Saturday, December 26, 2009

Love came down on Christmas

There's a first for everything, even on Christmas Eve. Until this year we had never been invited to a birthday party for Jesus complete with birthday cake (with pumpkin cream cheese filling between two layers of chocolate buttermilk cake), Christmas Jeopardy (do YOU know the ingredients of figgy pudding?) and lots of yummy food.

After our own family's little Christmas Eve devotional the kids were tucked in their beds and Spouse and I put on "It's a Wonderful Life" while we began our work of wrapping and assembling.

I woke at 7:10 Christmas morning to silence and grayish streams of sunlight peaking through the blinds; the children were still asleep! The morning was full of excitement, joy and a big breakfast. Is there anything sweeter than children on Christmas morning? No. No there isn't.

***my apologies in advance for the state of my hair and the terrible pajama pants I was wearing. I swear they only appear once a year.****

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dude, Where's My Card?

Have you been stalking your mailman, camping by your mailbox or anxiously pining away for our family's Christmas card/picture/brag sheet? Well, you are not alone. We didn't forget about you. We forgot about EVERYONE.

Let me explain. We didn't forget. It just didn't happen. Very sorry. I hope you can make it through this Christmas season without our annual greetings.

But we have LOVED getting all of your card/pictures/cute letters. If you haven't sent yours yet, we won't hate you, yet. You have until December 31 before we are officially offended. But don't think that means you are getting something from us. If you feel like this is an unfair deal, just remember that it's Christmastime and it is always better to give than to receive.

As a token of our appreciation and goodwill to our friends and family I will bestow upon you the great honor of viewing some of our Christmas preparations in the form of photography. (These aren't just pictures anymore, now that I have my fancy new camera. They are Photographs.)

Christmas cookie mess making, I mean decorating. To avoid the overly-accessorized-to-the-point-of-inedibility cookies of years past I set a new rule this year: if you don't want to eat it, no one else will. Sprinkle, red hot and frosting usage was kept quite tame.

What Christmas would be complete without a visit to the temple to see the lights? Add some friends and warmish weather and you've got yourself a memory!

A morning at the park is just what the doctor ordered to stave off the excitement and subsequent energy of it being almost Christmas.

The kids have made up new games based around Christmas and our tree. Taking the packages out from under the tree and organizing them into piles or rows is called "Santa's Elves" and pretending to surprise each other with the presents is another one they call "Special Delivery"

Next year will be better. You'll get a card.

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Bob Dylan singing Christmas?

I'm not the only one with low tolerance for certain "Christmas" songs. We had the local all-Christmas-all-the-time station on in the car (Dee-Lie-Lah, could you be any more annoying?) when the overly played, slow drumming beat began. From the second row #2 yells out, "Drummer Boy again? I hate this song!" It may have something to do with the disturbing, stop motion movie from the the '60's called "Little Drummer Boy" that he had recently viewed. I guess I'm a spoiled Pixar sort of girl now, but those clay-mation figures lurching around are something out of a nightmare! It's no wonder he dislikes that song.

Since my last post several friends have confessed to disliking other apparently popular Christmas music: "Last Christmas" by Wham and "Feed the World" with U2 were mentioned in the comments. "Christmas Shoes" is hated by another friend of mine ("met my old lover at the grocery store..."). I usually flip the station before it gets further than that but once I was forced to endure the entire song while I was shopping, you got it, at the grocery store. I'm still trying to recover. And then there is that horrible song that starts with John Lennon and Yoko Ono whispering "happy Christmas" to each other in bedroom voices. My mind automatically recalls that album cover where they are standing naked next to each other and then I feel like I'm listening in on their intimacies. Yuk.

I've been playing Andrea Boccelli's new Christmas cd a lot lately. I really like the mix of the playfulness of some of the songs with his classical, mellow voice. And I think "The Lord's Prayer" with the MoTab is one of the most beautiful interpretations of that song. But #2 cannot get enough of his "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town." He has listened to it over and over. For Nana, Grandma and anyone else in love with #2 enough please enjoy his 50 second cover of Andrea Boccelli's cover of "Santa Claus is Comin' to Town. For the rest of you, please indulge me and give me a laugh today by adding to our most hated Christmas song list. Or if you think this effort is too scroogey, then tell me your favorites.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Did you know....

...that the cord on Christmas tree lights comes in other colors besides green? (Three trips to the store later I am now aware of that fact)

...that rain in Phoenix is like snow in Texas. No one is prepared and no one knows what to do! The newscasters are warning everyone that we might get a whole inch of rain before the week is out. Oh dear!

...that sending your husband to the store for eggs may have organic, expensive, hand-stamped results.

