nights ago we went to my grandma's house to pick grapes. As we were picking the last few grapes before leaving to go home to fix dinner, my grandma brought out a bag of Fritos and package of Ritz crackers. I didn't say a word when ten minutes later, my children had consumed both packages. Thirty minutes later we arrived home. After giving my children apple slices, I told them dinner had been served.

And of course there is the never-ending scenario of Drew rarely wearing anything more than a diaper even though the temperatures outside aren't even reaching 70 degrees anymore.
See what I mean about being worn down?
Somethings just aren't worth the energy or the battle.

I should probably be quiet now.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

A Loonngg Drive

I've mentioned before, I love the fall. Last year it seemed the fall season came and went and I didn't enjoy the leaves as up close and personal as I was used to in years past. This year, I committed to Mike that we were going to take a family fall drive and enjoy them. Mike kept telling me they were now past their peak due to the snow and rain a couple of weekends ago. Every time Mike would say that, I would accuse him of  not having the desire for the seven of us in the car together for a sight-seeing tour high on his priority list.

Saturday came along, and I guess I won the Saturday scheduling duty.
Well sort of.

My shortish drive plans, seemed 'boring' to Mike, and so two hundred miles, a jumped-started battery, and seven tired and slightly cranky people later, we returned home.

After the kids had us practically convinced that they truly were going to die of starvation, we stopped at the coolest, quaintiest, charming old drug store grill in Kamas. Nothing like pure grease to put an end to hunger pangs.
After Mike drove us so far up the mountains, that we quickly passed the elevations of leaves in the glory I wanted to see them in (I love the reds the very most-but we ended up going far above the reds to just yellows and greens.) winter!

When we first announced our plans for a 'Fall Drive', Joshua asked what for, and I explained to see the fall leaves. As we backed out of the driveway Joshua asked, "Are we going to watch the leaves fall?"

"Well not really, oh never mind, just be quiet and enjoy the drive", was my quick reply.

Fortunately, there was a slight breeze in the canyon and Joshua cheerfully exclaimed (and noticed), "Oh look, there are some leaves falling."

Charged batteries were not on our side. The camera battery died, the second camera battery died. And our car battery died in the hamburger joint parking lot.

Between two dead camera batteries, and a dead car battery, we got very few photos and Mike spent most of the time in the running car so as not to be left stranded in some remote mountainous location.(Wait, how did he luck out to be the one staying in the car?)

But guess what? Even with bickering, arguing, wandering hands, and declarations of starvation and boredom, it was a pleasant, glorious outing.
It really was.
One of those outings where things just kind of go a little better than usual.

Except for missing out on my favorite kind of colors.
Thank goodness for the glorious reds in the mountains I can see from the my north facing windows.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Dirty Gym Clothes and Stinky Parenting

I've mentioned on more than one occasion how opposite Mike and I are. Yet with all our opposites, we complement each other well.

Mike is more of the hard parent and I'm the soft one. (And I don't mean our abs.)

We balance each other nicely though.

Although, I wish I could have had more of Mike in me this morning. I had all the best intentions to, but then the softy came through and I didn't do it. I wasn't even consciously thinking about it. It just happened. --I guess that kind natured, 'give someone their last Rolo' part of my personality came through? (Was that a Rolo commercial slogan here in America too in the 1980's--'Do you love anyone enough to give them your last Rolo?' ) Even though some parts of my personality scream the opposite 87.4% of the time, there is a percentage of me that would 'give someone my last Rolo'.

Oh man, I've digressed.
On Fridays, Megan brings home her dirty gym clothes to wash. Typically I do not do laundry on Saturdays or Sundays, and I encourage her to get them deposited in time for a late Friday afternoon batch, or I make a special one for the clothes. (Oh dear, that sounds like she is an indulged child. She isn't. But laundry is MY area. Help me clean the toilets, fix meals, vacum rooms or do dishes. But laundry? Please let me do it alone.)

This last Friday evening, Megan threw her bag of dirty gym clothes at the bottom of the stairs. Then proceeded to walk past it all night Friday and all day Saturday and into Sunday morning. Late Friday night, I decided to put my 'softness' to the test and help the new teenager understand, that though I do not mind my sole ownership in the laundry department, we have sufficient dirty clothes in our laundry baskets, therefore I do not and will not go in search of clothes to launder, specifically clothes disguised in a Walmart plastic bag sitting on the bottom stair.

