Thursday, December 25, 2014

What Would Bridget Do?

Eight years ago I met two girls on a study abroad trip our husbands were all participating in one way or another.  There were other tag along spouses on that trip but those two were the two I felt the most kinship with and so eight years later even though we have never again lived in the same place I'm still following their lives via blogs, Facebook, and messenger.  Sometimes I feel like I know more about what is going on with them then I do about my friends in town.  I love reading about what they are up to because they are adventurers, they do things that are a little out of the ordinary.  This last couple years our friend Bridget has really just been amazing.  While her husband was working full time as a professor and she lived on the other side of the world from her extended family, while her girls were in school, and she was pregnant and then had a newborn she went back and got a masters.  She taught classes, and graded papers, and wrote her thesis all on top of doing the other things that I normally get done.  Since then along with working she auditioned to be the pianist for the vocal masters classes and a student choir and she got the job.  I was really inspired by how she's pushed out of the boundaries of her own comfort.  Sometimes I feel like middle age/the parenting years is the time when you get stuck in complacency.  Before this time you are going to school, getting new jobs, experimenting while you try to decided what you want to do with your life.  And then you settle down.  You find the guy you like and you stop looking, you find the job you like and you hope you can keep it forever, you have kids and they suck up all your energy and time and you just stop learning and pushing.  I'm not saying that these things are bad, I'm just saying, I looked at myself this year and I thought, I'm sick of letting fear keep me in the status quo.  And so I've started to ask myself when I'm faced with a situation I don't like, "What would Bridget do?"  Here are two examples for your reading pleasure.

The first one was when my mother-in-law invited me to do a 5K with her Thanksgiving morning.  She brought it up two weeks before Thanksgiving and I immediately said NO!  First off lets just point out the obvious, I don't have a body meant for running.  Drought time, sign me up, I'm going to make it.  Running from invading forces, not so much.  I've got a lot of weight to carry and I've got short legs to carry it with.  You know those people who are long and lean...well I'm the opposite.  Secondly, I'm not in the best shape right now.  We cut our gym membership this summer when we were trying to cut all our expenses to and to be honest with homeschooling the kids, I'm just kind of trying to keep my head above water right now.  So there have been times when I've run a little bit, but this is not one of those times.  Third, it's Thanksgiving.  We had a lot to do on that day, it just didn't make any sense to me to sign up for a race.  And then the thought came to me, "What would Bridget do?"  and so without really even thinking about it I called my mother in-law back up and I said, "Yes."  So my mother-in-law signed me up and even though I told myself a million times this was the stupidest thing in the world, 6:30am Thanksgiving morning I found myself bundling up and heading to the outlet malls for my first official race ever.

It was actually a blast.  This race is held every year to raise money for a local food bank and while there were a few competitive runners, most people were just there to have a good time.  There were a lot of families.  Along with my mother-in-law, J's uncle's girlfriend was doing the 5K with us, and his uncle, aunt, and his cousin's wife were running the 10K.  It was great.  There were still a few moments where I was like, "What was I thinking..." mainly when it was freezing at the very beginning, and then when I started sweating so much at mile one that I stripped off and was then carrying half my stuff, but it was super fun.  I would definitely like to do this again, and who knows maybe even want to get in shape enough that it would be such a dreaded thing :)  Plus when it came time to sit down and eat I actually felt not so guilty doing so.

The second thing that happened is the ward choir director asked me to sing a solo in our ward Christmas meeting.  My mom is a great alto singer, and man the lady can belt it.  When I was a kid I grew up singing duets with her in church, listening to her sing in the Arizona Mormon Choir, or having people turn around and compliment her on her signing voice.  My former step father actually heard her singing at a conference he was at and came home and told his mom all about this amazing singer he saw....turned out his mother knew her and that's how they met.  So I briefly enjoyed singing along with her.  When I was in Junior High I joined choir and I had a lot of solos but by the time I got to high school I was much too shy to audition.  And so my formal singing training pretty much ended there.  I still enjoyed singing, but I didn't necessarily like doing it solo and I'm not really into the whole ward choir scene.  I've been forced into a few musical numbers.  After we got married we served two and half years in a small branch where I had plenty of opportunities to sing.  It's hard not to be heard when there are only 16 people in sacrament and so my branch president would rope me into singing duets with him.  I didn't really mind though because he was a sweetie and at tops there was like 30 people who would hear us.  I also sung one musical number when we were in Jordan with Nancy.  It was Nancy and her husband Andrew and then some other random dude whose wife Ariel refused to sing.  I don't know how I got volunteered but it was sort of awkward.  When we returned to our regular ward I remember singing one musical number with six or seven other girls and my only real memory of the experiences is my next door neighbor came up and said, "Wow, I didn't think that was going to be any good, but you guys sounded great."  But it was in that same ward that I sort of decided choir and musical numbers weren't for me.  I can't tell you how many amazing singers we had in that ward but their were a ton.  People who had trained in music as their college degree or sometimes even degrees, people who had perfect pitch ear training, people who could read music quickly and singing everyone's parts just off that top of their head and I just wasn't one of those people.  Plus my husband was super busy, works most Sundays and keeping track of my kids during choir practice or performances just was a major hassle.  I let any performing go and haven't really minded that much.

But a few weeks ago the chorister of our ward choir asked me to perform a solo (she by the way has an AMAZING VOICE...I mean just lovely) and I really wanted to tell her no, in fact the word was right on the tip of my tongue and then once again I seriously thought "What would Bridget do?" and I said yes.  And so that's how I ended up singing Silent Night in our ward Christmas Program on Sunday.  I was not feeling great the previous three weeks when I had zero voice and couldn't even practice.  The pianist had picked out a Sally Deford arrangement I had never heard before.  When Sunday came around and I was finally able to sing it for the first time Dr. J told me he hated it....the arrangement he claims :)  I was myself not feeling very confident about it, especially since my voice kept cracking and the nerves were starting to get to me.  I sung it a couple more times, brewed myself a cup of throat coat tea and headed off to church to practice one time with the music before we performed.  Curse you Bridget I thought as I went on to meet the fate that my desire to take more chances like her had lead to.  When I got to church we went through the number once and realized it would be OK.  Then the choir director asked me to join the choir.  Turns out I wasn't the only one suffering from laryngitis this week, 1/2 the choir was gone and Jenny's voice was almost completely gone.  It really was a great experience.  I don't know how the number went, I tried to block most of it out.  I prayed before that my voice wouldn't keep people from feeling the spirit (I was seriously concerned about my cold) but my former Sunday School girls came in and told me they got goose pimples so I think God was with me there, but I have no idea how often I looked up or if I was connecting, projecting, or if I biffed it in any noticeable way.  Dr. J's only comments were, "I still hate that arrangement, your voice was fine."  So thanks for that honey ;)  But the rest of the program was just so great.  I was so happy to be with the rest of the choir singing my praises to God.  Singing is one of the few times I actually feel like I'm fully worshiping, like I'm totally committed to God and it felt so good to be a part of that moment with those ladies (there were only two guys not sick, two guys).  So I guess I should thank you Bridget.  Thanks for pushing.  Thanks for being an example.  Thanks for helping give me a reason to face my fears and not let them keep me from doing the things I want to.  Maybe someday I'll move past these baby steps and be able to WWBD my way into the big leagues of cool life changes :)

Monday, December 15, 2014

It's Okay To Be Weird

I teach 12-13 year old Sunday School at church.  I used to teach the entire group of youth 12-18 year old but then we got a second teacher and I got just the little ones.  It's actually been quite enjoyable for me.  They are fun and unlike their older counterparts for the most part respectful.  Last week I left church early though because Peach said her tummy hurt.  Nothing came of it but because Cheetah had thrown up on Thursday I didn't want to take any chance.  Apparently while I was gone there was an incident...I'm not entirely sure if it happened in Sunday School when they were all combined because I wasn't there or if it happened in Young Women's but the girls had a falling out where three of the girls sort of verbally/in text messages went after one of the other girls.  This week the younger girls wanted to tell me about it.  The girl who had been sort of the brunt of it said to me, "Apparently like 2/3's of the young woman don't like me.  They think I'm weird."  And rather then telling her she wasn't, I said, "Maybe you are weird?  Is there anything really wrong with that?"  And then we went on to talk about it.

