Thursday, December 31, 2009

Looking back

In 2009, I:

1) Began to wrap up my 30s

2) Grew in my faith

3) In order to accomplish #2, had to repent of some "I know better than God" attitudes

4) Watched my kids grow up some more

5) Finished a half marathon

6) Visited Elvis the shrink in order to obtain meds in order to get through the days without yanking my hair out at the roots in order to homeschool

7) Painted some walls

8) Read a lot of books

9) Laughed a lot at some TV shows

10) Had fun with women from church

11) Hung out with some Carmelites

12) Dated my husband

13) Tried to lower my impossible standards (and I'll be working on that one into 2020)

All in all, when I look back, it's been a full year.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Christmas with the Loves

First, it was the company Christmas party. Here I am with my marvelous husband, aren't we dapper?

Next thing you know, it's Christmas Eve. Joe sang in the choir at Mass, then we went to my mom's for her traditional prime rib. She wouldn't even let me bring anything... darn! Here are the girls investigating ornaments by Grandma Noela's turquoise tree. Both of those they're holding are from my childhood, and that butterfly was a favorite.

Back at home, before they all put on jammies and settled in for visions of sugarplums---the crazy crew in front of our tree (and the slightly obnoxious snowman countdown guy that the in-laws got for them last year).

Here are some folks from the Nativity out for a cruise in Barbie's convertible. Nice of Barbie to loan it to them, huh? This carload consists of baby Jesus (not properly restrained in a carseat); two Marys; Joseph; and two shepherds. They hail from two Nativity sets: a wooden version my mom gave us about eight years ago (when there was only one kid) and the newer Little People set from mother-in-law.

To highlight some favorite gifts, here is Kevin with his slot-car set:

And me with my new sewing machine!

Being faithful (and enthusiastic new) Catholics, we continue to celebrate Christmas until Epiphany. We're trying to uphold this celebration with fun family activities each day. Since the kids made the list of fun family activities, you can imagine their scope.

Friday, December 18, 2009

How we spent our December vacation

Kids and cousin Will decorated Grandma Jan's tree (yes, that's a bison in the background):

At the "beach" in Havasu.


Kevin throwing rocks (trying to hit a far-out buoy):

Joe throwing rocks:

John throwing rocks:

Kids by the giant fireplace at the hotel in Williams:

Joe, me, and Cayna smiling big in our hotel room:

Love family standing by the Polar Express:

Four Loves bowling (Kevin's dad, step-mom, and us):

And the kids. John won, he beat everyone - no joke:

The kids freezing their little butts off at the 5K:

After the finish. Me and my running partner (Kevin's dad) and my kids:

Joseph turns nine! How can that be? Delivering the cake so he can blow out the candles.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Wrapping Station

Normally, my "wrapping station" would be the floor of the family room on Christmas Eve with a glass of eggnog in easy reach.

This year, I'm trying something new: wrapping the presents an entire WEEK before Christmas. I'm not sure what effect this will have on my Christmas Eve, but I have high hopes for low stress.

Kevin has commandeered the family room for his own purposes. Every night after the kids go to bed, he sets up a table and a veritable woodshop. He is building a dollhouse from a kit my dad bought for the girls.

In order to help keep the little sneaky varmints from tiptoeing downstairs and beholding their gift before Christmas, I wanted to set up my wrapping in my room, which overlooks the whole hallway, allowing me to monitor all activity. But then I can't just pull out all the gifts and spread out, or they'll see everything if they do get up.

So... I set up the ironing board near my door and draped a blanket over it. This would keep all the gifts out of view. Then I brought up the 6-foot ladder to reach the gifts in their hiding place up on our pot shelf. Bags of bows, rolls of paper, bolts of ribbon, and a slew of to-and-from cards, and I was set to go. About two gifts in and Joe was up having to go to the bathroom. Cayna too. And Bethanie too. First kid clogged the toilet, but I couldn't send the others to either other bathroom without compromising the surprises. So Kevin had to halt his siding installation and come upstairs to do some plumbing. I hovered near the draped ironing board to make sure no one peeked over. Everyone did their business and went back to bed. I went back to wrapping. I think I finished a whopping eight packages before I started to get tired. Or just bored. It was eerily quiet up there without children, husband, television or telephone. Just me and the HO HO HO paper.

We'll see if I pick up tonight where I left off. The ironing board, blanket, and ladder are all ready. But procrastination is so sweet.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Leaving Prescott

Normally, after a vacation, no matter how wonderful, I'm glad to head home. For some reason, as our Arizona trip drew to a close, I didn't want to leave Prescott. I really like that town. It's got just enough rough edges to not be TOO idyllic (like me!), small but not too small, plus it's beautiful and has history you can see. I like that. I also love my in-laws' house. Father-in-law built it himself and in recent years has added extensively to the decks on the front and back of the house. It was freezing-butt cold there this trip, so we didn't lounge much on the decks, but I spent PLENTY of time gazing out across the valley from the front and into the trees looking for deer out back.

Truthfully, it was also hard to give up being cooked for morning, noon, and night for seven days. I dreaded coming home and having to meal plan and cook again. Ah, to live in a world where dinner magically appears on the table every night.

It's been a week of laundry, grocery-getting, Advent preparation and catch-up, and pre-Christmas stuff. I'm finally over the mild post-vacation depression. We decorated our tree (maybe now a pink-candle Sunday tradition?) and now Kevin and the hot glue gun are set up in the family room trying to construct a doll house for the girls for Christmas. He's got the walls up, I oughtta go take a photo.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Arizona Vacation Diary, Day 4

For a woman who has a long way to go practicing self-control, buffets are not my favorite thing. Unfortunately, included in our Polar Express package were a dinner and breakfast buffet. I managed to resist the muffins and Frosted Flakes, and had a very Atkins-y breakfast of eggs and bacon.

We loaded up our freezing-cold van, took some pictures of the kids by the hotel's huge fireplace, and headed out of Williams.

Between Williams and Prescott, we saw antelope and sheep running wild. Not our normal scenery.

Prescott is a lovely town. It really is. And my in-laws have the most wonderful house up in the mountains overlooking a whole valley on one side and surrounded by trees on the other. We hope to see the deer that frequent their yard while we're here.

That said, it's brutal to run here. It's cold, it's over 5,000 feet, and there are some HILLS like I've never known out there. But I survived, (often slowing to 13-minute miles going up the hills). Now to keep from embarrassing myself tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we're enjoying the company, the town, and the multitude of events planned over the next few days.

Arizona Vacation Diary, Day 3

Left the desert mid-morning and rode through the pine trees all the way to Williams, Arizona, established 1881.

Our hotel faced the festively-lit reindeer corral and the train tracks. We had the perfect room location.

After a buffet dinner, the kids changed into their pajamas and we prepared to board the Polar Express.

It really was a magically fun night for our whole family. We heard songs from the movie soundtrack, plus Liam Neeson reading the story on CD as we enjoyed our hot chocolate and cookie en route to the North Pole. There Santa boarded the train and gave each child a jingle bell. Heading back to Williams, we sang lots of Christmas carols and laughed at John climbing all over the seat. It was a wonderful ride. More than the program of the evening, I want to remember riding in an antique train somewhere near the Grand Canyon with my young children and the full moon outside illuminating the tall trees.

Back at the station, we met Mrs. Claus, had a family photo taken with a very kind Santa, and walked back to our room in the cold night.

With kids asleep, Kevin and I settled down to read (he also had some candy from the vending machine down the hall). I heard a noise outside the window that I've never heard in my life - the clop, clop, clop of a horse pulling a carriage on the street below. It was as if we'd gone back in time. Or maybe just chose a really great vacation.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Arizona Vacation Diary, Day 2

Sunrise in Lake Havasu. And minutes later, my four kids are out of bed.

