Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Bodyworlds 3- Story of the Heart

Given my fascination with the human body, it shouldn't come as a surprise that I've been dying to see this exhibit since it came to Utah in September. Since admission is over $20 each, I decided not to bring the kids along.

Finally, on the day after Christmas, we got our chance. My mother in law agreed to babysit all four kids so J and I could go. We decided to take Trax because the roads were still icy from all the snow we've been getting. I love to people watch, so taking the train is always enjoyable to me. There were some teenagers on the train who were trying very hard to look tough and angsty. I hope I wasn't such a dork when I was their age, but I'm sure I came close. They had half smoked cigarettes in their mouths, unlit. One of them managed to drop his, and it slipped into a crack. They were trying to dig it out, but no luck. It was all I could do to not laugh out loud at them.

We got to the exhibit, and it was crazy busy. We bought tickets ($22 each, plus a dollar service charge, how lame is THAT?!), and then proceeded to wait in line for an hour and fifteen minutes to get in. I hate lines, but they assured us that it prevented the exhibit from being overcrowded. I'm sure it did help. There was a giant skeleton projected on the wall, and you could text a phone number, and your text would appear as a word bubble coming out of the skeleton's mouth. J texted "is my coccyx showing?" which I thought was pretty cute and funny. He also texted "I see dead people".

We finally got into the exhibit. It would've been better if about half of the people who were there weren't. Having said that, it was incredibly interesting. J had gone along to be a supportive husband, but admitted afterwards that he found the whole thing fascinating and was really glad he went.

One of the most interesting exhibits was the lungs. It showed the lungs of a non-smoker, the lungs of a smoker, the lungs of a smoker with cancer, and lungs with emphysema. I knew on paper what emphysema was, but to see these lungs with big holes in them was really sobering. Next to the lungs, they had information on quitting, and even a place where people could throw away their cartons of cigarettes right then and there.

I would highly recommend the exhibit, but with the caveat to try and go during a low crowd time.

Monday, December 29, 2008


When I was in high school, I had a boyfriend named J. It was a fairly intense relationship (what high school romance isn't?!), and when we broke up, it was extremely messy and unpleasant. There was no "let's be friends" here. During those turbulant times, I got to be pretty good friends with his dad and stepmom. They were both really great people. I would've liked to continue being friends with him, but I thought it wasn't wise. I also think out of loyalty to their son, they wouldn't have anyway. But, I have always wished all three well.

J's stepmom's obituary appeared in the paper this week, with her funeral being today. From the obit, I see that J did get married at some point (He said he wouldn't), which made me happy.

I would love to give condolences to the family, but although time softens everything, I think it would actually not be at all comforting for me to pop back into J's life, no matter how kind I was trying to be. I don't know, maybe I think much too much of myself. But, I have to admit there are certain times that I would not welcome a blast from my past popping back in to say hi.

So, I will say here that I am really sad to hear of stepmom's passing, and my deepest condolences go to the family. They will be in my prayers for comfort in this difficult time. Rest in Peace, R.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Christmas!

We had an absolutely wonderful Christmas.

Christmas Eve found us at my parents' house. Both of my uncles were there, along with my aunt, and their two teenage daughters. My sisters and their husband/boyfriend were there, as well as my grandmother. The food was fabulous, and the company was wonderful.

We went home, got the kids to bed. I had a moment of panic because a game that Santa was giving the kids was nowhere to be found. It did turn up, and we got everything set out. We simplified a lot this year. Santa gave each of the kids two gifts, a flashlight, and candy/fruit in their stockings. Then they each had one gift wrapped under the tree. Z was the exception- he got a whole bunch of Chevron cars. They all seemed very pleased with what they got.

We then went on our annual whirlwind visiting spree on Christmas. We started at my parents, then went to my grandmother's, then my grandfather/stepgrandmother, and then my dad's sister. After that, we went to my sister in law's house, where J's parents were. It was so wonderful to see everyone again.

I loved giving gifts this year. I felt like I gave things people really wanted. We got perfect gifts in return. S was such a hoot- she was wildly enthusiastic over every single gift she got.

I feel so blessed to have such a wonderful family, and to have married into such a great family. I have no interesting drama to report. My kids are fantastic, and I have an amazing husband.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The cruise, continued

Thursday was a sea day, so we relaxed on board. The Norwegian Dawn truly is a beautiful ship, and artistic touches are everywhere. We were invited to have dinner with the assistant hotel manager, and we jumped at the chance. Mr. Lee was a very charming and interesting man. He told us a lot of great stories of interesting things that had happened on board. Our table mates were also intriguing, and it was a wonderful dinner filled with great conversation.

Friday, we went to NCL's private island, Great Stirrup Cay. T
he island is not very large. The vast majority of the cruise guests congregate on the beach, so the beach is very, very crowded. In the shade a little further back, there are hammocks, which were very, very nice to relax in. We took a hike to the light house, which is small. In and of itself, it's not worth the walk, but the island is beautiful, and I enjoyed the walk. On the way to the lighthouse, we found the Great Stirrup Cay "International Airport". We both got a giggle out of that.

