Friday, December 23, 2011

Trichotillomania: The Secret to Web Traffic

Apparently there are a lot of people out there who are interested in trichotillomania. A while back I wrote a post about how I think I have trichotillomania because I pull out my hair and eyebrows when I get stressed... or bored... or while watching TV or reading... or when I stop reminding myself not to do it.

Nothing groundbreaking, just kind of a quirky little habit of mine. But apparently trichotillomania is a highly searched term on Google. Ang Google is sending people to my blog post. Rarely does a day go by without my web traffic meter showing me that someone has been reading my post on trichotillomania. I posted it in March and I'm coming up on a thousand page views of that post alone. I guess that tells me I'm not the only one pulling my hair out!

It also tells me, if someone is trying to pull web traffic to their site, they need to post something about trichotillomania. :)

Quick Funny from Brekken

"Mom! There's something in my boot!... Oh wait... it's my toes."

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tara and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week (and a half... or more)

It's been a long couple of weeks. Two weeks ago I had a good Saturday with the kids. We did a little Christmas decorating, made some cake pops, it was fun. I felt fine. On Sunday - I still felt fine. We got up and went to church where I (as usual) ended up in nursery with Brekken and Rylen. I read the nursery kids a story, helped with snacks and felt fine. And then suddenly, I felt really, really cold. Cold enough that I found a couple of blankets in the toy closet and wrapped up in them even while others in the room were taking off their jackets and sweaters. Within 15 minutes, the other ladies in the room were volunteering to go pull my husband and kids out of class so I could go home - the flu hit just that fast.

We went home and I was so out of it that I just stumbled to the bedroom to lay down. Never noticing a thing as I walked  right past our poor cat, Grace, who had died while we were at church. Poor Aaron. Grace was his cat. She loved him more than anyone, and she was definitely his favorite cat. They've been pretty inseparable since he picked her out and brought her home. She was a sweet cat and I miss her, but I know it's been much harder for Aaron. I was so sick and out of it that I was of very little help as he wrapped her up and carefully buried her and made a marker for her.

I was still so sick on Monday and Tuesday that I could barely function. I was trying to work from home and I was responding to emails as needed, but did receive a comment or two indicating that my emails were a little less coherent than they could have been. When I saw the doc on Tuesday, he confirmed that it was indeed the flu (type b to be specific) along with a small ear infection and a slight case of bronchitis. He gave me some Tamiflu, told me to stay home for a couple of days - all week if possible - and I should be okay by the weekend. I took the Tamiflu. I stayed home. (Though still working - I have no sick time and too many projects to not be working.) On Wednesday I moderated a couple of webinars from home and too much talking resulted in the lovely experience of coughing so hard that I threw up several times in the middle of a coast-to-coast call with around 20 nurses. Thank goodness I managed to hit the mute button before that little episode!

By Monday I thought I was doing well enough to go back to the office. Aaron disagreed and tried to convince me to stay home, but I had a bunch of people coming into Denver for an education session and felt like I needed to be there. I got there at 7 a.m., and by 8 a.m. my boss was sending me home again. Something about pale, sweaty, too sick to be here... Apparently it had been a bit too much, because when I got home I fell into bed and stayed there for about 6 hours before managing to get up and do a bit of work.

On Tuesday I was the recipient of a lecture about how influenza is a serious illness and it kills healthy people every year and I need to take it seriously and get more rest - blah, blah, blah... it really sunk in since here I am back in the office again on Wednesday. Where they repeatedly tried to send me home until they realized that there was no one who could fill in for me on some things that HAVE to be done today. We'll try again with the work at home tomorrow and shoot for the office on Friday. I'm sincerely hoping this no good, very bad week will come to an end soon!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Fun with Facepaints

A month or so ago, we went to a fair and there was a facepainting booth. Haley LOVES to have her face painted, so she begged to go to the booth. However, when we went to check it out, there was a wait of at least 30 minutes, and the booth was charging $5 and up for the painting. Um... no. Not doing that. Especially when I looked at what she was doing and thought: "I could totally do that myself at home. I'm not paying for that!"

So we talked Haley out of the facepainting and went home, where we pretty much forgot about it. Then I saw a set of facepaints on sale and thought: "Ah-ha! A way to keep the children entertained!" I Googled a few techniques and ideas for facepainting and went for it. Not perfect by any means, but pretty decent. And more importantly, the kids (and I) had a lot of fun with it. No waiting, and lots of faces painted (and more to come, I'm sure) for less than the cost of having each kid get a cheek painted at the fair booth. Good deal!











Look Who's One!!





Hard as it is to believe, our sweet baby Rylen turned 1 year old on November 21. I had taken the week off (since the kids were out of school all week) and Aaron took that day off, too. So we spent the whole day having fun as a family. It was wonderful!

We started the day with homemade smoothies for breakfast.
Rylen thoroughly enjoyed his!

Next came presents... which Rylen enjoyed very much as well!




We followed lunch with a trip to Up Up Jump - where they have a big bunch of inflatable jump houses, some video games, and other fun stuff for the kids. Everyone had a really good time. (Though I don't think I would pay full price to go again.)





They really liked the big slides!

