Thursday, March 31, 2011

Happy House Anniversary

I think I posted these pics once on the old blog. But it's that time of year again, so I'm reposting them for those of you who missed them, or who just miss seeing them. ha. It just so happens that March marks our 9 yr anniversary in our house. Our first house. This house in which we chose the lot, and chose the floor plan, and chose the colors of the carpet, and walls and stucco and brick. We lived 45 min away and would drive down as often as we could just to look at our dirt. And then our hole. And then our footings. And so on and so on until we finally had a house to look at! It was an unbelievably exciting time for us. I think we started the whole process in October or November sometime and then moved in in March!

It's just interesting to me how faaast these 9 yrs seem to have gone by. As seen above, Isaac was 11 mos old when we moved in (and I had very short hair - haha). Abigail was almost 3 yrs old. It's crazy to think about.

Also crazy to think about all the plans I (we) had for this house. We had a page long list of things we wanted to do, ranging from adding a peephole to the front door, to the landscaping, to eventually finishing the basement. And I think (if I'm remembering correctly) that we also had some sort of fantasy of saving up money and actually buying furniture and decorating each room the way we'd actually want it, one room at a time. Let me just say, that has never happened. At all. My house is still not the way I had wanted it, really (so don't judge me too harshly if you see it). I don't have furniture I like. I haven't even hung up all our pictures (they are sitting in a stack against the wall in my closet). And there are some things that make me long for a different house altogether.

I had thought at the time we bought this house that it would be fun to use our "house anniversary" each year to do something to improve, repair, or fix-up the house. We've never done that either.

This is all slightly discouraging to think about at times.

Most of the time I just try not to think about (that may also be part of the reason none of these things ever get done).

But the reality is, life just hasn't always gone the way we expected. When does it ever? And our house is just a very visible, tangible sign of that. I am trying very hard to accept that. Time, money, energy, ambition, and ability have all had drastic shifts in priority over the last 9 yrs. I am not exaggerating when I say that my "realistic expectations" have been lowered substantially and sometimes all we can do is get through and nothing more. Not painting, not weeding, not scrubbing and organizing, not thinking about decorating or rearranging or even deciding on a place to hang up pictures. I can't even explain it fully. But that has been our reality.

I have to be content that I have 4 beautiful children - two of whom were welcomed home from the hospital to this very house. Our house has been full of memories of raising them. Full to the brink and overflowing with 6 individuals and their needs, wants, emotions, frustrations and dreams. Much laughter, many tears, music, screaming, stories and disasters. All kinds of good and bad.

But I have good food to give them and most of anything else they might need. I have a wonderful house to shelter them and a yard for them to run in. I have more than enough material blessings.

Life is good.

Really good.

And that's what I'm celebrating this year on our House Anniversary.

(oh and we were given a gallon of pretty paint by one of our neighbors, so we're thinking we might try to paint our bedroom this weekend (or sometime soon). That can be our celebration. And we might also need cake. Definitely.) :)

Monday, March 28, 2011

daffodils in the morning

Along the river, over the hills,

in the ground, in the sky,

spring work is going on with

joyful enthusiasm, new life,

new beauty, unfolding, unrolling

in glorious exuberant extravagance -

new birds in their nests, new

winged creatures in the air, and new

leaves, new flowers, spreading,

shining, rejoicing everywhere.

- John Muir

(we do live in a beautiful world, don't we)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

ohh the cherry blossoms

It is times like these that make me miss being near Washington DC all the more. So beautiful. Sigh. (my sister Melissa - whom I get to come visit for her wedding in June!!!! - took these pics and posted them on her blog here. Really awesome photos, I think) :)

