Thursday, December 31, 2009

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

The New Year's Post...sort of

I have an issue: New Year's.

Most people LOVE love LOVE this time of year and wax on about how they will make resolutions and goals and so on and so forth.

Then in approximately three to four months they will bemoan, either secretly or in public about how sadly they are not accomplishing their goals to satisfaction; and somewhere around Independence Day they free themselves altogether from the bounds of these goals, dig into the potato salad and watch the fireworks.

Someone near to me proclaimed to a public audience that I NEVER make goals, and that if I do, I get extremely depressed when I fail at them. Part of that statement is true.

The deal is that I do make goals, I make them quite frequently and in fact I do, very much, become disappointed and sometimes depressed about failing. I don't like to fail. I don't enjoy feeling stupid or having heavy objects land on me or the feeling of my hand being slammed in the car door. These things should be fairly obvious to most bystanders. Failing? Not fun.

Goals are what have got me through difficult times. I am an active member of my church because of a goal I made when I was nine years old. I am married to a wonderful man, sealed to him for eternity, because I made a goal to do so and then another to stay married to the lug when things were difficult. (I presume he made similar goals for those times when I am a nag or worse.) Goals are what keep me from flinging dishes at a certain someone when I can't bear them much longer. Goals are what keep my windows washed and the oil in my car regular and clean. I could go on, but (I hope) by this point in the essay, you understand that, for me, goals are almost a daily event.

The point is that the statement, made by someone who should know me fairly well, kind of stung. It implied that I am a lazy sort or chicken even because if something fails I would not care to indulge it. Not so.

It is my fault in the long run, for, as I do make goals, I am not one to publicize them or post them about for all to critique... which I find very difficult, I don't want someone who does not live in my heart or head to judge whether or not I need to improve this or that, or if deciding to do a daily jig in the laundry room is insanity or just a frivolous waste of time. So I keep 99.9% of my goals to my self and monitor my progress regularly.

And yes, I fail quite often.

Last year I made a mistake by publicizing a few goals...all which came to a horrific failure, which yes, depressed me beyond what even I had expected. For me, I guess, the private failure(s) are easier to endure than to be a public spectacle of lack. I don't care for lack or humiliation; and why should I purposely expose myself for these? So, this year I go back to my closet and I shall produce a few good items on the personal "to do" list for improvement, happiness, or fulfillment, etc.

Good luck to me, and to you as well, on keeping our goals, and yes, Merry and Happy New Year. May it be filled, for all of us, with less stress, a tad more financial sustenance, a more giving heart and sharing hands, uplifting moments, edifying conversations, and friends who make us feel better about being our genuine selves. May we feel more love and more gratitude. May we be content, forgive more, and hold hands a bit tighter. Go ahead and smile at strangers and give a dollar to those who ask for one. Pray sweeter. Sing out loud and also in our head when we need to.

Hugs, s'mee

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Birds

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Day in SoCAL, 2009

Dear Bloggers,

I am trying to make a come back, it may take some time and some effort, but here we go again. It's been such a weird year for me! Any who, Christmas was amazing! The kids and their families were all gathered on Christmas Eve, we ate our traditional Chinese take-out and had an informal program of singing and retelling the true Christmas Story. Thor is a Bishop now, so just as we were gearing up to opening gifts he received a call for help and off he went for a bit.

In the meantime, with little ones who had waited "all day!" to open their gifts, I decided they should open a gift from Aunt Hygiene: Automatic Marshmallow Shooters! They were a tad confused, didn't really understand what they had been given. While they were being instructed by daddies I asked everyone to meet me on the front porch.

I handed each of the adults a home made marshmallow shooter (desert camo for the guys, "Hello Kitty" pink camo for the gals) and a bag of mini marshmallows. The mayhem began and boy! did we have a fun 45 minutes or so until Thor was able to join us! He came back, grabbed his shooter and began puffing the sweet little bullets around at the family! Our front yard and garage was literally covered with about 10 bags of mini marshmallows! We had our fun then came back in for the "regular" presents.

Christmas Day the kids had all gone back to their respective homes to open gifts and spend the day with their little families. The two girls spent the night with us and we got up, visited with Sister Missionaries until their parents called. They each were able to talk with their families for about an hour. It was awsome! We gave them their presents and visited a bit longer then they needed to leave for appointments.

We got in the car and headed south to a nearby beach. We hung out, took photos, and had the most glorious Christmas Day! Enjoy the video and enjoy the rest of this wonderful time of year! Remember Who we celebrate and all the wonders His hand has created. Have a blessed celebration.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

book Giveaway!!!

My niece has a fabulous new blog devoted to reviewing books, usually for children. However, this week she reviewed The Pioneer Woman Cooks (she's says it's pretty danged good, too good). Any who, she loves the cookbook so much she met the Pioneer Woman herself and got a signed copy to give away on her blog!

Now here's your opportunity to grab a FREE copy (well, if you are lucky enough to win)! Run on over to There's A Book, fill out her tiny little form, and cross yer fingers! Good luck to you!

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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hi Blogger, it me, S'mee....

Is anyone even still checking in? I'm not sure. But if you do, thanks. I am sorry I have been such a slacker lately. I'm o.k., but I just can't seem to find the blog motivation. That said I have been crafty lately...gearing up for the holidays.

