Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas!

What a fun day! For starters we keep up Dominic's family tradition with the stockings: they're filled with candy and cheap toys, and we put them in the kids' room before we go to bed. The children wake up to new toys and sugar, so they happily play in their room until we wake up.

This was a bike Christmas. Both Samuel and Benjamin received bikes from Santa. We thought Lisy was too young to care, but we were wrong (see picture below). Lisy's Santa present was a princess couch/fold-out bed, which she enjoyed switching back and forth (it's at the bottom of Sammy's picture). Sammy pretended to ride his bike to school, and Benjamin pretended to be Speed Racer on a bike.


Did I mention the great deals? We got each one for under $50!
















The boys are watching a movie while sitting on their bikes. So funny!



Lisy, after much effort, got up on Benjamin's bike all by herself. Benjamin kept pulling her off.
So Sammy would hold her up on his bike, but he needed help taking her down.









Instead of making a big holiday feast with turkey and potatoes and such (neither of us were in the mood for it), we made a big country breakfast. Then we took naps.

Here are a few highlights of the day:
Lisy, upon opening a My Little Pony, immediately started combing its hair with no prompting from me. It must be a girl thing.

"I have my own! I have my own!" -Benjamin, referring to the Obi-Wan starfighter from Llama Grandma; Sammy already has one and doesn't like to share it.

"That present was mislabeled. It should go to me." -Dominic, watching Benjamin open the A-wing. It was just a joke, but he did enjoy playing with the Star Wars ships with the boys.

Lisy kept eating the candy out of other people's stockings.

Benjamin - "It's Present day!"
Dominic - "Actually, it's Christmas day."

Sammy - "Some people call this an X-wing."
Me - "Why? It's a B-wing."
Sammy - "Because if you turn it like this it looks like an X."

Dominic surprised me with the World of Warcraft expansion, Wrath of the Lich King. I surprised him with a "green linen shirt," which parodies the clothes in the game.

Lisy tried to put on all the clothes she got, but she kept getting it wrong, like fitting pants onto her head and putting 3 socks on one foot, over her pajamas.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Say Cheese!

This post is pathetically lacking in pictures. So I'm making up for it all at once. Are you ready?

The boys enjoying a freak snowstorm in October. Notice the snowman's multiple eyes? Yeah, they had been watching a lot of Monsters, Inc.





Here I am with my cousin Lovina at her bridal shower. She was a radiant bride-to-be.







This was the year of superheroes. L-R: Lisy as Batgirl, Benjamin as Superman, Sammy as Captain America. Technically Lisy is wearing a witch's dress, but I pinned on a Batman cape, which thrilled her.



My favorite Superman picture.













Lisy is enjoying our balcony over the water at the Sundowner Motel. We stayed there for Dominic's job interview and when we first arrived in Caldwell.





The children had a lot of fun climbing all over the boxes. Packing is so much more fun for children with no responsibilities.






Our new house! Have I mentioned how nice it is to have a garage? and a fenced backyard? and an extra bathroom? and a walk-in closet? OK, I'll stop now.





Benjamin and Samuel with Santa at the Boise Botanical Gardens. The lights were amazing, but it was freezing cold.

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Settling in

Pictures at last! First, the nice one. Next, the one with personality:










I want to begin this post by saying that I love my husband very much. While I was at Relief Society this week, Dominic put together the living room and put away most of the boxes. He even set up and organized the bookcase. It feels like a home now: places to sit and no boxes tripping us up.

Dominic's surprise made me feel so good that I decorated for Christmas. Sammy, I mean Samuel, is thrilled to have a tree up and lights outside like everyone else. One surprise I didn't expect was a missing ornament box. It's either misplaced or mislabeled. So I bought garlands and bows and candy canes, making it look like our first Christmas tree. The kids really liked helping me decorate, until Lisy found out the candy canes were edible. I doubt many will survive the next 2 weeks.