Friday, March 25, 2011

aww, yeaaah

I also wanted to announce that upon completing the Healthier You 2011 Challenge, I tied with 2 other girls for earning the maximum amount of points for the entire challenge! We each won $74 - wohooo!!!! I guess that may not seem like much of a prize to some of you. But it was pretty nice for me to feel like I had that money all to myself (a very rare treat!). So, for doing 8 weeks of food journaling, not eating treats, sweets, junk food or fast food, drinking 64 oz of water, exercising, taking supplements, getting 7 hrs of sleep, having morning personal quiet time, and eating 5 fruits and veggies a day, I splurged on myself and got these shoes:
And this dress: (hehehe - makes me happy just thinking about them)
(I also utilized a $20 Amazon gift card that I got for free through Daily Deals and $10 of Amazon gift cards from Swagbucks for free) Awesome!!!
(and a sidenote: I didn't do those things continuously through the 8 weeks. We added a new part of the challenge every week.)
Anyway - it felt great to treat myself for treating myself well! It's not something I do very often - but something I should probably do more.
So, yay for me. ;)

and some random thoughts on music

(continuing my thought process started from the Chiquilla zumba song in the last post . . . )

I think I might have mentioned before how I've had a strange complex relationship history with my music. As a teenager, I think I may have overidentified with my music just a bit. It was who I was. And I would never have liked (or admitted to liking) anything at all that didn't fit into my personal definition of coolness. Ohh no. I wouldn't even categorize a band into "music I liked" unless I'd heard the majority of their albums and liked almost all of it. One song wouldn't do it for me. To "like" something basically meant I would be willing to follow them around the country or offer them my firstborn or something. I have no idea what my deal was. Then I "reformed," went off to college, felt overly self-conscious about bothering my dorm and apt. neighbors with playing music, and I basically stopped listening to most of my old stuff. Or the radio. Or much of anything. And I basically went underground with my music tastes for a decade or so (more or less). I'm not sure exactly what happened.

But lately (over the last several yrs), I have finally finally been stepping out into the musical sunshine once again. I've allowed myself to listen to all my old stuff again and not be embarassed by it (great strides, let me tell you). And I am embracing some "new" music (i.e. from the new millenia) while trying not to let my own prejudices get in the way. The best way I've found for doing this is finding music independent of any "coolness factor" context. If I watch a movie and like the soundtrack, I'll look for the artist and then look for other CD's by them and go on from there. (I initially found Iron and Wine, Guster, Joshua Radin and Sondre Lerche that way.) Zac will sometimes hear me listening to something new and ask me where I found it, and he is sometimes amazed by the long story that accompanies the answer. One example is that I found a quote about snails (another obsession of mine) on Pinterest, and it was from some song lyrics I'd never heard of. I found the band who wrote the song. Looked up the song on YouTube and liked it. Checked out the CD from the library. And found another band to possibly like that I'd never heard of before (The Format) and I have absolutely no idea what "kind" of people like this kind of music or what other people think of them. It's weird for me. I'll admit that I had a little panic moment when my twenty-something niece saw the CD and asked me (incredulously? I'm not even sure), "you like this band?" . . . uhhh, I don't know, I think maybe I do. Do I?

But then, yeah why not . . . I'm a mature adult now, right? I can like anything I want (including but not limited to: zumba latin songs, light rock, and whatever other cool and uncool "categories" I may find this stuff in, I'll never even know).
So there!
And that's the point of this long rambling post I guess.
It feels kind of refreshing to finally accept that I really can like whatever I want.
Why did it take me so long to get here??
I don't know.
What about you? Do you ever cringe when you find yourself really liking something that is distinctly "uncool"? no?
Am I just weird? No. Nevermind. Don't tell me. ;)
(sometime I might even tell you what other music I "like" these days - just cuz I'm all bold and brave like that now) haha, yeah right ;)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

latest obsessions

I'm not sure why anyone would even care, but I just thought I'd blog a little about a couple of my latest obsessions. I don't think I ever realized before how obsessive I can be about things. But apparently I can. So we'll just go with it for now.

1. Pinterest - I'm sure a lot of you already know about this, but it's my newest toy. So what is it? huh. well. The site says it's a "place to catalog the things you love." It's like a virtual bulletin board where you can pin up all the things that you find beautiful, inspiring, creative, delicious, funny, or whatever else floats your boat. The best thing is that you pin something from the site where you found it (or from other pinterest pins) and it links back to the place it was originally found. And you can create separate boards for different categories of things. So, for instance, I have a board for food and I can pin images of tasty treats that when clicked will bring me right back to the recipe where I found it. Yippee!! Or I can collect my quotes in one place! At last! Or just have dolphin pictures to look at to make me happy without cluttering up my walls (hehe). Or whatever. A lot of people collect ideas for home decorating and design, or clothes and fashion. It can be anything.

