Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Twelve Days of Christmas at our house

On the first day of Christmas, my sweetie underwent a pretty gruesome ear surgery.

On the second day of Christmas, at the school concert, I heard some bells ringing, along with a bunch of kids singing.

On the third day of Christmas, our girlie performed in two showings of Sleeping Beauty.

On the fourth day of Christmas, I did some last minute shopping . . . online, instead of mall and crowd hopping.

On the fifth day of Christmas, I dropped our cards in the mail. My procrastination likely made the postman wail.

On the sixth day of Christmas, I was finally done with a quilt that I made for Grant's teacher - She's having baby number one.

On the seventh day of Christmas I did some wrapping, and when I was done, I really felt like clapping.

On the eighth day of Christmas when I awoke, my sinuses felt like they had been broke.

On the ninth day of Christmas, we visited the temple and saw the lights, and listened to a friend sing loudly and bright.

On the tenth day of Christmas, there was no partridge or pear. Instead we attended the school Science Fair.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, the kids got out of school. Whoever created the schedule this year is surely a fool.

On the twelfth day of Christmas, I spent the day on my feet, making all sorts of good things to eat.

And now that Christmas is really here, I'm finally filled with the holiday joy, brought about by the birth of a special baby boy.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

All I Want for Christmas . . .

is time to finish all the projects on my list this December. Somehow, I think I'm not going to get what I want!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Making a list...and checking it twice

December snuck up on me this year. I'm not sure what happened to September, October, and November . . . because I'm fairly certain that it was just August last week!

I had grand intentions of being well-prepared for the holidays this year, and sitting back and enjoying the month of December with crafts, home-baked goodness, and fun projects with the kids.

The reality is a whole different story! I've got a list a mile long of things that need to be done, and not just to get ready for Christmas!

In spite of the hustle and bustle, I am grateful that this holiday is upon us. Events in recent weeks have reminded me that life is precious. I must savor the everyday moments, even the ones that make me crazy. That goal is at the tip-top of my list right now, and I hope to never cross it off!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Our very own Cookie Monster

Last night, I made cookies. I tried out the recipe for Oatmeal Sugar Cookies from the LemonPoppy cookbook "When Life Gives You Friends" (I won this set of cookbooks a couple of months back in a blog giveaway from my friend Ashley). The kids each gobbled one up last night before bed, and begged to have one included in their lunch today.

This morning as I was packing lunches, I was rather distracted. I ended up with an extra cookie sitting on the counter after closing up all the lunch boxes. I threw it in Olivia's lunch box, thinking it was for her. I then gave strict instructions that the cookies were NOT to be eaten for morning snack, rather AFTER they'd eaten their sandwich and fruit for lunch!

During Olivia's lunch break today, she popped her head in the library (where I work two days a week).

"Mom, there were two cookies in my lunchbox today at morning break. I went and looked in Grant's lunchbox, he didn't have one, so I put the extra in there."

I was amazed at her kindness and generosity.

On our way home from school today, Grant shared the following story:

"The strangest thing happened today . . ." (He used those exact words, I swear!)

"This morning at snack recess, I decided to eat my cookie. It was so yummy! But then, when it was lunch time, I opened up my lunchbox, and there was another cookie! I don't know how it got there, I think my lunchbox made it!"

Jack burst out crying "That is so not fair—I didn't get any cookies in MY lunchbox..."

Olivia and I looked at each other, realized what had happened, and burst out laughing.

I'm thinking a cookie-producing lunchbox is a million-dollar idea . . .

Monday, November 7, 2011

Things that go bump in the night

About a month ago, I was awoken in the night by the sound of footsteps above our room. Steve was out of town, and I literally thought someone was on top of our roof. I freaked out. I sat up in bed, and was trying to plot my escape. How could I possibly get to the kids on the other side of the house before the intruder found us? What could I use to defend myself? After a few minutes, the noise stopped. I lay awake, staring at the ceiling, for what seemed like an eternity before I was able to drift off into dreamland once again.

The next day, on the phone with Steve, I recounted the experience. “There’s no way you could hear someone on the roof” he told me. “The attic is above our room, and all that insulation would block out any sound up there.” “Plus, how and why would someone be on top of our roof? There’s easier ways to get into the house. It was probably a mouse in the attic.”

“No way” I told him. “This sounded way bigger than a mouse. It sounded like a person!”

