Saturday, December 31, 2011

The annual epistle of exaggeration and outright falsehoods - 2012 - A top Ten

I've been meaning to post this all week, but life has just gotten in the way. Christmas was fantastic. We had a great time.

And if we ever get our cards out this year they're going to look like this:

And instead of the annual letter, you'd see this:


10. Thing One got to quit her awful job where they treated her like a deranged hobo, and got a really fantastic job making more money doing what she completely loves to do. She got to go to New York and sing at the Lincoln Center (sorry, Carnegie was closed) with her wonderful choir. She also got a sweet Boyfriend who makes her smile a lot, and she ran away to Mexico to have Christmas with his family because she doesn't love us.

9. Thing Two moved out and then moved back in again. He has learned to appreciate the simple things in life, like not running out of toilet paper because everyone thinks it is someone else's turn to buy it, or eating food that might actually have nutrients and vitamins in it. He has an adorable, lovely, beautiful girlfriend who we don't get to see nearly enough, I think that maybe he is worried that we will somehow reveal to her that he is a dork and she deserves better. We are hoping to have the boy out the door on his mission VERY SOON. Right, boy?

8. Screamapillar continues to kick people in the shins with her cleats and sing in the choir. She likes boys and boys like her. She continues also to be awkward around the boys, which makes for much hilarity. She got to go to Phoenix to visit her grandma, and to Las Vegas on choir tour even though we tried to stop her. She also continues to set world records in texting.

7. Luke Skywalker is still attending Provo High as an 8th grader, solely to annoy his bigger sister. He has finally decided to grow, and is getting taller faster than I can let the hems out of his pants. He has started to raid his older brother's wardrobe in his search for sleeves that are long enough. He has decided to be a scientist someday, in hopes of blowing things up like the Mythbusters.

6. Eclair has taken her chatterbox skills to a new level, taking every opportunity to talk the ears off strangers and friends alike. If you're her facebook friend, beware of chat. If you have a cell phone, make sure I don't have your number or she will text you incessantly. Funny thing though, EVERYONE loves her anyway.

5. Hubby has broken out of his shell and started coming out of his hobbit-hole office into the sunlight to make a few trips. He supervised Screamapillar's trip to Phoenix, and made a solo trip to Baja California where he did not die of anything as expected, including dinosaurs. His shoes were the only casualty of the trip, suprisingly enough. He has a few more trips planned, and as long as he keeps remembering to bring me presents all will be well.

4. I have spent the year sitting around playing Farmville, while simultaneously editing photos. I got to do a lot of fun photos for mostly attractive people (you ugly ones know who you are). Thing One got me the newest version of Photoshop for Christmas, so now this old dog has to learn new tricks.

3. The animals continue well. Misty (our giant yellow lab) got a new dog door, and likes to go in and out and in and out and in and out just to show you that she can. It has helped with her arthritis tons. Muffin and Gus still hate one another. While Muffin has retained her girlish figure, Gus is striving to outweigh Misty, and is juuuuusst about there.

2. We went to California for El Guapo and Felicity's wedding. It was so completely awesome that I am going to make one of my grils get married in 2012 just so I can throw an awesome wedding reception myself (I think Eclair already has a few prospects rounded up - they would just have to have their mother's permission to propose).

1. We made too many trips to the ER, went to too many funerals, drove too many miles, and ate too much food, and were blessed far more than we deserve. We didn't spend enough time cleaning the house, visiting family, and having a good time (because you can never have too much of those).

Hope 2011 was good to you, and that 2012 is even more awesome.

Friday, December 23, 2011

wee little houses

YEA CAMI! She correctly named the style of house in our photo:

These little houses are from a project I did for my parents for Christmas a few years ago. I made about half of the many homes they have lived in since they were married. The little silver one is a quanset hut was their first home, on a military base in California when my dad was in the Navy.

The project was pretty time intensive, I made all the houses from empty cereal box cardboard. Except for the little one there, that's a paper tube instead. They're really just a series of boxes glued together with  peaky little roofs added.

 The really fun part was trying to work past the picture of the house from my memory as a child to what it actually looked like in real life (Google Earth helped a bit, for the houses that are still there today). The houses above are from Camarillo, Poway, and two from San Diego. The large one below is my grandmother's house, where we lived briefly between orders, the other one and half that are visible are from Albuquerque.

Mom puts them out under the Christmas tree every year, and I need to work on finishing them up. I think there are still another twelve to go before I'm done....

I recently came upon a site that has some great patterns for making your own houses. I'd give you mine, but they were completly custom and since I kept wingin' it, my patterns aren't much good to anyone beyond myself.

Looking back at these houses, I really think they need some more "bling." Perhaps it's time for a remodel.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Tale of Two Choirs

Christmas is performing arts season around here. With all the saxamaphone, clarinet, flute, violin, piano and sopranos around here we don't really have a choice.

In the last two weeks we have had two performances, choir in nature, that hit the polar opposites of performances: Thing One performing with Mapleton Chorale at Temple Square, and Eclair and the elementary school fine arts choir.

Mapleton Chorale:

Awesome Choir. You must audition and make the "cut" before you can sing. Sang in Alice Tully Hall in NYC last June. Previous director is now Assistant Director to the MoTab. Like I said, AWESOME CHOIR.

Eclair is in Show Choir. They are all 5th and 6th Graders. The ones who didn't choose Ballroom Dance (perhaps they have two left feet?), or Orchestra (perhaps they don't play an instrument?), Guitar (perhaps they don't want to be rock stars?) or Drama (the don't die well onstage as is required when they only do Romeo & Juliet every year...).

No auditions or singing ability required for this little group. They love everybody. I must say, that I was expecting a painful performance (because there are a bunch of 6th grade boys with squeaky voices, you know).  I was VERY pleasantly surprised by what a great job they did. Their acapella numbers were great. Really great. That choir teacher must really know her stuff, becuase this was better than the freshman choir at the high school. I didn't expect such great harmonizing.

So as a performance, it doesn't fall short at all.

Where the big difference is, is here:

Thing One there, on the top. Matching uniforms. Clean faces. Smiling faces, spectacular voices.

