Mar 31, 2012

Blog Awards

Can you believe I got two blog awards in the same week? And they were my very first two blog awards? The first one came from the Mixed Up Brains of Lisa Weinstein, and the second one was from Theresa's Mixed Nuts.

I've never been very good at playing blog games. Mostly I just like saying whatever I want on my blog, but these two awards only want me to put up seven random thoughts about pretty much anything so that goes along with my basic philosophy, and then I'm supposed to give you the names of seven of my blogging friends who might be willing to play along.

So here goes...

1. One of my very favorite things to do is read to my kids. We have been through about a dozen chapter books already this year. We are currently reading The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. It's kind of amazing to me how many of my children gather around when I start to read. Even my sweetie likes to listen in.

2.  I'm a night owl. It is typical for me to be up until about 2:00 each night, sometimes writing a post or visiting my blogging buddies, and sometimes folding laundry and watching the food channel. I'm not a big fan of putting the little ones to bed early because then they just want to get up early, and  I'm allergic to early mornings.

3. I love vegetables! I know, a little weird, huh? My sweetie is a fruit guy, but I much prefer vegetables of all kinds. As I'm sitting here typing this, I can't think of a single vegetable that I refuse to eat.

4.  I don't care what kind of car people drive. My sweetie and the Gym Rat think this is terrible! But honestly, I don't even notice...I might remember the color, but probably not.

5.  One of my biggest pet peeves is open cupboards. I guess I've just smacked my head one too many times. Sport has a bad habit of leaving them open lately and it's driving me nuts!

6.  I really don't like to cook. I know, with all these kids, it's part of my life, but I don't enjoy it. My favorite time is the weekend when my sweetie is home and he takes over the cooking (it doesn't hurt that he's around either...).

7.  I've never been the kind of person to spend much time on my computer. I don't do Facebook or play games. Blogging has kind of flipped my world upside down, but I love that all of you are willing to keep coming back every day just to see if I have anything interesting to say. Thanks for spending part of your day with me.

Now, to tag a few of my friends. I hope you will still be my friends...

Don't feel obligated if you don't want to play, but if you do, feel free to grab whichever award best suits your personality (or grab both...go ahead, you deserve it!) and let's hear your random thoughts.

Life Doesn't Have to be Perfect to be Wonderful

 Race & Emma

The Art of Autism
(That's the Dog Walker's Blog)

Lexie Loo, Lily Boo, & Dylan Too

Ockey Family Adventures

Shana's Place

Wanna Feel That Fire

Mar 29, 2012

It was "Wicked"ly Fun

Yesterday I told you about one of the cheapest family outings we have ever been on. Today I'm going to tell you about the most expensive one. In 2007 my sweetie was working an awesome job with good pay when he was asked to help a little start-up company with some hardware design stuff. This is not uncommon for us. We have had our own consulting business since 1994 and whenever he is approached, we set up a contract. The thing that was different about this one was the scope of the project and the fact that it appeared to have no ending date.

The money was awesome! So we started saving up for a real family vacation. Originally we had planned a trip to Wyoming with my sister to go whitewater rafting and to the Tetons. But then her MIL passed away and they cancelled on us. Two weeks before we were to leave, we decided that since we didn't know that area well enough to go alone, we would take the kids on a vacation they thought would never happen.

For years we had sworn off Disneyland as being too expensive and it pretty much is for a family of our size. But with the help of those CityPasses, we found something that worked within our budget. It just so happened that my BFF had recently returned from New York and couldn't stop talking about a Broadway show she had seen there. She recommended we try to find tickets in Los Angeles. I knew her tickets cost her nearly $200 each and that was not a possibility, but I had heard that we could see it cheaper on the west coast, so I hopped online.

I was so excited to see that Wicked was playing at the Pantages and even more excited to see that floor seats were $95. Now trust me on this one, I have never paid $95 for any show in my life, but after her gushing report and one from the Drama Queen who had also seen the show and brought the music back home for the kids to enjoy...yes, they pretty much knew the entire score by heart...I bought the tickets.