And the fun thing is you add friends and follow the boards that you like, so you can be inspired with new things and add to your collections. Fun! :) Or at any rate, I think it's fun. Wanna play too?? Send me an email and I can send you an invite.

2. Zumba. Oh yes. I'm becoming one of those. No, I don't wear fluorescent tank tops and hip hop gangsta pants. And no, my body doesn't exactly move quite like that. But. I do quite enjoy channeling my latent inner latina and flashbacking to my college days of social dance classes where I actually did compete in a cha-cha competition. Oh yes I did. I did not win, for the record. But I did make it to the second round, which felt like an accomplishment for an east coast white girl like myself (I also actually auditioned for the International Folk Dance Team one year. uh huh. But let's not talk about that). ;) Anyway - I like to dance, I'll admit, and my oh my Zumba is fun. The first time I probably burned more calories laughing at myself than from actually doing any of the moves. But laughing is good, too. And supposedly, doing zumba for an hr. burns an insane amount of calories (~ 1000, as opposed to the ~ 250 I burn in an hr of walking). And I love that I don't think when I'm doing it. Walking and running and doing exercise at home, I tend to ruminate on everything too much. But I just cannot think about anything else and attempt any of this stuff. And that's good for me.

The great thing is, I was introduced to a group that does some Zumba classes at our church for free. And now I'm addicted. I've got wacky zumba songs, in spanish, stuck in my head all the time and I count the days til I can go again. I can't even understand what they're saying, but I've taken to tracking down my favorites and actually buying some of these songs off of itunes. See? Obsessed. Me. Yes.

[One of the songs I couldn't resist is Chiquilla (which is in the youtube video I've linked to in the Zumba title. Go take a listen. Really. And have a dance party. Because I know you can't resist.)] :)

Got any new obsessions you'd like to share? Let's hear it.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Samuel is Seven!

This past week Samuel celebrated his 7th birthday!!
Hip Hip Hooray! :)
He really wanted a fishing pole . . . so we gave him one sort of reluctantly, since uh, I think we've been fishing maybe twice in our entire married life. But. We also gave him a toy fishing pole along with it (from the dollar store) that he can play with in the tub.

Nothing like a big red ball to bring a smile to this boy's face.

And Grandma gave him a pair of roller skates. All the kids have been roller-skating a lot in the basement lately. He's been the only one without his own skates, so this has been perfect for him.

Here are some shots of the performance they put on after ice cream and cake. They all work together and choreograph all sorts of dances, solos and together. It's really great to see them do things together and it's so creative and fun. Love it! The downside is that it's hard to pull them away from it for things like meals, homework, chores, getting dressed. Little things like that. ;)

(and finally a shot of Elisabeth that was just too cute to leave out)

It was a great birthday celebration and we just love Samuel lots and lots. :)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Family - Putting the Fun in DysFUNctional

(All families are dysfunctional, right? yes of course, and ours is no exception)

Well over the weekend my sister Morgan and her son Sage were here visiting from CA and my brother and his wife and baby were down from ID, so we all had a Western States family get-together (missing my sister in VA).

It's not often that we are all together, (or mostly all together), so it was pretty fun. :)

Here's my mom with 4 of her 5 kids:

And here are all the little (and not so little) cousins on my side of the family:

Sister Heather with her long-term boyfriend Cameron (sorry I didn't catch Cameron in a very good moment - hehe):

Brother Devin with wife Liz and baby Miles:

Sister Morgan with son Sage:

Babies always provide endless free entertainment for the day.
Me and Abigail with baby Miles:
Liz and Miles:
Grandma holding Miles:
Miles wants cake:

And when we weren't playing with, cooing to, or taking pictures of the baby, the boys were all playing video games:

or we were all taking turns playing Just Dance on the wii:

Good times!!! :)
(oh and in case you were wondering, yes Zac was there with us, just somehow he avoided all my picture-taking, I'm not sure how. He can be pretty sneaky that way, I guess)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Cranford anyone? (The Book Addict's Bookclub, Take One)

So who read the book? (The first question for any bookclub). ;)
And the second non-negotiable question: what did you think?