The thing is she is different for them.  While most of the other girls spend the majority of their time talking about clothes, sports, their hair, and boys...or one particular boy to distraction she cares about school, and Supernatural, and being friends with everyone.  She talks about poetry or the anthropological intricacies of large families in Georgia.  She talks about music.  She has the self confidence to get up and speak or sing in front of whole ward.  She talks about cooking with her mom.  She enjoys speaking with adults as much as she does with other teenagers.  She has really embraced one of the girls in the ward who is having a hard time of it at school and home.  She doesn't just moon over one unobtainable guy but is friends with all the young men including the ones who are in to robots, computers, scary movies, and gaming.  She is interesting and quirky and friendly and the fact that the girls tried to take her down a notch last week really bothers me.  Don't get me wrong, for the most part I like the other girls.  They are cute and fun but this need to push people down, well that part I don't like.  Why do girls do this?  Why do people do this?  Maybe you don't share interest with someone else, maybe you actually find someone annoying, maybe you don't even like someone.  Who the heck cares.  Keep it to yourself.  Enjoy the parts of other people that you can and ignore the parts you don't like.

I felt very out of place as a child and youth.  We didn't have very much money.  I wasn't skinny.  My hair was always frizzy.  I liked school, reading, and dreaming about college.  I was horrible at sports. I was pretty dorky.  I had some great friends growing up, especially within the group of girls I went to church with, but at school I got teased a lot.  It could be painful.  I look at my life now and I wonder where those people are.  I married pretty well.  Our life is pretty great.  I have great kids, and a great marriage, I've been able to do a lot of cool things, and travel to a lot of amazing places.  I wonder if my life is better than some of those people.  I rarely wonder if my life is worse.  The truth is who cares.  Regardless of if their lives are horrible or great, I'm happy with where I am.  That's really all that matters to me and their own happiness is really all that should matter to them.

I tried to explain this to my little friend.  Are you happy with your life?  Do you like yourself?  These are the things that matter.  Sure it would be great if these other girls could appreciate you for who you are.  Having friends always makes life a little easier but them not liking you, that is a reflection of them not you, and if they think you are weird then embrace it.  Being weird can be amazing.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Hey Ocean! - True Confessions

I may be a little obsessed with the phenomenon Bronies.  I just watched my third documentary about the group of adults (mostly men) who are fans of the kid show My Little Ponies Friendship is Magic.  I find it fascinating.  Perhaps it's because I've actually had to watch quite a few of those episodes multiple times and to this day I still just don't get it.  I'm not a willing participant.  I've tried to get into to it.  Believe me it makes watching cartoons with the kids a whole lot more tolerable if you like the show.  I mean my growing love of Adventure Time was honestly a blessing, but so far Friendship is Magic just hasn't done it for me.  Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great cartoon for my children but I don't see the appeal on the adult level.  So these adults who love it, well I just want to understand.  This last documentary I found on Netflix was titled A Brony Tale and explores the phenomena through the eyes of Ashleigh Ball who is the voice of Apple Jack and Rainbow Dash.  The fact that I know these characters well is a testament to the fact I've watched way too much of this show.  Unfortunately I have no more insight then I went in but I did discover that Ashleigh Ball belongs to Hey Ocean!, a Canadian ban, who is my new music obsession.  Check out their song Big Blue Wave.  Nice clean quirky fun!  Maybe Dr. J will move me to the Northwest and I can go see them in concert.  The interesting thing about this new obsession is Ashleigh talks about how weird it is for the band to suddenly have a big Bronie following.  What does it say about me that I'm obsessed with Bronies and that's how I became introduced to them?  I have always had a thing for all things Canadians...maybe if Twilight Sparkle had a maple leaf as her cutie mark....

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Sunday, December 7, 2014

Christmas in the Trailer

I have lots of great memories of Christmases past.  When Dr. J and I were first married we had this little tiny tree...I mean super tiny.  It was maybe less than a foot that my sister had given us.  We put all our Christmas gifts in a pile that year and just set the tree on the very top of them.  There was the year that I had lost my diamond in my wedding ring and after being gone almost two months for away rotations Dr. J came home for Christmas.  He had replaced the diamond in my ring and put it up on the tree with a note filled with journal entries he'd made about me when we first started dating.  As  a kid I remember specific things I asked for, like the year my parents got me a chemistry set or the train set I asked for even though I was like 13 and it was a totally ridiculous request.  I remember singing in nursing homes with my extended family, of eating molasses cookies, and hiding from my younger siblings and my younger cousins with my cousin Brooke while we listened to our mom's and aunts talk about dating, and marriage, and motherhood.  I remember Christmases in the hospital as well.  It seemed like there were three years in a row when Grandpa Burr was having heart problems and then there was the year Cheetah was born, when I only got to spend an hour with her on Christmas day because Dr. J was working the night shift at the children's hospital which was a 5-7 shift both Christmas Eve and Christmas.  I remember doing twelve days of Christmas with my siblings and the excitement of doorbell ditching.  Being a parent has heightened the joy for me.  The excitement of my children when they walk down the stairs and see the tree lit up is priceless.  Christmas to children is magic and that makes me think of one of my best Christmas Memories...Christmas in the Trailer.

After my parents got divorced my mom was still going to school to finish her teaching degree and student teaching.  It was a particularly rough time for our family.  Hardly any money was coming in and my mom was pretty much doing school and raising four kids on her own.  Somehow she was clued in to a job/housing opportunity.  There was this little Hispanic lady named Josie who lived on quite a bit of land.  It was off a big street but the lot was exceptionally deep and so your sort of felt like you were in the middle of nowhere.  The lot had a tiny house on it that Josie had lived in almost all of her married life.  It had tons of pomegranate and nut trees.  It had a giant chicken coop with chickens running everywhere and at the back the lot was a tiny trailer.  Josie was in the early stages of dementia but she refused to leave her house and so her son worked out a deal with mom.  We could rent the trailer for something like a $100 a month if we kept an eye on Josie.  Living on that land resulted in some of the best childhood memories I have and Christmas was no exception.