After that, we decided to snorkel. I was really annoyed because they require all snorkelers to wear a vest while snorkeling. However, they charge
a $5 rental fee for the vests, which struck me as a bit greedy and unfair. I think if they are going to require the vests, they should be free. It probably doesn't help that I had no desire to wear said vest. We decided to just snorkel without one and see if we got caught. They had a couple lifeguards. One of them pointed at us as we stood up to talk (yeah, it's that shallow for much of the swimming area), but we hurried and stuck our heads back in the water and swam off, and nobody actually confronted us.

The snorkeling wasn't as good, but we did see a half dozen or so lion
fish near the artificial reef, which I thought was incredibly cool. They've always been one of my favorite fish, so it was really exciting to see them.

The next morning, we had an early breakfast, and did express walk-off. This is available to people who are willing and able to handle their own luggage. We found ourselves off the boat much quicker than I expected. We found a taxi immediately, and were checked in at the airport by 8:45am. Unfortunately, our plane didn't take off til 1:45, and there was not much to do at the airport. Our plane was delayed an hour or so, but since we'd had a 3 hour layover in Atlanta, we were fine. We boarded our plane in Atlanta after a minor delay. The plane pulled away from the terminal, but as we were getting in line to take off, a mechanical problem was found. So, we had to turn around and go back. Thank goodness they let us off the plane while they worked on the issue. After waiting an hour and a half, it was determined that it couldn't be fixed quickly, so they found us another plane. We finally got loaded on that, and took off about 10 minutes before we should have landed in Salt Lake. What should have been a 3.5 hour flight was 5 hours due to a strong head wind and bad weather. Through all of this, I still felt pretty lucky. Airports all over the country were jammed due to bad weather. Most of the people on our plane missed connections in Salt Lake, which was disappointing. A significant number of people on board were traveling from Europe, and they looked dead on their feet. Best of all, we didn't have to deal with exhausted children.

We finally got to the airport a little after 1am. Luggage was a nightmare- none of the carousals were marked, and there was 3-4 flights of people looking for their stuff. There was also a ton of luggage in the middle of the baggage claim area from people who were stranded elsewhere in the country.

We ended up sleeping over at my parents' house (thanks mom and dad!) and left Sunday morning.

It was so, so good to see my babies again, and I'm glad to be with them.

But, even now, I'm finding myself pricing out cruises. I want to take the kids next time (I don't think I can ask my parents for a week of babysitting for a while), so I need to sell a few houses to afford that.

Between the two, I find...

I much prefer snorkeling to shoveling snow.

Our trip was absolutely fantastic. I missed the kids like crazy, but I have to admit it was nice to not have to worry about them, and just be a kid myself. A few times, we sat near the kids' buffet area. When we heard the kids screaming and crying, I have to admit J and I exchanged looks, and with a sigh of relief announced we were thrilled it wasn't our kids.

On friday, we dropped K off at school, and S at her Aunt J's to play so she could go to school too. We took the boys with us down to Grandma Jane's house. We then caught a ride to the airport. I found myself pacing around, talking to myself. I discovered that kids were just a good way to hide my inability to sit still and tendency to talk to myself.

The flights were smooth, and we found ourselves in Miami around 11:30pm. We took the shuttle to the Embassy Suites in Miami. It was a beautiful hotel, with a large spacious suite.

We slept well, then took a shuttle to the port the next morning. Embarkation was really smooth, and we found ourselves onboard within a few minutes. The Norwegian Dawn was an absolutely stunning ship. The art and attention to detail were breathtaking.

Before we left on the cruise, I posted on a website called cruisecritic.com. I joined a roll call group, and was able to meet quite a few people online who would be onboard with me. We had a get together scheduled for Sunday morning, but I was hoping to meet people before then. We were walking around the deck, when I suddenly heard someone yelling my name. It turned out to be Mimi and her husband, Chris. They are some of the funnest people I have ever met. They threw several awesome parties. Their parties were so fun that the ship's captain actually showed up!

As we were leaving muster drill, I saw one of th
e girls from the group. I got her attention, and we seemed to instantly click. I ended up counting Rochelle and Jack as fairly good friends by the end of the cruise. I also want to give a nod to "Mr. Fun" and his wife Patty. They were so smart, and great fonts of knowledge on fun things to do in each port. The "triplets", Julie, Wrayanne, and Sherry were also so much fun- they wore reindeer antlers and Santa hats the whole time. We also really enjoyed visiting with Dar & Gwenn. Marilyn and her husband were our trivia buddies, even though they kicked our butts.

Sunday morning was the cruise critic get together. We had
a surprisingly big group show up. We came from several age groups and several walks of life, but it made for a fun and interesting group. It was so fun to instantly have a dozen or two friends on board. We were constantly running into people from our group, and it was an absolute blast. I will never book a cruise again without joining a CC roll call group as well.

Monday was our day in Samana, Dominican Republic. J lived there for two years, so he was anxious to see the country again, though we would be hours from where he had lived. It was a very beautiful, but very poor country. As we began our tour, I saw this pickup truck filled with people. A few minutes later, we passed it. It had begun raining, and the people had a big tarp that they were holding over their heads.

