Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I'm calling about a marriage license...

Apparently, my office phone number is just a bit too close to the number for the Marriage Licenses department for the city of Denver. My area code is 303 and the Marriage License department is area code 720, but the phone number is the same.

I get many calls every week from people who have questions about marriage licenses. I always answer the phone with "Nurse-Family Partnership. This is Tara." There are three types of callers:
  1. The people who actually listen to what I say when I answer the phone and realize they have a wrong number. They usually apologize and I give them the correct phone number. Sometimes they just hang up on me.
  2. The people who don't listen to what I say when I answer the phone and just barrel ahead with their questions. I politely explain that they have the wrong number and I give them the correct phone number.
  3. The people who listen to what I say when I answer the phone, but somehow assume that I still know the marriage license requirements for the city of Denver. They ask me their questions and I explain that they have the wrong number. They respond with "But I just want to know _____." And I explain that I don't know the answer because they have the wrong number. Then they usually get angry with me and tell me that this is the number they got online/in their paperwork/from a friend/etc. When I explain that the area code is wrong, they usually hang up on me at that point.
So in case you were wondering, I don't know what paperwork you need, whether you have to have a blood test, or the waiting period for getting married in Denver! But I can give you a phone number to call... ;)

Monday, March 30, 2009

A confession...

I hate going to church.

There, I've said it! I know it's a terrible thing to admit to, but right now it's really true. I dread Sundays so much.

It's nothing to do with the religion part of church or the people at church. Still love all of that. It's just the stress of dealing with my kids on Sunday mornings!

Since we have early church right now, I get up at 6:30 to get showered and dressed and gather all the snacks and diapers and sippies and everything else needed for the kids. Then I try and drag everyone else out of bed and get them ready to go. Brekken is usually happy to get up and go, but he's the only one. Then I'm trying to get the kids fed and dressed for church while Aaron gets himself ready. On days like yesterday it's really hard because the kids are cranky and they don't want to eat (or at least they don't want to eat anything that I'm offering) so I'm fighting with them over every bite. But I can't just give up and let them not eat because they have to get through the next 2 1/2 - 3 hours before there's a chance to eat again. Then it's time to wrestle them into church clothes, which none of them want to put on.

By the time the kids and Aaron are ready to go, we're usually running late. That stresses me out, because I have to be there in time to lead the opening hymn. So if I come in late, it's really obvious. Then I have a bit of a break because Aaron takes Haley and Preston to Primary and I just have Brekken for the first two hours. Brekken is easy to deal with. Give him a snack or a bottle and a toy and he's happy. But then it's time for Sacrament meeting, and that's when things really go downhill...

Haley & Preston immediately start whining for snacks. So I'll often give them a little snack before the meeting starts. But that's never enough. And they're whining and tired of being there. And Preston wants to run off. And by that time Brekken is tired and cranky too. And Aaron always has to help pass the Sacrament, so he's not there to help. So as the meeting starts I'm trying to get them to be quiet and sit still and stop whining and all of that is made more difficult because I'm trying to do it at a whisper to try not to further annoy everyone sitting around us. Then the bread and water come around and I'm trying to manage to help the kids get some without Brekken diving headfirst into the tray or Preston helping himself to an entire handful instead of a single piece. And of course, the person passing the trays is standing there waiting to get the tray back as I'm trying to manage all of this and taking way longer than necessary. And then Preston cries because he wants more and Haley is usually whining at me about something or other. And neither of them will be quiet so everyone in the chapel gets to hear it all.

Things get a little better once Aaron comes back to sit with us after the Sacrament, but there's still so much whining and loudness and trying to escape under the benches and fighting with each other and on and on... I'm just so tired of it. I don't hear anything the speakers say because I'm always so busy dealing with the kids. By the end of church I'm tired and cranky right along with the kids.

I know it will get better as the kids get older, but right now that feels like a long time away!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Weatherman Who Cried Wolf

It seems like several times each winter, the weather reports start screaming about the huge storm that's barrelling down on us. "It's going to be huge!" they warn. "Snow measured in feet!" "Everything will be shut down!" "You'll be stuck in your homes for days!"

Almost every time, the storm fizzles out. The next day the embarrassed forecasters are scrambling to explain. "The storm changed it's track." "But look, it was a big storm in Nebraska!" "It lost it's force over the mountains."

So all of this is to explain why Aaron and I didn't take the forecasts seriously last night when they said, "It's going to be huge!" And so I went to work as usual. And it seemed like it would be fine. Even if the storm hit as predicted, it was supposed to hit in the afternoon. So as long as I caught the 3:00 bus, I would beat any storm coming in.