That year we all slept in the living room together in a big ball of mattresses, blankets, and pillows, and some time around one in the morning our mother woke us up to open presents.  I have zero memory of what I got.  All I can remember is the fun and the laughing, and being so happy I felt I was just going to float away.  And here is where the magic of Christmas comes into play.  My mom told me years later that trailer was a dump.  There were actually holes in the floor where bugs could get in and the trailer had no heat at all.  Even though we lived in Arizona it could get pretty chilly at night and that particular night was close to freezing.  My father had brought a little heater by but it could only reach one room so my mother put it in the living room and dragged all our sleeping gear in there so we could use each other's body heat to stay warm.  All the kids fell asleep quickly and then she put our meager gifts out under the tree.  It was so cold though that she couldn't sleep and so after letting us sleep just a little longer she finally woke us up because she hoped that if we were moving around we'd stay warmer.  It makes me laugh so hard I cry.  It had to have been a horrible Christmas for her, newly divorced, alone with four children, poor while trying desperate hard to finish school, literally worried her children were going to freeze to death, and yet in my memory it was pure magic.  The magic of Christmas is love, a love so strong that a mother can wrap her children so protectively in her own love that what must have been one of the hardest days of her own life is remembered by her child as one of the most fun Christmases she ever had.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Happy Birthday Dr J

Today is Dr J's birthday.  This is our 14th birthday together eating chocolate cake...14th!  How is time traveling so fast!  We are getting old.  This year is especially exciting as we will be getting our first real job and hopefully be moving closer to family!  I love you baby!  Happy Birthday!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Road trip day 2

We are somewhere in the middle of Nebraska!  The road conditions are great.  I'd almost say the temperatures are freakishly warm for the year.  That is the plus.  The negative...11+ more hours of driving.  Probably with bathroom breaks and meals 14 more hours trapped in a car.  Today I think I will break out the portable DVD player.  This is the fourth one we've owned in six years...this time I bought the warranty....worth every penny!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving...a day of over eating and family.  This year did not disappoint.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving Prep

We are in full on Thanksgiving Prep here...not food prep, anything that needs to be made early is being made by someone else, but we are in charge of the we have been running around, cleaning, and setting up.  Dr. J took the kids to the zoo so that we would have a blank slate to work with.  My favorite mother in law standing on the table to tie up the chandelier so no one would bump their head.  Happy Thanksgiving Prep.  

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Post Interview Thoughts

Last night after a community tour and Dr J's interviews we went out to dinner with the department head, his wife and two other local physicians and their wives.  The restaurant was this interesting mix of Spanish and eclectic hipness.  The food was mostly steak and fish with duck thrown in for good measure.  I had steak that came out on a sizzling rock.  I'd slice off a piece and sear each side before eating.  My potatoes were heavenly and had two large prawns for garnish. The asparagus was perfect.  The tragedy of the night was I couldn't finish but because we were leaving this morning at six to fly home I had to have the restaurant throw it out.  J had duck.   For desert we shared flour less chocolate cake with beat chips and strawberries.  The company was amazing.  They were all transplants but all very happy.  They all live within ten minutes of the hospital including the department head who bought 65 acres and then moved his brother and parents out to run a tiny family farm.  Their kids have all been happy.  Dr j said one of the things that really struck him at the hospital was how happy everyone was.  Oh and they like J.  After dinner I was chatting with the department head.  Several times during dinner he'd asked about where else we were interviewing.  After dinner he made his pitch to me about how much they'd love to have us come.  Then he laid it out there with a big smile on his face, he said, "Because of the holiday things might be a little delayed but you will have an offer for sure by next week, we really hope you'll take it.". So there you go folks, I'd call that an interview success!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hard not to worry

You know I never had to call poison control until Cheetah came around.  Then one day I'm looking their number up online so I can ask them if it is okay my daughter just sucked a little super glue down after she bit into the container.  Then do you remember the time I had to take her to the ER to make sure she hadn't swallowed a battery.  What about the time she swallowed the star sicker and couldn't sit or lay all day until her dad finally pulled it out of her bum after she tooted.  Or what about the fact that she once ate about fifty chunks out of a pool noodle.  FIFTY CHUNKS!  I wouldn't have believed it either had I not seen the evidence in the toilet the next day.  What about her tendency to climb, the fact that she thinks she is a tiger and bites people and animals, the fact that she is almost always naked...that she mostly does her poops on the potty but sometimes that means your whole bathroom ends up covered in pooh.  I'm trying to enjoy myself today but you know I'm a little worried about my little sister Flo being with Cheetah all day to day!  I'm sorry Fleebee.  I hope she stays...MELLOW for your.  At least as Mellow as is humanly possible for that child. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Difference Between Match interviews and Job Interviews

While  we were in Kenya Dr. J had a change of heart.  Originally he'd planned on specializing in pulmonary critical care, a fellowship that would have required three more years of training.  While in Kenya though he realized his fellowship would almost completely cut him off from peds, something he wasn't willing to sacrifice.  He did some soul searching and talked with his advisers.  They suggested that what he wanted to do could be done without the extra training even better if he instead considered living in a smaller area and so when we got back rather then doing match interviews and waiting for match results we started looking for jobs.  This last two months he started talking with in house head hunters and recruiters as well as sending his information out to areas we want to live.  There are a lot of med/ped's jobs available.  Especially if you want to live in the east or mid west, but the last few years we have really felt a pull to move back toward family and that really helped narrow down our job searches.  Our parents live in Utah, a state we've sort of gone through loving and hating.  Currently we are sort of off the state.  People it is getting so crowded here.  I mean it is a beautiful place to live so I'm not really surprised and the people are so nice but all of this land that used to be open is now housing developments.  In some ways that is nice.  There are a lot more things to do and lot more business to patronize.  In some ways it sucks.  The traffic here is the pits.  I mean the commute up into Salt Lake is a daily nightmare.  Also the air quality is just gross, especially in the winter.  Salt Lake is stuck between two mountain ranges.  With the huge populations of cars on the road, and the fact that smog sinks right into the valley in the winter there are just times when the air not only looks bad it taste bad.  We have two kids whose lungs are a little iffy and to be honest who really wants to be sucking in gray air everyday so instead we've focuses on states that are closer to home but not necessarily home.  There are a few exceptions here, Dr. J has looked at a couple of places in our current home state since we already live there and there is one job he finds really appealing, but most of the other jobs are in the west. 

Since sending his CV out he's had a lot of really positive phone interviews, but today he and I are flying out to his first in person interview.  This first night ever with both of us alone from our kids, made possible by my mother-in-law who is watching the kids and my sister who is babysitting them one day while she is at work.  It's also made possible by the hospital flying us out to visit.  Here is just one of the perks of job interviews versus match interviews.  Match interviews you have to pay to fly out and you also often have to pay for your hotel.  Job interviews you send your info to the hospital and a super nice administrative assistant sends you a list of ticket times, ask you which ones you like and then books and pays for the ticket for you.  At match interviews they might pay for your hotel(something becoming less likely), at job interviews they book the hotels for you.  At match interviews you have to figure out how you are going to get to your interview.  At job interviews they pay for your rental car.  At Match interviews if you want to bring your spouse along you pay for that.  At job interviews they invite your spouse along, pay for her ticket and set her up with a Realtor and a community tour.  At match interviews they are probably going to take you out to dinner at job interviews they not only set up a couple dinners for you but they want you to bring your spouse along.  We are super excited about this job interview.  One, it is just amazing to have someone else taking care of and paying for all the arrangements.  Secondly, the job sounds perfect for what Dr. J wants to do.  Third it hits a lot of what we want.  It is the perfect distance from family to make us coming home and them coming to see us so much easier.  It is a great sized town.  It is big enough to have a University and several other smaller colleges (and a Costco) but not as big or crowded as Salt Lake.  It also would bridge my parents to my sister who lives on the coast so I'm hoping I'd see her a lot more as she comes home if this is where we end up.  Third it is just a little exciting to have a little alone time together.  I love my kids but we've never had any nights away from them together.  This weekend we will have two.  After a month of sleeping with my two youngest I'm looking forward to it!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Boy Is Back Again