...that if I hear "Wonderful Christmastime" one more time I might throw up. ("sim-imply hav-aving a wonderful Christmastime")

...that Tiger Woods has applied to have his name changed? He wanted to keep it in the cat family, so he went with Cheetah. (sorry Spouse, it was just too funny to keep it to myself)

and now our lesson is through.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I've Got My Work Cut Out For Me

I spent some time with #1 on Saturday Christmas shopping. I love getting #1 all to myself. She is interesting, makes jokes, discusses heavy topics, and never, ever minces words. Most of the time I appreciate this quality about her, I like honest directness. But as you can imagine, speaking her mind has gotten her into trouble. I'm trying to teach her a balance of being both sensitive and honest.

So back to my story. While Christmas shopping several things were revealed to me:

1) #1 is Catholic. Apparently she's been telling her friends at school she is Catholic. Note to self: emergency FHE!!!!

2) She knows the word sexy. Yikes! #1 was in the dressing stall with me while I tired on some clothes at the Banana Republic outlet (the entire store was 50% off!). I zipped up a pair of pants and #1 said, "Sexy, mom." I didn't want to react too much so I asked her if she knew what sexy meant. "It means pretty." "Ok," I explained, "it means a little bit more than pretty and I think you should avoid saying it." "Can I say it just one more time?" "Fine." "Sexy pants, mom. I like those sexy, sexy pants. They are sexy." "That was more than once." "What? You're the one being sexy."

3) #1 really loves me. For my birthday she gave me the gift of "being nice to #2 from now on." Last night she snuggled in my lap and gave me a big hug then whispered something in my ear. "I'm changing my birthday present to you to kisses and hugs every day. The other present was too hard."

So you can see, I've got my work cut out for me.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Our Thanksgiving

Please indulge me while I experiment with my new (birthday) camera:

Cornbread drying for the stuffing. I grew up eating cornbread stuffing and Thanksgiving just isn't right using regular bread crumbs.

Apple pie with crumb topping

The before the feast, feast. Only kids and stuffed animals invited.

All my food, displayed for your viewing pleasure.

Yes, that is #2 tearing into a turkey leg.

Not to be outdone, #1 claimed a leg.

5 hours of cooking. 20 minutes of eating. 60 minutes of cleaning.

While we were cleaning up, #3, 2 and 1 were making a fort in #2's closet. As a child I remember getting into all kinds of mischief during that restless period of time between the turkey and the pie, while the adults were oblivious chatting and cleaning up.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Half baked

I would not have ventured to the grocery store yesterday, with #3 in tow, if we had not been out of milk. But when you're outta milk, you're outta milk. I circled the parking lot until I found a spot, unloaded #3, steeled my patience and started for the door. We had not walked ten paces before I noticed a gangly teenage boy (who can tell how old they are?!?) approaching us on one of those bikes that are way too small for grown people to ride. He had one of those ugly looking trucker-type hats perched on the top of his overgrown, unruly curly hair and was sporting a black t-shirt with 'BAKED' printed on the front. I thought to myself, "I wouldn't be surprised if you were, ya freak." (Baked, that is). I know, you are all surprised that my heart is not full of charity all the time. Well, now you know.

Normally I avoid eye contact and just keep walking when a strange person approaches me in a parking lot (especially when I have kids with me). But surprisingly, I felt unthreatened by the clown on the bike, so I was unprepared for his request.

"Can I have fiddy-cent?" Just like that. Like I was his mother. Like it wasn't even a question, just a statement.

I stammered, "Uhhhh. I don't know..... I ...."

Maybe it was because of his youth, or maybe it was because he asked for a specific amount, but for some reason without thinking I opened my bag and found fifty cents.

Suddenly, as if coming to my senses, I realized I was about to give a punk (not a poor homeless person) money, I thought to ask. "Why do you need this?"

He answered flatly, "I just need fifty more cents so I can get the foot long at Subway."

I handed him the change and I couldn't help but laugh as I watched his puffy hair and precariously balanced hat bob away on his child-bike through the parking lot. What nerve! What genius! What an original idea!

Inspired by little-bike, clown hair dude I have discovered how I'm going to pad our Christmas budget this year:

1) Ask people for money
a) in specific, small increments
b) tell them what it's for (a digital camera for my daughter's Christmas present)
c) don't beg, plead or even appear to need help
d) expect them to hand it over

To my interstate, intercity and international readers, please feel free to use my proven method for lining your pockets. But for those of you in my zip code, beware. There's only room for one middle-class, mom beggar in this town and that Fry's parking lot is mine!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Do you remember...

the day you learned to ride your bike?

feeling like a beautiful dancer?

turning seven?

Happy days.

PS. Primary program is over. Whew! Sorry. No funny/embarrassing stories to report. Although it would have been good fodder for this blog, I'm grateful things went off smoothly.