Stole away to the lake with salami sandwiches. We liked them, and so did the pigeons and seagulls that attacked our family near the beach. Bravely, Kevin ran fifty yards off to drop crumbs and try to save our family. It worked. No one was pecked or pooped on in the end. Kids played at the park, and then the "beach". Lots of shell gathering, rock throwing, rock skipping, and sand castle construction. A beautiful day which explains why folks from all over the cold United States winter here. On the way to the shore, we saw an Alaska license plate and that made perfect sense.

My step sister-in-law is a massage therapist, which turned out quite nicely for me at 2:45 p.m. I had an hour massage along with good discussion about our wacky family. For those 60 minutes, I was in vacation heaven.

Back to the house for a slow evening and Mexican dinner. One action-packed hour was spent removing prickles from Cayna's right hand. This is the second time in her little life that she has placed a hand on a cactus or sticker bush. Both incidents occurred here at the in-laws, and both required a looooooooooooong session with tweezers and a bright light.

Our last night in this strange town is spent by the crackling fire. I finished my book and Kevin played "Rush Hour", a brain teaser game that makes me yell every time I attempt it. And I'm not doing any yelling on vacation. At least not out loud.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Arizona Vacation Diary, Day 1

We arrived via Honda minivan in the Grand Canyon State. Six people, forty-six pieces of luggage. Each child wanted their own suitcase. This is handy when it's time to drag everything in and out of lodging places, since each person rolls their own, but it's an engineering nightmare when loading the van. Whenever people ask Kevin if we're having more kids, his standard response is: "We still have seats in the van!" This is true. We do not, however, have any more cargo space. If we ever have more kids, or even when our kids start wearing bigger clothes that take up more space, we will have to acquire one of those storage bins that attach to the roof.

Arrived at the in-laws in Havasu. Only one in-law present - the other is elk hunting near the San Francisco peaks (in Arizona, not California - I have a lot to learn about topography). Maneuvered past the foreboding-looking cacti that line the path to the front door. Once, years ago, Cayna stuck her hand on one of them and we spent hours plucking out the needles. Note to self: If I ever have grandkids, and want them to visit - don't line the walkway with dangerous flora.

Our remaining day was spent in front of the fire with Christmas music playing and the kids tossing ornaments on Grandma's tree. I read a book. Cleverly, I brought three books and one issue of "Runner's World" on this trip and I plan to make good use of my down time.

Kevin watched football, the sun went down, we all went to bed. Four kids in one room - ain't vacation grand?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Pie & Family

I blogged about my high ideals for holidays. In keeping with those ideals, I'll show you the best of the day:

Our family right before Thanksgiving Mass. (Not a holy day of obligation, but I love going to Mass on Thanksgiving. It's just right!)

And the lovely pies that turned out fine. Jack Daniels Chocolate-Chip Pecan, and Pumpkin. Didn't make the crust, but I'm still impressed enough with myself.

Really, our celebration was wonderful. I usually settle in quite nicely with the fact that I can't live up to my ideals. But in honor of those ideals, I'll refrain from showing you a photo of our table. I used red, white, and blue tablecloths and white patio chairs. No candles (there were eight kids here!). No pilgrim placecards or cornucopia centerpiece. And believe it or not, despite all that I still had a nice time. Imagine.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

I caught a small glimpse of Black Friday. Just a small one.

Spent the morning at a park feeding leftover Thanksgiving muffins to the pigeons with John while the other three kids and their friends played. There were a lot of dads and granddads there, presumably keeping the kids entertained while moms and grandmoms shopped. I delight in NOT shopping on this day.

Later on I had a movie date with my friend Janelle. Ten years ago we went to Guatemala together. Today we met up at Rave in Town Square. She's weeks away from delivering her third baby and I left my four home with Kevin. How life changes.

Getting to the movies was my glimpse of Black Friday. Town Square was packed, and so was the freeway getting there.

Dinner was leftovers (how many Americans had leftovers tonight?). Watched "Planet Earth" with the kids. It was the oceans episode. Ever watch educational TV with four children? Kevin and I were laughing out loud at the insane number of comments and questions they came up with. Most of the questions had answers provided by the show, but unheard because they were asking. Boy oh boy.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

And meanwhile, in Idaho

While I'm here in Vegas fretting over whether I will use paper plates, my brother killed a turkey yesterday. With a hatchet. I guess I never thought about how they killed the turkey - I just picked it up at the grocery store like everybody else in urban America. A hatchet! That sounds MUCH more messy and difficult than, say, a bullet. If someone told me I had to kill my own turkey, I'd rather use a gun. But no, it was all about hatchet, knife, and some blunt force trauma. My brother and his family are not in urban America. They're in rural America. And I think it's cool he got this opportunity, even if it is a little gross.

My turkey arrives via potluck tomorrow around three. Sometime in the hours between when I get up and when that bird arrives, I have to crank out two pies, some chutney, and mashed potatoes. And warm the ham. And figure out where to seat 17 people. And dust, I really need to dust. And probably clean the downstairs bathroom. And find a craft for eight kids to do. That's all.

He said the feathers were as thick as your pinky finger. Can you imagine plucking those suckers?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Aunt Sally would be proud

My mom used to say that the reason Aunt Sally had ulcers was because she wanted a "Norman Rockwell" life and no one can really have a Norman Rockwell life. It doesn't stop some of us from trying.

Thanksgiving is coming up. I am trying to get away with paper plates and potluck despite my desires for Martha Stewart place cards and fancy turkey trimmings.

The menu is nice enough:
turkey & a Honey Baked ham - dad & step-mom
stuffing, gravy, shrimp salad, muffins - mom
veggie & fudge - Karen
mashed potatoes, cranberry chutney, pecan pie, Coca-Cola for Kevin - me

This is all well and good til I count the guests and count my plates and the numbers don't match up. AND I am insisting on making a pecan pie from a recipe that I've tried TWICE before and failed both times. Somebody save me from myself!

Meanwhile, tonight I get to go out to an Italian restaurant with women from our Moms' Group and relish someone else's cooking and someone else's plates. Tomorrow begins the pie effort number three!

Friday, November 20, 2009

2nd Date

Our first date didn't go so well. There was an episode of vomiting on the side of the road, a terrible drive full of anxiety and nausea, and we arrived home to our brand-new babysitter two hours early. But that's another story.

Tonight was our 2nd date. We had dinner at a restaurant mostly patronized by the elderly and then went Christmas shopping for the kids. Not super romantic, but at least we were together and had some laughs.

Perhaps the 3rd date will be fabulous.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We survived

Today was picture day. Somehow I had haircuts done, outfits bought, and an appointment made - so we went. I was disappointed. I guess you get what you pay for, and I went the cost-cutting route. I am yearning to hire this photographer, an acquaintance from high school who looks like she does beautiful, colorful, artistic work. Meanwhile, my little studio photo will have to suffice. No matter what, my children are beautiful - and that comes through even the simplest photo.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Morning in the life

I'm sitting doing math with Cayna, trying to ignore the sharp stabbing pain in my right armpit. Had a mole cut off this morning at the dermatologist's while I perused an issue of Travel & Leisure Magazine. Then home to retrieve my four kids from the babysitting neighbor. Remembered that I forgot breakfast. I can put an egg sandwich in the microwave if I have a napkin to wrap it in, but the napkins are gone. No paper towels. No paper product of ANY kind? That can't be. Wait! Toilet paper. I wrap my frozen breakfast in toilet paper and set it in the microwave. Did I remember my anti-depression, anti-rage medication? I don't think so because I'm feeling depressed and enraged simultaneously. Take my pills and share my egg sandwich with the two year-old. Daughter wants the five large knots removed from her ladybug necklace. What was that article I was reading in the doctor's office about finding art treasures in Milan? Maybe there's someone out there right now searching for art treasures in Milan while I'm detangling this ladybug necklace. My art treasure is the page-full of circles with a line through each one that Bethanie drew for me. "Buttcheeks," she said. Nifty. And man my armpit stings. Is it time for lunch yet?

Monday, November 16, 2009

I think I know what happened over at Maybelline.