Poor Baby Scout...Missed being Wicked
Sweetie is a great sport!
The only problem was that at nearly 2, Scout was too little to see the show. That meant someone would have to stay behind at the hotel and watch her. My sweetie graciously volunteered except that meant we needed a way to get to Los Angeles. I certainly couldn't drive our big van and all the kids into downtown LA. We looked into renting a cab, but we would have had to take two of them because we couldn't all fit in one. Then someone suggested that occasionally you can get a limo cheaper than a cab for a trip that far and certainly cheaper than two cabs.

I started calling around. I finally convinced the All Star Limo Service that they could make the round trip from Anaheim to LA for $300. My sweetie and I decided not to tell the kids about any of this, so as they were packing, we told them to put in some nice clothes in case we decided to go out to a fancy restaurant.

Flash forward to the trip...we all got dressed up and headed to the lobby of the hotel. While we were supposedly waiting for my sweetie to come down, the kids saw this long black limo in the parking lot. They thought it was awesome and they wanted a closer look. Of course I played along and we stepped outside. The driver got out and opened the door for us. The kids were confused and totally started to head back into the hotel. That's when I told them that the limo was waiting for us.

They were so excited! And even more so when they found out where we were going. We absolutely loved the show, all of us. And even though the evening was Wicked'ly expensive (and will never happen again in this lifetime) it created memories that will last forever.

Mar 28, 2012

Some Awesome Fun at Classic

Monday was a special day for us. My elementary-aged kids are all off track, so they are home. And it was the end of term for the older kids so they all got the day off while teachers figured grades. That meant that other than my poor sweetie who had to work, we were all ready to play!

I had originally planned a trip to the zoo with my sister and my sister-in-law and their little ones, but the weather ruined that idea. So I pulled out my coupon envelope and started looking for an alternate activity.

That little guy in yellow is Curly.
When the Dog Walker made his personal appearance at the Spooka Palooza in October, we had been given stacks of coupons for food and fun. This seemed like an appropriate time to use some. As soon as Crafty got off work, we headed for Chick Fil A for lunch. I fed eleven of us full dinners including drinks for less than ten bucks!

Prima Donna


Then we piled back in the van and headed to the Classic Fun Center in Sandy. Three of our passes were for unlimited access so we put them on the kids most likely to use them...Crafty, Sport, and Scout. The others all had one free activity. After some discussion, we signed them up for an hour of bouncing in the bounce houses. And yes, adults are allowed and even encouraged to participate! (Sorry for all the pics, Teach insisted you had to have one of everybody!)

Drama Queen
Drama Queen
Because of my bad knee, I did not sign up to bounce (I know, I probably would have been fine...), but somebody had to take pictures so it all worked out. I loved watching my big kids act like the little ones. Curly could get up the big slides quicker than anyone else. Baby Doll had no fear! She just giggled and giggled as they sent her down slide after slide.

Princess Free Falling
Prima Donna and Crafty
When our hour was finally up, we cashed in all our free token coupons and headed to the arcade. Teach and Drama Queen earned a pile of tickets playing skee ball and the little kids rode on the rides. Then we discovered the Deal or No Deal game. I have seen that show a couple of times on TV and the game was basically the same. It cost 5 tokens to play, but if you were really good, you could win a hundred tickets for your investment.

Crafty, Baby Doll and Drama Queen
Dog Walker
We decided we were never going to make a deal and we played it all the way to the end four times. The first time we earned 20 tickets. Then the Drama Queen came over and after listening to her advice, we managed to get one ticket! The next game was the best. We won 40 tickets! The last time we played we pulled out 8.

By the time we were finished, we had a cup stuffed with tickets and we headed to the exchange counter. Baby Doll has recently learned the word "dog" and to her every animal is a dog. But she was very excited about a particular brown one that cost 400 tickets. Since we only had 325, the Drama Queen handed over $2.25 to make up the difference and Baby Doll got her dog!

By then Princess was getting nervous about being late for dance but our unlimited pass holders wanted to stay a little longer and skate. The Dog Walker agreed to stay with them and I handed him one more pass for free skating and $3 to rent all of their skates. Then we ran all the other kids home. An hour later I picked them up.

We had an awesome time as you can see from the pictures. And the entire day cost about 15 bucks including lunch...not bad!