I love Halloween. See the Halloween posts in the archives to find other things I have thrown together in the past. This year a few different items. I hope to have a You Tube "how to" up soon. In the mean time here are a few of the items I have been working on:

Chair Scarves. I used a window scarf I bought 3 years ago, cut into 4 parts, hemmed it and then threw it over the chairs and tied it off with a ribbon. Free and easy recycle!

I went to the fabric store and found $2 and $3 per yard fabrics on clearance and essentially just cut the one twice, hemmed all raw edges and threw it on the table to make a base cloth that would go all the way -and then some- to the floor. I had the gal at the store cut the top fabric to a square; however wide it was, that would determine the scale of the square, so be it. Hemmed and thrown on the table. Not Free, but almost, and totally easy. Plus both clothes can be used for other occasions, dressed and accessorized with other colours or item and that will decide the mood later!

An old recycled wreath, this one black, topped with 99c Store (really bad) black roses, tipped with a bit of green glitter and red roses spray painted with flat black. (In the photo the original red really shows through, in real life the red is more of a suggestion than a visible colour.) I just snipped the roses from the bunches (4 black, three red) and used the wire in the wreath to secure them in place. I added left over ribbon in a bow and there you have it. Recycle + $7.00

This is the one I am most excited about. I was sharing a snack at a friend's home when she served her goodies on the most gorgeous plates. White background with black printed toile "solid" plates and also as an edge. I adored them! Too expensive after the inquiry of where and how much? What to do? Head down to Dollar Tree and find some flat edged plates! At $1 a piece this would be a great alternative. I used a permanent on any surface ink and some scroll designed rubber stamps, and badabing badaboom I have my black and white plates. Not toile, no solids, but with the same feel! I think they'll look really awesome on the Halloween table, but also later and not so spooky! $8.00 for a whole new set of dishes!

Well that's it. See you soon, I hope!

Click on the photos to get a closer look!

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

hell fire

Welcome to California in the summertime.

However, this year, things are getting ugly. This photo was yesterday's sunrise. Taken from my front porch, roughly 80 miles as the crow flies east of the fires. It's raining ash. The afternoon looks somewhat post apocolyptic with dark gray skies, "snowing" in the middle of August, lungs stopping half full and when forced to breathe deep, slowly expand in a burst of pain. Every year when the fires come, we get a few days of "incredible sunsets" and in fact, a view of the hot orange sun straight on filtered by the thick smoke. What is making this year so bad? People.

People who can't get enough information via the news, so they decide to clog roads and take a photo op of their own, making the fire fighters struggle to get around them.

People who are asked to evacuate and always seem to want to stay and fight 100 foot flames with a $24.00 garden hose.

My son has fought those 100 foot flames. He has risked his life to go back into the mouth of hell to pluck a homeowner out of the impending destruction. He has had to choose between letting 5 homes burn or save one stubborn man who refuses to leave. Life always takes precedence, so they go save the one guy and take the heat for 'abandoning the neighborhood' later. He has huddled with his brothers and watched as some of them died on the line in defense of structures and personal property.

If you have been alive since the 70's you have absolutely no excuse for not being prepared.

If you live in an area that has growth, -brush, weeds, or trees- clear your defensible space yearly. If the guys in the white SUVs tell you to prepare for evacuation: PREPARE. When they tell you to go: GO. Do not think that the fire fighters are trying to be the hero, the big shot, the know-it-all authorities and/or that you can beat it yourself. They DO know. They don't just sit around the fire house doing sit ups, they have graduated from Fire Science Academies, they have degrees. They practise daily and excersize every scenario to learn more every day. They understand wind, and heat, and tornados made of flame. They know how fire works, what fuels it, what stops it, and what they cannot stop but must let burn on its' own.

Fire Fighters are a unique breed of people. They love community. They love to serve. They feel their "job" isn't a career, it's a lifestyle, a calling that -even after they retire- they will live each day. Vacations, days off, time spent with family is always looked forward to, however, when the phone rings they will leave a new bride, new babies, dying parents, and RUN to save a stranger's property willingly.

This week two Fire Fighters lost their lives trying to save property. I don't know their names, but I know them. I know how they lived their lives and what kind of people they were.

And I cried like I was thier mother.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

The most beautiful dance

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Having a bad day? This will pretty much make it better. Enjoy.

Absolutely lovely and inspiring.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Dance Off with the Star Wars Stars 2008

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Seriously fabulous! Stay with it to the end, it's totally worth it.

Later...part two.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Breakfast Brunch

Tomorrow morning we'll have our first Enrichment meeting since I was called to be the Enrichment Counselor. The plans were 80% set in place, so in reality I didn't have too much to worry about.

My Enrichment Leader Wendy is AMAZING. Really. She's in her early 30s and full of such fresh and well thought out ideas that the women are really enjoying the events and classes she has suggested and worked so hard to pull off. Wendy is the perfect example of why it's a great idea to have different age groups working together. I had an idea of how to pull of the planned on paper event, she had another. She's brilliant!

