Friday, December 31, 2010

The Annual Epistle of Exaggeration and Outright Falsehoods.

In my ususal procrastinating habit, I have finally composed the annual family holiday letter. I DO write this every year. I just never get around to sending it. I take photos of my ornery kids and make a cute card, and I never mail that either!

Dear Family and Friends:

I sit at the keyboard once again to update you all on the epic experiences of the Roper Family. It was a great year, with many milestones and adventures. First an update on all the family members:

Here's what you expected to hear:

Thing One has graduated from college and is now shopping for a Master's program. She's making six figures at her current job, and is dating four very nice young men (who all have six figure incomes as well) but hasn't decided which marriage proposal she should accept...

Here's what really happened:

Thing One is making great progress in college (she is taking a break, actually, after deciding to change her major and discovering she must start over). She is currently furthering her career at a wonderful company in Orem where she excels at answering the phone and handing out donuts. She quit her second job at the movie theater and is very happy with her "real job." Mommy is sad that she doesn't get to go to free first run movies anymore. With the adoption of our new kitty Asparagus, she has now become a Certified Cat Lady. She continues to sing with Mapleton Chorale, it is her only joy (if she were to start dating, she might have more joy -- any eligible young men you could fling in her general direction would be appreciated).

And more exaggeration:

Thing Two graduated from high school with half of his college credits completed. After agonizing over his many, many options, he finally decided to accept the full ride offer from Yale. His side business doing video capture of Halo gaming has netted him enough funds to retire by the time he is 28.

And some truth:

Thing Two graduated from high school. You probably missed the announcement because I failed to mail it: please find it enclosed with this letter. We were a bit worried that he would not graduate, merely to spite us.  He is still working at the dollar movie theater, and hating it. He wants a "real job" and is spending a little effort to find one. He is busy preparing for his mission by playing Halo until very late in the night and waking up by the crack of noon everyday. I can only figure that this prepares him by getting all the fun and sleeping-in over with so that he's sick of it, and later he will be eager for rising early in the morning for scripture study with a companion. We can only hope. And he went on a date. With a GIRL. To Prom. We are so proud.

On to more falsehoods:

Due to her stellar performance in school, Screamapillar has decided to graduate early and move directly to a modelling career. She has had very generous offers from Vogue and Better Homes and Gardens as a foot model. 


Screamapillar has grown tall enough to pass up her older sister (who apparently will remain a midget forever). She's playing many much soccers at the high school, and scoring many much goals. She likes boys, talking on the phone, texting and chatting on Facebook. And crab fishing. And looking beautimous. Since getting her phone for her birthday last March, she has sent 4,782,817 text messages. Yes, she has worn out the keyboard on her phone. She hates housework, her siblings, and housework. She also sings in choir, mostly because there are not enough boys in soccer. She will be turning 16 in three months, and we live in fear.

And what has Luke Skywalker NOT been up to?

Luke Skywalker has excelled in all things sporting. He's playing Varsity first string on Provo High's football team, and averages four goals per game. 

In real life:

Luke Skywalker is 13 and now officially a teenager. He doesn't quite have Thing Two's capacity for sleeping, but give him time, people, give him time. He suffers from extreme shortness. Since his older brother suffered from the same ailment, and has now topped six feet in height, the little boy has hope. He decided it would be in his best interest to skip middle school, and proceed straight to high school, thus opening up new methods of torturing his older sister. He does this just by being there. It causes Screamapillar untold humiliations. He has had a little trouble adjusting to the middle school schedule, sometimes losing track of all the stuff he's got to do. But he's trying hard, and making progress.

And the little one?

Eclair has mastered four languages and has written and published a children's book. She has learned to drive and use a credit card, taking a lot of the pressure off me in running errands.

In real life she's pretty amazing:

Eclair continues to thrive in her big school. She's in fourth grade now and moved up to the "big kids" special ed class, and has a new teacher for the first time since pre-school. She misses her old teacher, but thinks Mr. C is "cool." She is almost at grade level in many subjects, which is big progress for her. She loves to read, and is currently working on doing a project for the science fair. She has lots of really great friends who love her and she is a happy little soul.

Enough now. Here's what really went down this year:

We unfortunately bookended the year with two tragedies. We lost our Grandpa Paul (Hubby's dad) in January, and then lost the tabernacle to fire in December. In between, better stuff happened: we saw the beautiful ice castles at the Zermatt, and had a wonderful vacation to the Logan valley where we camped and go to cheese factory and a demolition derby. We traveled to Ramah for our dear grandpa's funeral and again for a dear cousin's wedding. We watched our kids sing in choir, march in band, play soccer, play in orchestra, act in plays, serve in church, blow things up at the science fair, and do many other amazing things. Our kids are the best.

Hope 2010 was as good for all of you as it was for us.

Sorry about the picture, it's the best we could manage.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Top Ten

Wow. What a great Christmas. Everyone was happy, and there was a minimum of screaming at our house. Completely amazing. So today I prepare for you a list
of the top ten reasons it was SO great:

Santa got to go to bed before midnight for the first time in recorded history.

It was 9am before anyone was awake enough to want to open presents.
So, yeah, the incredible sleeping abilities of teenagers was an advantage for once.

The peoples who live in my house were actually animated and joyful about the presents.
No sullen "whatever"s from the ungrateful sleepy teenagers!
There were smiles! SMILES I say!