Our tour took us to the Devil's Mouth, which was very cool. It was a blowhole about 50 feet or so from the ocean. It was really quite impressive.

After that, we drove on very small dirt roads to Playa
Rincon, which was easily the most beautiful beach we saw on our cruise. We would've loved hours and hours to explore this beach, but unfortunately, we were only given 20 minutes to look around before the tour operators had to load us up again and get us back to the pier at the time that the cruise line demanded. We were terribly disappointed about this, and more than a little angry with the cruise line for not allowing enough time to enjoy the beach.

I put together a bunch of little goody bags for the chi
ldren of the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, we didn't have time to really stop and interact with the kids, so we ended up tossing them out of our tour bus when we saw kids by the side of the road. It was disappointing that we weren't able to actually talk with the kids, but hopefully it brightened their day a little.

The next day, we went to Tortola. We were scheduled to go on a s
hip sponsored snorkeling tour of Virgin Gorda's Baths, but the excursion was cancelled at the very last minute. They didn't notify us in a timely manner, so we weren't able to get a ferry to do the excursion on our own as several of our cruise critic friends did.

We ended up hiring a guy off the street to give us a tour of Tortola, and then take us to Cane Garden Beach. In and of itself, it was a great tour, and we saw some beautiful views from the top of the island. We still only had about 20 minutes on the beach, and we used that time to body surf, as the water was fairly rough. We met a lady on the tour named Mrs. Lazurus. She was in her 80s, and a real character. I was thrilled to get to know her, and ran into her numerous times on our vacation.

Wednesday was our day in St. Thomas. Thank go
odness we had no excursion scheduled though Norwegian Cruiselines (I couldn't commit to a beach). So, we took a tender to shore at 8:30am. It was pouring rain, and none of the shops were open where we were dropped off. No matter, they looked to be high end, and selling stuff I wouldn't pay for. We met up with Mike and his wife from CC, and decided to share a cab with them to Coki Beach. We first had to take a dollar cab to the downtown area. A local told us about it, and even rode the cab with us for a bit. It was set up exactly like the tour buses, except they had bicycle horns. If you wanted to get off, you honked the horn and the guy stopped. The ride was supposed to be $1. We watched other locals be charged that, and chatted with everyone as we rode. When we got off, the driver tried to charge us each $4. We fought him, and the locals on the bus even got involved. He ended up literally throwing our change at us and stomping off. We didn't care.

When we arrived at Coki Beach, it was 9:00, and pr
actically deserted. We were thrilled, as we had heard that it was usually crazy crowded, and with 5 or 6 ships in port that day, it was rumored to be even worse than usual. The snorkeling was really good, and we saw a lot of fish and coral. If you are looking out to sea, there is more coral at the left side of the beach. The right side had more fish and easier snorkeling, but a lot more people.These rainbow looking fish were amongst my favorites, but they were really difficult to properly photograph.

Around noon, we decided Coki was getting too crowded, as a ton of people had arrived from the tours. We took a cab over to Secret Harbor.
It truly was a secret. There was very people there, and several friendly iguanas. The snorkeling wasn't nearly as good, but we did see a sea turtle there, which made the trip well worth it.

By this point, we were getting pretty tired and hungry, and I was feeling a bit pink from all of the sun, so we headed back to town. We shopped around a little bit, but didn't see anything interesting, so we headed back on board.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Going, going gone!!!

We leave tomorrow morning for our cruise. I am really excited, but I have to admit I am going to miss my babies like crazy. I am trying to be only excited, but I got a little weepy as I was putting them to bed.

I know they will have a lot of fun with our family this week. I know they'll be well taken care of. We will have a blast, as will they. But, it's still hard to leave them. I will take it as a sign that I'm a good mom.

Monday, December 8, 2008

I heart insurance

I really, really do.

The little kids are still sick, so no morning gym time for me. This evening, I cooked dinner for the family, then went to a kickboxing class.

About halfway through, one of the ladies at the front desk pulls me out of class. While this would not be totally unheard of if I had my kids with me, they were all home. She tells me that my husband called, and wants me to call him immediately. Oh great.

I grab my cell phone, and sure enough, I missed a phone call, and there's a text. The text says, "911". This is not good.

I call him, and find out that I need to come home and take M to get stitches. In the head. Again.

Apparently, M and K started having a sleeping bag fight. (Sister M, cover your eyes here) I bought a couple sleeping bags for my sister for Christmas, and they were in the front room. Long story short, they were throwing them at each other, and being heavy, high quality bags, one knocked M into my cedar chest.

My husband was downstairs with the younger two, and M comes downstairs, blood pouring off his head, soaking his shirt, and leaving a blood trail along the way (thank goodness for tile and wood floors throughout the house). After a minor freakout, J gets him cleaned up and is calling me at the same time.

I take M to the IHC Kidscare in Layton (LOVE LOVE LOVE that place!). In the car on the way over, M remarks that he's "getting bored with getting hit in the head". The nurse remembers us from the eye incident back in August. That's somewhat touching, but somewhat disturbing. She agrees that it definitely needs stitches. Not staples, not glue, but stitches.

