Thursday, January 31, 2013

For Your Kids Entertainment

When I look at Pinterest and all the projects to do for/with kids, I'm like "Uh, probably not.  That one's too messy.... that one is too elaborate... Probably can't do that one unless the little kids are outta the way and napping... that one looks like a lot of work and involvement by me, sigh... Oh well." and then I move on to home decor.  I usually want to give the kids things that will send them on their way with a burst of their own creativity that feeds their imagination.  So here is a simple one that is quick, very little mess or clean-up, and I think my kids might be entertained all day at school and get their friends involved too.  When I saw this one, it just said "This is soo Melodie..." What do you think?
When she saw it, she got a quick giddiness in her step and ran to find a pen.  Ethan and Hyrum followed suit.  Yup, that is so Mel.  She's always drawing little stick figures in the corners of paper pads or notebooks and making those flip motion books.  Funny girl.

And I also saw this.  This one is soo me.  I live all day in my pjs. 
My pjs are sweat or yoga pants and a Shade t-shirt.  They also double as my workout clothes, cleaning clothes, and if it's my black ensemble, I can throw on a scarf and earrings and it's my date night clothes! If I workout, then I bathe and clean up and put on another pair of yoga pants and shade shirt.  Hey, no need to mess with it when you find what works for you!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Little Robbers and Helpers

The kids have made up a little skit performance to the Killer's song Who Let You Go - it involves a sneaky robber who gets out of jail and the cop is asking "who let you go" as the cop chases the robber around the room in a silly dance.  Hyrum led out in casting Sophia as the crook.  They dressed her up as a gangster and tied a snow hat full of toy coins to her wrist.  It was pretty cute.
She wore this outfit all day, it made us all smile.  Here she is breaking into the fridge where she liked to rearrange the condiments and occasionally break a bottle or spill something.  My task is to make sure no glass jars get put on the lower shelves and that the lids are all on tight.  It's be better to just keep her out of the fridge, I know.
Yesterday I was struggling to remain calm as Lily got into the fridge and made a "salad" - cut up carrots, cinnamon, a piece of my whole wheat bread that I am super stingy with and was slightly upset to see wasted, and a thing of Capris Sun (only to be used for school lunches) that she cut open with a knife and subsequently splattered a mess of all over the floor.
They like to make salads a lot, which I find adorable (like seeing them trying to help), but I also loathe (hate the waste and mess).  I was already teetering on frazzled, and after that point yesterday I kinda went down hill.  Got dinner on the table, but then kids were off to commitments and basket ball and no one stayed to help me clean up the kitchen.  Time to re-asses our vision and how to get there.  Wish I had more time to think and read and figure it out, but alas, my brain is muddled.  The kids are keeping their educational goals to go to Chuck A Rama on Saturday, but no one is keeping their "Help Mom Clean" commitment that we scheduled from 4 to 5.  If I don't get help around here cleaning, I don't care how much they've practiced music or read, I'm not gonna feel they've earned a lunch date with dad.  I took my concerns to the kids during scripture reading (which was past our 9:30 bedtime).  Don't give up, we'll get there slowly but surely, (unfortunate emphasis on the slowly.)

Monday, January 28, 2013


Last Thursday night it was late but I insisted we talked about our family vision.  The kids were drowsy after scriptures, but I promised it would be quick.  I explained basically what a 20 year vision was hoping to just to get it started in our family dialogue and we'd revisit it in detail later. I asked them questions like "Will you be married" and "how many kids do you think you'll have?" and to my surprise they all perked right up and got very excited (too excited for 11pm) telling me all about their plans.  Ethan, always the one to have to out do the others, said he's gonna have 13 kids (He'll only be 30 years old) ~ I told him good luck with that.

We tried to review our vision again last night, something that (committing myself to policy here) we will do every Sunday evening from here on out, cause Sunday is our "Family Planning Night" where we'll review our vision, maybe recite a family motto or pledge, and we'll see if we're on target and talk about the schedule the upcoming week.

Since it wasn't late yet, last night we were able to talk about all 3 visions in more depth - "A House United" suggests having a 20 year vision, a 2 year vision, and a 2 month vision.  Our 20 year vision is a big winter party in 2012 (ski trip or Christmas gathering or both), our 2 year party we're turning into a 2 1/2 year party so we can do something in summer time, I'm thinking it'll be a road trip or some kinda camping and water party excursion.  (Maybe a cruise if Corey makes it big by then!) Our 2 month vision is a fancy dinner where everyone contributes an entree to the menu.