Fast forward a few weeks. No more noise, no more mid-night awakenings. Then, weeks ago, in the middle of the night, I heard it again. This time, it was coming from the wall underneath one of our windows. I got out of bed and crept over to the window. I peered out, fearful of what might be trying to get into our second story room.

I tried to wake Steve. He rolled over and mumbled something about it being the middle of night and what did I want him to do?

The next night, as I was brushing my teeth, Steve heard the sound for the first time. He started sleuthing around, trying to figure out where it was coming from.

“Maybe it’s a bird stuck in the vent.” He threw on some sweats and headed outside to see if he could see anything. Nada. So back to bed he came.

“ Maybe we should call someone” he said.

In the meantime, I had heard tales of raccoons taking up residence in attics. I became convinced that we had a family of raccoons, happily procreating and raising their young in the warmth of our walls and attic.

The next day, I got on the phone with the local animal control. “I think we have raccoons in our attic” I told the lady on the other end.

“We don't remove wildlife from residences” she told me. But she gave me the number of a company that could help.

I called the number, explained what we were hearing, and scheduled a free inspection for the next day. Then I started thinking of what color I wanted to paint our bedroom after they patched up the holes they would have to cut to retrieve the raccoon babies nestled in our walls. I was convinced.

The guy arrived promptly at his scheduled time the next day. He brought in his ladder, climbed up into the attic access in our master closet, looked around for all of a minute and climbed back down.

“You’ve got a rat infestation. Looks like they’ve been living there for some time based on the droppings.”

I nearly passed out.

He told Steve to set traps and gave some advice as to what makes the best bait. He also showed Steve where they were likely coming in, and offered some suggestions for sealing up the access. Then he went on his merry way.

That night, I could hardly sleep. I kept waiting to hear music from the party that seemed to be taking place above us. Images from "Ratatouille" were circling in my mind, complete with talking rats stirring pots in the kitchen. The thought that we had rats living rent-free in our house was more than I could take.

In the week since, Steve has trapped a total of 6 rats in the attic. There may still be more. One more met its demise outside, plus Steve recovered a petrified rat skeleton from the crawl space underneath the house.

I’m trying to find the silver lining in this whole experience. The only “good” I’ve discovered is that I definitely made the right choice in picking my spouse. There is no way in h*** that I would be able to handle setting traps and removing dead carcasses. He’s done it without a single complaint. I love that man.

Next time I hear footsteps above my room, I'm going to hope and pray it's an intruder. And not the four-legged-with-whiskers variety.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Stop this train...I want to get off and go home again...

The title of this post is borrowed from a favorite John Mayer song of mine...and perfectly describes the way I'm feeling about my life right now. It's going too fast. I want it to slow down. I can't really say I want it to stop, but a slow down would be welcome right now.

Here are a few of the events of the past several weeks:

I gave up on my makeshift garden (a few potted vegetables scattered throughout the backyard) and decided a weekly trip to the Farmers' Market would be a better use of my time, energy, and money.

Steve and I each celebrated a birthday. He turned 44.

A day later, I turned 39. My last year in my thirties.

To celebrate, we had dinner at PF Changs, then went to Jack's first cub scout pack meeting. Jack earned his "Bobcat", and had to put the pin on me.

I was the only mom insisting on posing for a photo. I didn't care.

Then we came home and ate cheesecake, which I had made earlier that afternoon. I didn't care that I made my own cake, it was what I wanted and I savored every calorie-rich bite.


Steve and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. On a Tuesday.

To commemorate, we left Olivia in charge of the boys and headed downtown for a lovely, quiet, dinner for two. We marveled that we had reached this milestone, where not only were we happily married after all these years, but we also had kids old enough to leave at home—alone!—for a couple of hours without worrying.

When we got home and tucked the kids into bed, we asked Olivia what she thought an appropriate pay scale would be for a big sister babysitting. This was her reply: "Well, I did do the dishes, and fed them a treat, and got them in their PJs and ready for bed. I think $3/hour would be fair." DONE!


I co-chaired the Walkathon fundraiser at the kids' school. It was a huge success...breaking records of previous years. We brought in over $28,000...which for a school of just 260 kids is no small feat. It took weeks of time and effort and planning, but it all paid off, and I'm glad it's over.

The kids were glad it was done too! The local fire department came for the hose down!


