Widgets Magazine

Jan 31, 2011

Church Pews


If you drive past my house in the light of day, you will notice that I have a church pew on my front porch. But that’s only half of it. I also have one in my living room! We joke about trying to teach the kids to be reverent at church by practicing at home, but really we have a church pew in our living room because it is an easy way to seat lots of people and we have lots of people! 



We found the church pews by chance or maybe by Providence. I was driving along 1300 West one bright summer morning and as I drove past the church, I noticed several dozen church pews spread out in the parking lot. Then I saw a large cardboard sign that said FREE. I picked up my cell phone and quickly called my teenage daughter. "Grab your brother, get in the truck, and get up here right away!" They thought I was crazy (as usual), but like the good, obedient children they were, they climbed in our broken down pickup and headed for the church. "Get two small (about 16 feet long) ones," I commanded into the phone. Of course I was on my way to an important appointment so I couldn’t stay and help.

*Editors Note*  Mom did not know these pews were 16 feet long.  She thought they were 9 to 12 feet long.  We had a '70 Chevy to haul the pews home in and the pews hung 8 feet out of the bed.  It was terrifying even with my big red flag I knew I was going to get pulled over. I could already see the disbelief in the cop's eyes when I tried to explain that I did not rob a church and that my mother really did want these pews for our house.

About half an hour later they showed up at the house with two dirty, smoke-filled pews. Apparently they had a fire at the church. The pews weren’t damaged, but they were covered in soot and they reeked of smoke. The pews were too long to fit in the truck bed, so they were hanging out the back with a nice red flag. We quickly unloaded them and set to work with soap and water. I had already envisioned one on our long covered front porch and I assumed the other would go on our back patio. 

When my sweetie got home, he had other ideas. It took them about an hour to angle the pew just right to get it into our living room. I believe I might have to chop it up to get it out again. But I don’t think we’ll get rid of it any time soon. It might not be working for the reverence thing, but at least we have places for everyone to sit.

Jan 30, 2011

1 million calories

January is nearly over. Who knows the next holiday? Raise your hand…you there in the front, little girl in the pink dress. Valentine’s Day? (buzzer sounds) Wrong! You Sir, in the middle, yeah, the guy in the green and yellow Packers shirt. SUPER BOWL SUNDAY is correct! Give that guy a million dollars or at least a million calories! 
Picture courtesy of holytaco.com instructions click here
So I don’t know how you celebrate the Super Bowl, but for us it’s all about the food. We’ve got to have nachos, sodas, and football-shaped Oreos. Bean dip, cheese and crackers, chicken chimis, and definitely something special for the half-time treat. 

It’s a fiesta at our house and this year the party will definitely be green and yellow. My son-in-law is an avid Packers fan! He has been showing up regularly to watch every game on the big screen since they made the playoffs. We have teased him every step of the way that the Packers didn’t have a chance, but here you go, WE WERE WRONG! Now you bring the pinata and the dip let’s have a party…GO GREEN BAY!

Packer's website


Want to taste our delicious and easy Chicken Chimis?  E-mail me for the recipe.

Jan 29, 2011

50 years of Baby Quilts

As you’ve no doubt guessed, we love babies at our house. We also love babies at other people’s houses. For the last 20 years we have had the tradition of giving a homemade baby quilt to each and every baby born in our neighborhood. This neighborhood extends to teachers and friends at school, work, or church. I wish I could take the credit for all of these beautiful quilts over the years, but I must confess that my grandma has been the quilt-maker. 


Some of these quilts are pieced and tied, some are hand-quilted panels, and some are a combination of both. They have come in every color of the rainbow, in flannel and in cotton. All were beautiful and unique, and most importantly, they were made with love. 

Grandma has always made quilts. I remember sitting under the big quilts as a child, playing cards or Yahtzee with my brothers and sisters, listening to the gossip of Grandma and her friends. We’d watch the needles push in and out, in and out. Grandma’s was always the fastest and most accurate. She was so careful with the yarn! There were rarely any pieces left on the floor when she was done. She was raised during the Depression and she knew the value of even the tiniest piece. She would take two small ends and thread them both on her needle and tie just one more knot. 