Eclair still believes in Santa. And he brought her the greatest desire of her heart:
a diary that locks.
 Because you know how it is with everyone invading the privacy
of a 9 year-old's innermost thoughts.
I read her diary. She made the mistake of entrusting me with the key.
 Today's entry says: "I have nothing to say today."
OOOooo! Now we know all her secrets.

The apple pie I made was horrible but no one complained.

I got a NAP! An actual nap! I think they were so quiet because they had all
overdosed on the chocolate that Santa so kindly left for me this year....
but quiet all the same, so I am grateful.

We stayed home and hosted dinner with some lovely family members we don't see
often enough. So it goes without saying,
 that I was the only one yelling at my kids for a change...

Since I cooked everything that was hot, and lovely Auntie Vee brought
amazing Hawiian rolls and salad, my kid's didn't complain
about potential food poisoning from
certain OTHER aunties who they live in fear of....

There was enough leftover food to ensure
that I won't have to cook anything for quite a while.


(yeah, I got some wonderful colorful and cool spatulas. I love spatulas. 
You can never have too many. They are awesome.)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, Everyone!

Merry Christmas from our family. Wishing you and all those you love a wonderful holiday.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas means carnage.

My tree looks so lovely. It has managed to stay decorated this year, unlike last year's "naked tree" experience.

Last year Asparagus the Incredibly Dimwitted Kitty came to live at our house. In bitty-kitty fashion, he tried (with total success) to maim and destroy my tree. He climbed it at every opportunity, knocking down fragile glass ornaments and shattering them. I placed the less breakable ornaments down low, thinking I would be reducing the risk of breakage. Instead, he would lie under the tree shredding these ornaments instead.

I resorted to the internet: Google search "how do I keep my idiot cat out of the Christmas tree." Thank you Internet: a fount of endless stupid ideas. But I have to try something, so here goes:

Option One, Squirt gun. Premise: cat's don't like water and will flee in terror.

This served only to distract Gus momentarily. He couldn't figure out where the water was coming from, discovered that he didn't really care where the water was coming from, and returned to his wholesale destruction of the tree. And unless I wanted to ceaselessly patrol my living room 24/7 until New Year's, I needed a better solution.

Option Two, Cayenne pepper. Premise: spread on the carpet, cat gets it on paws and has to lick it off while grooming, then never returns to the area.

Well it's a good thing that grandma's pug peed on my tree skirt last year and I threw it away so don't have one anymore. I wouldn't want to be putting pepper on the skirt, now, would I? Muffin was annoyed by the pepper, and angry also. But she wasn't the one bothering the tree. Gus never noticed the pepper. And he never groomed himself (this is a long story by itself: ickle kitty was abandoned WAY too young, and had to be taught some valuable survival skills. He has since learned that if he does not bathe himself, there is a hose and cold water in his future...) so this was a complete and dismal failure.

Option Three, Orange peel. Premise: cats don't like citrus, it should repel them.

So, we peeled some oranges and spread the peels under the tree.

Gus ate them.

So we had a naked tree.

This year, he seems to have grown and matured, and doesn't seem quite as interesed in the ornaments and tree.

Thank heaven.

This is a really good thing, because Gus has grown into an enormous tub of lard, and if he attempeted to climb the tree now, it would not be able to bear his immense weight, and I'm certain it would fall over. Maybe we should put him on a diet?

Of orange peels and Cayenne pepper?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

A Little Broken Piece of my Heart

A small piece of my heart broke yesterday.

I woke up December 17th, 2010 at 6:30 AM. I knew my car had to be scraped and started if I was not going to be driving an iceberg on wheels to work. 6:45, my friend Sarah sends me a text.

"Provo Tabernacle is burning down."

At first, I was trying to see how that statement worked, Sarah's statements sometimes being non-sequiter. Then my stomach begins to sink.

I ran upstairs and turned on KSL--nothing, just the weather. I go back downstairs and wake up mom, telling her I'm not sure, but I just got a text to telling me what happened. We both run upstairs, and now the news has changed to the traffic--focusing on the closing of the main streets around the Tabernacle. It then went to footage of the Tabernacle.

I started choking up.

I finished getting ready for work, and mom got dressed to head down to take pictures. Throughout the day at work, I discussed it with a lot of people, via text, IM and facebook. Mom shared with me the photos she took when she went down.

After work, I briefly drove downtown and could see all the firetrucks, and the pillar of smoke coming out from the ruins. Seeing the roof gone really...kinda started to make it sink in.

I had a concert, Carols and Confections w/ the Maple Mountain High school that night, so after driving through nightmarish construction traffic, I was there. Every time the rental organ played, my mind turned to the Tabernacle back home that was still burning.

On my way home, I battled the construction again, as well as snow. Mom and the kids met me downtown to look a where things stood. I held it together until I saw one of the pillars that held the balcony up standing free, silhoutted through the window. I walked around the building to the south side with mom, which was where I really lost it.

A light fixture in the doorway of the south side entrance. The heating vent right above it, between the stairs that used to lead to the clock tower. I heard part of the south-east tower stairs collapse. I could see through the melted and broken windows to where the organ should have been to the smoky sky. Flames could still be seen through the windows and busted doors.

Our whole community is heartbroken at the loss of not only a religious meeting place...but for the loss of a piece of HISTORY. This is one of the oldest buildings west of the Mississippi. Older than the SLC tabernacle.