We're celebrating the (May - August) birthdays of all the women in our ward (congregation). The idea of a Breakfast Brunch with a waffle bar was our jumping off point. Wendy suggested we decorate like a French Bistro/Cafe; small intimate tables, bring in the couches and chairs from the foyers, lots of black and white architectural photos, some French influenced items here and there, flowers and a background of Edith Piaf. She had purchased cup cakes from a baker a while back that were simply decorated with butter cream spikes and a single sugar crystallized rose petal on top. So we're going to show the sisters how to spike butter cream and sugar rose petals! After the brunch, everyone goes home with a gorgeous cup cake.

We're also have a demo planned to show the gals how to make single cup cake pedestals from thrift store items. (They turned out really awesome!)

So I raided the the shed out back and gathered up a lot of things to try and bring a bit of France to the cultural hall in the middle of our desert. We're going up to the church tonight to set up so we can get a head start in the morning. (Thanks to beefy types who are moving furniture for us!)

We have a ton of people helping out, bringing everything from waffle toppings to waffle makers and everything in between. I'll post photos after the event.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Product Endorcement

Hey! Have you seen Shelf Reliance products? I have and frankly I saved and saved until I could buy a large system for my own storage...What an idiot!


The button is for their website and this link! is for their blod where you can get free systems.

Click the link! GO!

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

bleh, i'm sick. cough cough, hack, sniff

My sinuses are under attack and I? -their unequal adversary. Who knew that a sinus infection would lend itself to such pain? The pneumatic riveter drilling into my forehead has developed into a special quadrant of migraine hell depending upon which side of the pillow I lay my weary head. Eyes have filled with goo, lovely. Lip has burst open in a violent defiant rage. Nose is beginning to swell. Throat has lent me with a good chance at getting the baritone lead in the next production of Oklahoma!

Dang, I'm about as ugly as I can get right now, no joke.

Yesterday I went to sweet youthful doctor; the one who insists: "It's not rocket science! It's only medicine!" Mocking the intelligence of his chosen career, he laughs his way through my appointment. He thanks me for spritzing with my hand-held Listerine pump just prior to his inspection of my throat. I'm sure the Listerine didn't cover much of the ooky funky sinus infection scent wafting up and out of my nose and mouth...GAG. I caution him to not thump the center of my forehead (as I witnessed him do to Thor last winter) to check for pain. If so, he would also experience some pain. He kindly obliged and withdrew his phalanges of doom and placed them in his lap. Instead he employs his hand to write out a script, which from my point of reference, rivals any of Shakespeare's works. My salvation on paper, slowly delivered over the next ten days.

Thor attended -what sounded like- the most wonderful baptism this morning. I missed it to keep my brain inside it's shell. He came home to find me somewhat fetal, laying on a bed, near tears. Walking gingerly to my side he knew the perfect thing to say. "Want some frozen peas?" You need to love a man who instinctively knows how to touch your heart right when you need it most. In a flash he was shuffling quietly around the house, turning on air, shutting doors, tucking tiny frozen messengers of hope in a soft towel and then placing it under my head with instructions to "just sleep and stay in bed." Seriously, I was out like a light and slept the sleep of the dead...for about fifteen minutes when I woke up feeling so much better. Fifteen perfect minutes of sleep under a frozen pea heaven.

I was able to get up, hit the computer and the phone and finish a few projects.

Lucky me though, I get to give the Relief Society lesson tamale. (Redemption for the Dead. There's irony in that title somewhere!) Should be good for laughs if not education! Sweet sisters there will no doubt be kind as they turn their heads politely! I will instruct all within a 6 foot perimeter to go home and boil themselves to avoid this plague. (I'm not sure what miracle has saved Thor...sleeping inches away from my infected frame for 6 hours every night. How has the man survived?)

Oh did I share? I have been called to be the Home, Family, and Personal Enrichment Counselor to the ward Relief Society. This should be fun! Except the woman I am following, a woman who had the same calling for about 4 months or so, has managed to create miracles similar to the parting or the red sea, or red jello if you live in Utar. Anywho, she has enormous feet and I am feeling my size 5s roaming a bit this week as I try to catch up to her speed on the track. I am extremely blessed that for some prophetic reason she knew to plan out the entire year. whew. I have until January to go it alone. Until then I am willing to fake it. Maybe by then I can convince the powers that be that I need to be called to something more equal to my talent, like the chapel door jam.

So thank you dear reader. I assume you are now the lonely member of the fan club! Thanks for hanging in there with me! See you soon with an update and an interesting and CHEAP craft. oooh the intrigue!

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Saturday, July 04, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Let Us Be Men

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I was lucky enough, blessed really, to marry a man.

I hope that together we were able to teach our sons to be men.

Our prayer is that -when the time comes- our daughters will also marry men.

Men are different than grown boys.

Men understand the family, their place in it, and those they love. Men always do the right thing. Men sacrifice for the betterment of the family, both for their wife and their children. Men forgive. Men work honestly and earnestly. Men stand for what is true and right and honourable. Men defend, protect and provide. Men humble them selves before God. Men remember always who they really are. Men have eternal perspective. Men lead and guide and serve with a happy heart. Men are grateful, compassionate, generous, and see what isn't always visible, hear what isn't always spoken. Men pray and seek righteous knowledge. Men make goals and constantly learn. Men are kind.

Happy Father's Day today to all the good men in the world.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Vacation Hints or How not to kill each other in the car.

