Monday, August 31, 2009

The Power of Prayer

Last night before everyone (my brother and sister-in-law, nephew, sister and brother-in-law, parents, me) headed to home and bed, my mom asked if my brother and brother-in-law could give Dad a blessing before his heart surgery tomorrow. They did so and it was a sweet and powerful moment for me. How special that my baby brother has grown up into a man who can give a priesthood blessing... and even more special somehow that it was for my father.

While we were in the moment of the blessing, my mother also got one for comfort, my sister for help with her problems in her pregnancy, and my brother-in-law for calm and comfort as her is about to become a father. It was very special.

I am a huge believer in the power of a priesthood blessing. I think not many people know, but when Preston was born his newborn screening tests came back positive for cystic fibrosis. They re-ran that test and then ran another type of test and both of them came back positive again. I was devastated. I didn't know what we would do, how we would handle it, what this would mean for our family. I knew that because these were screening tests there was still a possibility that he did not have cystic fibrosis, but I was looking on the negative side and was convinced that he would be diagnosed with the disease.

On the morning that we were to take Preston for the final definitive test that would tell us whether or not he had cystic fibrosis, Aaron and my father-in-law gave him a blessing. The moment that the blessing began, I was filled with a calm feeling that everything was going to be okay. I KNEW that Preston was fine and the test would show us that there were no problems. I don't remember the words of the blessing, but I remember that feeling and my certainty that everything was okay. After weeks of stress and worry, the cloud was completely lifted. The test went smoothly and Preston received a clean bill of health.

Thanks to that experience, I have a strong faith in the power of prayer and priesthood blessings and I will always be grateful that I learned that. As my family deals with everything going on right now, it's wonderful to have the assurance we gained last night from those blessings that everything will be alright.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I miss them already...

We came to Utah for a quick visit and at the end of the weekend, everyone got in the van and headed home. Everyone but me, that is...

My sister is having a difficult time at the end of her pregnancy. She is 35 weeks along and has pregnancy-induced hypertension that has her on bedrest and feeling very ill. My mom is doing a lot to help her right now as everyone keeps a close eye on Melissa to be sure she and baby are okay.

At the same time, my dad has to have surgery tomorrow to have a pacemaker installed. It's a low-risk surgery, but my mom was upset about having to take him out for the surgery and take care of all that on her own. But there was no one who could go with her right now (what with pregnancies, and newborns, and jobs and everything else that goes on in life).

Aaron and I talked about it and decided that I should stick around and give all the help I can just now. So he headed home with the kids so that Haley could go to kindergarten this week. Haley sobbed and told me how much she would miss me. Which made me cry. Which made Preston cry. Brekken was fine. He's such a daddy's boy that he may not miss me much. But I miss him. And Haley, Preston, and Aaron, too.

I'm glad to be here right now, because I always feel bad about being so far away and unable to help when my family needs a hand. But it's going to be a long week away from Aaron and my babies.

Friday, August 28, 2009

And away we go!

We're off to Utah for a weekend visit!

We need to meet my new nephew Kyron - he's still pretty little; probably hasn't lost that "new baby" smell yet. ;)

We need to check up on my baby sister. She's almost 35 weeks pregnant and on bedrest for pregnancy-induced high blood pressure. She probably will be induced in about a week to 10 days and I'll have a new niece, too!

And we need to see my parents' practically new house. They had a flood a few months back. The dog chewed through a hose at the back of the toilet and flooded the whole house. I believe the last estimate I heard was $20,000+ in damage. The whole upstairs, most of the downstairs... everything had to be repaired, replaced, or otherwise fiddled with. My poor parents lived in an RV in the front yard for a month while the work was being done. But they're back in the house now, and from all accounts it is beautiful.

And the kids really need to see Grandma & Grandpa and the various aunts, uncles, and cousins who will be around. They have been excited about this all week. So Utah here we come!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Garden

It's a sad little garden. It started off with so much love and enthusiasm. The kids and I carefully prepared the ground and planted the seeds. Then the weeds flourished and the plants did not. We were disappointed that nothing grew. Finally, two little squash plants managed to survive. But even then we thought that we would get nothing from them because they were struggling so.

Then one day... a little blossom appeared on the squash plant. Then another and another. Eventually, two tiny squashes began to grow. We watched them anxiously. We checked on them every day. Did they have enough water? Did they have too much water? Were they getting the right amount of warmth and sunlight?

And then, the little squashes finally grew large enough to pick! What a happy day when we proudly brought the produce from our own little garden inside to cook for dinner. Sure, I had to go to the market and buy a few more squashes to go with ours in order to have enough to go around. But I'm sure I could pick out the ones that grew in our garden. They were the best ones of all!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Make Your Own Checkers Game

I decided to make my kids a checkers game. It wasn't that they had been asking for one or anything, but I had the brainstorm that they might enjoy it. Both making it and playing with it afterwards.