Mike, my complementary housekeeping partner, was told of my plan, and asked not to remind, remove or mention the bag.

Sunday morning, minutes before the church choir was due at our house. The bag was removed (by Megan) to the upstairs hallway, just feet away from the laundry room door.

Mike was again reminded of my instruction, and I continually reminded myself. Several times I had to physically stop myself from scooping up the bag and laundering the clothes. (There are many household tasks I fall short on and do not do well or thoroughly--but laundry is MY thing. I'm the gal who has suitcases unpacked and laundry going within MINUTES of returning from a trip. That *darn* bag on the floor was killing me.)

Sunday morning, afternoon and evening came and went. It was after 9pm when I found myself over the phone giving Megan instructions to get herself ready for bed and help the other children fall asleep while Mike and I traveled to the ER with Drew. (More on that later.) I had to physically bite my tongue from reminding Megan that her A- in P.E. (from being absent one day) that she is working hard to get up to an A, was going to be seriously compromised when she had no gym clothes to dress in come Monday morning gym class.

I refrained. And upon ending the call, I proudly turned to Mike in the driver's seat, and congratulated myself  for being able keep quiet.

Monday morning came quickly. Tired kids, tired parents, a freshly stitched-up forehead that was distracting all of the older siblings, an early dentist appointment, and the other five hundred things to see to on a Monday morning.

Megan was a little late getting up, and though rushed in her actions, she did find the time to question as she passed the Walmart bag sitting in the hallway, "My gym clothes didn't get washed?"

To which I calmly replied, "Nope, I never saw them in the laundry room."

"Oh well." She replied hurriedly, "I've actually only worn them three times since their last wash. They'll be fine to wear today." (gross!)

About 10 minutes later, Megan was across the front yard beginning her walk to the bus stop.

With absolutely no recollection of my previous 48 hours of tongue biting, I ran upstairs, grabbed the bag, ran downstairs, threw open the front door, and with a hero's leap across the front lawn,  pronounced,

"Megan, you forgot your gym clothes."

It wasn't until I turned around and came back through the front door that I realized what I had done.

I gave Megan my last Rolo.

I couldn't do it.
I did not do what I so proudly announced to Mike on Friday that I was going to do.
I was so sure I was going to let Megan experience the natural consequence that would likely ensure that her dirty gym clothes were never deposited in the wrong place again.

Later that night as we were sitting around the kitchen table, Megan excitedly began to tell us how her gym grade was likely increased to where she wanted it to be.

I tried to crawl under the table. I even tried in the split second Mike's bite of ice cream sandwich had rendered him speechless to send him a telepathic message that read, "Forget everything your wife said about gym clothes, gym grades, natural consequences and tough parenting for the last 48 hours."

My telepathic messages didn't make it. Nor did my disappearance under the table.
Instead, with a little smirk and a small whisper, I heard Mike say, "Oh yeah. How did that work?"

I was going to give him the whole 'Last Rolo' speech that he has heard 8,439 times, but instead I sheepishly admitted, "I completely forgot."

Sometimes I stink at this whole parenting thing...
Maybe next time.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Another one of those times I wished I had a photo to capture the memory, but will instead forever be a 'mind memory'...

A few weeks ago, as an outdoor party with a live band winded down, Mike and I found ourselves sitting in a chair each with one of our little boys asleep on our laps. The fall air was crisp, the sun had gone down, people were slowly anticipating the end of a grand evening. As the band played out the strains of a slow song, I watched a young couple in a lovers embrace. And then before the stanza even finished, hand in hand, this young couple skipped down the driveway. Now I know this couple quite well, and I know skipping is not typical behavior for them. But filled with the jovialness of a crisp fall evening, hand in hand I watched the glaring lightness in their step as they made their way down the driveway as though they were first graders on an elementary school playground.

In that instant, I wanted nothing more than for those high school sweethearts to remember that moment FOREVER. Whether or not, they are still in contact with each other in twenty years or so, I want them to remember the lightheartedness with which they skipped, and the carefree thoughts they held as they embraced.

Too quickly real life sets in. All too quickly children turn to teenagers, and teenagers turn to adults. Jobs replace spontaneous dates. Bills replace loose change used at a drive-thru. That young couple in love is on the brink of it all changing. And though those changes bring with them more joy, more fulfillment, and more delight than what they currently have, they don't come with the same lightheartedness and carefreeness as yesteryear.