My daughter has turned into a pre-teen. She went to the first school dance of the year. Thankfully, she is still a bit disgusted by the boys, and far prefers hanging out with her friends.


My boys turned into little men. I snuck in to peek at them sleeping before going to bed last night. I couldn't help but snap these photos.

Moments after capturing his angelic slumber, Jack started projectile vomiting, which continued every 30 minutes for nearly 8 hours. No sleep for either one of us, and a whole lot of carpet scrubbing and laundry.

Since there's no slow-down in sight, I'll take a deep breath, wash my hands (and the dirty clothes and dishes), and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tough and Mean

Steve's mom has this expression . . . anytime she has to do something hard, painful, or otherwise unpleasant, she says "Tough & Mean", meaning put mind over matter and get 'er done. This expression has carried over into our family on many levels, whether it's a scraped knee, exhaustion, or just something new and a little scary.

After a month in a cast, we headed back to the orthopedic doctor this week for Grant's follow-up. Steve and I are both firm believers in being honest with the kids. So when Grant asked us if it was going to hurt, we said it might, but that he was strong and brave, "tough and mean", and it wouldn't last for long.

While we waited, we did our best to distract him from thinking about it too much.

The cast removal went well.

Since they had to cut Grant's first cast off to put on a higher one, the rotating saw was no big deal. Grant giggled through the whole thing, saying it "tickled" his arm.

When they pried the cast off, there was his little arm, slightly shriveled, and covered in dead skin.

Next it was down the hall to get a new X-ray taken. Grant held his arm close to his body, afraid of moving it.

Dr. Schwartz, the orthopedist, came into the exam room, looked at the X-rays, and said that things looked good, there was evidence of new bone filling in the fracture, and he felt like it was time to remove the pins.

He gave us two options:

Option 1—take Grant back to the Operating Room, put him under general anesthesia, and pull the pins out.

Option 2—Pull the pins right then and there, with no anesthesia or sedative. He said it would be mildly uncomfortable, but that if Grant resisted, he could stop and schedule an OR.

The risks of general anesthesia (not to mention the expense and no food/drink for 8 hours prior) seemed a bit excessive for something that would only take a couple of minutes. The doctor asked how stoic we thought Grant would be, and then he looked at me, and asked if I thought I could handle it. Seriously??? After very little discussion, Steve and I opted that if at all possible, we'd like to try and have the pins pulled right there.

As the doctor was getting things ready, Grant laid back and with tears in his eyes, asked me "Why did you even make me play on that playground? I didn't want to play on the playground!" A little late for that discussion, I think. . .

I stood at Grant's head, with his little face cupped in my hands, trying to keep his eyes focused on me, instead of his elbow as the doc went to work.

He swiftly and deftly went to work, wiggling, prying, and then pulling out two 3+" nails from my baby's elbow. Grant barely whimpered, just said "ow, ow, it hurts!"

When it was over, and we saw the pins laying on the table, both Steve and I almost passed out. The thought that moments before, those had been inside his bones was just more than we wanted to imagine! Steve piped up and said "There is no way I could have done what Grant just did. No way. Knock me out."

They wrapped it in gauze for a bit to stop the bleeding and sent us out to the hallway to wait. As we sat there, Grant said "Well that wasn't so bad!" Maybe not for him . . .

A small bandaid later, and we were on our way. He's still favoring it a bit, and doesn't yet have full range of motion, but he's on his way. No PE, gymnastics, or monkey bars for another month to make sure things are completely healed, but he should be back to full activity in no time.

Both Steve and I are still amazed that Grant handled the whole experience as well as he did. Sure, there were moments of pretty intense pain, and the hassle, discomfort, and awkwardness of being in a cast. But through it all, and especially when they pulled out the pins, Grant has been the epitome of "Tough and Mean" . . . in a nice sort of way :)

Monday, September 19, 2011

Livin' the life...

Now that all three kids are in "real" school, I find myself with a little more "free" time on my hands. I'm working two days a week in the school library, but have two full days and one half day a week all by my lonesome. It's true! The house is so quiet with the kids gone that I can literally hear myself think.

While I try and fill most of my days with productive "housewife-y" chores and duties, I am trying to spend a little more time on me, doing things that I enjoy. A good friend of mine suggested we take tennis lessons—a fun way to get a little fresh air and burn some calories. It is also a good excuse to buy some cute new clothes! Today was the first lesson.