One employee was stirring her vat of lipstick, and one employee was stirring her vat of nail polish, and they got distracted by their conversation. The first employee was having trouble with her boyfriend, and the second employee was sympathizing, but it was bringing up lots of bad memories for her because she, too, had been through some rough things in her most recent relationship.

As a result of the distraction, the lipstick ended up in the nail polish packaging and vice versa. The factory forewoman made the decision to "just go with it!" Customer reviews were favorable. For the most part, consumers couldn't tell the difference. Most women like creamy nail polish and shiny lipstick anyway.

Take this piece of mothering advice: do NOT shop for cosmetics with four children in your cart. (Many more high-falutin' women than me would convert this into cosmetic advice: do NOT shop for makeup in stores with carts.) I was at Target (as I often am, let's face it) and I needed lipstick. I walked into one of the cosmetics aisles and became a bit overwhelmed by the ninety-three thousand lipstick options. Life was easier for me when my mom was a Mary Kay consultant and gave me everything free. Delivered to my door. IF you can select what type of lipstick you want - which might take up to forty minutes... you then need to select a color (colour, as they like to spell it on the makeup aisle --- even at Target). Take it from me, moms of four -- even moms of ONE -- don't have the time it takes to properly select lipstick. So I did what any desperate woman would do: I played eeny-meeny-miney-mo.

Once home, I was quite disconcerted to discover that I had chosen a lipstick with three parts. Normal lipstick would have two - the lipstick and the lid. Even lip BALM requires that much. So you wouldn't think three parts would be a big deal, but I couldn't figure this thing out. I had to read INSTRUCTIONS! With my LIPSTICK! If I had time to read makeup instructions, I wouldn't have had to rush into my purchase in the first place!

This little doozy has a (and I will now use Maybelline's terminology) 16-hour liquid color. Oh! Look at that! They spelled it "color". Maybelline is really backing off the pretense. There is a whopping .077 fluid ounce of this stuff. Sure to last me clear into the middle of next week. But wait! The color is only step one. And, yes, there is a shiny silver "1" emblazoned on the bottle for morons like me so I know what to apply first in my multi-step process. Step 2 is the conditioning balm. You have to apply the color, "wait for it to dry thoroughly" and then apply the balm. Got that?

I followed the steps. I applied. It dried. I balmed. And I'm here to tell you, those folks at Maybelline aren't messing around. That stuff STAYED. I had to virtually PEEL it off. It was kinda freakish, and that's what led me to believe that I had something more like nail polish on my lips. And it might take acetone to get it off more easily. So... if you're looking for a lipstick that doesn't gook up after a couple hours, won't smear all over your Starbucks cup, and takes some effort and concentration to apply --- this stuff is for you! Incidentally, it's called "Superstay." Of course it is.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Mom watches son become altar server.

Late afternoon sun streamed through the high windows.
And I sat in the third row.
And watched my son in his cassock and surplice. And Crocs.
Practice carrying a candle, a cross, an enormous tray full of gold-plated chalices. Up stairs.
And set it on the altar.

Five other boys practiced the same.
I imagined what a brotherhood he's joined.
All the boys that have done these same things for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years.
Imagine all those candles. Crosses. Enormous trays full of chalices.
And that tall, tall, clear, glass pitcher for the wine.
No other place would you hand a nine year-old boy a tall glass pitcher of wine and tell him to walk around with it. Especially in a long skirt.

Hours of practice. All six boys practiced all the jobs.
And at the end, Father Mark gave a short, witty, nine year-old-level talk on reverence.
Six boys went back to the sacristy and removed the garments and hung them up themselves!
We drove home together in the minivan. I told Joseph that Grandpa Tony was an altar server when he was a young boy. And I told him I was proud of him. And that I'd say a prayer every time he had to carry the tray of chalices up the stairs to the altar in a skirt. He smiled. He's not worried. Just me. It's my job to sit in the third row, now. And watch him carry the cross. And then wait while he hangs his own clothes. And when we get home, I go in where it's warm and reflect on the afternoon. And he goes out in the cold on his bike and plays with the other kids on the street.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Top 6 Favorite Things for My Winter '09

6. Snow. But I'm outta luck, folks. Sad, in a way. But then again, it was 64 degrees here when I talked to my sister-in-law in Idaho today and it was 23 there. Egads.

5. Yankee Candle's "Pumpkin Spice". Delicious. Wipes out the usual odor around here of dirty diapers, burnt popcorn, burnt dinner for that matter, and mouse pee.

4. My cozy pink gloves. Mainly wear them when running, but maybe this should change.

3. Progresso Soup's low-sodium "Italian-Style Wedding". A whole can is 4 points. Yum.

2. Kevin's space heater in our bathroom. Short of having a heated floor and towel bar, this is the closest thing to wonderland in the bathroom.

1. Good Earth's Sweet & Spicy Herbal Tea. (I'll give credit where credit is due and thank Heather R.H. for introducing me about six years ago.) So delicious and there's nothing like a cup of tea (and the cozy pink gloves) to warm me up. I personally rather enjoy the fun quotes on each tea bag, too.

Thursday, November 12, 2009


Yesterday was 11/11 - a great day for people like me who enjoy weird things. And I forgot to blog! How could I do that?

Well, to mark my sadness at missing the occasion, I'll at least share this very unique photo with you:

Wondering what you're looking at? Can you guess? Study closely...
Kevin's extracted wisdom teeth! All four! Two in tact with roots still attached, two in bits-n-pieces.

If that upset you, maybe this photo of John dressed in a tutu thanks to his big sis will cheer you up.

Happy 11/12! (It's just not the same.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


My relationship with Garnier Fructis is over. I first bought it because it has many of the ingredients approved for curly hair (according to Curly Girl, The Handbook). But it also had its share of problems. For one thing, the dork that designed the bottle has obviously never tried to open shampoo with wet hands while standing in an actual shower. Here is a photo:

See that roundish thing at the top? Besides being roundish, it's also smooth. And the only way into the shampoo. I had to use a washcloth to open it every time.

The other problem is the name. Garnier Fructis, which, if the commercial is to be trusted, should be prounounced as if you are French - (Gar-nyay Frook-teese). When you're sitting around with your friends and the topic of "What shampoo do you use" is addressed, you either sound like a wanna-be Parisian or say it the other way and sound like a redneck (Gar-neer Fruck-tiss).

Farewell, annoying bottle. As is my way, I set out for Target to buy a NEW brand of hair washer. Now I've been sucked in by Herbal Essences. Those folks over at Clairol have gone ALL OUT on their product labeling. I bought the "break's over" strengthening kind - "a love potion for bad hair break-ups". On the back they say, "Discover happiness after a bad hair break-up." How did they know? Garneer Frucktiss left me with a lot of breakage! This stuff has "an anti-breakage potion". Oooooooooooooohhhh! I like the word "potion" in my hair-care products. Clairol person even put a trivia question on the bottle, and the answer is on the conditioner. Clever! Go to get the answer and once you have that bottle in your hand, it's as good as bought!

Only thing I'm curious about is that, in addition to the potion, it says it has "a fusion of coco mango and pearls". Pearls? In my shampoo? If that were true, surely it would cost a LOT more and only be available at the salon. So what do they mean?

I called the Clairol Customer Service Hotline (the number is printed on the bottle) but alas, they were closed for the day. The recording ended with, "If you have a medical emergency..." WHAT? Now I need to know not only what pearls they're talking about, but also what medical emergencies might be associated with my use of their hair-care stuff.

Stay tuned for my spellbinding comments on the new lipstick I accidentally bought.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I did the triathalon

route today on my run.

I could almost breathe the leftover energy from yesterday's event. Gotta love those guys and girls out there pounding the pavement after splashing through the lake and biking a crazy distance.

Watched the runners zoom by our church and then fly through our neighborhood. Porta-potties and Gatorade stations everywhere. LOVE it! Someday...