The young lovers left my line of vision. As much as my mind was focused on wanting them to capture their moment, my heart felt full as I looked down at Joshua asleep on my lap, and Drew asleep on Mike's lap next to me. Mortgage payments, dental bills, and broken appliances aside, life is good.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

For Grandparents

Nowhere near as good as 'The Man' (that you can watch here), but grandparents will still appreciate it...

Happy Sunday!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Missed Again

Now that Megan's birthday is past, the countdown to mine truly begins. My birthday is ten days from Megan's (EIGHT FROM TODAY) and Luke's is then ten days from mine.
Fortunately, Luke's birthday is a different month than mine and Megan's and so there is hope that HIS birthday will not be skipped from our church birthday calendar like mine and Megan's were!!
Remember this year here, when my birthday was omitted?
Then again (here) last May, when Ellie's was omitted?

Well Sunday morning, our monthly church newsletter came and Megan and I anxiously grabbed it to find our name and birthday in print. (I know, you'd think we were turning 6, not 13 and 37, but we like our birthdays okay?!)

But what do you know?????????
Someone made a mistake and put the AUGUST birthdays in the OCTOBER newsletter!!!!!!!!!!!

Seriously, at this point I'm considering starting a campaign for a new church assignment. Someone has to see to it that me or my children's birthdays are never missed again.

 (Note sarcasm please--we don't at all campaign for assignments in our church.)  

Whether or not anyone else chooses to acknowledge it or not, my birthday is indeed eight days away.
And yes, I am counting.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Teen

I get melancholy and focused on the stark reminders that reflect how quickly time is passing that I often don't reflect on the more subtle occurrences. Yet somehow in between the 'stark' and 'subtles' of living, today I find myself with a THIRTEEN year old.

A 13 Year Old.

I don't keep it a secret that I rushed the newborn and baby stage with my first two babies. It is one of my greatest regrets. If you remember this post here, I reflected how quick I was to have Megan do such things as ride a two-wheeler or start pre-school. I'm not doing those things with Drew. Funny isn't it? The perspective of a first child versus a last child.

I am certainly no longer in a hurry to move onto any new stages. I know now they will come all too quickly. After all, where in the world did the time go from this:
(Megan's first birthday picture)

To this?
(Megan's 13th birthday!!)

What a fabulous day.
Man, does this girl know how to make the gift-giver feel good:

Thirteen. I can remember so clearly being Megan's exact age. We are very opposite thirteen year olds, I had nothing close to the confidence, talent and security she has now. What a great thirteen year old she is! And what a fun stage to be in--I love having a daughter who can help straighten or curl those hard to reach pieces of hair at the back of my head, or who borrows MY shoes, or who offers me advice on what jewelry to wear with what outfit, or someone who is very capable to be left home alone with four younger siblings, or. . ., or. . ., or.

I think I might quite like this teenager stage.

(Anyone notice what is missing????)
When half the cake was eaten and even half the guests had left, my mother saw the 'Birthday Hat' sitting neglected in the center of the table! And so yes, we had to do the candles and singing all over again...
Happy 13th Birthday Megan!!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Guest Post-The Fight That Turned Into Flowerbeds

Today, I'm excited to be guest posting over at 'Our Garden Gate'! If you're interested, you can see what one of our very first fights was about as newlyweds...

Happy Reading!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Longest Half Birthday

Bless Joshua's heart-it was a long day. From the minute he woke up exclaiming, "It's my birthday!" to the kids finally coming home from school so we could do his half cake and half present seemed like an eternity.
Half birthdays are supposed to be non-stress, but seriously, answering the question "When will the kids be home?" every five minutes for over seven hours, was not exactly non-stress.

(What exactly did I start with this half birthday thing? Drew's and Joshua's just ten days apart, and then in two days will be Megan's real birthday. Then in April when it is Joshua's real birthday, two days later is Megan's half birthday? Seriously? Don't I have enough stuff to do without half birthdays thrown in?!?)

I'm reconsidering the dollar store gift--this time around it only lasted five minutes (If that.)
Forget the non-non-stress day, hearing Joshua say in his bedtime prayer, "Bress I can be four and a half now" makes it all worth it.

Sort of.


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