Of course, Preston found a little girlfriend while we were there. It seems wherever we go, Preston finds a girlfriend. He's quite the little ladies man!
We topped off the day with a trip to Cinzettis (awesome Italian buffet restaurant). Aaron and I had been before, but it was a first for the kids. They all loved it and want to go again. In fact, Haley has already asked to go there for her birthday next month! Rylen had a chocolate souffle for his first birthday cake and LOVED it!

It was a wonderful family day... everyone together, mostly getting along, having fun. Great memories!

(Since I didn't want to make this post enormous, I only posted a few of the many photos we took. If you want to see the big bunch - I'm probably just talking to the grandparents here - you can go to the dropshots account to see the lot. www.dropshots.com/taradon)

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Quick Funny from Preston

"I don't want to get married when I'm really young. I think I'll wait until I'm 11."

Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas Confession

I love Christmas music. I have (not exaggerating) more than 20 Christmas CDs in the drawer of my desk right now so that I can listen to Christmas music all the time at work. I started listening to my Christmas music before Halloween. I'll keep listening until well into January. Or maybe February. Sometimes I'll pull it out in the middle of July and listen to it.

But none of that is what I'm confessing. No, my shameful secret is that there is a beloved Christmas carol that I just don't like. It feels a bit sacrilegious and dishonorable to say it, but I don't enjoy "Silent Night."

I know! It just seems so wrong to admit, but it's true. I know it's a wonderful message. I know there's a great story behind it. I know it's a beloved hymn that so many people find uplifting and spiritual. And I just don't like it.

It's not like I cringe and grind my teeth and lunge to change the song whenever it comes on (I reserve that reaction for "Little Drummer Boy"). Instead, each time I hear it, I listen for a bit. I feel like I should give it a chance. "Well this is the Josh Groban/Mormon Tabernacle Choir/Donnie Osmond/Lady Gaga version. (Because EVERYONE seems to have recorded a version of "Silent Night.") It should be pretty good." And I'm sure that it is pretty good, but I don't like it. So after listening for a minute, I skip the song.

I don't know if the meter is too slow or the tune too repetitive or what it is, but I don't like to hear it, I don't like to play it, I don't like to sing it. I just don't like it.

Anyone else have a Christmas Confession?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Quick Funny from Rylen

Rylen has a new trick that makes me laugh every time. When he wants to nurse he will find the Boppy pillow and drag it over to me. It's like he's telling me, pay attention Mom! It's time!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Free at last...

I commented in my last post that I feel like I have been pregnant or breastfeeding for the last 8 years. And for all that time, I've been a working mom. Which means that along with breastfeeding comes pumping.

I hate pumping. I hate hooking myself up to the pump like a cow in a milking station. I hate how much time it takes. I hate having to schedule my day around it. I hate that I have to paper over my office window to have privacy while I pump because it makes my office feel closed off and claustrophobic. I hate that even with all the time, effort, and money (I have tried a LOT of different pumps over the years - and they are pricey!), I still can't pump enough to avoid supplementing with formula. (Mind you, I'm not one who thinks that formula is inherently bad. I'm fine with formula on a philosophical level. But it's really expensive!)

But because I'm trying to do my best as a working mom, I keep pumping. I set a date for myself: "If I can just keep pumping until he's one, I'll be successful." And then I would give myself permission to quit. And guess who will turn one on Monday? That's right, hard as it is to believe, it's already been a year since our little sweetheart was born. And it's a bittersweet thought. My baby... my last baby... and he's turning one already.

So while I'll keep nursing him morning and night as long as he's interested (well, within reason... I'm not going to be one of those moms nursing a 5-year-old), I have officially just finished my last pumping session. I am free from the tyranny of the pumping schedule! I no longer have to attach myself to the milking machine! (Though it is a really nice pump - anyone looking to buy a double-electric Medela Pump In Style?) I don't have to cart home little baggies of milk each night - always hoping that I remember to put them away in the fridge when I get home. (Because there's nothing worse than going to the effort to pump, and then wasting the milk.) I am free!!

And now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go tear the paper off my office window.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Miracle of the Nasonex

I remember when my allergies got so bad. I mean, I've always had allergies, but it was mostly just a bit of a drippy nose during hayfever season. But the summer I was pregnant with Haley, my allergies suddenly went berserk. I couldn't go more than a few minutes without sneezing, having to wipe a drippy nose, dealing with red, itchy eyes... it was miserable. It was worst at work and I had an awesome boss who tried to help. She got the cleaning people to switch to a non-citrus cleaner for our area (since I'm known to be allergic to citrus) and bought an air purifier for my cubicle. Nothing seemed to help. And of course, since I was pregnant, there wasn't much the doctors could do for me, either. This was before Claritin and Zyrtec were approved during pregnancy. Only Benedryl was allowed - which puts me straight to sleep.

So I coped with it and hoped that it was something pregnancy-related and it would disappear after the baby was born. But it didn't my new and improved allergies stayed with me. I handled them with various over-the-counter medications which were usually less than successful, but at least better than nothing. I kept telling myself I would go to the doctor and ask for something really strong. But as you know, we have 4 young kids fairly close together. It seems like I have been pregnant, trying to get pregnant, or breastfeeding for pretty much the last 8 1/2 years. Since all of those conditions preclude strong medication, I just never got anything better. I was thrilled when at least Zyrtec and Claritin were approved for pregnancy and breastfeeding, because I could at least have that much help. But mostly I have sniffled and sneezed my way through life since 2003.