So, getting to my point here, last night, with the book "A House United" and a notebook in hand, we had a great family meeting.  The big insight came after I talked about some fun things I want to do, the kids all got excited again and had tons of ideas too, we were writing them down, and it dawned on me that this is good - the kids and I actually DO have the same vision!  Everything I suggested made their eyes light up and just put fuel on the fire, then they suggested things faster than I could write and I was like "that sounds awesome!  That would be really fun!"   We ARE on the same page!  So no need to be frustrated that the kids aren't with me - they do understand and want the same thing! 

The kink in the system revealed itself again as Ethan said "Mom, we always plan out these things and I get really excited, but then we never do them!"  (Mel and I had that epiphany on her 1 on 1 last week and we resolved "This is our year to DO.") "You are right!" was my reply, "You know why?  It's cause it takes all my energy just trying to keep up with the dishes and feeding you guys.  This is too much for me to do without you guys - I can't do this all alone..." Corey concurred "We need your guys' help.  These fun things won't happen without you guys working hard and contributing."  Corey told the kids everyone who make goals and does them every day this week gets treated to Chuck A Rama for lunch on Saturday.  Kids were sold on that idea easy.  Then we talked more about "doing" and I remembered the Night at the Museum quote by General George Armstrong Custer as he proudly declared: We're Americans, we don't plan, we do! and modified it to be one of our family mottos: We're Wrides ~ we don't just plan, we DO!
So then we made our plan to get there, and after getting the kids to calm down from their excitement for what is in store and "ok, no more suggestions now, let's just take the first two" then we made a basic family daily schedule which starts off with a bang ~ (drumroll) We are getting up at 6:30 (we all did it today!), then I took each of them individually and we made their personal schedule, cause they all have different school schedules and time needed for their goals.  Joe will wake up and head out, the other kids have time to do their goals in the morning.  Mel's already practiced her flute today - wow. I think Ethan is the busiest cause he had to up his siblings' wimpy "30 minutes music & reading" goals and he's doing an hour of each.  I think we can use this sibling competition to our advantage!  So Ethan's schedule is really tight, but with the 2 hours in the morning instead of 1, he got his reading done from 6:30 - 7:30 this morning. Good job, Eth!

Anyway, it was great.  And since Hyrum is my homeschool helper (and cause he doesn't have PE), his 3rd goal this week is "Exercise with Mom" at we planned it for 8:30 am after the other kids are off to the bus.  Win-win, Hyrum's gonna help me stay committed to exercising cause I gotta help him cause it's one of his Chuck a Rama goals this week.  Go team!  As we make our goals each Sunday evening we'll plan a reward for the Saturday, which was one of the kids' wishes, doing fun stuff on the weekend.  We got it planned, and "We don't Just plan, WE DO!!!"

Friday, January 25, 2013

Drawing Lines

Ok, had to come and share this too - chapter 8 "Family Government" -Before the US existed, New Amsterdam was here, a colony settled by the Dutch.  They were left by the king of the Netherlands to govern themselves.  They made good roads, homes, and a popular seaport which was one of the biggest trade centers in America.  Now quoting from page 78:

"After a while of governing themselves, and having no real rules, the citizens of New Amsterdam became lazy.  They let their homes and roads fall into disrepair (sounds like my messy house!), they started letting their animals run loose in the city, they never attended church, and they started drinking heavily.  Crime went up, and the city fell into ruin.  Without a vision of what they wanted New Amsterdam to be like, and without any set boundaries for living and making choices, the people floundered as governors of their city.

"When things hit a low point in New Amsterdam, the king of the Netherlands sent over a new governor to straighten things out.  His name was Peter Stuyvesant.  Stuyvesant immediately drew lines between what was good acceptable behavior and what was bad inappropriate behavior.  He made consequences for wrong actions, instituted days of worship, and rules for how the city must be kept in repair.  People were held accountable for their actions under his rule.  At first the people resisted and mocked his strict leadership, (my kids might resist these changes...) but after a short time of boundaries and standards, the people were happier (Happiness? Happiness is good...), more successful in business and family relationships (Success?!  Well, that sounds good too!) and enjoyed his leadership.  Ultimately a street was named for this hard nosed Dutchman.  The people were grateful for Stuyvesant's rules and consequences, because then they were able to learn that a person, or people, must learn to govern themselves strictly according to what is right an what is wrong in order to find success in their governing.

"After some years, the Duke of York won a battle against the Dutch settlers and new Amsterdam as changed to New York.

"It's easy to see from these Dutch settlers that a people left to govern themselves with no rules, vision, values, or consequences, will eventually stray from the productive path to happiness."

