Sunday, December 30, 2007

Star Wars

My boys have officially moved on from the Peter Pan phase to the Star Wars phase. Samuel has declared his new alter-ego to be nothing other than Obi-Wan Kenobi.


James, continuing with his trend in the darker side of things, is Darth Maul.

Should I be worried?


The funniest part is that John and I are assigned characters who use lightsabers which correspond with our Samuel-assigned favorite colors. (Remember my favorite color is purple) Can you guess who I get to be? That's right, Mace Windu.




Can you see the resemblance?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Holidays or Merry Christmas???

John pointed out an interesting trend in the Christmas cards we received this year. Of all the cards we received from members of our church (aka people who we know believe in Christ and who celebrate the true meaning of Christmas) about 70% of them said "Happy Holidays." Yet all of the cards we received from members of different churches or people who are not religious at all said "Merry Christmas." Why is that?
I wondered if members of the church were trying to show respect for people of other religions or maybe they didn't even notice what the cards said. I don't know. Any ideas?

Monday, December 24, 2007

a little birdie

For Christmas this year we took the kids to Target to get their pictures taken so we could make our Christmas cards. The appointment was in the afternoon and the kids were tired and a little over hyper to say the least. Anyway of the dozen or so pictures that were taken, only about 3-4 were actually worth printing. The cutest one of the boys has them hugging each other and looking out at the camera with huge smiles on their faces. As I was admiring the picture and selecting it for our Christmas cards John pointed out a little flaw...
John: "Umm, honey, did you notice James' hand?"
Erin: "No. Why?"
John: "James is flipping people off!"
I looked for a minute because I clearly hadn't picked up on it, and decided,
"Nobody will notice."
I was wrong! It is the number one comment about our Christmas card. Not "Oh, the boys look so cute!" or "What a nice family picture." All I hear is, "Umm, Erin, did you realize James is flipping the birdie?" I guess next time I will listen to John!
So if you were one of the fortunate few to receive a card from us, check it out - if you haven't already noticed! Consider the big laugh you get out of it our gift to you!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

doubt

We decided to reduce my depression meds last week to see if it would cut down on the exhaustion I am experiencing every day. So far it hasn't helped too much (although I haven't fallen asleep while driving so maybe it does help a little) but the anxiety I am now experiencing is not worth the possible benefits. I think I must be going crazy. I am going through my life analyzing everything - my decisions, my direction in life, my relationships, my parenting skills - everything!! Even the knowledge that it is the change in medication that is making me feel this way does not help. John says it takes about 3 weeks for the body to regulate itself after a change in medication. I guess in the meantime I will just wait and hope and pray that I will survive till then.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

life changing moments

I wrote a paper on JFK's assassination in a sociology class in college. Admittedly the paper wasn't that good but it got me thinking about an interesting subject - how national or world events affect our personal lives. I interviewed my bishop and his wife about where they were and what they were doing when they heard JFK had been shot. It was a major moment in their lives and they remembered not only where they were but what they were doing and how they heard of the shooting. My generation was not alive at that point, but I bet if you ask anyone my age where they were on September 11 when the twin towers collapsed, they could tell you precise details. I know I could! These moments leave a permanant mark on our lives and have far reaching impacts in our lives even if we did not know anyone personally affected by them.
The reason I have been thinking about this lately (and good luck following my logic) is because I find that I react the same way to the personal tragedies of others. These moments become imprinted on my brain. I am an emotional person (not like I am a walking basketcase all the time - although sometimes that is true) and as such cannot help but respond emotionally to bad news before (and mostly after) my logical brain kicks in. Case in point: I talked to my mom tonight and she told me that the father of a close friend died of a major heart attack today. My first reaction was tears. I wasn't crying for myself but for my friend and her family who I know must be completely devestated by their sudden loss. My friend's father was one of the kindest and most generous men I have ever met. He is one of those people with whom you are instantly at ease and his home is a place where you want to be because you can feel the love and warmth of the family radiationg from its walls. My logical mind - when it finally kicked in reminded me that he is in a far better place now and although his family will miss him terribly, they will be comforted by the fact that he was a good person and has returned to Heavenly Father. However, I can't help but feel sad for his grandkids, that he won't be there to see them grow up and I am in agony for his wife and kids who now have a gaping hole in their lives where he used to be.
I know I am ultra sensitive right now anyway - a couple weeks ago I learned that a close family friend is dying after a prolonged and painful illness. Again my emotional response wins out. I know it will be a good thing for her not to suffer anymore. But I also know that she is as close to her brothers and sisters - not to mention her parents - as I am to mine and I can hardly imagine how they can pick up the pieces and move on after this. I know they will be able to (they are all strong, confident, intelligent individuals) and that they will be grateful she doesn't have to suffer anymore, but my heart aches for them.
Maybe it is the depression resurfacing, but I can't seem to stop hurting for my friends who are suffering. I feel helpless and frustrated. The world seems a little bit darker and a little less hopeful at the prospect of life without these two incredible people.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Christmas Tag

I got this off a friend's blog and it looked like fun. Consider yourself tagged!

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Definitely wrapping paper! My mom even uses real ribbon for the bows so that is how I like to do it too.
2. Tree-- real or artificial? I actually prefer real (I love the smell) but we have an artificial tree. It is beautiful but not as much fun.
3. When do you put up the tree? Black Friday of course!
4. When do you take the tree down? After new years day. My parents actually left their tree up all year this last year. I wonder if it will get taken down this year...
5. Like egg nog? Nope!
6. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes! John and my mom bought me the Willowtree nativity one year. I love it for many reasons but my favorite thing about it is that Mary is holding the baby Jesus. Every other Nativity I have ever seen has the baby lying in the manger. I like to think that Mary was holding her baby that night. I would have.
7. Favorite gift received as a child? My brother Jared bought dart guns for everyone in the family one year; they were the kind that shoot rubber, suction cup darts. We spent Christmas morning in all out warfare. My brother-in-law Tracy (in the Army National Guard) built barricades out of gift boxes. It was great!
8. Hardest person to shop for? My brother Tyler. I can never find anything for him- and he never has any suggestions either! We usually end up getting him BestBuy gift cards.
9. Easiest person to buy for? I have two- Samuel and James. They want any and every toy they see.
10. Worst Christmas Gift? I can't think of one of mine, but my Grammy once gave Lisa a pair of hot pink silky old lady slippers. They actually passed them back and forth for a few years if I remember correctly.
11. Snail mail or email Christmas cards? Definitely snail mail! There is nothing that can replace a tangible expression of love from family and friends who are far away.
12. Favorite Christmas movie? White Christmas with Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye.
13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? Whenever I have time. Sometimes I will pick up presents in the summer if I am on vacation.
14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Not that I can remember. Wedding presents, yes.
15. Favorite food to eat on Christmas? Mom's homemade rolls.
16. Clear or colored tree lights? The obsessive compulsive side of me likes clear but we have colored lights on the tree.
17. Favorite Christmas Song? The Christmas Song, Silent Night, Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, What Child is This, and pretty much all the others too.
18. Travel during Christmas or stay home? I grew up traveling during Christmas so I always feel like that is what we should be doing. However, my siblings decided not to do Christmas together anymore because it is too much craziness traveling with kids and presents and bringing germs from all over the country. Bah Humbug! I miss Christmas at home!
19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer? Of course. Forwards and backwards!
20. Angel or star on top of the tree? Angel.
21. Open presents on Christmas eve or Christmas morning? Christmas morning! Although we used to open one present on Christmas eve. I would like to start that tradition with my kids.
22. Most annoying thing about this time of year? Rude shoppers.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I am chocolate

I found this on my friend's blog and had to try it! Of course I am chocolate!


Christmas in the Philadelphia 1st ward

Christmas in our ward brings a whole host of opportunities for service and showing love for our brothers and sisters. We have many new converts who are recent immigrants from West Africa. They are doing their best to make a home for their families and to provide for them as well as they can, but extra money for Christmas presents is not usually within their means. That is where the rest of us step in.
Our Relief Society president makes a list of the families who need Christmas and then ward members pick a family and do the shopping. I take a different approach. I call my mom and sisters' wards in Utah and present them with the opportunity to serve. Their wards are more financially able than our student/new member ward and often don't get to be a part of such service so they are excited for the opportunity to help. This year Keri's ward is providing for five families (16 kids). Mom came out to do shopping for Christmas baskets that are provided for many of the families as well.
Boxes have been showing up on my porch all week. I act as the coordinator and distributer for whatever is sent from Utah. It is the coolest thing! I get to witness first hand the generosity of members of the church for complete strangers who live 2,000 miles away. I also get to see the joy and gratitude of our ward members as they receive these unexpected gifts. This is what the Christmas season should be for everyone!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Grandma Liz is coming to town


My mom is flying out to visit tomorrow. For me this is even more exciting than Christmas. I haven't seen mom since the beginning of October, but the kids haven't seen her since last Christmas! I wish I could capture the smile on Samuel's face every time I remind him that Grandma is coming. He is as excited as I am. :)

I love living where I do, but I wish I got to see my family more often.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

gripe


I have a real issue with smokers. As we were driving around today, the driver in the car in front of us rolled down his window and tossed out a crumpled cigarette package. I almost got out of my car to knock on his window to politely return his trash but decided against it at the last moment. I wish I had done it!

