Friday, July 31, 2009
It seems like every time my kids ask for something, my first reaction is to say No. Though I usually phrase it a little more nicely and say "Not right now." But really, it means no. I'm just hoping they'll forget about it.
But now I'm trying hard to not let that be my automatic response. It's really pretty hard - it seems like they always ask for something just when I'm trying to fix dinner or do the laundry or change a diaper. So then of course my instinct is to say no, because I'm too busy to do it right now.
But I'm trying to be better about it. I'm listening closer to what they ask for and actually thinking about before I respond. I'm not just automatically responding with "not right now." But I still have a hard time just saying Yes right off the bat. Like I said, they always seem to ask to do a craft or play with puzzles or otherwise do something that requires my participation right when I don't have a hand to spare. So instead, my response tends to be "In a minute." I'm putting them off, but I do try to actually follow through after I finish what I'm doing.
So I'm not to the point of saying Yes yet, but I'm making progress. "In a minute" beats "not right now." I'll keep working on it!
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
We started by saying hello to the farm animals that wander around:
The pig is named Bacon Bits, which made me laugh. Haley preferred to call the pig Fatty Fatty Pig Pig.
Next we wandered through the store and the kids picked out vegetables that they wanted to take home and eat. I found some yellow squash for myself - you know how I love yellow squash!
Then it was time for the real fun. We got to ride in a wagon towed by a tractor that took us out to the raspberry fields. This was the highlight of Preston's day, since he loves tractors. Brekken seemed to enjoy it, too.
Preston very much enjoyed eating the raspberries later at home. Haley refused to try a single one. :rolleyes:
If they help clean up this Saturday, I've promised we can go back - they're opening the strawberry fields for picking. Haley loves strawberries, so she's very motivated to earn another trip to the farm!
Monday, July 27, 2009
It was just an upholstered armchair on a spring so it would rock back and forth, but I loved sitting in it. I remember fighting with my brother over who got to sit in the chair - which was more than big enough for two, but we didn't want to share. When I got my turn, I would happily sit in that chair for ages just enjoying it. As long as I didn't turn my back on the basement door.
I was always scared of that basement. There was no good reason - it wasn't a dark and scary cellar. It was a nicely finished basement with spare bedrooms, carpeting, the whole deal. But I was always scared of it. My beloved chair sat right next to the basement door, so I always oriented myself so as to have a view of the door. Just to be safe.
It wasn't until years later that I figured out why I'd always been afraid of the basement. I went to a family funeral and my cousin Terry was speaking. And he talked about how Grandma Great always told all the kids that there were ghosts in her basement! It was her method of keeping kids from going down there and getting into things that were off limits. No wonder I'd always been afraid, Grandma Great told me it was haunted! It obviously worked on me - I NEVER went into that basement without Grandma Great!
Interesting side note (at least, interesting to me!), my cousin Terry said he was always getting into trouble for sneaking down into the basement. Apparently this was because he had always mis-heard Grandma Great. He thought there were GOATS in the basement and he desperately wanted to see them! =)
Friday, July 24, 2009
Apparently, Grandma and Grandpa drove to Denver for a business meeting that Grandpa needed to attend. The plan was for Grandpa to go to his meeting while Grandma and the kids (not sure what ages they were at that point) entertained themselves for the day and then picked Grandpa up that evening.
The meeting was in downtown Denver. If you haven't been here, I'll tell you that downtown is a mess of one-way streets. Sometimes you have to circle around your destination a time or two before you can figure out how to get to it coming from the allowed direction. It can be very confusing if you're not used to it.
Apparently, Grandpa found it pretty confusing. He circled the block where his meeting was being held many times as he tried to figure out how to negotiate the one-way streets in such a way as to go down the street to reach the building he was aiming for. After several attempts, he finally came to the street he needed and turned the corner. Only to see the oncoming traffic on the one-way road headed right for them.
Thinking quickly, Grandpa whipped the car out of the path of traffic and into a loading area. He then proclaimed, "I can walk from here. Pick me up tonight." And he left. Grandma had to figure out how to get the car out of the loading area and headed the right direction!
When he told me the story - what, 40 years or so after it happened? - Grandpa was still laughing and thought it was funny. Grandma was still mad. =)
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
I'm a little bit of a snob about the popcorn, though. I hate microwave popcorn with its weird chemical butter flavoring. So I always pop popcorn in the hot air popper. I learned a neat trick to make the popcorn pop up better!
