Saturday, November 16, 2013

We Survived Our Road Trip

A few weeks ago M's sister got married in Washington D.C. The wedding was on a Thursday and the kids already had Monday off school. We only had to take the kids out of one extra day of school and then we had 9 days for trip. Because we had the extra time to work with, it was SO much more economical to drive instead of fly.

If you don't factor in your sanity.

Things We Hoped to Do on the Road Trip

Things We Expected to Really Do on the Road Trip

Things We ACTUALLY Did on the Road Trip


Get such an early start and make such great time and feel so alert that we just drive straight on through the whole 1500 miles.

Get tired slightly past half way and find a nice inexpensive hotel to stay in for the night.

Wander around Jackson Tennessee for 45 minutes trying to find a non-scary hotel room only to finally find out that all the hotels are booked up because Lane college is having their homecoming that weekend.


Set the cruise control and make great time.


Hit a little traffic here and there and get in later than hoped for.


Get detoured to small country roads in the middle of the night for 30 miles because the interstate was closed just outside Memphis TN  AND hit such bad traffic in Virginia that we actually put the car in park and  turned off the engine for 30 minutes.


Enter an address in the GPS and get accurate, concise directions for getting there.

Listen to the GPS say “Recalculating” every time we had to get off the freeway to pee.


Have the GPS lose satellite reception every time we looked at it wrong.  Have it choose yet another slightly different route for getting there every time we tried to drive to the same place.  Develop suspicion that the GPS is getting paid for every unique street it makes us drive on.  End up renaming the GPS “Willis” so that we can start saying, “What choo talkin’ ‘bout, Willis?”


Only go to the bathroom at meal stops.

Make pit stops every 2 hours.

Pee early and pee often. Have the dedication to pee 3 times in an hour, whether we need to or not. Pee before the meal, after the meal, and again 20 minutes after we finally get back on the road.  ALL THE SAME KID.  Get our drink privileges taken away.




Stare out the window bored.


Pick up Kate’s princess dolls from the floor of the back seat while telling the kids to stop bugging each other.


Sing songs together.


Listen to music.

Have the kids yell at each other to stop every time one of them starts happily singing a song.


Have Claire and Scott do homework while Kate played happily with toys.


Let Kate listen to a movie with headphones on while the big kids did their homework.


Inform Scott that we were not going to play the Barbie Fairytopia movie over again so he could hear it this time because we didn’t want his testicles to shrivel up and fall off.


Read out loud as a family from the Little House on the Prairie book series.

Watch a few movies.

Try to ignore threats from Kate that she will “be bossy” if we didn’t let her watch the movie she wanted… again.


Discuss family goals and aspirations.


Tell the kids to stop bugging each other.


Insist that Kate ask politely before you pick up her princess dolls from the floor of the back seat... again.


Have a neat, organized car because we had thought of everything.


Need to wash and vacuum out the car when we got back.

Cleaned up spilled orange Powerade with a pillowcase.  Get our drink privileges taken away… again.


Have the children entertain themselves so that M and I can read and talk about grown up things.


Risk throwing out our backs passing out books and snacks.

Risk throwing out our backs picking up Kate’s princess dolls from the floor of the back seat… again.

Eat up leftover snack foods from around the house.

Let the kids pick out few new snack foods from the grocery store.


Wander around Wal-Mart for half an hour buying snack food only to have the children crumble the food up and leave it in Lake Powerade.


Attend a fabulous wedding where we get to spend time with family and friends and celebrate the marriage of a beloved sister and her new husband.

Be present at the wedding.

Attend a fabulous wedding where we get to spend time with family and friends and celebrate the marriage of a beloved sister and her new husband.



Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Pumpkins 2013

It was a bit of a tight squeeze to fit pumpkin carving into the schedule this year.  Like I said in my last post, my sister-in-law's wedding made my October a little crowded. Not that I'm complaining. I wouldn't have traded being a part of her beautiful wedding for the world. But it did mean our pumpkin carving was a little less elaborate this year.

In the past we've been able to get our pumpkins carved for the church party and still have them not entirely gross when Halloween night rolled around. But this year our party at church was almost a full week before the actual day of Halloween. Not gonna have carved pumpkins for both. Normally we would have chosen to have the pumpkins carved for our church party, but given our busy month, we ended up carving them for Halloween night.

We let each of the kids pick out a pumpkin and what they wanted carved on it.