In a country where a growing percentage of our population is obsessed with "going green" and recycling everything from water bottles to toenails, you would think that littering would be one of the first bad habits to go! Later, when I stopped to pick up some milk at the market, I stepped out of my car and onto another crumpled cigarette package. Honestly, people! And don't even get me started on cigarette butts being thrown all over the place!!

Smokers complain about the rising cigarette taxes. I say, raise them sky high! If the people who intend to smoke the cigarettes are incapable of putting their own trash where it belongs they deserve to at least pay the state enough money to hire someone to do it for them!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

confession


I am a die hard Dancing With The Stars fan - partially because I love watching how the stars improve but mostly because I love ballroom dance. I am going to be a professional ballroom dancer in my next life. *oops! I think I left that off my list!*

As much as I enjoy the dancing, the show itself drives me crazy! Do they really need a second hour every week for a results show after they took two hours for the dancing? They spend more time chatting and showing clips of clips we have already seen. Then we get to the finale - tonight - and it takes two hours for them to rehash the entire season before they will tell us who won. I don't want to watch everyone who was already voted off dance again. There was a reason they were voted off in the first place. Seriously!!!

But just so you know, Helio and Julianne are going to win. You heard it here first!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

music review

The Ultimate Love Song... for me anyway:
"I Don't Know Why" by Shawn Colvin

"I don't know why
the sky is so blue.
And I don't know why
I'm so in love with you.
If there were no music
then I would not get through.
I don't know why
I know these things but I do. I do."

It is a simple song, guitar accompanyment only, that just grabs you.
I wish it were legal to post songs on this but since we can't, I guess you'll just have to take my word for it.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

lightsaber duels

We have quite a collection of lightsabers - partially because we have boys who are obsessed with sword fights and partially because John and I are Star Wars fanatics. I am talking stand-in-line-for-hours-to-get-tickets-to-Episode 1 fanatics.

Tonight Samuel decided that we needed to have a lightsaber fight. John brought down the mother of all lightsabers - his electronic light and noise lightsaber that you can join together to make the Darth Maul lightsaber. It is so cool! (Man, I sound like a geek!) Samuel armed himself with my purple lightsaber declaring, "Look dad! I'm Mace Windo!" I grabbed a red and blue lightsaber to try and hold off John (yes, I do have split personalities). James was offered a green lightsaber (a relic from Samuel's Halloween costume 2 years ago) but chose instead to fight with his little toy screwdriver that is about 6 inches long; he wasn't too effective but had a marvelous time anyway.

Anyway, once we were all armed we began the fight - everyone against Daddy. The kids sustained multiple pretend injuries but no fatalities. John and I would periodically act out dramatic death scenes only to be revived by kisses from the boys to resume the fight. Samuel has learned to use the force so every once in a while he would throw up his hand and make a buzzing noise and John would jump backwards as if pushed by the force. It was too funny!

I really love my boys!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

goodreads.com

I found a new fun website called goodreads.com. You can enter all of the books you have been reading, rate them, and critique them. You can also invite friends to join and find out what they are reading too. It is a fun way to keep track of all the books you read... and if you are like me and can never remember anything, you now have a way to actually remember the titles and authors. A while back I was reading a book a day and I don't remember the names of half of them. I wish I had found this site a few months ago!

Monday, November 12, 2007

in my next life


I found a really cool blog (I wish I still had the address to it) that was all about lists: to do lists, grocery lists, lists of requirements for future spouses, etc. It inspired me to make a list of things that I may not get to do in this life but that I plan to do in my future lives - with the pretense of course that I believe in reincarnation.


1) Perform on Broadway. I mean seriously dedicate my life to acting - waitress for my living and everything.


2) Be a foreign diplomat in Russia. I have actually been there and I spent some time with a family who lived in the US embassy in Moscow. It would be crazy but so cool!


3) Work for the FBI. I have always been curious. I know it is not as glamorous as it is shown in the movies but I would love the traveling.


4) Be a lounge singer or sing with a big band - not like some skanky Jessica Rabbit type, more like Billie Holiday. She is the best!


5) Sing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Shhhhh, don't tell anyone. I actually don't want to live in Utah, but to be able to spend all of my time singing with fabulously talented musicians and traveling the world in the process would be amazing!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

there's no buisness like show buisness


Well, The Mikado is finally over. I had a great time and the show ended up coming together spectacularly well. I am so glad I had a chance to be in it! However, my boys (all three of them) are very glad it is over. By the last few performances the kids were asking me to stay home instead of going to the show. It was so cute but really sad too.

Here is a fun picture from the show. Can you pick me out?

Thursday, November 8, 2007

of elections and yard sales

I have a pet peeve that seems to be especially aggravated this time of year. My problem is with people who don't clean up after themselves. Fall seems to bring a plethora of yard sale signs stuck to telephone poles and anything else that can help display the announcement to passing traffic. I have no problem with the way these signs are posted, just with the fact that the signs are left there for weeks and sometimes months after the fact. Is it really so difficult to pick them up? Is the yard sale so exhausting that people do not have any strength in the following weeks to put their signs in the trash? I have often been tempted to pick up the signs myself and wallpaper the offenders' house with them. Good sense and my children in the car have held me off from that particular course of action.
Political signs present me with the same kid of frustration. Election day was on Tuesday. You would think that the candidates who spent so many months promising to improve life in our community would be able to remove their signs from public property in a prompt manner. Alas, no. It would seem that they suffer from the same exhaustion or laziness which has befallen the hosts of the local yard sales.
For me, I think it would be appropriate to charge $5-$10 per sign that has to be removed by township workers. It is not like it will be difficult to find the persons responsible - their name and/or address is plastered all over the signs!

Monday, November 5, 2007

Halloween





I finally got around to getting our Halloween pictures uploaded from our camera. Here are some of my favorites. Sam was a zebra (obviously). He has been asking to be a zebra since last Halloween. Thank goodness for Old Navy! James was a chicken. We tried to sell him on an elephant costume but he wasn't having any of it.
John took the boys to our ward Halloween party (I was at rehearsal). As he was getting dressed, Samuel put his stuffed zebra inside his costume where his belly is really big. He walked around the party telling everyone that he had a baby zebra inside his tummy. John just smiled and nodded, he had no idea what Sam was talking about until they were leaving the party and Sam opened his costume. It was so funny!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

carving fingers

Yesterday Sam's class took a fieldtrip to Linvilla Orchards. It is a great old farm where you can feed the animals, pick your own fruit, go for hayrides or play on the really cool playground. James and I met up with Sam's class for a little while so we could pick out some pumpkins for Halloween.
After I picked Sam up from school we decided to carve the pumpkins. We spread some newspaper out on the porch and took out the cheesey pumpkin carving set that I had bought last year at the grocery store. Surprisingly we got an entire pumpkin carved without incident - not even a pumpkin seed fight. However just as I was cutting out the top of the second pumpkin my knife broke. I tossed the pieces in the trash and picked up the second -and final- knife and continued to cut. This knife broke as well, but this time when it snapped I ended up scraping my finger across the back edge of the blade as it was still stuck in the pumpkin. I calmly went to the kitchen, washed my hands, tried to stop the copious bleeding by wrapping a wet paper towel around my finger, and called John to let him know I was on my way to the hospital.
I ended up just going to John's office. He and his partner decided that the cut wasn't deep enough for stitches. John cleaned it out, taped it up, and put a splint on it, telling me I could not move my finger (or get it wet) for a week. No problem! Ha!
As I was getting ready to leave for dress rehearsal I explained to John my problem. The injured finger is my index finger on my right hand. ALL of the choreography for The Mikado involves flipping open a fan with my right hand. As I attempted to demonstrate the technique to John with the giant splint on my finger he started cracking up. He didn't laugh so hard when I told him that he would be responsible for giving the kids their baths for the week.
So have I learned from this experience? Absolutely! Next year when I am carving pumpkins I will use better quality knives!!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

new format

Ok, I should be taking a nap right now, but I felt like a little change - hence the new decor of my blog. The Mikado must really be getting to me.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

tech week

We started tech week for The Mikado on Saturday with a 5 hour tech rehearsal. Oh the joys of theater! The show finally feels like it is coming together. There are still some worries about the choreography - and the fact that it has been changed so many times we are all doing our own thing, but hey, that will be fun anyway.
Tonight was our first rehearsal with the orchestra. They sound pretty good and we didn't have any major glitches so that gives me hope. We open in five days. If I don't post for awhile, that's why. If you come to see the show, I'll be the one in the kimono with the black wig... oh wait, so will everyone else. =)

Friday, October 26, 2007

California Wildfires

I was listening to a NPR special on the California wildfires the other day and they were interviewing two guys that had returned to their neighborhood to fight some residual hotspots that sprang up after the firefighters had moved on. The guys were using buckets of water from a swimming pool to protect their homes and the homes of their neighbors. Some brainiac from the township had turned off the water supply to the neighborhood so they couldn't use hoses. The interviewer asked the guys why they were doing this. They obviously hadn't slept in several days and one of the guys was in flip flops having melted the soles of his shoes the day before. They didn't know how to reply at first, then one guy said, "I guess because it is the right thing to do. I would hope that my neighbors would do the same thing for me if they were in my shoes." I wonder if he was the guy in the flip flops?