Mar 27, 2012

Playing Ball...again

When my sweetie and I left town in September of 1983 to start our new life together, it never really occurred to me that my softball-playing days might be over. But then I got pregnant with Bossy, my sweetie withdrew from school, and I had that horrible Arctic Circle job. After that we gathered everything up and moved back to my hometown.

We weren't admitting defeat, we simply had a new plan. My sweetie had taken an electronics class and he was way more excited about it than he was about chemistry. Snow College had just started a new program for electronic technicians...but wait, this is a story about playing ball. I will tell you this other one later.

So we moved back to Ephraim just in time for softball season and even though I was about 5 months pregnant, I was feeling decidedly better. Unfortunately, the ladies on my team were not expecting me back and they had already replaced me at shortstop. I think if I hadn't been pregnant and awkward, they would have given me my old spot, but "as a protection" for me, they put me on second base.

Not that I really wanted or needed protection, my sweetie still talks about later in the season when I slid into home. I was just past seven months along. (Pretty sure I wouldn't do that now.)  In spite of the craziness, the season ended without any significant injuries and Bossy was born the first part of November.

We were still in Ephraim when softball season started up in the spring of 1985. One more season was way more than I had hoped for! Bossy was getting bigger and as the weather warmed up, my sweetie started bringing her to the ball field to watch me play. The playground was close by so sometimes he headed there and sometimes he just sat with her on a blanket.

One day my team was on the field. It was the second or third inning and I don't recall the score. Suddenly I glanced over at my sweetie. He had forgotten the blanket and my little Bossy was chewing on a mouthful of dirt and grass. Well I couldn't have that! I called an informal timeout and marched down the third baseline. My older and somewhat wiser friends were laughing at me from the in-field. Even the other team was laughing! Did all of these ladies let their sweet precious babies eat dirt?

I quickly wiped out her mouth and trotted back to my place. "Sorry!" I called rather self-righteously as I waved to the umpire. Even he was sniggering. I thought I was doing the right thing...but I guess stopping the game over a little dirt was a tad obsessive. Pretty sure I wouldn't do that now...

Mar 26, 2012

Play Ball!

You all know I grew up in small-town Utah. In the early 80s, our high school had less than four hundred students in a total of 4 grades. That meant lots of things...some good and some bad...but the worst part was that we weren't allowed to have a girls softball team. (They do have one now though and they are awesome!)

I'm on the back row, third from the left. The two men were our coaches.
Softball was huge in Sanpete County! Each town had at least one team in every age group and some towns had more than one. I started playing league softball when I was 8 years old. They actually started a girls' team because I wanted to go out for Little League with my brothers and there were some people in the town who just couldn't stand the idea of a girl playing with the boys. I think maybe I told you that story before...

We played softball all summer. We started in April and our last tournament was on Labor Day weekend. I loved the sport and I was good at it. I didn't love pitching, but I was the second in line when Yvonne got tired. My spot was shortstop and I had a wicked throw with a lot of heat. (Now that I'm old I don't play shortstop any more. I can barely make the throw to first.)

When I was 17, my YW leader was our first baseman. I played several years with that group and they were awesome! In 1982 we took second place in the county-wide tournament. My friends decided to have a huge party. My mom agreed to let me go because she assumed that Bonnie, my YW leader would be there. As it turned out, Bonnie had other things to do that night.

It was the first party I had ever been at with drinking and at 17, I was pretty clueless. But it didn't matter. My friends knew my standards and my parents...even if I had gotten down on my knees and begged, not a single one of them would have let me have a drop.

When I got engaged the next summer, these amazing ladies threw me a bridal shower one night after the game. When I got married and we moved away, these faces were some of the hardest ones to leave. At the time I had no idea that I would have a second chance to play ball...

Mar 25, 2012


On Thursday my sweetie and I were out running some errands. We were feeling a little thirsty, but it was after 4:00 so Happy Hour (meaning half price drinks) at Sonic was over.  I rummaged through my purse until I pulled out a coupon for a free 44 oz drink and we pulled into a parking spot. Now 44 oz is way more than I can drink. I'm not much of a soda drinker anyway, but my sweetie could probably drink two...before we left the parking lot...