Summertime is upon us, which mean some of us will be risking a family vacation that includes traveling in a small confined space for several hours. Normal human beings try to avoid this at all cost, however once a year we gird our loins, strap yelping toddlers into a car seat, set ipods on teen aged ears, plug in the in-car DVD and pray for the best. If you have ever attempted this ritual, then you know why mothers in the wild sometimes eat their young.

The other morning I gave some "tips" to another blogger via an e-mail. She suggested I write a book. You know me, I'll do the easy thing and just rewrite the letter here.

Current resolve is to pop in one Pixar movie after another until your children have gone into a coma, or become as Alec Balwin says: "...their brains become all mushy mushy." Back in the day we didn't have dvd players in our cars and, in a way, it forced us to provide other means, (dare I say better means?) at arriving at the preferred destination with all family members still intact and liking each other, somewhat. And ready for bed as opposed to the sweet release of death.

I have been known (near and far) for my love of Ziploc bags. LOVE my Ziploc bags!!! I am also a fan of organization. So you are going to need to get yourself a lot of 2 gallon, 1 gallon, sandwich, and snack sized bags; and prepare. Trust me, forget store shopping bags, get the Ziplocs...they're uniform in size, they lock, they resist water, they're 'see through', and it will be worth the investment.

The 2 gallon bags are perfect for storing a day's worth of kid's clothing and coincidentally storing the soiled clothes as well. So pack each day's clothes in a bag, socks, unders... everything. Label the bag with a permanent marker with the child's name -and if you are totally anal or a control freak (looking in the mirror with admiration and misty eyes), the date that bag should be used. (be still my heart! Think about it: Day one at Disneyland and everyone can wear the family tee shirt colour or favourite character shirt...whatever, there won't be any arguing about what is appropriate or crying because they can't find this or that. If you want, ask the kids to help you pick out and pack their own bags! Wahoo! 'never can begin too soon to train your kid to be little organized people!) At night when the kid is in the bath, grab a bag of clothes, set the clothes out on the counter and put the dirty clothes back in the bag. If you take the time to fold the clothes the bag will take up less room...just a hint. Take a different coloured permanent marker and put a large 'blue' dot near the label so you know it when you see it, those are dirty clothes!

Most shoes will also fit into a 2 gallon bag...this helps keep them from rolling under a seat or leaving one on the ground as you drive away from the gas station. (trust me on this one) So if you have extra shoes traveling with you (that won't be packed in the day bag) pack them in a Ziploc as well.

Pack their clothes bags in a back pack. Each kid is responsible for their own back pack.

Keep their tooth brush and other toiletries in the front pocket. (It's a good idea to just purchase new toiletries for the road and a fresh tooth brush as well. Pack the old tooth brush and get the new one in the cabinet ready for when you get home. When the trip is over you can just keep the toiletries tucked away for next time! And the new fresh toothbrush is kind of an after vacation treat. That's a stretch, but it is nice to have a fresh brush!)

Convince the kids to wear a night shirt so that you can pack just one shirt in the front pocket digging to prepare for bed. Every night you should take the soiled clothes (pretreat them with the tide pen, shout wipes, or otherwise if they need it) and place that bag at the bottom of the back pack, so the fresh clothes are always on top. You can do this chore while they are in the tub... unless of course the kids are old enough to be responsible to do this themselves. Then pat yourself on the back for training them well!

Pack your snacks the same way. Last day on the bottom, first day on the top, in the cooler, ready to go. Add fresh ice each morning as you head out for the day.

Blankies can be stored, folded, and sat upon in a car seat or rolled up and secured with a head band elastic as a neck roll pillow. Out of the way, but accessible when necessary.

Have brown lunch sacks handy for trash or car sickness bags. Store these in the side pocket of the front seat doors.

Store travel wipes and potty seat covers in there as well. (Some states are just stingy when it comes to potty seat covers! And beaches? Heck you want to make money while on vacation? Go to the beach and sell potty seat covers outside the beach restrooms! At 25c per seat you'll be a millionaire in a week.)

If you are traveling and expect to swim, bring the 2 gallon bags! Pack each suit in the bag along with sun glasses, floaties, or whatever else each child needs for the water. When you're done, put the wet suit in the bag along with sandy shoes. Rinse out in the shower when you get to the hotel or home.

Take clothes pins for hanging clothes, but also for clips...for clothes that stretch, food bags, you'd be surprised what you can do with a clothes pin when you see the need.

Bring a tide pen, and or other pre treatment for stains.

Bring a roll of t.p., an extra bag of baby wipes, a gallon of water, a bottle of Febreeze or Citrus Magic (my favourite), and a roll of duct tape. - just in case.

Bring a first aid kit. Keep it out of the way, but not hidden.

Pack the car with the idea of being really exhausted that first night and having to carry just what you need for bed inside. Pack your bags the same way. Night things on top so you don't have to dig.

Bring SMALL toys without a lot of little parts.

Frisbees double as toys and also as paper plate holders, "steering wheels" for car sick kids to steer with, and also as a hard surface to draw on.

You can place one toy in a paper sack or gift bag to be opened at certain pre planned destinations. Give the kids a simple map that shows them how far it is time-wise between points. You can add a small "gift" icon on those places where the bag can be opened and played with.