For now, I jogged part of their route a day after they did. Worrying all the while what difference an altitude change will make in my running. I'm registering for a 5K on Joe's birthday. I'll say a 5K beats two days of labor hands down.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Poop Sprayer Nostalgia

My friend Heather has asked to borrow my poop sprayer. Any minute now I'll go get it out of the "cloth diapering" bin in the garage. And, oh, the memories will emerge from the bin right along with the diapering supplies.

I cloth diapered my first three children. Little John, though, has known nothing but disposables on his bottom. Sorry, John. Sorry, budget. Sorry, landfill. At one point, I even had three kids at once in cloth. This is because the oldest was still in PullUps (which I found a cloth version of) before the girls were potty-trained. So I consider myself a cloth diapering pro. I have six years of it on my mom resume. This will do me no good anywhere, but someone should applaud me. I was not always a pro, especially when I tried new things like the poop sprayer.

The poop sprayer is a handy device, much like a kitchen faucet sprayer, but you attach it to your toilet plumbing. Then, when it's time to dislodge a poo from a cloth diaper, you are SUPPOSED to simply hold the poopy diaper over the toilet, cleverly aim the sprayer at the poop, and spray toward the toilet bowl. Then you flush, toss the diaper into the pail, and go on your merry way.

Let me be the one to tell you --- that thing harnesses some serious water pressure. And the first poop I experimented with was... shall we say... NOT neat and tidy. Unsuspecting, I unleashed the full force of the water and when it came in contact with the poop - there was a crazy splash emergency of sorts. All over my bathroom walls. All over the toilet. And of course all over me. I'm sure I cussed. Probably a lot. And spent the next twenty-five minutes cleaning up what should have been a NON mess.

Over time, I became more proficient with the sprayer. And it resided a long while in my bathroom in Yucaipa. When it came time to sell our house, however, I dismantled the whole system because of the constant faint odor of poo. That odor goes along with the scent of saved money, though - and the satisfaction of doing your part for the environment. But now I live stench-free in a disposable-diaper world and will soon happily send off the sprayer to Sacramento.

Heather, if you're reading, Best Wishes! May the poop sprayer give you many happy rinses. It's positively WAY better than the old system of swishing the poopy mess around in the toilet bowl by hand. I give my mom huge props for doing that my whole babyhood.

Someday, if I have a baby into my forties, and my energy to cloth diaper returns - send the poop sprayer back my way and we'll get reacquainted.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Somehow, someway, this is funny:

That I have a black dermatologist. It strikes me as funny that a guy with skin as opposite mine as you can get is advising me on crucial skin care. Kevin and I walked into our appointment yesterday, poster children for the dermatological profession, and the doctor is black. Come to find out, though, he has a greater risk for melanoma sneaking up on him. He explained this to me at great length, which made me fall in love with him. I fall in love with any doctor that answers my questions at great length. I do NOT like doctors who show their annoyance at my 55 billion questions.

He used the nitro gun and zapped numerous spots on my arms. I look a teeny bit like my arms are covered in blisters. It's really pretty, lemme tell ya. AND I have a prescription for this cream that I have to apply daily for a week or two to all the parts of my body that get regular sun exposure. If there is any pre-cancer on any of those parts, the cream will essentially sizzle them to bits. Sizzle, seer, and scab. Therefore, I will not be taking a family portrait anytime soon. Sheesh. We go back in a couple weeks to have various protrusions sliced off our skin. Kevin more than me. Start praying now, because the last time they did this, the cutter/dermatologist accused Kevin of having a bleeding disorder. That's not what you want to discover right after they've hacked a two-foot crater into the flesh on your back.

I did not go back to the guy I saw last year. My dermatologist needs to impress my socks off since this is the guy that will probably, in the next forty years, save my life. The guy I saw last year sent his PA out to look me over. I'm not against PAs, but I much prefer the real MD. Plus, that particular PA didn't talk enough. I'm all about the talking. And the sense of humor. And, as Kevin noticed, the "Rainman"-like qualities that somehow we both find comforting in physicians. Doesn't hurt that they had free Atomic Fireballs at the counter on the way out. Kevin had one and I got to hear about it all the way home as it burned the first two layers off the inside of his mouth.

Did you know you can get melanoma on your eyeballs? I didn't. But my new, nitro-gun-bearing, "Rainman"-like, pleasantly-talkative, life-saving, funny, black dermatologist informed me it is so. So... get your eyes checked once a year! And your skin. And teeth. And cholesterol. And boobs. And other private parts. And maybe, just maybe, if you don't get hit by a truck while you're out jogging, you'll live long enough to die of old age.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Halloween Highlights

The kids:

We had Silver Mist, the water fairy from Tinker Bell (in case like me, you didn't know); Minnie Mouse; a puppy; and a skeleton. The skeleton mask was a little on the scary side for little siblings and friends who trick-or-treated with us, but it didn't last long anyway due to comfort issues. I thought it was a perfect costume since saints are often depicted with skulls as a reminder of our mortality! John's costume was complete with a dog bowl that Kevin bought at Target last-minute. You shoulda heard all the compliments he got on cuteness when he held up his little dog dish to get candy.

This year's jack o' lanterns:

And other stats:
total trick-or-treaters in our group - 20
# of Catholic costumes (counting the skeleton) - 3 (we had a monk and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton)
# of toasted pumpkin seeds - 744
# of 100 Grand bars I ate post trick-or-treating - just 2!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

in my little world, ain't that the truth?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Praying for all the Anglicans out there...

After listening to the news recently and then reading this article, I'm wondering what events will unfold for our Anglican brothers and sisters who have loved and served their church. I'm praying that those who are searching will find a new home soon.

Putting my head down on the desk

That's what I feel like. A bit low-energy, high discouragement. Cayna's school is done for the day, except for the art project which I was foolish to order only one. Joe is taking a "recess" and I am blogging. It's cloudy, chilly and windy outside. Perfect day for a hot chocolate, which I will attend to momentarily.

Tonight is Moms' Group. I'm glad God uses me to encourage others once in a while even when I'm down in the dumps-ish. Father John (same Father John from the Target unmentionables aisle) is coming to our group tonight to share his testimony, the role of his mom in his life, and talk about vocations. I can't wait, but it would be hasty to go sit at the church now - eight hours early. Though with a babysitter and an enormous thermos of hot chocolate I think I could pull it off.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wonderful Wonderful Wonderful Weekend

By wonderful I mean just the right combination of alone time and family time.

Saturday was my monthly day out. I took my time getting ready and even --- believe it or not --- painted my toenails! Quite a time luxury.

I went to Church and sat reading The Privilege of Being a Woman, by Alice von Hildebrand. I finished it, which means now I'm reading only three books instead of four. Had some prayer time and mostly just reveled in the quiet. So nice.

From there to Target. The distance seems far spiritually, but not geographically (a new Target just opened days ago right below our church) - and why can't Jesus hang out with me at Target? He can. As I was heading for an unmentionable aisle, I spotted Father John and decided not to say hi. Call me shy. Do you want to run into YOUR Priest or pastor near the unmentionable aisle?

One quick stop at the library to check out an armful of design and decorating books before I landed pleasantly at a seafood restaurant patio table at The District. THAT was perfect. You can't beat a book full of photos, a plate of scallops, and October weather in Las Vegas.

Yesterday after Mass my dad brought his bike trailer and we loaded up five bikes and a baby-trailer to head to the UNLV campus for a meandering bike ride. It was so much fun. The hills and the grass and trees and endless pathways to follow (plus no automobile traffic) make the place a bike riding heaven. We spent a couple hours, but easily could have stayed all day.

Dad bought us Buffalo Wild Wings takeout on the way home, so that meant NO COOKING FOR TERI! Perfect way to end the weekend.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I was getting my dusting done. Today's chore. And BOY was the computer desk in need of some Lemon Pledge and a dustrag. And then I saw my blog sitting there looking lonely...

Okay, OKAY. Back to dusting. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"No one's gonna steal HIS lunch money!"