Before making popcorn on the stove or in an air popper, soak the kernels in water for 10 minutes. Drain the water and dry the kernels, then pop as normal. The additional moisture helps the popcorn pop up quicker and fluffier with fewer “old maids.”
So that's what's working for me this week. Check out the Works for Me Wednesday blog carnival at We Are That Family to see what's working for others!
Monday, July 20, 2009
On Friday night, we took the kids to a party at the library. They have been participating in a summer reading program at the library and it wrapped up last week. The library threw a nice party with games and food and a puppet show. The puppet show was a big hit with Haley and Preston. We had a good time up to the point that Preston - totally out of nowhere - suddenly threw up all over himself. We tried to clean up around us as best as possible (I really hope that no one tried to go sit on that patch of grass later on!), stripped Preston out of the nasty clothes and headed home. But we had fun up to that point! I'm sad that I missed out on Girls' Night, but had a good time with my family.
Saturday was a big cleaning day at home. I managed to get the dining room, living room, and kitchen cleaned up. I even convinced the kids that it's a fun new game to scrub the hardwood floors with a sponge! =) Then bathtime for everyone so we were ready to head out when Aaron got home from work. There's a theater group here that is only for 10- to 18-year-olds and they were putting on a production of "Bye, Bye Birdie." We really enjoyed the musical... maybe some of the singing and acting wasn't the finest, but it was a lot of fun to see the kids in the play having so much fun! We knew a couple of the kids and directors (the reason we were going in the first place) so that made it even more fun. Haley is still talking about the show and singing some of the songs. Brekken really enjoyed it also - he bounced and danced to the songs and loved clapping whenever the audience applauded. So I missed seeing the new Harry Potter movie, but enjoyed the musical very much. (By the way, if you live in my neighborhood, check out Prairie Playhouse and take in an upcoming show.)
Sunday was church, of course, and then a BBQ and goodbye party for our good friend Mary Alice. I've known Mary Alice since shortly after I moved to Colorado (10+ years now). There was a good group of us that hung out together every weekend back when we were all single. And as we met our husbands and got married, Mary Alice organized all of our bachelorette parties (we owe her a HUGE blowout when she gets married!). We have had so many good times together. We are so sad that she is moving away, but glad that she has an exciting new job and will be close to her family in Indianapolis. The BBQ was a great time and I'm so glad we got a chance for one more party with Mary Alice before we had to say goodbye.
Friday, July 17, 2009
You just slice it thin and sautee it in a little butter or olive oil. As it cooks, add salt and pepper and just a bit of brown sugar. (I've never measured the amount, I just take a healthy pinch from the package). It doesn't make the squash sweet, but it somehow carmelizes and makes the squash brown up nicely. It tastes so good. I would make squash with dinner every night if I could!
I planted some squash plants this year specifically so that I could have my own supply of yellow squash and be able to make it for dinner several times a week. Unfortunately, my garden did not thrive this year. The peas and carrots and strawberries I planted never sprouted at all. Of all the squash seeds I planted (and it was quite a few - I really wanted a lot of squash) only two plants came up. And on those plants, only one lonely blossom. So maybe I'll get a squash by the end of the summer. In the meantime, I guess it's off to King Soopers and the farmer's market for me. Maybe next year's garden will be more successful!
(And if you have extra yellow squash in your garden, I'll gladly take it off your hands! ;) )
Thursday, July 16, 2009
In spite of the treatments, he continued to go downhill to the point that we could tell he just didn't have any quality of life any more. We finally made the difficult decision that it was time for him to go and made an appointment with the vet for euthanasia.
Last night and today we encouraged the kids to hold and pet George and took some pictures with him. Before his appointment we all hugged him and petted him and told him goodbye. It was rough on the kids and hard for them to understand. It was rough on me, too. I've had George for 11 years, since he was a tiny kitten. It was hard to let him go and hard not to feel like I was betraying him by sending him away to die. We all cried quite a bit when it was time for him to go to the vet.
Aaron was sweet enough to offer to take George for the actual appointment. He knew I couldn't deal with being there. When he got to the vet, they gave George a quick exam and told Aaron that the fluid treatments weren't helping with the kidney failure anymore and that he was in heart failure as well. No wonder he hadn't felt good. They reassured Aaron that we'd made the right decision and that euthanasia was the best thing for George at this point. Aaron said George was very calm and just went to sleep. It was very quick.
It was hard all over again when Aaron got home and the kids asked where George was. We had to explain again that he had died and wouldn't be coming home to our house again. We had told the kids that George was going to heaven and that seemed to reassure Haley because she said that she was glad that George was going to live with God. Of course, later Haley informed me that she had said a prayer and asked God to send George home to us again once he was feeling better. I'm hoping I dealt with that the right way, but who knows...