When I got a little older, Grandma taught me how to tie a quilt. Then I joined the group sitting at the quilt instead of playing underneath it. When I was in high school, Grandma taught me to make the tops and then together we tied them. These were for my "hope chest." Grandma shared stories about her life as she shared her quilting skills and hope for my future. 

Grandma will be 93 next month. She has slowed down considerably. She still crochets, but when I saw her at Christmas she told me she wanted me to have the quilt frames. It has been almost a year since she put on her last quilt. The frames are too heavy for her to lift and she tires easily. Last week my sweetie visited her with the truck and he loaded those precious frames and brought them here. I knew they were coming, but I wasn’t prepared to see them in my home. 

More than 50 years of quilts had come together on those frames. The boards held thousands of tiny holes placed there by careful hands to keep the quilts tight and square while each knot was tied. Hundreds of babies were snuggled in those quilts. Now the legacy is mine. The quilt-making must continue because I learned more than quilt-making from Grandma. I learned that love and friendship bind us all together and nothing does that better than a quilt made with Grandma’s love.
 For a fun blog with quilting projects check out p.s. I quilt.

Jan 28, 2011

Cow Appreciation Day


Have you ever heard of Cow Appreciation Day? Neither had I until a couple of years ago. We don’t eat out very often for obvious reasons. There are a lot of us and even McDonalds dollar menu costs about $30.00 for a lunch that won’t keep them full until suppertime. So we weren’t that excited when we heard that they were building a new Chick Fil A in our hometown.

I had no idea how often we’d enjoy their yummy chicken sandwiches and at very reasonable prices, sometimes even free! Chick Fil A is very supportive of the schools by handing out coupons at various activities, often for free sandwiches or ice cream, but nothing is as good as Cow Appreciation Day.



It falls the second Friday of July (this year it is on the 8th). When Bossy first told me about it, I thought she was crazy, but like her, I just can’t pass up the thought of a free meal even if it means I have to make a fool of myself. If you show up at the Chick Fil A dressed as a cow on the appointed day, you get a free meal! If they think your costume is only a partial cow (like a hat), they will give you just a sandwich instead of a sandwich, fries, and a drink. The first year we participated in this ritual, we got white t-shirts and I sewed black spots on them. Then we taped white spots to dark pants and headed to Chick Fil A. We were winners! We all received free food and a great time playing their carnival-type games and jumping in the bounce house.

Last year we decided this was something we wanted to be involved with each and every year it was offered, so I headed to the fabric store. When I got to Hancock Fabrics, I knew just what I was looking for, black and white cow print in something heavy enough for shorts. I was so excited to find exactly that on the clearance rack! I paid $1.15/yard for enough fabric to make shorts for just about everyone. With the cow shorts done, I needed to find something to give us a complete outfit. I had purchased some white painter’s caps several years ago from the Oriental Trading Company. With a black sharpie, we turned them into cow hats. All that was left was a white t-shirt and some black felt spots. (The shirts from the previous year had all frayed out.) Bossy came over and took the scraps of fabric home.  She returned with cow-tails some with yarn for hair for everyone.  We looked amazing! Or should I say "amooozing"! And if you start early, you can visit one Chick Fil A for lunch and a different one for dinner. It really makes me appreciate cows, coupons, and Chick Fil A.

Jan 27, 2011

Sick Babies


I’ve got sick babies. They make it so hard to sleep I thought I’d make another post. My two-year-old has always been a sickly child. He started with a month of jaundice. After a dozen ear infections we had tubes put in, but they haven’t completely stopped the infections. We are still in the doctor’s office about once a month asking for another antibiotic. The nurses at the doctor’s office all recognize him and remember his name because he has been in so many times.

His latest ailment is asthma. This requires fairly regular breathing treatments that become more frequent when he has a cold. I took him in yesterday because he had been vomiting and running a fever for about three days. Even after the pain and discomfort of a strep test he happily swallowed his medicine for the nurse and smiled at the Spiderman sticker that was his prize.