Ok, so there's a quote, and as I read it first and then again as I typed it, I just had bells ringing in my head the whole time - ding-ding-ding!  There's the answer, Tiff!  We've got values, but no real rules or consequences, we kinda just make those up as we go, and then end up struggling to enforce those consequences or defend them as the kids compare them to past consequences we gave (which I can never remember but the kids always seem to).  We need clearly defined boundaries!  We need a plan, a vision!  Kids get anxious if they don't know what the day will bring or what their responsibilities are each day.  "Where there is no vision, the people perish." - Proverbs 29:18

I have 8 kids, and yes that's a lot.  (Feels like more on some days than others...)  And with another baby on the way, I know things are not going to slow down or calm down or get any easier any time in the next 10 years, possibly ever?  So, self, you've got to get a handle on this. We've got to have a plan so we can manage ourselves or we're always going to be surviving instead of thriving.  I want to thrive, dream, have the happiest home I can, a place where there is a feeling my kids love.  Tonight we're going on a little overnight trip up Ogden canyon.  I am going to bring this book and a notepad and we're going to talk about our vision and plan our Christmas party in 20 years and talk about what makes our home happy, what they want, what my kids wish for in our home.  I want their dreams of home to be real, and I bet they are right inline with mine.  We just need to write them down, have a vision, then have a plan of how to get there with rules, values, and consequences.  I liked these Duggar family guidelines, we'll probably modify/merge them with some of the Peck family's rules as we write our family rules.

Vision: Do It

Yesterday morning I had to get my focus if I was going to make a positive contribution to the family.  The good and bad of it:

Good: I typed up my blog post here (which helped me)
  Bad: ...instead of wake up the kids.
Good: they woke up on their own.
  Bad: ...about 15 minute before the bus was coming.
Good: I kept up my typing therapy to clear my head.
  Bad:... instead of making their lunches.
Good: Mel made the lunches.
  Bad: but they missed the bus
Good: I finished my post and then drove them to school.  Luckily we didn't have any of the ice rain up here.

So, it ended on with more goods, so we're good.  After getting the kids off, Sophi woke up, and 8:30 is a little early for her, it's a little early for all of us cause as I said yesterday, I'm not good at managing things and we stay up way too late trying to get things done, cause it takes us so long to get everyone to stop playing toys or their saxophone and go brush and floss and everyone sit down, listen, shh!  So this morning we were all tired, Sophia was so cranky, she cried whenever I set her down, she just wanted to be held.  So I didn't do jack during the morning, but I did try to read to Sophi (drop of awesome) but she wasn't interested.  She finally fell asleep around noon.  She usually sleeps for maybe two hours.  I decided instead of attacking the house I'd figure out a master plan.  Looking over my parenting books pile, A House United spoke the loudest saying "Choose me!" so I did and proceeded to read for the next 4 1/2 hours as Sophia took the longest nap ever and my therapy was complete.  A House United totally hit the spot - Mrs. Peck's going to show me how to get a system of family government going here, Self Government, which I know still includes us leading out as parents, but if we can properly manage ourselves as parents and help the kids learn to manage themselves, boy, things are gonna be good! 
I had read parts of this book before, but I was too impatient to get to her solutions and I skipped over quite a bit.  This time I'm forcing myself to read it completely through so I don't miss any of her insights or tips or how to properly implement them.  The author and her family were on a British Reality show called "The World's Strictest Parents" which we saw and heard about in 2009 which is when I bought this book.  Here are the clips from their episode if you want to watch:

part 1:
part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5 - part 6
(we've watched quite a few of those with the kids which has been fun, opens up lots of great discussion topics!)

Nicholeen had a really good analogy that I liked, about a time she was swimming in a murky lake for a race - she had to keep clearing her foggy goggles and then looking up to keep her focus on the shore's finish line, she was able to find her rhythm when she was alone, but if other swimmers passed her she'd get hit or splashed around too much and lose her rhythm and have to focus again to find it, and I feel like that's what I'm searching for right now, trying to find my rhythm when life is tossing me on it's waves and splashing me a bit more than I'd like.

I'm anxious again to get on to how I put a plan in place to find my rhythm, but going to keep reading through it page by page.  I liked chapter 5 which I don't think I read last time - "It Starts With You" - which made me think of this great post I read "Forget About Time Management, Let's Talk About Self Management" and also she mentions finding your mission or dream in life and says "People who live their dreams, or missions, are infections.  Soon others feel that they have something special to give to the world too... If we live our missions, our children will better understand what it looks like to have a family mission and to live by that mission." (pg. 40)

Which statement reminded me of a book my friend recommended and shared with me called "Dare, Dream, Do" by Whitney Johnson, so going to start with myself.  So much to read and learn and then most importantly DO, I need to start really doing and taking life by the horns.  I took Mel to Hobby Lobby for a 1 on 1 date, we got lots of ideas for knock off projects we want to do, she said "We always talk about stuff and we have lots of stuff (like the sketch pads and canvas boards that were in our cart) so we can do stuff, but we never do it."  Mel and I resolved "This year, this is the year that we stop just having ideas, we're gonna start doing."  This is our year to do.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