Back to Eclair's choir:

Uniforms not so uniform. But that's okay, their faces are clean. BUT - I'm missing the smiling faces - instead we have that kid on the left who looks like someone just shot his dog. I laughed out loud when I downloaded this from the camera.
As we continue along this breakneck race towards Christmas, I am doing and making much. But it's hard to post things because the people I'm making things for READ this blog, and I want their gifts to be a surprise! So I'm going to do two more awesome posts real soon, on stuff that I did last year and before, including these wonderful houses.

Bonus points to anyone who comments and knows what that roundish silver thing in the photo below is:

Saturday, December 10, 2011

An Early Morning

Something lovely happened today:

Close, so close, just before the full eclipse.

I was merciful. I didn't get Luke Skywalker up until 6:30 (I waited a whole thirty minutes). He was able to see the lunar eclipse about halfway accomplished. I was hoping that he might be able to get some extra credit in his science class for making the effort to get up and see it. He said, "take a picture for me and get me up again in a half hour."

Then I got in the car and tried to escape the light pollution in order to capture the above image for you.

At seven am, I dashed back to the house to gather the children so they might see the full eclipse with me. They were awesome. They were in the car, barefoot and wrapped in blankets before I even finished the words "we'll go to Krispy Kreme after."

As we drove again to the "sweet spot," we passed many others: a pajama clad man sitting in a lawn chair in front of his house. A lady bundled up in many scarves sitting in her car taking photographs. Some joggers who had paused to have a look. A man beside his still-running truck, taking a photo with his iphone. A cyclist standing next to his bike taking it all in.

And I realized that there are two kinds of people in this world: those who will get up early, so early, in order to witness the amazing wonders of this world....

...and those who, when presented with the opportunity to get up at six am on a Saturday when it is precisely 18 degrees outside, say to me:


(we missed you, Hubby and Thing One. And we didn't save you any donuts, either)

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Mad dash: four

One more ornament today. This is another favorite, one my mother taught me when I was twelve years old. A LITTLE COWBOY HAT for your TREE!!!


Styrofoam cups
Ribbon scraps
An operational oven that will reach 275 degrees.

Preheat your oven, and use an UNGREASED cookie sheet for this craft. PLEASE, although it may seem tedious, you will want to make only ONE AT A TIME in order for these not to come out looking like this:

Again, I suppose if mutation is your thing, do five at a time and knock yourself out.

Here's what's going to happen to your cup when you put it in the oven (please excuse the poor quality, it's a little difficult to shoot through the window on my oven).

As you can see, the cup shrinks and flattens. As soon as it starts to look like that bottom image, you will need to quickly yank it out of the oven and do this:

Bend up the sides for the brim. They will cool very quickly, and then are ready for trimming.

Add a ribbon around the brim, and punch a hole in the crown with a pin and run a knotted string through for hanging on the tree.

Yee haw! These also make WONDERFUL Barbie hats, btw....

linking to a whole lotta places including:

Mad dash: three

More ornaments. This is a re-run from last year, but one of my FAVORITES so we're just reviewing for your enjoyment.

More bulbs. This is REALLLY  a simple craft, and it is outlined in this post.

Go check it out!

Mad dash: two

Ready to try another ornament? Also inspired by Pinterest?


How about something WONDERFUL and SHINY and HARRY-POTTER-ISH?

Like a golden snitch.


Ornament ball
Wing shaped pattern cut out of the envelope that Thing One's passport arrived in last week
Sparkly fun foam in GOLD (99 cents at Hobby Lobby!)
Warm melt glue gun*

*warm melt, because last time I used a hot melt gun there was lots of swearing and excessive use of aloe vera ointment.

Otay - trace around your pattern and cut out two wings from the foam. Unless you have some kind of mutation in mind for your snitch, then cut as many wings as you like, I suppose.

Glue wings at the top of the bulb near the hanger.


So, Snitch!!! or maybe batman on his way to a fancy dress ball? No, snitch.


mad dash, one

I am trying madly to catch up with all the WONDERFUL Christmas stuff we've been doing here on the blog. Funny how it's now 2:16 am on Wednesday, December 7, a day that shall live in infamy for a NEW reason now!

How many blog posts can a blogger post in a day? LET'S FIND OUT!

Post One: Ornament Thing One Found on Pinterest (which I scoffed, "I can MAKE that!" and then promptly did.


Ball ornament
Two beads that will fit over the end of the toothpicks
a small amount of coordination and patience

Here's where it gets REALLY COMPLEX:

Put the beads on the ends of the toothpicks. You should probably wear some protective glasses so you don't take your eye out.

Then put some glue on the ball and wrap the yarn neatly around it
(it's just that I have trouble doing anything neatly)

After you wind it all neatly around the ball, go to town with some semi-random winding, glue down your yarn's tail, and hopefully you'll have this:

WOO HOO!!! Lovely knitting ball for my mommy who likes to knit and crochet.

Phew. So glad that's over, it was a LOT of work!

Monday, December 5, 2011

gone missing

No. I'm not dead. Yet.

Actually, I'm feeling better! I had all kinds of wonderful Chistmas post ideas in my head, and then I got sick. Sicker than I have been in longer than I can remember. I was trying to be "mom of steel" and tough it out, and then my friends made me go to the doctor. B predicted I had a sinus infection. She wins the Sicko Lottery. I also have bronchitis. Today I feel better than I have in a long time, but still not quite up to par.

All I have for you today is this photo:

which I will entitle "Anguish"

and this photo:

 which I will entitle "Madwoman."

I will be working frantically to prepare another post for later today, Thing One and I have some "cheap and easy" Christmas ornaments and crafts for your enjoyment.

Thanks for tuning in.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pie, anyone?

Okay, serious post here. It happens so infrequently that hopefully it will stand out.

Over the next few weeks I am going to be doing a bunch of posts on homemade and money saving gift ideas, things we are doing or have done in the past. We have five kids and not a lot of money, but even if we did, I don't think I would be throwing a bunch of money around and teaching our kids that Christmas is about Santa Claus bringing you video games. It should be focused on GIVING not GETTING.

Today I'd like to share what we do for "neighbor treats." The note we are sending to all our friends and neighbors starts out like this:

We LOVE you!
But once again, we have sent
your Christmas treat
 to Kyrgyzstan.