This last summer was the WORST allergy season I can remember. I know it was bad for a lot of people, because we commiserated together on Facebook. I was a perpetual mess. I couldn't see through my itchy, swollen eyes. I could stand-in for Rudolph because my nose was so red from the constant wiping. I interrupted every meeting and conference call with multiple sneezing fits. I kept thinking, "As soon as we have the first good freeze or snowstorm, that should take care of the pollen and my allergies will settle down."

Only they didn't. I was so miserable. This time I was really motivated to see the doctor and get that better medicine. "As soon as Rylen is done nursing," I told myself, "I'm getting the good stuff!" And while I would not want to rush weaning him, I was really looking forward to finally doing something about the allergies.

About a month ago, I had a doctor's appointment to have a mole removed and I was having a major allergy attack that day. At the end of our appointment, the doctor commented that I seemed to have a pretty bad cold. When I told her that it was actually allergies, she empathized because she has bad allergies, too. She asked if I had tried Nasonex, because it had worked wonders for her. I asked if it was okay to use during breastfeeding and she assured me it was and gave me a sample.

It took a few days to really kick in, but since then - it is miraculous! I can go an entire day without sneezing sometimes! I no longer go through a box of tissues in less than a week! My nose is not stuffy. I can actually wear makeup without immediately wiping it off again from blowing my nose! THIS STUFF IS AMAZING.

I only kick myself for always assuming that anything that worked would not be allowed during pregnancy or breastfeeding. I probably could have had this years ago. But no point in dwelling on that... instead, I am just overjoyed at the miracle of the Nasonex.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Arancini

We went to Cinzetti's (a local Italian buffet) a few weeks ago for my birthday dinner and it was great. I've been wanting to back ever since. One thing I particularly loved were the arancini. These are risotto balls that are breaded and fried and they are SO good.

While I still had these on my mind, I was flipping past the food channel and saw Michael Chiarello making arancini. I stopped to watch and realized that while his method was kind of complicated (beginning as it did with making risotto from scratch), I thought I could probably simplify things for myself.

I started by making Rice-a-Roni for the kids' dinner on Saturday night. I realize that Rice-a-Roni is not risotto. However, it's a whole lot quicker and easier to make! When I'm doing the cooking, I'm all about quick and easy. So I made the Rice-a-Roni. (I used 4-Cheese because that's what I had in the pantry. But any kind should work.) I deliberately made more than I needed for the kids so I could put the rest in the fridge overnight. Letting the rice cool overnight makes it more glutinous and easier to form into rice balls.

The next day, I got my ingredients together.
  • leftover "risotto"
  • mozzarella cheese, diced into small cubes
  • a couple of beaten eggs in a small dish
  • a dish of panko breadcrumbs
I just took a scoop of rice (maybe 3 tablespoons? A good size handful, anyway.) and formed it into a ball. Then poked a hole in the center and inserted some mozzarella cheese and smoothed the rice back over the hole. I dipped the rice ball into the egg to coat it, then rolled it in the panko bread crumbs.

At this point, you can either deep fry, pan fry or oven fry. Traditionally these should be deep fried or at least fried in 2-3 inches of oil in a deep frying pan. But I hate to fry in large quantities of oil. I'm always afraid I'll set the house on fire. Plus what do you do with all that leftover oil when you're done? So instead, I decided I could just do it in the oven.

I sprayed a cookie sheet with a bit of cooking spray and added my arancini. I drizzled the tops with just a bit of olive oil to help them brown up. I cooked them for 15 minutes at 425 degrees, then turned them over and cooked for another 15 minutes.

I let them cool and firm up for about 5 minutes, then served them with marinara sauce for dipping. They were incredible! Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, and with a melty mozzarella center. I still have some rice left, and I'm seriously contemplating making them for dinner again tonight!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Dreaming of Sleep

I fantasize about sleep like some people fantasize about sex. As I sleepily sit up with Rylen (who doesn't seem to believe in sleeping at night) or doze fitfully on the bus, I create elaborate and detailed pictures in my head... Sometimes it's a big comfortable bed with lots of pillows and a puffy comforter in a quiet hotel room all to myself. Sometimes it's the comfy couch in the dark, silent Quiet Room at my office. Sometimes it's even my own bed... covers cozily rumpled and inviting me back into the bed after all my family has left the house for the day.

I make up scenarios that could result in any of these fantasies coming true. Maybe work sends me on a business trip. Maybe I manage to actually find time to take a lunch break and use it to nap in the Quiet Room. Maybe I call in sick to work and then send all the kids to daycare.

*sigh* I need a nap.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Quick Funny from Brekken

"Look, Mommy, a big whore!"

"Yes, it's a big horse, honey."

"A whore! A whore! You say it wrong."

Friday, November 11, 2011

Quick Funny from Brekken

At the ATM last night: "Mommy, is this your big piggy bank?"

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Quick Funny from Preston

Preston informed me that he didn't need to go to church on Sunday because: "I already know quite a bit about Jesus."