I love that building. I have known that building for as long as I can remember. Growing up, our stake conferences were held there, and I have distinct memories of mom hissing at me and my younger siblings to get way from the balcony before we fell and DIED. I remember trying to slide down the banisters. I remember countless concerts over the years. I remember Screamapillar at the age of three singing, "I am a Child of God" with her little friends at stake conference. I remember the first time I heard the organ play during a dress rehearsal for our annual PHS Masterworks concert. I remember another Masterworks concert, performing a positively DISASTEROUS rendition of "Come Thou Fount."

I have so many memories of that wonderful, sacred building, and it breaks my heart to see it like this. And yet...there is still hope.

The miracle is not the fact that the image of Christ in the Second Coming is preserved. It is what it symbolizes. Christ is always there. He will ALWAYS be there for us, despite what fires of the world will try to destroy us. It cannot destroy Him.

Going back again to the ruins tonight, the fires finally extinguished, there is still a sacredness there, even among the ruins of that wonderful building that was dedicated to the Lord. I have felt it, and even in the face of this tragedy, I have found my faith strengthened. While the physical and monetary loss is great, the Spirit of God remains, and will never leave us.

Tomorrow night I will perform in another dedicated building, the Assembly Hall on Temple Square in SLC. I hope that I can share this testimony of faith and never ending spirit with those who come to see us perform.

While I will miss this building, and it hurts, I find comfort in God, and a true phrase I have written in my journal.

"And this, too, shall pass."

I like to think that with God's help, we can make it through and become better in all ways.


A picture of mom comforting a woman ended up picked up by the AP, and you can see it on the CBSNews website HERE.

Friday, December 17, 2010

c-c-c-cold. a poem.

early morning chill

it is December

my breath making frosty clouds in the air

as my sweetie and I

thaw our frozen inflexible fingers

by the warmth

of the kitchen stove.


Do you think

that maybe

we can get a new blower motor for the furnace today?"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas shopping - gift ideas!

I've been slacking lately and not posting as much as I should. I could have something to do with my calendar. It lately has taken to careening wildly out of control. Happens kinda like this every December.

But I thought I might share with you today some gift ideas. For the discriminating shopper.

What's one thing EVERYONE needs?


I picked these out, just for you!

 Our first offerings are for the Disney freak. You know one. You know you do. What better way to punish them that with one of these lovely sweaters?

This just doesn't make any sense. But that iguana is ugly.

Don't forget the boys! They need something exceedingly tacky, too!

 This one is perfect for Christmas. Plastic Rudy there has a nose that REALLY lights up. That'll only be annoying for the first 4000 hours or so. You'll get used to it.

And one for Hubby, to remind him which room he's in charge of cleaning:

AAAAHHHHH!!! RUN AWAY!! RUN AWAY!!!! This one should have been
 posted in October under the heading "HORRORS."

 Did you notice that they are
A bargain at twice the price in my opinion.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Mo Tab.

There are a few advantages to living in Utah.

No, not the freezing cold of winter.

Or the blistering heat of summer.

Or the volatile fall and spring where it can be freezing in the morning and blistering in the afternoon.

Really! There are a few advantages!

We have the Mo Tab. Or Mormon Tabernacle Choir. And they are amazing.

Every Sunday morning there is a broadcast of "Music and the Spoken Word" that if FREE to attend. Free, I say! Why haven't you been yet? We totally love to go. Get up super early at 7am on a Sunday morning when we don't have to be at church until 11 am, drive for 45 minutes to Salt Lake City........Okay. We don't love that part. Especially when it's snowing. But we do it anyway because it is not to be missed.

I would go every week if it were manageable. But it's not, so it's easier to make the family go with me if I try for a few times each year. Our most recent trip was.....eventful.

The Christmas concerts are always the best! And most crowded. We would need a good plan: right day, leave very early to get a seat, pack snacks. We decided our date a few weeks in advance, making sure everyone would be available. Unless Hubby had an unscheduled meeting that he wasn't told about until the last minute, which he did.

We woke up to snow.

Tons of snow.

I tried to talk them out of it, the children. But Thing One was determined! She shovelled the walk & driveway, dug out the car, and started it early to warm it up. She cheerfully (and not so cheerfully) poked and prodded everyone into motion. She helped Eclair to dress, combed Luke Skywalker's rebellious hair, and packed little bags of cereal for snacks. There was no getting out of this. We were going, as a family.  And we began the white knuckle trip to SLC.

We had no idea when we departed how bad it would be. The snow flew thicker the further north we went. They call it "lake effect." I call it horrible. It appeared as though the snowplow drivers were on strike. The normally four lane freeway was lost in the frozen wasteland of white. I followed tire tracks of the other brave souls who proceeded me, hoping that I wouldn't be following someone into the median or off the road altogether. All the way there, I kept muttering "we shoulda stayed home.....we shouldn't be out in this.....we are all gonna die." Each time she heard the muttering, Thing One would flash a brilliant smile my direction, reminding me that this was all her fault and I should shoot her when we got home.

The trip normally takes 45 minutes. On this day, it took 75.

We are supposed to be in our seats by 9:10 am. I dropped the kids at the curb at 9:25. "RUN! You might make it! I'll park, and since there's not a chance I will make it in, I'll meet you in the North Visitors' Center after the broadcast!" And I hurried to park in the underground lot.