I made a trip to the dollar store to find supplies for our craft project:

It's just some foam-core poster board, some pages of craft foam, and tea candle holders. You could use regular poster board, cardboard, or any other flat surface for your game board. You could also use construction paper instead of craft foam for the squares or just draw the squares on your board and color them in with crayon or marker.

To get started, I let the kids pick two colors for the checkerboard. They chose red and blue. A checkboard is 8 rows of 8 squares each. So I cut out 32 red squares and 32 blue squares. It doesn't matter what size you make them, as long as they are all the same size and they all fit onto your game board.

Next, glue the squares onto your board in a traditional checkerboard pattern. The kids really liked this part... they were a little TOO enthusiastic with the glue. Thank goodness for the wood floors instead of carpet - it made the spills easier to clean up.

I use the tea-candle holders for my checkers. I cut out circles of foam (letting the kids pick the colors again) and glued them to the holders. Here's the final product:

All told, I spent $12 on supplies, a few hours on the project (including glue-drying time), and had fun with my kids in the process. They have had fun playing with the checkers game, too - even if they are making up their own rules!
So that worked for me. Check out the Works for Me Wednesday blog carnival at We Are That Family to see what's working for others!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Haley's 1st Day at School

Normally I will pick Haley up from PAWS (the after-school program) shortly before 6:00. Yesterday I had worked at home (so that I could be there to take her to school in the morning) - I thought about picking her up after kindergarten so I could hear all about it, but didn't because I wanted her to experience her whole day. Plus I really did need to do some work! But my work day ends around 4:00 and by 4:30 I couldn't wait any longer to hear about her day.

When I picked her up from PAWS, she was just bubbling over with happiness about her great day! She loved it all. Some of the highlights:
  • She got to meet lots of new kids in her class.
  • She got to do lots of coloring.
  • She got to eat pizza for lunch. With pink milk. And she remembered her code for the lunchroom computer (she was VERY proud of herself for this!).
  • She got to play outside at PAWS.
  • She got to play an elephant game of some kind. I don't know what it was, but she enjoyed it a lot.

She went on and on about her day. It was so great to hear that everything went well and she loved her first day of school. Let's hope this sets the pattern for the rest of the year!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Sending Haley Off to School

Today was Haley's first day of school. She spent all weekend looking forward to it and asking how much longer it was until Monday. This morning she hurried through breakfast so she could put on the new outfit she'd picked out for the first day of school. She looked so cute!

We took her over to the kindergarten and dropped her off. She started to act a little nervous when we started to leave, but the teacher's aide was right there and took her aside to stash her backpack and usher her over to the playground. So we left. There were other parents there waiting to watch the kids all go in to the classroom once the bell rang. But from experience with Haley I've learned that she actually does better with stuff like this if we're NOT there. So we headed home.

Of course, I do have the cell phone with me every minute of the day, just in case they need to call me. =)

Today will be her first day of kindergarten, her first time eating in the school lunchroom, and her first day at PAWS (the afterschool program). I can't wait to pick her up tonight and hear how it all went!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What a smarty-pants!

Haley & I just got back from her kindergarten assessment. When we got there, they took her into the next room to go through the assessment exercises with the teachers. They told me it would probably be 30-40 minutes. Well, a bit more than 2 hours later, she was finally done! Apparently the assessment lets them just keep going as long as they still know how to read this page, solve this math problem, finish this pattern, etc. As long as they're still doing it right, they just keep going. Well finally, the teachers stopped Haley because she was tired. She could have kept going!

They came out afterwards to go over her scores with me. In almost every category she was at least double the expected benchmark. Her reading was especially high... by the end of the year, they should be reading at a level 4. Haley was reading at level 14 when they finally stopped her assessment!

When she walked out of the testing room she heaved a big sigh and told me, "Mom, that made me all exhausted!" =)

I always knew she was smart as anything, but always nice to have it confirmed!!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

They're breaking the deal!