Wrap small items (stickers, a lolly pop, tootsie roll treat, a tiny toy) as "surprises" to be opened when events happen. When you get to the first gas stop, the second lunch, whatever you decide. (hearing Janet Jackson's "Control" in my head--- this is no time to be the nice mom...controlling the car means peace and harmony Grasshopper! How's that for mixed metaphors?)

Divide the toys and games by date into the large 2 gallon sized bags. Resist temptation to get into a new bag. The idea is that they need something to look forward to. If they play all the games the first day, they'll get bored on the second day. Keep the suspense! Pack the 2 gallon bags in a separate bag, like a canvas or cloth grocery bag, close, but not accessible to the kids.

Jump ropes (can be used as holding ropes in museums or unfamiliar places or for actual jumping!), nerf balls, small (softer) balls.

Make a "lookie lu" for each kid by filling an empty water bottle 1/2 way with rice and a bunch of small items, 1 each: a button, a cheerio, a bead, a penny, a sticker, a rubber band, whatever you can find that will fit into the bottle. Place a drop of 'super glue' on the threads of the cap and screw shut tightly. On the trip ask the kids to search for the items by shaking, twisting, rolling, and turning the bottle to find the items in the rice.

Make a simple map showing specific things that the kids can mark with a sticker when you come to them... or a bingo card that they can mark if they see a 'red moving van', a tall cactus, a purple mountain, gas station with a green sign...etc. Or both!

Make licorice necklaces with shoe string licorice and fruit loops.

Make edible play dough (similar to sugar cookie dough), ask them to make shapes you see out the window or just be creative.

Make a puzzle from wooden cubes (6 sides...) paint each side a different colour, or glue a simple photo to the cubes to make a puzzle of something familiar. Check this idea!

You can also make funny family cards. Put a photo of family members (standing photos work best) on card stock. Cut the card into three sections, head, body, legs...they can mix and match the photos to make silly family photos.

The Attribute Game! Find a bunch of tiny items, ask the kids to find two items that have the same attributes.

Make a personalized "I Spy" game by taking photo of the kids toys or other items. Put the photo in a 'book' with each page asking the kids to look for ____ or ____ using a photo for that specific item.

Make your own 'memory game' by taking two of the same photos (either real photo or from a magazine) and glue them onto paper squares.

Make a magnetic picture board.

Make a music cd with sing along music that won't drive everyone nuts. Try to include action songs or make up actions to some of 'your' music so the kids can sing and move while it's playing.

Pre-plan your snacks. We used to take apples, frozen grapes, oranges, granola, cheese cubes or string, etc. You can cut rings of salami or ring baloney to fit a ritz cracker, add a slice of cheese, and you have a great little travel sandwich. Choose whatever you think best, but keep in mind things that give the kiddies protein, sweet, crunch, and help to quench thirst without drinking. You can pre-pack individual portions into snack or sandwich bags and label them by day or kid if you want. Keep them in a cooler that you can reach easily and pass the snacks out as needed. Try not to pack things that will need cutting later or spill, stick, or otherwise make a huge mess. Again use the bags for any trash that comes along.

Excersize and getting the wiggles out:
Plan on stopping at least every 2 hours. Seriously. If you are driving 8 hours this plan will add one more hour to the day's trip, but you'll all be alive upon arrival. You're going to stop every 2 hours, find a wide spot in the road, a rest stop, a field, whatever- and stop for 15 minutes only. During that 15 minutes your goal is to RUN the kids as hard as possible for as much of that 15 minutes as you can.

Crab walk races, jump ropes, use any small toys-balls- frisbees-etc, as markers for obstacle racing, relay race to a certain tree or rock or dad if you have to. Tag team race. Jumping jacks, wheel barrow race, screaming contests (scream as loud as you can from this rock to that tree as you run, then jump three times and then yell like Tarzan on the way back), yelling contests, shouting loudest contests. Have them roll around on the ground or down a small hill and then run back up. Get it out of them for 15 minutes. Get them thirsty and tired. At the end of the 15 minutes hit the bathroom and grab a juice box and get back into the car.

Truth and Consequences:
The key is planning ahead and preparing the kids for the trip also. Let them know what is expected of them in the car and elsewhere and what their rewards and consequences will be.

Be consistent! If you aren't consistent they won't know what to expect and become confused and that's when the trouble begins!

Find a battery operated clock that the kids can see from the back seat so they can tell "when will we be there?" Mark the clock with stickers to let them know when "it's time!"

Make a behaviour chart for the visor - a sleeve made of card stock that slides over, and uses tiny stickers. Add stickers for good road side manners, playing sweetly, inside car voice, etc... when they kids get to the end of the day add up the stickers..reward them for each sticker earned. Hugs, kisses, a family dog pile and/or wrestling session, or extra nice story; nothing expensive- just creative- like watching daddy hula dance or mommy do her famous Kermit the Frog impression.

Be sure to let the kids know how well they behaved in the car each time you stop. Tell them all the things they do correctly as they are doing them and try to avoid telling them the wrong things... "Wow! you guys are working together really well! We should drive like this all the time!" If they start teasing each other: "Hey babe, (talking to the hubby) Wasn't it great how the kids were playing a minute ago? I want to share that with gramma as soon as we get there. Hey guys? Wanna tell gramma how well you play in the car?" "Please use your inside the car voice! Wow, you are so good at that."