It has been a month since I sent my husband back home and today he is returning.  We have missed that guy.  A couple of days ago we were having a family conversation via speaker phone.  Peach pipes up..."I think you and dad need to stop fighthing and have some alone time where you talk soft and nice to eachother."  This cracked everyone up.  "Baby," I said, "I think she thinks we are separated."  The weird thing is I don't even know where she would even have heard about such a thing as separated so it was so bizzare.  Then we had to poll our other kids.  "Do we fight a lot?" we asked them.  "No," Captain E said, "Well almost never, I mean sometimes you do when you get in a mood but when you are in a mood everyone better watch out."  Thanks babe!  Then G said, "Well you used to argue when dad played his game but now that he quit you guys never fight."  It isn't that we never firght...I'm sure we still argue, I mean after all you are talking about two oldest children who got married but in general we get along pretty well.  Sometimes I worry we are turning into the same person...worry for our kids because who needs to be stuck with twinner parents.  We are glad to be seeing him again.  He doesn't get in until late at night but I'm considering taking the kids with me since we are leaving for a job interview the next morning.  I'm thankful I found this man and I'm grateful he's the father of my children.  To be honest there are few people I like enough to spend this much time with...I feel like I hit the jackpot one I like as much as I like him liked me enough to want to spend the rest of his life with me!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Big Hero 6

My mom was looking for something fun to do with the kids so Tuesday I suggested we go to a movie.  I don't know what I was thinking.  The last time we took Cheetah to a movie she spent the entire time running around the back of the theater.  The time before that I stood in the hall with her for 45 minutes.  Luckily this time there were three adults there.  Cheetah spent the first half of the movie sitting next to my mom and Rhys.  The second half she was sitting next to me.  We were actually sitting on the row behind my mom because when we got to the theater it was PACKED!  I mean the whole theater was full.  We ended up two rows back from the front on the side.  It was 7:20 on a school night and I figured the theater would empty.   What I hadn't counted on was the fact that on Tuesday night it is apparently $5.00 Tuesday night.  It was nice to get cheap tickets.  It was not nice to sit in the front and to the idiot college kid who kept putting his feet on the back of my head rest.  I should have let my toddler come back and pee on your lap.  I'm just saying...putting your feet by someones head is gross! 

Back to Big Hero this is typical Disney movie...someone dies.  WHY DISNEY!  Isn't it possible to have a plot move and have people feel emotion without killing someone off.  I was 21 years old before I had someone I love die.  It took another ten years before I knew any one else die.  I realize I'm pretty lucky in the grand scheme of life but there has to be some other way to move these movies along.  My kids are starting to think being an orphan is cool....

Besides that though the movie was pretty great.  I laughed a lot and I appreciated the fact that they made science look cool.  What can I say, I'm a science nerd.  Plus I have a kid in my life who has a mind geared toward engineering so anything to help put him to feel good about that I can really appreciate.

Hey speaking of engineering there was also this trailer for this movie Spare Parts at the beginning of the movie.  I'm not going to lie I love these inspirational, beat the odds type movies.  It doesn't hurt that this one also happens to be about engineering.  Sports are great but let's be honest most of us aren't going to make a difference or a living for that matter on a field.  Science or good teaching though, those are things most of us can obtain and a place we can realistically make a difference. 

Thursday, November 20, 2014

October Book Reviews 44-49

Child of the Mountain - Marilyn Sue Shank
Do you remember how last month I was obsessed with books about the age group 11-12, well this book falls right into that category.  The year is 1953 and we are following the life of Lydia Hawkins.  Her family, her mother, little brother BJ, and grandmother live in the Appalachian Mountains and while they might not have much money they are extremely tight knit and very happy.  Then Gran dies and her brother BJ who was born with cystic fibrosis continues to get sicker and sicker.  He is spending more and more time at the hospital but at this time period there isn't much they can do and the medical communities constant criticism of the families' Appalachian Mountain cures puts them at odds with the family.  Finally Lydia and her mom bring BJ home to die and that results in her mother being throw in prison.  Lydia is sent to live with her uncle.  The story kind of follows the next year of their lives.  This was a great book.

First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich - Howard Reich
I've read a lot of books about the Holocaust and World War II.  I thought a lot of people have.  It was sort of weird turning point for the world and so many atrocities happened that it has really stimulated a lot of thought and writing, but this was the first book I ever read that really discussed after the war and then went back to the war.  Howard Reich is the son of two Polish Jewish survivors.  His father spent the war in a work camp and then was moved to a death camp.  His mother lived by hiding in the woods and being taken in by strangers who hid her for the war.  He honestly knows nothing about this almost his entire life.  He lives in a Jewish community but his parents never talk about their past and he never ask.  Then after his father dies his mother goes nuts.  She's running the neighborhood screaming that people are trying to kill her.  Multiple times in the hospital and institutionalized it finally becomes clear that she is not slipping into dementia or Alzheimer's but instead has been stuck in PTSD since the war and the death of his father has just made the symptoms more obvious.  Thus begins Howard's look into his parents past.  This is a typical Holocaust story in the fact that it is sad and what happened to his parents is truly horrific but you do have this interesting look into how people who have survived the worst manage to keep moving on for good or bad. 
So these last three books I got out of my father in laws collection.  I think he has hundreds of these books in his collection.  That is not an exaggeration...I'm pretty sure if you counted up all the books on the shelves and boxed up you'd be close to 500.  I'm not really going to go into a lot of depth on these.  They are basically all the same.  He loves mystery suspense novels.  That's what all of these are.  Some interesting bits...The Just One Look book, the main character is a stay at home mom.  I kind of liked that.  Things didn't work out all that great for her, but I like to see myself as more than just a diaper changer, so that was sort of fun.  Hold tight had a similar aspect in the fact that the protagonist was a Hockey Playing Doctor dad.  It brought up some interesting issues like whether or not parents should feel free to spy on their children.  I personally am of the opinion yes.  I think people put way more weight into expected privacy and the right to keep secrets then they should.  That being said I know I'm in the minority and I'm sure my kids will hate me if I do spy on them.  I guess it's a good thing I have a few more years to figure it out.  The Robert Parker book has this main character Jesse that pretty much all woman lust after.  What is the deal with that?  I've never seen in real life a normal person that everyone is just throwing themselves at.  You know my theory about most authors just writing their main characters as who they wish they could be...well apparently Robert you want every woman to want you...I'm just saying.
Just One Look - Harlan Coben

Night and Day - Robert B. Parker

Hold Tight - Harlan Coben

The Pit - 
I can't for the life of me find this book but it was a mystery novel I read at Bob's house.  It follows a investigator trying to find out if an money is being misappropriated at the dig where they are building an underground railroad in Boston.  Their is a murder of course and a hot undercover agent.  You get the idea.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Living With My In-Laws