Our next-door neighbors are very nice. They're they only ones who have greeted us, they brought us pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving, and their daughter is a lot like Sierra. So I gave them cookies, which they couldn't stop raving about. OK, here's my secret ingredient: add one package of instant chocolate pudding mix along with the flour. No one even notices that I use whole wheat flour ;)

As a follow-up from my last post, thank you so much for your comment, Marrisse. I decided to enlist my children's help. We had a family home evening about how Heavenly Father doesn't like fighting and yelling, but He is happy when we're peacemakers. Mommy is more emotional than usual and needs extra help. Since families help each other, I suggested they say "breathe Mom" when I yell. Then I'll stop and take a deep, calming breath. They really liked that idea. Though they never tell me to breathe until after I've stopped, I do give them lots of hugs and thank them for helping.

Now that I'm safely in the second trimester, I announce to the world that I'm expecting baby #4. I'm due in May on Lisy's 2nd birthday. Dominic notes that pregnancy increases the volume of my voice. What can I say? Some women cry, and I yell. It is temporary, but I feel bad for my little ones, which is why I'm working on it.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We have a house! Yea! The rental company was really nice and worked very hard to get us in before Thanksgiving so we wouldn't have to stay in a hotel for 4 more days. The children were very happy and ran all over the place. That night the Bishop's wife of our new ward brought over dinner.

Thanksgiving day we were thankfully moving into our new home. We did take a break to eat a wonderful meal at Golden Corral, after which Dominic and I took naps. Benjamin wasn't feeling well, and in fact he had a fever most of the morning. He only drank soda at dinner, then he felt much better after throwing up.

We still have boxes everywhere, so there's no room for a Christmas tree yet. However, we did set up the kitchen, bathrooms, washer & dryer, and stuffed all the toys in the play room. Ok, I love having a play room. Who cares if it's a mess? The toys are out of the living areas!

There are a few things I always thought I would like, and now I know I love them: pantry, walk-in closet, and garage. All 3 really help me organize and de-clutter, areas in which I need a lot of help.

Although the children seem to like it here, they are still adjusting. Sammy found a picture of his friend Sierra and started to cry. Benjamin screams at the slightest provocation and is biting again. Lisy laughs after hitting and kicking her brothers. (sigh) I wish I could be the stability they need, but I've been very emotional lately. However, the nice weather helps, and I stick to our morning and evening routines. (As a side note, I'm grateful Sammy starts school next year, once we're fully settled in.)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

When last we left our heroes . . .

. . . we were stuck in Burley, ID. Dominic made it to his first day of work on Monday after driving 2.5 hours. The kids and I got to hang out in Burley.

However, we were at a motel right off the highway, and the town was a few miles away. I pulled out the stroller and tried to walk. I hit a snag when I realized there wasn't even a shoulder, let alone a sidewalk, on the overpass leading into town. I left the boys with strict instructions to hold tight to the stroller while I checked on the median; turns out it was not an option. While I was off investigating, a lady drove by and saw the kids by the side of the road. She thought "uh oh" and pulled over. Her name was Carrie, and she was relieved to see me walk back. She drove an SUV, so the stroller and all of us fit just fine. Carrie was our angel, taking us into town to a great park and giving me her phone number.

The children happily played for awhile; I accidentally fell asleep on a bench. When Sammy needed to go potty (Benjamin's potty training has gone out the window), we found a thrift store that let us use their bathroom. Dominic's boss let him leave early to come get us. We all made it up to Caldwell that night. In case you're wondering, Dominic made that 2.5 hour drive 3 times, totaling 555 miles driven in 1 day. Wow.

The rest of the week has been occupied with learning a new job and looking for housing. Dominic likes his job already. He works with crazy people again, but he'll always have that in psychology. The housing market is wide open, with lots of houses for rent under $700 a month. The problem occurs in that most owners work through rental agencies, whose hours are the same as Dominic's. So we've looked at a lot of places and actually applied to 2. For the first house, we turned in the application an hour after someone else; of course they got it. For the second house, they should let us know tomorrow. We have a list of places to call if that falls through, too.