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treat

In spite of stomach flu that hit various family members over the last week and weekend, the kids thoroughly enjoyed Halloween. They had a Trunk or Treat at the church on Friday night and then parties at school and daycare on Monday followed by trick or treating last night.


Haley was a princess - of course! She is very much the girly-girl. Her whole thinking for a costume was based on what she could be that would allow her to wear "grown-up makeup."


Preston actually had three different costumes this year. He was a pirate for trunk or treat, but that costume was a little too lightweight and he froze while going from car to car. Plus the school wouldn't allow him to take the sword, which he considered the best part of his costume. So for school he opted to dress as Scooby Doo. Finally, for Halloween trick or treating, he opted for the fuzzy plush fireman's costume so he could be nice and warm without a jacket.


Brekken was a bunny - but not just any bunny. No, he wanted to be a vampire bunny! Notice him showing off his sharp vampire bunny teeth.     





Finally, we have Rylen dressed as a devil. No particular reason there, just because it's so darn cute!


Friday, October 28, 2011

I'm alive, awake, alert, enthusiastic!

Actually, none of that is true. Barely awake, definitely not alert or enthusiastic. And in the spirit of Halloween, I think I officially passed over into undead zombie territory around 4:30 this morning.
  • 10:30- It all started around 10:30 last night. All the older children were finally in bed and asleep. Rylen was snoozing on my lap and I thought about putting him in bed so I could go to bed. Then Rylen started stirring and I decided I'd better wait a little longer.
  • 11:30- Finally decided I could put Rylen into bed. He immediately woke up. 
  • 11:45- Rylen asleep again and managed to put him in bed without waking him. Laid out clothes for all the children for tomorrow. Climbed into bed by midnight.
  • 12:30- Rylen awake again. Another 30 minutes to settle him back into bed.
  • 1:00- Brekken has a coughing fit that wakes me up. I lay listening, hoping he'll stop coughing and go back to sleep. Hear him say: "I gonna throw up." Which is a lovely habit of his when he coughs too much. Leap out of bed and get him water to calm the coughing before it leads to throwing up. Go to get cough medicine. By the time I return, he's sound asleep again. Go back and pour cough medicine back into the bottle. 
  • 1:30- Rylen awake again. 30 minutes and 3 tries to get him back into bed.
  • 4:00- Preston climbs into our bed. Kicking and squirming as he wiggles into place between us ensues.
  • 4:30- Rylen is awake yet again. My alarm is going off now because I forgot that I'm driving today and could actually sleep another 40 minutes. Reset the alarm. Nurse Rylen back to sleep. Give up on trying to put him back in his bed. I'll just nap sitting up for another 30 minutes.
  • 4:45- Rylen awake again. Soothe him back to sleep. Cry. Try to ignore screaming baby. Fail. Nurse baby back to sleep again.
  • 5:30- Alarm going off. Have to get up for work. Cannot hit the snooze anymore. Sure... now the baby is sleeping.
  • 5:45- Get out of shower. Baby is crying again. But I hear Aaron taking him to the other room so at least the other children won't wake up.
  • 7:15- Aaron calls me at work to let me know Rylen is now throwing up. So at least now I know why he was so very difficult last night. But of course, now I have the mommy guilt that I was so annoyed with him all night. If I'd realized he wasn't feeling well, I might have been more sympathetic when he kept waking up.
*sigh* It's shaping up to be a great day...

Thursday, October 27, 2011

That's a new one...

My boss has occasionally asked me questions about Mormons... just things she's heard and wondered about. Like "Why can't anyone else go inside a Mormon temple?" Or "Do you really wear special underwear?"

The other day, the topic of temple marriage came up (as part of a discussion about a wedding of another religion that someone had recently attended). Afterwards, my boss followed me into my office and said, "Can I ask you something?" I said, "Of course," and waited for her to go on. I could tell that she regretted bringing it up even as she was asking. She was having a really hard time even getting the question out.

"I'm sure it's not even true... I mean, if it is, there's nothing wrong... I don't want to sound like I'm judging... I just... I heard once, and I thought it can't possibly be right... but of course, maybe it is and there's deep symbolism... If you don't want to discuss it..."

I tried to put her out of her misery by assuring her she could ask and I wouldn't be offended, and she finally spit it out.

"I heard that in a temple wedding, after the ceremony the bride and groom go into another room with the... the... what do you call the head of your church?"

"The prophet."

"Right. So they go into the room with the prophet... and he... has... relations... with the bride while her husband is there and it's all okay with everyone."

I couldn't help myself. I started laughing. And assuring her it was most definitely not true. For one thing, I pointed out, the prophet is often a man in his 80s or 90s. And there are a LOT of people all over the globe who get married every day. There's not enough Viagra in the world. :)

Not sure where she heard that one, but at least now there's one less person believing a really odd Mormon rumor.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Getting Drunker All the Time

As much practice as I have in decifering the mangled English and strange accents of little children, sometimes 3-year-old-speak still stumps me.

Brekken just walked in and told me: "I'm really drunk, Mommy. And I'm getting drunker and drunker all the time!"

I was naturally a bit concerned by this. After a bit of questioning, it turns out that he is actually really STRONG. And getting STRONGER and STRONGER all the time.

Whew! Much better.