You can implement a plan similar to this by explaining to the kids a day or two before you leave and practice it... let them know that every time they need to be told to behave or be nice, you'll need to take away 5 minutes or whatever you decide during the trip. If you misbehave they can ask a favour of you...

Exit Strategies:
The old adage: "After three days, fish and visitors stink." rings true. Plan your trip so that you aren't staying anywhere longer than three days without some sort of change.

When you get home you can turn all those Ziploc bags used for clothing inside out, wash if need be, dry, and when they have aired out well enough pack them all away for the next trip- fold them all and put them in one of the larger bags, add a dryer sheet to keep them scented nice in storage and you'll have them all ready for the next trip! Do the same with the back packs, or luggage...a dryer sheet for storage. You'll be happier when you need them next time and they smell like fluffy laundry instead of the bottom floor of the summer boat house.

If you visit with anyone over the age of 30 be sure to make (force?) your kids to write a thank you note to your hosts. The old "Bees with Honey" idea. Be nice.

O.k. That list is fairly exhausted, but please feel free to add any more suggestions or strategies that have worked for your family!

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Welcome to the family!

My nephew and his new bride had already sent out invitations to their wedding and reception when they began to add up the deposits and see the projected total for the celebration. With the costs of everything seemingly escalating at every turn they began to rethink the whole day.

A new venue was procured, and then thinking all was better they were again faced with more and more expense. Finally they looked at each other and decided the best way to begin their marriage would be as close to debt free as possible.

A explanatory letter was sent out, apologies for inconveniences made, and a new revised plan set into place. The bridal party (who had already purchased clothing for the event) would be invited, along with parents and grandparents; all others were asked to understand their decision to forgo the pomp in favour of the minimum on a sea side cliff.

A few weeks went by, the honey moon in Mexico provided by generous relatives and then they returned. Aunts, being who we are by nature, decided that they still needed some kind of family celebration. So we called up the families on both sides, set a date and had a barbecue. Assignments were made for food and dink, and I offered to bring the cake and decorate the picnic tables. (White and sand colours, lots of sea shells and pretty candles!)

Of course Robyn came to the rescue and lent me not only her kitchen, but made me dinner, helped with the cake, and generally made herself irreplaceable. We made cake and while it baked we visited while we made little chocolate shells. The cake was a hit. The party, I think, was a bigger hit. Nothing more fun that welcoming a new member into the fold while eating terrific food and having a great time!

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Random Weirdness

Oh readers. What can I say? Things have been weird lately.

Being the Bishop's wife has changed my life much, and not much all the same. Thor has always been away from home a lot (in my opinion!) and things there haven't changed much other than the location of his body. Most nights he will get in about 9-ish. As for me, I have discovered that, for some reason, there isn't much I want to comment on, write about, share on the blog. I am trying to get rid of the block, but I think it may be stuck fairly well!

On the whole life is good. A few bumps in the road, some trials to learn from, some blessings in store. I am burdened a bit from things outside of our control; -that is life at times. I am trying to continue on in hope and trust in the Lord to bring us around as usual, just taking time.

I am working on a few projects which I hope to post on soon.

My awesome son, The Electrician, built me bookcases while Thor was in Washington D.C. recently. (did I already write about that?) They look and feel as though they were built right into the house, they look perfect to me. He had to raise them high enough to match the three inch base boards, and then wrapped crown molding around the top to cap them off perfectly. There about 7,200 nails and or screws that secure them to the an earthquake this is the new place to stand for security...they aren't going anywhere! All in all I still need -probably- two more book cases! We have too many books if that is at all possible. I can't justify throwing out a good book, so orphan books are always welcome to find a home here. I have more children's books than I thought I did, and man, there a lot of them! The Scholar has asked that we house her books while she is away at Duke, so inevitably there will be a need to install more book cases. I took a gander in her back seat where she has stashed "just a few of them...more to come next trip." I think she could use a tall case or two all by herself. Good literature, lots of things to keep her mother reading and, eventually, well read, while she is away learning. ( I just finished "In Cold Blood"-Truman Capote, and 1/2 through "Mrs. Dalloway" -Virginia Woolf)

I listened to "1000 Splendid Suns" I feel strongly about this book and don't really know how to process the feelings that came as I listened to the story unfold. If you have not read it, I suggest it to you. Block out a day or so, you won't easily put the book down. If you enjoyed "Reading Lolita in Tehran", you will find this book as interesting.

This is my main problem with reading. Once I find interest int he book I can't put it down until it has been exhausted, completed, finished and pondered. Reading messes with a schedule!

I have a huge blank canvas that stares at me from the front room wall, waiting impatiently for paint. I, on the other hand, am waiting impatiently for a muse to inspire me as to what to put on it.

We had a "service auction" at Enrichment Night the other day. It was fabulous fun. I offered to paint wood letter names or paint a name or small phrase onto a wall or furniture. In return I was offered a free ride to the nearest temple with three of my friends. I love that I ended up with this awesome service, it's the perfect day waiting to happen!