I remember loving making mazes when I was a kid, anyone else?  Although I think I was 4th or 5th grade when I was on my maze kick.  Wes must be ahead of where I was developmentally, cause this 2nd grader is all about mazes right now.  So he has expanded his professional title and is no longer just Mr. Artist, he's Mr. Maze.  Here he is barely out of bed and ready for some breakfast, and it made me smile to see him so sleepy eyed yet wasting no time to get back to work at finishing his maze - I think he fell asleep with it in his hands.
I like seeing the kids busy with their own projects.  Ethan's been busy with his new year's school goals of reading and practicing his sax every day.  Mel's busy with dance, flute, and young women's, Joe with basketball and school, Hyrum doesn't seem as busy but that's cause he gets all his work done during the day homeschooling, so he's able to have some downtime making mazes with Wes in the evenings.  Wes just has reading and math for his homework.  And the little girls just walk around all day making messes. 

I feel like I'm lost in a maze right now, somewhere very far from the finish mark.  Yeah, probably in one of the deceptive dead ends Wesley intentionally makes (how rude).  Kids are busy and I am so not on top of it as a manager of this household.  Maybe it's cause I'm recovering from being AWOL with the flu last month.  I broke out my parenting book library briefly last night cause as I returned spent from Scouts to a tornado of a home, I just thought "let's just turn off the lights and pretend this is all gone - let's go to bed, I'm worthless right now, but I might know where to begin in the morning..."  It's just 8 kids' lives picked up and thrown down wherever, "who knows where, who cares!!! (2:09)" (start at 1:37, but that whole thing is great, maybe I'll listen to that today as I clean to help me laugh at my life).  I told the kids "I am not doing a good job telling you what to do and what to clean, but is there a way that we could all get on the same page and YOU guys would want a clean house too?  And do things to clean and make a nice home on your own?  Cause I'm at a loss of how to do this - You guys are gone all day, Abi and Lily run around making messes, I can't clean this whole house on my own, I don't know how to be a parent, any tips kids?"  I am so not on top of it and need serious parenting survival help.

Large Family Logistics
The Parenting Breakthrough
A House United
How to Talk so Kids Will Listen

And I know that all families are different, different sizes, different environments, what works for me in wintery Utah in a home wouldn't work for us in perfect weather Chile in an apartment.  Still, if there's a book or blog where they just lay out their daily schedule and how they make their kids... successfully encourage their kids' participation in the work, that's what I need.  I'm hoping Large Family Logistics will help me learn how I can be a good manager, The Parenting Breakthrough help me make my plan of attack.  A House United help me give proper negative consequences for kids that are struggling getting on board with the system that I hope and pray I am able to get up and running, and How to Talk to Kids Will Listen to help me know how to communicate these ideals properly, if I figure out what those ideals are and how to implement them.  sigh.  And then maybe after all that I'll finish cleaning my desk or the laundry room and can reward myself by making a valentine wreath this weekend.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Funny Kids

In my bathroom is a scale.  The children like to step on the scale cause of the bright blue light that shines from it and cause it responds with a fun click when you step on or off of it.  I was brushing my teeth last night when Ethan came in and proceeded to weigh himself.  After seeing his weight, he gave a dramatic reaction that made me laugh as I heard it through the ears of a woman who does not like that scale right now (being pregnant) and seeing the rapidly rising number that shows up each week:

"AHHH!!  64 again!!!  It's always 64!  It's been 64 for 2 years!!!  (not sure if that is fact, but again, he was being dramatic) Why can't I gain weight?!?  I want to get to 70 soooo bad!!!"  

So I was trying not to spit my toothpaste on the mirror as I laughed and brushed.  He didn't know what was so funny.  We joined the family on the floor of the girls bedroom for scriptures and prayer, I told them what Ethan said, Corey laughed.  Joseph, being SO much older than Ethan, yet still sympathetic as he remembered when he wanted to grow big and strong, said "Don't worry Ethan, another 2 years when you're grown up like me..." at which Corey and I started to laugh again.  Corey - "Sorry to break this to you, Joseph, but you're still a small fry yourself.  That's like listening to Abi tell Lily stories and say 'when I was a little girl...'"  We were all chuckling.  It was fun.  A few other funny things said yesterday and this morning that brought a smile to my face:

~ Abi, looking outside with little girl fear in her eyes: "I'm never going outside again until the snow's gone."  Amen, Abi, I'm right there with you.  Still, it's not as bad here as it is for my friend in Maine where it was -17 around noon yesterday.  Corey said "Why... why do people live there?"  with a blank look like the student does throughout this video (:43)

(Driver's Ed is really funny too, so there's one more for your viewing pleasure, my kids love these)

~ Wes talking about the indoor recess that they constantly have at school (since it's so cold): "All I ever do at recess is just sit there."  They were each trying to plead their case as to who should be able to take the Rush Hour game to school. 