Why? Because I rediscovered a good friend from high school through Face Book a few years ago, and her story is truly amazing. After many childless years with her wonderful husband, they decided to go looking for their children. They found them: four in Kazakhstan, and one in Kyrgyzstan. If you would like to learn more about this wonderful family, please visit their blog at:

Last year Cindy volunteered to take a pie in the face if people contributed $500 to a fundraiser to send much needed supplies to the orphanage where their third son was adopted. And for each additional $100, her husband and kids would get pied as well. Needless to say, I was happy to help Cindy enjoy some pie. Enough was donated for ALL to enjoy some pie. For the past few years, we've been donating our budget for neighbor treats to charities. It's hard to spend all that time and money on creating little plates or bags of treats (and then trying to deliver them all), when all around us there are people whose situations are sometimes quite desperate. Before last year, we had donated to the local food bank. Last year we donated to Cindy's charity. This year we are blessed to be able to do both.

And I challenge you to do the same.

Don't bring me a treat. I don't need it anyway, I'm trying to lose weight. Cut back in some very small way, and find someone who needs that small bit more than you do. If you are interested in our little orphanage project, you can go here to donate: (they even sent a statement the following January so we could declare the donation on our taxes). As you can see on the site, Cindy and Company are assured their pies again this year. Pick someone else on the list if you'd like to make sure the pies are evenly distributed, or we can just continue to gang up on the La Joy clan. If your inclination is to donate elsewhere, PLEASE do, there are SO MANY organizations out there looking for help, even in your own community. A donation of even $5 in the right hands can do great things. If you can't donate monitarily, find somewhere you can serve.

Alma 37:6  Now ye may suppose that this is foolishness in me; but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass;

In this season where we celebrate Thanksgiving for the many blessings we have, and the birth of our Saviour Jesus Christ, may we reach out to those less fortunate. Let us lend a hand in fellowship and love to our brothers and sisters, wherever they may be.

Friday, November 18, 2011

In the middle of the night....

....weird things start to happen. People say stuff that you would NEVER expect to hear, say, at four in the afternoon.

Today I applied fresh caulking to the big picture window behind the window seat in the dining room. When Thing One came home from choir practice and sat in said window seat, I reminded her, "be careful, there's wet silicone seal behind you. Don't mess it up."

To which she replied, "It's a good thing you said that, 'cause I was just about to lick it."


And a few minutes later, Muffin-cat was found stalking on the dining room table, apparently munching on something. Hubby picked her up and unceremoniously dumped her on the floor, thinking she was eating something left behind by a lazy child.

Instead, he exclaims "WHAT are you eating the BAND-AIDS for?!?"

Ew again.

To top it all off, Thing One complained on her Face Book status about getting braces on today. She said "Braces are weird and annonying." And her friend posted a video in reply, saying "So is this."

And then we all watched in horror with the occasional hysterical giggle. I had seen it before, and I think it is so weird that I can only recommend that EVERYONE see it at least once:

Somebody seriously has too much time on their hands.


 Ew a lot.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Weighty matters

Hubby and I have become.....sedentary. And weight gain has been the unfortunate result. I started a diet a couple months ago, and I'm down 15 lbs. I've been gently encouraging Hubby to join me in the quest to rediscover my waistline, and I think I might have sparked a little interest. Here's the conversation we had in the car this morning on the way to work:

Hubby: I've started a diet!

Me: Really.

H: It's a PIE diet!

M: A PIE diet? (thinking that PIE would be some kind of acronym and forgetting that Luke Skywalker's leftover birthday pie is still in the fridge...)

H: YES! I eat nothing but pie! Pie is good, right? I has healthy things like bananas! And it includes the Sugar group!

M: I'm not sure if that is a good thing.

H: Yeah, it is! Whipped cream has like some kind of milk in it, right?

M: *facepalm*

H: The best part is that when we run out of pie I can't eat anymore and I will lose weight. WIN!

(I think he presumes that I have forgotten that Thanksgiving is next week, and that pie will become a staple over the next six weeks. I predict weight gain.)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Luke Skywalker ages gracefully.

My little boy is growing up and is super old. Seriously. When Thing One turned 14, I cried. No less today, when the second youngest is old enough to attend Stake dances. But he still can't date, so no true despair yet.

I must say that this sweet boy has provided me with more beautiful photos than perhaps any of the other children. He always has a smile on his face, and is a more willing helper that all the other children combined. He is not allowed to ever grow up and leave me. He can just keep living here forever.

Here's my cute baby: the demolition derby...

...taking shelter from the rain and eating raspberry ice cream at Bear Lake...

...impersonating a wall on behalf of Pyramus and Thisbe...

This play was performed at his magnet school a couple years ago, Pyramus and a lot of others joined us last weekend for Luke's party. Funny things happen when you get a bunch of uber-smart geek boys together...

Unknown to the boys, I took a transcript of a conversation about rocks that occured over cake.

Geek One: We should totally make a comic strip on that!
Geek Two: Yeah! and Igneous Man would have awesome fire powers.
Geek One: Composite Man would be able to break down into smaller super heros whenever he wanted.
Geek Three: And Fossil would be really old, and he'd keep saying "Back in my day..."

Ah, the joys of geekery.

Happy Birthday my wonderful boy!

Monday, November 7, 2011

A few letters I've been meaning to write.

Dear Upcoming Holiday Season,

You are giving me stress already. I'm worried again I will fall short and not get anything done in time for Christmas. I won't get the lights up, or the tree up, or my presents completed. I will forget to get a gift for SOMEONE again, not sure who this time. I will compose the Annual Epistle of Exaggeration and Falsehoods, and STILL not mail it out, because I'm already a month late getting our family picture taken. I am taking the easy way out again finding an awesome charity to donate to intead of making 3000 burnt cookies for the neighbors. For my co-workers and family, I'm going to have to go to the internet again for simple crafts I can make cheap and quick, and then I won't finish said crafts. Do you think that we could maybe postpone Christmas a week or two so I have a chance this year?

With undying gratitude,
Harried Housewife

Dear World Wide Web,

Thank you so much for the service you provide. Never have I had so many ways to kill time and accomplish nothing when I should really be cleaning my house. Who ever knew that I would rather read about Kim Kardashian's 72 day marriage instead of the newest book by Orson Scott Card? I wouldn't, really, I try to avoid anything about celebrities whenever I can, but I got distracted when I was looking for ideas for Christmas gifts, and the next thing you know, I actually know the name of that poor guy she married.

A mother looking for LESS information

p.s. If Farmville were to mysteriously disappear (while I might initially appear to be very upset) it would be a good thing.

Dear Pinterest,

Our relationship is an interesting one. I love you, yet I hate you. I came to you looking for some Christmas craft ideas, then wandered around looking at what my friends have posted. Maybe if you would stop posting lovely things and sucking me into a vortex of wasted time looking at stuff that I love but can never have, I might be able to spend more time with you.

Until we meet again in five minutes,

Dear Friends who post awesome things on Pinterest for me to look at,

Stop it. Right NOW. Or I'm going to have to hurt you.

Love, Me

Friday, November 4, 2011


Hubby has a trip coming up. He's had to take on some more responsibilities at work, and if that means a raise, I'm all for it.

Lately he's had to take a number of trips to talk to donors for his department at the university. Folks who might be interested in past projects and want to help fund the projects he is working on currently or in the future (some of his more fun stuff has to do with Mesoamerican swords and pre-Columbian DNA). He likes this a lot, because the donors are generally pretty sharp people who enjoy the stuff he's working on, and sometimes they get to go out for STEAK! (I don't like cholesterol, so I rarely feed hubby red meat, because I'm so mean to him that I want him with me forever.) I really think he's in it for the steak.

This month he has the opportunity to do something a little different. Here's how he explained it to me:

Hubby: "Looks like I'm going to Mexico this time."

Me: "Really? What's up with that?"

H: "Some kinda dig, or something. I'll be gone for about ten days, somewhere in the wilderness of the Baja desert."

M: "Sounds fun! Who are you going into the wilderness with? Anyone interesting?"

H: "Just a bunch of people from the university. I think one is a botanist, and an archaeologist, and some other folks. I'll be the DNA guy on this trip."

M: "Ummm.....really? Any lawyers?"

H: "Lawyers? I don't think so. Why?"

M: "Because your trip has already been made into a movie, and the lawyer was the first one to get eaten by a dinosaur. Maybe you should stay home."

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Halloween: The Aftermath

I'm a mean mom, I cut my kids off the free candy thing at thirteen. I figure by that age they're old enough to go out and make trouble with their friends instead of asking for handouts. And that way, if they don't go out with friends to make trouble, I can make them answer the door and hand out treats instead of me!

Luke Skywalker stayed home for the first time, and handed out treats.

Screamapillar only had this to say "Mom, you made us the LAME house!"

The lame house? Us? What the heck does that mean? We have our awesome windows and tombstones! And a cd playing "Monster Mash." How could we possibly be the lame house?

It's because of the "treat" we were handing out. Vampire teeth.

I don't know about you, but with all the candy out there, it's nice when you get something fun. Plus, Hubby says, when they're rotted out their teeth with all the candy, we've already provided them with a replacement set!

As a result of my mean-momness, Eclair is the only person in our household still old enough to go ask strangers for candy. When she got home with her loot, she was immediately set upon by her siblings.

Screamapillar: "You have to pay the sister-tax. Can I have some of the Snickers?"

Thing Two: "YES! She has CHOCOLATE! Brother tax!!"

Thing One: "You love me, doncha sweetie? Can I have some candy? Sister tax, you know!"

Luke Skywalker just looked at the two gallon-size bags of candy, trying not to drool. She gave him all her Twix, because he looked so pitiful.

The next morning, she was rooting through the bags, looking for breakfast. "HEY! Who ate all my Tootsie Rolls?"

You forgot to pay the Daddy and Mommy Tax, dear.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Still looking for a costume?

Here's what my three youngest will be appearing in (sneak preview courtesy of party at church last week):

Here's Luke Skywalker, wearing the finest in Geek Chic:

For anyone who doesn't watch the Discovery chanel, he's emulating Jamie Hyneman from Mythbusters. I didn't want to pay $20 for a logo shirt off the internet, so I hand paited that little number there with craft paints, because I'm an awesome mom. There is just ONE little detail missing to keep this costume from being perfect. But he wouldn't let me shave his head to be bald like Jamie.

Watch out, the next one is kinda scary:

Don't quite know what this is? Well, that would be because Eclair (thinks that she) invented it.
a vam-pirate! Makes you want to run right out and buy some plastic teeth, doesn't it.

And last, but not least, Screamapillar:

Not sure what that is, I think she called it "Costume I Threw Together in the 12 Minutes I Had Between Play Practice and the Ward Party."

Things One and Two have yet to reveal their costumes. I know Thing One has some diabolical costume plan in the works that includes Boyfriend, I'm not sure what. I'm pretty sure that Thing Two plans to sleep through the entire day. I'll let you know.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Beginnings, endings and the stuff that comes in between

If I'm not careful, this blog could come to look like a "public notice" column in the newspaper. What with all my reporting of people havin' babies and birthdays and all, and me feeling obligated to write about it every time....

Based on the activity of the last month, this would become an obit blog entirely. So, to quote Inigo Montoya, " 'S to much to es'plain - lemme sum up."

Update on Jamie's Matt:

After 12 days in the ICU, Matt decided to continue the great adventure on the other side. This leaves Jamie quite devastated, and has been really difficult for my Matt, too. He was only 47, and still probably had another 50 books in that brain of his. Hubby is currently working on getting Matt's final book through final editing and hopefully it will be published in short order. You can read up a little more on Matt on his Wiki page, and tributes were published on a few sites in the webiverse, like Temple Study (but I must amend this entry: the "incident" was not heart failure, the cause of his collapse is still undetermined, and it was the Wilkinson Center not the Library, where it occurred, that's me, being a stickler over the details). We held a graveside service on October 7th, followed by a large memorial service the following week on October 15. The outpouring of love for dear Jamie at this event was pretty fantastic.

While Jamie's Matt was in the hospital my grandpa passed away.

He was always a tough guy, a contractor by trade. He was a man who loved to work with his hands, and he worked hard. He instilled in his boys a rock-solid work ethic. He also loved to cook, and the kitchen in my grandparent's home was HIS DOMAIN. He always had a smile on his face, and a very ready laugh. He's been on his own since my grandma passed away 13 years ago, and has known for a while his time was coming. His was not an untimely death, as he was 96 years old, and ready to go. He chose to donate his body to science through the UCLA medical center, and eschewed anything to do with a funeral - no service, no obituary, no stress or travel for the family (especially as one of his sons, my Uncle Darryl, had passed away on the opposite side of the country just shortly ago). He lived a very full life, and we have lots of good memories to hold on to.

In September, Hubby's Aunt Ellen passed away.

She was the matriach of this tribe, full of crazy fun cousins who have been like sisters to me since I married into this family twenty-three years ago. Ellen is the baby girl in her family, my MIL's littlest sister. She was SO much fun to be around. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor six years ago, and valiantly fought it off to buy six more jam-packed years with her family. Her funeral....well, let's just say that you shouldn't have so much fun at a funeral. She didn't want anyone to mourn, and asked Uncle Perry to "tell it like it is" in his eulogy. It was truly a celebration of her life. Here are a few gems Uncle Perry shared:

While making the arrangements for the funeral, they asked Ellen if she wanted an open casket. The cancer hadn't been kind to her in the last months, and she replied  "I will haunt you forever if you open that casket." and she MEANT it.

When summing up about Ellen's relationship with her children and the difficulties she faced getting them through their teenage years, Uncle Perry said "They had a lot of problems. For one thing, Seth. (pause) That didn't come out right, now did it?"  

During a Primary program at church when her son Burke was just little, instead of quoting his memorized part in the program, he said into the microphone "Mom?! I hate you, Mom!"

The congregation at the funeral laughed so hard that they cried. I'm sure Ellen was laughing along with us, she didn't want anyone to be sad.

Endings. Far too many of them.

And more beginnings too:


Now, that's a little guy who looks happy to be here. We've been blessed with lot's of new little ones this year. The newest is Rocky, here, son of my friend Jack. Rocky decided to make things difficult for his poor mama, and show up more than a week overdue.

I think he was worth the wait. And a nice thing to celebrate after so much recent loss.

Friday, October 14, 2011

While you were out...

I was awakend very early yesterday. VERY early.

Screamapillar had a kidnap breakfast for two friends' birthdays, so I had to wake her up and get her out at 5:15 am.

Then I went back to sleep. And was awakened by some horrible noise. I assumed it was Screampillar's alarm clock, which is renown for it's ablity to wake the dead in the next county (but strangely enough, it does not awaken the Screamapillar). That, or someone's cell phone alarm (there were four in the house at the time). Wandering blindly through the house, I search for the device that has ruined my sleep.

It turned out to be the phone. The old fashioned one that has wires coming out that attaches to the wall. You may remember such a thing from you childhood if you're old enough. It was my parents calling from Florida. They were on vacation, they went for a little boat ride all the way from Washington State, thru the Panama Canal and on to Florida. They had no cell phones or internet for the duration of the three week trip.

"Do you think you could run over to my house and check on something before you go to work?" my dad says.

(yeah, run over to your house. do you remember that you used to live a couple streets away, then you abandoned me and moved to a different city 25 miles away? and that EVERY route to your house is currently undergoing construction, making the trip an easy 45 minutes one way?)

"I guess, what's up?" I reply.

"It appears that we've either had a burgular or the basement is flooded - the alarm went off a few days ago and we weren't notified until we got off the boat."

He goes on with more detail about the different notifications from the alarm company, the neighbors, and the police department that he got via text, cell phone, and email. LOTS of notifications. The alarm system itself sent him a bunch of messages. One said "FLOOD" and the another "BURGULAR."

So of course, I'm going to the house.  But I've got to get kids off to school, and IT'S STILL ONLY 5:30 AM! Dark! and cold! I crawl back into bed and try to get a little more sleep until I have to awaken the next child at 6:15.

But I can't sleep. Images flash though my head: a suspicious-looking panel van is parked outside the garage. They've already cleaned out all the power tools and electronics. A creepy dude dressed in black is rifling though my mother's jewelry box. Another creepy guy is trying on my mothers hats and shoes...."Bill, do we want any caftans? This lady has a lot of caftans. Do pawn shops even buy caftans?"

Like I can sleep now.

So I get up, get showered and dressed, get the bigger kids off to school. Then I have to wake up Thing One (I have already tried to wake up Thing Two instead, but got a boot thrown at my head for my efforts). I'll need her to help Eclair get ready, because Hubby is defintely going with me to defend against the gang of theives at my parents house.

"Honey, I'm sorry to wake you early, but I need your help. I gotta run over to g-ma's house, they may have been burgled."

She leaps outta the bed and says "Whaaa?" But she's a good sport. She goes to sleep next to Eclair and is going to get her up at 7:30 and get her dressed and breakfasted and off to school.

Before we leave, I have to Google-map my parent's address, because, while I do know how to get there and I know the street name, I do not know the house number. I need this because I am certain that when we get there, the suspcious van will be in the driveway, ruffians and thugs will be plundering my mother's closet, and I'm going to have to park up the street and call the police. And when I say I don't know the house number, the cops are all gonna say "You DON'T even KNOW your parents address?" and I'm going to feel like an idiot. Hubby's planning ahead also. He's dressed for the office, but the scenario running through his head has taken the other possibility into account: he's packed up some work clothes and his old tennis shoes, prepared to clean up a flood.

Dad calls two more times before we can get there. Each time giving me a list of what to do in what order. And he has allegedly turned off the alarm from his iphone now.

We get to the house, and call Dad back. 1: Alarm indicator appears off. 2: Opening garage door has not activated klaxon (literaly, I promise. It's a klaxon alarm.). 3: Enter code in keypad to ensure deactivation of alarm. 4: Open the door from garage to house and go check for damages.

It's locked  But how are we going to get in? Dad's super upset, really needs us INSIDE the house to check things out, and he NEVER locks that door, because the garage is so secure.

"Why didn't you hide some spare keys somewhere for this kind of emergency?"

"I did! But I can't remember where."

"Is it even remotely possible that you have left some keys in one of the cars?"

"Not likely. Check anyway."

LOOK!! Keys in the ignition of the sedan! AND it's unlocked! I guess there was no burgular, Dad, or they woulda taken this car.

We unlock the house and enter, being very careful about fingerprints and such, because we're entering a potential crime scene. More good news: the tv and everything is untouched. Hubby prowls about a bit making sure no other doors or any windows are open. I check on Mom's shoes and hats and caftans: all accounted for.

So now, to check for flood.

We go down the horribly windy stairs (somebody shoot the architect that designed this switchback staircase, k?) in total darkness (because he's been working on the unfinished basement and all power down there is off), surprisingly enough without breaking our necks. As instructed by Dad, we check the window well by his soon-to-be-but-not-done-yet office, expecting it to be filled with water and saturating the wall insulation and everything else. No water, but the small sump he installed in the window well is running.

So, no burgular, no flood.

What really happend was this: when it snowed a few days back, it filled up the bucket the sump pump is in and fired off the alarm (which isn't supposed to sound for water, only for burgulars). The alarm is deafening. Completely deafening.

It was 3 am when the alarm went off. It woke up people who live two streets away.

The neighbors tried to call my dad. They went over and pounded on the door. When it was obvious that no one was home, they called the alarm company, who couldn't find my dad's info, and thus could not turn off the alarm. So the neighbors called the police. The police borrowed a ladder and disconnected the klaxon alarm on the outside of the house (acutally, they had little success disconntecting it, and just tried to beat it to death in order to silence it). The damage to the klaxon is what triggered the "BURGULAR" alarm, and set the klaxon off again. And then they ripped it off the house.

Dad told me he's fixing the water error so the alarm won't sound. And he has a plan (which includes notifying me to come turn off the alarm) which should keep such a thing from happening again. I told him that if neighbors have to wait 45 minutes for me to get there and turn it off, he's probably going to need to move instead. People are going to start egging his house.

What I recommend is writing a formal apology to the masses who were so unkindly awakened by the horrible alarm and publishing it in the paper, and make your neighbors some cookies.

And Lots.
Of cookies.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It's only October 11...

...but I don't have ANY of my Halloween deco up yet. Other important things seem to be filling my time, more on those another day.

My family threatened me.


I don't know what got them so riled up. I only put pumpkin on my own face last year in my vain attempt to have something to blog about every day....

This year I'm taking lots of pitchers.

Lots and lots of pitchers.

And so far, I'm having the same problem I had last year: my own kids are impossible to shoot. Just the other day Thing Two got his braces off! I asked for a before and after shot and here is what I got:

Thank you, son, for that lovely peek at your new smile. Can I kill you now?

And Screamapillar wanted a new profile picture for Facebook, and we hadn't gotten around to family pictures yet because I wanted to lose 150 lbs. first (apparently not happening unless I amputate something). She wanted to get pitchers with the sunflowers before they all died off, and here we are!

I should mention that she has a bit of sensitivity to sunlight. Let's start with some photos where she has her back to the sun and we use the reflector:

Hmmm. That didn't go as well as I hoped. Let's try again:

Still, not what we were looking for. That last one would have been okay if it had only been in focus. Let's try turning her around so we don't have to bounce light into her eyes with the reflector, maybe that will help:

Wow. Those are.......attractive! One more time, perhaps:
 Interesting that she thought these would be better than the soccer picture I posted on facebook which is why I am currently receiving the silent treatmenf from my third-born:

Okay, there's got to be ONE good one in the 62 pictures I took!

There it is! What a lovely girl she is when she is not being blinded.

Monday, October 3, 2011

In preparation for Halloween...

So today is the day. You really should be getting ready for Halloween already, and if you haven't started yet, there is still time if you follow this schedule:

Saturdays: McDonalds
Mondays: Del Taco
Tuesdays: Burger King
Wednesdays: Taco Bell
Thursdays: Carls Jr.
Fridays: Arby's

If you collect an average of 10 per day, you should have enough sauce/ketchup packets that you won't have to spend any money on Halloween candy, k?

Awesome plan.

Saturday, October 1, 2011


(The following post was written about five weeks ago, during "rush" - when the students move in and out in droves at the end of summer term and the beginning of fall term. My brain was exhausted from the overload and this post got lost on my dashboard without being posted until today. Enjoy. I hope?)


Number of times I had to bite my tongue at work today because people are idiots.

I work at the local utility, and in case you didn't know (but I won't call YOU an idiot, you couldn't possibly be, because you're smart enough to be reading my blog, right?), when you MOVE AWAY or have some issue, you should CALL to tell us about changes or problems on your account. In case you missed the memo, we have been prohibited by the federal government from reading your mind anymore.

Here's a few gems from today:
"But I didn't know what to pay because I didn't get my bill."

What I said: "Your mailing address is apparently correct, and we haven't gotten anything back from the post office. Perhaps you should set up your internet account so you can get your statements in real time."

What I should have and would have LOVED to  say: "The last time you made a payment was in April. It is now August. And you only got around to telling us about your missing bills after we turned your power off? Sounds like getting your mail is the LEAST of your problems!"

And then there are the people who don't. Know. Where. They. Live.

"It's a blue house, it's about a half block down from Taco Bell"


Other CRUCIAL information that you MUST have at your fingertips:
Your freaking NAME. Not your nickname, or your maiden name, your ACTUAL LEGAL NAME. I'll be running an identity check, so if you tell me "Bob" and you were too embarrassed to tell be it's really "Boris," I'm going to find out anyway...

Your real authentic social security number, not the one you bought off that guy that sells cards down by the gas station.
When you were born (or hatched, as it seems in some cases).

Let's not forget that "refundable deposit" means that your DEPOSIT is REFUNDABLE. So when I say, "You'll be charged a $75 refundable deposit," and you say "Will I get that back?" that you will automatically forfeit your deposit to me because of your sheer stupidity. M'kay?

And if I say that $56 is the "minimum payment to restore service" what I mean is that $56. Is. What you have to pay. Right now. Before we can restore your service. Which means turn your lights back on.

"I moved out a month ago, so can you stop billing me, like, maybe starting on August 1?"

Why yes, I'll just jump in my time machine and take care of that for you, you moron.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Hoppy Brid-day!

Once upon a time I had the cutest baby in the world. We named her Thing One.

See? Cutest baby in the world.

Then one day she freaking grew up overnight when I wasn't looking.

It just isn't fair.

Happy Birthday, little one.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A bright spot in the darkness

Please excuse my recent absence from blogging, it seems that many of life's crisises have gotten in the way recently. Too much time away from home and my computer, mostly.

One of our recent "events" involves my wonderful Hubby. Have you ever had that one friend? The one who you have an instant rapport with, the one who shares your passions and who you love to share your work with? Hubby has such a friend, and they are like two peas in a pod. They have more in common than even they know, and his wife and I have sniggered behind their backs for years because they don't even realize how alike they are. They even share the same first name, and we share a wedding anniversary as well.

They consult with each other a lot in their writing, and Jamie's Matt is preparing to publish two books in the near future, to make his ninth and tenth publications. They're constantly bouncing ideas off each other, and when the four of us are together, Jamie & I manage to find plenty of our own to talk about. She's also a talented stylist, and any good hair day I have is her fault. Our boys have a deep and abiding love for church history, and seriously know their stuff. The energy they generate when they are brainstorming is palpable. You may have seen some of Jamie's Matt's books:

Well, Jamie's Matt has taken a sabbatical of sorts.....if you could call it that. The experiences my Hubby and I have had with the two of them in the past week have been humbling. To watch her keep vigil at his bedside with such strength and courage is inspiring. It has been my privilege to hold her hand and hug her tight as Midgely anointed his head with oil, and my husband gave hers a priesthood blessing. I only hope that I have been a support to her during this difficult time, and I ask for your support as well: pray for Jamie and her Matt, please.

But in the darkness of these tense hours and days as we wait for Jamie's Matt to awaken, there are some bright spots. We find much to laugh about and have really enjoyed the time we have had together. Hubby keeps telling me "Tell her that story about...." and I have to remind him that we have our own independent friendship, apart from our Matts. She is my hairdresser, after all, and women tell their hairdresser EVERYTHING. 

I'll share with you now a story I shared with her yesterday: At five am I took Eclair with me to drive my parents to the airport for a vacation. We spent the night at my folk's house to save some time in the morning since we had to be up so early. It was still pitch black outside when we packed up their bags and drove to Salt Lake to the airport. We took a "shortcut" across the mountains because of all the road construction on the freeway, and the inevitable delays that would cause. As we came over the peak from Highland into Draper, laid out before us was the landscape of the Salt Lake Valley, all lit up in the darkness. A small voice chirped from the back seat:

"Ooohh. It looks just like Las Vegas!"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Treachery in the tub.

Once upon a time this morning, I stepped into the shower.

And discovered that someone had laid a trap for me.

My feet slipped out from under me, and I narrowly regained my balance before taking a nasty spill. What the heck? Here are my clues: the faint aroma of green apple, a light green color covering the entire bottom of the bathtub, the empty (new last week) bottle of conditioner, and my recollection that Eclair had an unsupervised shower last evening.

She came to me dripping wet, wrapped in a towel, to explain to me why this unsolicited shower was necessary.

"At school today, Jennifer sneezed. On my desk. I could even see the germs, Mom! They were all over my desk. So I though I had better make sure I was clean so I don't get sick. Do you think I'm clean now?"

Who can argue with that?

I tucked a small bottle of hand sanitizer into her backpack just in case.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Words are hard today. Just recalling this day ten years ago brings tears to my eyes.

I had just given birth to Eclair, and my sister called and woke me up to tell me "turn on the tv."

I never, in my wildest dreams, could have imagined what I would see that morning.

My brother worked in the city. I spent the entire day trying unsuccessfully to reach him by phone. I finally reached his wife, and she told me he was out of town, and safe. Not so for his friends and colleagues. They didn't make it out.

So many didn't make it out.

This day changed the world forever. Strangely enough, there has been good that has resulted from that day. It brought us back to the realities of life, what is really important, and what really matters.

Spend a few moments watching this video. May it give you hope.

Never forget.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Last Words of My Mother's Sanity

Karen here. I am here to regretfully inform you all that the last bit of my mother's remaining sanity has died. At 10:05 PM, after an extremely emotionally taxing day, which in turn had followed weeks of sleep deprivation and ridiculously (and even MORE emotionally taxing) busy days, it went went down with a fight...or at least, a few memorable last words.

(we are sitting quietly in the living room. Suddenly, mom speaks.)

Mom: "I need doctor pepper to make it through the night."
Me: "You know maybe you should try this novel idea called 'sleep.' Its where you actually lapse into this thing called unconsciousness."
Mom: "I tried that, and then this fly tries to land on my face. And then I wake up doing ninja crap."

(some laughs from Screamapillar and myself, then mom continues.)

"Seriously, and then I'll be like OUT of the chair going, 'Aaaaahhhh flyyyyy!' But then I got it later. I smacked with magazine and ended its life. A rolled up magazine is an excellent ninja tool. Better than nun-chucks cuz then you don't hurt yourself. *a moment's pause* also excellent for smacking unruly teenagers."

(at this point, I have shared this via chat with my online Stalkee, who is very amused and declares that she is going to move in with us.)

Mom: "I'm cool. She gets to do the dishes."

(Stalkee says that she like doing the dishes, but sometimes has problems with an allergic reaction to the soap.)

"She can use any soap she wants. She could even use the DISHWASHER, which people in this house haven't figured out yet. They just put stuff in there and never take it out again."

(Mom then proceeds to offer her some "really keen rubber gloves and [her] own apron.")

Mom: "It would be awesome apron. With gold lame´ and pom-poms. Maybe some rhinestones..."

Stalkee: I am excited for the pimped out apron and my gangsta gloves.

(Mom goes quiet for a minute, and has suddenly developed a completely blank, phased out look on her face. I comment on it.) 