But around 8:00, the skies opened up and the storm came in. And it's bad. I'm sitting in my office and I can barely see the buildings across the street because of the whiteout conditions. And there's no bus scheduled to go to my area until 3:00. By which time the busses may well have stopped running. So now Aaron is on his way down to pick me up from work.

I feel so worried that he's out driving in this mess. I wish I had listened to the forecasts, but they're just so often wrong. Aaron and I even discussed it last night and agreed that they were probably exaggerating as they so often do. I guess maybe next time we'll pay attention. Of course, next time, the storm will probably change its track...

Playing Around

We're missing the nice warm weather that we had been enjoying. Whenever it's nice and warm in the evening, I take the kids to the park on the way home from daycare. They love to run around and play and I like the fact that they get some of that excess energy out before it's time to go home and deal with dinner and bedtime. We're hoping this cold and rainy/snowy weather goes away soon and spring returns so we can get back to the playground!



Haley looks like she's been watching too much America's Next Top Model... what a pose.

Brekken will be happy when he figures out the walking thing well enough to get out there with Haley & Preston.

We don't always manage to work out all the silliness before we head home! (That's Preston underneath the trash can.)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Dinner Time

This is what the kids and I made for their dinner last night:

Stuffed shells... stuffed with a turkey salad and topped with just a little shredded cheese. Seemed like something the kids would like. They enjoyed putting it together.

But this is what they actually ate for dinner:

They took a couple of bites of the stuffed shells and then refused to have any more. They ended up having cereal instead.
Aaron and I ate the stuffed shells and we thought they were pretty good. Next time I'll make a more grown-up version with a bechemel sauce instead of the shredded cheese and Aaron I will have it for dinner without the kids!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

JFK's Fishing License and a 2-Headed Calf

That's what was hanging on the wall next to our table at dinner last night. There were also autographed photos of Bill Clinton, Restless Heart, and a lot of other people we didn't recognize. And let's not forget the dozens and dozens of animal heads and stuffed animals displayed on all the walls. There's hardly an inch of space that isn't decorated with a buffalo head, a mounted fish, a stuffed duck, an entire antelope... the list goes on and on. Aaron and I commented that a vegetarian couldn't even walk in the door at the Buckhorn Exchange. They would take one look at the decor and curl up in a little ball on the floor and sob. I have to admit, it's pretty odd having all those animals hanging on all the walls.

We went to the Buckhorn Exchange for our anniversary dinner. Every year, we like to choose someplace that we could never go with the kids (in this case, because it's WAY too expensive) and go out for a nice evening instead of buying each other gifts. It's something we really look forward to. We chose the Buckhorn Exchange because it was featured in a show we watched on the Travel Channel. We'd actually been there once before a long time ago, but we wanted to try it again.

It was very nice. We got a table for two over against the wall... the aforementioned wall holding JFK's fishing license and the heads of a two-headed calf. The table had two armchairs instead of the usual wooden chairs... it felt very luxurious.

We had smoked salmon and onion & caper cream cheese on toast for an appetizer. MMMM. For dinner, I had a buffalo steak. It was delicious! It mostly just tasted like a really good beef steak, though.

Aaron was more adventurous and he chose a combo plate with duck, yak, and ostrich. Aaron liked it all very much. We traded some bites and I got to taste his yak and ostrich. The ostrich was very good... oddly, it didn't taste like poultry at all. I can't say what it did taste like; it's hard to describe. But not at all like chicken or turkey as you might expect. The yak was incredible! If we ever go back, I'm having yak for my entree. It's SO good. Like the best, most tender steak you've ever had. A little gamey, like elk or venison, but not a strong gamey taste. It's just incredibly good. If you ever get the chance to try yak, go for it!

It was such a nice evening. We rarely get out for an evening without the kids, so it was nice to just be able to eat and talk and not have to chase the kids as they escape or cajole them into eating dinner or convince them to sit still while we try to finish our own dinners. The kids went to Melissa's house for the night so her daughter Sarah could babysit. Sarah did such a great job that the kids didn't want to go home when we came to pick them up! So a good time was had by all!

Friday, March 20, 2009

If I had a superpower...

This is another one of those tag topics... the one I read made me laugh. And made me start to think. If I had a superpower, what would I want it to be?

It's a hard choice. I don't really want a superpower that would obligate me to go out and start fighting bad guys and saving the world. I have enough going on in my life, I don't have time to save the world too! No, I would just want a superpower that would make my current life a bit easier. What would it be?

X-ray vision so I can see through walls and know what the kids are up to?

Super speed so that I can keep up with my kids, race through my work, and get the housework done in minutes?

Flying so that I can save on gas and get to places I need to go more easily?

Extra arms and other gadgets that I can pop out at will so I can more things at once?