Another story I heard on the news that night was of a couple who returned to their neighborhood to find their home of 20+ years burned completely to the ground. As the stared at the desolate scene they noticed a lumpy blanket laying in their yard out of the way. When they unrolled the blanket they found all of their framed pictures of their family. Apparently one of the fire fighters had had the presence of mind to remove them from the house and put them somewhere safe for the family. The couple expressed their most profound gratitude for the individual who had such kindness and foresight to do something like this.

I just wonder how many of us would be so brave or so thoughtful in a time of crisis? Many of these people were leaving their homes, literally driving through flames to get to safety. What would you do in their position? Do you have your 72 hour kit ready?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

model goof-ups

Sorry, in the spirit of true "brotherly love" from the city of fat and ugly people (see previous blog) I found some runway screw-ups that are too funny to pass up.

Enjoy!



Model falls through a hole on the runway.



and an even clumsier version...



Model falls down twice.



The funniest part of this one is the newscasters' response.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Looking for attractive people? Don't go to Philadelphia!

*This morning one of the featured stories on Yahoo was titled "Looking for attractive people? Don't go to Philadelphia!" First of all, rude!!! Second of all, I would like to know how they measured this. Granted, Philadelphia is ranked as one of the top 10 fattest cities in the country (thank you Philly cheesesteak!). I would still like to see why they rated us so harshly. I am not a vain person by any means but this seems a little cruel. Why even do such a survey? Of course, as if that wasn't bad enough they had to add a little zinger at the end:
"And sporting pride in a city known for the fierce loyalty of its fans has been hurt by not having had a national champion in any of its four main sports since the 76ers won the National Basketball Association title in 1983." Could they rub it in any worse? First they attack our attractiveness - or lack thereof - then they attack our sports teams! I expect riots in the streets for sure!!!

*Disclaimer: for those who are not familiar with me, read this blog as sarcastically as possible. Sometimes the sarcasm doesn't carry so well in my written diatribes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

James' evil laugh

I have no idea where he picked it up but James has discovered the low, evil chuckle (heh heh heh!). Picture a villian with a raised eyebrow looking at you over steepled fingers and you'll know what I mean. James does it in his little, hoarse voice pitched as low as he can and it usually follows the funniest sentances.
Today out of nowhere he said, "Mama, walk the plank! Heh heh heh." (Yes, we are still in a Peter Pan phase.) He followed it up with his mischievious smile.
I swear I am in trouble with this kid!

Monday, October 15, 2007

bunch ball

It's official-- I am a soccer mom. Samuel played his first game of soccer on Saturday. He loved it! I loved watching him! I had forgotten how funny it is watching little kids chase the ball around the field. After the first kick-off the ball was kicked sideways and both teams ended up chasing the ball off their soccer field and all the way across the adjoining field. The best moment - beside Sam and his friend Daxton taking a few minutes out of the game to pick up rocks and tufts of grass and throw them off the field - happened when Sam was chasing the ball full speed and ran straight into a 6 year old girl (who was about a head taller than him) on the other team and ended up flat on his rump. He stood up, shook his head and kept chasing the ball, grinning the whole time. It was great!

Friday, October 12, 2007

home repair woes

John and I have been working on getting all of the little odds and ends in our house fixed up. We have been doing it ourselves A) because we can and B) because we don't want to pay someone else to do it for us. However, if we had unlimited funds there are 5 things that I would pay to have someone else do for us regardless of how silly it may seem.

5) Plumbing for the bathroom. John did a good job with the plumbing in the downstairs bathroom but I can't even begin to tell you how many headaches he had along the way - everything from soldering the pipes that refused to be soldered to breaking the shower floor... twice.

4) Removing wallpaper. When we moved into our house we did not have wallpaper all over the walls and ceilings like my friend Kim did in her house. We were lucky. We only had wallpaper in our closets - about 5 layers of old, nasty, stubborn wallpaper. Oh yeah, there was also some hideous wallpaper in our kitchen; only one layer, but it was glued directly onto the drywall. Ugh!

3) Sanding...anything and everything. I HATE SANDING!!!!!!! We had to spackle and sand the walls in the kitchen 3 times to fix deep gouges in the walls left over from removing wallpaper (see above). We have also done a ton of sanding in our attempt to finish the basement. (See #1.) I have a power sander, but for most of the work you really need to do it by hand. The result is a dead arm and a kink in your shoulder that lasts for weeks!

2) Painting trim. Our house was built in the early 1900's so it has this gorgeous 3" trim around every doorway and window (and trust me, we have a lot of them!). It is beautiful to look at but THE BIGGEST PAIN to paint!!! I have been working on the trim in our tiny kitchen for about 3 weeks because I keep finding reasons to procrastinate. Can you blame me?!

1) Finishing the basement. John and I started earnestly working to finish the basement February or March of last year...we're still not done. Here is what the job entails: deconstructing the mess the previous owners had tried to build, searching out and destroying the armies of spiders who had taken residence there, scraping and recementing the walls, painting on 2 coats of drylock on all the walls to waterproof, 2 coats of paint over the drylock on walls that would not be covered by drywall, running new electrical wires so we could have power down there, framing, putting up insulation and drywall, taping and spackling the drywall and... that is as far as we have gotten. Man, just typing it out makes me tired. We are trying to get it to a point that someone will look at our house with the not quite finished basement and still want to buy it. If I had known what a pain finishing the basement was going to be I would have never let John start, I certainly wouldn't have encouraged him by helping!

If you are planning on undertaking any of these projects I suggest you think twice, have a friend smack you upside the head, then hire someone to do it for you! You will be grateful you did!!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

The Mikado

I am doing some community theater again. This time we will be performing The Mikado. It is another Gilbert and Sullivan show so don't be surprised if you don't recognize the name.
We have a different director than we had for Pirates of Penzance. Our new director has a very different style than our previous one so I have had a little bit of difficulty adjusting. She does not give very specific directions and is easily frustrated - now that we have everything blocked, hopefully it will start going better.
Anyway, the show is a parody on Japanese culture. It shamelessly mocks their culture and although it is funny I am having visions of the audience reacting to the show like they initally do to "Springtime for Hitler" in The Producers. I guess as long as no one starts chasing the director around with a gun we should be ok. Although Sunday at rehearsal I wish I had had a gun!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

fall

I love fall in Philadelphia! We spent the morning at a nearby state park for a leisurely (ha ha)bicycle ride. The last mile of the five mile loop is an enormous hill. We ended up letting the boys out of the trailer and walked up the hill together. As we were walking, a gentle wind came up and sent down a flurry of large yellow leaves twisting and dancing like giant snowflakes. It was so peaceful and refreashing despite the gentle (agonizing) climb.
The winters are brutal here, but they are almost worthwhile when we get to enjoy fall and spring. Almost...

Thursday, October 4, 2007

movie review

On my flight from Philly to SLC I had the opportunity to watch three movies - not because the flight takes that long, but because we sat on the tarmac for two hours because of bad weather somewhere to the west. Gotta love flying!
Anyway, one of the movies they showed was Georgia Rules. There are so many things that bugged me about this movie! As it is set in Idaho, many of the characters are LDS but the portrayal of Mormons is awful. They are shown to be either dumb, naieve hicks or self-righteous pricks that act holier-than-thou but use bad language on top of it. The main girl is played by Lindsay Lohan who seemed to be acting out her real life dramas on the screen. There was tons of drinking, lots of unnecessary nudity/scantily clad moments and lots of sex talk.
The main guy in the movie is a Mormon boy who is getting ready to serve a mission. Despite the fact that he has a girlfriend -going to BYU Idaho- he makes out and stuff with Lindsay's character and then decides he has to marry her because that is the only way that he can repent. He talks to Lindsay and decides it is better to just lie to his girlfriend. On top of that, there is a group of Mormon kids who shout obsceneties at Lindsay's character every time they drive past her.
Now just to clarify, I am not a prude in any sense of the word (I did go to Bryn Mawr after all...), but when I see something like this that is supposed to represent my religion I get a little ticked. On top of that, showed this movie on an airplane that had little kids on board. Granted that much of the language was bleeped out, but kids understand pictures better anyway.
To say the least, it was a horrible movie without a single redeeming quality. So if it is on your list of "must see," I suggest you cross it off.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

reunion results

I got back from Utah (and my reunion) yesterday. I had a surprisingly good time. The homecoming game was enjoyable as were the other reunion events. It was kind of humerous because most of the girls looked exactly like they did in high school - except they had kids attached to their hips. The guys all looked taller and many had added a little bit of padding around the middle too. For the most part everyone was very sweet and glad to catch up. There were a few from the popular crowd that were too good to talk to everyone - some things just don't change in 10 years. Travis, our class president, was a little camera happy; I think he documented every moment of the event. I am glad I went and really happy I got to catch up with a few of my good friends.
The best part was that I got to be home for 3 full days. I hung out with Jared and Steph and their sweet baby Kaylee. Mom and I did tons of shopping and had some really great conversations. It was so nice to see with my own eyes how everyone was holding up. Mom and Dwane both looked tired and overworked (but when are they not?!) so I suggested maybe they should take a break and concentrate on one thing at a time - like serving a mission in Philadelphia for instance. Hey, you can't blame me for trying!
So I have decided that reunions really aren't so bad. I may even consider going to another one -maybe my 20 year. Travis said that for our 50th reunion we are going on a cruise. I'll definitely make that one, provided I can drag John with me!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Sam's first day of school

Today is Samuel's first day of preschool! We were teasing him this morning telling him that it is the first day of 22+ years of school if he decides to follow his chosen career path - he wants to be a doctor like his dad. I think if I were him and I actually realized how long that is, I would be running away to Never Never Land about now. Instead, he is living in the blissful present where he gets to be a big boy and go to school with his friends. He is so proud and excited. Man, I hope he likes it!