The underground lot is quite nice. It's not so cold, and there is no snow. For those of you who may live where there is no snow, you may not be aware of how difficult it is to park when it snows. No one can see the lines. So they park....wherever. Which is really freaking annoying. And annonying. Really annoying. I'm very annoyed by it. Really. It is only made worse by well-meaning plow drivers who create these giant snow mounds while they're clearing the lots - usually the mounds will take up 4-6 parking spaces, making it even harder to find a spot. So, yeah, underground is BLISS.

But underground is usually crowded. Because I think everyone else hates street parking as much as I do. This day was not crowded. Hmmm. Unusual for Christmas at the Mo Tab.....I was able to park right by the elevator. I sprinted. Shuffled, really. Because it was slick I tried to be careful, yet quick. I crossed the street against the light and managed to avoid getting cited for jaywalking. I shuffled even faster - the doors were still open! One of the senior missionaries, a man in his seventies, started running toward me "We'll get you in, Sister, take my arm!" They held the door for me, and I climbed the stairs. Where are my kids? Found them quick. Walking quietly to sit by them as they count down "four, three, two" and the broadcast begins.

This video is a different day/year from when we went, but this song was my favorite:

 (I miss Craig Jessop. He's an incredible conductor. He's so exuberant that he once gave himself a nosebleed when he hit himself in the face with his own baton. True story.)

It was great. Some of my absolute favorites, Wilberg arrangements. Spoken word was inspiring. Stupid ungrateful children fell asleep. Or at least dozed a little. But we made it.

I found out why underground was not crowded. Why they held the doors for me. The place was nearly empty, especially compared to normal at Christmastime. Afterward, Bro. Newell got up and thanked everyone for braving the storm to be with them. This is the stuff memories are made of.

Here's the photo:

Sleepy children after an amazing concert.

Can you tell these were taken with my poor cell phone? I wonder what it would have been
 like if I had taken the real camera? Maybe something like this?


Much, much better. Hi, Mack Wilberg!


 Of course now it's two weeks later, and we're not in the Tabernacle, but the Conference Center.


Which is pretty amazing.


I didn't actually go this time, I'm old and I need my sleep.
Screamapillar and Thing One went. 
And it wasn't snowing.



The fountain...

and the lovely waterfall window.

See how lovely it can be? I highly recommend it.

For our sad family trip, we didn't have such great pictures.

And on the way home we stopped at McDonalds to use the bathroom and were accosted by very agressive panhandlers.

But that's another story. For another day. Hopefully one I can forget very soon.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Present for mom

My OLDER sister (people think I'm older for some insane reason, just making it clear here that she is OLDER than me. OLDER than dirt. Older. Got it? Good. Now don't forget it. I'm younger. SO much younger. I'll never be old.) anyway: my OLDER sister is putting together a present for our wonderful fantastic mother. And she asked me for some pitchers when she was here for Thanksgiving.

Many times.

Many many times.

She called and left messages after she went back home: "Please, when you get a sec, would you email me some pictures?"

and more messages.

and more...

She sent me an email: "Please send pictures!"

And another.

And another.

And she FaceBook message-ed me:
"PLEASE!!!! SEND PICTURES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"
(I do not exaggerate. She used many exclamation points. Because I was ignoring her. 'Cause I'm ornery like that.)

Since I'm a photographer and my kids are SO completely over-photographed, you would think this would be an easy task. But because I'm a photographer and I SO completely over-photograph my kids this is a daunting undertaking.

There are literally 14 gabillion photos on my computer.

Daunting, indeed.

So last night after getting ANOTHER Facebook message, I had to stop playing Mall World and get to work.

Here's what I sent my sister (who asked for my best, mind you):

Luke Skywalker at his 6th grade gratuation.

Screamapillar eatin' a snowcone.

Thing Two Easter morning.

Thing One eatin' a s'more in the woodsen.

And I saved the best for last.
My dear, sweet, little Eclair.

Don't I have lovely adorable offspring? I'll bet everyone out there reading this envies me and my perfectly photogenic children.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Easier than it looks

A few years ago at a craft fair I saw the most amazing thing.
So I bought it. It was so shiny and beautiful!!!
And now I have attempted to make my own.

They aren't as perfect as the one I bought, but I did my best.

Look! There's me! My reflection in the shiny silver ball! Hi, Me!

I bought the 12 pack of glass bulbs at the dollar store, for (surprise!) a buck. The paint and other materials I already had on hand. I just used regular white craft paint, which was fine even for the silver ball. You could use whatever color you want (but I like white, be a sheep - use white). I only took off the lid and used the paint that was on the inside of the lid. Very little paint required. And no messy cleanup if you follow my example.

Here's the trick:

No paintbrushes needed. Just a pencil eraser with a straight pin stuck in. If you can't manage to stick the pin in the eraser without drawing blood, walk away now. I'll make one for you and you can pick it up at my house. The green ball was my practice ball, it took a bit of time to perfect the technique. If you make a mistake, just wipe it off quickly with a wet paper towel.

Remove the hanger from the bulb, and slip it over a pencil. Wipe it down with a clean cloth to remove your grubby fingerprints. Then do yer painting, and put the pencil into a cup to dry. Easy as pie.

See? Any idiot can do this. I did.

The real skill is in not getting paint on your clothes because you're a klutz (me) and trying to come up with a suitable design that doesn't suck. YOU CAN DO IT!!! I KNOW YOU CAN!!!