Friday, November 6, 2009

before these get too stale and since I don't have anything else to write about today

Halloween '09

#1, #2, Princess Leia and her father Anakin

#3, a little freaked out genie

The CTR pumpkin was #1's idea. The rest of us are not that righteous.

Since this post is pretty lame and very short I'll give you a bonus picture of #1 at her fall break cheer camp. She's the one standing in the back.

Something to look forward to: our primary program is Sunday and we are not ready. We have one practice left on Saturday and then it's show time. I'll try to remember the most awkward, embarrassing and horrible moments and then recount them here in a witty and humorous way. Or if my prayers are answered I'll have nothing but good things to report. Pray. Pray real hard for us.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


Last Friday #1 and I were lucky enough to come across an available culture pass at the library. It was for the Phoenix Children's Museum. {Culture pass = free admission for four to any of 13 cultural venues of Phoenix, museums, zoos, botanical gardens. You have 7 days to use it. They are awesome. If you can get them.} {Phoenix Children's Museum=very expensive}

For the past several days I've used our impending trip to the museum to stop fights, get homework done, get chores done, and enforce general obedience.

Yesterday was the big day. As most moms know, things like this don't happen easily. You have to plan your entire day around it, from the time you get up, down to the nitty gritty details like how you're going to do your hair. (Am I the only freak?)

1:20 pick up #1. Wednesday is #1's early release day, the only day we could go in our 7 day window of opportunity.

1:35 drop off J, our carpool buddy.

1:40 'quick' stop at home to use the bathroom and get #1 out of her uniform.

1:50 on the road. Right on schedule!

2:20 arrive at museum. Kids are hyped up. Their excitement is bordering annoying. But I can't blame them. This museum is awesome!

2:25 smugly present my culture pass to the lady at the counter, feeling clever to have sidestepped the $36 it would have cost us.

2:27 lady returns with a frown on her face

2:27:15 lady tells me I've got the wrong culture pass

2:27:19 I'm incredulous, WHAT?!?

2:27:20 lady proves my stupidity by pointing to the words on the pass. Oh, it's for the other children's museum, 45 minutes away that closes at 4:00.

2:27:30 with deep, sinking, feeling I turn to give the shameful news to my poor kids who are already halfway into the first 'exhibit' - which is really just a 3 story playground.

2:26:35 the crying begins and I can't blame them. It's all my fault.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

To sleep, perchance to dream

A few weeks ago I came across an article that impressed me so much that it has stayed on my mind. And, you know, this blog and you readers are the receptacle whenever my mind starts to move meaningfully. Here is the article. Go read it and come back to finish my post.

Ok. Fine. You can keep reading even if you didn't read it right now.

This article, written by a dream expert, is about the importance of dreams. Not just the healthfulness of sleep and dreaming, but the spiritual importance of dreams. Dreams with a capital "D" - ones that come from God. This paragraph is what hooked my interest:

"It can be difficult to know which dreams to ignore and which to pay heed to, but our current standard for dismissing most or all dreams cannot be what God intended when He built the dream mechanism into our very biology. Dreams have become a kind of “dead letter office”: a lot of attempted deliveries, but few messages received. If dreams are one method of receiving divine revelation, they are underutilized."

The hair on my arms stood up when I read this. Think of the possibilities this suggests!

I have always been fascinated by the untapped human potential. I love hearing stories of people who suddenly, in a crisis, have superhuman strength. I feel empowered knowing that millions of Jews did not die in concentration camps despite the horrible, animal conditions they lived in. I am amazed by survival stories, and stories where humans seem to do the impossible. Somehow I feel my strength and worth more knowing that other mortals did these things.

I had these same feelings when I read this article. I have never taken my dreams seriously and had always assumed that only a prophet or someone with real significance could have a revelatory dream. But this article suggests that dreams are a gift, available to all, that can connect us directly with God. Like all spiritual gifts, it requires refinement and practice and a living a life worthy for the spirit's companionship.

The author suggests writing dreams down, including names, places and other details; over the weeks and years pay attention to patterns; pray about the interpretation of dreams; talk to the people involved in your dreams.