Monday, September 24, 2007

a day of peace

Yesterday I had the most remarkable day - it was completely peaceful. I woke up on time to get myself and the boys ready for choir practice and church. There was no feeling of rush or stream of complaints from the boys, just a steady flow of calm around all of us. Even the 20-25 minute drive through the city (surrounded by the country's worst drivers) to get to church didn't phase me. Choir practice started late -as usual- and although I made a mental note to send emails to remind everyone to be on time, it didn't bother me. My whole day went like that. Things that normally would bother me or cause mild frustration didn't even register. I even took care of a friend's son during sacrament meeting along with my own two boys and enjoyed it.
Why, you may ask, was this such a remarkable day? Because I can't even remember the last time I felt this kind of peace, much less an entire day! It feels like for the last few years I or someone in my family has been in crisis. Be it Tracy in Iraq or Keri and I diagnosed with depression, Jared job hunting, the kids, various illnesses, whatever, there was always something burning in the back of my consciousness, knawing at my well-being and energy. Yesterday, all of that was gone. I was wrapped in a coccoon of peace. I don't know how else to describe it but remarkable. I'm hoping for another such day sometime soon...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

have you heard these words before?

A friend of mine just sent me this. I laughed so hard I knew I had to share.



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qIBKHM7FSUU



Enjoy!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

how old are you really?

Tyler and Becca sent me this fun link. Apparently I am only 11 (way too young to have 2 kids!) and going to live to be 91. Check it out.

http://www.poodwaddle.com/realage.swf

Enjoy the survey while I finally stop procrastinating and start painting my house. We do want to put it on the market sometime this century. Ack!

Friday, September 21, 2007

sibling relations *sappy warning*

I am the youngest of five kids. My whole life I remember trying to measure up to my brothers and sisters. At some point, however, I realized that I would never be as patient and kind as Lisa or as organized and driven as Keri. I also knew I would never be as fearless as Jared (although that is probably a good thing) or as intellectual as Tyler. I learned to be myself and be happy with that. For the most part I am happy - although I could still use some of Lisa's patience in my parenting skills!
It is interesting watching as my kids get older how their personalities develop and how they relate to one another. Samuel is timid and intelligent. He picks up way more than I give him credit for! He is fascinated by the world and asks millions of questions. He is teaching me to be creative with how I answer him. He doesn't ask easy questions. Lately - thanks to a recent primary lesson - he keeps asking me how Jesus created things (froot loops, lucky charms, toys, cars, etc.). What exactly do I say to that?! Is he too young to hear creationism vs the big bang theory? He is also very bossy and competitive - a true firstborn.
James is my wild child! He loves playing outside- he actually cries when I tell him it's time to go inside. He is all boy - he loves swordfights, sports, running everywhere he goes, trains, climbing anything and everything and mimicing his big brother. When Sam played tball this spring it was all we could do to keep James off the field. He was more interested in playing than Sam was. He tackles Sam on a regular basis just for the fun of it. John thinks James is going to be a linebacker for the Eagles, heaven knows they could sure use one! He loves to read but isn't as interested in general learning like Sam was at that age, he just wants to move. He is also very much a youngest child - although I try not to spoil him too much.
They are so different but they love each other fiercely, even more fiercely then they fight. Yesterday while they were sitting at the table eating yogurt and cereal, out of the blue Samuel said "I love you James." James replied, "I love you too, Am (he can't say his s's yet)." And that was that. I just hope they stay that way.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Tracy is Home!

My brother-in-law, Tracy, returned home from Iraq on Sunday. Well, technically he's not home yet - he is debriefing at a base in Kansas or Missouri or something - but Lisa and the kids are there with him and MOST IMPORTANTLY he is on American soil. Man, it has been a long year! I don't know how Lisa did it- but it is safe to say we are all breathing a little easier now. My heart goes out to everyone who still has family and friends serving in Iraq and I will keep them in my prayers for a safe and speedy return.
Just as a side note... Nathan, Lisa and Tracy's middle child, decided to celebrate Dad's imminent return by falling off the monkey bars at school last week and breaking his arm in 3 places. I think if Tracy hadn't come home soon, Lisa was prepared to go over and drag him back!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

reunion take 2

I leave to go home for my high school reunion a week from tomorrow. Although I am so excited to see my mom and Dwane and Jared and Steph and their cute baby girl, I am starting to have crazy dreams about high school. Am I starting to get anxious? I mean, who really wants to relive high school anyway? All I remember is a series of embarrassing incidents and a few good friends. College was much more my speed. What will it be like to see everyone again?
A couple of weeks ago while I was teaching in gospel doctrine I backed up to show the class something I had written on the chalkboard, tripped over the wheel of the chalkboard, caught my heel of my shoe in my long skirt and landed on my back side. Had this happened in high school I would have been completely mortified. As it was I cracked some joke about being grace itself and continued on with my lesson. I am such a different person than I was in high school and yet all of my friends whom I haven't seen in years are all stuck in my mind in that awkward, self-conscious phase. It will be interesting to see how everyone has turned out - and if we all revert to who we were the last time we were all together.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

crazy!

My kids drive me crazy! They are old enough to play together now but that also means they are old enough to fight too. You would think that Sam, being the oldest, would have the upper hand, but one of many James' nicknames is Bruiser. Anyway, daily (usually about 5 pm just before John gets home from work) they start really picking on each other: stealing toys, hitting, kicking, biting, telling each other to sit in time out, etc. I usually threaten to put them in their rooms until dad gets home - yeah, like that has ever happened! Needless to say I usually tend to get a little frustrated with their behavior.
Lately, however, I have been able to let it go -until I see blood, that is. The reason is that I have had a few conversations with friends who have problems having kids or have been unable to have them at all. In light of their stories and my own condition that makes pregnancy difficult, I am dang lucky to have these two little rugrats to drive me crazy in the first place! Being able to have children is something most women take for granted. It is something that we are made to do and we do not usually assume that we will have problems, consequently many women put it off - whether for their job or because they don't feel ready - and then discover one day that they want kids and they can't have them.
I am lucky because with a spiritual prompting, John's medical bacground and some early testing we figured out what was going on and in my case the earlier you start trying, the easier it is to resolve the issue. My recent conversations with my friends just reminded me how lucky I am... which I tend to forget in the midst of poopy diapers and screaming fights. Even when they drive me crazy at least they are my kids and I know that at the end of the day (and sometimes inbetween) I get a big hug and kiss and an "I love you!" from my sweet boys.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

the real Marty

My sister, Lisa, just sent me a box of hand-me-downs for my boys. Thank you Lisa! She helps keep my kids dressed. Anyway, in the box along with the clothes she sent was a stuffed animal version of Marty from the movie Madagascar. Samuel already has another stuffed zebra which he had also named Marty. He was so excited to have another one. The first words out of his mouth were "Another zebra! Marty will be so excited!"
Then Samuel proceeded to explain to me that the new Marty is the daddy zebra and the old Marty is the mommy zebra. He than began using his imagination and acting out a conversation with his zebras and his stuffed animal racehorse named Smarty Jones. I wish I had had the video camera set up because that was something that should be preserved for postarity. It was so cute! I love that he has such a vivid imagination.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

my ipod

Just some fun facts for you about my ipod. I got this questionaire off of another blog and thought it was pretty cool



Longest Song: "Rhapsody in Blue" by George Gershwin 16+ minutes



Shortest Song: "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" sung by Sam and his cousins on the family cd. So cute! 1:17



Most frequently played: "As Long As I'm Singin'" by The Brian Setzer Orchestra



Shuffle or playlist: Definitely shuffle. I like surprises. However, if I'm in the mood for a certain set of songs I revert to my playlists.



Coolest song/album: I have John Mayer's Continuum and Norah Jones' Come Away With Me. But I think the coolest one is Tidal by Fiona Apple.



cheesiest song/album: "The Man I Love" by Barbara Streisand



Song I always skip: The B52's "Rock Lobster". I like the song I'm just never in the mood for it.



Song I always crank up: pretty much anything I know the words to and can sing along with.