Go forth, and paint.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Daily List

Every day I make up a list of stuff I gotta do. I've been doing it since the dawn of time. I love to cross things off, even if they are stupid things like "drive to work" because then I feel like I might have actually accomplished something today.

I'd like to share with you the most recent items that really need to get done, but never quite get off the list:

Finish hanging Christmas lights. I LOVE having a billion lights up. During the 2002 Olympics we lit up the house and yard with a ton of red white and blue lights that we kept up thru the the end of February. With Screamapillar's help, there are currently 600 LED bulbs lighting up the front bushes. And man are they bright. I still have approximately 659 more strings of lights I would like to hang. There is a neighborhood lighting contest on the 16th. Thing Two begged his father to leave me in the dark (ha!) about this, but word got out. I just need to sort through all the lights, figure out which ones are busted beyond repair, then hang them before the temperatures drop below freezing again. Maybe this year I'll actually throw away the busted lights so I don't have to sort through them again next year...

Retake the family photo for the annual Christmas card. Eclair was having a meltdown during the original shoot, and looks like she had been crying. Because she was. Desperately needs a re-do. Everyone looks lame. And then I need to compose the Annual Epistle of Exaggeration and Outright Falsehoods. And then fail to mail it.

Remove the gelatinous pumpkins from the front porch. These are not Halloween ones, just the uncarved punkins from Thanksgiving that I keep meaning to remove to the garden so they may fulfill the measure of their creation and make more pumpkins for next year. One of them looks like a puddle now. Frankly, I've let this go so long that I am now afraid to move them.

Anybody wanna come over and help?

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Tis the season

December. The beginning of the madness. SO MUCH BUSY-NESS!!!!!





Recitals & performances & events.

Family gatherings.

and one other item......

Shopping: for some the madness began last week with Black Friday. Which I swore I would not participate in. You shouldn't swear. It's bad. And it doesn't help much. Especially when your oldest daughter talks you into participating in Black Friday. She was at the shops at 3am. I accidentally slept in until 10:30. And then she carted me hither and yon until 10:30 pm. I got some amazing deals, and so the shopping is almost done and I have lived to tell about it.

Decorating? Well, most of the stuff   never got put away  last year, so I guess I'm nearly done! Just getting the tree up and decorated, with an anti-cat program in place. Last year Gus was a cute little kitten and climbed the tree daily. He broke nearly EVERY glass ornament on the tree. This year he has lost the cuteness factor, and I have sworn (there I go again) to KILL him if he does it again. I have a little tiny pair of shackles with his name on them...

Cooking. Always looking for an excuse to make some good stuff. I won't mind cooking one bit. Bring on the butter.

Crafts! Crafts!!!!! I have 14 billion ideas I want to do!!!! Will they ever be completed? With my track record, probably not. But I will make a valiant effort. And I will blog them for you. I will show you how to make a little tiny cowboy hat ornament out of a styrofoam cup.....magical!

As for recitals, performances, and events:  Screamapillar is performing today at Temple Square in Salt Lake City with her choir. And she sings again Friday at the Christmas party at the church, and another choir performance twice on Saturday. I'm sure there are a dozen other performances that she hasn't told me about yet.

Thing One sings with Mapleton Chorale. They are performing at the Covey Center today and Thursday, and then only a half dozen other performances, one of which might not cost me $12 to attend. She also will be singing at Temple Square. Apparently, if you sing in a choir it is required by law that you sing at Temple Square at Christmas.

Thing Two is a slacker. His sax is gathering dust. He no longer has a band to call his own and there will be no Temple Square for him. So sad. Instead he will (as the only partially sane member of the family) boycott all band and choir performances in favor of playing Halo with people he has never met who haven't made his life unbearable like the miserable beings he is forced to live with.

Luke Skywalker is in a band. A very lame 7th grader band. Have you ever been to a 7th grad band concert? I dare you to label them anything but lame. If you are invited to one, make sure you have a backup plan with something you'd like to do better. Like having a root canal. It's all part of being in 7th grade. I assume that he has a Christmas concert at some point. He keeps telling me every morning "I'll ask my teacher," which is followed up after school by "I forgot." I wonder if we will ever know....

Eclair plays piano. Incessantly. You may drop by at anytime, because we are currently living in a perpetual state of "Christmas Recital." In fact, when Luke Skywalker was downstairs in his room practicing "Silent Night" on his clarinet, Ecliar started accompanying him from the living room. This ended in fisticuffs, as Luke Skywalker (new to clarinet after abandoning the violin) assumed he was being mocked.

Ah, harmony. Ain't is a beautiful thing?

Almost as great as Family Gatherings. It's especially fun in my family. Eveyone comes here to visit, and I'm expected to put my life on hold and follow my extended family's schedule (even if they don't). My sister invests loads of time creating the schedule. It is sent out a month in advance and I am warned that I had better be available for every event. So if the schedule says "Sledding" on Wednesday, I should not prepare my children for sledding. I should be ready instead for a movie, shopping, or perhaps some other activity that pops into my sister's head. Sledding will have happened the day before and I missed it because someone forgot to tell me that they modified the schedule.

She can't really be blamed for it, though. ADD runs rampant through my entire family. We are ALL very impuse driven. We have good intentions, thus the attempts at a schedule. We just have a real failure to follow through. Which makes for a lot of spur of the moment fun.