Steve bought a golf cart a couple of weeks ago, and we drove that up the hill to the club today, laughing the whole way.

(I'm really hoping it was just the shadows
that make my thigh look so dimpled . . .)

Our teacher is a hard core Brazilian tennis pro. She worked us to the bone, we were both huffing and puffing by the end of the lesson. Amazingly enough, she said my new racket was actually "TOO Beginner" for me! Never thought that would be possible.

Don't hold your breath on seeing me in the US Open anytime soon, but I may have actually found a sport that I enjoy, and can actually play. Who would have thunk it???

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering . . . a decade after 9/11

There aren't many days in the last ten years that I can recall with near perfect clarity . . . with the exception of 9/11/01.

I had just gone through a devastating miscarriage two weeks prior, and was still grieving the loss of that pregnancy and the hopes and dreams that felt like they had been lost as well. I was an emotional wreck, yet trying to still be a mom to a busy toddler.

On that Tuesday morning, I woke up, reached for the remote, and clicked on the Today Show. This had been my morning habit, and I quietly savored those moments until Olivia came toddling in asking for breakfast.

When the TV came on, I saw the gaping hole in one of the Twin Towers, and heard the incredulous voices of Matt Lauer and Katie Couric as they tried to make sense of what was happening. I picked up the phone and called Steve, who was riding BART into work.

"Something crazy is going on," I said. "It looks like a bomb went off in the Twin Towers in New York."

Seconds later, still on the phone, I watched in disbelief as a plane crashed into the second tower. It was like a movie, it seemed impossible that it was really happening.

I was glued to the TV all day, and in the days that followed, watching the images played and replayed over and over again. I listened to the stories of individual and collective heroism and loss. I cried. I looked at my sweet Olivia, who had just turned 2, and wondered how I could ever raise a child in a world where something like this could happen.

A missionary that I had served closely with during my mission to the Canary Islands was working at the Pentagon when the plane hit. He was killed, leaving behind a darling wife.

There were hundreds of images of the day plastered on the TV, newspapers, and magazines. Many were horrifying. Of all the images though, this one seemed to resonate the most with me—The American Flag, rising up out of the ashes.

In the ten years since this tragedy, much has changed in our country, and our world. It is strange to hear my five and eight year olds talk matter-of-factly about the "planes that crashed into the buildings". The events of that day happened long before they were born, and they'll never know how things were "before". Yet it has become an important event in the history of our country. I will never forget where I was that day, nor will I forget how blessed I am to be an American.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

(heart) Broken

When my mom used to tell me that seeing me in pain hurt her more than me, I thought it was a bunch of bologna. Not anymore...

Our kids have all gotten hurt, and we've had our share of ER visits through the years. We've even dealt with a broken bone (Olivia broke her ankle falling off the same monkey bars on the first day of first grade, six years ago!). But I think the severity and the nature of this injury threw both Steve and I for a loop, and we felt things that neither one of us had felt before.

We checked into Valley Care Hospital a little after 3pm on Tuesday, August 23 for a 5pm surgery. There wasn’t a whole lot of action going on in pre-op, I got the feeling we were the last surgery of the day. The nurses must have known a little guy was coming in. They had his bed all ready and waiting for him.

Grant changed out of his clothes and into a very small hospital gown. So small, in fact that his little boy parts kept peeking out. It gave me the giggles. Actually, pretty much everything was giving me the giggles—I think that was my coping mechanism throughout the day...

We spent the next hour and a half answering medical history questions while Grant happily watched a movie on the iPad (a godsend through this whole ordeal!).

About 20 minutes prior to surgery time, the nurses gave him a little “happy juice” to help him relax and make the separation from us a little easier for him when they wheeled him away into the OR. Steve and I jokingly asked the nurse what they had to make it easier for us . . . Before long, he had a goofy, lopsided grin on his face and was mumbling incoherently. That really gave me the giggles.

He didn’t even flinch when the anesthesiologist put in the IV.

We kissed him and watched as they wheeled him away, feeling like my heart was being ripped right out of my chest. It was hard to breathe. We wandered to the lobby to wait.

While we waited, Steve did a google search for a normal humerus bone. This is what it looks like.

This is what Grant's arm looked like.

The jagged gray line across the bone is the fracture.
The "ball" on the bottom bone is supposed to be in the "socket" of the humerus...

