Aug 31, 2011

Fifty Nifty

I made my first dramatic debut in 1976. I was 11 years old and the United States was celebrating its Bicentennial. Our small town had always been patriotic, so of course it had to join in the festivities. My third grade teacher (I was in fifth grade then) arranged a school-wide choir to sing at the various events.

I was always one of the tallest girls.I'm on the back row, left-hand side, second from the edge. 
My little sister and I were excited to join! We loved Mrs. Witt. She had short frizzy red hair and huge glasses. She was in charge of all the fun stuff at school. Her daughter was a cheerleader, so Mrs. Witt arranged a drill team that marched around the jr. high. She also taught her students international dances and bits of French and Spanish. But the thing I remember most, besides her reading the entire Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe to us, was her love for music. She had maracas and cymbals, tambourines and triangles. She even had a bunch of wooden xylophones!

Mrs. Witt in the back, without her glasses.
So when she decided to organize a choir, EVERYBODY wanted to join. I can’t remember if we met before or after school, but we had red, white, and blue costumes and I know we learned the song about 50 Nifty United States, from 13 original colonies… We also sang old favorites like You’re a Grand Old Flag and American the Beautiful. I remember making crepe paper pom-poms to wave during some of the songs. For our little town, it was huge! We even won some awards.

We sang all year and toward the end, Mrs. Witt decided we need a big hoo-rah to finish with a bang. So she wrote a play. It celebrated all the famous leaders in the revolution and early history of our nation. I was selected to play the part of Molly Pitcher. It wasn’t the best part because I didn’t have a solo or even any lines, but I did get to serve water to some of the cute guys in my class, so that had to be worth something.

My mom had a metallic gold water pitcher that we only used for company. I’m pretty sure Molly didn’t have anything like that out on the battlefield, but Mrs. Witt seemed to like it. After several performances at the school and in the community, they ran a story about us in the local paper. Sorry about the quality of these pics, but for old, yellowed newspaper, I think they came out pretty well. They are the only memento I have from this era…oh, and I can still sing all the states in alphabetical order, so that’s got to be worth something! (And in case you can't figure out which one is me...I labeled's OK Scrapbookers, I deserve it...but when I wrote that, I was only 11.)

Aug 30, 2011

First Day of School

I have dreaded August 29th all summer. It’s the day the big kids all go back to school. That means several things to me…if Baby Doll needs a diaper change or a shower, there is no one here to do it but me. If Curly wants a glass of milk or someone to button his shirt, there is no one to help him but me. If Scout doesn’t want to do her job, the only one around to encourage her and play silly games until the task is done is…you guessed it…me.

I have to figure out lunch, make lunch, and then clean up lunch. But the worst part is that if I have an errand, I have to pack up all four kids (remember, I still watch Burrito during the day) under the age of five and take them with me. No, wait, that’s not the worst part. The worst part is now I have to get up EARLY! That means I have to spend less time on my computer hanging out with you, my bloggy friends.

Prima Donna
On the up side, I get to answer the phone when it rings. I also get to go through my mail before anyone else rifles through it. I can turn off the music without offending anyone. And instead of making lunch for eleven, I only have to serve 5, and they don’t eat much…except for ketchup. They smother everything in ketchup…

I’m not sure how I managed to plan so poorly, but Scout had a dentist appointment today and they were supposed to fill two “little” cavities. They also assured me that she would be able to go to school without a problem. So I dragged my four under the age of five to the dentist’s office. Burrito, Curly, Baby Doll and I sat in the front lobby for over an hour. When Scout finally came out she was terribly upset. The dentist told me that the filling was much deeper than he thought and she ended up with a shiny silver crown. She was inconsolable. Even the vampire teeth she got for a prize and me calling her Princess now that she had a silver crown didn’t help.

Sport and Crafty
Dog Walker
I called the carpool before I even left the building, then the school. No, she wouldn’t be going to school today. She sobbed all the way home. By the time I herded them all in the house, she was wailing. She never wanted to go to the dentist again! How could I do this to her? This went on and on for over half an hour. I somewhat calmly tried to feed the boys lunch and make her comfortable. She refused medicine the first two times, then I got the baby Tylenol out and “insisted.”