Have you ever seen the Seinfeld episode where George keeps hitting birds with his car?
  • George: I don't get these birds; they're breakin' the deal! ... Don't we have a deal with the pigeons?
  • Jerry: Of course we have a deal: They get out of the way of our cars; we look the other way on the statue defecations.
Apparently, Aaron and I are in the same boat as George, birds keep breaking the deal! I don't know what it is, but for some reason, birds are always flying into our cars as we drive. It's not like we're aiming for the birds, but when we're just driving along, suddenly THUMP and a bird runs right into the car. I don't have a count of how many times, but it seems like it happens really often. On Sunday - bird hit Aaron's car. This morning on my way to work - bird hits my car. I feel bad for the poor birds - but come on, they're breaking the deal!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Why I Blog

I had someone ask yesterday why I blog... "What's the point? I don't get it." My response was that I blog for a lot of reasons.
  1. All of my family is out of state and blogging is a way to keep them up-to-date on our lives and what's up with the kids.
  2. I have lots of friends around here, but we're all so busy that it's hard to get together often. By writing my blog, I can tell them what's going on with us. By reading their blogs, I find out about things going on in their lives. And I learn more about my friends and what's important to them. I assume they can learn the same kind of things about me.
  3. I can share fun tips and tricks that I've learned. When I find something that works for me (like making my own chalkboards) I like to tell people about it. Maybe it will work for them, too.
  4. I can keep myself accountable. When I set goals for myself and then blog about it, I feel like I have to follow through. Once other people know about my goal (like saying Yes), I try harder to meet the goal.
  5. I use it as a journal. I'm not good at keeping a written journal, but the blog is a record of my life that feels a lot like a journal to me. My scripture-reading blog helps encourage me to keep up with my reading (the accountability thing again) and helps me think more about what I read, because I journal about it after I read.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Frozen Treats

I love ice cream and other frozen treats. Give me a pint of Ben & Jerry's and I am a happy girl! (Mmmm... Karamel Sutra) But when I have a pint of Ben & Jerry's, I'm likely to eat the whole pint, not stop at the 1/2 cup serving size. And then I feel bad about eating it.

So I've found a new treat that comes without the guilt! Buy some Yoplait Whips (yogurt) and pop them into the freezer. After it freezes, it has a firm, creamy texture that's similar to ice cream. It tastes great. And it satisfies my craving for a frozen treat.

  • Ben & Jerry's = 280 calories and 15 grams of fat in a 1/2 cup serving
  • Yoplait Whips = 140 calories and 2.5 grams of fat in one cup

So frozen Whips are working for me. Check out the Works for Me Wednesday blog carnival at We Are That Family to see what's working for others!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

I like Jim

Isn't it funny how you can form an opinion of someone based on really nothing at all?

Every day on my way to the bus stop, I walk past Jim. I know nothing about him other than that he is older (based on the white hair and beard), he has a routine that sends him walking up the hill every afternoon as I am walking down the hill, and apparently his name is Jim (based on the name stitched on the work shirts he always wears). So I don't know anything about him, but I like him. When we pass every day, he smiles and nods. Sometimes he says hello. So he seems nice and I enjoy seeing him.

On the other hand, there's a lady at my bus stop that I also see every day. I'll usually nod or say hello when I walk up, and she sometimes nods back, sometimes just kind of looks away as I walk up. So even though I know nothing about her, I kind of don't like her. She's probably a really nice person. Maybe she's just tired at the end of the day. Maybe she's shy.

I guess what I'm getting out of this is that I should take the trouble to smile and say hello when I see someone... otherwise maybe they'll decide to dislike me for no good reason. =)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Rocks, a Picnic & More Rocks

Aaron stays home with the kids on Fridays. As I was finishing up at work, I called Aaron to tell him I was going to stop at the store on the way home, so I'd be a little late. He told me not to hurry - because he and the kids were in Buena Vista. (About 3 hours southwest of home.) Apparently, they had quite the day. They first went up in the mountains to Leadville to visit a rock shop there. Then after spotting a flyer about a rock show in Buena Vista, headed down there to check it out. Unfortunately, by the time they got there it was too late and the rock show was closing down for the night. The kids love rocks almost as Aaron, so they were all quite disappointed by that.

On Saturday, Aaron took a few hours off work so we could goto the annual summer picnic for Nurse-Family Partnership (where I work). It was held at a park up in Conifer and it was a beautiful area. Of course, we made the mistake of telling the kids we were going to a park for the picnic, so they were very disappointed when we got there and they discovered there was no playground. Without a playground, it doesn't really qualify as a park, apparently! But we'd brought the ball-catching game I made from milk-cartons, so they enjoyed playing that. They also did some sidewalk chalk drawing, played some soccer, danced the hokey-pokey (as did Mommy) and ate a lot of really good food!

Sunday, it was back to the rock show in Buena Vista. Aaron & the kids were disappointed enough by missing out on Friday, that I was convinced to go back on Sunday. So we drove to Buena Vista and looked at rocks. It was pretty warm, but at least there was a good breeze to cool it off a little. Aaron, Haley, & Preston really enjoyed the rock show and all of them got some rocks that they will add to their collections. Brekken and I were just kind of along for the ride. But I'm sure that in a couple of years, Brekken will be right there collecting rocks with the rest of them! (I will still just be along for the ride - it's just not my thing - but I like seeing the rest of them enjoy the rock shows!)