Meanwhile, we are all tired of living in hotels. Our first motel was cute, and we had a patio right over a river. When the boys first saw the water, they both said, "we shouldn't throw anything in there." And they didn't. But after a few days we needed a change of scenery. Plus, they told us the weekly rate was not retroactive. We are now at a Days Inn, which has internet, a laundry room and a continental breakfast, which saves on our food bill. Cute is not modern.

The children are holding up as well as can be expected. They watch a ridiculous amount of t.v., but there's nothing else to do. The boys have a lot of energy, and their only outlets are wrestling and jumping on the beds. Lisy has started screaming whenever she's tired or hungry. She is also very clingy. Tonight I held her until she fell asleep, which made for a much quieter bedtime.

Dominic and I are mostly worried about moving before Thanksgiving weekend, when every thing will be closed for 4 days.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Our adventure so far

Moving is always an adventure. And when you use an old trailer hitched to a 1978 van, you get a lot more excitement than you want.

We actually packed up and cleaned our entire apartment by Saturday evening. Emily came one more door and helped with the kid's room. The Elder's Quorum loaded up our big, heavy furniture and the boxes packed thus far on Wednesday. Friday afternoon the missionaries happened through our neighborhood and helped with rest of the furniture and almost everything else. My Visiting teachers also came by and started the cleaning. Saturday was consumed with the task of fitting everything else into the nooks and crannies and the final cleaning.

Our downstairs neighbors, who I thought didn't like us, invited our children over to watch a movie and drink hot chocolate for the last 2 hours we were there. The children have done remarkably well, all things considered. Their lives have turned upside down, and they seem to be taking it all in stride.

Animals: Neighbors who moved away back in June left behind their cat, Kahlua. We've been feeding him since then. He never really accepted us, so we dropped him off at the Ogden animal shelter. Benjamin misses him and keeps asking where he is. Of the 7 degus, we gave up the 3 girls for adoption through Petco. The employees were enthralled with them and kept assuring us they'd be adopted quickly.

Saturday night we reached Snowville, just 7 miles from the state border, when the van's drive shaft fell off. We stayed the night at the only motel in town. This morning, stuck in a small Utah town on Sunday, Dominic had to drive quite a ways in our car to find an automotive store open. He spent most of the day driving and repairing that worn-out van, while the children and I ate at Mollie's Cafe and played in the motel room all day. We hit the road around 5:30 pm and made it all the way to Burley, Idaho.

Physically, we could have kept going, but Dominic needed to finish and turn in his final paper by midnight. He made it with 10 minutes to spare. We are currently staying at a Super 8 for the internet access. We are in suite at no extra charge, because they don't allow more than 4 people in a regular room. Terry cloth bathrobes - although they're always shown in the movies, I didn't know hotels actually had them! They are very comfortable.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

My Sunday evening

Even in the midst of all the packing, it's hard to break my Sunday routine. After the children are in bed and before Dominic comes home, it is me time. I do various things that have absolutely nothing to do with my regular responsibilities. Tonight I had great ambitions of sorting through old papers, clothes and random junk to either pack or throw out. Did I do any of it? Nope. This me-time routine is too ingrained. I rationalize it by saying I need the time to emotionally and mentally prepare for the coming week.

That being said, life is crazy! The children are bouncing off the walls, crying and screaming, wrestling more, climbing in and destroying boxes, and occasionally trying to "help" pack. Hmm.

For help I asked my sister Emily to come over with her kids, so the cousins could entertain each other. She and Troy came up with a better plan: Troy took my kids home to play with the cousins, and Em helped me pack all day without rambunctious noisemakers underfoot. It was wonderful! We packed up most of the kitchen, living room and framed pictures. My kids came home happy and exhausted. Emily and Troy are saints!

We need to be in Idaho in one week, and now it looks possible. At church today people offered to watch my kids, have us over for dinner, or physically load the trailer.