At any rate, it's been kind of a rotten day here at our house. Hopefully everyone will feel a bit better by tomorrow.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
I LOVE to eat out. Even with the frustrations that go along with taking three small children to a restaurant, I will always jump at the chance to go eat somewhere new. But it gets expensive to take The Five of Us out to a restaurant.
Luckily, my sister-in-law (thanks, Jen!) instroduced me to a website called Restaurant.com. At Restuarant.com, you can buy gift certificates to lots of different restaurants for a reduced price. For instance, a $25 gift certificate usually costs only $10. But it's still worth $25 off your bill at the restaurant! After you purchase, you just print the gift certificate right on your own printer - no waiting for it to arrive in the mail. Super convenient.
As a bonus, the website often runs specials that reduce the price of the gift certificates even further. You just have to stop in often (or sign up for e-mail alerts) to see what specials are running. For example, last week they ran a 70% off special... so I bought $25 gift certificates for only $3 each! With that kind of price cuts, I can afford eating out a lot more easily.
You do have to read the fine print before you buy... some restaurants require a certain $$ purchase before you can use the gift certificate (for example, $35 to use a $25 gift certificate). Some tell you up front that they will automatically add the tip to your bill when you use the gift certificate (so that you don't accidentally stiff the wait staff by not tipping based on the full price of the meal). Some limit the days of the week that you can use the gift certficate (Sun - Thurs is a common limitation). But for me, these are all things I can work around - and well worth it for the great discounts on a meal that I don't have to cook!
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Then I read this blog about saying Yes. Basically, the author says that her natural reaction is always to say No to her kids. And so is mine! No, that's going to make a mess. No, that means I have to get up from the couch where I finally had a chance to sit down for two minutes. No, I don't think you can do that without my help and I don't really want to do it. No, I don't really have a good reason for saying no - I'm just used to doing it.
And I realized that my reasons for saying no are not usually because I'm worried about safety or anything like that. Instead, it's selfishly motivated to avoid more work for myself! And that's not really fair to the kids. So I have set a new goal for myself to say Yes to my kids.
Yes! You can spread your own peanut butter on that sandwich. Yes! You can push the button to start the microwave. Yes! You can wear your gymnastics uniform to Melissa's house (I actually did say yes to this one). No, you can't play in the front yard by yourselves (because I have to draw a line somewhere!).
And while I'm at it, I'm going to try harder to be nice to my kids in general. Sometimes I forget that they're just being kids, and not really being obnoxious to make me mad. Even if that is the end result. So... this week, I'm saying yes and being nice. I'll let you know how that goes...
Monday, July 13, 2009
This book is about the different ways that men and women think when it comes to things like shopping, buying, and choosing various consumer goods. It provides lots of specific recommendations for ways to sell to men vs. selling to women.
Well, I chose this book from the list because I thought it would be an interesting look at the differences between men and women. Kind of like Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus with a shopping twist. And I guess that's kind of true, but I am just really not the intended audience for this book. The book is really for hardcore salespeople and marketing professionals. I think that those people would find the book valuable. But for someone just looking for an interesting read, it didn't hit the mark for me. I found the writing style dry and textbook-like. It very much took me back to my college days and I really felt I had to plow through the material to finish the book. The illustrations and tables were small, black-and-white, and didn't grab my attention.
Overall, I would only recommend this book to a serious marketing or sales professional. Otherwise, I don't think you'll enjoy it or gain much from reading it.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
None of that happened. I could let myself feel bummed out that I didn't accomplish the things I hoped to do. Instead, I'm going to celebrate the small triumphs I experienced today.
I didn't really make any progress on potty training, but I did at least get him to put on underwear and agree to sit on the potty a couple of times. I didn't get all the dishes done, but I did do one load. And I figured out how to fix our malfunctioning garbage disposal while I was at it! I didn't get caught up on laundry - in fact it's worse than before (see the potty training issues above). I didn't clean the house or pull a single weed. The litterboxes still need to be changed. But I did go to the library with my children and spend some time cuddling with all of them while we read books and watched a movie from the library. The house and weeds and laundry will all be there tomorrow, so for today, I'm going to feel happy that I spent some time enjoying my children instead.
But whatever we do, it's nice to just have a little bit of lazy time laying around in bed with them all on a Saturday morning. It reminds me of how much I love my kids and love to just play with them.