Claire chose Angry Birds and did a lot of the carving herself:

Scott designed his own silly face and we helped him execute it.  The googly eyes were an extremely important design element for him:

And Kate really, really wanted a princess pumpkin. A Sleeping Beauty to be exact.  And because she has me wrapped around her little finger:

And then the next day I let her decorate a gold crown to put on Aurora:

M and I wanted so badly to do a design of our own choosing too, but we were running out of time.  In the end, we stayed up way too late rushing to carve one and I don't think really turned out.  Can you tell what we tried to carve?

Monday, November 4, 2013

Halloween 2013

Halloween didn't get the attention this year that it usually does around our house. M's sister got married (WOO HOO!) two weeks before Halloween, so we were pretty busy getting ready for that. Helping with wedding plans, planning and buying outfits for the family, making flower girls dresses and accessories, and planning a 9 day road trip to Washington D.C. meant that I didn't have the time I usually do to make my kids' costume dreams come true. (I'll be subjecting you to photos from the wedding soon too, trust me.)

Kate wanted to be Merida from Brave in the blue and gold dress. I looked into buying the costume, but everything was either too expensive, too lame, or both. Some of the costumes didn't even look like anything Merida wore in the movie. Pshaw!

So I was going to try to make Kate's costume, but it soon became clear I had bitten off more than I could chew. My wonderful mother came to the rescue. She took the pattern and fabric from me and made Kate's dress mostly while we were gone at the wedding. I think she did a pretty awesome job:

M made her a little bow to complete the look.  She LOVED it.

And before you ask, yes. That is Kate's real hair, not a wig:

I got the idea for Kate's hair from this site. But I wanted a wilder look than that, so I used smaller sections, tied them in tighter knots, left them in longer, and separated the finished curls more.

I curled Kate's hair the night before using drinking straws and some mousse. I used the straws like you would do rag curls - roll the hair around the straw and then tie the straw in a knot to hold it.  I went with a full square knot so they would hold up to a four year old level of abuse for almost 24 hours. And they did hold up really well. None fell out with her sleeping in them and then wearing them all day long (even at dance class!) until the party in the evening.

This is a photo from the first time we did it for a church party. We went with rainbow straws. For actual Halloween we went with all red and orange straws to slightly give the illusion of red hair when she wore her costume at preschool earlier in the day. The second time I did it, I think I sectioned her hair even smaller than pictured here and it was almost too much. But I did cut the ends of the straws shorter the second time, and they were less cumbersome for her to wear, so I recommend that.

We're not going to talk about how long this took me. Suffice it to say that Kate and I enjoyed a nice movie together while we did this.

Then I untied all the straws and was left with a Shirley Temple look. Adorable, but unfortunately not Merida-like. I combed through all the curls pretty thoroughly with my fingers until we had a nice wild mane of curls. Then I hairsprayed it all. Finally, we covered her body and face in an old towel and sprayed her hair with a combo of half red temporary spray color and half orange temporary spray color.

The look sagged a little by the end of the evening, but still looked pretty great! It was so sad to put her in the shower at the end of the night to wash it all out, but I wasn't letting that hair color get anywhere near her bedsheets!

Fortunately, Claire and Scott picked some pretty easy costumes this year. I bought some robes, threw together some of Scott's, Claire's, and my church clothes, and sanded down and painted some sticks. A little eyeliner scar and some old costume glasses we already had from M being Waldo for Scott.  A french braid that Claire slept in overnight (Yes, my fingers were cramping by the end of doing both Kate AND Claire's hair in one night, in case you were wondering) and... Voila! Harry Potter and Hermione Granger!

It doesn't really show in the bloggable photos, but they REALLY looked like Harry and Hermione, if I do say so myself. It struck me with Claire especially. That girl basically IS Hermione, brainy sassy attitude and all.

And at the last second, I threw together a costume for myself out of a few things around the house:

Can you tell what I was?  I'll give you a close-up detail for help:

It was a very polarizing costume at the party we went to.  It was immediately obvious who was familiar with the Fruit Ninja game, and who was not.

(Do most people have Japanese toe shoes, a toy samurai sword, kick-boxing pants, and a balaclava hanging around their house?)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Dance Class

Kate has started taking a little ballet/tap dance class:


And that pretty much sums it up.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Back to School

Claire and Scott's first day of school was this last Monday.

It was a good first week of school. (We just won't talk about the fact that I'm already exhausted...)
Somehow I ended up signed up as one of two room moms for Claire's class, so that will be a new adventure.  But mostly with Claire in 4th and Scott in 2nd, this new school year thing just feels like old hat.

But this week!  The really exciting first week of school for me is this week.  Kate starts preschool on Tuesday and it's 5 hours long!!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Rainbow Toes

I celebrated the big kids starting school by doing a ridiculously elaborate toe nail paint job on myself!