About 20 minutes later she started feeling a little better. Maybe it wasn’t the end of the world after all. I was starting to feel a little better too. Maybe it was that Ibuprofen I swallowed somewhere in the middle of the screaming. I think my head hurt more than hers. I snuggled with Baby Doll on the couch as they rode their scooters round and round the circle made by the living room and the kitchen. I even got to doze off a little as long as I kept one eye open.

I’m glad this day only comes once a year, even though I was able to walk to the mailbox all by myself. With all the chaos, I only had time to toss the pile on the counter anyway. It’s probably still there…hmmmm. See ya tomorrow…I got mail!

Aug 29, 2011

Three Strikes and I'm Wiped Out

Yesterday I was sitting in church during our first meeting and Baby Doll elected to fill her diaper and then be ornery about it. So I took her out to the changing room, got her fixed up, gave her a little milk, and rejoined the family.

In our church we have three hours of meetings for everyone on Sunday, and each one is about an hour. We left our first meeting and headed for the second. About 10 minutes into that one, she pooped again. So I took her out again, changed her diaper, gave her a little more milk, and rather than disrupt class again, waited in the hall until it was over.

While I was waiting, I was joined by the Bishop’s wife. She was carrying a large container of Red Vines licorice and offered one to Baby Doll. Now my little girl loves red licorice and she was wearing a red dress. It didn’t seem like a bad idea until I remembered I was wearing a white blouse! Red juice oozed from her little hands as she happily sucked/chewed on the piece of licorice. I turned her this way and that to keep those little hands from grabbing my clothes.

We finally entered the last classroom with only a small stain and I quickly sat down and retrieved a wipe from the diaper bag. She grabbed it from me so I pulled another one from the box. I figured she could wipe her own hands a little while I rubbed the red goo from my arms and hands. After about 30 seconds, she bit off a piece of the wipe. I fished it out of her mouth and tossed it in the diaper bag just as she bit off the second piece. People were starting to snigger around us. Me gathering bits of wipe as she tore it into smaller and smaller bites. I finally got the whole thing away from her and stowed safely away.

Then the lady teaching the class passed around a basket full of mint chocolate chip cookies. I took one and carefully broke off a small piece for Baby Doll. But instead of being grateful, she grabbed the big piece and shoved it in her mouth! Pretty soon we were smeared with chocolate cookie crumbs and mint chips. Dare I admit that I pulled out the wipes again?

After a failed attempt to clean her up, I sniffed that familiar aroma…I gathered up the diaper bag, wipe shreds, Baby Doll, and headed for the changing room for the third time. I changed her diaper, washed her smucky little fingers, and then mopped myself with a couple of wipes. Then I dug in her diaper bag until I found the remains of the bag of Cheerios. (The good ones, not the ones that ended up inside my sweetie’s shoes during Sacrament meeting.) I proceeded to down the entire bag! Not sugar, but desperate times call for desperate measures…Baby Doll didn’t mind…she’d found another wipe.

Aug 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Sweetie

I love talking about my kids mostly because I’m the mom and I can brag about them all I want. But one of my hardest posts to write is about my sweetie. It’s not that I don’t want to talk about him…I just don’t want to get all mushy and squishy about it.

OK, let me tell you this story. So our elementary school has a silly little thing called Dads and Doughnuts for second-graders, and Sport just happened to be in the second grade. He talked about it for weeks! Dad was going to go to school with him in the morning with a backpack full of books. Then they would get a doughnut and some chocolate milk and snuggle up in the beanbags and read for about 45 minutes. The plan was perfect. Dad had the day off work because it was a Friday. They packed the books and headed out the door. As they began lining up, Sport looked around at all the other dads. Most of them were in their early 30s. He tugged at his dad’s hand and commented, “WHAT IF THEY THINK YOU ARE MY GRANDPA?”