He is so different from me. I get a little headache and I’m popping Ibuprofen and complaining to anyone who will listen. My little Baby Doll is sick too. She has a stuffy nose and a cough. It’s so hard when they are so small. They don’t understand why they can’t breath and it makes us all grumpy. Not even chicken noodle soup can help at this age. Speaking of Chicken Soup, once upon a time I wrote a story that was published in Chicken Soup for the Latter-day Saint Soul, 2005. It’s a good read especially when you are sitting up late at night with sick babies. I wonder if I can find my copy…

Attack of the Clothes


People ask me all the time how I stay on top of the laundry…it’s easy, the piles never get so high that you would actually get hurt if you fell off. Badaboom! Seriously though, laundry is an issue. 

Baby Doll was born 4 ½ weeks early and we had absolutely nothing that would fit her. She weighed in at a hefty 6 lbs 8 ozs for a preemie, but all the newborn clothes we had were way too big. So while I was still in the hospital, Teach took off for my favorite store (Kohl’s again) and picked up some little preemie things. 

These tiny clothes had a tendency to get lost in the laundry pile. I think she only wore a couple of the shirts once before they were too small. I was sorting through her stuff earlier this week and pulled out a pair of pink flowered stretch pants. It was hard to believe they ever fit over her chubby little thighs. Dance outfits and soccer shirts also tend to get lost in the pile. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a bit smarter and I pull them out and keep them safely stashed until game day. Then we aren’t madly throwing clean and dirty clothes all over the place 15 minutes before kickoff. 


I also have one laundry basket that is constantly devoted to socks only. About once a month we take the whole basket into the family room, put in a movie and have a sock-folding party. The kids remember this activity fondly because usually it ends up with them matching a pair or two and then getting lost in the movie while Mom folds the rest of the basket. At least they think they are helping… part 2 here.

Jan 26, 2011

Pain and Triumph

I have fat genes and I have fat jeans! Unfortunately for me, thunder thighs seem to run in my family. I’ve been on dozens of diets, but losing weight is definitely one of the hardest things I’ve never managed to do.

When I was pregnant with number 4 I was borderline gestational diabetes. I was unhappy and unhealthy. The scales tipped past the 300 mark and my baby was born at 10 lbs 1 ½ oz. She was beautiful and healthy, but she looked like she was 3 months old rather than a newborn. I managed to drop back below that ugly number, but then I got pregnant again. Number 5 was 9 lbs 2 oz. This trend just couldn’t continue.



It was about that time that we started building a new house in a new neighborhood. I was excited to learn that church sports included volleyball. My sweetie agreed to join me on the co-ed team. I loved to play, but my weight made it difficult for me to move quickly around the court. I tried my best, but one Thursday night I moved toward the ball, heard a small "pop," and that was it. I couldn’t stand up! My knee was totally gone.

My hubby got to me first. He and a neighbor pulled me upright but I had no control over that leg and nearly collapsed. They moved me to the sidelines and then eventually to our car. I had torn my ACL and the only way to repair it was surgery. It was 1995 and the surgical techniques were not as advanced as they are now. I was forced to choose between a cadaver and my own hamstring for the repair. Since I was not excited about the thoughts of someone’s dead body part in me, I chose my hamstring. That was my first mistake!

It is still painful… No one mentioned that it would be a year before I would be able to have mobility without pain. That I would have to wear a brace for months…that crutches were difficult when you had a two-year-old crying and wanting to be picked up. As lousy as the recovery proved to be, one good thing happened…I lost weight! Lots of weight! Over 40 pounds!

It was just too hard to drag myself to the kitchen to get food during the day and I had to rely on someone else to take care of me at night. I managed to keep that weight off and it has made all the difference in how good I feel and how much exercise I can do. The knee still aches when the weather changes, and I have lovely scars that run up the front of my leg, but as far as diets go, it was the one that worked the best.

Jan 25, 2011

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to me! I’m older than a tree! Fewer brain cells for me! …What day did you say it was again?! Not to belabor the birthday thing, but I am one year older. I’ve been thinking a lot about birthdays this past week. My older brother celebrated his on the 22nd. I’m comforted by the fact that no matter how old I get, he’ll always be two years older than me! My oldest sister turned 51 a couple of weeks ago and celebrated it by becoming a grandma for the first time. ‘Grats on the birth of the twins!

My sweetie wanted to take me out to dinner last Friday to celebrate my birthday. We had a giftcard to Outback Steakhouse. I’d never been there before so I thought it would be fun. We drove across town, discussing the menu he had pulled from the internet. I was excited about the prospects of a big, juicy steak until we turned into the parking lot. There was not an empty space to be found. Vehicles were even parked on the street. I wanted a steak, but not that bad. My sweetie offered to take me to another place, but I didn’t want to spend that kind of money so we pulled out the Happenings book.