Now don't forget my "one other item."  The Annual Epistle of Exaggeration and Outright Falsehoods. I have to write it. When I do, I will share it with you. As you know me so well, I am sure you will be able to sort fact from fiction.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 27, 2010






I apologize to anyone who might have a liking for U of U 
who had to look at the above photo and 
be exposed for who you really are......not really, actually. 
I'm a rabid BYU fan. 
Learn to live with it.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving, from the turkey hanging from my front door.

Some things I am thankful for today:

That while my tears and contact lenses froze within seven seconds of stepping outside today, my actual eyeballs did not.

That my favorite grocery store anticipated that I would fail to remember I was supposed to bring rolls to Thanksgiving dinner at Mom's, and got up early to bake some for me.

That I made two pies last night. So that at least one survived until this morning to take to dinner.

That only one of my sisters will be at Mom's today...let's hope they don't read my blog. I don't think they do.

That 33 people care enough to follow this blog and validate my silliness.

But truly and deeply, I am thankful for my wonderful insane family. They think they don't love me, but they do.   Even for my crazy sisters who drive me berserk. For my parents and MIL who do so much for me. For neighbors and friends who help me out and make me laugh when things are crappy. For the employment and education opportunities my family has been given. For the gospel of Jesus Christ and the many necessities of life I am blessed with. I could go on all day, because 
I am very thankful for many blessings today.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


If you're lucky, you willl have leftovers. If you went to your mother's house and every relative you have was there and they all are incredible pigs who eat everything set before them, you won't. Have leftovers. And you are a sad panda.

But if you have leftovers, I have some ideas for you!!!

Leftover Turkey: How about some TURKEY and LEEK PIE!!!

Leftover Stuffing: You could use it to make This Decorative Craft! (get it? stuffing? Nevermind.)

Leftover Potatoes: Those should be saved for Home Improvement Projects.

Leftover Cranberry Sauce: Save it for next Halloween and make This Lovely Ensemble.

Leftover Gravy: who are we kidding here? there's never enough gravy. And you know it.

Leftover Pumpkin Pie: We already discussed this. I recommend the Mask.

Leftover Sweet Potatoes: This is a really good one and my own original idea so there is no link. Put them inside a snowball and throw them at people! Imagine their consternation! Pelted with sweet potato! As we are expecting a huge blizzard tonite, I'm really looking forward to this.

Calorie counting during the holidays

With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I might share some age old wisdom that i learned from my mother. She knows absolutely everything, and I'm trying to learn it all before I die. The big pig-out is Thursday, and I'm so looking forward to it! Going to try some new recipes for some old favorites.

But how do you keep from gaining weight during the holidays? Here's some useful tips.

Calories are afraid of heights. If you keep fattening foods on top of the fridge, or on a high shelf for at least one hour prior to serving, the caloires will leap to their death.

Breaking items into smaller peices make the fat grams fall out. For example, breaking a cookie in half reduces the fat grams by half. Cutting bacon into little tiny pieces before adding to a recipe eliminates the fat completely.

Gravy doesn't make you fatter. It actually acts as camouflage so the body doesn't recognize the food it is covering. Think's everthing is oatmeal instead.

If you eat while standing up, all the calories drop to your feet and get walked off.

Drinking a big glass of water before the meal can help you lose weight. Cholesterol is unable to swim and will perish by drowning, flushed through your whole system without being absorbed at all.

The color of your food is very important. You may have heard that vegetables with very deep colors are rich in anti-oxidants. Your brain knows this and told your stomach. So if your desserts are rich in color as well, your body will think they are vegetables and you will not gain any weight. So eat deep, dark chocolates and darker creamy caramels just to make sure.

If your hot fudge sundae is topped with a crouton instead of a cherry, it counts as a salad.

And remember: A balanced diet is a brownie in each hand.

Friday, November 19, 2010

100 Things...

Everyone is doing the whole "100 Things" on their blogs. Except me! Something must be wrong with me. I've had a blog for like 9 whole months now and I have not blogged "100 Things!"  So, it's supposed to be things about me, so maybe you'll learn something new! Here goes:

1. I like to cook, but I hate cleaning up after.

2. I like making crafts, although I seldom finish them.

3. When I do finish crafts, I rarely put everything away correctly until the last possible moment. Or later.

4. I always burn the last batch of cookies because I have ADD and I already moved on to something else.

5. I'm a binge eater - not like I eat tons and puke it up for some insane reason, but I find something I like, eat some everyday for like a month, then I can't stand to ever eat it again.

6. I love to sew costumes & fun things, but for some reason the patterns rarely get back into the envelope - next time I try to use the pattern, essential pieces are missing.....It's like I didn't want to clean up after or something...

7. I have a bunch of half written posts hanging about in my blogger dashboard. Good ideas for posts that never quite made the cut for publishing. Like they don't quite have what is needed to share them with anyone...

8. I recently plucked my left eyebrow but haven't quite gotten around to the right one yet.

9. I started writing up a cookbook of family recipes about 10 years ago, but the project kinda lost steam.

10. The last time I went to the mending basket to work on a project, I found Thing Two's size 3T footie pajamas that needed the zipper fixed. He's 18 now. Don't think he needs those anymore.

11. Are you starting to see a trend here?

12. I make a list of all the crap I need to do everyday, but less than half of it gets crossed off.

13. Every year about this time, I take a family photo and print 30 copies, then compose the "Annual Epistle of Exaggeration and Outright Falsehoods" for the extended family and friends. I never actually mail it.