She gets him nicely cleaned up and numb, and the doctor put in 5 little stitches. We are supposed to go back on Friday to have them removed. That seems awfully soon, but that would work out better for us. This way, I can take him back on the way to the airport, and my mom or grandma won't have to deal with it while we're out of town.

We get home, and K is still a mess. She's feeling horribly guilty that she was responsible for hurting her brother. She told J that she wished it'd been her. He retorted that no, SHE breaks her wrists. It's up to M to do the head wound thing. She did not see the humor in it.

Then, she was in bed, and somehow, a snow globe toppled off the shelf above her bed, shattered all over her. Glass, glitter, and water all over her and her bed.

I changed her sheets while she showered.

I'm ready for bed.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Starting to pack for the cruise

Today we started packing for the trip. Since it's winter (sort of) here, most of the clothing we'll need on our trip isn't currently being used, so we can get the bulk of our packing done ahead of time.

I left my suitcase on my bed for a while. When I came back, this is what it looked like:

The hawaiian looking shirt, the letterman style jacket and the car are all Z's. I'm getting the feeling that he thinks he's coming. When I was carrying the suitcase up from the basement, S asked me where WE were going.

I am so excited for this trip, but I am going to miss my babies so much.

Sleeping with a toddler

Z has had a rotten cold for the past few days. He is just so miserable.

The FDA withdrew all decongestants for children under 2, saying that they were not effective, and the risks outweighed the benefits. I was a bit stunned- I am not real big on medications for my kids unless absolutely necessary, but decongestants when they had colds was a HUGE thing for me. From what I understand, most of the side effects were occurring when the child was accidentally overdosed, though sometimes the product was being used as directed.

I just am not entirely sure that was a good move. If the people who caused the recall did so by not using the product exactly as directed, what's to stop them now? Worse, now they are having to guess at the proper dose, as dosing instructions appear for kids age 6 and up.

Since the recall, I have tried to use alternative methods for treating a stuffy nose in my younger kids. I must say that I have had miserable results. So, I have become one of "those" parents in a new way. I buy the triaminic cough/congestion strips, and give Z 1/4 of one when he gets really bad. It is extremely effective for him.

The last two nights have been miserable for him. Night before last, I tried the alternative ways of treating him, with no success. He woke up crying in the night several times. He couldn't breathe, and he had all kinds of crud coming out of his eyes. I put him in bed with me, because if nothing else, Mommy makes everything a little better.

Sleeping with a sick toddler is like sleeping with a bag of angry cats, only a little less peaceful. He was rolling all over, kicking, snorting, flailing. He ended up perpendicular to us. He would take turns which direction he would lay- so sometimes I was getting kicked in the face, and sometimes it was J. Considering J had taken Nyquil, he was blissfully unaware of any of this.

Last night started out the same way, except he seemed even more miserable, if you can believe it. Around 2am, I finally broke down and gave him some of the triaminic. Ahhhhhh, bliss! Within a half hour, his nose started to drain so he could breathe, and he immediately quieted down and went to sleep. This morning he woke up really chipper, though he's a walking snot bubble again. He does seem to be developing a mild case of
Papyrophobia (fear of paper, especially tissues coming near his nose), but is otherwise unscathed.

Upon checking my sheets, there are snail trails all over the bed where he was attempting to sleep. Note to self: when having a snotty baby in bed with me, have light colored sheets so snail trails aren't visible.

I hope he gets over this cold soon.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Gas Prices

I started to anesthetize myself when buying gas when prices were over $3 a gallon, so I hadn't much paid attention to how much I was spending on gas. I wasn't making unnecessary trips, and I always do what I can to maximize my mileage, so I didn't see the point of freaking out when I was spending $60-$70 to fill up my car.

So, imagine my shock when I filled up yesterday.
I got 15.7 gallons, which is pretty much a full tank. I paid $24.70. I was nearly speechless. I saved the receipt, just so I could giggle about it. I would be grinning like an idiot if gas prices ever got down to $.88 a gallon, the lowest I ever remember seeing prices since I've started driving.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Train Cake

Tonight we are celebrating the birthdays of my sister in law, two brothers in law, and a nephew. (We'll celebrate three more birthdays in December. That's a ton of birthdays for this time of year. My mother in law got to the point where she was threatning to kidnap her children to her house for the months of March and April to prevent and more December birthdays from joining the family. LOL)

My nephew is turning three, and is becoming a train fanatic. It's a bit nostalgic for me, as M was a huge Thomas nut for years, and is just barely recovering from it.

I am charge of dessert, so I made an egg free, nut free train cake:

I realize it is definitely not professional quality, but I don't think you *CAN* get an allergen free cake from a bakery. At least not at a price I am willing to pay. I usually do my egg/nut free cakes from scratch, but I am still feeling tired from Thanksgiving, and used mixes. The engine is a funfetti cake, and the cars are chocolate. Instead of using eggs, I used 1/3 c. applesauce per egg (so I used 1 c. applesauce per mix, as each mix called for 3 eggs). I don't think it rose nearly as much, but it was pretty close. It also seemed wet. I don't know how it'll taste until I eat a piece tonight. Let's hope it tastes good.