Thursday, July 9, 2009
As I walked toward the retirement home, a girl was walking towards me. She was wearing a light sundress - it was flimsier than I would wear, but not really immodest. Apparently the old man in the courtyard didn't agree. He started shouting, "Hussy! Hussy!" and waving his cane in her direction.
I continued walking that way and realized someone was walking beside me. It was a woman (and I'm using the term a bit loosely) around 6' tall in sky-high heels and a tight, bright yellow dress. She also had big hands and feet and quite the pronounced Adam's apple. So we continued past the courtyard and the old man started yelling again. "Hussy! Hussy, hussy, hussy!"
That's when the woman turned to me and said - in a voice like Barry White's - "Do you suppose he means you or me? Oh well, I don't mind, I'll take the credit." Then she threw a kiss to the grumpy old man. Which of course infuriated him all the more and he began to shake his cane at us while continuing to shout "Hussy!"
It was all pretty strange - more suited for LoDo than downtown! But funny, too. Still, maybe I'll walk on the other side of the street tomorrow...
Every night as Haley says her prayers, she includes the line "And please keep us safe from monsters, bugs, and trucks."
Okay, monsters I understand. Lots of little kids are worried about monsters.
And bugs, yep. She definitely has issues with bugs.
But trucks? I don't know what that's about. I asked her why she needed to be safe from trucks, and she told me it was because they can run over you. I pointed out that she was asleep in her bed, so probably no trucks could get to her. Her only response was, "Well, you never know."
I guess that's true. You never know. I guess it's best to be safe! :D
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
I started saving the tubes every time we finish off a roll, and so now I have a good stockpile when the kids want to make another project. This site has a great list of toilet paper roll projects. We're slowly working our way through the list!
So that's what's working for me this week. Check out the Works for Me Wednesday blog carnival at We Are That Family to see what's working for others!
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Anyway, seeing the Mountain Man reminded me of my first experience with Mountain Man. Thinking of it made me laugh, so I thought I would share it.
When I moved to Colorado, I worked in downtown Denver in a big office building. There was a building-wide PA system that the staff at the security desk downstairs could use to make general announcements. Usually it was things like "The north elevator isn't working, use the other elevators." or "The phone systems are down and maintenance is working on it."
On this particular day, I was sitting at my desk when the PA system beeped. The announcement came: "Your attention please. The Mountain Man is in the building. I repeat, the Mountain Man is in the building."
That was all. No further explanation provided. I was very confused. Was this a joke? Was this some kind of code word? What did it mean?!?
I obviously looked very confused, because my office-mate tried to explain. "The Mountain Man is here."
That didn't really help me. She tried to explain further. "You know, nuts and fruit?"
Still confused. Finally she explained using short words and a loud voice. "The Mountain Man. He sells nuts and fruit. He's here. To sell nuts and fruit. Go downstairs if you want to buy some."
Tee-hee. Still makes me laugh to remember it!
Monday, July 6, 2009
This year, I was grateful that at the end of the day I could go back down the mountain to my sister Melissa's warm, dry house! But instead of jumping right into the middle of the story, let me start at the beginning...
We got to Vernal (Utah) on Thursday night. It was too late to head up the mountain to see people already at the reunion, but at least Grandma and Grandpa (my parents) were still at their house. The kids were thrilled to have a chance to go see them right away. We went for a quick dinner at Taco Time (we always have to eat there when we're in Vernal, because we don't have one here) we went to my sister's house. She was already camping, but was nice enough to let us stay there. She has a really nice house, and within the next year she will need to completely rearrange it! I say this because my kids immediately found all the areas that were not childproof. Within minutes there were little fingers poking at the buttons on the TV and stereo, trying to shove things into the VCR, slamming the doors of the TV armoire, pulling the nightlights out of the outlet, trying to spin around on the barstools... yikes! We did a lot of quick rearranging to try and keep things out of reach and otherwise protected. Melissa and Brian are expecting a new baby in a few months, so we've offered to lend them our children for a few hours to help them see the things that they'll need to move when babyproofing! ;)
The next morning we headed up the mountain. It was cloudy and cool, so out came the jackets. We took the kids for a walk through the meadow and to explore some of the places I liked to play as a kid. Brekken was a little freaked out by all the nature at first, but he soon decided he really liked it. For the rest of the weekend, he was constantly taking off trying to go exploring on his own. It was exhausting keeping up with him.
The kids had fun playing with uncles, aunts, and cousins!
It rained pretty hard that evening, but our family is used to some rain. We always have tarps set up to gather under during the rain. That can be fun in itself!
Preston tried to get a drink from the falling rain.