I also had a great time recently working at the Home Craft center tying quilts to be given away to those who need them. We had a blast sitting there, laughing, chatting and tying for a few hours. I plan on doing that again soon. Any takers? You can go to the Home Craft in Colton, CA every Monday through Wednesday, 9-12:00, and volunteer also!

I am making flower petals by cutting French Ribbon into small circles and ovals and burning the edges with a candle's flame...they are turning out better than hoped for and will end up (cross yer fingers!) as gorgeous additions to headbands for the women and girls in my life.

I also finished patterning (is that a word?) tiny wood blocks to make a 'puzzle' for lack of the correct description. Something I borrowed from an artist I admire on line...we'll see how that project turns out as well. I just need to spray them all (several dozen) with sealer so they stay pretty.

An out of town friend has called me and set up a visit...looking forward to that short brief but welcomed visit!

And took a long weekend up at the BY-U. My legs, knees and feet especially have puffed up quite weirdly due to the 'too many days in the car' routine I have inflicted upon them lately. Walking up and down staircases has also caused some agitation to the ol' knees, so I am wonky and wobbly and feeling lame...literally and figuratively! A few days more of driving around doing errands and then a day or two to be lazy and I'll be back to my weirdo self.

Well, that should catch everyone up (sort of) for now. Thanks for hanging in there with me.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

High School Meme

High School Meme

Robyn had this meme at her place so I thought I'd give it a try. Bit of blogger block lately so what the hey? Unlike my sisters and brother, I never got to go to the cool high school, just the one in the sticks. oy.

1. Did you date someone in high school? Yes, yes I did. Dear Mother somehow let me date in Junior High which proved to be unbelievably poor judgment on her part. I think she was trying to pawn me off even then, who knows, whatever her motive, even I knew-even then- that was not a good thing and eventually restricted myself from more dates than I accepted. Eventually I dated the one, so I guess it turned out well.

2. What kind of car did you drive? Unlike my siblings, by the time I was able to drive the money had run out...even for the junkers normally associated with our family vehicles. I was huge on walking and walked several miles to and from high school each day until I met Thor. Then I bummed a ride from him and or his brother from then on to graduation. I could tell you stories! The brother and I had some pretty hilarious experiences riding from seminary to school and then from school home. Let's just say I wasn't the best at encouraging safe driving. I also got a bike my freshmen year. I didn't ride it to school because I worried about it getting stolen, but on the weekends, well that was another story. I rode that thing solid for 8 hours on Saturday if I could get away. LOVED that bike. And the freedom.

3. Did you pass your driver’s license test the first time? Yes. I followed in big brother's footsteps and got a 100 on both written and driving tests, although by the time I did that they were no longer passing out wall plaques for achieving that.

4. Were you a party animal? No. Again, a huge misstep from my mother (IMHO) because I did go to a lot of parties, although I was not what would be considered a "party animal". I never ever had a problem with the Word of Wisdom, meaning I never was tempted in the least to even try alcohol, pot, cigarettes, or any other drugs, never appealed to me, actually loathed the thought of them. I had seem way too many adults make idiots out of themselves indulging in alcohol to ever want to be caught dead drinking, and cigarettes were just disgusting.

I went to parties all the time with friends and just hung out and stood in corners like a social misfit...until one night when two girls I knew from church, two of the girls who were considered "righteous and better than most"...those two girls were skinny dippin' at a football party. Upon entering the house there was the usual drinking activities and I wandered out to the pool when I noticed what was happening. At that point seminary training kicked in and all I could think of was that "I had to get out of there fast". "Avoid the appearance of evil!" went through my head over and over.

It was the last party I ever went to.

5. Were you considered a flirt? I didn't think I was, but evidently there are those who say I was. I am embarrassed at that label.

6. Were you in band, orchestra, or choir? No. But I envied those who were. I wanted SO much to be in choir, or in the drama club like my big brother and my older sister. Alas, I was a misfit. I was in "Speech Club"! I was horribly shy and figured if I went to Speech class, it would cure me. It took several years after High School for it to kick in, but in the long run it did work! I went to "Congress" and won "Best Speaker of the House" by an impromptu speech defending the Mormon Church during a mud slinging fest that had nothing to do with the "bill" on the table (legalized gambling). Go figure.

7. Were you a nerd? I would classify myself more as a loner. By the time the second semester of my freshman year had come and gone, so had all my friends. On to greener pastures they went into the popular social circles I refused to be a part of.

8. Were you on any varsity teams? Believe it or not. My only friend in high school was Cathy W. A gorgeous strawberry blond who had transferred to our farm town hick High from one of the most infamous high schools in SoCAL, one of the best football teams in the state, and where she had been a cheerleader for three years. She wanted to try out at our school and begged me to try with her. Knowing it was a popularity contest and that I had absolutely no chance of winning, I said "o.k." 12 girls tried for 6 positions. 3 of the girls fell during their individual cheer, 1 threw up, which left he odds better and better. Cathy had taught me one of her former schools cheers, which was new, catchy, and different, and I won a spot. For the first three games I stood frozen on the fifty yard line with 5 other girls screaming in unison. I am still embarrassed that I was a cheerleader... on the varsity squad.