Point being, I would have been good with him getting a drink and me just waiting until we got home, but being my awesome sweetie that he is, he ordered my favorite fountain drink, Diet Cherry Sprite. I'm OK with sharing and we often do, but since I had heard him coughing a little, I thought I'd better ask, "Are you sick?" He assured me that he was fine, it must have been allergies.
Not our tree, thank goodness

We shared the soda as we finished our errands and headed for home.

By bedtime I was starting to nose filled up with gunk and my ears needed to pop. It seems that I have picked up a good old-fashioned head cold. And just when "popcorn" is popping on my apricot tree! I guess it serves me right for volunteering him to coach tee least we can be miserable together.

Mar 24, 2012

Guest Blogger: Honor and Guilt, Doing My Share by Sweetie

Sweetie on far right with Gym Rat in front and Bossy on his left side
Remember when my wife was asking about baseball?  I am a bit opinionated about kids’ baseball.  I really wanted Sport to have a machine pitch league this year.  It’s a great way to let the kids learn to hit and field.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t help develop great pitchers so it has fallen out of favor.  Now Sport is playing real baseball, and thanks to some coaching by his mom, he is doing great. 

I also have a strong opinion about tee ball.  I truly love preschoolers and early grade-schoolers.  I love to see them having fun, but to say tee ball is not my favorite would be an understatement.  Everyone bats every inning.  Throw the kid out at first?  He still runs the bases…no one strikes out…gets out… and the last kid up always gets a home run! The only thing worse is little kid flag football (where the idea of four downs to make 10 yards is taken away… What’s the point?).

Drama Queen is holding the sign and Teach is on her left
My sweet wife knows how I feel and I thought she mostly agreed, that is until the other day she informed me that Curly was going to play tee ball with a friend.  A few days later, I learned that Scout and the grandsons were also playing tee ball and that she was going to be the coach.  And Bossy was going to be the assistant coach.  I couldn’t believe my ears!
And then there was Thursday… She called me to tell me about the cutest thing Curly had said… They had been talking about tee ball and the fact that his mom is coaching Scout’s and the grandsons’ team.  My three-going-on-30-year-old wondered out load who would be his coach.  Would Mom coach his team too? When his mom gently reminded him that she was coaching Scout’s team, he didn’t skip a beat.  With a big grin he said, “Maybe Dad will be my coach, he’s the awesome-ist guy ever!” 
Sweetie on the far right Bossy in the back middle and Gym Rat on her right

Ouch!  How do you respond to that?  After she repeated it several times, I finally got the message… I had been honored and guilted just one too many times.  Tomorrow she’s going to sign me up as the volunteer tee ball coach. I love my son… I (still) love my wife…. but tee ball?  That’s a different story.

Mar 23, 2012

Guest Blogger - Falling for Bossy by Gamer

***I asked Gamer to write a guest post in February when we were putting up all the First Kiss stories. It took him a while, but I'm excited (and a little nervous) to put up his first (and hopefully not last) guest post. Gamer's going to hate that title, but I have to throw in a little romance, don't I? And he didn't give it a title, so I'm perfectly justified, right? Right???***
Well here it is. My guest blog appearance.
This is Gamer aka as SIL. This is going to be one weird trip for us all together. Let me just say I don’t listen very well. This is the story of how me and Bossy met.
One night I was at a place called Hastur's Games and Hobbies. I had been hanging around there playing AD&D, Magic the Gathering, and some other games most people don't agree on. Well on one fateful night Bossy had barely gotten off work from her job at a local retail store. Unbeknownst to me her friend had a boyfriend who was a friend of mine. On this night Bossy and her friend showed up to watch her friend's boyfriend play AD&D (Advanced Dungeons and Dragons). I was wearing basically the only clothes I owned, Black pants with chains and straps everywhere, a black tee shirt, and a grungy jacket. Mind you this was in February. I was sitting there watching people come and go and characters get killed. 
Well after Bossy showed up something changed in the room and it wasn’t me. I was now being watched. You know the feeling you get when someone is watching you? I tried to figure out why I was getting it and from whom. Every time I got up to use the facilities or to buy a soda the eyes would follow me. Well OK not into the facilities, but you know what I mean. Finally I couldn't take it anymore.... I went outside to smoke a cigarette. 
Bossy followed me outside. She asked me for one of mine which at the time was Camel Wides. They are shorter and fatter than most. Well I gave her not knowing she was willing to go to such extremes to talk to me. She had quit smoking and was now willing to throw it all away just to get to know me. She took one drag and started coughing and couldn't stop.
I didn't know what to say at that point. I tried not to laugh at her while she was gasping for air and me snickering. When she could breathe again, I asked her if she had ever smoked a Camel Wide before and she reluctantly told me she had never heard of those. 
After that night the two friends decided on their own to take our relationship from just a casual smoke break. Ok more like me smoking and her almost dying from mine. It was decided by 2 people to have both of us over to his house and have dinner, play more games and see if anything ever happened between me and Bossy. Cause the next guy in line they wanted to set Bossy up with was nice in a very weird way. 
So after a few dates and dinner at Bossy's parents house. We made it official and got married and have been together for over eight years now.