I also took the lazy way out on Thomas' face. I did a Thomas cake for M, and the face was pretty much impossible to make look "right". So, I printed up a color picture of Thomas, cut out his face. Then, I "laminated" it using packing tape so that the butter in the frosting wouldn't leave grease marks on the face.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Why my husband is grounded from his Rhino

He swears he was driving in a safe and cautious manner.

Hmmm. Do we believe him? Let's review. Photo from a trip he took back in May. (he is looking over my shoulder now and commenting he doesn't even have "good" pictures from the trip in May. Perhaps I should check him for brain damage, as that is NOT a bright thing to mention just now...)

Here's a couple photos from trips he took with my dad and my father in law last month.

Cautious and safe? Uh huh. Sure. At least they wear helmets and seat belts.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Sad ending to a happy day

I took a whole bunch of wonderful photos of all the yummy food I cooked for Thanksgiving. I was all set to post them tonight, but we made a sad discovery.

K's leopard gecko has died. She has not been eating well for a couple months and has seemed sluggish. I have worried a bit about it, but several google searches have assured me that it's common for a leopard gecko to go somewhat dormant in the wintertime, so I decided to not fret. I didn't remember her doing it this much last winter, but I am a bit senile, so who knows?

We got home tonight and discovered she was gone. Poor K is pretty upset about it. We put the gecko in a tissue box, and we'll bury her tomorrow. I have offered to buy her a new gecko, but I'm not sure if she'll do it right away or not.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I have to admit I am a huge fan of the book series. I have read them all multiple times, and own all of them.

I am going to the movie tomorrow night. A girlfriend and I are dragging our husbands to the movie by promising them dinner first.

I always like the books better than the movie, but I am still really looking forward to the movie. I do have to admit I am a bit disappointed with their casting of Edward. While I like Cedric (Robert Pattinson played Cedric in the Harry Potter movies), I got a glimpse of Henry Cavill, who was Stephenie Meyer's original choice for the movie. Oh. My. Gosh. I developed the biggest starcrush on him immediately.

For comparison, here is Robert Pattinson:

And here is Henry Cavill.

Be still my heart!

Am I alone in wishing that Mr. Cavill got the part? Don't get me wrong, I think Robert Pattinson is a very talented actor, and he will make a good Edward. I was perfectly happy with him as Edward til I saw Henry Cavill.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Before I Eat

More horses in the yard

When speaking to G yesterday, I told her that we were ok with the horses being tethered in the back portion of our yard to graze. They had hung up the phone by then, so I didn't know if they had heard that or not.

I halfway expected them to approach us yesterday when we were outside and talk to us about it. But, they did not acknowledge us in any way, shape or form.

Just now, I glanced out the back yard, and this is what I see:

I guess they took us up on the offer. I am more than happy to provide pasture, I have been worried about the horses. But, I would've been happier if the horse owners had talked to us before hand, if nothing else, just to tell us how wonderful and generous we are. We also would've been open to them temporarily changing the fencing arrangements to allow the horses free rein (heh heh) of the back part of our yard.

Oh well, I guess this just makes it tougher for them- doing it this way, they have to babysit the whole time they're in our yard to make sure they won't wander off.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Chasing Horses

Our next door neighbors are boarding three sweet horses. Two mares and an older filly. Both of the mares are pregnant. They are all very nice, friendly horses. Unfortunately, they are also very hungry. They have quickly almost decimated the weeds/grass in their yard. I've seen the horses' owners bringing hay in, but apparently it wasn't enough.

This morning as I was loading kids into the car, I glanced over and saw one of the mares in our neighbor's front yard. I told the kids I was sure she was tethered there so she could get to some fresh grass. As we drove by, however, I could tell she was NOT tied up. So, I stopped the car and knocked on my neighbor's door.

"Hey, G, guess what you have in your front yard?"

"Um, what?"

"A horse!"


I got an apple from her to lure the horse back to the fenced part of the yard while she called the horse's owners. The horse was happy to see me, and followed me back. She had bent a fence post just enough to get through. It was tight enough that I didn't see an easy way to convince her to go back into the fenced portion. So, I gave her the apple. She finished, and then saw our back yard, full of grass and alfalfa. She made a beeline for it.

Meanwhile, her fellow horses had noticed she was out, and they were going a little crazy, calling to her.

By this time, my kids are very nearly late to school, so I had to go. When I got home, all horses were back in their yard.

I told my neighbor that the horse owners were welcome to tether the horses in our yard to give them a little something extra to eat. I hope they take me up on it. I have been genuinely concerned about whether or not the horses are getting enough.

Friday, November 14, 2008

So excited I could cry!

We found a last minute killer deal on a cruise. J and I couldn't pass up the opportunity to spend seven days in the Caribbean for under $250 per person, so we booked yesterday!!!! We are going sans kids. My parents are taking them the bulk of the time (Thank you mom and dad!!!) with my grandma taking them two of the kids two nights, and my sister in law taking the other two for two nights (Thank you grandma and K!!!!). We get back home just in time for Christmas!