9. Did you ever get suspended or expelled? Never. That is not to say I didn't pull a stunt or two. I ditched more times than I can tell you. Even Miss Jarvis the attendance clerk knew that I was ditching, but never turned me in. Her famous line was "Oh S'mee. You see so much tragedy for someone so young!" Whenever I wanted to ditch, which was a heck of a lot of times, I would just read the obits, find a name and a time for the funeral and write myself an off campus pass, signing mother dear's name in her perfect handwriting and off I'd go to "Aunt/Uncle" Soinso's last event. Sad.

10. Is there anything you wish you would have done or participated in during high school, but didn’t? I wish I had taken more difficult classes than I did. I got mostly A's and a few B's all through school, and yet, never took a science class, never took any math above algebra, never took a language.

11. Who were your favorite teachers? Mr. Paulson, because he believed I could be better than I was... and he told me so in a way I knew he wasn't just being kind.

12. Where did you sit at lunch? I would grab a large apple from the lunch line and hide in the library until I started dating Thor. It was his last semester in school. So we would grab an apple and sit at a table in the commons and talk until class. When he graduated I went back to the library.

13. School mascot: My name is S'mee, and that's no lie. I'll be a Bulldog until I die.

Yes, that is the cheer every girl wants to yell as an introduction to the opposing team, who's cheerleaders actually cheer fabulously and their teams always win. You're great! You're a Patriot! I? I am a DOG! oy.

14. School colors: mustard and ketchup, with an occasional splash of white. It looked really delicious during graduation, not.

15. Did you go to homecoming and who with? Once with a boy my mom set me up with. A boy from a group home for bad boys...what was she thinking? And twice with Thor, his and then mine.

16. If you could go back and do it again, would you? Not on your life. I hated high school. I hated pretty much everything about my life at that time...except meeting and dating, and eventually marrying Thor.

17. What do you remember most about graduation? That my mom and dad didn't attend, no one in my family did. But my boy friend's dad stood in the heat, in front of several hundred people and took a photo of every single graduate because he didn't know who were my friends and he wanted me to have a photo of my friends at graduation. He thought it was important that I remembered the day. I don't remember too much about it. I don't remember who I walked with, or what was said, I don't remember our class song or motto. But I do remember my now father law standing in the heat snapping up roll after roll of film to give me a memory.

18. Where did you go on Senior Skip Day? Who knows? I ditched so many days, "Senior Ditch Day" wasn't much of a thrill!

19. Were you in any clubs? Speech Club. See above. In the annual photo of our group we stood inside a planter with large leaves going up my skirt. I remember thinking my feet were getting dirty. And then, just as they flashed the photo, the girl next to me put her arm around me in a way that made me very uncomfortable; which you can tell by the expression of "WHAT THE HECK?" towards her, now captured for posterity on page 134 in the yearbook.

20. Have you gained weight since then? No. I am still 98 pounds. ahem.

21. Who was your prom date? Thor. Went to his: "Beginnings!" He went to mine: "From Here to Eternity!" He was my density.

22. Are you planning on going to your 10 year reunion? I didn't plan on going to any reunions. I hated High School and wanted nothing to remind me of it. Then at, not the 10th, but the 20th, I was convinced by a friend to attend. It was a mistake. I regret that. ugh. I won't go to another one.

23. Did you have a job while in high school? yup. I was a "nanny/housekeeper/slave" for a Dentist and his Hippy-mother wife, was a hair salon grunt, lied about my age to work at Del Taco at 14 1/2 because mom said I had to "earn my clothes from then on!" Lucky for me big brother and older Sis both worked there already and backed up my lie. I also did laundry/ironing, and sold "Current Stationery" door to door.

24. Worst class? PE I didn't like to sweat, even back then. I didn't like getting naked and showering in front of other people. I didn't understand why we all had to learn all the different sports, just to be humiliated by the girls who could kick, hit, throw, bounce, whatever better than all of us. Why couldn't I just swim all year? Or do sit ups? Or run like a maniac? Noooooo! I had to learn how to run out to the parking lot, crawl under a car and grab a tennis ball every five minutes for three weeks until they could find another way to make me crazy.

25. Favorite class? Art. By far. I adored it. I got happily lost there. I got to paint the actual walls and doors of the art department, inside and out with murals I designed. (Some of those paintings were still there after 20 years!) It was amazing. I loved it.

O.k. folks, your turn if you wish! Let me know if you do, I'd love to hear your story!

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Friday, May 01, 2009


Thanks (once again, seriously, this woman has so many great posts!!!) to Real Mom, I offer the following video. This is aimed at teenagers, but really, where do they get their life style from? Us.

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Teenage Affluenza

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

back in the pink

oy. It's been a weekend, let me tell ya! We went down to San Diego for a wedding and afterward we went dinner with friend at the California Pizza Kitchen. I was the only one to get a house salad...and I was the only one who ended up getting ILL!

At first I thought it was the salad, food poisoning, but after three days of "recycling" food and then some, I guess it was indeed just a flu. Low grade fever, CHILLS, and lots of harsh "ralphing", "tossing my cookies" or whatever euphemism you choose, achy, stiff neck and joints, and MAN!--- I changed the diagnosis!

Today I feel much better, still stiff, but I think that is just the arthritis kicking me in the knees. So wahooo! Good to be back!

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