~ and lastly, Lily's just got the cutest little toddler voice lately, starting to use bigger words and sentences but still sounds so little, she said to me as I gave her a mug of hot chocolate, with a big smile and giving me a hug: "You're my best Mom on earth!"

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A New Baby!

Lily was "playing" with her foam blocks (which means she took the whole container of toys and dumped them out on the floor...) and after a few minutes lost interest and started playing with the container they had been in, going around the house and having each of us take turns getting inside.  Corey and I didn't really fit in very well, but I had a baby on my lap who liked it:
then we called to the other kids and proudly announced "Look what we bought!  We got her at the 'Baby Store'.  That's where babies come from.  This one wasn't on sale, but it was the cutest one, we just had to buy it!"

Saturday, January 19, 2013


Just some pictures from last week when we went up to Midway.  The kids were remembering the good ol' days when we had a pool just right out the back door.  But Jr. High is too cool, so Joe's not ready to take a trip to Latin America any time soon.  Oh, fine.
Even Sophia and I came, which doesn't happen all that much.  We usually divide and conquer, so for all of us to be there was the highlight of the trip for me.  I think it was Sophi's first experience in a pool.  She seemed to be taking it all in and everyone was taking a number to be the next one to hold and play with her.
We had the whole pool to ourselves.  Pretty sweet.
Corey swimming experience was typical of that of fathers of young children: either he had 2-3 just-learning-to-swim kids hanging on him, or, if the newbies were in the hot tub with me, the gang of rowdy boys attacked. 
Mel never attacked, but did play along and let Corey rocket launch her into the deep end a few times.
My swimming cap from my college days was in the bag of swimming gear.  The kids used it as a waterballoon weapon of types and took turns playing Olympic swimmer. 
Ethan: "Do I look like Michael Phelps?"  "Totally - you're totally Michael Phelps, Eth."

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Ethan's Silver Sax

Monday night after Corey was praising Eth's saxophone playing, he told Ethan "Well, you keep this up and my hands are going to be tied - I won't have a choice but to buy you your own saxophone."  They were looking at a Cannonball brochure with all their cool saxophones, Corey likes that company cause they're local and BYU grads, and Ethan fell in love with the silver saxophone. 

Well, a little voice in my head told me to go look at the ksl classifieds.  So I did.  Lo and behold, right there at the top of the "saxophone" search was a silver alto saxophone for a great price.  Hmm...maybe it's cause it's a piece of junk, but let's check it out.  The next day we got a hold of the guy selling it.  Corey went down to Provo today and played it, turns out it's a great horn, so he bought it. Corey called me on the phone sounding a little guilty - "Is it okay for us to get such a great deal on a saxophone?  I mean this is perfect!  This is a great horn!  This is Ethan's saxophone..."  I mean, we'd already gotten Ethan to promise that if we got him a silver saxophone it would count for his birthday present for the next 3 years! So we're getting an excellent deal as his parents too!

Corey came home, he was so excited, he said "Can I give it to him tonight?"  I said let's try to wait - come on, Eth's birthday isn't til March.  Corey said he won't be able to sleep tonight if he doesn't, plus he's loose work hours tomorrow in the music store fussing over it, buying polish for it and looking at cases and neck pieces.  Best to just pass this on for now, so he brought it in.  Ethan was in the kitchen asking me about something, I just pointed over to his father and said "Go over there" with a smile, Ethan went over, saw the sax, Corey started playing it, Ethan stared in disbelief.  Then he started to protest in shock: "What?  WHAT?!?!?  I wasn't ready!!!"
I guess we hadn't let him ask and harass us enough yet?  Poor kid, he got what he wanted too quickly.  We've been teasing each other the past few days - "You know Eth, I heard that when a Mom sees her son share legos with his little brothers, that it makes them really really want to buy their son a silver saxophone."  When Ethan got home from school, he had Wesley come and get me "Ethan wants you"  I go in.  Ethan then addresses Wes and says "What did you want Wes?"  Wes replies shyly: "To play with your Helm's Deep?"  Then turning and looking at me with me with a knowing smile, he says "OF COURSE you can play with my legos!"  Then continues looking at me with his smile that said "You're going to get me a saxophone, right?"  I said "You share your legos?!?  I love it!  Get that boy anything he wants!"  Monday Corey also had told Ethan "Maybe we'll get you one in August after you audition and if you make the advanced band and need one..."
But tonight, Corey said with a smile "Well, an angel miraculously provided this saxophone and told us to give it to you."  Ethan still speechless.
Corey continues: "I guess God knew that you really meant it.  I mean, when you set goals and write them down and keep them, miracles happen."  Ethan continued to stare and gasp and sigh.  When Corey finally stopped playing and gave it to him, he just kinda held it and looked at it in awe, then he said "This is gonna turn me into Gollum!"  Which made me laugh - it is Ethan's precious.
They are in there having a jam session right now.  I love it.  Corey came in to me and said "They're getting really good!  I'm jealous.  I wish I'd had someone there to help me!"  He thinks there's no point in playing boring books, they just kill the fun of it and the kids lose interest.  Better to show them the cool and hard stuff and help them figure that out. 
Lily has joined them, she's doing the interpretive dance as she rocks on Corey's chair.
(Love that little grin.)