That is what John's dentist said to me following the 45-minute scream-fest in the procedure room. Despite the constant high-decibel hollering and thrashing about, this man was able to "install" two crowns and fill two other cavities in my two year-old's mouth this morning. Actually, he did three fillings because he accidentally knocked one out thanks to John's kicking and had to re-do it. They velcroed up the papoose at that point, which is also when I had to take a breather and sit for a moment in the waiting room. (Note: John did, believe it or not, have sedatives in his body but they didn't have the desired effect, hence the quote in my title. Dr. Bybee handled the difficulties with kindness, patience, and two "thumbs-up" signals directed at me in the midst of the procedure.)

Bottom line: we both survived. John calmed immediately when I held him afterwards and shows no evidence that he minds all the new material in his mouth. God reminded me of his constant presence during the visit, and I really do recommend Ryan Bybee, DDS to anyone in the Vegas/Henderson area. He is my hero for today. So is John.

It's Wednesday!

You heard it here first, fellow insomniacs!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


My favorite time!

NOT my favorite time to have a bit of insomnia, but normally my favorite time.

John has an early-morning dentist appointment and I have to leave the house about 6:30 - ick. So of course I can't sleep. I came downstairs to... well, blog, I guess. Maybe I'll play Tile Towers on Joe's Webkinz.

Monday, October 19, 2009

66 Shopping Days

Tonight I bought my first Christmas present. One down! Somehow it makes me feel MUCH more accomplished than it should just to have one present bought. Reminds me of doing papers in college. Even deciding the topic gave me a sense of having "started working on it". What a joke. If anyone has any ideas of what to get my husband, please send your suggestions.

Today we became a caterpillar murdering family. Who decides to put such delicate nature in the hands of young children? There is one poor little guy still clinging to life, but his chances are slim around here. I see myself ordering more. Geez o Pete.

To complete this random assortment of thoughts - during evening prayer tonight I prayed for some of the people we know who don't know Jesus and then asked the kids to name anybody they wanted to pray for. Bethanie replied: "God, please help us get lots of lovely tasting candy at Halloween."

Sunday, October 18, 2009


I started off the morning sleeping in a little. Kevin and Joe were camping in Utah (the rest of us drove there and spent the day Saturday), so we planned to go to evening Mass and that meant we got to have a slow morning and be lazy here at home. Cayna crawled in bed with me a little before eight o'clock and stared at the ceiling fan for a few minutes before starting this conversation:

Cayna: Did Jesus have seven disciples?
Me: No, he had twelve.
Cayna: Oh. Why twelve?
Me: (Deciding to skip the deeper explanation) Because that's how many he wanted.
Cayna: Oh. I'd pick one. That would be easier.

Then I'm sure she progressed through a maze of six year-old thoughts, but I was stuck on what on earth might have led her to question the number of disciples.

Anyway... in other news:

Joe and Kevin had a great campout with the Cub Scouts. They spent two days and two nights in Snow Canyon, Utah - just outside St. George. We made the two hour drive Saturday morning to be with them and it was just beautiful there. We went on a family hike including a tiny bit of rock scrambling and cave exploration and spent the rest of the time in a meadow playing catch, sitting and chatting with other families, watching the kids play kickball, and riding bikes. It was dreamy. Sadly, I forgot my camera so the only evidence I have of the trip is the dune-worth of red sand piled by the shoes in the living room.

Joseph retold a joke he heard by the campfire. He was cracking up so hard when he told it, I couldn't help but laugh. Where does a king keep his armies? In his sleevies!

Once all our divergent paths met again, we attended the evening youth Mass and then went for dinner at Chipotle. That was good times. Cayna did a mean Homestarrunner; ( Bethanie laughed at everything; John ate chips and salsa in adult quantities; and Joe and Kevin told campfire jokes.

After a weekend like this, I'm ready to take on another week!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Seeking some adventure.

I think I'm headed for the hills in search of some adventure. I'm taking my gun and a canteen. Hoping to meet up with some wildlife and maybe a celebrity or two. Either of those would seem exciting.

Note: NOT intending to shoot anyone or anything except if necessary in self-defense. It's just that you need a gun for protection when you head for the hills. Just wanted to clarify.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My Week in a Seven Sentences

1) Some caterpillars arrived today.

2) Figuring out medication is tricky.

3) John needs expensive dental work including two crowns.

4) I joined a diverse homeschool group.

5) Third grade math is difficult for 39 year-old me.

6) Of course Father John knows my cousin Ginger, doesn't everybody?

7) Now that the new Target opened, I never have to leave my zip code again!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Vietnam, Mary, & Being a Woman

I usually make a real effort to only read one book at a time.

Somehow I'm currently reading three. I'm not sure how it happened, but it's going to confuse me.

I'm reading the first Vietnam book mentioned in yesterday's post, plus The Privilege of Being a Woman, by Alice von Hildebrand and Mary Mother of the Son Volume 1, by Mark Shea. Can you see how this might make my thought life quite interesting until I'm finished with all three?

This Mary book is the first I've read that I'm really getting into. I've read good stuff, but Mark Shea knows the perspective of a former Protestant, plus he's smart and freaking funny. Smart and funny is the best combination for a writer. Add truly Catholic, scripturally sound, and well-researched and I think I'll be recommending this book!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Aren't all housewives doing this?

Reading about Vietnam, I mean.

I'll admit I appreciate my diverse interests, but every now and then I feel unusual. Does anyone else find this stuff interesting?

It all started with an episode of Man vs. Wild, a show Kevin and I love. Bear went to Vietnam and in between his death-defying stunts he mentioned a bit of the history of the war over there. I never knew it included France! So I asked my dad (who literally knows everything) and lo and behold he had three books about it! He delivered them to my house within 48 hours along with a syllabus. I have to read the intro to one book, another one cover to cover and a third to whatever extent I'm still interested. All three of these books are covering the conflict BEFORE the U.S. even became involved. Sheesh. There were guys over there suffering in the heat with leeches and barely any idea what they were doing for DECADES before our country even jumped in! I never knew.

Now... what good this learning will do me, I will never know. Maybe one day one of my daughters will ask about France's involvement in Vietnam. You think it could happen?

Just for fun, here's a great quote from the Foreword to Street Without Joy - the French Debacle in Indochina (page 10):
The fragmentation of organized society into a host of small nations, mostly former colonies, without political experience and with little or no hope of ever attaining economic viability, but fiercely nationalistic nevertheless, has provided rich ground for the seeds of an ideology which promises an easy and profitable retreat from the cul-de-sac of political ineptitude and economic stagnation.

Stick that in your pipe and smoke it!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Favorite Item From the Grocery Store

I just spent $160.00 at the grocery store for the next week.

I admit I spent a little extra on those ready-made refrigerated cookies for Halloween. And a little MORE extra on a couple of decorative gourds. Plus the Smart Balance peanut butter Mike Nalley told me about.

But my favorite item? The orange marmalade. Every now and then you gotta have a jar of that in your refrigerator.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Monday, Monday...

Today was a true Monday. After ending last week with five fevers in our household, we started out this week behind on school, housework, and confidence. Kevin took a long lunch and swept us all away to the park and McDonald's and that helped me reclaim some perspective. So... back to "normal" tomorrow. My "normal" is figuring out how to NOT catastrophize things.

In other news, I have an attractive sunburn on the left side of my face and neck from standing in the sun and 55 mile an hour gusts yesterday for our parish festival. Why no sunblock? Sheer neglect.

Bring on Tuesday!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Diary Entry for October 2, 2009

Dear Diary,
Today we are home sick. Not homesick. You have to be away from home to be homesick. And we have not been away from home in days. On the up side of this, the minivan gets a long rest.

Joe seems to be over his fever this morning. Cayna is still medicated and has a weird cough, but not too bad. And John woke up with a fever. Somehow, I've escaped having three kids sick at once until now. And, really, it's not that bad. They watched TV earlier while I cleaned the bathrooms, truly my activity of choice.

Once again, we have a two year-old in the house. For an illustration of what this is like, see this photo:

John climbs onto the countertops as well as all the furniture. He also enjoys jumping off said furniture, which is really more of a problem than the climbing. He's taken two nosedives off the tall kitchen chairs, and regularly bangs his head on the light fixture above the kitchen table when he's up there dancing and taunting me.