How Did It Know???

I have entered the 21st century. I got an iPhone.

Granted, I bought a used 3GS, so it's certainly not cutting edge, but for me it's pretty exciting.

As I've been learning the ropes, I've been tickled by all the times the iPhone has done exactly what I wanted it to without me having to tell it.  So I went to set up the weather app.  I was thinking it'd be cool to enter in some of the other locations I care about so I could see what the weather was like there. I went to check the list of other locations and the first one was Cupertino, California.

"How did it know I grew up in Cupertino???" I gasped.  I was slightly creeped out.

And then I realized.  Oh right.  Apple headquarters is in Cupertino.  It's not that my iPhone knows I'm from Cupertino.  My iPhone and I just have the same hometown!  You'd think that having grown up with mostly children of Apple employees, I would have immediately realized that.  But I guess I'm still a little iPhone naive ;)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013


We are cruel, cruel parents.

You see, we give the kids summer reading assignments AND make them answer questions about the books.  Hard questions that make them consider, like, people's feelings and stuff.

This summer Claire is reading a collection of four different books about young people living on their own. Hopefully Claire's take away will be to appreciate the cooperative nature of life in a family/community/our world rather than learning how to run away from human interaction...

Anyway, Claire was particularly resistant the day she answered some questions for the book "Island of the Blue Dolphins." Check out her responses to these questions:

What good luck contributed to the main characters survival?

Karana was lucky that there were whale ribs to build her fence even though she still could have built a very strong fence out of many more things. For example, sticks, tree trunks, branches, boards from canoes too big for her to use; would you like me to tell you the fifteen million other things I can think of???!!! She was also “lucky” (according to you, Dad) that she had walrus tusks to build her spear even though she still could have built a very strong spear out of many more things. For example, sticks, tree trunks, branches, boards from canoes too big for her to use; would you like me to tell you the fifteen million other things I can think of???!!!

What human realities does the author explore (love, fear, trust, etc.)? Give examples of how they portray them.

Trust is explored because Karana trusted Rontu and Rontu-Aru that they wouldn’t run away or attack her. Loneliness is explored because Karana has no one to talk to through the entire story except a dog and two birds. Grief is explored because she is sad that her brother dies. 
P.S. In my life story, boredom and annoyance are explored because I do not like answering these questions!!! :(

Later, Claire had second thoughts about her first response and re-wrote it:

What good luck contributed to the main characters survival?

Karana was lucky that there were whale ribs to build her fence because whale ribs are much stronger than most of the other resources. You also wouldn’t find whale ribs very often even if you’re on an island like that. She was also lucky that she had walrus tusks to build her spear. She could have built a fairly strong spear out of many other things, but walrus tusks are by far the strongest. She was also lucky because the walruses (walri, whatever you want to call them) didn’t see her when the bulls were fighting or that they weren’t there when she was getting the tusks. If they had seen her she would have gotten really hurt. 

I didn't tell her to re-write it, she just felt guilty I think.  I was kind of proud of her for improving it, but I had also thought her first response was hilarious.  I was really glad I had copied down her smart-alec first response before she changed it!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Excuse Me, I Need to Go Drop Off Some U.N. Peacekeepers

We've been redoing some things in our master bathroom and we suspected our toilet of leaking. Once we took a good look at it, we realized it was probably fine. But the best it could be was fine, not great. Even in perfect working order the toilet would never be great. The distrust had planted a seed.  It got us thinking about how we didn't really like our original toilet. We had already pulled it out.  Maybe we should go ahead and replace it?

When we first started thinking we might need a new toilet, I mentioned it to my sister. She immediately told me that she had bought and loved the one my dad had recommended. The American Standard Champion. The one that flushes a bucketful of golf balls:

Now when people in my family recommend a toilet, I sit up and take notice. I come from a line of people who are infamous for clogging toilets.

You know what? We're already talking about clogging toilets. If you're still reading this, then I'm going to assume you're not too squeamish. And we all know I have no shame, so I'm going to tell you a little story to demonstrate why a toilet that doesn't clog is important to me.

Look, my body doesn't like "doing business" away from home. Without any conscious effort by me, it tries to wait until I get home. So any time I travel, it takes a couple days before my bowels accept defeat.

Once upon a time, I was newly engaged to M and flew to visit his family for a long weekend. The first full day I was there, M and I spent the whole day walking around doing touristy things in the summer heat. And I didn't really drink enough. The next day M had to go into work.  I was at his parents' house alone with my future mother-in-law. And my body decided that it was finally ready to "let go." And I could tell I had definitely gotten dehydrated the day before.

