Nov 29, 2012

A Down Day

It feels like I've been running non-stop for weeks. Yesterday I actually had a few minutes to try and dig out my desk. I think the stuff had been piled about a foot high. I don't know about your house, but every time the kids don't know where to put something or they don't want to bother to take it to the right place, it ends up on my desk.

That makes it difficult to find the things that are supposed to be on my desk, like bills and tape...especially the stapler. I actually got so tired of looking for the stapler that I bought a new one and hid it. That exact same day I found the other stapler under the couch in the family room. Isn't that how it always goes?

I cleaned this desk yesterday!
My sweetie is the master of buying extra things to make sure he doesn't run out. After any major project, I typically have to return a pile of stuff to Lowe's and Home Depot. But I guess it beats having to run out in the middle of the project.

I try so hard to stay on top of things, but most of the time it just doesn't happen. So on my down day yesterday I sorted the stuff on my desk for hours and took care of a bunch of crap that I have been putting off. I boxed up the phones that didn't work right out of the box so that I could return them to AT&T. I sifted through receipts until I found the ones I needed to send in on my flexible spending account. I even wrote the tuition check for Curly's preschool three days early!

I was feeling pretty good about my accomplishments until I started wandering around and realized that there were piles of stuff everywhere that needed my attention, most notably in the laundry area. How do you do it? How do you keep up on everything? Sometimes it all seems pretty overwhelming.

Nov 28, 2012

Pinewood Derby Day

Did you know that yesterday was a holiday? That's right! According to my sweetie it was Pinewood Derby Day and that is definitely a new holiday. With the all preparation, it felt like one. On Pinewood Derby Eve my sweetie was up until nearly 2:00 AM polishing wheels and adding graphite.

I was very excited to have this day finally come. The races were exciting and chaotic! We had three lanes on the track, so it took a little longer that it did last year. We had over 40 cars checked in by 6:30. We even had a few late-comers after that. The kids were so excited that one little guy even fell off the stage. That was pretty traumatic, but thank goodness he wasn't seriously hurt.

Since we made cars in the girl scout troop, every one of my kids who was there except for Teach had a car in the races. Even Baby Doll had a tiny car the girls helped her make. The Dog Walker and my sweetie handled the cars and keeping track of who went where, and I got to be the meanie to keep everyone away from table. It's amazing how many kids just want to touch all those shiny little cars!

It took about an hour to get all those cars down the track several times each. One by one, most of my kids' cars were eliminated in the first or second rounds. Only three of them remained competitive. Princess with her Twinkie car, Sport with his Broncos car, and Curly with his shiny silver car.

Princess eventually took 4th place, not good enough for a hat, but definitely worthy of bragging rights.

Three of those 12 hats did end up back at my house permanently. Crafty won best design in Open Class for her hot dog car, Sport won best design for his Broncos car after narrowly being edged out of the top three for speed. And once again, Curly won second place for speed with his new car for the second year in a row. I don't know how he does it, maybe it's the curls!

Nov 27, 2012

Scout's Snowman Party

I promised you a post about Scout's birthday party with her friends. I did manage to survive it yesterday and finish preparing for the Pinewood Derby which is tonight. I worried about having two major things so close together, but with all my helpers around here, things worked out fine.

Tall cupcakes were cute but kept tipping over!
I told you already that we put together the party bags while Thanksgiving dinner was cooking, but let me tell you how this all happened. One night I was lying in bed not sleeping as usual, just stressing over all of the upcoming activities. Scout's party was one of those. I said a silent prayer, begging for inspiration. After all these parties, honestly, I was just tapped out.

After several minutes, a party plan suddenly came into my mind all at once and in specific detail! We needed to do a snowman theme. I had already ordered some cheap little necklace kits with snowmen on them for an activity so I simply built around that.

Not as cute but much more stable.
We filled white paper sacks with play-doh left from Halloween and picked up for pennies at Kohl's. I also used half a bag of Fruities I paid $1.29 for on the after-Halloween sale at Marketplace. And then I threw a package of fruit snacks into each one.

We cut the circles for the snowmen and glued them on. Teach used her star punch to make the stars and we used a regular hole punch for all the other things. I cut up some flannel scraps to make the scarves and they tied right through the bags to close them up. It was a fun craft activity and I thought they turned out really cute.

We planned our games around the snowman theme and Teach made this cute "Pin the Nose on the Snowman" game. We also had some little wooden snowmen that we turned into a ring toss game. The snowmen for free Home Depot kits and the rings were cut from lids I found on the large cans in my food storage room. We also played "Once there was a Snowman." The kids had a great time becoming "small, small, small."

We watched Frosty the Snowman and then ate our snowman cupcakes. The cupcakes were almost a disaster! I envisioned two marshmallows for each one, and that is how I originally put them together, but as you can see they started "melting" on me because the marshmallows were too heavy. Actually, I think it was the gumdrop on top that made them tip. Anyway, at the last minute I pulled each one apart and just used the top. The girls didn't care, they snarfed them down!