We are so silly in our piggy tails!
Sweetie and his mom and grandpa
Poor Sweetie. He has been graying for about the last 10 years. It has never bothered me, in fact, I kind of like it. Forty-eight just doesn’t seem that old. It’s not like we put candles on his cake and we have to notify the Fire Marshall. We don’t even give him birthday spankings (although I’m sure the kids would love to…). We never play Heavy Heavy Hang Over thy poor head…because twelve lumps wouldn’t do his brain any good.

Wedding Pics
Did I ever tell you I married him because of his brain? There is something terribly sexy about smart guys… He was just awarded his 8th patent. I am truly married to the most amazing guy! He works hard every day to provide for our rather large family and then he works hard at night being a fantastic dad. Sometimes we call him the King, but I prefer Sweetie. He has a terrific sense of humor and he puts up with my blog silliness by writing a post whenever I ask him to.

His favorite color is green and he loves Mt. Mike's pizza and a good steak. He loves fast cars and slow women (ok, one woman, but I am pretty slow, and he doesn't own a fast car because he loves kids more). He loves football and chocolate marshmallow ice cream (although I can’t find any for his birthday and I’m a little sad about that), Oreos, but not double-stuff. His all-time favorite movie is Eddie and the Cruisers 2 ("Sorry, Door"). He loves/hates gardening and his job because it keeps him away from his family. He loves newborn babies and watching the rain, fireworks and Fathers and Sons. But most of all he loves the kids and he loves me and that’s enough. Happy birthday, Sweetie. I love you.

Just last Sunday

Aug 27, 2011

Casualties of War

 You ever have one of those days when no matter what you try, everything just seems to go wrong? I’ve had one of those…ok, I’ve had half of one of those. It started out pretty good. My sweetie doesn’t usually work on Fridays, so he was home. When the kids got home from school we decided to take them all on a short adventure (since we had football practice to worry about). We piled them in the van and headed to the athletic store to pick up the Dog Walker’s brand new letterman’s jacket.

Then we drove up to Cookies by Design to get our free sugar cookies on a stick that we earned because we read some books this summer…like they have to reward us for reading…we love to read! Those eleven cookies retail for something like $75. Then we drove back to Chick Fil A and fed the entire family for $3.99. I know, I’m cool like that…I can show you the receipt. Six kids meals, two chicken salads, two large drinks, two 8-piece nuggets and two large fries. So up to that point all was going well, fantastic, really.

But things went downhill fast. I have an embroidery machine and occasionally I take on some small jobs that bring in a few extra dollars. My sweetie spent half of last weekend digitizing a custom pattern and I had 8 shirts that needed this logo. So my sweetie and the kids all waved goodbye as they headed downstairs to watch a movie so I could work in peace. They even brought me a little bag of tootsie rolls as a consolation prize for my good responsible behavior.

Things were rolling along just fine. Each shirt takes about 20 minutes to embroider, so sometimes if I’m not too paranoid I can multi-task a little. I had just gotten my serger back from the repair shop after five weeks and $120.00, so I decided to check it out to make sure it worked. I hemmed a few pairs of pajama pants for Sport while randomly watching the logos appear on the embroidery machine. I enjoyed a couple of tootsie rolls and then re-hooped the machine for the next shirt.

I stitched all of Sport’s scout patches on his vest. This was pretty frustrating because the thread kept breaking and I started over at least a dozen times. The embroidery pattern completed, so I re-hooped the next shirt and turned back to the sewing machine. Suddenly the needle broke! I pulled it from the patch and tossed it in the garbage. Then I put in a new needle and proceeded to rethread. After about a dozen stitches, the entire post holding the sewing foot detached itself from the machine! I’ve sewed for many years and never had a calamity like that. I helplessly studied the pieces. I guess that meant another trip to the repair shop.

That’s about when the embroidery machine decided it was tired and wanted to quit for the night. It stopped right in the middle of the pattern and refused to go further! (I guess I know how it feels…) I gave it a breather for about 20 minutes and then got it to sew a few stitches before I ran out of bobbin thread. I pulled off the hoop, re-threaded the bobbin, then the machine, and got a few more stitches.