I've been staying with my in-laws for the last month.  It has been awesome...maybe not awesome for them, but I hope at least not horrible.  When we realized that Dr. J had two weeks vacation one month apart we were bummed out because it wasn't enough time to drive the whole family out to see our family but it was also at times of year where ticket prices were not cheap.  Here is a little secret...flying families of six on resident salaries = tight squeeze.  But we realized that if our families were willing we could drive out, Dr. J could fly home, and then a month later he could fly back out and after thanksgiving we could all drive home again.  So that's what we planned.  This plan though hinged on my in-laws being able to put up with us for a month.  SO far, so good.  My in-laws are great.  My mother-in-law and make dinner together, she plans play dates for my kids, and invites me along to her ward activities.  My father-in-law helps put my kids to bed, makes all our yummy Sunday dinners, and when the kids are getting wild and loud always tries to remind us that that is how kids are suppose to be.  They are actually going to be watching our kids next week so that we can go to J's first real interview.  I know a lot of people don't get along with their in-laws but mine are great.  I just see them as an extension of my own family.  I'm sure in two weeks when we finally leave they will be relieved to get back to their normal schedule and their quieter house, but I hope they've had as much fun as we have!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I went to a birthday party at my aunt Salena's last night.  It was for the daughter of one of my cousins.  All of my aunts kids were there and their children.  It was a blast.  I really felt what I've been missing the last twelve years of my life.  I love my siblings an I love getting together with them and getting together with cousins is almost the's like the siblings you have that you never fought with because you didn't have to share a room.  The great thing about cousins too is that sometimes they are a little older than you or just the same age so (this is coming from an oldest child's perspective) so while your siblings might have kids that don't overlap your older kids ages, your cousins have multiple kids that do....and there way older kids still think it is fun to drag your babies around and entertain them as opposed to your children who are worn out by that crazy little cheetah.  Last night when we first got there my kids were a little hesitant.  I think the last time they'd seen any of my cousins was 2 1/2 years ago at forth of July.  Even when you are ten that is a long time.  They stood in a corner of the kitchen by me an ate pizza while they watched kids running in and out.  After about ten minutes something finally gave though and the next thing I knew they were running the house with a pack of cousins.  Here is were some of the highlights of the night.

1) Everyone calls Cheetah Cheetah there.  She of course responded in kind.  At one point she was wrestling with two of my cousins' older boys and had them on the floor because she was biting them :)

2) My cousin Jacob looks like my dad and uncles in their 20's.  It is just a trip to see him looking like a time warp version of my dad.

3) I love my cousin Sami and Peggy.  They are just a smidgen older than me but they were some of my favorite playmates when I was a kid.  It was so great to catch up on their lives and all the family gossip.  It was also nice to commiserate about our fathers.  All the (P) men are super charming.  FYI, this is not necessarily a blessing, but at this point it is kind of hilarious. 

4) One of my cousins is starting to look more and more like her dad who is starting to look more and more like our grandma and it made me realize that Captain E looked like all three of them.  I recognized when we first came out here that his eyes are like my sister Jo.  Now I realize that here eyes are like our cousin, whose are like her father, whose are like his mother...meaning my kid not only has some resemblance to me and my family but it is actually my Mexican family.

5) My cousins have a bunch of boys just a little older than Captain E....guess what they are also moody!  It was nice to see that I'm not the only one constantly asking my child to relax...and while I can attest they do it much better than I do, it was nice to see this is probably almost normal.

6) My cousin sami is married to the nicest guy.  I mean he is super tall big dude but he always is laughing and smiling...I mean the man just puts off the air of jolly.  For whatever reason Cheetah decided he was a monster and kept running to my cousin Michael who is literally the opposite.  I'm not saying he's mean but he is like super stoic, a lot more quiet, very serious, and when the teenage boys get out of hand he is usually the one who rounds them up and gives them the stern get back in line talk.  This is who my daughter choose to love on all night.  Everyone thought it was hilarious.  What can I say the girl really likes manly men. 

It  was so fun to spend time with them.  Before I knew it it was 9:30 and I had to pry my kids literally out of their arms.  Hope I can move closer so I can see them more often!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Serial...the most addicting podcast ever

Have you been listening to the podcast Serial?  You can find it here or listen on your phone.  I'm a little obsessed as are a lot of my coolest friends if you pay attention to the amount of time they've been talking about it on social media.  It's done by the producers of this American Life although it only focuses on one story, at least these first ten episodes, 8 that are currently out and isn't so crazy disorganized (I'm sorry Ira but your mind feels like bouncing around a toy store with my two,  newly three year old).  New episodes release on Thursdays.  It is the story of high school senior, Adnan whose ex-girlfriend Hae is killed.  He is quickly singled out as the main suspect, investigated, and after a first trial ends in a hung jury, is convicted with his second trial.  The show is driving me crazy and yet I love it, which I think actually says something seriously disturbing about me and my own voyeuristic tendencies.  (Spoilers to follow below...don't read if you don't want to hear them) I go back and forth constantly on whether or not I think the guy is guilty.  Last week I was convinced he was innocent.  It probably didn't hurt that that particular episode was about a the innocence project taking his case on.  The thing is there is a witness to the murder, at least shortly after the murder who told police he helped Adnan dispose of the body of Adnan's ex-girlfriend Hae.  Up until this week I thought Jay the friend was a total nut ball.  I still don't understand why Adnan would confess to his friend and ask him for help, it just seems so weird.  I don't understand why Jay would help him and not tell the police.  I don't understand why Jay agrees to talk to the police without and attorney.  I don't understand why he confess to the police.  I don't understand why he pretty much gets off with no jail time if what he says is true.  I don't understand why he isn't even considered the police's main suspect.  I mean he doesn't really have motive but he knows all about the crime including where Hae's car is.  I just don't get Jay, his story, or the police's handling of him at all, nothing about him makes any sense to me and I think this actually contributes most to me not understanding how Adnan was singled out and convicted.  This week though Sarah the host talks about talking with Jay and something really struck me about that conversation, 15 years after the act Jay is just a tired guy who just can't figure out why the heck after 15 years Adnan still won't own up to what he did.  It was just bizarre.  I guess you could say Jay still doesn't make any sense to me, but what does seem to make sense is that isn't what I would have said if I'd killed Hae and was trying to hide it or had totally made up this story about Adnan.  It just seems least the way they describe it.  I guess I'll just have to wait until next week for some more info.  The frustrating thing is that I know the outcome already.  Adnan is still in jail.  He has still been convicted.  Hae is still murdered.  I don't think Jay is ever going to make sense to me.  The innocence project has taken this case on but I can say I don't honestly know that it will ever be possible to know completely what really happened and if Adnan is actually innocent or guilty. 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Eyebrow Wax Long Overdue

Before and after so you can get an idea of what we were working with here...I mean they are nuts.
My eyebrows were seriously out of control this week, I mean just the worst.  I hadn't waxed them or plucked them since April.  They were as natural as they probably have been since I was 13.  They had also gotten to a point beyond my help...there was no way I could have taken tweezers to them without serious pain.  Yesterday I decided to go and get them waxed.  I really like waxing.  The wax is hot and honestly is sort of relaxing when they first put it on.  Then they pull the hairs out, I mean just rip the whole strip off.  I'm not going to say that part feels great but it definitely feels better than pulling each individual hair out.  When the beutifician was done I was like I was a different person.  I mean seriously I look so much nicer with a little less brow, at least that's what my mind tells me which promted a little thought process, why do we hate body hair so much?  I mean really, sure it is gross...but would we think that if we weren't told that by our culture.  I like to think I probably would, at least leg hair and arm pit hair, because they itch and are scratchy.  I realize most guys don't seem to mind their own leg and armpit hair but I mind when my hubby's hairy leg brush against mine so I think I'd dislike my own hairy legs.  It really is hard to know though since I've been shaving them since I was 13 and I finally convinced my mother to let me.  Anyway while I was contemplating body hair and waxing I remembered this video I saw a few years ago making the rounds on facebook and I had to look it up again.  If you don't want to watch woman's face as they get bikini waxes done, then I suggest you don't click on it but here is a great example of what we are willing to go through to get rid of our hair.  I also wanted to put in some video from the guy presepective.  Modern Dad Jason takes us with him on his appointment to get his nose hairs waxed out.  He claims it is nearly painless.  SO it doesn't quite seem a fair trade off...but it is interesting none the less. 