Today was also Dominic's last day at work. They held a pizza party for him. He gave them each a hand-written letter, and they each said something they remembered about him. Apparently there was lots of crying. And these are teenage boys. I think Dominic has been a positive influence on them and a great staff member - his boss cried on and off all shift.

After only 2 years, this has definitely become our home.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

New Job

Since receiving his master's degree, Dominic has been looking for a job that will reflect his higher education, plus have better hours, and is physically safer (the mentally ill, delinquent teenage boys he currently works with tend to be violent).

Last Tuesday he went to Idaho for a job interview, about 5 hours away. The rest of us tagged along to check out the new town.

The town was smaller than I expected and not quite as cute as the website made it look. But it is only 30 minutes from Boise, which is the biggest city in Idaho, so it's in the vicinity of civilization.

The interview went very well; Dominic even made them laugh. And on Friday they called back to offer him the job. It met the above mentioned requirements, plus it offers a 50% wage increase and will allow him to work on his doctorate, so he accepted.

Then they asked him to start as soon as possible. He talked them into giving us 2 weeks in order to move. I was really hoping for a full month, like we had the last time we moved, but they didn't want to wait any longer.

Yikes!! We only have 2 weeks to pack up and move?! Not to mention looking for a place to live. However, housing is much cheaper there. For an extra $150 a month, we can rent a 3 bedroom house, which will be much nicer than the 2 bedroom upstairs apartment we're in now. Children should never have to live in an upstairs apartment - it's impossible for them to be quiet on the floor.

Needless to say the next few weeks will be busy and exciting.

Overheard at church

As a parent, sometimes I say things that are necessary but sound funny when I think about it. This past Sunday my comments were fairly amusing.

* Stop picking your nose and just eat your fruit snacks.

* Lisy, don't tackle your brother.

* No severing limbs at church. (they were pretending)

* Benjamin - Where's Jesus?
Me - Right there in that picture.
Benjamin - No, the walking Jesus.
Me - Oh, he's just a man with long hair and a beard.
Sammy - Why?
Me - Because he likes his hair long and he has a beard? I don't know.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Role reversals

With both sons and a daughter, I've noticed the line between stereotypical boy/girl toys are fuzzy. My latest shopping trip to Walmart is an excellent example. I let the children take turns choosing their toothpaste, and this was Lisy's turn. I showed her Batman and Bratz. She stared at them for a long time, but finally chose Batman. Sammy was upset! He wanted her to choose Bratz because it was pink and girls like pink. Ironically, when it was time to chose the fruit snacks, Sammy chose My Little Pony and won't share them.

At the church Halloween party last night, Captain America (Sammy) and Superman (Benjamin) wrestled quite a bit. It was funny watching 2 good guys duke it out, and they received many comments.

It's not a secret that my kids like Star Wars. A week ago Dominic noticed Benjamin humming the Imperial March (think: Darth Vader's theme song) while marching along the hallway. And just a couple of days ago, he found Lisy doing the same thing! Her march looked more like the goose step, but the tune was definitely decipherable as the Imperial March. And although I'm not certain it was intentional, she wore a blanket draped across her shoulders like a cape.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Quotes Archive

I think I want to keep a record of my "Quote of the Week" column. Since I don't know how to add pages, or anything fancy at all, I'll just add new quotes to this post.

3/3/2013 "I find that despite my best efforts, you exert undue influence on my behavior."
-Temperance Brennan, "Bones"

9/29/2012 "Sometimes I would lie on my bed and stare at the ceiling, because it was the only clean place in my house."
-Brenda, a grandmother who raised 7 children

5/1/2011 "Democracy is like a tambourine; not everyone can be trusted with it."
-John Oliver, comedian.


3/20/2011 "Remember that the concerns of a mother cannot be separated from the needs of her children and her husband."-Jeffrey R. Holland, "'Charity Never Faileth': A Discussion on Relief Society." The Ensign, Mar. 2011, p. 42.

3/4/2011 "It is not the design of heaven that we be rescued from all difficult situations. Rather, it is the Lord's will that we learn to handle them." -Joseph Fielding McConkie, "Finding Answers," The Ensign, Feb. 2011, p. 32.