***You know, Gamer, I'm still waiting for the kissing part...wait! Never mind, maybe I don't want to know.***

Mar 22, 2012

San Francisco

Ghiraidelli Chocolate Factory
We haven't really been on that many vacations during our married life. It wasn't until Bossy was in middle school that we actually took our first real one where we did all the planning, scheduling, you know.  Sometime I'll tell you about that one, but today I want to tell you about our first out-of-state trip.

I wanted to take the kids to see the ocean. I had been there once as a child and it was something I wanted to share with them. California is obviously the closest for us, but we couldn't really afford Disneyland, so we decided to head for San Francisco. My sister had recently been there and she gave it glowing reports. It was the summer of 2004 and from the pictures you can see that Sport was the baby and Scout wasn't born yet.

While I was busy making reservations, I ran across City Passes for the first time. They saved us SOO much money! But even more importantly, they helped us plan our trip. We got these 4-star hotels in Burlingame which is just a short drive from San Francisco. I'm pretty sure our room rate was $46 per room per night. I loved that hotel! It was beautiful and clean and new. I brought home all the extra shampoo bottles and every time I wanted to remember that trip, I would sneak one out of the drawer and use it.

My first glimpse of the bay was absolutely breathtaking. We didn't know where we were going and we were traveling by this wall of rocks. I told my sweetie to pull over and I would quickly scale this wall (I was much younger then...) and I thought we might be able to see the bay in the distance. Wrong! When I got to the top, the bay was right there! I could have stuck my foot in it. I had the kids carefully climb the wall to see what I saw and we were all mesmerized by the sight. Thankfully no one fell in.

One of the things the kids were most excited about was the cruise we took around the bay. We had never really spent much time in boats, so it was a whole new world for us. We took my MIL with us. She was sweet and patient with the kids (although she has refused every vacation since!) and I think she had a little fun anyway.  The Pier itself was awesome even though we didn't shop much. We loved the underwater aquarium and the seals sunning themselves.

I have always been a little terrified of tons of water, so the bridges were scary to me. Not because I'm not a good swimmer, but because I didn't know how I could possibly save all these kids if we were to suddenly plunge into a large body of water and how would I choose? But I digress...

My sweetie wanted to drive on the bridges. The Golden Gate Bridge was fine, but then we got on the San Francisco/Oakland Bay bridge. It was rush hour and we were stuck there for quite some time. After nearly an hour, my very autistic Dog Walker announced that he had to go to the bathroom. He was bouncing around in his seat, doing the potty dance until we finally got off the bridge. We stopped at the first gas station and wouldn't you know it, it was closed! The poor kid, I don't know how he held it for so long.

Ghiradelli Square, the cable cars, the Golden Gate bridge, everything was so new and exciting! The favorite place though, was the Exploratorium. I think the kids could have spent a week in there looking and touching and playing...oh yeah, and learning. We loved San Francisco so much we planned a second trip back there the next year. Some of the magic was gone, but it was still a fun trip. And I got more memories and more shampoo bottles...

Mar 21, 2012

A Little Exercise

You know, I've been a little depressed this week. Maybe it's this sugar challenge thing. In all my 47 years, I don't believe I've ever been four weeks without a single sweet treat. I thought by now I should have dropped at least a couple of pounds, but standing on my scale still doesn't make me smile.

I thought eating more healthy might make me want to exercise more regularly. And it's working for some of us. Teach has suddenly been inspired to try to run a 5K.She ran two miles on the treadmill yesterday! I run a quarter of a mile and I'm huffing and puffing. Even the little ones are excited about exercise.