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Music Competition

Last Wednesday night Ethan had an open house at his school, which was recently renovated,  Joseph went with him and Corey so he could use the bathroom (cause of our blocked sewer - by the way, update on that - it seems to be working ok right now so we're just gonna spread out our water usage, no laundry and baths at the same time, and they'll probably fix the sewer main in the spring).  Ethan was pretty excited, and Joseph's Churchill pride was on strong defense.  Ethan and Corey were both impressed with the band and the music teacher.  In August Ethan is going to try out for ADVANCED BAND, and that is exciting news for the competing musicians Corey is trying to create among our children.  You see, this year the school district here is mixing things up and it's the first year that they're moving the 6th grade to middle school and the 9th grade to high school.  Joe is in a different district where they're keeping it the old way.  So, with Ethan entering jr. high as a 6th grader, he has an opportunity uniquely available to him....

Joseph is in Advanced Band as a 7th grader at his school, is lead Alto, and has a few solo parts in 3 songs that they are practicing for their spring concert.  The jr. high competitive musician boy that is still hiding in Corey soul somewhere will praise Joe for his accomplishment, and then tease how he's probably getting cocky cause he's so good, then he'll turn to Ethan and say - "Ethan, I can't go back in time and beat Joseph, so I need you to beat him.  If YOU made Advanced Band as a SIXTH GRADER!!!!  Now that would be amazing, that would beat Joe..."  Joseph on defense: "But I couldn't be in band in 6th grade, cause my school didn't have a 6th grade"  "Excuses excuses!"
Ethan made a new years resolution goal to practice the saxophone everyday for an hour and Corey's giving both of them all sorts of advanced musician assignments, like doing scales in the circle of 5th's. Corey says the saxophonist are known for being show offs prima donnas, so it's perfect for Ethan cause it gets to be all about him - "he's definately not a trombone player or a 2nd viola".  He is getting really good. Fun stuff.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Melodie got a puzzle for Christmas.  It's a 500 piece puzzle of a winter village.  Pretty tricky with all the trees covered with snow that look alike.  I got a little addicted trying to do it, it's a nice relaxing activity.  We had it all finished except for 6 pieces which were MIA because of little people like this:
Who like to take the pieces and line them up on the couch, or throw them on the floor, or hide them in random purses and baskets...
She was so cute trying so hard to stretch and reach for the pieces though, so we let her have them one at a time and just kept a close eye on her.

So the puzzle was almost done and we were looking under couches and cushions for the missing pieces, Melodie asked me "How many pieces are we missing?"  "Six.  Or is it 5?" and as I went to go look Joe did too and quickly sounded the alarm: "LILY!!!" Yes, the destroying angel strikes again.  The almost finished puzzle had just been raked over by two little hands that watched in amazement as a seemingly solid structure crumbled before her eyes.  She messed up a good 2/3rds of the puzzle.  
Mel said "Oh well... Hey, now we get to do it again!  But this time we have lots of help!" cause many of the pieces were still stuck 2 or 3 together.  We had almost pieced it back together within the hour, and this time Wes joined us and helped, it was fun to see him discover hard puzzles - he was really good at it!
It was fun.  After we finished we discovered that yes, it was 6 pieces missing.  Joe found 5 of them in a little bucket the next day.  So we're still missing one piece, not sure where to look for it, but we're lucky it's just one piece.  1 out of 500 isn't bad for this crazy house.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

"This Isn't Valley Forge"

I was dragging my feet when we went up to Midway on Wednesday.  We just up and left.  Corey and the kids packed food and clothes, I just got the toddler and baby ready.  We still had dirty dishes in the sink and plates with uneaten food left on the table, I hadn't had a chance to recover mentally from our scout den meeting which for some reason really drains everything from me, and Wednesdays are my crazy busy day for many reasons anyway, so after scouts was over all I really wanted to do was go lay down for a bit.  But it was too late to cancel our reservation, so off we went.