The article is full of personal experiences that people have shared with the author over the years of her research. Some of the stories are very simple but some are amazing. Like this one:

"Sometimes people receive dreams for the specific purpose of helping others. Several years ago my former college roommate, a nurse by profession, had a visitation dream of a labor and delivery doctor who had died suddenly of lymphoma in his early fifties. They had worked together professionally and he was her favorite doctor to assist. In her dream Cyndi sees him standing by the elevator in his running shorts and says, “What are you doing here?” She thinks but does not say, “You’re dead.” He said to her, “I need a wedding, a phone call and a delivery.” Cyndi recalled feeling overjoyed to see him, and happy when she awoke, but puzzled. The metaphorical message of the dream confused her, yet it was vivid enough she could not dismiss it. She called me to help her make sense of the dream, and I said, “Sometimes when dead people come to visit in dreams, they need something from you.” Although the dream provided no clear instructions, Cyndi took an empty notebook around to all the people on the labor and delivery unit and said, “I’ll take care of your patients while you write something about Dr. Skidmore.” When the book was full of warm, personal, funny love letters about a beloved doctor and friend, Cyndi called and arranged to leave it in the Skidmore mailbox. A few days later, Mrs. Skidmore called Cyndi and said, “I wanted to hear about my husband’s work life, but he never talked about it. I thought when the children were grown I would have the chance to hear that important piece, and then he died so suddenly that I didn’t get to know him as a doctor. I felt that loss deeply. It helped me to hear from other people who loved him and missed him. You have given me the one thing I thought I could never have.”

I have no expectations of having significant dreams like this one. But since reading this article and subsequently paying more attention to my dreams I have thought back to several dreams I've had in my life and reevaluated their meanings.

Growing up sharing a bed with my older sister we were in a habit of sharing our dreams with each other. We found it uncanny that we both often dreamed of our younger brother Brother Brig in situations where he was fighting and defending a sibling or our family. Years later, in a conversation with my mother, I discovered that she had been having similar dreams. Frequent readers of this blog know that Brother Brig ended up in the special forces of the army, and fighting in Afghanistan.

If I hadn't been thinking about dreams lately, I probably would not have paid attention a dream I had yesterday while, ahem, napping, that helped me be sensitive to Spouse when he came home from work after, what I found out later was, an especially horrible day. If I hadn't heeded that dream I probably would have complained about him coming home so late, got after him about his sneaky itunes purchase, insisted that he help me with the dishes, pestered him about putting his clothes away and begged him for a back massage. Any one of those things could have sparked bad feelings, possibly a disagreement and for sure would have prevented my feelings of compassion and sympathy for the rotten-ness he experienced at work.

Feed my fascination. Have you ever had a prophetic dream? A dream that changed your course of action? A dream that you have never forgotten? Have you ever lifted a car with one arm with adrenaline pulsing through your veins? (or something like that)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What we did for fall break

It's fall break. Fall break is time off school when it isn't painfully hot and you are actually happy to be alive. #1's school gives two weeks of fall break. We just wrapped up week one.

I love having #1 around. Her spirit is an asset in our home. She plays great with #2 and #3, and helps me around the house. But the best part of having her home is that she makes all sorts of creative projects like this one:

the fine print: COME to my room; 10/29 2009

fine print: dace (dance); not scary, not sad, yes happy, yes fun

She posted these signs all around the house advertising a dance she will be hosting on October 29th. Some of the signs included rules on how to behave while attending her dance.

The climax of week one of fall break was our camping trip. Our family's first. Spouse has taken #2 camping for Father's and Sons and of course last year Spouse, #1 and I backpacked into the Sawtooths for four days. But our little family has never camped alone and all together.

I always wanted us to be a camping family but living in AZ has really put an damper on those expectations. My version of camping requires pine trees, tall mountains, cold nights and fires to keep warm; not heat, not cacti, not scorpions, not palo verde trees. This is a tall order living in the desert.

Looking at our state parks online I discovered that if we drove north enough we could get pretty darn close to my ideal camping. We camped near Upper Lake Mary in the Coconino National Forest. Since it is the middle of October and the last weekend the campground was open we had the place to ourselves. Hallelujah!

Camping with children is an adventure; so many inconveniences. Like using the bathroom in the night, spilling food all over their only change of clothing, and keeping them safe around the fire. But there were other exciting times too. Like the swarm of bees that descended onto our campsite on the second day. We had to pack up in a flash and get outta there! Or like crossing paths with this beast:

Or watching a three foot tall (6-7 foot wing span) eagle fly away from our picnic table with our entire loaf of wheat bread clutched in his beak. This was all that was left of what was to be our lunch:

The children were so happy to be camping and I was so happy to watch them enjoy their freedom to explore, be silly and get dirty. I also was entertained by Spouse's excitement at getting to use his knife for a truly manly purpose.

We were cozy in our tent and I'm proud to report that the children slept like logs. On the other hand, it was a very long, uncomfortable night for Spouse and I. I've never been so excited for the sun to appear! Note to self: next time bring sleeping pads, or cots, or a queen size mattress.

Our cute little campsite

my cute little camper

the children and I at Lake Mary

Spouse getting our fire going

Spouse and children enjoying the roaring fire that kept us warm