Spitting is his all-time favorite hobby. It sounds funny, but believe me, on day three of constant John spit, it gets more than a little annoying. Imagine a cute little group of us at the school table: Mom patiently trying to explain math to Joe, Cayna diligently working on handwriting, Bethanie drawing a picture of her pet mouse. Enter John. In the midst of our idyllic school moment, he climbs on top of the table, dancing and spitting for all the world to see. Sigh. That two year-old would keep me on my toes if he weren't wearing me out.

Well, T.G.I.F. is all I've got to say. And a busy weekend ahead, IF the fevers are gone. For today, I think I'll go watch a little TV with the kids, ignore the dishes, maybe snooze on the couch a little. Not so bad, really.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Woolly Mammoth For Sale!

Why not purchase a woolly mammoth skeleton as a unique piece of decor for your family room or foyer? For the price of a small house in the Midwest, this beauty can be yours:

Day after tomorrow there's a "natural history" auction at the Venetian Hotel so we recently went to see the "preview". Joe was the photographer, and he got this shot of John and me with the Triceratops (I think it's a triceratops - it's been a long time since I studied dinosaurs.)
Don't you like how it seems to be poking me in the head with it's horn thing?

Mammoths aren't your thing? The real centerpiece of the auction is a T-Rex. They're hoping to nab a few million for the thing. Decoratively, it boggles my mind to think where I'd put such a specimen as that. Apparently, they're hoping it's purchased by a museum, but if not, I really hope to read about who does get it.

Profound Outcome of a Week Without TV

It was Kevin's idea.

I look forward to turning my brain off and crashing on the sofa night after night when the kids go to bed, but I'm always up for something different.

So here's what we've done instead: sleep.

Hm. I guess I've kept up on e-mail better and done a little reading, too.

The real question is whether the "week off" will include tonight's episode of "The Office". If so, I'm thankful for the DVR.

And - off topic - I'm home right now with two kids with fevers. Pray for us.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Mo(u)rning running (plodding)

Someone in Runner's World said she didn't like being referred to as a "jogger" because she thought of herself as a "runner". I think of myself as a "plodder" and this needs to change so I can win a shiny trophy before I die.

I had this bright idea that I would just go out and start running as fast as I could and see how far I got. Once I hit the streets and went for it, I didn't talk myself into the lightning speed I'd hoped. According to my GPS I hit about a 6:34 before careening into the gutter and hacking a lung out. Okay, just kidding. I hit 6:34 right before easing back to my oh-so-comfy 10-minute mile.

Perhaps, though, these self-inflicted "drills" - (along with the black nail polish idea I stole from Kara Goucher) - will bring me a better time on the next race. I'm trying not to think about the fact that I think Goucher's half-marathon PR means she ran about 4:23. Gads.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I Highly Recommend:

1) Trader Joe's Fruit Floes. Have I told you about these already? Gosh, they're good. My favorite is lime, and Kevin's favorite is strawberry. (The lime are only 1 point on Weight Watchers, strawberry are two.) A box of four is $1.99.

2) UV-LED flashlights. See my previous post. They also come in handy if you want to see how much pee has splashed on the walls around the toilet over the years.

3) Flip-flops you can wear out to the mailbox with socks. They're not just for soccer players.

(I have these exact ones but with a hot pink swoosh stripe. I am a vision walking out to the mailbox in these lovelies.)

4) The Pampered Chef "29 Minutes to Dinner, volume 2". Just avoid the Quick and Creamy Mac 'N Cheese with Butternut Squash. It smells like poop and tastes worse. Everything else I've made in there is so yummy, though. I can forgive the Mac 'N Cheese in favor of a box of Kraft.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Not to give you nightmares...

...but take a look what we're up against:

That's our freaky friend the Arizona Bark Scorpion. In case you're not inclined to follow that link, let me share the most precious gems from Wikipedia:

1)The female usually gives birth to between 25-35 young, (and) Arizona bark scorpions may live up to 6 years.

2)Bark scorpions, like most other scorpions, are incredibly resilient. Lab experiments have frozen the scorpions for weeks, and after being thawed, the scorpions emerged unharmed. During US nuclear testing, scorpions, along with cockroaches and lizards, were found near ground zero with no recorded adverse effects.

3)Bark scorpions do not burrow, and are commonly found in homes, requiring only 1/16th of an inch for entry.

4)Centuroides scorpions are unusual in that they are the only genus in the southwest that can climb walls, trees, and other objects with a sufficiently rough surface. Bark scorpions practice negative geotaxis, preferring an upside down orientation, which often results in people being stung due to the scorpion being on the underside of an object.

Quite a formidable foe, eh? Kevin purchased a couple UV-LED flashlights to be able to spot the suckers and launch an attack to reclaim our home.

It's gotten a little out of hand. He has taken to recording his scorpion kill right along with my fertility signs. Yes, that's right... since we use Natural Family Planning and he does the charting (that's a prescribed part of Creighton - I highly recommend it) he thought it a convenient place to keep track of his hunting success. Therefore, I can tell you that in less than two weeks, he has captured and killed TWENTY-TWO scorpions... IN OUR YARD! The photo above was taken by Kevin with the help of the UV-LED light and a tripod. Rest in peace, you death-monger.

And you all go have a good night, now. Sweet dreams.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I just don't like buffets --- should I be allowed to live in Las Vegas?

That's the question.

And why don't I like them? Usually, the food is substandard and they require too much effort. If I'm paying to go out to eat, I'd rather sit and have someone bring my meal to me.

HOWEVER --- my parents invited us to the Bellagio buffet in celebration of their anniversary, so we went along.

Bellagio's CFO might say different, but I can't see evidence of a recession once inside the casino. There seemed to be a LOT of people bellied up to the poker tables.

My notes on the buffet:

1) This was the PERFECT time to experiment with sushi. It was a no-lose situation. If I liked the stuff, I could eat my fill of it. If I didn't, I could leave it behind in favor of more traditional fare and not have to go home hungry. I tried seven to ten kinds of sushi. Especially with a couple of the salmon types, I thought, "this is just so much yummier COOKED!" So there you have it.

2) I have never before seen elk meat at a buffet. That was a first.

3) Who wastes their time on salad when there are approximately fifty kinds of seafood?

4) I had thirds on cantaloupe, of all things. Wouldn't have guessed that. (Who wastes time on cantaloupe when there are approximately fifty kinds of seafood?)

5) Dessert was scrumptious. In a bold move, I went back after dessert for more shrimp. Why not? (That's the motto of a buffet.)

6) That "why not" attitude will put the pounds on faster than ten Big Macs.

7) On our way out we saw not one but TWO brides, resplendent in their white floor-length gowns and waiting in the buffet line with their grooms and attendants. Viva Las Vegas!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


John has arrived at his second birthday!

Here's the birthday boy and Mom!

And here he is taking a shot at his basketball birthday (and yes, he made the basket):

Love that little guy!

Monday, September 21, 2009


Four years ago today my step-father passed away and I hopped on a plane with baby Bethanie to join my mom in New Mexico. It all went awry and I ended up spending the night in a hotel in Salt Lake City, having only a banana and a muffin for dinner. Funny the stuff that stands out in my memory from an emotional journey.

It's weird to have lost a close family member and to count the years as they go by since his passing. How crazy to have gone four years without talking to him. I can still imagine his voice quite clearly when I think of it.

Anyway... that's all for today. A little entry to commemorate the day he died.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

"The Office" premiere night!

Kevin and I have been looking forward to this for weeks! In honor of the occasion, we had eggs, bacon, and jello for dinner. It was the most "Officey" I could come up with. Bacon for the George Foreman Grill incident when Michael burned his foot, eggs because they go with bacon, and jello for the Jim pranking Dwight (and Andy...right?) occurrences - but mine didn't have a stapler in it.

I just can't wait!

"I'll help you open your string cheese...