There is nothing that quite rivals asking your future mother-in-law that you barely know yet if she has a toilet plunger you can use because you've plugged their toilet. Their ONLY toilet.

So yah, some toilets and I just don't get along very well. Our old one had left something to be desired. I really wanted one I could count on.

Well, we had our eye on that Champion, but we still weren't sure.  Then a couple days later, I mentioned in passing to someone else that we were thinking about replacing our toilet, and they immediately told me they liked the one that "flushes the golf balls."

It was a sign. I mean, it's not often that people go out of their way to recommend ANY product, but when I get the same product recommended two separate times? And when that product is a toilet? It must be good.

So we took the plunge (pun intended) and bought the Champion. And we love it! We have affectionately dubbed it the U.N.

Why you ask? When M and I talk about toilets we often reference Dave Barry and the importance of a toilet's ability to handle "acts of Congress."  Well, we quickly decided that this toilet could not only handle "acts of Congress," it can handle "U.N. resolutions."

The next step was to get rid of our old toilet. We posted it for free on Craigslist and a couple of days later, I got this response:

Hi, I would like to pick this up for an underwater park for Scuba divers on Lake Travis. (No, I am NOT making this up). My friend owns Windy Point Park and sets up underwater "finds" for scuba divers. The toilet he installed underwater is high and dry, and some kids destroyed it with rocks. The divers take underwater pictures sitting on the throne in their wetsuits.

I don't know if I've ever been happier to give something away for free. This entertaining fate for our old toilet was the icing on the cake. Everything turned out so well and now I take every opportunity to announce to M that I need to "send a delegation to the U.N."

Monday, July 1, 2013

Kate's 4th Birthday - Bike

Kate had been asking for a princess big girl bike, and it was too much fun to oblige her!  Seriously, could a bike BE any girlier?

When I tried to put the bike away in the garage, she broke out in tears and begged to please just get to sit on it in the driveway a little bit longer.

I think she likes it.

I am so glad we have Kate.  She is just the icing on our family cake.

And speaking of cake, after church yesterday they served cake as a thank you to our bishop who was recently released. But Kate was absolutely convinced that the cake was for her birthday.

I didn't try that hard to dissuade her ;)

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kate's 4th Birthday - Bowling

Kate requested going bowling as a family for her birthday.

We had a great time! Well... mostly.

Claire discovered that the removal of bumpers alters the difficulty of the game significantly. Based on the bowling lanes policy, Claire was too old/too tall to use the bumpers.  We encouraged her to try to learn to bowl without them.  This was met with mixed reviews.  By which I mean violent mood swings.  She couldn't decide if she was proud of herself for learning to get better or totally pissed off that Scott and Kate were getting higher scores than her.  It was not easy for my little natural athlete to score worse than her slightly gimpy little brother.  I need to show her these photos though, and maybe she'll feel better.

Claire looked like she was learning to bowl:

Scott looked like he was having a seizure that serendipitously rolled a bowling ball down the lane:

Birthday girl Kate was adorable, even when she pushed her ball so slowly it didn't make it down the lane:

And what could be more flattering than a rear photo of you helping your preschooler bowl?

(I'm sure M is thrilled to be featured thusly.) Here, I'll try to redeem myself by showing him actually bowling:

In the end, I'm willing to post a picture of our score because I at least managed to break 100.

And you can see why Claire wasn't too thrilled with her performance. I actually think she did GREAT for her first time without bumpers, but in her mind Scott and Kate's scores needed an asterisk afterword to signify their totally unfair bumper advantage.

But none of this matters, because Kate will tell anyone who asks that SHE won.

And as part of the bowling alley experience, we ordered some food from the snack bar.  (We may also have been hoping that a little blood sugar boost might help with Claire's bumper-bereft tragedy.)  And since it was Kate's birthday, we got chips and guacamole:

Kate LOVES LOVES LOVES guacamole. Unfortunately while I was returning my bowling shoes, I missed getting a photo of her trying to lick the guacamole directly out of the bowl. We might have let her get away with it, but there were still chips left.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Photography Challenge Day #23 - Sunflare

So I'm going to bend the traditional photographic definition of "sunflare" on this one.

Because when you're at your parents' house and you see this sunset, you decide it counts as sunflare and take a photo of it.


I want to force myself to practice taking photos a little more, so I'll be posting for this 30 Day Photography Challenge even though the "official" challenge is long over.  However, posts are definitely not daily.

My rules for my self are:
1 - Take everything in manual mode
2 - No post-processing, only SOOC