After flipping through a few pages, we found a coupon for a Chinese restaurant that shall remain nameless since I don’t want to be sued. The salad was OK, but that’s the nicest thing I can say about the food. The company was fantastic (it always is when I’m with my sweetie) and the fish tank was cool. Other than that the only good thing about it was that it wasn’t busy. I guess that should have been a clue, but as I already mentioned, more birthdays for me means fewer brain cells

Jan 24, 2011

Fresh Grass and Funerals

I love sports! I love watching them when my kids are participating, but I also have a select few that I love playing. Basketball, softball, and volleyball, not necessarily in that order have been a part of my life off and on since I was about 8 years old. 

Baseball was my first love. I had two older brothers who taught me to play. For some reason I was blessed with a killer throwing arm and I set my heart on playing shortstop on my brother’s Little League team. We grew up in small-town Utah and they didn’t have a girls softball program. When my mom took me to tryouts with the boys, it caused a huge problem. They couldn’t let little girls and little boys play together! Someone might get hurt! 


So they quickly threw together a girls’ league. Anyone from age 8 to age 18 could play on that team (provided that she happened to be a girl, of course). I made the team (everyone did) and sat most of the season. What 8-year-old (even one with a killer throwing arm) could compete with teenage girls? After a year or two they split the teams into several age levels and I finally got my chance. We played from early April until school started the end of August. It was my whole summer life! 

I played until right before I got married and then I played another year after I had my first child. I tried again a couple of years later, but by then we had moved to the Wasatch Front and the teams were much harder to join. Don’t get me wrong, you could sign up, you just couldn’t JOIN. They put me in Center Field where I immediately threw out my arm and was benched for the rest of the season. I didn’t play softball for 20 years and then my best friend asked me to join her as a backup player on a co-ed county rec league. I agreed before I realized how terrifying that prospect could be. I sat and watched the whole first game. 

During the second game they coaxed me onto the field. I still couldn’t throw, but I could catch. They put me on first base. I had never played that position before, but it seemed to work for me. I wasn’t afraid of the ball and some of those men would just burn it in. But like all other fairy tales, that one ended with the season and the team disbanded.

A couple of years later I was asked by my church to be the Women’s Sports Specialist. That meant I had to recruit people to play in our softball league. We had a great time, but I didn’t realize how much it meant to me until my mother passed away. I was in small-town Utah again, arguing with my brothers and sisters about the color of her casket when my dad totally broke down. We left the funeral home under a cloud of despair and gloom. 

My sister’s husband, sensing the breakdown, drove 90 miles an hour to get us back to the good old Wasatch Front. We arrived just in time for the 3rd inning. Some of the women were insisting that it was time to go, but when I came running across the grass they agreed to one more inning. It was so therapeutic, just being there with my friends, smelling the dirt, and having the opportunity to pound that ball into the outfield. The frustrations and sorrows of the day just melted away and I knew I could face the upcoming funeral and my family. Sometimes life throws us a curve, and sometimes it’s a fastball, but the most important part is just staying in the game.

Jan 23, 2011

Secret Goal

I have this secret goal for all of my kids. It was one of those that sort of evolved after the first few kids. Our Gym Rat was only 15 when he earned his Eagle Scout. Even though they lost his paperwork for a year and he had long outgrown his scout uniform so I had to buy a new one, I was so proud to watch him receive that Eagle Scout pin and speak at his own Court of Honor. 



Bossy became a Girl Scout at age 9. They didn’t have Girl Scouts in my hometown, so I was not at all familiar with the program. I learned quickly that if you wanted to put your kid in a troop, you had to be a troop leader. So being a kind, ever-loving, long-enduring masochistic martyr, I signed on as the leader. Thus began my love/hate relationship with scouts. Mostly I love it, but on Friday mornings when I’m madly cleaning the house and preparing my lesson for 10 restless little girls I sometimes wonder why I volunteered for such misery. Anyway, I stuck with the Girl Scout thing, not always as the Troop Leader, but always involved with cookie sales or as an assistant leader. 