Then we had to head down the mountain before the campfire really got going, because we still had shopping to do for the big family breakfast the next morning. (We were feeling glad that we wouldn't be camping the cold rain!)
On Saturday morning we headed up the mountain bright and early to get ready for the breakfast. I was a little worried when we got to the campsite and my parent and grandparents were the only people up and around. But everyone else soon showed up and we went into a frenzy of fruit preparation. We got it all ready (a little late, but oh well) and everyone seemed to really like the breakfast.
The rains came down and the floods came up!! The rain poured and poured. Puddles began growing. Little streams ran past our feet. And then bigger streams...
And then the hail began. It pounded us for a while. It was so loud that you couldn't hear the person next to you speaking!
After almost an hour of this, everything slowly tapered off. We were grateful for the break in the weather and I quickly took the chance to go get our coats from the car. We were all at least a little damp and cold! Everyone tried to put things back in order after the big storm. After about 20 minutes of this, I decided it was chilly and wet enough that I was going to go put all the kids in the car for a little bit to warm them up. So my brother was helping me gather kids to head for the car when the skies opened up again. Everyone came running back to the canopy trying to escape the hail that was pelting them. This was worse than before! There was so much hail on the ground it looked like it was snowing. It was piling up everywhere, including on top of the canopies. The canopy over the country store (where several people had taken shelter) suddenly began to collapse from the weight! So my parents and brother had to run out and try to rescue the collapsing canopy in the midst of the rain and hail. They were able to get it (kind of) stabilized again. It was about another hour of all this. There was finally a small break and we all made a dash for our cars. Then we sat in the cars for another long while through yet another round of rain and hail.
By this time, it was time for the big potluck lunch. But as we crunched and slid through the piles of hail and mud from the last go round, we could see the clouds building to start it all again. The decision was finally made that they every group would get enough pulled pork and buns for themselves and take that back to camp to eat it with whatever potluck items they had. An unpopular decision with some people, but really, what else could we do? We're used to eating lunch in a bit of rain, but this was something else entirely! So we managed to get food back over to our family's camp area. We were even able to put the piles of hail to good use as a camp refigerator!
Some people had more trouble than others... the rains left the ground so muddy that everyone's cars were getting bogged down and stuck. My cousins Casey and Bud have big jacked up trucks... I've always said that there is no reason to have such a huge, jacked up monstrosity, but I guess I was wrong. In this particular situation, there is a reason for them! Casey and Bud were able to get all of the stuck vehicles out of the mud and on their way.
It rained some more while we ate, but not quite as bad. Then... the sun came out!! It was warm enough to take off the heavy coats and play a little.
But the mud... oh, the mud! It was thick and black and slippery and everywhere.
We tried to keep the kids out of the worst of it. But we were not successful.
That was kind of the last straw for our family. Since we had the option, we decided to head down the mountain to Melissa's house and give our muddy kids a bath.
After a bath (and the resultant scrubbing of Melissa's tub) we decided to go to the park and watch the fireworks. Haley and Preston were very excited for the first few minutes - there were many oohs and aahs and excited squeals. Brekken didn't really like it at all. After a few minutes, Preston was done and started asking to leave. Haley stuck it out for a couple more minutes, but then she wanted to go, too. So we left early. Went back to Melissa's and went to bed.
Meanwhile, back on the mountain... the storms had returned. Even worse than the ones we'd been through! Apparently they were all huddled under the canopies constantly trying to push the water and hail off before the canopies were collapsed from the weight. Our group's canopies survived, but some others in the family had theirs destroyed by the storm. Tents and trailers leaked, everyone was wet and cold. Again - this year I'm glad I wasn't camping!
On Sunday morning, the weather was sunny and warm. We joined the campers for our traditional Sunday breakfast of dutch oven potatoes and eggs and sausage and bacon. Yum!!
We had a great time visiting with everyone and managed to keep Haley and Brekken out of the mud. (Preston - not so much.)
We all celebrated my grandfather's 80th birthday - how convenient that it comes around at reunion so we're all together already!
We also celebrated my cousin Laura's engagement. Her boyfriend John came to reunion with her and somehow (between the storms) they managed to find time for a walk in the meadow, where he proposed. Congratulations!
And then the clouds began to build again and Aaron and I tried to say our goodbyes and get out before the next storm hit. We made it to the main highway, but then we had to pull over to the side of the road and wait it out. (Our windshield wipers still aren't working!) After that, though, it was a pretty smooth trip home.
So not the idyllic reunion that I described in my memory posts, but definitely one that will be remembered!!