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Operation Christmas Child

I know I talked about this last year, but I'm telling you I'm going to be talking about it every year in November probably until the day I die.  I love Smaritian's Purse Operation Christmas Child.  Maybe it's because I'm a bleeding heart liberal, maybe because I'm a Christian, maybe because I grew up in a sub for santa poor family, maybe because I've done a lot of travelling around the world and seen the conditions there, maybe it's because I'm a mom trying to teach my children about giving, or maybe it's just because I love Christmas but I love putting these shoeboxes together with my kids to start off our Christmas season.  This year like last year we did two boxes.  I'm really hoping to do more next year, but there is a seven dollar shipping fee per box donation to help get them to their desinations so right now our family can only afford to do two.  We like to do boxes for the older kids.  I heard from a Operation Christmas Child rep last year that they often don't have as many boxes in that age group as they need so that's where we like to send our boxes.  We do a girl and boy box each year.  The kids love doing these.  We go to the store together to pick up the items for each box, then we fill them and fill out this adorable little information sheet about who our family is.  These were the boxes this year and sort of a cost break down.  I'm hoping next year to collect all year (clearance items, free stuff, great deals to help offset the cost so I can do more boxes) but since you have to turn them in this next week, November 17th-24th we just went to Target (mostly in the dollar deals) and the dollar store to fill our boxes.  Here is what the kids picked and a cost break down, just in case you are interested. 

 Above is our box for a girl age 10-12. 
We included from Target
1/2 a four pack of playdough-.50
1/2 a pack of glow in dark stars -.50
1/2 a pack of Christmas pencils - .50
1/2 a pack of tootsie roll suckers - .50
travel toothbrush and toothpaste - 1.00
pair of girls undeware -3.00
leporad notebook - 1.00

From Old Navy
one bouncy ball .25

From Home
40 sheets of notebook paper free

From the Dollar Store
medium purple t-shirt - 1.00
1 pair of socks out of a two pack - .50
pink stuffed dolphin - 1.00
3 pencil sharpeners out of a 6 pack - .50
tote with markers - 1.00
plastic shoe box - 1.00

Our total for the girl box 12.25, add the $7 shipping 19.25

Above is our box for a boy age 10-12
We included for Target
1/2 a four pack of playdough-.50
1/2 a pack of glow in dark stars -.50
1/2 a pack of Christmas pencils - .50
1/2 a pack of tootsie roll suckers - .50
travel toothbrush and toothpaste - 1.00
2 pairs of boys new undeware out of new pack I split with Captain E - 2.00
ninja turtle notebook - 1.00
metal slinky - 1.00

 From Old Navy
one bouncy ball .25

From Home
40 sheets of notebook paper free
4 pack of triple A batteries

From the Dollar Store
medium blue t-shirt - 1.00
1 pair of socks out of a two pack - .50
fuzzy orange ball - 1.00
3 pencil sharpeners out of a 6 pack - .50
led flashlight - 1.00
8 head multi purpose screw driver - 1.00
plastic shoe box - 1.00

Our total for the boy 13.25, with $7 shipping $20.25 

We really enjoy doing these as a family.  If you have any interest you can go to their site here to see where you can drop off boxes and print labels.  Boxes are due next week (the third week of November) so if you are interested you need to get on that soon, or maybe you can start planning for next year.  I know I already am.  These really are a great way to start your holiday season giving and if you want to cry your eyes out spend some time watching videos about kids who have recieved their boxes.   

Friday, November 14, 2014

Cheap Fleece Lined Leggings

I love leggings.  I really do.  I was resistant for years.  My husband and I used to joke about all the no pants girls we'd see on campus.  Then I tried a pair on.  I'm just going to say it.  Leggings are the most comfortable thing I own.  Seriously!  Leggings and a tunic...there is not a single day of your life that is going to be more comfortable then that.  I like to think of them as pajama's you can get aways with wearing outside.  When we were travelling home from Kenya this summer I turned to leggings to make my trip more comfortable.  At seven in the morning I put a pair of leggings on.  We ate breakfast and then our driver picked us up.  That day we visited an Elephant Orphanage and did a safari in Nairobi.  Leggings kept me comfy in the car.  Our driver dropped us off that night around seven pm and we hung out in the airport until 11:30.  Then we got on a plane and took an eight hour flight to London.  Wearing leggings was like being in my pj's.  Once we were at Heathrow we took a train into London.  We did an eight mile walking tour you can read about here.  When it was done we limped back to Paddington station where once again we got on the train.  It was finally at that point that I traded my leggings for a dress I'd been carrying in my backpack just because I felt like 31 hours or so in the same outfit was enough but I'm telling you now that was the most comfortable travel I've ever had.  Now that it is winter, fleece lined leggings are great for wearing with boots and a tunic or under a skirt or dress.  They help keep you toasty and comfy.  I saw this great deal floating around facebook at HowDoesShe today.  It's with a company Secret Catch.  I don't know if this is a daily deal site or they are there until they are gone but you can get two pairs, put them in your cart and then use the code HDSLEGS (I'm guessing it stands for HowDoesSheLegs).  It gives you one pair for free.  No shipping.  If you live in Utah you are going to pay a little tax...two pairs of leggings for like 14.50.  If you live in Indiana two pairs for 13.99.  Enjoy. 

Sister Wife

Yesterday I was making dinner with my mother-in-law.  At one point I started mashing the potatoes and my mother-in-law came in behind me and started finishing the gravy I had started.  While we worked together she said, "Well maybe having a sister wife wouldn't be so bad," and we both started to laugh.  We are both Mormon, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Later Day Saints, born and raised.  I wouldn't say we are typical members.  She mainly just goes to relief society and while I am 100% active, I have a scientist brain, I mainly vote democrat, I listen to a lot of NPR, and to be honest there are a lot of things about my church I'm not 100% comfortable with.  Polygamy has always been one of them.  When I was a kid, maybe 13 or 14 I remember getting into an argument with one of Sunday school teachers.  I'm pretty sure it was about polygamy and he called me an apostate.  Twenty years later I can tell you my opinions have not changed.

About six years ago I read the book, Rough Stone Rolling at my in-laws house.  It was a little earth shattering for me, but it confirmed that I have no good feelings about polygamy.  So when my church released a couple essays on plural marriage this last year, one specifically talking about Joseph Smith's plural marriages I was not surprised, but I guess I was a little shocked by some of my friends who posted response to it on facebook, things like, "Well this isn't as shocking as people think it is."  This was in response to the information that Joseph Smith had probably plural married at least one, possibly two 14 year old girls and that he had also plural married other men's wives.  I'm going to just throw this out there, the fact that this didn't bother other people kind of sort of bothered me.