I am so excited about this. The last two trips J and I have taken alone, I have been in early pregnancy, and had a tendency to vomit if jostled or carried across more than one time zone.

So, if you have been to Samana, St. Thomas, Tortola or Great Stirrup Cay, I would love love love to hear your opinions on what we should see.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


I guess it's bound to happen to nearly every little girl. I never cut my own hair, but I've gotten the impression that's the exception, not the rule. My girls seem to be intent on playing out that rule.

S grabbed the scissors off the kitchen counter and gave herself a little trim tonight. This is how it looks if I hold the upper portion of her hair back.

And if I leave it alone.

Either having four children has made me numb to getting too upset about this sort of thing, or the fact that K gave herself what seemed to be a much worse haircut has made me not terribly upset about the whole thing. Sure, I'm not thrilled, but I don't think it's that noticeable.

To refresh your memory, here is a picture of K the evening after she cut her hair.

K had been in the process of growing her bangs out. They were driving her crazy. Because she'd been asking me to cut her hair, I was suspicious of her, so I'd been hiding the scissors on top of the fridge. She snuck downstairs, and gave herself a little trim. When she saw all the hair on the floor, I think she realized she'd done a bad thing. To try and hide the evidence, she used the handvac (seen in the picture) to try to get rid of the hair. She also scooped up hair and threw it in the garbage. The noise of the vacuum was what tipped me off to what was going on, and she was caught.

I won't lie. I was seriously upset. It didn't help that my mom laughed until she cried. She swore it would be funny one day. Well, I guess it is a little funny now, but it sure wasn't at the time.

If nothing else, it's made me take S's haircut in stride, because I know all too well it can be worse.

Monday, November 10, 2008

My car bling

I was trying to explain the decorations I have on the back of my car to a friend, and found that there's not nearly enough pictures on the internet, so I'm adding to it.

First off, here's the back of my car:

Explanation: In Japan, they have stickers or magnets available in stores for people to purchase. I chose to buy magnets so that I could remove them if I wanted. The one on the left (the green and yellow sticker) indicates that the person driving the vehicle is an inexperienced driver. It's basically the Japanese equivalent of a "student driver" sign. The sticker on the right tells the other drivers that the person driving the car is elderly.

People were very considerate in general in Japan, but I noticed that people with either sticker in their car were given an extra wide berth and consideration.

So, this is my idea of a joke. The idea of a really, really old person deciding to learn to drive strikes me as a very scary idea. I know that most older people are very excellent drivers. They tend to be more cautious and cool headed than their younger counterparts. Unfortunately, there does come a time when a person needs to hang up their car keys. I promise that I am not prejudiced against the elderly, or elderly drivers. I just thought it would be kind of funny, conceptually. Unfortunately, very, very few people "get" the joke, since they don't know what those stickers symbolize.

For the record, I did not have either of these on my car in Japan. I figured it was scary enough for the Japanese people to see a gaijing (foreigner) driving on their roads, no need to terrorize them more with these stickers on my car!

Friday, November 7, 2008

From Z

I know this isn't really remarkable for anyone else, but I thought it was cute/funny.

This morning, Z woke up. It was early, so I was hoping he would go back to sleep, so I was holding off going to him. After a couple minutes, he started yelling, "Mommy, come get me!" Clear as day. I was impressed.

A million times a day, he'll call out "Mommy?" and I'll answer, "What?" and then he'll jabber away unintelligibly.

Thursday, November 6, 2008


I painted S's fingernails a couple days ago. Yesterday, she came to me in a panic, reporting that her "nail paint was melting off", and we needed to paint them again.

I hate it when I get really irritated with someone, working up a good steam of irritability at them, and then they go and do something very sweet and kind. Talk about feeling petty.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

President Obama

It is official. The next president of the United States will be Barack Obama. I liked his plans for healthcare, the economy and Iraq, so he got my vote. Not that it mattered, living in Utah, and having the antiquated, outdated, and totally useless electoral college still in place. Even if it was simply popular vote, my beloved husband cancelled out my vote. He is less than thrilled, but accepting.

I was impressed with both McCain's and Obama's speeches last night. Very gracious. I do have a bit more hope for the future. I really wasn't at all excited about either candidate in 2004, so it was refreshing to feel like either candidate was going to be an improvement.

I've been watching a lot of the election aftermath on tv. It's all about race. I think that's a shame, and that it cheapens Obama's victory. Yes, he is African-American, and this is a HUGE step in the right direction to fight racism in America. I can understand that, and it is very exciting. But, I'd like to think he won based on his merits, not his skin color. If he was elected simply because he was black, that is just as racist as the water fountains for "coloreds". Sure, it's racist in a way that benefits him. I don't know. I guess I just hope that our country has moved to a point where it wouldn't matter. I know that's not the case, but I can dream, right?

To quote Martin Luther King Jr: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character."

I voted for Obama because of the content of his character. His skin color was not something that was voting criteria for me.