So Bossy moved through the program, earning every possible pin and award (because that’s her personality!). I wasn’t surprised when after Silver she moved on to her Gold Award. A Gold Award is the equivalent of the Eagle Scout for girls. That’s when I decided it would be cool for all of my kids to receive the highest awards available in scouting. Of course I didn’t have nearly this many kids when I thought that…we’ll see if I poop out before they get that old. As of now our oldest five children have managed to make my goal. I’ll keep you posted on the rest…Princess and Prima Donna have both earned their Silver Award so they are well on their way. Only 10,000 boxes of cookies, 1,000 hours of service, and 100 merit badges to go.  Makes me tired just thinking about it.

Jan 22, 2011

Bossy

I’ve done it already. Less than a week into this new blog and I’ve managed to offend someone. It’s not that I didn’t think this day would come, I just didn’t expect it so quickly. Big Daddy (who doesn’t particularly love his name, by the way) said that we had to be oh so careful because this stuff stays on the web forever. Sharing secrets and personalities could make people hate us. But the big surprise came when the e-mail arrived from my oldest daughter. 



She thought maybe I was portraying her strengths in a negative light and I just wanted to set the record straight. She is an amazing person! She gets things done. That’s why we call her Bossy. But most of us love being bossed around most of the time because it produces the results we want. I take her shopping with me because I know she will find the best possible deal even if it drives me crazy! 

When I need to send someone to the grocery store with my pile of coupons, she is my first choice because she watches and makes sure everything comes up right and I never get ripped on when she is holding the receipt. She sets goals and makes them happen. 

She’s one of my exercise buddies because she won’t let me quit. Nobody defends me on the basketball court like she does! She organizes our little army into a mean cleaning machine; attacking the garage, the yard, the basement, you name it. We let her be in charge because she is good at it. So Bossy is a very appropriate, well-earned title and one that she should be proud of!

Jan 21, 2011

Gratitude

My little two-year-old Curly is the sweetest thing! This morning I was pulling some bargains out of yet another Kohl’s bag. This time they were pretty much all for 5-year-old Scout; some Princess jammies, a fuzzy pink jacket with fuzzy pink gloves, black and gray leggings. She was happy but not nearly as grateful as I wanted to see her be. 

Meanwhile, Curly stood by my leg and bouncing up and down shouted, "Is there anything for me? Is there anything for me?" I had to keep telling him, "No, this time they are all for Sissy." He was sad, but hung around anyway. Just as he was about ready to head dejectedly down the stairs, I spotted a small navy blue pair of unremarkable sweats that I had pulled out of a bag yesterday and left laying on the tub for him. 

"Hey, Curly, I do have something for you!" He raced back to my bedroom. I felt almost guilty as I held up this one little pair of $2.00 JC Penney sweats. He ran to me, "Are those for me?" he breathed. "Yup! As soon as you go to the potty we’ll put them on." I took his little hand in mine as he half-skipped to the potty. I lifted him up and his small face turned upward to mine. "I’m so excited!" he said. I smiled above his blonde curls. In my heart I promised, "Next time the whole bag will be for you."

Screamin' Deals

I just got back from Kohl’s. It’s my favorite place to look for bargains. With all these kids I have to be a careful shopper, so I am constantly on the lookout. Last week Big Daddy and I spent a couple of hundred dollars on all the clearance toys. That will keep us stocked up for birthdays and even some of Christmas for the next year. But then they had to give me $30.00 in Kohl’s Kash which of course means I had to go back to the store this week. 


I took Bossy with me because she can smell out a bargain anywhere and if she can’t find one, she will ask for one. We left all the kids home but Baby Doll who became extremely heavy somewhere between the 20th and 25th clearance racks! Bossy can’t carry the baby because she has to look at every item on every rack. It was about then that I remembered how much I hate shopping with her. 

To her credit she found a nice pair of jeans for Gamer for $2.60. She also rounded up 3 pairs of boys cargo pants for Sport at $5.40 each, and a couple of pairs of earrings for less than a dollar! I found an XXL shirt for the Gym Rat’s birthday for $1.60 and because of a tiny rip in the Levi's I found for him, Bossy talked the cashier into $7.00 instead of $10.00. 