2/20/2011 "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. Fool me three times, and I'll hire you as my lawyer." -Wink, the royal advisor, Alcatraz versus the Shattered Lens, p. 165

2/4/2011 "Good heavens, no! The Bishop and the professor in the same room? I'd be excommunicated." -Professor Henry Higgins' mother, My Fair Lady

1/25/2011 Lines Written on a Banknote
Woe worth thy power, thou cursed leaf!
Fell source o' a' my woe and grief!
For lack o' thee I've lost my lass!
For lack o' thee I scrimp my glass!
I see the children of affliction
Unaided, through thy curst restriction:
I've seen the oppressor's cruel smile
Amid his hapless victim's spoil;
And for they potence vainly wished,
To crush the villain in the dust:
For lack o' thee, I leave this much-lov'd shore,
Never, perhaps, to greet old Scotland more.
-Robert Burns

1/ 22/2011 "Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children." —Alex Haley

3/01/2010 "You have a love/hate relationship with the idea of changing your hair." -Dominic to me, when I was thinking of getting a haircut and maybe dyeing it. I haven't done anything, yet.

2/3/2010 "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read." -Author unknown

1/12/2010 A mother really is the homemaker, because nothing happens in the home unless the mom makes it happen. -paraphrased from Eden Borrowman, Sunday school teacher

12/01/2009 "Oh, why do my actions have consequences!" -Homer Simpson

11/26/2008 "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart." -Nelson Mandela

11/18/2009 "Two words: taste test." -Dominic to me. Sometimes I forget to taste test food before serving it. This time dinner was just a tad (ok, very) salty.

11/10/2009 "The world needs more palindromes." -Me

10/18/2009 "Mommy, I love you super looper much." -Benjamin

10/02/2009 "Nothing hurts a new truth more than an old error" -Geothe

10/01/2009 "Obi-One died. I'm Obi-Two Kenobi." -Samuel

8/26/2009 Dominic - "Can you please turn off the television?" Benjamin - "OK. But first I need to turn off the t.v."

8/10/2009 "I'm 4!" -Benjamin telling everyone about his birthday

7/8/2009 "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." -Thomas Jefferson, The Declaration of Independence, 1776

6/18/2009 "You are the embodiment of joie de vivre." -My Dad to Elisa

5/18/2009 "Oh geez, I'd hate to be her right now." -Overheard at the park

5/07/2009 Dominic: "Foldest thou thine arms." How the kids say it: "Foldest now nine arms."

4/26/2009 "I have hot dog power!" -Benjamin

4/12/2009 "This is the most exciting day ever! It's Easter and we get to go to church!"
-Samuel

4/06/2009 "There are 6 people in Idaho who don't hunt. Then we moved here. Now there's 7." -Samuel

3/30/2009 Benjamin: "You can't see me." Me: "Oh? Why not?" Benjamin: "Because my eyes are invisible."

3/27/2009 "Tums: the snack of pregnant women." -Me

3/17/2009 "Mommy, you're nice, but Daddy makes you silly."
-Benjamin, observing that I laugh more when Dominic is around.

3/04/2009 "Look at you! You're the kind of pregnant lady the rest of us hate."
-Next door neighbor to me, but I think she was just being nice.

2/15/2009 "Marriage vows should place unbreachable walls around a couple. Sometimes people selfishly and mistakenly see these as prison walls from which to escape. But committed couples can see them as walls around a beautiful garden. With so much peace and happiness being cultivated inside, why would anyone want to go outside?" -Abbott, J. (Mar 1995). Trust That Deepens Through the Years. The Ensign.