I was sitting at my desk earlier today and I heard giggling from my sweet little Baby Doll. She and the Dog Walker and Scout were playing Just Dance and the song was Cotton-Eyed Joe. For some reason she thought that was so funny! I snapped a few pictures of them for you. They like exercise.

I'm just having a hard time getting myself motivated. I read an article by the blogging queen, C. Jane, in the newspaper today and, get this, she woke up early in the morning because her body told her she needed to go for a walk! The only kind of walk my body wants to take at that time of day is a quick trip to the bathroom!

Seriously though, any suggestions? I love basketball, but I can't play every day. I know it sounds dumb, but just going for a walk feels like such a waste of time when I have so many other things demanding my attention.
You remember TV back in the 60s? When some of those women wanted to exercise, they stood on on a machine where a huge rubber band shook their entire backside? I want to know if those work. They look way more fun than the treadmill and all of these women look pretty skinny. I couldn't possibly wear the little hat though...

Pic Credit

Mar 20, 2012

Banner Girl

I think I've told you before that we have a bunch of band geeks in our family. I spent my younger years blowing a clarinet in our junior high school band, but I quit playing in high school after only one quarter because our band teacher just couldn't control the group and it really bothered me. I wanted to learn and be part of something amazing, not watch the drummers harass our poor frustrated teacher.

One of my favorite parts of our junior high school band had always been the marching part. Our teacher was awesome! He taught us to "boogie" and we loved it. We competed against bands that were much older than us and we took home top honors. So when Marching Band season rolled around, I was sad that I wouldn't be part of the band. This was the case for three years.

Fortunately, it helps to know somebody.

I'm not exactly sure how or why the arrangement was made, but the band teacher needed someone who was willing to carry the banner in the parades and on the field. It was 1982 and my senior year.  I was excited to be one of the "chosen ones." I even got to wear that awesome pair of white gloves. And you think these outfits are cute? You should have seen the ones we wore for the show...they were harem pants split all the way up the side and worn over a leotard. Sadly, I don't seem to have any pictures of those... my legs were much cuter then than they are now.

Mar 18, 2012

More Fun

Filling up the Sand Pit
Do you remember back in January when I said we made a day trip to the Natural History Museum? I actually said I might take the entire family back and PAY FOR IT?! I know, huh? Crazy...doesn't sound like me at all! Well, something awesome happened to us this week. After lots of hard work and effort, my sweetie got a raise! We decided to celebrate by taking the entire family (except the Gym Rat and Gamer who both had to work) to the Museum of Natural History.

I know this will make you giggle, but we can actually get in on a GROUP rate where 15 can go cheaper than 11. I was surprised how busy it was for a good-weather Saturday. I thought most people would be out working in their yards, but I guess they all needed a break too.
Baby Doll walking on the Glass Floor - She was so confused!

We got there about 1:30. Since we had the big van, my sweetie had to park clear down the street, but he nicely dropped the rest of us off first, so we paid for the tickets and waited for him to join us. We had only walked about 100 feet when two of our party just HAD to use the restroom. Since one was Bossy's, she agreed to take both. By the time she rejoined us, I heard rumors that Baby Doll was in need of a change. I had hoped those unpleasant odors were just the smelling stations in the prehistoric area. Thank goodness I sent my sweetie back in the house for the diaper bag!

Sweetie and Scout
Unfortunately, I forgot to grab it when we jumped out of the van, so it was down the street in overflow parking. My sweetie offered to go after it, but this was his first time in the museum and I had already been seen it, so the Drama Queen and I hoofed it down the hill. As we were walking, we noticed several empty parking spots in the upper lot. So instead of hiking back up to the museum, we jumped in the van and started circling. The first spot I tried was too small. I carefully backed out and decided to try again. The second one was only marginally larger, but after easing the van back and forth three or four times, we finally decided we were actually between the white lines.

We only missed one whole floor of fun or at least the Drama Queen did. I still had the diaper to contend with. I scooped Baby Doll out of the stroller and we headed for the restroom. We finally rejoined the group on the fourth floor, just in time to play with the puppets.

  All in all, it was a great time, and way more fun than cleaning the flower beds!