Do they all look melted?

All-in-all, a fun, cheap party. I think the whole thing including my invitations cost less than $20. And it's one less thing to stress about.

Nov 26, 2012

A Good Excuse

I do have a perfect excuse for not putting up a post last night, but first I have to tell you the whole story. You all know that the Dog Walker is going to college. This has been rather stressful since he doesn't like to try new things, but here we are now with about two weeks left of the semester and he is doing very well. In fact, other than his Sociology class where I have no idea how he is doing, I'm pretty sure he is on track to get all
A grades. But it hasn't been an easy road.

One of the classes he is taking is Communications. It is an on-line class but he has had to do a couple of group projects that have been difficult. His first one required a series of meetings to solve a problem. He was able to do all of these meetings through Google docs with a group of five other students from his class. The project was successful, so when the next one came along...present a speech in front of at least 10 other adults, he opted to work with the same people.

So last night his group and their significant others showed up at my house so they could all do their speeches in my basement using my sweetie's projector and big screen. By 7:00, they were all here and ready to go. The Dog Walker chose to do his speech on How to be a Super Scout which as you know is a subject near and dear to his heart. And that made it easy to speak about which was the real goal.

The Dog Walker went first and stood in front of the group and made his presentation. He did a great job. That is until his second to last slide when suddenly the power went out! Here we were with a group of mostly strangers and all the adults in the house sitting in a dark basement room. The little ones were upstairs with Princess screaming at the tops of their lungs.

It was a mad scramble trying to find flashlights by the light of cell phones. The Dog Walker was having a fit because he didn't get to finish his speech and we had no idea how long the power would be out or how we were going to give the other students a chance to present.

After about five minutes of chaos and confusion, we finally decided to continue with the speeches using the laptops only until they died. Just as Dallen stood up to begin, the power flickered back on. There were cheers and jubilation as we once again fired up the projector and got through the rest of the speeches. By 8:30 everyone had gone home including the Drama Queen, her friend, and Bossy's family.

We settled down to homework and finishing pinewood derby cars when the power suddenly went out again. This time we were mostly in the kitchen and the flashlights were still lying around so it wasn't too traumatic except that I couldn't write a post and the Dog Walker couldn't finish his homework assignment.

We sent the little ones off to bed with their flashlights and my sweetie and I were just getting ready to go upstairs when the lights came back on. We looked at each other for a moment and then headed upstairs anyway. Maybe an early night's sleep without any technology would be good for both of us.

Nov 24, 2012

Enjoying my Weekend

Can you believe I've actually dreaded this weekend and all I had to accomplish? Now that I've survived Thanksgiving, Scout's birthday, and preparation for the Pinewood Derby, I'm feeling pretty good! Teach and the other girls even helped me prep all my Tupperware for the big boutique I signed up for next Saturday.

We managed to get all the gift bags done for Scout's party on Monday and the little snowman necklace kits I ordered from Oriental Trading Company arrived yesterday. I called all the kids on my Jr. Jazz team because our season also starts next Saturday. I made the certificates for the Pinewood Derby and I embroidered the last of the hats today. I even made the reminders that have to go out on Tuesday!

I also sorted out Baby Doll's clothes that were no longer fitting her and convinced Drama Queen to help Curly do his. We moved the furniture in the girls' bedroom and Prima Donna did a complete overhaul on the office, including cleaning out the closet.

There is still much to do, including helping the Dog Walker finish up the last of the semester, but things are looking pretty good today.

So good, in fact, I think I've earned myself a nice long bath.

And I'm putting my cell phone on silent...

Nov 23, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

This first pic is from our Charlie Brown Thanksgiving lunch. Teach found the idea of putting the popcorn in a grocery sack on Pinterest. Drama Queen thought it would be fun to cover the tables in white paper and have everyone write what they loved about that person at their place setting.

We spent an hour at lunch just talking and laughing while the real turkey cooked away in the kitchen. After we cleaned up lunch, the girls helped me make the party bags for Scout's birthday party on Monday. They are so cute! I will show you all my great ideas the first of the week.
We didn't get around to eating dinner until almost 7:00. We had games and movies and just plain family togetherness all day long. That's what I'm thankful for.

Hope your day was amazing too.

Dancing on the table!

All my kids can fill up the entire pew from my livingroom!
And their feet can fill up the whole table... good thing dinner was already over!
 Who taught these kids manners anyway?!

Nov 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Guess what I've been doing all evening!

Ever since I learned to make pies about 10 years ago, I spend the Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving baking pies. It takes about six hours to make the dough from scratch, then make all the fillings and put them together. Although I confess that this year the apple and cherry fillings are from cans.