Forty-five minutes later, I finally coaxed the machine to finish the design. Sadly, I’ll get to miss the fun tomorrow too because I still have two shirts to finish. See what all this frustration can cause? Besides that, I pretty much ate the entire bag of little tootsie rolls. Casualties of war, I guess.

Aug 26, 2011

Food for Thought - Grinch Waffles

My good friend, Stacey, at Me, He Plus 3 asked me to write a guest post for her blog way back when we were on our trip to Idaho with the kids and grandkids. Of course I said, "Yes," but then it took me a couple of weeks to get my act together. Then it took her a couple of weeks to actually post it. Anyway, when it did finally post, I totally missed it! So here is a link, sorry it took me a while to share.

Since it's Princess's last week before she goes back to school on Monday, she wanted one more chance to cook a fun breakfast. Never one to turn down a free meal (even if I did have to pay for the ingredients!) I promptly gave her the go-ahead. Like the sweet and conscientious daughter that she is, she even took pics and offered to write my Food for Thought for today. So here you have it...Princess's Grinch Waffles.

Today I woke up and just did not want cold cereal. So after rummaging in the pantry, I decided I wanted to make crepes or waffles. Whichever my mom would allow... Well waffles it was, as long as I promised to take pictures and write a blog about it, story of my life. **That's not exactly what happened... :) Mom**

When I was little, I remember making Grinch waffles often. Just about every time my parents went on a date (which was more often than it is now) the kids would make waffles and watch a Disney movie. We would always declare aloud which kind of cool designed waffle we would pick, and if you picked a "flower" you always had to rip it into little hearts and butterflies, not sure why, ask Prima Donna.

I'm pretty sure we got the Grinch waffle maker from our friend, Missy. For quite a few years she gave our family interesting kitchen things for Christmas like a Quesadilla Maker, little frypans that make huge chocolate chip cookies, stuff like that. But our favorite (and most used one) was the Grinch Waffle maker. If you look at the pics of Curly and Burrito, you can see that it has a cool swirl. You HAVE to run the syrup around the swirl, otherwise it just doesn't taste right. I hope you enjoy our waffle recipe. It makes great pancakes too!


1 cup flour
1 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
1 beaten egg
1 cup milk
2 tbsp cooking oil

Mix egg, milk, and oil. Add flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. 

Stir mixture just until blended, but still slightly lumpy.  Pour about ¼ cup batter onto a hot, lightly greased griddle or heavy skillet for each standard-size pancake.

Or use a waffle iron. Cook until pancakes are golden brown, turning to cook second sides when pancakes have bubbly surfaces and slightly dry edges.  Makes 8 to 10 pancakes. (We usually six times this recipe!) Today Princess made a small batch (only three times the recipe).

Aug 25, 2011

The Artichoke Box

Aloe, Key Chain (Teach) and Squeeg
I have some pretty amazing kids! Did I tell you that before? See that cute girl in the middle? That's Teach and the other two are her very best friends. They have been close since elementary school and even though they are all attending different universities, they still find time to do stuff together. Squeeg and Aloe both have blogs of their own. I love this post from Squeeg because it has some cute pics of their day at Daybreak Lake. Anyway, one of their latest adventures is writing a novel together. They are doing it in blog form, one chapter at a time, but they are just a bit disappointed with their readership. So I want to share Chapter One with you and if you like it (and I hope you do!), you can find about 12 more chapters at:

Chapter One: The Train Station
There was a little brown paper bag sitting on the white plastic seat.

Nobody noticed it. Except a 10-year-old girl named McKenna.

The paper bag had permanent creases in it like someone had gripped it ferociously for a good length of time. It was sitting on a train station seat in Paris, France. McKenna had traveled there with her parents and was waiting for her train to the airport to take her home to the United States.

McKenna's parents were bickering about carry-on luggage while McKenna stared at the brown paper bag beside her. What could be inside? she wondered.

She started guessing in her mind. Someone forgot their lunch... It's a piece of jewelry for a man's wife that he disguised in a simple bag... Maybe it's a bomb...