Fall Festival

The kids' school had a Fall Festival carnival last week. They looked forward to it for WEEKS. Every day they asked how much time was left before the carnival. So my heart sank when Preston came down with some sort of stomach bug and spent the day before the carnival throwing up - a lot. I was sure that either he would be sick or some of the other kids would catch it and be sick. Luckily he recovered and no one else came down with anything. There was a very sweet moment between my kids on Thursday night - Preston was feeling sick and was crying and sad because he just wanted to go to the carnival so badly and knew that if he was sick he wouldn't be able to go. He said: "Everyone else will go and have fun without me." And Haley walked over and gave him a hug and told him: "If you're still sick we'll all stay home. It wouldn't be fair to go without you. And I wouldn't have fun if I knew you had to stay home and be sad." My little drama queen can be such a sweetheart sometimes.

A few pictures from the big night...








Monday, October 17, 2011

Driver's Ed

The radio show this morning talked about a statistic that says 61% of new drivers say that the person teaching them to drive was distracted by a smartphone and paying attention to that instead of the driving lesson. It reminded me of when I was learning to drive. No smartphone involved, but plenty of distraction...

At our school, we took a driver's ed class during the trimester before you turned 16, then once you hit 16 you could actually go out in the practice car with the driver's ed instructor. I grew up in a fairly small town and I know a lot of kids there did some driving before their 16th birthdays. There were plenty of people I knew who weren't too concerned with legal niceties like learner's permits. My parents were not among these people. Before getting in the driver's ed practice car, I had MAYBE driven the family car once or twice for very short distances. In other words, I was far from a confident, experienced driver.

My very first day in the driver's ed car, there were two students and the instructor, Mr. Henry. (As a total side note, I remember the other student was Tyler - who was born one day before me. Which I knew because every time his mother substitute-taught a class I was in, she would comment on the fact that her son was born one day before me and she and my mother saw each other in the hospital when we were born. By the time I got to high school, other students in the class would mouth the story along with her.) 

Tyler lived about 30 minutes outside of town, so the instructor announced that Tyler would drive us from town to his house, where we would drop him off, and then I would drive the car back into town. Tyler confidently set off - he had obviously had some practice and did not seem nervous at all. He drove to his house, grabbed his things and hopped out. Then it was my turn.

I got in the driver's seat and started to pull slowly out of the driveway - very grateful that Tyler's family had a semi-circle driveway so I didn't have to try backing up first thing! I cautiously and nervously headed out to the highway. A few minutes later, Mr. Henry asked if I remembered the way back to town. I told him I did. He said I was doing great and he was sure I wouldn't have any troubles on the way home... and then he reclined his seat a few inches and went to sleep.

Yep, my first time really driving - especially driving on the highway instead of little back roads! - and the instructor went to sleep. I'm glad I didn't actually have any problems on the way! But we did make it back safe and sound.

Other memorable moments in Mr. Henry's driving instruction included the time he read the newspaper - unfolded fully in front of his face; there's no way he could see the road or anything that was happening out the front windshield. And of course the time he took off his shoes and clipped his toenails the entire time I was driving - I'll say this for him... he was a very flexible man.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

This Week in Mormons

I remember when I was a child we would go on family trips and my parents would listen to talk radio. I couldn't understand it. Why on Earth would they want to listen to people talking instead of music? It seemed so boring!

Now, as seems to happen in many ways, I'm turning into my parents. I often decide to listen to someone talking instead of music. I have several podcasts that I download and listen to when I'm walking or driving and I really like listening to the people talk. :)

I thought I'd share one of my favorites, as it's something that might interest a few of you. This Week in Mormons is a podcast by a couple of guys who talk about the news in, around, and relating to the LDS church. They're pretty funny, without being irreverent or mean-spirited. Plus they go to the trouble to research a lot of stories that I'd never hear about otherwise. The news about the Provo tabernacle being converted to a temple? They predicted it weeks before it was announced in General Conference. So when it was announced, I felt very "in the know" when I could just nod and think, Yes. That's what we thought would happen.

The podcasts from this week and last week are a review of General Conference. They go through talk by talk and rehash some of the main points of each talk - with a few random segues along the way (for example, who is the most attractive Church leader? Apparently it's Young Women General President Elaine S. Dalton.)

You can listen to their weekly podcasts at their site: http://thisweekinmormons.com/. Or friend them on facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thisweekinmormons. Or download the podcasts on iTunes. However you may do it, I would recommend it. I really enjoy listening to them talk. :)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

That's a lot of firemen...

I was listening to the radio the other day and they were talking about asking kids the question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" At the moment, the answers at my house are a mommy (Haley), a fireman (Preston), and a fireman (Brekken).

Apparently, my boys fit right into the mold, because the top answer for boys is fireman. That led to a discussion of what would it be like if adults everywhere were really doing the jobs they dreamed of as children. There would be a lot of firemen, policemen, astronauts, teachers and princesses (top answers for girls) out there! What you probably wouldn't find is a lot of accountants, office managers, or burger flippers. All jobs that someone needs to do, but you don't find a lot of kids dreaming about it from a young age. :)

It got me thinking about what I wanted to be when I was a kid. I remember when I was really young I wanted to be a teacher - specifically a kindergarten teacher. These days, I know I just don't have the patience to handle a room full of 5-year-olds every day! It takes a special person to be a teacher.