My copy of Cranford is green (like above). So I just thought, what better day than today to take a stab at this willy-nilly bookclub idea, right?

I'll start off by saying I was sort of disappointed in this book. I just expected something Austen-ish I think, and this just didn't have the same pace and intrigue that I find in Austen books. It was hard for me to get into this one. I haven't read any other books by Elizabeth Gaskell and there really is no rationale to my expectation - but there it is.

But other than that, there were some parts that I did find pretty funny. All the gossipy old ladies cracked me up. And, some parts of how this tight homogeneous community operated reminded me somewhat of my own little community, in some ways (for better or for worse), so it was interesting.

It's actually been awhile since I finished reading this, but a couple parts I marked were:

- the beginning of Chapter 5: Old Letters (p 51 of my copy)
"I have often noticed that almost everyone has his own individual small economies - careful habits of saving fractions of pennies in some one peculiar direction - any disturbance of which annoys him more than spending shillings or pounds on some real extravagance."
Then she goes on for a page and a half about these little idiosyncrasies. The man who reused envelopes, how she saved pieces of string, and other people who can't stand seeing others wasting butter. This just made me laugh, too true, too true. We all have our little pet peeves along with some specialties in ways to save money (although of course I can't think of any of mine at the moment). But I did like the way the narrator would go off on these little ramblings to get to her point (eventually). I don't know why, but I thought it was funny.

- and pg 114-115 (in Chapter 10) about the robberies. Oh, the drama. The fabricated stories. The little details blown out of proportion. Panic, assigning blame to innocent people, and assuming others to be completely blameless just because of who they are. Oh, it's just funny, funny.

Annnd . . . I don't have any other deep thoughts to share, really.

What are your thoughts?

Wherever and whoever you are, come join the discussion in the comments section on my blog. We're all friendly around here, so don't be shy. And yeah, you're welcome to join in even if you haven't read the book. Because that's just how bookclub is. :)

PS - who was supposed to bring the treat?? They obviously forgot. Maybe next time.

Oh yeah, speaking of next time. Next up is The Remains of the Day, by Kazuo Ishiguro. So sometime toward the middle-end-ish of April we'll be discussing it. ;)

And looking ahead:

May: On the Road by Jack Karouac
June: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall - Anne Bronte

(I'm still working on the rest of the plan, sorry. I'll get better at this, I promise. And some encouraging words would be great, if you really want to do this. I've hit a sort of blog slump - even if it's only in my head and you wouldn't notice otherwise - and need a little bit of a push to get going again. Thanks for reading - and commenting. Thanks especially for commenting.)

it's not easy bein' green

So Elisabeth was very concerned about finding something green to wear today. She really didn't want to wear Samuel's old green striped shirt because it's a "boy's" shirt.

But then, after some searching, she decided she could wear this:

over top of the striped shirt. It's a plastic pull-up package. She cut out armholes.

I had a rough time convincing her she really couldn't wear that to preschool. I was particularly adament because she was going on a field trip to the grocery store. I just . . . couldn't let her do it. I ended up telling her that they'd think she was for sale and put her on the shelf. That worked until she came to the brilliant deduction that "they would see she has a face!!"

Ohh, the drama of life with a 4 yr old. Never a dull moment.

And how's your St Patrick's Day treating you?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

reminder for today

( more very soon, I promise . . . I'm not sure where I've been, but I'll be back.)

(*found on Pinterest)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

a note on charter schools

Before I go into a Samuel update (and a rant about my annual placement frustrations), I thought maybe I should explain a little bit about charter schools for those of you who aren't familiar with them.

First off, charter schools are free public schools using public tax dollars. They cannot discriminate in admission, although they can put cap limits on enrollment. This means that there is usually some sort of random lottery or drawing to determine who gets into the school when the number of people wanting to go exceeds the cap on class sizes.