Her last thought startled her. Ever since she could remember, she had seen terrorism on the news. Whether actual terrorism or presumed terrorism, it was a constant threat to her society.

Maybe it was her duty to discover what was inside that paper bag. She reached her hand over to the bag, ignoring her parents' new argument about which of them should get a window or an aisle seat on the train.

She pulled at the rolled up paper bag a bit then stopped, having second thoughts about if she should be doing this at all. What if the owner came back and just really wanted her lost sandwich?

But suddenly, a boy of about 12 appeared in front of her. He immediately snatched the paper bag from her and held it close to his chest. McKenna glanced at her parents but they hadn't noticed.

"Did you look inside?" The boy inquired with a bitter tone.

"N-No," McKenna stuttered, not expecting the boy's hostility.

"You did, didn't you?" he said, taking her stuttered response as confirmation of his worst fear.

"I really didn't!" McKenna stood now and was pleased to find that she and the boy were roughly the same height. She stood up straighter and asked defiantly, "So what is in that bag?"

The boy jerked his head around and glanced at a man leaning nonchalantly by a soda machine with a newspaper on the other side of the train tracks. The man was staring openly at McKenna and this boy.

"I have to hurry," he said simply. "I shouldn't be talking to you."

A confused look crossed McKenna's face. "But wait, can't you just tell me what's inside?" she asked desperately.

The boy looked pained, clearly wanting to appease her but knowing he couldn't. "It's just something. I can't tell you." Then he started off toward the man leaning against the soda machine.

The cogs in McKenna's head started whirring as he walked away and she couldn't help but blurt out, "Is it a bomb?"

The boy whipped around and strode back over to her quickly. "This is not a bomb. I told you I cannot tell you what it is. This is important and this discussion is over."

But before the boy could run away from her again, he stopped to stare deeply into her eyes. McKenna saw a pleading look, one of desperation, in his dark brown eyes. But what could McKenna do to help him?

Then, as quickly as he had arrived, he backed away from her and turned, then swiftly loped across the station platform. Both he and the man disappeared into a new crowd of people walking into the station.

McKenna couldn't stand it. She had to know where they were going.

"Mom, Dad, bathroom before the train comes!" she yelled over her shoulder as she sprinted away.

She heard her mother yell behind her, "McKenna!!" She knew she'd be in trouble by the time she got back to her parents. But she couldn't care about that now. Glimpsing the boy's white t-shirt out near the taxi station, she dashed out the door toward him.

Once outside, she whipped her head from side to side. Then she pinpointed the two climbing into a taxi.

"Wait!" she cried. She ran in their direction and the boy saw her right as he was getting inside the taxi. That same pained look crossed his face as he saw her coming. However, he hurriedly slipped in, pulled the door shut and the taxi peeled out from the side of the road before she could get to them.

McKenna gasped for air by the curb, not knowing exactly what she'd just witnessed. But as she stood with her hands on her knees, watching the cab disappear, she knew that it would haunt her for the rest of her life.

Aug 24, 2011

Curly - A Birth Story

It was August 2008, and it was hot. We were in need of a serious diversion. At just over 8 months pregnant, I was tired and maybe more than a little bit ornery. Sport had just started Kindergarten and we had spent the afternoon filming a little play that he had come up with for the Reflections contest. Reflections is a program sponsored by the PTA. To encourage creativity, they come up with a theme every year (like this year it is “Diversity Means…”) and the kids can enter in eight different categories. My kids love this contest and have even placed first in the state, but that’s a different story for another time.

So Sport’s cute little play was about when his baby brother was going to be born. We had been talking about filming it all summer, but at my house it’s hard to get to anything that isn’t absolutely required. For his play he needed to get the first half done before the baby was born. After we finished with that, I decided that with only three and a half weeks to go, maybe I’d better pack a bag for the hospital.

Wall E Boy
The kids had been whining to see the new Disney movie that had recently come out…Wall E. You know, taking this clan to the movies costs a small fortune even without popcorn and drinks, but the summer was nearly over (way past over for the little kids) and one last hoo-rah seemed in order. So we loaded all the kids in the van and headed for our local theater.