Shortly after that, I decided I was going to be a vulcanologist. I have no idea where I originally learned that this was a profession, but I do remember for a number of years every time someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would immediately tell them I wanted to be a vulcanologist. Very few people had a response to that other than a weak, somewhat confused... "well, that's nice." I was fascinated with volcanoes for a lot of years and had grand plans for all the studies and discoveries I would make as a world-traveling vulcanologist. Alas, it turns out that I really have a huge fear of being burned, not to mention an aversion to breathing smoke and ash and a dislike of climbing large mountains... All of these being rather common activities for a vulcanologist investigating an active volcano, it's probably best that I eventually decided instead to be a doctor.

That was my career plan for a lot of years, actually. All the way through college. I majored in Biology (specifically, Public Health) and even took the MCAT and started filling out applications for medical school. I had decent scores, too. I probably could have been accepted. But organic chemistry filled me with dread. I barely managed to pass the organic chemistry courses required for my bachelor's degree - and looking ahead to medical school I saw a LOT more organic chemistry in my future. It was at that point (my final year of college) that I changed my path and decided to go to nursing school and become a nurse practitioner instead.

At the same time, I had a job building computer-based training courses for K-12 geography students. I loved it. I was so involved in it that I happily spent 60+ hours a week working on the projects, often spending the night in the computer lab, going home only long enough to nap for an hour or two and then heading out to class and back to work. (I obviously had much more energy back then than I do now!) My boss pointed out how much I loved what I was doing and suggested that I look into it as a career instead... which led to a complete change in direction for my master's degree and a career doing what I do now.

And I love what I do. I especially love my current job because it combines my interest in maternal/child medicine and education. But I do occasionally wonder what life would be like as a vulcanologist...

Monday, October 10, 2011

Melt My Heart Moment

On Saturday we were practicing a song for church that includes the line: "God gave us families." Preston thought about it for a moment and then said:

"I really like God. Because he made all the people I like the most. And he made you and made you my mommy. And I really love you so much."

What a little sweetheart!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

I keep telling you, it's not strep!

So yesterday afternoon I'm at work when I get a call on the cell phone. Looking at the readout I can see that it's from the school so I know I need to answer it. Unfortunately, I forgot to mute the line on the webinar I was hosting at the time, so I shared the conversation with my co-worker on the other line. I'm glad she was the only one to log in at that point - at least I didn't subject a whole class of students to listening to me chat with the school nurse!

Yes, it was the school nurse - excuse me, school health aide. They're not school nurses anymore, at least not at our school. I don't know what kind of background you have to have to get the job, but I'm pretty sure I could do it myself, based on my experiences with them over the last few years.

So she tells me that Haley is flushed and running a bit of a fever and has a sore mouth with sores and white spots on her tongue. It must be strep, so we should come get her. Or maybe not. Because the fever isn't that high. And she says she doesn't feel sick. So if we don't want to come get her that's probably okay. But maybe we should. But if not, it will be fine.

I always appreciate it when someone is so clear about what they need me to do.

After some questioning, it turns out that the fever is barely over 99 degrees. On a hot day. Just after recess playing outside. I think most of us would be a bit flushed with an elevated temperature after running around in 88 degrees for 20 minutes.

I questioned her about the tongue - having been down this road before with last year's school health aide. What did the tongue look like? Was it sore? Was it her throat (strep) or just her tongue (probably her citrus allergy - which is all over in her her school file)? Based on all answers, I was almost certain it was just her citrus allergy kicking in. I questioned what they'd had for lunch. The health aide looked at the lunch menu and assured me there had been no citrus, so she though it was probably not that.

So between Aaron and I and several texts and phone calls back and forth between us and the school, we decided that Haley would go back to class and then head to the afterschool daycare until I could get there, but I should go ahead and get her early because Aaron couldn't leave early. I walked the 1/2 mile+ to the bus station (because there were no busses coming to my regular stop at that time of day), caught an early bus, and picked up Haley and Preston a couple of hours early.

As soon as I got there, I had her stick out her tongue... yep, definitely a citrus reaction. Which makes her tongue sore and she gets little sores and red patches (just like me when I eat citrus). Annoying. And if she were to KEEP eating citrus after the tongue gets sore, then she'd get an upset tummy. But it's nothing that requires her to go home. Which I've covered with the school before.

*sigh*

She's fine. Turns out there was an orange and pineapple fruit cup with lunch. I could have stayed at work.Glad I have an understanding boss!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quick Funny from... Me!

I have some hearing problems and so I often mis-hear things that are said, resulting in unintentional funniness. This one may be my favorite though.

I had the TV on in the background (while working at home today) listening to Rachel Ray's Week in a Day. I was pretty startled when they went to commercial break and I heard the announcer say "This program is brought to you by Jesus."

What? Jesus is a sponsor of Rachel Ray's show? Is this some kind of church that endorses her?

I turned around to the TV to try and figure out what was going on and saw that the commercial had begun. It was for Cheez-Its. Cheeze-Its. This program is brought to you by Cheez-Its! That makes SO much more sense.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crockpot Cooking

I love my crockpot. In fact, I have 3 of them of various sizes. (And I could really use another.) It's rare that a week goes by without me using the crockpot at least once. I have learned that you can cook almost anything in the crockpot. My newest discovery... crockpot mashed potatoes.