Isaac and Abigail both attend a local charter school. Our house sits just about equidistant from our local neighborhood public school and a charter school that was opening the year that Abigail was starting kindergarten. Having had no previous experience with kids in school, we figured it'd be worth a shot in trying to get into the charter school.

What happens at our school is that the older grades are filled up first, then the younger siblings of those students get preference for filling in the younger grades. After that, whatever spots are left are filled via lottery. If there are more younger siblings than available spots, then they too are put in a preferential lottery drawing, so sometimes even the siblings don't get in (although I can't imagine that happens very often). Abigail got in in kindergarten (out of 5 spots that were left after the siblings filled in) and then Isaac got in automatically, and Samuel and Elisabeth would too.

So, once the school is up and going, as the younger grades move up the only spots that become available are when someone moves away or changes schools. This means your best chance, really, for getting in is usually in kindergarten. (and just so we're all clear, this means that when we opted to put Samuel in public school so he could be in a small-group special needs kindergarten, we gave up his spot in the charter school. After that, he's in the sibling preference pool for the open spots in his next grade, if there are any)

ok. Does that make sense?

So. Some of the advantages, or things that make our school different from our neighborhood school, are that the class sizes are limited to 25 kids per class and only 2 classes per grade. Aside from the academic advantages of smaller classes, I just like having a smaller school setting. I like knowing the director and school secretary fairly well. I like having smaller school functions (although I still hate the crowds even at these).

The charter schools can also have school uniforms. Ours is basically khaki or navy pants and white, red, or navy polo shirts (with some variations, skirts, etc, but that's the basic idea). It's easy!! Shopping for school clothes is easy (although sometimes frustrating to find the right things) - once you find a good supply, you just stock up on all the same things and you're done! wohoo. Also getting dressed in the morning is easy. Mix and match, pick something and throw it on, easy peasy. (There are other more philosophical advantages to wearing uniforms to school, but I won't get into that)

Our charter school also has a different curriculum program than the public school. They are required to follow the same state curriculum standards or what not - but they use different tools and programs, or whatever. I have had mixed experiences with some of that. On the best side, there are some deeper enrichment activities and more academically challenging work and they do try to meet each child at their level. It can be wonderful. On the downside, I have seen a child pushed beyond their ability to the point where it only caused frustration for all of us and we have sometimes had so many extra projects it was ridiculous. But I have concluded that there is no perfect situation. Especially for a family of more than one child. What fits and works perfectly for one child may not be as great for another. But, unless you feel up to paying private school tuition (think in terms of college tuition, seriously), and driving hours back and forth, and possibly needing to be in multiple places at the exact same time, I cannot see that you can hand-pick a different school for each individual child's needs. (If you have somehow figured out a feasible way to do that, by all means let me know.)

I should also note that the charter school is legally required to provide special education and services just as the public school is. All of the same special education laws apply.

Anyway - and finally, our charter school does not provide transportation. And actually we are close enough to the neighborhood school that our kids would not be bussed there either. The exception to this is for the kids in a self-contained small-group special needs class - the public school provides buses for those kids no matter where they live (such as Samuel).

So. There you go. (phew! That was long-winded, sorry)

If you happen to still have questions or curious to find out more, you can go to the Utah State Office of Education website and read about charter schools here.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Elisabeth Update