Friday, August 7, 2009

Call Me Underdog

If you're my Facebook friend (and if you're not, you should be!) you might have already learned about Preston's obsession with Underdog. He and Haley both love to watch the cartoons, but Preston has lately decided that he is Underdog.

He is to be called Underdog at all times. He won't answer to anything else. So around our house lately, it's "Underdog, eat your dinner." "Underdog, it's time for bed." and even "Underdog, say your prayers."

He also refers to me as Sweet Mommy (Sweet Polly is the heroine in the Underdog cartoons) and insists on rescuing me from imagined peril many times each day.

Part of his obsession is his love of singing the theme song... in his own special way.

To translate:
Underdog, Underdog.
Underdog, Underdog.
Speed of lightning, roar of thunder.

I don't know how Hi-ho-the-der-i-o came to be mixed into the song! =)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

I'm Proud of My Mom

A friend of mine (actually a couple of them, but one in particular I was talking to) is going to school right now. She also has a job and has kids to take care of. We were talking about how hard it can be to find time for school in the middle of all that. I was offering her what encouragement I could, and it made me think about my mom.

My mom didn't start college until I was in middle school. She took classes at night - often having to drive to the next town (30 minutes away) to attend classes. While she was doing this, she was also working and taking care of 6 children. I know it had to be very hard. Sometimes it must have seemed like she would never be finished with school. But she kept working and working until she finished her Bachelor's degree!

That was actually an incredible day... on the same day, in the same ceremony, my brother received his Associate's degree, Mom got her Bachelor's degree, and I got my Master's degree. That is not a family event many people can brag about! We have a joint graduation announcement for the three of us that is a special keepsake for me.

Even after finishing her Bachelor's degree, Mom wasn't done. She kept working and going to school for several more years until she eventually received her Master's degree. At that point, she was teaching some of the same classes that she had taken as a student. What a huge thing that was...

I'm so proud of my mom for all her hard work and everything she did to get her education. The effort she put into getting her education all those years really helped me to realize how important it was to work hard at my own schooling. I'm not sure if I ever told Mom how proud I am - so just in case...

Mom, you are incredible! You are a great example. I have bragged about you a lot over the years when I tell people how hard you worked for your education!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Cheap & Easy Game for the Kids

Last weekend I had a brainstorm. I thought of a cheap and easy way to make a game for my kids. I had some empty milk jugs so I threw them in the dishwasher to be sure they were really clean. Then I just took a sharp pair of scissors and cut out the top front of each jug. I left the handle intact to be used as... well, a handle.

Then I gave the kids a couple of balls and let them go crazy. It was a ball-catching free-for-all! They had a blast and are entertained by this game for up to 30 minutes at a stretch. If they were older and could play catch with the jugs, that would probably be a lot of fun too.

There is also some very involved and complex imagination game that Haley & Preston have come up with on their own... something to do with the balls (which they have named Zoey and Blink) who run away and need to be caught and taken care of. The jugs become cages, beds, carseats, and who knows what else. Lots of time spent playing this game as well. Brekken is happy just carrying his ball around and showing it to us. =)

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, August 4, 2009

You do know we can see you, right?

As I was driving to the bus stop, I had to change lanes (along with 3 other cars) to go around a car that was dawdling along in the right lane. I don't know if I'm the only one, but when I pass someone, I always just glance over quickly to see who it is I'm passing. You know, maybe they're really old or something, and that's their reason for driving 50 in a 75 mph zone.

Turns out this guy wasn't old, he was just really occupied... too intent on what he was doing to pay much attention to his driving apparently. He had a finger all the way up his nose and was just digging away. That must have been one annoying booger! =D

Monday, August 3, 2009

Quality Time

It has occurred to me that I don't make enough effort to just enjoy my kids. It seems like when I get home from work we immediately launch into dinner and chores or baths or whatever else is planned for the night. And I always have such a hard time getting anything done, because the kids are following me around and clinging. But maybe it's just that they want some attention from me after being separated all day.

So I need to make an effort to have some quality time with the kids as soon as we get home. This week, I'm going to give it a shot. Every day, when we walk in the door, I'm not going to immediately launch into my to-do list. Instead, I'm going to sit down with my kids and listen to them talk about their day. I'm going to give them my attention. I think that if I give them that focused attention for a bit, then they'll be more settled and able to go off and play while I get to the things I need to do. And I think we'll all enjoy it.