Song I always sing to: "Criminal" by Fiona Apple



Song that makes me cry/moves me: "Angel" by Sarah McLaughlin also "What's Forever For" by Michael Martin Murphey. Both of them hold special memories for me and give me warm fuzzies whenever I hear them. Of course music speaks to me in a way nothing else does



Song that makes me want to get up and dance: The Rhythm of the Night - off the soundtrack to Moulin Rouge.



Song no one else has heard of: The Girls of Summer. It is on our family cd sung by my sister-in-law Rebecca. Absolutely gorgeous but completely unfamiliar.



Song everyone has: "Livin' La Vida Loca" by Ricky Martin ... I'm not the only one am I ???



Last song to be uploaded: Rachmaninov's "Variations on a theme by Paganini". It is in the movie Somewhere in Time that I just love!



Three most prominant genres: Musicals, Jazz and Alternative



Three artists with the most songs on my ipod: Sting, Michael Martin Murphey, Billie Holiday



Any Classical? If yes which is the most played: Yes, Debussey's "Claire de Lune"



Song that would surprise my friends: "All Star" by Smashmouth



Do my playlists have a theme? Yes. Love songs for those sappy moods, nostalgic, happy and workout.



What song from a popular commercial do I have on my ipod? I have no idea.



Do I subscribe to any podcasts? No.



Put my ipod on shuffle right now. What came up: "That Don't Impress Me Much" by Shania Twain.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

new pics





For a surprise for John on his birthday I took the boys to get their pictures taken. Normally the ordeal of professional photography lasts over an hour and includes a lot of bribery, threats and acting like a complete idiot and that is just the photographer! After we finish getting the kids pictures taken I feel like I have done a triathlon and what do we have to show - two or three mediocre shots. Ugh!! In our Christmas cards last year I was actually laying down on the table and James was sitting on me, it was the only way to get him to hold still. Thank goodness for digital editing!


Anyway, I digress... last month I took the boys to Target by myself to get their pictures taken. Before we went into the studio I reminded the boys that these pictures were for their daddy and I needed them to smile. I don't know if it was the pep talk or some other cosmic anomaly, but this was an incredible photography session. It took less than 10 minutes and I loved almost all of the shots! When I showed up to pick up the prints a couple of weeks later they actually asked me to sign a release for some of the pictures because they turned out so cute! Yes, I know, I am bragging about my kids again - but what's that saying? The proof is in the pudding! What do you think?

Friday, August 31, 2007

reunion

I am heading home the end of September for my 10 year high school reunion. I am excited to go home and see my mom and Dwane but mildly apprehensive about the reunion itself. I think the years have softened the horrors of high school and made me look back with mostly fond memories. Am I tempting fate to go back and dredge up all the old truths that I have blocked out? I know I have changed a lot since graduation. How much has everyone else changed? Will I recognize anyone? Will I remember anyones names? Will we all slip back into the "roles" we played when we were in high school? It would make an interesting study.
I think what has me most unnerved is that I will be going stag. John is too busy at work to make the trip and he wanted to keep the kids with him for the weekend to give me a break. What a great husband I have! Of course, it would be even better if I could take my good looking husband and introduce him as Dr Traverso. Isn't part of a reunion the opportunity to brag a little bit about how well your life is going?! I just wish I were 10 pounds lighter... he he he
The weirdest part - to register I had to email our senior class president, a guy I had a crush on through all of elementary school. I think it is the most I have ever "spoken" to him at one time.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

mind over matter of fact?

My favorite color has always been blue. For as long as I can remember this is the truth. Now, however, according to my son Samuel my favorite color is purple. Almost as soon as he was born (a day or two old) Samuel has made it clear that he has strong opinions and he wants those opinions heard. When he was two - maybe two and a half - he decided that his favorite color was blue. And because blue was his favorite it could not possibly be anyone else's favorite. He decided to assign us all favorite colors. John was allowed to like green, James red, and me purple. I don't know if these colors were chosen at random, if they were influenced by the colors of the four lightsabers we have or if there is some other, deeper reasoning behind his serious and absolutely binding proclaimation. But as I found myself folding my clean laundry yesterday I lovingly placed my purple v-neck on the top of the pile. Whether through change in taste or Samuel's unsubtle but consistant brainwashing, I think purple is now my favorite.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

cleaning the gutters

A couple of years ago (after a few episodes of John almsot killing himself on an old, rickety, wooden ladder) we had shields put on top of our gutters so that we would not have to clean them again. Unfortunately, the birds in our neighborhood thought the shields made the gutters the best place to build their nests - so the gutters were quickly packed with anything and everything the birds could find for building material.
John and I spent a good part of yesterday - like 5 hours or so - cleaning the gutters and doing other yard work. The kids, of course, were there to help (or hinder) the process as much as they could. Keep in mind it was 98 degrees outside with a heat advisory warning due to the temperature and the humidity too.
So there we were. John and I versus the birds. I held the ladder while John climbed it and - armed with screwdrivers and pliers - began the difficult task of pulling the bits of debris out of the narrow opening between gutter and shield. When he finally emptied a section of all of its junk he used the hose to spray the remnants down the downspout. At one point while John was pearched at the top of the ladder and I was using all of my concentration to keep the ladder from tipping over, Samuel got ahold of the hose. I turned my head just in time to see him grin a huge, mischievious grin, and spray James at point blank range. James let out a wail and came running to me. Samuel then pointed the nozzel in my direction and sprayed me in the back holding the stream of water on me until I was thoroughly soaked.
It was very funny (and wet!) and such a John thing to do! Samuel has officially cemented his role as John's mini-me.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

knock knock

Samuel learned a knock knock joke from one of his favorite tv shows and has decided that those are his favorite things to talk about. Last night at dinner we sat around at the table telling his version of knock knock jokes.

This is the one he learned:
knock knock
who's there?
banana
banana who?
(repeat this several times then...)
knock knock
who's there?
orange
orange who?
orange you glad I didn't say banana!

Well after several several times of telling this joke, he decided to make up a knock knock joke of his own.

knock knock
who's there?
zebra
zebra who?
zebra lamby!

Then he laughed hysterically like he just told the funniest joke ever.
James though this was so funny he decided to try one of his own:

knock knock
who's there?
Mommy
mommy who?
mommy daddy!

More hilarious laughing followed! I love that my kids have a sense of humor even if they don't get the jokes just yet! What two year old do you know that makes knock knock jokes?
The best part is that I actually told a funny knock knock joke and the only one who laughed (besides me) was John.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Peter Pan the Avenger!

Samuel is going through a Peter Pan phase. He loves Peter Pan! He watches it over and over and when he is not watching it, he is acting it out. We have all been assigned our particular roles. Sam is, of course, Peter. James is Michael. Daddy is Captain Hook. And I am - not Wendy, that role goes to Samuels favorite Auntie Becca - I am Tiger Lily (pronounced Tiger Louie). We get to act out scenes from the movie and the play - swordfights and all. For his birthday one my friends got Sam a Peter Pan set complete with collapsable sword that lights up (this is Sam's sword - don't touch!), a little rubber knife (James'), a hook (Daddy's) and an old fashon gun that shoots foam darts.
Anyway, because Peter Pan is Sam's favorite show it is also James' favorite. The other day I took James with me to the shoe store. He brought with him a yellow plastic drumstick which he was using as a sword at the time. While I was browsing James ran up the aisle, climbed up on one of the little benches posted every few feet or so and yelled "Peter Pan the avenger!" at the top of his lungs - brandishing his drumstick at his imaginary foes. Then he climbed off the bench and proceeded to the next one to repeat his proclaimation. I was getting looks from the other customers but honestly I was laughing too hard to care!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Book Review

I am reading a really interesting book right now. It is called How to Raise an Emotionally Intelligent Child. It is a psychology self-help book that my mom gave me right after I had Samuel. I never cared to read it because I thought it would be tedious and boring - sorry mom! But over the last few months I have been trying to pay more attention to what I am teaching my kids through my own words and actions. This book has provided me with some incredible insight as well as goals to work toward in my relationship with my kids. I highly recommend this book for anyone else (like me) who may feel like they are floundering in the parenting skills department.

Monday, August 13, 2007

ambivalent

I have a new appreciation for my brother and for anyone else who has had a life-long battle with depression. This just sucks!!!
For anyone who has never experienced depression before, it is like your emotions are on a roller coaster. One day I feel great, like nothing in the world can touch me - and then gradually, unnoticably I start to slip off my high until a few weeks later I can barely make myself function - wondering what in the world is wrong with me. On medication the highs are not as high and the lows are not as low - which is good and bad. Now instead of a low period I experience a sort of ambivalence or dullness. I experience the world happening around me but am stuck in the mire of my own emotions. I am a zombie, sleep-walking for days until something random triggers me and I wake up. The problem is, since the highs don't go as high I feel a little like I am stuck in my ambivalence. Even when I feel great, a part of me is still asleep and doesn't really care about my life.
I notice this the most in my parenting. When Samuel was little I spent so much energy teaching him, encouraging him to learn, taking him to the library and doing everything I could to help him be as smart as he could be. By the time he was two he could recognize all of the letters in the alphabet. James is now two and he doesn't know the alphabet, heck, he has trouble getting his colors right. I am absolutely horrified by this! But that other part of me... the sleeping part ... couldn't care less.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

goldfish

We went to John's office for lunch yesterday. As soon as we entered the waiting room the boys were glued to the giant fish tank. James kept yelling "Hi Goldfish!" over and over- there aren't any actual goldfish in the tank. Samuel dropped onto his belly on the floor and started moving his arms and legs, pretending to swim with the fish. John's office staff was cracking up and while I laughed too I was thinking, "Thank goodness there are no patients here!"