Bossy and her family met us there and we were lucky enough to get seats for our huge group to sit together. I was uncomfortable. Scout kept climbing up on me until my sweetie finally took her onto his lap where she promptly fell asleep. I was not impressed with the movie and I squirmed miserably in my seat. Not even the popcorn helped.

It was late when we left the theater and we said “Goodbye” to Bossy and drove straight home. We sent the kids to bed and headed to our own room. I was in serious need of sleep although I don’t know anyone who actually sleeps during that last month. I was not concerned about the little pains I was having since I often have contractions during the last couple of months of a pregnancy. I had not had a baby come on its own since Teach was born in 1991. She was Number 4 and now I was on Number 11.

I woke up pretty much every hour on the hour to use the potty. I didn’t even need the light. But after an uncontrolled trickle, I was suddenly wide-awake. It wasn’t much and there were no regular contractions. Could that have been my water breaking? When it broke with my first two, I knew it immediately. It gushed! But this was nothing like that. I crawled back in bed and snuggled up to my sweetie, but my eyes refused to close.

After an hour, I finally woke him up and told him what had happened. It was around 4:00 AM and everyone else in the house was still snoozing. He didn’t believe it was anything, but like the good sport that he is, he pulled on his clothes and agreed to drive me downtown to the hospital. He picked up my newly-packed bag and I followed him down the stairs. We stopped by Gym Rat’s room to whisper that we were leaving and he was in charge. He rolled over sleepily but agreed. Soon we were racing down the quiet freeway to the hospital.

Like with Baby Doll, it took them a couple of hours and some very uncomfortable tests to confirm that my water had actually broken. Hours and hours and lots of Pitocin later, my sweet little Curly had arrived. As you can see, he was tiny and cute. Me?…not so much. And we finished Sport’s video on the day I returned from the hospital. Curly was two days old. Sport didn’t win the state competition that year, but he got pretty close.

Aug 23, 2011

I'm UP with That

From the movie Up
Every year in Utah they have a Parade of Homes. It’s really expensive and we never go. And I’m OK with that…most of the time. But this year they had an amazing house that all of us were just dying to see. Our neighbor and his crew had designed and built an awesome replica of the UP house.

UP is a Disney movie that came out a couple of years ago about a guy and his wife. They had many plans that never seemed to work out and eventually the wife dies. So the guy attaches balloons to the top of his house and sails away with it to try to fulfill one of their fondest dreams. The movie is full of vibrant colors in the balloons and in the house itself. Just looking at the pictures, I’m not sure I’d want to live there, but I was sure I wanted to see it in real life. They even licensed the house with Disney.

So the home show ended last Sunday and today I called my neighbor to see if we could tour this cute little house. We headed out there at 8:30 after what I thought were special arrangements to see it. Turns out we would have been OK anyway. There were still dozens of people taking pics and waiting to go in. Our poor neighbor looked like he could use a nap!

The house was very authentic right down to the hose reel near the front porch. They even had furniture custom-made to match the movie. I loved the retro appliances and kitchen fixtures. In the basement they had a smallish family room with a projector playing…what else?… UP! They also had two bedrooms downstairs that were furnished for two kids from the Make-A-Wish foundation, one boy room and one girl room.

The upstairs had huge walk-in closets and a nursery identical to the movie. They even managed to find an oversized tub and you would not believe the shower! I want it in my house for sure. It had water spraying from the ceiling! Even my tall sons could get completely wet in a shower like that.

As we were finishing up, my sweetie noticed that the bookcase was hinged. I suggested that he pull it open. He glanced around and since no one was looking, he swung the doors out. The kids crowded closer. “What’s in it?” they asked. We were expecting maybe a water heater or something. “Balloons!” he exclaimed.

The house was perfect, top to bottom, completely finished and furnished. The Drama Queen would have plunked her money on the counter today (if she had any). She loved the house and honestly, it would have suited her. I know they are still looking for the right buyer. Maybe in ten years…save your money, Drama Queen.