In other news, California had two propositions that really interested me. Proposition 8 was a ban on gay marriage. Unfortunately, it appears the gay marriage ban will pass. I am really disappointed. I loved Barbara Young's quote, and it illustrated my views perfectly: "We believe all families matter, and we do not believe in discrimination, therefore, our family will vote against Proposition 8." Utah passed a similar ban a couple years ago, and as much as I wanted that ban to fail, I wasn't entirely surprised. I thought for sure that CA would be more supportive.

The other proposition was Proposition 2,
which was calling for more humane housing for meat animals. It looks like it passed with 63% voting for it. I am glad to see that animals will have more humane housing. I'm sure meat prices will take a hit, but it's worth it to me. Of course, I have been buying free range/hormone/antibiotic free beef for a couple years already. We buy our beef from a friend of J's. He raises them as a side job. They are grass fed til the end, free range. Towards the end, he feeds them grain to fatten them up. When it's time to be slaughtered, the butcher comes to the field, and shoots the animal there. No traumatic transport to a slaughterhouse, no inhumane slaughtering techniques. I feel good about it.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Littles Halloween Costumes

I already posted pictures of the older two in costume. M didn't let me paint his face for real halloween, so it wouldn't have been worth taking a picture of him on the big day anyway.

Here is S. She has pants under her dress so that she wouldn't freeze. We also ended up putting a turtleneck on underneath as well.

This was the warmest Halloween I have ever remembered. It was so nice. No coats to ruin the costumes, no numb fingers or toes, no crying kids
because they're cold.

Z was initially opposed to the idea of putting on a costume and trick or treating. Maybe it was because we lost his plastic pumpkin, and he was using a buc
ket with Easter Eggs all over it? Anyway, once he realized all these people were giving him "Can-nee", he was all over trick or treating, and had a blast.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Scentsy Reminder!

I have decided to get the scent basket mailed to me, so I will have samples of all the different scents. If you local girls want me to throw an informal party with snacks and smells, let me know and I'd be happy to have you over.

If you do want to place an order, go to this link. When you finish submitting the order, make sure you hit the "submit to main office" button. You will then get a confirmation email from Erica. If you have not gotten a confirmation email, the order did NOT go through.

Because I am getting the basket, I am extending the deadline a couple days. But PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE order something so that I do not have a loser party. I don't want to be a loser!

Halloween Cupcakes

My kids have been begging me to make Halloween cupcakes, so the other day I finally did. I let the kids decorate them.

My parents came over for dinner, and they helped. If my dad looks slightly guilty holding up his cupcake, it's because he'd already eaten his, and just grabbed another one for the pose.
The weird finger decorations are Tootsie rolls that were rolled out to the finger shape. M was very proud of his work.

Halloween Preview

My kids are all going to be pirates for Halloween. The school parade and class party was yesterday, since there is no school today. So, yesterday morning, the big kids got their costumes on, and full makeup.

S was really jealous of the costuming and makeup, so I painted a pumpkin on her face. Unfortunately, by then we were late to school, so I didn't take a picture of her face. I dropped S & Z at the sitter's house and took the kids to school.

Here's the kids during their parade.

After the parade, I volunteered to help at M's class halloween party. I was in charge of the "craft". I decided to do creepy finger pens, idea courtesy of Family Fun online, the website that also gave us the plans for the kids' sandbox. It was really quite simple to do. I gave the kids each a glob of air drying clay (I would've preferred Crayola Model Magic clay, as the stuff I used seems to crack as it dries) and a red ball point pen. I let them form the clay into a finger around the pen. When they were done, we glued a false nail to the tip, and then I let them use craft paint to paint the nail. Some of the kids painted the finger too. Some were extremely creative and cool with their painting. I wish I'd taken pictures of all of the pen fingers.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Save the Sea Kittens!!

This is PETA's (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) latest campaign. I honestly thought it was a joke when I first found the page. Here's a quote from their page:

People don't seem to like fish. They're slithery and slimy, and they have eyes on either side of their pointy little heads—which is weird, to say the least. Plus, the small ones nibble at your feet when you're swimming, and the big ones—well, the big ones will bite your face off if Jaws is anything to go by.

Of course, if you look at it another way, what all this really means is that fish need to fire their PR guy—stat. Whoever was in charge of creating a positive image for fish needs to go right back to working on the Britney Spears account and leave our scaly little friends alone. You've done enough damage, buddy. We've got it from here. And we're going to start by retiring the old name for good. When your name can also be used as a verb that means driving a hook through your head, it's time for a serious image makeover. And who could possibly want to put a hook through a sea kitten?

Given my dislike of eating fish, I can easily get on board with their "fish are friends, not food" campaign. And I have to give them props, it's very creative. On their page, they have "bedtime stories" designed to raise awareness and sympathy for the plight of fish--- errr sea kittens. They also have a place where you can make your own sea kitten.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

That Kai Lan!

When we were camping last weekend, I found S perched on top of a red ant hill, chattering away and talking with the ants. I got her off quickly and brushed all the ants off, counting ourselves lucky that none had bitten her yet.