That huge gap in between the lower and upper arm bones is not supposed to
be there. The bones should fit closely together. When we saw this,
and compared it to the normal x-ray, we both felt sick to our stomachs.

After what seemed like an eternity (but was really only about 40 minutes), we saw our surgeon coming across the lobby toward us. We were anxiously watching for a thumbs up sign or smile, but got none. His face was stone serious, which gave me a fit of panic, wondering what had gone wrong...thankfully, he quickly reported that the surgery had gone perfectly, they had placed the pins without incisions, and he was in recovery.

When they took us back to recovery, he was still fast asleep. It took about another hour or so for him to slowly wake up.

He looked so tiny in the bed.

Because of his age, and the late time of day of his surgery, they kept him in the hospital overnight for observation. He hadn’t had anything to eat or drink for nearly 12 hours, but the kitchen was closed for the night. Grant’s dinner for the evening consisted of 3 cups of apple juice, a carton of chocolate milk, and a bag of Baked Lay’s potato chips. The dinner of champions!

We were in a private room, with our very own flat screen tv on the wall. And Grant got to call the shots on whatever we watched. In his world, that was pretty much heaven! When he couldn't find anything to watch on tv (after about 11pm, even Cartoon Network shows trashy shows), we switched to the iPad.

It was a rough night. With an IV in one hand, and his other arm immobilized and in pretty severe pain, he was pretty much useless. At about 4am, after close to no sleep for nearly 48 hours, I lost it and broke down sobbing. I just rubbed his little chest through the bedrail, silently praying for the strength to get through this.

When the sun came up a couple of hours later, he had turned a corner. He hopped out of bed and walked to the bathroom, ate a couple of pancakes and pieces of bacon for breakfast, and was ready to head on home.

Friday we went back to the orthopedist for his hard cast. They took an xray to check alignment, and things looked perfect!

He was a trooper as they put on not one, but two casts. The first cast didn’t come up high enough on his arm leaving too much mobility in the joint, so the cast tech had to cut it off and start over. Grant laid back on the table, closed his eyes, and went to his happy place.

He's now proudly sporting a super cool camouflage cast. He blends in very well with his surroundings.

By Saturday, he was running around, and pretty much back to his normal mischief-making.

It’s tough keeping him out of the pool and away from the water—the boy is part fish!

I look back on this past week, and it just seems unreal. My heart still jumps into my throat when I look at the photos of his bone, or him in the hospital, or think of his cry when he first fell. While it’s true that my physical pain might not have been as great as his, the emotional pain was pretty much off the charts!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The face of happiness at twelve

Olivia turned 12 years old today. (What???? 12???? What happened to the last 11 years???)

She's been dying for a new cell phone. (Apparently her cute little pink flip phone is soooo last year!)

She's also been begging for texting privileges (according to her, she's the ONLY one who wasn't allowed to text. I have a hard time believing that!)

After a whole lot of discussion and consideration, Steve and I decided it was time.

So, while we were waiting for our food to arrive at her birthday dinner, we handed her a small, wrapped box.

We laid out a few ground rules—no texting after 8pm on weeknights, 9pm on weekends, no texting at the dinner table, no texting when friends are over, we have the right to check her texts at any time without a fight, and the real sassy attitude.

When I was 12, I got a cassette deck for my room. My, how things have changed...

Happy Birthday sweet girl!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Back to school!

The kids went back to school today. Well, two of them did...

Olivia started 7th grade today...which freaks me out just a little—in 2 short years she'll be off to high school!

Jack started 3rd grade today. He has the same teacher as last year, whom he adores, and was up and in the shower before the sun came up this morning. He was ready!

Grant went to his class for about an hour...just long enough to hear a story, go on a little scavenger hunt around the school, and sit down and start to eat a cookie, which I promptly snatched away from him (but not before he took a bite...shhhh, don't tell!) since he can't eat or drink anything (even water) ALL........DAY.........LONG!!!!!

Now he's laying on the couch watching "The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lava Girl" for the hundredth time (dumbest movie ever, but Grant thinks it's da bomb...)

We're going to venture out and do a little birthday shopping for Olivia before it's time to check into the hospital.

I think God knows what He's doing...while I certainly did not wish for a broken arm, this has put things in perspective for me. The distraction of the arm has taken my mind off the fact that my baby is headed off to school. When Grant finally and officially walks into kindergarten next week, I think I'll be breathing a sigh of relief instead of shedding tears!