I had some little red potatoes that needed to be used up, so I decided to just drop them in the crockpot and see what happened. I kind of thought they would be like when you roast them in the oven - cooked, but still a little firm. They probably would have been that way if I'd taken them out a little earlier. But it turns out that if you leave them in for a while, then just stir - they turn into perfect mashed potatoes!

I LOVE real mashed potatoes, but it's usually too much trouble to cook and mash them to the right consistency. But this method is so easy. I truly just stirred it around with a big spoon and they broke up with no effort. So good, and it made plenty. In fact, I'm having the leftovers for lunch today (which is what inspired me to post about them).

If you want to give it a try, use olive oil, butter or cooking spray to coat the inside of your crockpot (otherwise the potatoes stick to the sides and are very hard to scrub off). Add potatoes and cook for 6-8 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. Add a splash of milk or butter if you like your potatoes creamy, stir them up and serve!

Friday, September 16, 2011

For Gayle

This is a totally random post... I needed to share a video with a colleague and we couldn't manage to get it to work through any of the usual methods!

video

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Quick Funny from the kids

Our family is supposed to sing a song in church in a few weeks. I was asking the kids what song we should sing. I was thinking of a Primary song or a hymn, but obviously I wasn't that specific when I asked the kids for their input. Haley and Preston conferred for a moment then decided that we should sing "Moves Like Jagger".

I think it's going to be a big hit in Sacrament Meeting.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quick Update

Busy, busy, BUSY month. Not a lot of time to post. And I guess the kids haven't said anything especially funny in the last little while. But I thought I'd post just a quick update - hopefully I will get back to regular blogging soon!

Preston likes kindergarten, but complains that there is too much coloring. He had homework this week. They gave it to them on Monday and the kids were supposed to do a little each night then turn it in on Friday. He was so excited to have homework that he insisted on doing it all Monday night. LOL We'll see how long that attitude lasts. He really likes his new daycare. He goes to the school-based aftercare with Haley now. He has been wanting to go to PAWS with Haley for the last couple of years. I'm not sure if it's because he wants to spend more time with Haley or because going to PAWS seems like something you do when you're a big kid, but he really wanted to go. So we let him move there at the beginning of the year. They have computers and games and other kids to play with - and I have to drag him out the door at the end of the night.

Haley is liking her class, too. The teacher seems to be doing a good job of working with her so it's not just like repeating the same class as last year (since she was in a 1/2 combo class last year as well). The teacher sent home a note a couple of days ago to let me know that since Haley had mastered all the 2nd grade spelling lists last year, this year she will be moving on to the 3rd grade lists. And at last check, I believe she was in the 5th grade reading levels. She's a smart little thing!

With Preston at the new daycare and our sitter's son in school this year (they did homeschool last year), Brekken is the oldest child in the house for a good part of the day. He is LOVING being the big kid. He tells me that he gets to pick the shows to watch and he can choose the toys to play with. He quite enjoys not having to do what the bigger boys tell him! He is about 3/4 potty trained. He does really well for Michelle, not quite as well for us still. But he's definitely improving.

Rylen is growing fast. Hard to believe he'll be 10 months next week. It makes me a little sad. :( My last baby should have been a baby longer! He's very vocal these days and has a few "words" that he uses consistently. He is on the move all the time! Diaper changing time has become an enormous wrestling match. Rylen is also pulling up on everything right now - he mostly does it without a lot of falling down or head-bumping. Last night he took a little chair and pushed it clear across the room while walking behind it! He just may be walking before his birthday. I would actually be glad of it, because it's not like he's not able to go all over the place already - he's a very quick crawler. And I want him up off the ground. That boy puts EVERYTHING in his mouth. Rocks, cat fur, weeds tracked in from outside. Hopefully once he's not crawling he won't be so focused on picking things off the floor.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

It's a Gray and Gloomy Day - and I LOVE It!

The skies are gray. It's damp and drizzly. There's a little chill in the air. It's wonderful!!

I am so done with summer. It's been so miserably hot this summer that it's just such a relief to have some nice cool days. I always have the blinds closed in my office because the sun beams in so brightly, but for the last two days I've opened up the blinds so I can see the clouds and rain. It's just so nice to have some different weather for a change!

I wouldn't want it to be gray and gloomy every day, but then again, I don't want it bright and sunny every day, either. I like variety in my weather! When I first moved to southern California, it was in the midst of a VERY cold winter in Utah. So when I got to California I would get up each morning, throw open the curtains and say - "Blue skies and sunshine again! Great!" But then it was the same thing every single day. No variety. After 6 months or so, I would get up in the morning, listlessly look out the curtains and say - "Blue skies and sunshine. Again. Great."

That's how I've been feeling about this summer. It's just seemed to go on and on with almost every day the same - bright, hot, not as many afternoon thunderstorms as usual. I am ready for a change in weather! Bring on Fall!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Ode to Groupon

Oh, Groupon! You have such great deals and specials galore.

You offer a chance to try things I'll adore.

A membership here;

A night out there.

A chance to have specialists straighten my hair.