I'm not the only one. Here in Utah in the Tribune last week there was an opinion piece written by a local Psychologist who has taken a lot of heat for saying that she thought these practices were wrong and pointing out the fact that even at the time of Joseph Smith only something like 1% of girls were marrying at 14.  2-3% at 15-17, the majority waiting until after age 18 to get married.  For stating her opinion she was taking a lot of flack, people were telling her she lacked faith and that she should leave our church.  I wonder if people feel the same about me and I know that's why for the most part I keep my opinions to myself. 

I realize this might make me exceptionally unpopular but I just want to say I don't like polygamy.  I find the practice and that part of my church's history extremely distateful.  I realize there are probably some people who can live it and have it work and be happy but I think those people are a rarity.  Support of this can be found even with our early prophets.  It is pretty well documented that Emma felt a lot of pain over polygamy and I find it hard to believe that would not have grown stronger had Joseph Smith lived longer.  Brigham Young married 55 woman in his life.  I think something like nine of those marriages ended in divorce.  Joseph F. Smith's first wife originally gave him permission to marry a second wife after Brigham Young gave him the command to do so but quickly became disenchanted with the whole thing and they divorced.  Can anyone blame her?  I certainly don't.  I try to imagine what it would be like if my husband married my best friend.  I know myself pretty well.  It is hard to believe I wouldn't have ended up hating both of them.  There is also some talk that Wilford Woodruff had two wives leave after just weeks and was divorced from at least one other wife.  These are prophets of the church and their wives and they just don't seem to be that happy to me.  Does that mean I lack faith, maybe.  Does that mean I don't belong at church, I hope not.  I do know though that I will never be a fan of polygamy, I don't think any essays are ever going to change that and you are never going to hear me say, "well this isn't that shocking."   

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Five Tips for Fostering Independence in Our Children

Captain E (10) running an errand by himself at Old Navy.
I waited in the car.
When my children were first learning to talk the word "mom" brought such love and joy into my heart...ten years and four kids later I'm not going to lie, sometimes the word "mom" fills me with feelings of dread.  Let's look at a typical day.  I realize after several hours of homeschool and laundry that I have neglected to use the restroom since I woke up.  I get in there and it occurs to me that maybe now is the time to take care of the serious bathroom business and then the "Mom's" start up.  "Mom, Captain E did this."  "Mom, Cheetah is stuck in the dishwasher."  "Mom, there is water going everywhere."  You get the idea right.  It is pure pandomanium and all I really want to do is go to the bathroom and have five minutes of that too much to ask?  Aparently so, but that doesn't mean that I can't do something to help encourage independence in my children...

1) Don't hover.  I mean seriously just don't.  We went on a hike with the kids this summer on the rim of a valcano.  I seriously wanted to scream about every thirty seconds for my kids to "Be Careful."  I'm a hover mom.  I know this, but if you are a hovering mom, take a chill pill.  I mean really.  Doing too much for our kids, giving them too much direction, it is stifling.  Even if you have to chant "relax" twenty-five times a minute to keep yourself calm, take a step back and see how they will solve problems.

2) Allow children to make choices.  Children need to be allowed to make choices.  That doesn't mean that they get to decide every facet of their lives but the more choices we can give them the better they will feel and the more prepared they will be when they get to start running their own lives.  Things like what they are going to wear or how much of something on their plate they are going to eat should be turned over to them immediately.  As a parent you have control over what you are going to make for meals or what clothes you buy your children.   Let go of some control and have them make as many little and daily choices as they can.

3) Give your child chores. In our house we actually pay our children to do housework.  We went back and forth on this for quite a bit but in the end a chore chart connected to an allowance worked best for us.  We wanted our children to have the opportunity to have an allowance so that they could make decisions about spending money and learn about savings, tithe, the consequences of not paying attention to a budget when it was still small change.  We also wanted them to help around the house without complaint.  So now they can earn money for chores...not making their beds and picking up their rooms because that is stuff that they own but things like making dinner, weeding in the lawn, washing clothes, cleaning bathrooms, washing dishes, dusting, mopping floors.  It's nice because they are learing valuable life skills and are being helpful. 

4) Encourage children to learn to take care of their own needs.  Things kids need to know how to do, put on their own shoes (by kindergarden they should probably know how to tie them), get dressed, button their own pants, zip their own coats, open their own fruit snacks or ziplock baggies, put the straw into their own milk.  Sure these skills come at different ages but if you don't encourage them to try and show them how to do things they are going to be that kid at school who is constantly asking the teacher for help or that kid at home constantly asking you for help.  While we are on this topic can we talk about bum wiping, sure for a few years this is going to be primarily on you, but the sooner you can get them taking care of it the better.  Nothing like being at a friends house and hearing their seven year old yell out from the bathroom, "Someone come and wipe my bum." or having the kid asking their teacher to help them with that.  Give the kid some dignity and teach them to do it early.  Helpful hint, flushable wet wipes are super helpful when kids are first learning.

 I found this great little guide on what life skills kids should be doing at different ages here on the site family education.  I'm going to do a little compelation below just because I hate sites that make you use slide shows to get all the info.

Age by Age guide to Life Skills By Lindsey Hutton

Age 2-3
  • help put own toys away
  • dress (with some help)
  • put own dirty clothes in hamper
  • clear plate after meals
  • assist setting the table
  • brush teeth and wash face with assistance
Age 4-5
  • know full name, address, and phone number
  • know how to make emergency call
  • perform simple cleaning chores
  • feed pets
  • understand money
  • help with basic laundry chores
  • choose own clothes
  • tie shoes, here is a little video that makes it easy

Age 6-7
  • help with cooking meals
  • mix, stir, and cut with dull knife
  • make basic meals like sandwich
  • help put groceries away
  • wash dishes
  • use basic household cleaners safely
  • straighten up bathroom after using
  • make bed without assistance
  • bathe unsupervised (that being said I still go in and was Gigi's hair.  Even with the cut she still has so much of it, it is difficult to get all the soap out)
Age 8-9
  • fold own clothes
  • learn simple sewing
  • care for outdoor toys
  • take care of personal hygiene without being told
  • use a broom and dustpan properly
  • read a recipe and prepare a simple meal
  • help create a grocery list
  • count and make change
  • take written phone messages (my kids like to read me my text)
  • help with simple lawn duties such as watering and weeding (obviously this is just suggestions...we actually start weeding duty long before this although be warned in a garden sometimes it is tough for kids to tell the difference between weed and say something you want like baby carrots)
  • take out trash
Age 10-13
  • Stay home alone
  • make purchases at store by self
  • change own bed sheets (E could do this at seven)
  • use washing machine and dyer (I start teaching this at seven)
  • plan and prepare meals
  • use the oven to broil or bake food
  • read labels
  • iron clothes
  • use basic hand tools
  • mow the lawn
  • look after younger siblings and neighbors (I'm thinking closer to 13 than 10 on this one)
Age 14-18
  • mastery of all above skills
  • perform sophistciated cleaning and maitenance chores such as changing the vacuum cleaner bag, cleaning the stove, unclogging drains
  • fill the car with gas, add air to and change a tire
  • read and understand medicine labels and dosages
  • interview for and get a job
  • prepare cooked meals.
Young Adults - Prepare to live on own
  • Know how to support themselves while away at college.
  • make regular doctors and dentist appointments
  • understand finances, manage bank account, balance a checkbook, pay bills, understand credit cards
  • basic contracts like apartment or car lease
  • schedule car maintenance
5) Let your child feel the natural consequences of their actions.  Life is all about learning. When you are young the consequences of your behavior are often small but as you get older it seems like consequences grow exponentially with your height.  Too often parents try to shield their children from negative consequences.  Sure there are going to be times when maybe a consequence is completely out of line but really think about it hard before you step in.  Nothing like having to front your kids rent money for the rest of their lives because they never learned what it meant to have to do without when they were young.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

So easy to say no...the kid version.