Hmmm... I think I could use any or all of these. But I think the one I would choose is the ability to move things with my mind. Some really strong telekinesis would be handy. Then I could be in the living room reading a book to my kids, but at the same time doing the dishes in the kitchen. I could feed the baby and get Preston a drink at the same time. I can think of all kinds of applications for this! Oh if only...

What superpower would you have?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Living with Preston

Preston is a very energetic, very imaginative child. He's a lot of fun, but he can be exhausting! Here's a taste of life with Preston... all of this happened in the course of one meal with him!

  • His chicken nuggets began to growl at him, and then started to bite him back.

  • He had to rub his tummy to be sure there were no bugs in there.

  • His chicken nuggets started to bite Mommy.

  • He made up a song and sang about how much he likes to shout at the cats.

  • His hand became a puppet. The puppet then proceeded to back-talk to Mommy and Daddy. Preston informed us that he couldn't get in trouble for back-talking because he was a good boy; only his hand was naughty!

  • He tried to balance his glass of milk on his head. (Luckily we caught it before a mess was made.)

  • He escaped to hide under the table.

  • After we dragged him out, he escaped again. He went down the hall and sat on the roller coaster toy. When we asked what he was doing, he informed us: "I'm pouting on the roller coaster because it's not my birthday."

Sadly, this is a pretty typical meal with Preston. Occasionally we actually get him to eat...

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Understanding Dora

After many years of watching Dora the Explorer with my kids and not understanding it, I think I finally have it figured out. There's a reason that the animals talk, a monkey can be an engineer, stars come down to visit on a regular basis, and the map can sing.

Dora is from another galaxy. That's right, she's an alien!

I was watching Dora yet again this morning and Dora needed to help rescue some space creatures. The map showed them where to go. The first step was to find the Milky Way. If Dora lived on Earth, she wouldn't have to find the Milky Way, she'd already be here!

What's more, when they got in their rocket ship (and surely only an alien culture would give a rocket ship to a monkey and a 7-year-old) and blasted off, they could clearly see the entire Milky Way off in the distance. So obviously, they were starting from somewhere outside the Milky Way.

There you go, Dora is explained. This also explains a lot about her cousin Diego...

Friday, March 13, 2009

My Strangest Fear

I got tagged on this one and thought it could be fun...

I actually have two strange fears.

The first is that I'm afraid my car will catch fire while I'm putting gas in it. I'm especially afraid that it will catch fire with my kids all strapped into their carseats in the back. I try my hardest not to ever get gas if my kids are in the car. If I do have to fill up when they're with me, I rehearse in my mind the fastest way to get them all unbuckled and out of the car in an emergency.

I know, I know, it's weird! I told you it was. In my defense though, my brother's car actually did catch fire when he was fueling up. It burned up completely in a matter of minutes!

The second strange fear is... I'm scared of vampires. Isn't that ridiculous? I even remember when it started. I read a book in 4th grade that was about vampires and it scared me to death. For a couple of years - yes, years - I slept with a shaker of garlic powder under my pillow! This is only because my mom wouldn't allow me to keep actual garlic or a stake under my pillow.

These days, three of my favorite series are the Twilight, House of Night, and Queen Betsy books. All about vampires of course. And I read them and enjoy them immensely. And then I put them down and forget about them. Until I have to leave for work in the morning. And it's still dark. And there's no one else awake and moving around on my street. And the little voice in my head starts reminding me that not all vampires are nice like the Cullens... and just maybe... And then I hurry to the car and turn up the radio so that I can pretend I'm not a 4th grader at heart!

There, now I shared and you've been tagged. What's your strangest fear?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Goodnight Moon

I'm often amazed by my kids' vivid imaginations. Tonight as we drove home, I pointed out to the kids that the moon was very large as it was rising. Then I listened as their imaginations took over.

They held a deep discussion about the moon. Where does he live? (In a moon house.) Who lives there with him? (His mom and his kids and his little girl.) What is his name? (Blah Blah Wow Wow.) What is his mom's name? (Clo-ney. She is also a moon.) What are his kid's named? (Zachary and Joiny are his boys. Clomey and Wonder are his girls.)

Then they decided that is was time for Mr. Moon to head back to his moon house and get to bed. To help him out, they sang him a good night song. After a bit of discussion, they decided that Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam was not a good night song because it was about sun. They decided to sing Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star because it was about stars and moons like stars. Then they shouted "Good night, Mr. Moon!" and were quite convinced that he closed his eyes and went to sleep. They were very proud of themselves for singing him to sleep.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Kids in the Kitchen

At Haley's preschool this month, they have been making their own snacks. This has made Haley want to do a lot of cooking at home, too. So we've been looking for recipes that are easy for kids to help out with. I thought I'd share a couple!

This one is Haley's current favorite. She asks for it at least once a day. Doesn't really count as a recipe... Just a reminder that it's a good snack, I guess! Sliced apples with a little slice of cheddar cheese on the apple slice. It's yummy!

Another easy, healthy snack... Put a spoonful of peanut butter on a plate with slices of apples and bananas. My kids really like to dip the fruit in the peanut butter.

Last night we made roast beef roll-ups. They were SO good. And very simple. I laid out all the ingredients and let the kids put their own together. The rolling and eating was a little messy, but at least they ate! Just take slices of roast beef and spread a thin layer of cream cheese in the center of the slice. Add a spoonful of rice. Drizzle a little teriyaki sauce over the rice. Add your choice of veggies... we used carrots, avocado, and red peppers. Roll it up and eat it. Delish!

This morning we made chocolate chip muffins for breakfast. I was out of all-purpose flour so I used cake flour. I think that made the batter too thin, so all the chocolate chips ended up at the bottom of the muffins. They were still very tasty.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease or line 12 muffin cups.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Stir in the milk, egg, butter and chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups.
Bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.

We have quite a few other recipes that the kids want to try. I'll post the ones that turn out well!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Running to Him

I read this article in the Ensign this morning and really loved the reminder that our Heavenly Father is there for us even when we are at our lowest points.
Marcy Zabriskie, "Running to Him," Ensign, Feb 2009, 35

Years ago my son Derek competed in a much-anticipated track meet. For three long years of his young life, he had prepared for and hoped to win the two-mile race, and now watched with the crowd gathered near the finish line, it seemed the race would last forever. Finally, Derek crossed the finish line first, and the crowd burst into cheers. He was immediately surrounded by coaches, teammates, and friends, all patting him on the back and offering congratulations. Derek seemed relieved and thrilled to have finally accomplished his goal.

I noticed, however, that in the tangle of the congratulatory crowd, he was frantically scanning the field as though he wanted to be somewhere else. Soon Derek bolted across the field. I watched, with tears in my eyes, as he ran with arms outstretched into the open arms of his father—the place he wanted to be. I recorded that moment in my mind—a moment when I saw just how much our son loves and needs his dad.

Derek's preparation for this event had not been easy. There were times of discouragement, disappointment, and sometimes complete despair. But Derek had the constant support of his greatest fan—his father! In rain, wind, sleet, or snow my husband was at every race offering Derek encouragement.

At those races my husband stood apart from the other spectators at what I considered an odd place. He wasn't at the finish line or even along the final stretch, but at a distant corner on the far side of the field. Once I asked him why he stood there. I will never forget his answer. He said, "I stand at the place my son needs me the most. He does not need my encouragement at the beginning of the race—he's excited, positive, and ready to win. He does not need those cheers at the end, when the finish line is clearly in sight. He needs to know I'm there at the most challenging moment—when his legs burn and he feels like he cannot go on. He needs to hear at that far corner a voice telling him to keep moving because he has worked hard and deserves to do his very best. There will be cheers at the beginning and loving support and the end, but I will be at the corner where I know he feels like giving up."

As I watched Derek leave his team at the finish line and run a great distance into his father's arms, I realized that spiritual whispers of encouragement from my Father in Heaven have not come at moments in my life when I felt most sure of myself. Instead, those reminders of His love have come when I thought I could go no farther, when I felt as if my spiritual legs would collapse in exhaustion. I have felt His love and I have known then, as I know now, that I am His child. As I remember my husband's arms encircling our son, I imagine what it will be like to cross the finish line of this life and run into the waiting arms of our Father in Heaven. I am grateful for the support of a loving Father in Heaven and of our Savior, Jesus Christ, that has helped ease every difficult turn in my life.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Another Camera Catch-up

Once again I've been taking pictures and never getting around to uploading them. Here's a few of the good ones...

Brekken climbed into a storage tub to play.

Brekken was so tired he fell asleep between bites!

As we were driving to Monticello (for a mission farewell), we stopped at a rest area. This gazebo was at the top of a very tall, steep hill with no real path to the top. Of course, the kids insisted that we climb up there to see it.

This is what we saw from the top... a whole lot of nothing!

Haley and Preston were thrilled with it, though!

Brekken was just glad to be out of the car for a little bit.

In Monticello, we hung out at Aaron's aunt and uncle's house. Grandpa Shields and Aunt Laura shared some cake with Brekken. He loved it!

Haley had fun playing with her cousin Cameron.

Preston played with Cam, too.

The kids were glad to get to see Grandma & Grandpa Shields.

As we got ready to leave for home Monday morning, Preston had a hard time waking up.