The Prima Donna’s new gym shorts for school cost $1.40. I also snagged a pair of jeans for Dog-Walker and a blue sweater dress for Princess. Two little pairs of stretch pants for Baby Doll and a necklace later we walked out the door for about $35.00. It was a good shopping day.




Jan 20, 2011

Meet the Fam

My sweetie and I have been married for 27 years. We are both from small towns in Utah and we have raised our children on the Wasatch Front. We had always wanted a big family and we were definitely blessed with one.  Meet the kids...

My oldest daughter (we’ll refer to her as "Bossy") is helping me set up this blog. She definitely suffers from "oldest-child-syndrome." She insists that to preserve our anonymity we must choose code names for each of us. I figure there really isn’t any way of hiding from our friends and they are probably the only ones likely to read this blog anyway, but it just isn’t worth arguing with her. (Hence the name, Bossy, get it?!) 

Bossy is married to "Gamer" and they have two boys, 6-year-old "Taco" and nearly 4-year-old "Burrito." (She chose those names, not me, although they are cute enough to eat!) Gamer also has a son from a previous relationship who is 8. He often joins us for special days and on weekends. Let’s call him "Bean-Dip." 

My 23-year-old son loves to work out, so he can be "Gym Rat." My 21-year-old daughter is twin-majoring in English and Theater, so we can call her the "Drama Queen." My 19-year-old daughter is majoring in Elementary Ed, so we need to call her "Teach." 

My 17-year-old son has a very successful dog-walking business, so I want to call him "Dog-Walker." All of my younger girls dance, but my 14-year-old has a guy friend who calls her "Princess," so that is her new name. My 12-year-old just got her pointe shoes, so she can be "Prima Donna." My 10-year-old loves to dance, but she is also a big-time crafter, so we will call her "Crafty." My seven-year-old son plays basketball and soccer, so "Sport" sounds like a good name for him. 

The five-year-old is just like her oldest sister, but we can’t call her Bossy, so we need to find another good name for her. Since I love "To Kill A Mockingbird," and she just became a Girl Scout a couple of months ago, we’ll call her "Scout." My 2-year-old has beautiful white curls and big blue eyes, so I think we’ll call him "Curly." And finally, we have my little one. She is 3 ½ months old and definitely my "Baby Doll."

My husband loves Big Daddy shirts, so he can be "Big Daddy." My dad has a room here, so at the risk of being obvious, we will just refer to him as "Grandpa." And me, well I could go with "Bifocals," but the pain of that is just too new, so how about "Mom"?

Jan 19, 2011

Bifocals

It’s my birthday next week. To celebrate I had a visit with my eye doctor. For some reason the letters on that bottle of Tylenol had gotten much smaller since my last birthday. I twisted and turned the bottle in my hand, thinking that maybe with better light I would be able to read the dosage without a magnifying glass. It didn’t help. "I think it’s time…" Dr. Hardy smiled as he said the words, but the sting of "bifocals" hung in the air like the inversion and they stunk almost as bad.



You know, 46 is not that old! Yes, I am a grandma and I have been since I was 39, but I don’t feel old. In lots of ways I feel like a young mom just starting out. It’s easy to feel that way when you stare into the eyes of your newborn, only now I have to do it wearing bifocals!

The path I am currently on has been a long one. I was married at 18, a first-time mom at 19. Then the babies kept coming, every couple of years like clockwork. Other parts of life came and went, but the babies were constant. I finished my BA in English in 1986, had my second child in 1987. I finished my MA in 1988, had my third in 1989. 1991, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2008, and now finally in 2010. That’s 12 if you are counting, and no, they aren’t cheaper by the dozen! With 8 girls and 4 boys we still clearly hold the two-thirds majority when it comes to voting rights even though our house is definitely NOT a democracy.

Our oldest is married with 2 little boys, 6 and 3. We have 3 in college, one in high school, two in middle school, two in elementary, and 3 pre-schoolers. Life is full of dance, basketball, scouts, homework, housework, laundry, diapers, doctors, and just plain living. I guess now I can add bifocals to that list. I’m excited to share my life with you. I’ve had so many people say "You should write a book…" Unfortunately, I don’t have time to write a book, but maybe if I blog it one page at a time…at least I’ll be able to read it and the Tylenol bottle. Darn bifocals.


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