...but next time ask me before you try using your teeth and drooling saliva all over the wrapper."

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

My New Bird Hobby Idea

Let me describe my backyard for you: rocks. That about says it all. Well, there's also an obscenely large shed complete with windows and flower boxes. And a trampoline. And a crabapple tree. And a small garden. And a covered patio and a patio table and chairs. And a barbeque grill. Some palm trees. And some other trees. And probably upwards of nine-thousand scorpions. But mostly it's just rocks.

For my birthday, my dad gave me a large bag of birdseed (don't ask - I honestly can't answer). So lately Kevin thinks it's fun to scatter birdseed in the rocks all over the backyard. He also puts it in the bird feeder Joe made in Cub Scouts. We now have a veritable aviary out there. Except when they've had their fill of seed and tweety conversation with other birds they can fly away. A true aviary is enclosed, I believe. I didn't know we had any other birds besides pigeons and sparrows around here. And the occasional quail, hummingbird, and roadrunner. Turns out there are LOTS of birds around here. Maybe they didn't get the memo that this is the desert and we aren't supposed to have trees to house them. Although we do, since we didn't get the memo that this is a desert. Anyway... I should make the most of this. I think I should hang a feeder outside my kitchen window so I have something to watch other than my neighbor's shenanigans. [Seriously. I watched his divorce unfold and now a new lady-caller comes around in her Pontiac Solstice and stays til all hours.] I think I was needing a new hobby anyway. Birds might be just the ticket.

My first question to research as part of my new hobby is - why, with all this free birdseed, are there no pigeons joining in the feast? We have thousands, maybe millions of pigeons in our area - to the point that we try to run them over in our minivans - don't they eat birdseed? Or are they just content feeding on trash and pooping it out on my roof? Do they eat trash? I've heard them called the rat of the bird world so I guess I assumed they eat trash. But then again, I've never seen them hanging out by my dumpster.

My. I've painted a right pretty picture of life in the Vegas suburbs haven't I? At least I have no shortage of hobbies to pursue. Now to find out if there are any breeds of bird that prey on scorpions. If I can capture a photo of a bird attacking a scorpion by the crabapple tree, I'll post it here first!!! Stay tuned, friends!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wayne, the super-tall Dillard's employee

My mom and I were shopping at Dillard's. She was looking for some clothes and for a washing machine. In the appliances section, this sales associate guy was kind of giving her the brush-off, which annoyed me, but more than that I was noticing his fair complexion, extreme height, and apparent age (old enough to be my father).

I mentioned my observation to my mom and next thing you know we were sitting in on a Dillard's employee/community meeting. After the first part of the meeting, tall-father-possibility-guy ended up sitting right between my mom and me and we found out his name was Wayne. I was trying my hardest to muster the courage to ask him if he could have possibly fathered a child in mid-1970 when a woman in the row in front of us turned around and asked him, "Is it possible that you could have fathered a child in the mid-60s?" He said yes! Still in shock, I heard my mom whisper to Wayne while gesturing to me, "She wants to ask you something."

So I asked him, "Could you also have fathered a child born in 1970?" And he said no. The next thing I remember, my mom and I were walking in an industrial neighborhood surrounded by warehouses and factories outside Dillard's and she was telling me she was sure I'd find my birth father someday.

Then I woke up.

I wonder if it's my natural and prescription drug cocktail that is to blame for my vivid dreams of late.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day Out

My day off is also a day out but let's focus on the "out" part right now since I've been "in" a lot with homeschooling (not a bad thing at all - but I did like the change of scenery).

Started off the day at church for a morning of recollection (a mini-retreat) - part of Opus Dei. Afterward, two of the women I know from Moms' Group and I went out to Pei Wei for lunch and had a great talk about everything from Jesus' forgiveness to airplane travel with toddlers. Great food, too.

From there I wandered through Whole Foods. All I needed was some Evening Primrose Oil, so the joy of the visit was the wandering. Wandering (in a store, anyway) is a rare luxury with young children.

Spent some time at the library. A biography sounded good to me, but when I ruled out reading about actors or politicians, it doesn't leave much so I sat down with some of our current Pope's writings (that Kevin had tucked in my tote bag). I read a short "essay" on the Acts 2 church and community in general and then I stared out the window. I wanted to sit. Not shop, not even wander through any more stores so I headed for a movie theater.

Paid to see "The Proposal" and moseyed to the theater. I was the only one there so I had my pick of seats. When I sat down and put my head back, I realized that a movie was exactly what I needed. Had to ask myself if I was nervous to be the only person in a dark theater, but decided I wasn't. And I laughed at Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds and had fun pretending I was with them in Sitka, Alaska.

Then it was dinnertime. Chipotle again. That place is fantastic - both the food and the seating arrangement for me since I usually sit and read. My only complaint is portion size. Sheesh! Can't they do a half-size bowl? I noted that besides me, there were three other people dining alone - all men. Two sat there staring into space and one had newspapers spread all over his table. I read a book on fathering of all things. Kevin read it, and so did Rich and Kristi and they all want to talk about it so I dove in while enjoying my chicken bowl.

My best memory from the day - sitting alone and relaxed in a movie theater. My best spiritual refreshment - Mass after the retreat. My funniest moment - being seated at Mass between Vicki, who is a paid cantor for our diocese and Andrea who is part of the Gregorian chant group at our church: Both sing MARVELOUSLY. I don't, but it sure sounded pretty to stand between them! And my best revelation - from my friend Vicki who called homeschooling my new baby: it's tiring me out and causing HUGE adjustments, but overall quite a joy. I can take all those things with me into the coming days.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Day Off & Out

Tomorrow is my monthly day out/off. My one goal is to NOT go shopping like I did last month.

What do you/would you do with a day out/off? I have a few ideas of my own but suggestions are always helpful.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Our little wild kingdom.

I've already said I'm not a pet person. Not an animal person period. There's a story about Saint Francis of Assisi saving some children from a wild dog and talking to it, calling it "Brother Dog," or some such craziness.

Two nights ago, I walked out of my bathroom into my bedroom and discovered "brother scorpion" crawling across my carpet. Instead of squashing him, I monitored him while Kevin got a jar. I decided I wanted to research what type of scorpion we're dealing with.

Well, brother scorpion sat in his lonely jar all the next day on top of my refrigerator, no doubt plotting against me and all my offspring. But I never got time to go online and determine his breed or level of lethalness.

SO... last night Kevin figured out we had an Arizona bark scorpion, the most poisonous of all, and then we went to sleep. This morning he said goodbye and I asked him to take the jar and its resident to work with him and "take care" of things. Moments later he came running up the stairs and said, "The cage broke - I need your help!"

I was picturing broken glass and a vengeful scorpion on the loose, but when I reached the downstairs it turned out the mouse cage had fallen off the washing machine (where it resides at night so we don't hear "Sister Mice" sprinting in their wheel for hours on end while we try to sleep). Emma, Annabelle, Measles and Alice were free! It took WAY longer than it should have to corral them all back into their cage. Kevin got bit a couple more times, and there was quite a mess on the laundry room floor, but all was well and Kevin left with the jar and the scorpion with time to spare.

R.I.P., scorpion number 15.

In one week, more live creatures arrive at my house. We'll be nurturing some caterpillars until they become butterflies and move out into the big hot Vegas summer sunshine. Unless they make friends with the mice. And scorpions. Then we could all just live together as one big happy family.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

On my mind on 9-9-09

1. Only 2 months and 2 days until 11-11

2. I remember 28 years ago today. I was in 6th grade and our teacher told us it was "square root day" - 9-9-81.

3. Good movie quote with nine in it: David Spade to Chris Farley in "Tommy Boy", "Did I catch a 'niner' in there?" (Anyone but me like this movie?)

4. My nine favorite words for today: squash, malady, addled, trite, perpendicular, quasi, truncate, episode, and asinine.