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how easy it is to say no and how hard it is to say yes as a parent.  The thing is my kids have the exact same default.  Saturday we are sitting around the house and Grandma mentions this discovery park.  "Do you want to go?". " no, absolutely not!". Thus begins a twenty minute battle to wrangle resistant kids into the car.  They grumbled the entire way there.  Then they got out of the car and we lost them for two hours.  They were running all over the place having a blast!  In the end we had to bribe them with ice cream cones to get them to leave.  Maybe negative response are just genetic!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Thank You Veterans

It's Veterans Day again. Seems like at one time every man was a veteran. All three of my grandma's husbands were, J's grandpa, my father, pretty much every man you knew older than a certain age. Now it is fewer people who go in the military. It is a blessing we don't need as many but I think it is aways important to recognize those who have done it or are willing to put their lives on the line in order to protect what we hold near and dear. I'd just like to put a shout of thanks out to My Father, thanks for your years of service, for teaching me love and respect for this country even if the people in it didn't always respect or love you in the way they should. Thank you Grandpa Tolman, Grandpa Slade, Grandpa Burr, Grandpa Chatam. I realize that most of you didn't have any choice in the matter but I've never heard you complain. I know some of you were forever changed by your duty. I wonder what your lives would have been like in a different time and place. I know it wasn't easy but I thank you. Thank you Aunt Cynthia and Uncle Jim, watching Marine life through you guys made me know it was never the life for me but I grew and understood just how strong a person you have to be to make that type of sacrifice. Thanks cousin Brooke and her husband Corey. I realize that you two made the ultimate sacrifice and there are really no words I can say to make that okay but I love you both and hope my life can show the respect and honor I have toward  

Monday, November 10, 2014

I Don't Own My Children's Bodies - A haircut battle and a relfection on my ear piercing policy.

Yesterday I took my children to get their hair cut, all four, and yes we could have a post completly dedicated to the fact that this act alone probably proves I'm crazy, but that is not what this post is about.  The cathalyst to this event was three fold.  First Captain E was starting to look pretty scruffy.  Secondly Cheetah's hair was so crazy.  She's never had a hair cut and the last year or so it has needed a trim but I've avoided cutting it because it is a little curly and I knew the second we cut it the curl would be completely gone.  Third, Peach was asking me to get her hair cut again.  So yesterday I agreed to take them all.  We went to Great Clips...I figured when you are going to have four kids hair cut, having lots of stylist available is the way to go.  Before we left though I said to Gigi, "Do you want to get a trim?"  And she responded, "I want to cut all my hair off."  Now this started a huge fight in our house.  Not with me, me I tried to bite back what I wanted to say, but Captain E freaked out!  I mean he just went nuts.  It is important to note that Captain E is super resistant to change.  He hates it so much and pretty much his entire life Gigi has been a girl of long hair.  At birth she had four inches of hair sticking straight up in the air.  By two months she had great pig tails.  By nine months we gave her her first hair cut.  By two years the girl had waist length hair.  That's how it has been most of her life since then.  We get it trimmed occasionally so that it will look nice but for almost her whole life she's been a long haired girl.  Originally she said she wanted a bob like Peach so this was a huge change she was asking for. 

If I'm honest I was freaking out internally a little myself.  We keep Peach's hair in a cute little bob and I don't mind short hair but I'm just so used to G being my long haired girl that it was a little heart breaking to think those long blonde locs were about to be gone.  I had this thought though while this whole thing was going on..."My children's bodies belong to them, they don't belong to me."  Maybe the rest of the world doesn't have problems with this, but for me it is often difficult to seperated myself from my children, to come to grips with the fact that they aren't still part of me.  When we were newly married we lived in a ward where there was a family with teenage sons.  I remember sometime during the one son's senior year he grew his hair out super long.  He had really curly hair so it became a huge fro.  Then when it reached just epic proportions he bleached his normally dark brown hair blonde.  It was horrible, this sort of yellow sort of orange color, huge frizzy, just gross.  I remember some people in the ward talking to his mom about it.  I think someone in the ward was a little uncomfortable with him passing sacrament.  I remember his mom responding to their questions of why didn't she make him change it with "You know, it is his hair."  That really struck me.  Since that time I've watched other parents.  We are not always so easy going when it comes to our children.  We often stiffle their creativity and sometimes we make decisions or comments about their bodies that are not ours to make.  A personal pet peeve of mine is the father that guilts his daughters into keeping their hair long because that is what he finds attractive...look I'm not saying you are some kind of weird perve, but I think we shoud support our children's right to experiment and encourage them to realize that their value and beauty isn't tied to our or societies preferences. 

I tried to explain that to my freaking out son.  I sat him down and kindly said, "Look I know you are struggling because you don't like change.  I understand that, I can sympathize with it.  That being said, you don't have the right to make choices about anyone elses body but your own.  Your sisters get to choose how they want their own hair, just like you get to choose how you want your own."   Guys this statement came back to bite me exactly 30 minutes later.  I was at the Great Clips asking E how much of his hair he wanted cut off and he said he just wanted a trim, no buzzers, just a 1/2 inch off, and he wanted to leave his side burns alone."  And the thing is at that moment I had to respect that.  Just like my daughters he has the right to choose his own hair style and to have me respect that decision. 

The irony of this whole realization is that I realized my husband understood this long before I did.  When our daughters were born Dr. J and I were in direct conflict over if we should pierce their ears or not.  I wanted to pretty much do it at birth.  Dr. J wanted to have them wait until they were twelve so that it would be their own decision.  We eventually negotiated down to the age of 8.  Gigi will be eight in a month.  She has zero interest in getting them pierced...I mean does not want it one little bit.  Dr. J was right not to let me pierce them.  How do you like those apples J, how do you like them!

Captain E's before and after.  Sure he didn't cut much but hopefully he internalized that he has the rights to his own body just like everyone else has the rights to their own.

G's before and after.  She didn't end of going as short as she orginally planned.  The girl at the store was anxious about chopping it all off so cut it to this length and asked G what she thought.  G loved it.  I was sad to see that long hair go...I love braiding it, but I was happy she was excited with her cut.  I love that she can see her own beauty regardless of hair style.

Peach's before and after.  Rocking the bob.  This girl is just adorable any way but I love her hair in a bob.  FYI she wasn't sad about the hair cut she was sad she was the last on the list to get the cut.

Cheetah's before and after...okay I'm not going to lie, this one broke my heart a little, as in mommy teared up while they were cutting.  She was super good for her cut and the girl saved me a few pieces of the curl but I was right, the curl is forever gone :(  It does look a lot less crazy now though and magically now appears a tad thicker.  Welcome to little girlhood my dear.


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