How I wish that I could buy every one;

That trip to Bermuda sure looks like fun.



I made meals at Supper Solutions,

Joined the Butterfly Pavilion for only a small contribution.

Planned a day of fun at Up Up Jump;

And now comes the deal that makes my heart thump…



Oh Groupon, my Groupon, you know what I need.

You know that my house is where dust bunnies breed.

You gave me the chance to have someone come in

And clean it all for me! Holy cow! What a win!



Now I can’t wait until they come clean my house.

We’ll all be so happy – especially my spouse.

I’m sure it won’t last (not with four kids around);

But for a brief, shining moment there’ll be no dirt to be found.



Scrubbed and shiny, clean and bright,

I think my house will be quite a sight.

So hooray for Groupon and your incredible deals;

That sound you just heard? It’s just my happy squeals!


(BTW - if you haven't checked out Groupon yet, you should! http://www.groupon.com/r/uu18973654)

Thursday, September 1, 2011

I Don't CIO

All of my babies have been great sleepers. By the time they were 2 or 3 months old, they would sleep through the night. Until Rylen. He is 9 months old and still getting up 2-3 times each night! He wants to nurse, but I really think it's more for comfort than because he's really hungry. He nurses for just a few minutes and then goes back to sleep. So he's not up for long, but by the time I wake up, make Aaron get the baby out of the crib (because if I'm awake, why shouldn't he wake up too?), nurse Rylen, try to make Aaron put the baby back but realize that he is already asleep again, get up and put Rylen in his crib, try to make him take a pacifier when he wakes up as I lay him down, make him mad by trying to give him a pacifier, give up and take him back to nurse some more, and repeat above until he finally stays asleep, it's a decent chunk of time gone from my already short night's sleep. Especially if we do all of this another time or two.

I complained a bit about this on Facebook a week or so ago. (Because that's what Facebook is for - sharing a happy status and venting when needed!) And I got lots of advice from people who've dealt with this sort of thing. Which I totally appreciate, because I'm certainly open to new things to try. The one I'm not open to, though, is CIO.

CIO - if you don't know the acronym - is Cry It Out. Which (as I understand it, which could be totally off base) means that sometimes you have to let baby cry himself back to sleep, because if you go in every time he cries, you're reinforcing him and encouraging him to keep waking up at night so you'll go pick him up. I know there are various methods, and some involve staying in the room, some staying out, and that sort of thing. I get the concept, and I see why people do it. I have no issues at all with anyone who uses CIO. I just can't do it. I can't! I've tried and I don't have the willpower. I cannot stand to hear the baby cry and not do something about it. Not when I know I can stop it by just going over there and picking him up.

So I may be accidentally training Rylen to wake me up instead of sleeping through the night, but I just don't CIO.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back to School 2011

It's taken a while to get to this but finally, a back to school recap.

A while back, we bought a Groupon that got us a family membership to the Butterfly Pavillion. We'd never even been there before buying the membership, but it was such a good deal that it actually cost less than just paying for our whole family to go once. So we got the membership and went for our first visit. To be honest, I wasn't hugely impressed. The butterfly area itself is great, but some of the rest is only so-so. But the kids really liked it, so I figured we might go back once more before the membership expired. Then I got an email from the Butterfly Pavillion a few weeks ago saying that we were invited to a super-special, VIP, members-only Back to School Bash. We had nothing else going on that night (the Friday before school started), so I sent our RSVP and said we'd be there. I'm so glad we had the membership and went to the party! It was a blast!

We played games and jumped in the bouncy house.
We blew bubbles.





They even made enormous bubbles around Preston...

... and Haley
We saw the butterflies... (notice the one on the back of Aaron's neck)
...though luckily Rylen didn't see that one next to him in time to grab it! He loved watching them all fly around, though.


We looked at some sea creatures and even touched a few.

We did some more playing around.
We don't even have pictures of my and Aaron's favorite part, which would be dinner (hot dogs and hamburgers) followed by free Blue Bell ice cream. That is some GOOD ice cream and we ate a lot of it. :) It was a great party to start off the school year, and that party alone makes me glad we bought the membership.

Haley started school on August 23 and has really been enjoying her class so far. She is in a 1st/2nd grade combo class again this year and is enjoying being one of the "big kids" in her classroom. She has already taken one of the 1st graders under her wing and watches out for her at recess and lunch and walks with her to PAWS after school. ("She gets scared." Haley told me.) I'm proud of my sweet girl for taking care of her nervous classmate!

Haley's first day of school.

Preston started kindergarten on the 29th. He was very glad to learn that he would be in the same class with the triplet girls he knew in preschool. He likes them all very much... but he REALLY likes one of the triplets the best. (Puppy love - so cute!) Of course, the triplet who REALLY likes Preston - is a different girl. It's a good thing this is kindergarten instead of high school or it could be a lot of drama! As it is, they all get along fine and are very happy to be in class together. Preston doesn't like to talk a lot about school - I have to drag everything out of him. So far I have learned that he likes recess, he doesn't like sitting, and he feels that there is too much coloring. Hopefully kindergarten will grow on him and he'll decide he likes more than just recess!
Preston's first day of school.

Brekken wanted to be in the picture, too!
And just because there wasn't quite enough Rylen cuteness...