On the drive up the canyon, there were signs over the freeway that read "WARNING WINTER STORM TOMORROW AT 5PM"  Ok, I thought.  5:00 is about going to the the time that we'll be driving back up to Midway tomorrow after school, that's not good...  The kids had eye exams on Thursday, but I decided to cancel those, so I stayed put with the kids at home and wasn't driving up and down the canyon.  We just sat around all day watching Animal Planet and Discovery TV, but Abi was buggin' me to take her somewhere, I had no energy to go anywhere with 3 little girls, so she nagged all day and I said "no" all day feeling guilty and irritated each time.  My overall feelings most of that day were mopey and put out.  I tried to talk myself out of it.  Yes, I'd rather be home.  But yes, it's good that we're here cause we're not sure how much we can depend on our indoor plumbing to function properly.  Yes, I'd rather be home, but we have food, clothing, shelter, and are warm.  Time to remember George Washington and his rag-tag army that fought for my freedom and get some perspective again.

When we were living in out of suitcases for 9 months with 7 kids in a small apartment in Chile (poor me) Corey said one time "Come on, this isn't that bad... it isn't Valley Forge!" (At that time he was reading a George Washington book.)  His "This isn't Valley Forge" comment returns to my memory often when I'm feeling like a victim.  Suck it up, don't complain, you've got it amazingly great by almost every earthly standard out there.  So Thursday afternoon we just happened to watch "I shouldn't be Alive" about two guys in Alaska - (crazy what they went through, wow...) which reminded me of people who really do face extreme and desperate circumstances, and I thought~ "Yes, there's a storm coming in, and I'm feeling a little ticked cause we were warned about it yesterday on the drive up and could have avoided this whole situation... but remember 'Worry is the facade of taking action, while Prayer actually is.'" - (That gem is from A Thousand Gifts) So instead of worry, a text from my mother reminded me to pray.  (...Although part of me was shaking my head thinking that if Corey and the kids got stuck in the snow somewhere it would serve them right and prove that I was right in what I wanted and it would have been better to stay home in the first place).
Corey and the kids did have scary conditions as the drove up Parley's Canyon.  Corey finally decided to pull off at Kimball Junction and wait for the snow plows to clear things off a bit.  And as he was getting off the exit that was when they got stuck.  An angel named Drew came out of nowhere and helped them get the car into the McDonald's parking lot.  After chillin' there for an hour, they decided to scoot over to Walmart and buy tire chains for his car.  The usual 1 hour drive from SL to Midway was instead for them a 3 hour winter adventure.  "Just trying to make memories!" he said with a smile after they arrived safely back. 

We all went swimming and had a great time, that made the whole trip worth it for me, fun to see Corey throw the kids and see a swimming pool for the first time through Sophia's eyes. After time in the pool, we ran through the freezing snow storm back to our room.  Back in our warm quarters, I laughed as the kids were sad that the tv wasn't working.  "Oh no, NOW what are we going to do?!?  The cable isn't working!  Call someone to go out in the storm and get the snow off the dish or I might be bored the rest of the night, or even worse... have to engage in conversation with my family."  I was glad it wasn't working, and we all did have a little chat about the snow and life and other stuff.  But when any of the kids grabbed the remote to see if maybe the tv was working, this guy to the left came into my mind and I just had to laugh.

We drove back to Salt Lake yesterday.  The weather looked pretty good when we left Heber, but as we drove it would look bad, then worse, then scary, then ok, then scary again.  We both slid a little on the road, I got ahead of Corey when he stopped to pull over and clear off his windshield.  I let him know the road conditions ahead of him, I was so relieved when I got out of the canyon.  We went to his parent's house for a pit stop and I could hardly believe all the snow.  And it's gonna get sooo cold this weekend.  Looks to me like it's time for a little vacation in Costa Rica.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sewer Take 2

We are up in Midway right now, renting two rooms here for two nights cause our sewer at home backed up again.  We learned it's not totally blocked off, it drains slowly.  Tuesday night Melodie noticed it leaking again in the basement, only difference this time was that she noticed it with her eyes, not her feet, as there wasn't any carpet in the way to hide it.  When we saw it overflowing we knew this time we knew to stop using water - (hooray for experience?)  Corey had Mel use chalk to outline where the water was, then we put post-its on the toilet lids with instructions to not flush and I unhooked all the flush handles for the kiddos that don't read yet.

We called the plumber Wed morning, they came in the afternoon with their camera cable.  He asked if I wanted to watch the video, I said sure.  It was interesting at first, up until I was able to identify some objects that you'd expect to find in a sewer, then I felt a little awkward and excused myself.  (Kinda embarrassing to be there with a stranger knowing that they are looking at your family' #2s.)