It's a lot of work and every year my sweetie suggests that he would be OK if I wanted to buy pie rather than make it. I'm pretty sure he's just being nice because I know he loves my pecan pie. But every year I remind him that the only time during the year I make pie is at Thanksgiving, so I relegate myself to the kitchen while the kids watch a movie.

Only this year it was different. Princess wanted to learn to make pie. Cooking and teaching is always more fun than just doing it by yourself, and Princess is a good student. She mostly watched me mix up the crust, but when it was time to roll it and crimp it, she was right there. After a few minutes, hers looked just like a professional job.

Once we finished the four pecan and five pumpkin pies and put them in the oven, it was time for the apple and cherry. Princess is so wonderfully creative! After rolling the top layer for the cherry, she cut out a little star for the cherries to peek through and then she cut a few more just to make it pretty. For added shine, we decided to dip the stars in cinnamon and sugar first.

She was so pleased with that one, she decided to do a lattice on the apple. Then she sprinkled the last of the cinnamon and sugar over the top. They all came out perfect! It was hard to keep from cutting and devouring one tonight.

Next year I'm hoping I won't even have to ask...
she'll be right there with her rolling pin before I even have time to measure the first cup of flour.

Nov 21, 2012

Have You Tried these Things?

Every once in a while a company will approach me with a product and ask me to write a blog post about it. Usually I politely decline since I don't really want my blog to become one big commercial, but this one caught my eye and I will tell you why.

It probably sounds totally out of character for Princess, but she absolutely loves onions! She loves them prepared almost any way and she will also eat them raw. I just knew if Loeb's Onion Crunch tasted at all like real onions, she'd be hooked.

I waited for several weeks for the sample to arrive. In fact, when it finally did, I had quite forgotten about it. Since it was identified by the sender, I asked Princess to open it, making a big deal about it being a gift for her. She was definitely curious as she ripped at the package. When she finally got it open, she her eyes grew wide and she quickly pulled open one of the smaller pouches.

I know it's hard to believe but within 30 seconds, she was eating them like candy. She passed them around to the other kids and some of them tried them but most of them politely declined. Then her next comment was, "Hey, I can take these in my lunches!" And I'm pretty sure she didn't mean so that she could put them on a sandwich...she wanted to toss them down like fruit snacks.

They are pretty tasty little things. I was cooking hamburgers later that evening and just for fun, I decided to see if the crunchiness would break down if I fried them along with the burgers. They didn't; they were still delicious.

I was pretty impressed with the quantity of the gift until I saw them in the store today and realized that the big bottle was on sale for only $2. For that price you might want to give them a try. Princess highly recommends them.

**I was given free samples for my honest review.**

Nov 20, 2012

Thanksgiving Traditions

I told you last year about some of our fun family traditions including our Charlie Brown Thanksgiving dinner and all the fun we have just being together. I am so thankful for this big beautiful crazy family of mine!

I was looking through my posts for last Thanksgiving and I realized that I have told you most of the fun things we always do, but maybe I can add a little. About every other year I have a little one in preschool. This year it is Curly's turn and he loves it! As part of their Thanksgiving celebration they always have a little turkey dinner. It's not quite traditional, but his teacher provides turkey and pie and then she assigns out the rest of the food. Curly's donation is two cans of mandarin oranges.

The other thing they do is make cute little costumes, one like an American Indian and the other like a pilgrim. Then each kid gets to choose what they want to be for the feast. Curly chose pilgrim, so today he brought home his Indian costume. After he modeled it for us, Baby Doll just couldn't wait to put it on.

This year Scout's 7th birthday is on Black Friday, so at least we don't have to worry about shopping. And guess what my sweet girl wants for her special birthday dinner?

That's right...turkey dinner!

And she suggested it without any prompting.
Maybe I'd better go buy her another present. I'm sure by Friday I won't feel like cooking at all.

No, wait...then I'd have to go shopping.

Nov 19, 2012

Guest Blogger: The Piano Story by Dog Walker

Now I have to guest blog again, because Mom is so exhausted every night, but that's not a problem. It's always nice to do something for your loved one who is tired a lot more than anybody. Right now, Mom asked me to write about a piano story. It was last Saturday, and Mom, Dad, Teach and I went downtown in Temple Square to go see one more concert that I had to do for my music class. It was a concert about a pianist named Lara Lambert Allen. She played an amazing job there. I had to take notes on it, so I could write an essay on it and then submit it. Lara did a very good job on the piano. She played lots of masterpieces from composers like Bach.

Here's a thing about that, every time I hear a piano play like that, it makes me feel like I want to play the piano too. Mom has been giving piano lessons every summer, but usually we can't afford a piano teacher to give piano lessons to each of us. Maybe someday, Mom might become a piano teacher to teach all of us kids to play the piano in a professional way. It may take some time to do that, but it would be fun.