Mom: "I'm staring at the spot between the telescope and the window. Because if I look anywhere else, I will feel obligated to clean something. So I look somewhere that's already clean. And then I don't have to do anything. The celing is generally a safe place too look…except when there's spiders…. *pause* And tape, left over from streamers from a a party."

(Stalkee then inquires if she shall receive a Swiffer to go with her pimped apron and gangsta gloves.)

Mom: "Tell her we have a vacuumable Swiffer that attaches to the vacuum. It's yellow and she may call it Swiffer if she wants to. And we'll have a fashion show."

(goes quiet for another minute) 

Mom: "I have a deep abiding desire for Dr Pepper…I also have equally ardent amount of ennui."

(Screamapillar then asks for a story.) 

Mom: "You need a bed time story? So you'll go to bed? Once upon a time there was this little girl and she was really frikking annoying so her brother and sister taught her to say "I'm so annoying," and then that was even more annoying and they regretted that they ever taught her such a thing." Note: this is a true story that Thing 2 and I taught Screamapillar to do as a baby.
Screamapillar: "You've lost it."

Mom: "No! *is determined and very intense* I found it!"

*dramataic pause*

"But I'm not sure what it is."

 Finally, we shall end with this:

"This is all going on the blog, you know."

"There is no blog. only Zuul.


Friday, September 2, 2011

My evil kids....

My kid are evil. Don't know if I mentioned that before, but thought I had better tell you before you find out on your own.

Tonite, Hubby and I took Eclair and Luke Skywalker to a Ward Campout. I got to judge the "talent" show, and we got to visit and have a good time. We had no intention of staying the night, though. I value my sleep a little too much at the present moment.
Screamapillar was gone to a sweet 16 party for her friend, and Thing Two was out with a friend doing back-breaking labor for hire. Thing One? Well, she's had kinda a bad week, so we left her to her own devices. We figured she'd go out with Boyfriend and have a good time.

When we came home from our activity at 10 pm, we found this note, stuck with duct tape to the front door:

The really sad part is that Hubby only read the red letters. Then his brain went into some kinda overload and he just stood there in shock fer a minute or two......


Every stinkin' one of them.

Especially Thing One.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

A trip to the mall....with Eclair

We went to the mall tonite, Eclair and I. I had a gift card from work (have I ever told you I love my job? I work with wonderful people, and for the most part it is great!) that was burning a hole in my pocket.

Off to the aromatic bath store to spend the card.

I think she said "OOoohh! Smell this, Mommy!" about six thousand times. And often the fragrances were repeats - first smell the bath gel, then the spritz, then the lotion -- all the same flavor, but each apparently unique to my little Eclair.

After I ran out of wrists (I only got the two, you know) I started sampling on my little one. She was more than happy to participate once I explained how some of the bottles (the ones with the special sticker) were samples for trying out, so we weren't shoplifting or anything...

She had a wonderful time, and even picked out a little fragrant hand sanitizer for her backpack. Then it was time to go get Daddy from work.

As soon as he was in the car, she started a travel-log of our evening's adventure, describing all the bottles and flavors and how WONDERFUL it all was. And then she asked daddy to smell her wrists, with the following instructions:

"Well, don't take a really big sniff -- like this (demonstrates with extremely loud snorting noise), because if you do, it smells REALLY BAD!!!

You should sniff very softly, like so you can't even hear the sniff. That way it smells okay."

So glad that we spent so much on perfume that just "smells okay."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

making plans...

Time for the little girl's birthday party again! What will it be this year? Princesses? Unicorns? Fancy dress-up tea party? Hmmm.... last year Eclair had a wonderful water party for her birthday. The year before it was a Pirate Paaarrrty.

I wonder what she will come up with for this year?

Scroll down and take a gander at the invitation...

Ummmm....yeah. I guess no
this year either.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A day that shall live in infamy...

On the day that Deuce was born (my last post, and he has been named and they ignored ALL my suggestions, if you can possibly believe that!), Eclair was left


Well, not really. Luke Skywalker was left in charge while I was called in to work on my day off because somebody had to go have a baby at the last minute, and Screamapillar had soccer practice, which for all intents and purposes left Eclair


It was a day of much boredom, apparently, because she got up to all kind of mischief. For example, she:

Cut up a banker's box (the expensive ones I acutally BUY instead of getting free from the liquor store) with a steak knife and colored every surface with crayons.

Ate seven frozen corndogs, and left her plate on the curb in front of the neighbor's house for me to discover as I pulled in to the driveway.

Using the sticks from the corndogs, she attempted to make paper stick puppets.

And when that did not end in the result she was seeking,


Because "big socks" like mommy's make better puppets.

School starts a week from today.

But I don't know if I'm going to make it.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A fine day to be born.

This adorable gentleman arrived today, a little early, but large and healthy and happy.

Problem is, my dear friend and her husband have not yet found his NAME. Perhaps you could help?

Here are my suggestions, which I present for consideration:





Khyle (got this one off the phone at work)



and Bill.

Please leave a comment and let the voting begin.

p.s. He has the most beautiful iridescent red hair, by the way:


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Conversations with Eclair

She came to me, howling, tears streaming down her face. Looking like the world was coming to an end RIGHT NOW.

M: What's the matter, honey?


M: Here, let me look at it.
You're okay, it's just your sunburn. It's peeling.


(It was only a matter of time, I suppose.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

How to properly measure stairs

It's time once again for a tutorial. Much needed information that I, the expert in all things, will share with you lowly plebian life forms.

This tutorial is born of a project I have been planning. You see, I have some ugly stairs. They have cheap carpet that desperatly needs replacing. Here's what I have in mind:

Lovely, isn't it? In order to accomplish this, I have to complete the following steps:

1. Rip out the old carpeting

2. Repair any existing damage to steps and risers

3. Paint and/or stain

4. Measure rise and run to determine the amount of runner carpet to install.

5. (Buncha more steps to install carpet that I may discuss in a further tutorial. Today, we measure.)

There a number of ways to accomplish step 4. Most involve complex calculations with the rise and run, number of steps, etc.

The way I'm going to demonstrate is SO much easier!!

Here's what you need:



Measuring tape

Teenager with at least four limbs.



Thank you for tuning in for today's tutorial!

And a special thanks to Screamapillar for the use of her limbs.