So, they were able to find the problem, a pipe between our house and the main sewer line is misaligned.  NOT an easy fix.  They have to come rip up the street, won't that be fun?  Hopefully they can fix it on Monday.  So we have to keep our water very rationed til then - I have taken it upon myself to be the official flusher of toilets, I'm thinking maybe (hopefully?) we can flush one toilet every hour and it will not spill over.  But as for last night and tonight, Corey knew it would be easier to just leave for a few days, and he had been wanting to come up to Midway this winter anyway.  Gonna hopefully go sledding.  Swimming too, which will be fun.  :) 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Winter Wreath

"Baby, it's cold outside" has been the song of the month.  I took Joseph to school one morning and it was 2 degrees.  NOT my cup of tea.  This morning when I took him, however, it was a lovely 26, and I never thought the mid 20s would feel so nice, but it really was quite heavenly since it wasn't biting and you couldn't feel it in your bones.  Plus this was the first morning we took rice bags with us.  That might have also taken the edge off.  Love rice bags, they are a must have for winter survival.

I'm trying to finish taking down the last of the Christmas decorations today.  I took down the door Christmas Wreath on Saturday and then Melodie helped me make this winter wreath.  Turned out pretty good I think!
A wreath from the DI, spray paint, hot glue, some snipped off branches from a pretty tree outside, few pinecones, and a few left over Christmas decorations.  We might add a few silver ornaments.  Melodie also painted a little bird ornament to look like the golden crowned kinglet, which we learned over Christmas spends it's winters here in the Rocky Mountains, and it lives in pine trees, so seemed a good and appropriate bird to use.  (Aren't we just so knowledgeable!)
We learned that from a book about President Packer's art hobby.  We don't really know birds, but boy he sure does!  His artwork is inspiring to me, I need and want to create.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Lego Bow

Yesterday we had a momentous passing of the torch by the boys.  Joseph conceded to Ethan the title of Wride Kid Lego Master after seeing his Lego Bow - as in bow and arrow, not a hair bow.  Elastic band from my sewing drawer and an arrow stick from Home Depot.
Joseph - "Ethan, this bow is so cool..."
Ethan - "Since when do you give me compliments?"
Joseph with tone of "isn't it obvious?!" in his voice - "Hello?  Since you made this BOW!"
Ethan liked the respect he had earned and accepted it graciously.  And he deserved it.  His bow contraption was quite ingenious, we were all impressed.  I never would have conceived or been able to come up with something like that.  Although I've never pretended to claim the title of Lego Master.  But it looks like Ethan's gonna take after his father - we got a mentally wired math and computer genius on our hands.  He's already made a revised edition, gonna fine tune it and start a lego compact bow business maybe? 

Coconut Curry Soup!

I love Cafe Zupas.  Their grilled sandwiches hit the spot everytime.  I also love love their Thai Lobster Curry Soup.  I had a go at making a knock off version of it here at home Saturday, but didn't have any lobster, so we made due with some canned Salmon.  Here's the base recipe I found and used, (thank you google) slightly modified to look as follows:

1 onion, sauteed
2 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp coriander powder
3 diced potatoes
1 chicken bullion cube
2 cups water
14 oz. can coconut milk
24 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp red pepper flakes
6 oz. Salmon
1 cup cooked quinoa

It was gooood!  I'm in curry heaven.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hair Gel

Joe is soon to be a teenager.  Our first teenager, turning 13 next week!  Ah!  In preparation for this new chapter in his life, last night he asked me if I had any hair gel he could use.  hm?  I told him I had some got2b hair "glue" but it's real powerful stuff, just use a tiny bit.  Then I watched to see his next move.  Was this for another crazy hair day or needed for drama class?  This is new...

As we waited for kids to brush teeth before scripture reading, Joseph was in the bathroom trying out different styles.  Melodie and Ethan walked by separately and each asked as they gazed upon him with "Where is my brother Joe and what have you done with him" looks on their faces "What - are. you. doing..."  Corey piped up in Joe's defense. "Hey, back off kids.  Joe's taking the first step.  The first step to having style is realizing that there IS something called style.  Joe is becoming aware.  As for the rest of you..."  He went in and helped Joe dabble with tussling his hair this way and that.  "You want to be subtle, especially on your first attempt... don't make it too obvious"  I didn't get the camera in time to catch Corey in there helping, but it made me smile.
Luckily Joe was still working at is when I returned.  And Sophi was just leaving the bathroom after offering her tips and professional advice.  She's got style, she's a natural - look at that little palm tree up-do on top of her head.  What a babe.
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