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

almost baby crazy

I went to the park today to hang out with a bunch of women from church and to let all of our kids play together for a couple of hours. One of my friends who had just had a baby was there with her newborn. There were also several other moms there with babies less than one year old. It made me almost baby crazy. As I held the tiny babies in my arms I felt peaceful and happy, but the thought of having my own baby sent waves of fear and queasiness through me.
I love my kids. They are the light of my life. They bring me all sorts of joy and sweetness. But, as wonderful as they are, they are also a lot of hard work and frustration at times.
Our religion is one of spiritual impressions. We are allowed personal revelation as to the things we should be doing in our lives. Our religion is also one which emphasizes the importance of families. If we are able to have many children we should. Physically and financially I think we could have a few more kids. Emotionally, I am petrified to even try for a third. I feel good these days - better than I have for years - do I really want to risk my emotional well-being for the sake of having another baby? Am I being incredibly selfish? Probably. But until I can work through the fear I will content myself with my two sweet boys and be happy with the fact that at least I have them.
When I start feeling that itch again, I can always hold my friends' babies.

Monday, July 30, 2007

house shopping

We are planning on putting our house on the market next spring so we have begun testing the waters in Wallingford,PA (where we want to end up) to see if there is anything that would work for us. I am a little overwhelmed by the whole idea. We have a ton of work to do on our house to get it ready to be shown and we are very picky about what we want in our new house. We want something in the Strathaven-Wallingford school district - that includes Wallingford, Swarthmore, South Media and anywhere else in Nether Providence. We would love a 4 bedroom, 2 1/2 bathroom house with a master suite, nice kitchen, living room, dining room, family room and a fenced in back yard. It needs to be somewhere closer to John's work but we would prefer it is in the Broomall 2nd ward boundries. I told you we are picky! :) I would love a new construction but the taxes are generally too high so we are looking for something that has been recently refurbished.
We are going to look at a house today in Wallingford. It actually fits most of the desired qualifications, but it is a little more than we had wanted to spend so who knows. I am excited but frustrated at the same time. I get attached to houses when I see them. I am actually redecorating as I walk through and tend to set me heart on the each new house we look at. It took us forever to decide on the house we live in now. I can only imagine how much harder it is going to be to pick out a house where we will most likely spend the majority of the rest of our lives. Crazy!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

The Deathly Hallows *Spoiler Alert*

We finished reading The Deathly Hallows at 1:30 this morning. John and I read the book aloud together so I had to endure a few days of looking at the book but not being able to read while he was at work. Torture!
Now that we have finished I have to say I absolutely loved it! It was a little long in the beginning when Harry, Ron and Hermione are wandering somewhat aimlessly looking for horcruxes (horcruxi?) but otherwise I think JK Rowling did a fabulous job adding all sorts of new, interesting details and keeping true to the characters and resolving the issues she presented.
I loved all of the details about Dumbledore's past! Children forget sometimes that their parents or teachers were children before and have lives of their own. Rowling displayed this brilliantly and Harry's discovery of Dumbledore past enabled Harry to face his own issues and fears despite his anger at Dumbledore. I sobbed through the 3rd to last chapter when Harry was walking to meet Voldemort and his death - which made things difficult as I was the one reading at the time. It is very hard to read and cry at the same time! John had to take over for me.
I loved all of the little details that were in the book. Potterwatch was a brilliant addition to the story - especially with Lee Jordan as the broadcaster. Neville's rebellious courage and guerilla warfare at Hogwarts had me standing up and cheering! Best of all was the introduction of the Deathly Hallows by known crackpot Xenophilias Lovegood. So funny that the truth of the story came from him and that Harry when faced between the choice of ultimate power (gaining the Hallows) or the destruction of Voldemort (destroying the horcruxes) - Harry opted for the greater good. Interesting that the power hungry wizards Voldemort and Grindelwald were destroyed in their quest for the most powerful wand and with it their unrighteous quest for domination. So much great social commentary and religious symbolism I could get a little carried away so I think I will stop there.
Just one more thing... JK Rowling deserves every penny she earns for this book and all the others in the series. Any author that gets people (myself included) to stand in line for hours in the middle of the night just for a book, deserves to be richer than the queen!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

easy money

Everyone wants easy money - why else would so many people play the lottery? However, with the increase in feelings of entitlement and lack of work ethic that run rampant these days, people try to get easy money whether it harms the people around them or not. Their methods may be simple theivery or the more ambiguous form of stealing - frivilous lawsuits.
A doctor we know is mixed up in such a lawsuit right now. In fact, he will be out of his office and unavailable to patients for a week and a half because of it. A patient whom he had treated correctly had not followed his advice and ended up in the emergency room and shortly after, passed away. Our friend is being sued for malpractice along with the docs in the er. I am sorry the guy died, but honestly if you aren't going to follow the directions of the doctor why bother asking his advice.!!! His family is looking for someone to blame and a way to profit off his death. I think this is not only wrong but sick! Lawsuits such as this one not only tie up the courts from taking care of serious matters but they also waste a lot of money and can ruin careers of honest, hard-working doctors.
John and I have thought up some solutions to reduce the number of this type of lawsuits.
1) Fine the lawyers a significant amount of money (from their own pocket, not their firm) and for especially atrocious lawsuits maybe let the lawyers cool their heels in jail for a few days instead of chasing ambulances.
2) Take away the medical licenses of the doctors who provide faulty information as "expert" witness for the case.
3) Have a fine for the plantiff as well. Perhaps they will think twice before making a break for "easy money" when there is a penalty if they lose.
I know some really amazing lawyers so don't think I am againt anyone who works in the field, I am just so sick of people that will do anything for money. Perhaps with penalties in place we can make an end to these frivilous lawsuits and improve healthcare by allowing doctors to actually do their work.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Harry Potter

As this is international Harry Potter month (or at least it should be!) I thought I would put in my two cents.
I can't wait to see Order of the Phoenix. I have spent the last few nights having a Harry Potter marathon of the first four movies. I would have preferred to see #5 when it opened on Wednesday but softball and our babysitters' schedule won't let us get there until Saturday afternoon. I have heard complaints that the movie doesn't follow the book exactly. Well...duh! If the movie followed the book exactly it would be 10 hours long. What I love about the Harry Potter movies is that they take the story and characters I love and brings them to life, highlighting the coolest parts and showing things that I may have had a hard time picturing in my head ie: quidditch and Voldemort sticking out of the back of Professor Quirrell's head. From the clips I have seen I think the movie will be fabulous.
As for the release of book 7, I am so ancy! I reread books 5 and 6 a few months ago and from little things in the text, here is my opinion (notice I said OPINION - feel free to disagree):
1) Snape is evil. He has always despised Harry Potter due to his old hatred for Sirius, Lupin, and James. Those three made Snape afraid and humiliated - something that someone with Snape's personality would never forgive nor forget no matter how much Dumbledore trusted him. Like Anakin Skywalker, the dark side of the force has taken over Snape and he is getting sick of pretending otherwise.
2) Harry will not die. I am betting on Ron, Hermione or Ginny as one of the two casualties. Mr or Mrs Weasley or Neville will be the other casualty. I think JK Rowling is far too attached to Harry to kill him off, but I don't think she would hesitate to improve her plot by killing off someone else Harry loves.
3) Dumbledore is not coming back but there is a chance that Sirius might. Something Dumbledore says in book 5 about the department of mysteries leaves the door open a crack for that. (I don't remember exactly what it was, I'll have to look it up again.)
We will be in Rochester, NY when book 7 is released. Don't worry! I have already tracked down a Borders and preordered our copy. We will be there for the midnight party. Obsessed? Maybe.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Trial by four-year-old

If I were to meet Saint Peter at his pearly gates today I know he would turn me away. It is not that I am intrinsically a bad person, I am simply the mother of a four-year-old. My Samuel has always been so sweet, kind, timid and loving. Yet, somehow when he turned four he mutated into a little bit of a demon child... okay, a lot bit of a demon child. In fact, he may actually be the leader of the demon children.
Case in point: We went to Verizon today to get a new cell phone for John. We had been there recently to get me a new phone so I reviewed the rules for good behavior with Sam and James before we got out of the car. Rule #1: No running! Rule #2: No yelling! Rule #3: No pulling things off of the shelves and racks! Once both boys had assured me of their obedience, we entered. After that things went downhill. Samuel and James immediately began running around and yelling and in some cases, roaring. There were very few people in the store at the time so I let them play and tried to be not too controlling. As time went on, more and more people filled the store, Sam and James began running faster and Sam decided the stock on the shelves looked better on the floor. Just for fun he began pulling the price tags off the shelves too. At this point John picked up James and I sat on the floor holding Sam as calmly as possible. While trapped on my lap Sam began shouting, "Daddy! Help me!" and "James, come rescue me!" and "Help! Help! Heeeeeeelllllllllllllppp!" At this point I began threatening bodily harm.
I eventually let Sam back up and he began throwing his stuffed zebra around the store with no attention as to who or what was in the way. I confiscated the zebra. Sam threw himself on the floor screaming "I want my zebra!!" The grandmotherly woman in the store was giving me looks that could wither the healthiest of egos and at this point Samuel opened the front door and - dragging James with him - ran out of the store and into the parking lot. Wishing I could tell the holier-than-thou grandmother what I really thought of her disapproving glare, I raced out the door to catch my kids, admonishing them on the dangers of parking lots and leaving the store without mommy or daddy and every other lecture I could think of. Sam looked up at me and laughed, "That was really funny! Huh mommy!?!"
I didn't strangle him, but I can't say that the thought didn't at least cross my mind. Hence my unsatisfactory review with Saint Peter.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

James' smile

Nothing in the world melts my heart as easily as James' smile! There is something about the combination of his sweet innocence and impish grin that is completely disarming. I am sure when he is in high school it will be considered his most dangerous wepon with the girls. In the meantime, it gets him out of almost as much trouble as he manages to get in to.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

kids say the darndest things

I just can't pass up sharing this!
While we were driving to the library today we were listening to the soundtrack to Peter Pan and as usual Samuel and James were singing along. The words to the song they were singing are supposed to be:

We're plucky buccaneers
and each a murderous crook.
We massacre indians, kill little boys
and cater to Captain Hook.

Here is Samuel's version:

We're plenty buck and ears
and each a murderous cook.
We messenger indians, till little boys
and cater to Captain Hook.

James just got the last word of each line.

I love how innocent kids are that they just don't get the meaning - even when they are singing along! I wish we could keep Sam and James so blissfully ignorant.

work, work, work

I am incredibly envious of those people who have always known what they want to do when they "grew up." I have never had any idea. I know that I do not want to spend every day from 9-5 behind a desk, other than that I am at a loss. In my earliest memories I wanted to be a veterinarian - of course that was before I learned that you have to actually give shots and before I learned that I am allergic to animal dander. I also wanted to be a professional opera singer - until I learned that I really don't enjoy singing opera. I wanted to be a shrink - but honestly two in a family is more than enough. I wanted to be a social worker - but was quickly disallusioned when I moved to Philadelphia and was confronted with the realities of poverty.
The reason this subject has come up again is because my kids are getting to an age where they will be in pre-k and play groups. So now I am looking at becoming a real estate agent. It is not something I would ever have come up with on my own, but John jokingly suggested it and after thinking about it and talking to friends who do it, I think I would really enjoy it. It is a flexible career that involves deskwork but also human interaction when showing houses and working on getting houses sold/bought. I find the whole process fascinating, and since I spend so much time on the internet looking at houses already, it will not be a huge change. Besides even if all I ever do is sell our house and buy us a new one, the benefits will far outweigh the cost of the education. Who knows what will happen, but one thing I do know: I am not a one-job-for-my- entire-lifetime type of person. I am more a try-as-many-different-things-as-you can person. It my be hectic, but hey, that is who I am.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

missing my mom

I have always been really close with my mom. I think part of it is because I am the youngest of the family so when everyone else had left for college or missions, I was still there. For the year or two when it was just us we has a lot of fun together. On Friday nights we would both come home from our dates and sit on her bed and compare notes. We helped each other through heartbreak, bad dates, rough weeks and a million other things. We were more like friends than mother and daughter. Of course, I knew that I could go to her if I needed anything and she would swith into mom mode or counselor mode depending on the issue.
I am so grateful for this time we got to spend together. I had the opportunity to watch my mom meet Dwane and fall in love. I saw the transformation in her from stoic anchor to giddy schoolgirl to purely happy. Not many children get the opportunity to see that.
However, even after all of that, I don't think I truly appreciated my mom until I got married and had kids of my own. She has always been there supportive and loving but it has risen to a whole new level these last seven years. I am a mother myself now but I do not feel like I possess anything close to the wealth of knowledge and patience that my mother has always exuded. I am so grateful she is just a phone call away. Man, I wish she were just a 5 minute drive away! In my 28 years of life I have learned one of life's most crucial lessons: WE NEVER, EVER OUTGROW THE NEED FOR OUR MOTHER.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Seashells

I have neglected my blog lately due to a fun little "trip" to Myrtle Beach. John had a CME conference there so the kids and I decided to tag along. It was a lot of fun!
It is hard to protest spending a week in a comfortable villa, laying on the beach, and playing with the kids at a water park and amusement park. I also spent some of the time with the kids looking for seashells and shark's teeth on the beach. I realized as I was collecting shells that the ones that most interested me were not the perfect, complete shells. The shells that caught my eye were the beautiful shards worn to a polished sheen or small pieces of what you could tell used to be large, unusual shells. I don't know why I am a sucker for these broken bits of shell other than that they leave so much open to the imagination. I like creating my own story of where they came from and how they ended up in broken pieces on the beach.
I'm sure not everyone spends that much time thinking about seashells. Maybe it was the soothing sound of the ocean that put me in such a contemplative mood. Or maybe I am suffering from sunstroke.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Things I never thought I would say to my kids

At the suggestion of my sister, Lisa, I have begun a list of things I never thought I would say to my kids. Her suggestion came after spending a week together chasing after our five crazy children.

1) "Kissing has nothing to do with marriage!" (this was directed to Lisa's older boys who were teasing Emma and Sam - both age 3 - who had decided innocently to get married. The boys were saying things like: "Ewwwww, are you going to kiss?" and "Yucky, don't kiss in front of us." I was trying to get them off the topic of kissing before they put ideas in Sam and Emma's heads.

2) "Don't hit the computer with a baseball bat!" This directed at James who was hitting the laptop with a foam baseball bat he and Sam had gotten for their birthday.

3) "Don't chew on your toenails!" Directed at Sam. Self explainatory and all I can say is... Yuck!

4) "Don't lick your brother!" My kids are animal lovers and frequently pretend to be various animals. The licking thing in particular is from their cousin Emma who was a kitty cat when we saw her at Christmas, it was how she kissed everyone.

I know there are more, but I am too tired to think of them right now. I'll write a take 2 as I add more to my list.

Monday, May 28, 2007

stupid computer

I love this age of technology where with only a computer linked to the internet practically any information we desire is right at our fingertips. However, just as I begin to take this incredible technological miracle for granted, my computer breaks - or in the PC term, "catches a virus" or has a "corrupt file".
Honestly, I am convinced that my computer has a personality. It seems to know when I am in the middle of something important and then all of a sudden: uh-oh this program has performed an "illeagal operation" and has to shut down. You can almost hear that little robotic voice blowing a raspberry and laughing wickedly at my despair. All of these "viruses" and "illegal operations" are actually temper tantrums of the most devious kind. One day I am sure that we will figure out how to predict the erratic robotic emotions of our computers and will be able to pacify them with a few extra mB's of memory or something. In the meantime I guess we just take a few extra deep breaths, try not to throw the computer out of the window, and call tech support for the umpteenth time.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Summertime

I love summer! Maybe it has something to do with being born and raised in St. George, UT where it is summer 10 months of the year. However, even in Philadelphia with the humidity and the bugs, I love it. To me summer is all about baseball (or softball now), half melted ice cream, fresh raspberries in the morning and leisurely walks (or bike rides) in the evening just as the sun begins to set. It may seem like a strange collection of things, but here is yet another example of how my mind works...

When I was a kid we used to spread mom's old and frayed, rose covered table cloth on the floor in our family room and eat dinner while we watched baseball on tv. My mom has always been a huge baseball fan. As I got older I spent summer afternoons and evenings watching my brothers play little league. In highschool I watched friends and "boyfriends" play. Then when I met John I made the switch over to softball. I must have inherited my mom's enthusiasm of the game itself. But I also just love sitting in the sunshine, chatting with friends and enjoying my role as a fan of America's favorite pasttime.

My addiction to ice cream probably also stems from spending every summer of my life in 110 degree summer heat - that and the fact that I am Mormon. Since everything else is prohibited by the word of wisdom Mormons as a whole consume more ice cream than your average person, especially when you factor in family home evening. Regardless of the reason, I LOVE ICE CREAM. There is nothing better on a hot summer day than a cool ice cream cone or even better, a Dairy Queen blizzard. Yum!

As for raspberries for breakfast, this one I credit to my Grammy. Grammy was my mom's mom. She had a beautiful house in Ogden, Ut with a huge yard including a stream and garden in back. I spent a week with Grammy and Grandpa Ken on my own one summer. Every morning of that week I had fresh raspberries for breakfast on the back deck with Grammy. We would sit, enjoy the view, watch the hummingbirds, and revel in the bounty of Grandpa Ken's yummy raspberries. Man, I miss Grammy!

The summer evening walks and bike rides have been a more recent tradition. They are a result of John and I trying to get into shape and haul the kids around with us in the process. It just always seems so peaceful at that time of day.

What I most love about summer is that feeling of absolute freedom. School is out. The addictive tv shows are all reruns. Vacations are just around the corner. It feels like the world is open and ready to be explored. Here I go!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

soundtracks

John got me an iPod for Christmas. At first I wasn't terribly excited. I thought it was more of a gift for teenagers and college age kids than for a mom of two hooligans(I mean that in the most affectionate way possible). I was completely wrong! My iPod has become one of most favorite possessions. Not only is it useful for blocking out whiny voices at the end of the day but it has reminded me of my love for music. Growing up I was passionate about music. It surrounded everything I did and made up a large part of who I was. Marriage and parenthood has changed me, in good ways for the most part, but I have realized that I lost who I was for a while. It sounds strange - how could I lose myself when I knew exactly where I was? Anyway, I did and I have spent the last year trying to rediscover who I am. My iPod has been almost more helpful than therapy.
For me the music that I enjoy becomes a soundtrack in my life. Some of my most favorite songs mark important occasions, special feelings, and unforgettable moments in my past. People might describe my taste in music as eclectic. I just think my taste in music is as varied as the experiences in my life.
Lisa Loeb's album "Firecracker" reminds me of my semester in Russia. I listened to it on the way back to my apartment after taking John to the airport at the end of his visit. I cried the entire way home and most of the afternoon. So when I hear songs from that album it reminds me of that day and the concern and polite solicitations of the other passengers in the shuttle I took from the airport to the subway. The shuttle was full of middle aged Russian men who normally are not the most kind and gentle of men when dealing with complete strangers. In fact, had I been in my right mind, I would not have gotten in a shuttle with that many Russian men in the first place. When I choked through my tears to ask which subway station we were approaching, they bent over backwards trying to help me get to where I needed to go. I think one of them actually escorted me to the station when we arrived.
The song All-Star by Smashmouth reminds me of the summer John and I got engaged. We spent the summer in Orem, UT. That song reminds me of new love, Dairy Queen stops, and driving around with the windows down while we sang along to the radio.
I could describe millions of such instances. I think in a way music helps trigger my memory and evokes the same strong emotions as if it were happening all over again. How could I not love my iPod? It doesn't merely contain 2 GB of music, but 2 GB of memories.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

t-ball

Today was Samuel's first game of t-ball ever. We put him in a community league that plays every Saturday for eight weeks. The day started off with a parade complete with police and fire truck escorts and a lunch of hot dogs and juice. When the fields were set up and the teams "ready" to play, it was clear that the kids had no clue what they were expected to do. So after a few practice runs around the bases, the coaches took up their posts, tried to explain the game and encouraged these 4-6 year olds to just do their best. Sam's team was up to bat first. Each child was allowed to hit and run one base at a time until the entire team had had a chance to swing the bat. There were no outs and the last player got an automatic grand slam as their turn at bat would signal the time for the other team to take their turn hitting. Despite the practice runs around the bases before the game, many of the kids didn't know what to do once they had hit the ball. Some of them ran to first, or directly to second passing right by the pitcher, or some of them chased the ball and tried to recover it. It was hilarious and adorable all at the same time. John was helping supervise second base so when Sam hit the ball the first time he ran straight for daddy. We finally got him straightened out, but the process itself was really funny.
Anyway, we all had a great time and the best part was that the emphasis was not on winning at all - heck, it wasn't even on being competitive. The emphasis of the day was on learning a new game and having a ball doing it (pun completely intended). Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Ode to my Mom

Here's to the woman
who gave me my life
Who gave me away
to become a wife.

Who has always listened
when I needed to cry
then offered advice
which went never awry

Who sends me a gift
I don't always expect
but which happens to be
what I need for a lift.

My mom is amazing
she always has been
She works with her heart
and she never gives in.

And now I'm a mom
with two kids of my own
and I need her help still
though I'm married and grown.

My great hope some day
is that I may be
A mother as kind
and as loving as she.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Philadelphia Driving Laws

Last week one of the programs on NPR was a discussion on driving manners and customs. It got me thinking about the culture of driving here in Philadelphia. I grew up out west and to tell you the truth, I have encountered several driving practices here that I have never seen before. So here are the top five.

5) Red lights are only red lights from 5 seconds after they turn red and until the opposing traffic light turns yellow.

4) Turning lanes are optional. You can make a left turn from the far right hand lane just as easily as you can from the turning lane. Just don't mind the other cars honking rudely at you.

3)Double parking is so much easier than parallel parking; everyone should do it! Once you have perfected the art of double parking, try triple parking. It is even more fun!

2) Turning signals are for chumps. When you use a turning signal it only encourages the cars around you to speed up and cut you off.

1) Whenever possible take a shortcut to cut off the drivers around you. "Shoulder" is a nickname for shortcut. Gas stations and shopping centers are other good paths you can use to get ahead. Pay no attention to the people or slow moving vehicals that may be in you way; they are merely obstacles you must overcome to reach the front of the line. When challenged by a red light see rule #5.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Wonder Pets


I have two sweet little boys: Sam, almost 4, and James, almost 2. I have learned that in order to be an effective mother of these two energetic (crazy) angels (little devils), I have to be creative in finding ways to keep them entertained so they don't drive me completely insane. I am not opposed to letting them watch tv but I try to limit it to reasonable amounts, that is, I did until we found The Wonder Pets.

The Wonder Pets are a guinea pig, turtle, and duckling who live in a school house and, upon receiving an emergency phone call from a baby animal of one sort or another, don hats and capes and rush off to the rescue, singing all the way.

Wonder Pets! Wonder Pets!
We're on our way
To help the baby camel
And save the day.

We're not to big
And we're not to tough
But when we work together
We got the right stuff.

Goooooo Wonder Pets!
Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!


My kids sing all of the words! In fact, I think we are all a little obsessed. When James wakes up in the morning, frequently the first words out of his mouth are "Hi Mama. Watch Wonder Pets?"
So one day they decided to dress up as The Wonder Pets. They of course, had to dress up their favorite stuffed animals too.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Chick Flicks

I had a conversation with a friend of mine about some of the great chick flicks and how much fun it would be to share them with our daughters (hers actual, mine theoretical). So here is the list, in no particular order:

1) The Sound of Music

2) Pride and Prejudice (The Kiera Knightly version as well as the A&E saga)

3) Anne of Green Gables (Actually, all of the Anne movies)

4) Ever After

5) The Princess Bride

6) Sleepless in Seattle

7) The Little Princess (not the Shirley Temple version)

8) Star Wars Saga (ok, technically not a chick flick, but well loved by all who grew up with them)

9) Sixteen Candles

10) All of the Disney Princess movies (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Beauty and the Beast, etc.)

Thursday, April 19, 2007

cheating

I am so sick of this feeling of entitlement that people in this country have noticibly adopted over the last few years. I think it is what makes everyone so lawsuit happy. They feel entitled to have lots of money and since they are too lazy to actually work for what they want they go the easy route and take someone else's money, regardless if it is justified. It is like kids cheating on tests in school - they want the grade but are too lazy to do the work for it. What's wrong with cheating? They "deserve" a good grade.
The reason this is bothering me today is because a friend of mine emailed me a personality test. The first few screens of the test included several admonitions not to cheat. First of all, it is a freaking personality test; There are no wrong answers! Why would you cheat?! Second of all, what does it matted if your answers don't match what you think they should be, there is no one waiting to grade it. Lastly, it is rather insulting for someone to automatically assume that we are going to cheat! It is a sad commentary on our society that we are now prefacing our phoney, just for fun email tests with requests for being honest. If we as a society had any integrity left, we would be outraged!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Iraq

It is so easy for us to get caught up in our own lives and tune out the problems in the rest of the world. I admit, I frequently do it myself. But occasionally an event half a world away can come crashing down around our ears. This is what happened to me when my brother-in-law, Tracy, was shipped off to Iraq. He is currently serving in Bagdad. I don't know what he is doing. I don't think he is fighting. Originally he was training Iraqi troops in northern Iraq (Kurdish territory, which is relatively safe), but since he was moved to Bagdad I don't know any details. He has sporadic email access but is not allowed to send any specific details in case the enemy intercepts his correspondence. We know he is alive and in Bagdad, that's it. My sister, Lisa, has been a pillar of strength since he left last September. She has kept to her routine as much as possible for the sake of their three small kids. TJ, almost 8, has had the most difficult time missing his dad. But honestly it has been difficult for all of them, how could it not be? I asked Lisa how she does it; I would be a disaster! She said she doesn't watch the news and she prays a lot! What else can she do? Tracy started dating Lisa when I was five years old, so he has been a part of our family for most of my life. I can't imagine what any of us would do if something happened to him. So, I have followed Lisa's example and stopped watching the news. However, when I do happen to hear an Iraq update on NPR, my heart stops. I have to remind myself that I would get a phone call from someone in the family if Tracy were hurt or worse. For now, no news is good news.