We've all had some kind of cough/cold thing for the last month or so, it seems. The kids' coughs just seem to linger forever. And it's so hard to tell when a cough is a problem, and when it's just a lingering cough from a cold. Some innocent coughs sound so terrible.
Anyway - last Mon. I sent Elisabeth to preschool even though she still had a cough. And then when I picked her up afterwards I noticed she was sort of wheezing and breathing really rapid trying to get more air. She also said her teachers made her sit and rest and get a drink of water a few times when she just couldn't stop coughing.
So, after some deliberation, I decided to take her the Dr. The pediatrician's office was completely booked for the day, so I took her to the InstaCare.
And . . . yeaaah, they gave her a breathing treatment and took x-rays of her chest. The x-rays showed a "suspicious spot" which the Dr. thought "might be pneumonia" so he prescribed an antibiotic and an inhaler. What this actually means is hard to tell. InstaCare Drs can be so rushed and vague with their explanations. But really, I just wanted her to be able to breathe so I wasn't too concerned about the exact diagnosis at this point.
Also, this whole process had taken quite a bit of time and I was getting rushed to get back before Abigail and Isaac would be getting home from school (luckily the weather was nice and they were planning on walking home). As we went to the pharmacy I searched for my phone thinking I could call the school and give the kids a heads-up - or at least call home once I thought they'd be there - or leave a voice message for them - or something. But, as luck would have it, I had forgotten my phone. :(
So I waited anxiously to get her meds at the pharmacy. $80 later I rushed home to find Abigail and Isaac freaking out and frantic not knowing where I was (they had tried calling Zac and Grandma but hadn't gotten through). And about a minute later, Samuel's bus pulled up! Thank goodness I got home before the bus arrived. phew!
Anyway - Elisabeth has kind of loved her inhaler. It makes her feel pretty special. She continued using it for the rest of the week but she is doing much better now.

In other Elisabeth news, I asked her preschool teachers how she is doing and it appears she is having the same personal space/boundaries issues that she has at home (with her teachers and with her friends). sigh. She is so overly affectionate and needing hugs and kisses alllllllllll the time. I'm just not sure what to do about it. Of course we want her to feel loved and to have all the cuddles and squeezes and loves that she needs at home. But sometimes . . . we feel a little smothered by her and we all just need more space. How to explain that to a 4 yr old? That sometimes enough is enough??

And she is also not really catching onto the alphabet as quick as we might hope. So we need to help her more with that, too. And of course I am swimming in all kinds of mommy-guilt over this one. So much I should be doing that I'm not. uggghh.

She'll be starting kindergarten next year! It's all just crazy. Yes, indeed.

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Tonight Zac made an incredible no-sugar-added pie with apples, a pear, frozen blueberries, strawberries and peaches, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey with a handmade pie crust.
It was soooo tasty.

I'm just glad he likes to cook and is good at it. I can't say whether I'm "good" at it or not really - but pretty much the only thing I enjoy making is muffins. I really love muffins. So anyway. Zac has a thing for pies. And our whole family benefits as a result. ;)
Today is the last day of the HealthierMe challenge. I have successfully made it through and for that I am very happy!!
The best thing I have gained from it is just a better sense of self-control. That's always a good thing. I didn't lose much weight as a result, which was disappointing . . . but . . . wellll . . . yeah it was just disappointing. I'll just leave it at that. For now.
Other than that, I am just feeling rather grumpy lately. Zac and I were able to go on an actual "date" last night - a real-live "dinner and a movie"-date. And I think at first I was so grumpy he might have wished he had left me at home. Some good food and some nice quiet time in the movie theater helped a little (by the way, we saw The Adjustment Bureau which was surprisingly intriguing and thought-provoking - we'd recommend it). But besides that, I am mostly just unbearable right now. So steer clear (fair warning). haha.
It might all just be in my head, though. Sometimes I can't really tell. Sometimes I can barely stand myself.
But . . . anyway. Enough of that.
more later

Thursday, March 3, 2011

so ordinary, so mundane

I was just folding towels.

And something about this just struck me all of a sudden as irresistibly funny.

I laughed and laughed and laughed.

I must have been in desperate need of a laugh. ;)

(And PS - do you think maybe it's time to finally retire this one?! I think I've had this towel since my freshman year in college. 1993? hahaha. Call me crazy.)

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

March 1st

I'm behind in my blogging. I don't like that feeling much at all.

But here are some pics I took yesterday on a very sunny and slightly warm March 1st.

(that's Elisabeth there on her bike in the background here:)

I feel like I can safely say we've survived another winter and spring is inching forward, slowly but surely. So that's a good thing.
I will tackle my backlog of blog posts as soon as I can. (I know you all are just on the edge of your seats - haha.) yeah, whatever. I'm also feeling a little less motivated to blog lately . . . but that's another blog topic. Which reminds me, comments are always greatly appreciated around here. You know that, right?
ok, more later then.
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