14.Speaking of not mailing things, Thing Two's graduation announcements are still sitting on the piano. He graduated in May. It is now November.




(Crap. I think my Farmville crops are dying.)

(You need a check for how much for what?)

(IT'S BURNING! You're standing right next to it! Why didn't you stir it?).

(The cat threw up where?)

(No, I don't know where your shoes are. Try looking wherever you took them off.)

(Where the heck is my cell phone? What do you mean "the dog has it?")

(What do you mean I missed your Parent-Teacher conference? The paper is where? Oh. Your backpack. How helpful.)

(She has how many pills left? I guess I'll just drive up to Primary Children's during rush hour traffic to get her refill.)

(What? You missed the bus AGAIN!?!? I told you I'M NOT DRIVING YOU!.......***sigh***  Go warm up the car.)

100. The only things I have ever completed from start to finish took nine months ended in the maternity ward of the hospital.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thank you Debi for making me laugh.

My good friend and former roommate sent this to me today. I loved it and hope you will too. I take absolutely NO credit for this, but I couldn't resist sharing.

Greetings All,

For those of you who are coming to my place for Thanksgiving dinner,
Martha Stewart ain't gonna be here! I'm telling you in advance, so
don't act surprised. Since Ms. Stewart won't be coming, I've made a few
small changes:

Our sidewalk will NOT be lined with homemade, paper bag luminaries.
After a trial run, it was decided that no matter how cleverly done,
rows of flaming lunch sacks do not have the desired welcoming effect.

Once inside, our guests will note that the entry hall is not decorated
with the swags of Indian corn and fall foliage I had planned to make.
Instead, I've gotten the kids involved in decorating by having them
track in colorful autumn leaves from the front yard. The mud was their

The dining table will NOT be covered with expensive linens, fancy
china,or crystal goblets. If possible, we will use dishes that match
and everyone will get a fork. Since this IS Thanksgiving, we will
refrain from using the plastic Peter Rabbit plate and the Santa napkins
from last Christmas.

Our centerpiece will not be the tower of fresh fruit and flowers that I
promised. Instead we will be displaying a hedgehog-like decoration
hand-crafted from the finest construction paper.
The children assure me it is a turkey.

We will be dining fashionably late. The children will entertain you
while you wait. I'm sure they will be happy to share every choice
comment I have made regarding Thanksgiving, Pilgrims, and the turkey
hot line. Please remember that most of these comments were made at 5:00
a.m. upon discovering that the turkey was still hard enough to cut

As accompaniment to the children's recital, I will play a recording of
tribal drumming. If the children should mention that I don't own a
recording of tribal drumming, or that tribal drumming sounds
suspiciously like a frozen turkey in a clothes dryer, ignore them. They
are lying.

We toyed with the idea of ringing a dainty silver bell to announce the
start of our feast. In the end, we chose to keep our traditional
method. We'll just holler, "come and eat."

We've also decided against a formal seating arrangement. When the smoke
alarm sounds, please gather around the table and sit where you like.
In the spirit of harmony, we will ask the children to sit at a separate
table. a separate door.

Now, I know you have all seen pictures of one person carving a turkey
in front of a crowd of appreciative onlookers. This will not be
happening at our dinner.

For safety reasons, the turkey will be carved in a private ceremony.
I stress "private" meaning: Do not, under any circumstances, enter the
kitchen to laugh at me. Do not send small, unsuspecting children to
check on my progress. I have an electric knife.

The turkey is unarmed. It stands to reason that I will eventually win.
When I do, we will eat.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind my young diners that
"passing the rolls" is not a football play. Nor is it a request to bean
your sister in the head with warm tasty bread.
Before I forget, there is one last change. Instead of offering a choice
between 12 different scrumptious desserts, we will be serving the
traditional pumpkin pie, garnished with whipped cream and small
fingerprints. You will still have a choice; take it or leave it.

Martha Stewart will NOT be dining with us this year.
Next year is not looking good either.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Epic Family Stories Chapter 1: My ankle hurts.

My ankle hurts because I'm old. And because I have some serious arthritis going on.

But mostly because Luke Skywalker ran over it with the car.

It was many years ago, when he was a little tiny three year old. And it's an exciting tale. Every family has these epic tales that add spice to our lives. So I share it with you today.

I had just made a quick run over to the school for some reason, and I had to go somewhere else in just a second, so I left the van parked uphill on the wrong side of the road in front of our house. At the curb. In PARK. I promise. The kids were all in the backyard playing, supervised by the ever-responsible Thing One.

I ran into the house to grab something: the bag of aluminum cans hanging from the doorknob in the kitchen. And ran back out again. In the house for less than one minute. Didn't stop to use the restroom or feed the chickens or anything.

When I stepped out the door, I saw the van starting to roll down the street.

Luke Skywalker is standing up on the drivers seat.

Panic (just a wee bit, mind you).

What do I do? Continue running. Down the sidewalk. Chasing the van as it rolls backward downhill hugging the curb. I'm pretty sure I dropped the cans at some point. I played basketball in high school and college, and I don't think I EVER ran faster. Thing One comes into the front yard to find the missing Luke Skywalker, sees what's going on, and offers the useful contribution of screaming at the top of her lungs.