5. Nine things I'm waiting for: our caterpillars to arrive; next week's shrink appointment; cooler weather; a decision about our Winter vacation; a good book to read; the (live) scorpion on top of my refrigerator (in a jar) to be identified; a race to run; dinner to make itself; the desire to paint again.

6. A memory from when I was nine years old: being best friends with Stephanie and ditching P.E. together, except on swimming days.

7. Where I want to be in nine years: Home from delivering Joseph to college!

8. Nine items on my grocery list (for this evening): salad, onion, bread, feta cheese, fruit, steak, Spaghettios, sweet potatoes, au jus mix.

9. The ninth disciple named in Matthew 10: James the son of Alphaeus.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mice Time

I'm supposed to have all this new-found TIME since I'm homeschooling. (Also since I'm condensing my Smith's-Trader Joe's-Target-Costco trips into a new "only one store a week" policy - which means I throw a bottle of eye-makeup remover in with the tortilla chips and ground beef at the grocer's.)

What to do? What to do? I KNOW! BUY MICE!

It's every non-pet-person's dream pet. Mice! So, long story short - we now have four little rodents living in a cute little barred apartment within our home. We believe they're sisters, and their names are "Measles", "Alice", "Emma", and "Annabelle".

I learned from my brother and sister-in-law who have had seven mice over the past five-ish years (and only two incidents of cannibalism, Rachel said!) that they "warm up" to you gradually. The internet info I found said the same thing, but you're supposed to handle them frequently and offer treats and so forth. So... having just moved them in less than a day ago - we got them out this morning to try to get acquainted. Couldn't catch the suckers! Measles, especially, is a wily little thing (Joe's mouse) - and moves like lightning. Out of frustration I gave up after ten minutes and the kids had to wait until Kevin got home. Poor Kevin. He caught Emma and when she quit trying to jump out of his hand to death on the tile floor, we all got to pet her. And she proceeded to bite Kevin about five times, drawing blood at least three times. Kevin has a clotting issue (remind me if we're ever in an emergency) that led a mole-removing dermatologist to ask if he was on blood thinners. So picture our pet-nervous children all watching Daddy hold Emma and blood pouring out all over the place. Gruesome, right? Bethanie thought so. She screamed like a paid star in a horror movie. Emma went back into the apartment, Kevin washed and bandaged himself, and we all took a deep breath to prepare ourselves for tomorrow's try at making friends with these vicious creatures. Cute as they are.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

One of the good moments

Lots of good moments this first week of being at home with my kids for school. Not gonna lie - lots of hard moments, too - but we all expected that (or at least all us pessimists did). Favorite moment, though, hands down, was just yesterday: Friday. Not even a "school day" (we work Monday through Thursday). Bright and way too early in the morning, a woman named Sue appeared at my house to give Joseph his first piano lesson.

Sue wore a tad too much perfume for my sensitivities, but she was smiley and at ease and friendly as heck. I got her a chair, she pulled out her books, Joe had a seat on the bench and me and the girls observed from various locations around the living room. At one point, Sue was talking too much to me instead of Joe (in my opinion) so I left the room and busied myself with some kitchen chores.

As I went about my stuff, I took little looks in on the lesson from time to time. I might have been smiling ear to ear for all I know. You could say this piano lesson thing is a dream come true.

I'm no more musical than an armadillo. But I see the value and the beauty in music and therefore in knowing music. If you can make music... well, then, sheesh! -- you're something special. I wanted to learn piano as a child, but we didn't own a piano and Mom said it was too expensive. Fast forward more than two decades and when I came across a piano for fifty bucks I grabbed it. Now, three moves later and two tuning jobs paid for - my eight year-old started what I would have liked to when I was his age.

So... is that all this is? One of those vicarious things? Next thing I'll push Cayna into cheerleading and Bethanie into theater? I really don't think so. There definitely is the element of "I'm happy to give my kid something I never got," but other things on that list include a Lite Brite and a Sit-n-Spin - so there's not much meaning there.

Joseph giggled through parts of the lesson (Sue really is good) and enjoyed himself thoroughly. By the end he was playing a couple short little songs including masterpieces like "Old Mac Donald". I just felt thankful. We own a fifty-dollar piano. Kevin has a job that for right now allows us to pay for lessons to learn to play it. Joseph has the interest. The instructor is fabulous. The sun shines through our East-facing window on August Friday mornings. So there's the meaning in the piano lesson. A whole lot of little good things coming together to make a shining moment. Worth sharing.

Girls Day In

Kevin and Joe went fishing. John's been napping. So Cayna, Bethanie, and I played "hospital". I was the patient, victim of a broken leg. Cayna was Dr. Jenna and Bethanie was Nurse Emma.

My cast:

Most physicians probably don't wear masks quite like this. I asked Dr. Jenna why she was wearing it and she said, "So I don't get your germs."

Not sure what she wrote in her notebook. At one point, she administered some meds (one Goldfish cracker) and said, "You have to do what the doctor says -- and don't disagree!" This makes her sound like about ninety-nine percent of our nation's obstetricians. Though I believe she was an orthopedist. You never know, in hospitals.

Nurse Emma was darling, and kept careful charts. I did notice, however, that she asked "how it happened" about thirteen times. Was she listening, or just busy trying to catch the eye of a cute resident down the hall?

Despite my cynicism toward the medical profession, I'm expected to make a full recovery. Even though, in Dr. Jenna's words, I have to wear my cast "almost forever."

Friday, August 28, 2009


Wednesday was my one-year anniversary of starting this blog. Like some other anniversaries, it passed without flowers or fanfare. But I did remember! Next year I'll send myself a box of chocolates.

In honor of the occasion, I'm working on getting a good shot of myself looking less like a nun. Truthfully, I think I look like an attractive thirty-something sitting serenely by a crab-apple tree. MAGAN said I look like a nun. My intent is to get a shot as different as I can and post both! Sorta like I'm multiple-personality girl.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Ski Lessons

On a snowy mountain outside Salt Lake City, Utah, I took my first ski lesson. The instructor said something like: "If you finish here today and like skiing even just a little bit, you could probably be a skiier."

Yesterday was our first day of homeschooling, and I was reminded of those profound ski-instructor words. There were a couple hairy moments (like when Bethanie was pouring out her worst whine and John was having a fit at the same time), but through the whole (rather short) experience, I was thinking it was pretty cool.

There's an adjustment phase we have to go through - and the ensuing stress that any transition brings - but I did end up liking skiing more than just a little bit - and that involves the risk of hitting trees at seventy miles an hour. The worst that can happen with homeschooling is that my kids will grow three heads and shoot at honest citizens from a clock tower.

But just look at these cuties. I don't think they'll be setting up any clock tower perches anytime soon.

P.S. They're holding up "number one" in honor of the first day of school.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Office/School Room Before and After

We worked hard on this room and we're really happy with it. Now we pray that our school time here will be blessed by God.

Here is the main wall as it was before we started:

And here's the same view today:

Here's the "closet space" for the room. It used to house a wire shelf (now in the garage) full of the kids' craft supplies and some of our other assorted junk (which I had to find a better home for):

And the same space now, which holds my desk, a shelf Kevin built for school books, and all my other assorted office supplies:

Finally, a view of the window, the kids' table, and more shelves Kevin built. I designed the curtains, and my lovely seamstress neighbor Karen sewed them (and Kristi's mom, Melody hemmed them). I LOVE all the color in this room.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Kevin's been singing "Basketball Jones"

"That's my hook shot with my eyebrow..."

"I need someone to set a pick for me at the free-throw line of life
Someone I can pass to
Someone to hit the open man on the give-and-go..."

Over the past couple of months, Kevin has been singing these weird basketball lyrics and little did I know until this moment that they are sung by Cheech and Chong!!! Ai yi yi!

Anyhoo --- it was fun to see Joe get excited about basketball. Especially for me, the mom, since it is way more fun to watch than baseball.

So... here he is in his Skechers skateboarding shoes making a shot during warm-up (in mid-air, thank you to the sports photographer - me!):

Here's Coach Dad (Kevin):

And here's future joneser, John, dribbling in the stands: