Monday, October 26, 2009

How to

How to write four resumes on the first day the kids are off track*--

~ Beg neighbor to invite Jesse over for a play date. Thank heavens that neighbor says yes. Thank heavens for neighbor.

~ Get big bucket of toys from off-rotation stash in furnace room. Order remaining kids to stay in Haley's room playing with said toys.

~ When kids get tired of said toys and promise to play outside quietly but instead torment, bicker, and run in and out incessantly, banish them back to bedrooms.

~ Promise lunch at Sonic in exchange for continued cooperation.

~ Deliver on lunch at Sonic, thereby saving hassle of serving lunch at home.

~ Let kids watch a movie.

~ When daughter says, "Hey, Mom?" cut to the chase and respond, "No."

~ Since exercise time isn't going to make the cut today, engage in power shopping. Try to do a week's shopping, get it home, and make dinner in 35 minutes. Load even big kids into shopping cart, along with 200 pounds of groceries. Notice elevated heart rate as you schlep all to van.

~ Serve homemade soup for dinner--frozen from a double batch last week.

~ When husband arrives home and volunteers to do dinner dishes, sneak away for a long, hot shower.

* Not recommended. Do not try this at home.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday Roundup, Too Much Edition

~ 1 ~

This week has been too much for me. Not sure which straws broke the camel's back. I keep thinking of an interview I heard with a female NASCAR driver who said that she always tries to drive just on this edge of losing control and crashing--because that's where the speed is. I think I generally organize my life to be just this side of too much--because that's where growth and happines are. Also the potential for wipe out.

~ 2 ~

In 90 minutes, my elementary school kids will be off track, meaning they'll be home for the next three weeks. For the first two weeks, they'll annoy each other and me. In the last week, they'll hit their stride and remember how to make their own fun together. Then we'll have the trauma of getting back on our school schedule.

~ 3 ~

It's been two months since Malory went home, and we haven't heard a word about a new foster daughter. Where is our baby?

(Don't think too hard about the senseless disconnect betweens items 3 and 1.)

~ 4 ~

Because the kids are going off track, they had their school Halloween parties today. Out with the big buckets of costumes. Logan is Death. Levi is Harry Potter. Haley is a fairy princess. Jesse will not be the devil again, because it's just not funny anymore.

I think sweat suits are the key to successful Halloween costumes. They're practically one size fits all, they keep the kids warm under impractical costumes, and they're an easy base. Add horns to a red one and you're the devil. Add a tuu-tuu to a pink one and you're a princess.

~ 5 ~

Last night Roscoe and I went to a lovely dinner party hosted by my talented cousin Bethany in honor of her sister Annie, visiting from New York. Bethany does it all up right, and it was fun for me to introduce Roscoe to the world of adult dinner parties. I coached him in advance on how to say to the person next to him, "And how do you know Annie and Bethany?" and how to keep a conversation going by asking follow-up questions.

~ 6 ~

You can teach your kids to memorize their phone number by having them sing it to the tune of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star."

~ 7 ~

Speaking of DCFS, I just realized that our foster care license expires next week and we have done 0 of the 12 training hours we need to relicense. *sigh* I'm gonna have to beg for an extension and take a bunch o classes pronto.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ancestral Homeland

This weekend we drove to Mark's ancestral homeland.
First, we went to The Ranch, where Mark's ninety-five-year-old Grandma still has a couple dozen cattle and where a huge, delightful pack of cousins, second cousins, aunts, and uncles has set up their own little village. Dirt roads connect five different households, and we walked along visiting one after another. The boys went down to the ranch proper to fix fence--a real cowboy moment!--and then Uncle Dwight let them loose with his four wheeler, Jeep, and motorbike.

Uncle Dwight shows Logan the ropes; in the background you can see some of the decades of detritus of the ranch.

Haley on the zip line.
Grandma Ruthie lights candles for Grandpa McGee's 69th birthday.

Mother and Son.

Then we drove up the mountain to The Cabin, an old WPA project that Mark's family loves like it's Shangra-La. We canoed, threw rocks into the lake, sipped hot chocolate, and told stories under our sleeping bags.

Grandpa teaches the boys poker.

In the morning, we had our own little sacrament meeting on the deck with Mark's parents. My favorite moment: When Logan volunteered to share his testimony and said, "I really love you guys."

Nothing like some clean desert air and cool mountain breezes to blow the baloney right outta a city kid.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

Of the hundreds of items that flow in and out of this house, these are some of my favorites. The ones that make me say, "Oh bless you, modern industrial complex!"

Merona Cardigans

The ultimate wardrobe expander. These lovely little cardies are from Merona at Target. They're a multi-tasking mid-weight--perfect with jeans, skirts, dresses, capris, whatever. Now you can wear your cute summer tops all winter long. Plus they cost only as much as a box of diapers. (Priorities, ladies!)


ClearPlay DVD Players

I don't know how families with tweens and teens function without these. The DVD player downloads "filters," which silence bad words and skip violent/sexy moments. Now your family can watch more movies without squirm-inducing moments. Plus the little kids don't end up parroting inappropriate lines that they don't understand.

Olay Cream Cleanser with Blemish Control

This cream cleanser is perfect. Salicylic acid, which keeps skin clear and is also good for aging skin, in a lovely cream with little, buffing microbeads. Makes your skin feel smooth and divine.


Windex Outdoor All-in-One

I kid you not, these are as magic as Magic Erasers. Hose down the window, swish the pad around a bit, hose again--and voila, crystal clear windows. No scrubbing, no ladders, no rags, no smudges, no hard water spots. We did our whole house--with one pad--in less than an hour on Saturday.



A tall, icy glass is my favorite indulgence/reward/therapy. Zero calories, lots of taste. Totally banishes chocolate cravings.

What are your favorite things--practical, indulgent, time-saving or otherwise?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Dirty Dishes Devotional

It's 9:30 on Sunday night and I come downstairs to this.

I'm grateful for this pile of dirty dishes because it reminds me of:

~ a day of plentiful, nutritious food, including spaghetti sauce made from the last of our garden tomatoes.
~ a Sabbath focused on spiritual enrichment, relaxation, and family time more than chores.
~ a batch of cookies made by Roscoe and shared with all the children.
~ my husband, who usually does the dinner dishes...
~ ...but who is still at church at this late hour, leaving the nonessentials behind to serve some family in need.
~ my dad, who installed that sleek new kitchen faucet for us.
~ a quiet opportunity for me to meditate on the Sabbath and listen to a General Conference talk on the computer.

I hope your Sabbath gave you a respite from the daily grind and provided some quiet moments to ponder on the plenty you enjoy!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me

I am now officially and totally on the bandwagon of Mormon moms who post smarmy messages all over their houses in vinyl. Remember our 6 Family Rules? They're now displayed--not too subtly--throughout the house, each in an area relating to its message.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Good Morning, Kids! playlist

Are you getting tired of hearing about my systems and schemes? Well, I'm afraid that's what I'm doing these days. (At least I've spared you details on the new system wherein kids use lingerie bags for their socks and undies thus sparing me the endless sorting.)

This year Roscoe has early morning seminary, so we all get up early for family scripture study and then have a full 90 minutes before anyone else has to leave for school. I decided we needed to use that time to good effect, so I devised a scheme that divides the time into three 30-minute periods:

1. Quiet time. You can go back to bed for a while, lounge on the couch, read, eat breakfast, whatever. Just don't speak to Mom. This is heavenly. I love having some quiet time to enter the day slowly.

2. Music time. I made a 33-minute playlist, which you can see some of on the sidebar. When the music starts, everyone kicks it into gear. The rule is that you've got to be 100% ready for school by the time the music stops. I play it in the same order every time so the kids can gauge their progress. This has drastically cut down on the nagging around here. Plus everyone is kind of bopping around happily and singing along instead of grousing at each other.

(The blogger playlist app didn't include Little Richard's rendition of "Rubber Duckie," which is a hit of the morning. "Who Let the Dogs Out" would make me want to stick a needle in my eye except for the fact that it makes the kids so dang happy. I did do myself a solid by omitting Cake's "Mahna Mahna," which the kids would have loved, but still...I have limits.)

3. Homework/reading time. We don't do homework after school anymore! I sit at the table and sign planners and notes. Or I sit on the couch and supervise someone's reading.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


Angela to Logan: When you play with the little kids, can you work on... [struggling to articulate the concept] ...making them feel confident and comfortable instead of, like, terrorized and overwhelmed?

Logan: Sure!

[Angela and Mark look at each other in satisfaction.]

Logan: Hey, Haley! Levi! Wanna play death tag?

[Angela and Mark's countenances fall.]

Logan, continuing: I'll chase you with my scythe!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Smart Family

Remember Elizabeth Smart? Now she's twenty-one and about to leave on an LDS mission. By all accounts, she is a graceful, talented, accomplished, and strong young woman. Last week she testified in court and revealed more about the horror of her nine-month abduction.

I can't stop thinking about her ability to rebound after that devastating experience. What depth of faith she must have as she approaches her mission. And her family. Their unceasing efforts kept her in the public eye so that a policeman on the street could recognize her and bring her home. They were strong enough to remain unified during those terrible nine months, and then strong enough to help Elizabeth rejoin the family afterwards.

In those circumstances, many families would crumble and fail. What can I do to build a family strong enough to weather any storm?