Nov 18, 2012

Making Cars

You all know that my sweetie is the Cubmaster of his Cub Scout Pack and once a month we have to prepare a big to-do for the boys. November has become our new tradition for the Pinewood Derby. That means all the boys make little cars and then they race them.

So when I read in my Girl Scout book that we also had a woodworking badge, I thought maybe the girls would like to make cars too. And they did!

They all showed up at my house around 11:00 today. We ordered pizza and got started. After they drew their designs, my sweetie taught them to use the saw and the sander to shape their wood. My girls always want to make something that is totally not car-like. See Princess's Twinkie car? And Prima Donna turned hers into an ice cream truck.

Even Baby Doll got the chance to make her own car! She was so excited to paint it.

And now it's on to the Big Race...

Nov 17, 2012

The Big Day

So this was it...the big day! That's right, Disney on Ice! We had tickets to the matinee performance at 3:30, but since it's Friday, we only had to pull Prima Donna out of school 20 minutes early. Everyone else is home by then. We arrived about 10 minutes before the show began and found our seats without any problems. This time Bossy and her boys were with us as well and that just added to the excitement.

The kids squirmed in their seats until they finally dimmed the lights and the show began. Since it was 100 years of Disney, we got to see many different characters and sequences. My favorite part was the Mulan story, but then that is the movie with my favorite music too.

I thought you might be interested in knowing what everyone thought instead of just me so I asked them to each give me a one-sentence opinion.

Bossy: I really enjoyed watching Burrito get excited and tell me things.  I think my favorite part was during the Incredibles when each of the characters are showing off their "powers."  The boy playing Dash is "running" quickly on ice.  The girl playing Violet "disappears" by going in the curtain and the spotlights continue on no one.  And then the girl playing Elasti-girl does a lot of twists and contortions and finally goes to hug and kiss Mr. Incredible and the kids come and grab her and pull her away and her "arms" in black gloves stretch across the ice.  And Burrito turns and says in his typical loud voice.  "Mom!  Those are the real Incredibles!  Did you see her real arms stretch and stretch?" After that Mr. Incredible dances to "I'm too Sexy."  He talked about them all through the long "It's a Small World" routine that followed. On a final note, I would be lying if I didn't say I really like the princess and prince "true love" part, and I was really excited to see that they included Pocahontas!  It almost made up for the lack of Aurora...almost.

Teach: I loved the Mulan story and the princesses. I mostly just adore ice skating and all of the tricks and flips were simply beautiful. I sang pretty much through the entire thing and Curly probably got annoyed with my incessant singing! It was so glorious!

Dog Walker: I thought it was more amazing than I remembered from when I was little. It almost made me cry that when I went there, it made me feel like I want to go to Disneyland again, even though I got to go there four times in my whole life. I still think it's fun. The best part was the whole thing.

Princess: I absolutely loved the princess part...all of it. I loved when they all came out together and I loved Mulan and Belle and wished they would have shown even more!

Prima Donna:  The show was so spiffy.  And of course my favorite part was the princesses, and not getting in trouble for singing with the songs.

Crafty: I loved the princesses too!

Sport: I liked the story of Aladdin.

Scout: My favorite part was the princesses. My favorite princess was Ariel.

Curly:  My favorite part was the army men.
Baby Doll: I just ate all the kettle corn and gave anyone a dirty look if they tried to grab a handful. But my eyes were watching everything and I loved clapping along with the audience.

Bean Dip: My favorite part was sleeping, I mean the kettle corn.  (After much prompting from Bossy and threats from Gamer). I like the part when the Genie jumped out of the ice-machine. And I (Bossy) am pretty sure Bean Dip liked the Incredibles too, because all the way across the parking lot he was singing Right Said Fred (I'm too Sexy).
Taco:  My favorite part was when the whale ate Pinochle. Bossy: You mean Pinocchio? Taco: Yeah, Pinochle.
Burrito: My favorite part was when the whale ate him too.  Bossy: Are you just saying that because Taco said that? Burrito: Yes.  Later on the drive, Burrito: Mom, remember the part when Buzz was dancing with Jessie?  That was good.
The End
Gamer via text: (After receiving multiple blurry video messages with loud music.) I am so glad I am at work right now.  Later he viewed the much better quality videos I took after I remembered the work phone had an amazing camera with a zoom option.  I'd guess he is a little bit jealous right now.


As you can see, it was an overwhelming success! I just hope those awesome people at Feld Entertainment call me again next year...

** I am a Feld Family Ambassador and in exchange for my time and efforts in attending shows and reporting my opinion within this blog, as well as keeping you advised of the latest discount offers, Feld Entertainment has provided me with complimentary tickets to Feld shows and opportunities to attend private Feld pre-Show events. Even though I received these benefits, I always give an opinion that is 100% mine. **