The neighbor across the street (not the one who spent the better part of a month painting the mortar between the bricks of her house with a craft brush and craft paint, the other one) who is out front pruning her roses, hears Karen screaming, sends her husband after me and calls 911 (I especially love how she didn't wait half a second to see how it would turn out -- she prepared for the worst). Her elderly husband tries valiantly to catch up with me and the van.

Me? I'm able to catch up with the van because I'm amazing. Then I try to open the driver's door. Which I actually succeed at while running sideways now. The transmission is in reverse. Thank you Luke Skywalker for changing the gears for Mommy. We had just had a new transmission put in, and I recall thinking "Crap. New tranny. Must save kid from certain death. To hell with the tranny."

Have you ever tried to change gears in an automatic transmission while it is rolling downhill and you are running sideways outside the vehicle?

I don't recommend it. I don't really think it can be done.

You'd probably just trip and fall. Like I did.

I hung on to the steering wheel, and proceeded to be dragged by the car down the street. Left hand gripping the steering wheel, both legs under the car. Right hand? Put that on the foot brake and stopped the car.

Yep. I'm amazing.

Except the car stopped on me, the tire having rolled up my foot onto my ankle.

Ow. Quite a lot of ow.

The two elderly neighbors caught up with me (another saw what was transpiring and joined Neighbor One in the chase) and then pushed the car off me. Luke Skywalker wasn't even slightly unnerved by the adventure.

The paramedics, a police car and a fire engine arrive. Did I mention we live one block from the fire station? Very convenient. Allows you to be humiliated in front of ALL your neighbors so much more quickly. They check me out, diagnose me with "lacerations and contusions," and a little bit of road rash. Since I can walk okay, they chose not to transport me. They do recommend that I see a doctor if the ankle gets any worse. And then they blessedly leave quickly.

Thank the burly neighbor men who pushed my van, and Neighbor One's quick-thinking wife. Start the car, drive it home and park it in the driveway. Reassure Thing One that she is not a failure at babysitting, Luke Skywalker is just an unstoppable holy terror. Calm the kids down, and start counting the bruises.

Fifteen minutes later, my INSANE PSYCHIC MOTHER calls. "Is everything okay? I was just feeling kind of worried about you." What's up with that? This is not the first time Insane Psychic Mother has done this. Gave her the run down, everyone is okay, no worries. "But what about the baby?" Oh, he's fine. Just fine.

"Not him, the new one?"

Holy Crap.

I forgot I was preggers.

Four months along, three high risk babies with history of miscarrage.

"I guess I could call the doctor and get checked out."

There's an understatement.

I spent two months in a giant black velcro walking boot. Eclair was born 5 months later, and I still wonder if maybe Pervasive Developmental Delay can be caused by extreme levels of stress and anxiety? We'll never know.

Alas, no good lessons were learned. Luke Skywalker? He learned that it's easy to put the car in reverse (new cars you have to push the brake pedal to change gears from "park" so this lesson no longer applies), and if you run over your mom with the mini-van FIRE TRUCKS AND POLICE COME TO YOUR HOUSE!!! Thing One? She learned that you can't take your eyes of that kid for even a fraction of a second. So instead she went on babysitting strike. Had to take that little ornery boy everywhere with me.

Why do I share this today? Because Luke Skywalker just turned 13. He's a teenager now. Almost old enough for a learners permit.

Not in a million years, buddy.

Monday, November 15, 2010


This photo of Eclair feeding leftover oatmeal to the dog has absolutely nothing to do with this post.

Cough Syrup.

Furnaces that work.

Children who help around the house for longer than 12 seconds at a time
(I'd be especially thankful if one of these lived in my house).

Eclair trying and failing to say "photographer" so many times
 that I  now cannot pronounce it correctly.

I'll be thankful if it is EVER COMPLETED.

That my sisters live very far away. And I can leave my mother's house when they are visiting
and escape to my own home where only I am allowed
to yell at my children for no good reason.

Leftovers. So I don't have to cook tomorrow. Unless of course, Luke Skywalker
 eats all the leftover Tortilla Soup for breakfast
and there is none left for dinner tomorrow....
it is highly likely that this will occur.

My mother's cornbread. Tonight in her sick-as-me and confused state
 she added extra sugar. Didn't mind that at all.

Other people's blogs that make me laugh. Out loud.

Finding a Snicker's bar in my sock drawer. I am saved.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

November 11

It's Veteran's Day. A day where we should express our appreciation to the many brave men and women who serve our country. Many. Past, present and future. Their willingness to serve allows us to live our peaceful little lives.

So, if you see a vet, or an active duty soldier, or anyone who might fall into that category, give 'em a high five today. You owe them. Big time.

I have family members who have served in every branch of the military, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. And since my scanner is on strike, I can only share a few here.

Thanks, Dad! 

Thanks Doran! 

Thanks Carl!

And thank you Uncle Buddy. He wrote on the back of this picture "Ready for polar bears."

Nearly ALL the menfolk on my dad's side -- all the uncles and a few of the cousins.

Not pictured, but valued all the same:
Grandpa Hummel
Grandpa Lewis
BIL Paul
and hopefully I haven't forgotten any.

Also remembered today, for a different reason 
is a dear friend, Amanda.

As you can tell from the incandescent smile (and the duct tape pants), she was our kind of people. She passed away two years ago today after a car accident. Karen misses her "stylist" and friend.