She was indignant about the whole thing, and didn't understand why I was telling her to stay away from the pretty red ants. Then, unfortunately, she understood. I missed an ant, and it started biting her. She was screaming and crying from the pain. We killed the mean old ant, even though I don't generally kill bugs (unless they are black widows).

She was so shocked and confused. I had no idea why.

Then, this morning, she was watching Ni Hao, Kai Lan. It's a show about a cute little Chinese girl. Many of the episodes feature the ants. The ants on the show are very kind, and more than excited for Kai Lan and pals to play with them and help them out.



That explains that then. Poor kid. Learning that reality isn't like tv in that way. At least she was only attacked by one ant than a whole colony, eh?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008


I got tagged by friend Kristen. So, here goes.

7 weird facts about myself:

1- I worry that dh's vasectomy will fail, even though he got two "all clear" tests.

2- I hate sewing, and yet I continue to do it.

3- I am too chicken to get laser eye surgery to fix my blindness.

4- I play with the kids' moonsand while they're at school.

5- I'm afraid of hair/makeup/fashion stuff

6- I love rocks. Especially gemstones. I love looking for them.

7- I really, really hate cockroaches and earwigs.

Hmmm, I am going to tag Renee, Kirsten, Chardell, Alison, Katie, Melissa, and Katie (the other one!).

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Why did I find my unsweetened box of Hershey's cocoa under my ten year old's bed?

I have let her taste it in the past, so she knows it isn't sweet. Hmmmm.

Ok, I asked her. She said that she wanted to add a little bit to her hot cocoa and see if it would make it extra chocolaty. She reports that it does taste better, has a dark chocolate taste to it. All right then. Carry on.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Topaz Mountain

We just got home from spending the weekend at Topaz Mountain. Unlike Greenland, Topaz Mountain is aptly named. The mountain is just glittering with topaz. The colors range from yellow to orange to blue to clear. I have been told that there's "no topaz left". However, as I spoke further with those people, they reported finding topaz that were 2-3" long. Sure, if that's your standard, there isn' t much left. Most of what we found was smaller than my pinkie fingernail. But, it's extremely exciting to be digging around in the dirt and find a chunk of semiprecious stone that glitters and sparkles. Here are some of the topaz that I found:

The kids were out of school for Thursday and Friday, so we left Thursday morning. We planned to have both sets of parents join us, though my parents couldn't make it down til Friday. We met up with J's parents at the One Man Band Diner in Nephi, UT. It's our usual lunch spot when we're heading to Ephraim or other parts unknown. Usually it's really wonderful, but this time it wasn't quite as good. I felt like we were overcharged for our food, but I wasn't able to see where the overage happened. Having four kids and your inlaws around makes concentration a bit difficult.

We got to Topaz Mountain around dinner time. Our spot from last year was taken, but we got a nice spot right next to some tall rocks. The kids were lik
e a bunch of mountain goats all weekend. They definitely loved this spot better.

Some previous camper had made a Anasazi style shelter from one of the hollows in the rock, and the kids thought that was pretty neat, but I think I was more impressed.

We spent quite a bit of time looking for crystals. In the washes, all of the topaz has been bleached to transparent. However, when we found topaz within rocks that had been unexposed to sun, it was anything from a pale yellow to deep amber to orange. Here is a rock with some topaz still embedded in it.

On Saturday, we did a rhino/atv expedition to the Dugway Geode Beds. We attempted to go there last year, and tried to dig for geodes, but found nothing. This year, we did more research, got GPS coordinates and everything. Everything online assured us we would be successful and be constantly tripping over them. The ride out there was a lot of fun, except when Buddy, my inlaw's dog jumped out of our rhino. He wasn't hurt, though he is missing a bit of fur where his eyebrow would be. As we got there, a vanful of kids got there. The ladies accompanying them said their neighbor told them all of the kids would have their buckets full of geodes within a couple seconds. Unfortunately, we didn't have any better luck this year and neither did our new friends.

I've been told "they" come in with back hoes and turn the ground every once in a while. Maybe it had been a long time and the grounds were really picked over? Who are "they" anyway? Maybe we'll attempt it again, but only if we can find out when these backhoes are there, and go in soon afterwards.

We came back to camp where J's parents prepared to go home. We bid them farewell and took the kids and my parents back up to the excavation site where you are most likely to find the topaz. While we were preparing to leave, Z started throwing up. I stayed in the wash with S and Z while everyone else went to chip topaz out of stones. We found a bunch of pretty transparent crystals. Then S got diarrhea, and Z threw up on me again.

My parents also planned to leave Saturday. Given the unsettled digestive systems of our youngest two, we decided we would leave too. Nothing ruins a trip faster than vomit. I got the younger two bathed and cleaned up (vomiting and diarrhea are extremely messy while in a primative area that doesn't even have outhouses, let alone running water or toilet tissue) while J got camp packed up.

We drove without incident, stopping for dinner at Fazolis in Provo. It was extremely noisy in there, as the SUU ladies' softball (?) team was there. To tempt fate, I gave Z a plate of spaghetti with red sauce. Thankfully, it all stayed down.

We got home without incident. The younger two seem to be perfectly healthy today, but I am glad we erred on the side of caution.