2/09/2009 "Lisy is so toot (cute)." -Benjamin
"You're cute, too." -Me
"But I'm not a baby." -Benjamin

2/03/2009 Online chat with a friend, who never heard of NPR or the show Car Talk: "what are you doing now?" -friend
"i'm listening to car talk" -Dominic
~pause~ "what is your car saying?" -friend

1/25/2009 In Darth Vader voice: "Luke, you are whiny!"
In whiny Luke voice: "That's not true, that's impossible!"
-Samuel was playing with his action figures

1/18/2009 "It's better to die laughing than to live each moment in fear." -Michael Crichton

1/09/2009 "Hi Dear, I'm on my way home now." -Me
"Oh good. I thought you had moved to Walmart." -Dominic

12/29/2008 "Youngest to o'dest!" -Benjamin, with the mistaken idea that he will be last to do something unpleasant, like brush his teeth.

12/21/2008 "Lift up your head and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the world, to show unto the world that I will fulfill all that which I have caused to be spoken by the mouth of my holy prophets." -Jesus Christ, 3 Nephi 1:13

12/14/2008 "What you need is one more." - A stranger who saw me trying to catch the 3 kids running in 3 directions. He was trying to be funny but didn't realize there is one more on the way.

12/07/2008 A composite of several conversations: "Sammy is a baby name. Call me Samuel now. It's easy. You start with a Sam and end with a yule. Sam-uel." Benjamin: "Ammy-yule"

11/23/2008 "My Dad's name is Dominic, and my Mom's name is MaryRuth. But I'm not allowed to call them that. I have to call them Dad and Mom." - Sammy, to a stranger at a nearby table at breakfast.

11/16/2008 "Are we going home?" - Benjamin asks several times a day

11/09/2008 As a farewell to Utah, seen on a license plate frame this week:
Ski Patrol
* Risking ours *
* Saving yours *

11/04/2008 "You shouldn't worry (about making friends in a new area). You all have a bit of your dad in you." -Marrisse, sister-in-law

10/26/2008 "You really don't complain much." -Troy, brother-in-law
"That's because you can't hear what I'm thinking." -Me

10/17/2008 "Dad, you think you're a human being, but actually you are an aardvark." -Sammy pronounces aardvark like ahdvahk. Benjamin says ahbahk.

10/01/2008 "When I read that part in the script where it said, 'Luke, I am your father,' I thought, 'He's lying. I have to see how they carry this lie out.' " -James Earl Jones

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Surprise!

Today is my 31st birthday and the first anniversary of my blog. This has been a birthday filled with surprises. To start it off, last month I mentioned to Dominic that I would like an MP3 player, and he then proceeded to talk me out of it. What did he give me? An MP3 player! It even came with an armband so I can listen to music while running. Turns out he thought it was a great idea.

The next surprise was a trip. Not a major deal, mind you, but we headed out to look at some old ghost towns in the area. As it grew later I mentioned my concern about getting the kids to bed on time, so Dominic showed me the toothbrushes and changes of clothes in the trunk. I giggled in happy surprise for at least 10 minutes.

We ended up at Bear Lake at the only restaurant open in the winter, a very reasonably priced steak house. Then our server referred us to a nice hotel. Our rooms were about the same size as our first apartment and had a full kitchen, king-sized bed, and leather fold-out couch (the boys loved jumping on it). We saw the brochure with the advertised summer rates, and since we stayed mid-week off-season, we got a great deal. The next day we explored more ghost towns. Actually, the "ghost towns" mentioned in our book were more like dilapidated buildings in and around working ranches. But we got some really cool pictures.

Today itself was calm and quiet, with lots of phone calls from my family.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Ok, Ok, They're Not Monsters

To show you that I realize my children are not always little terrorizing monsters, here are some fun stories and facts about them.

Benjamin's potty training is coming along. Some days are great. Other days his pull-ups make it possible for him to change his own diaper, so to speak. We track his success with potty charts. He comes up with his own rewards when he fills up a chart with stickers. One reward he chose was a pack of M&Ms, which he shared with his brother and sister. Another reward was to visit an airforce museum with the family. He is amazingly considerate for a 3-year-old. Sammy enjoyed the cluster bombs most, and Lisy kept pointing and making airplane noises.

Sammy is quite the precocious child. At the museum I pointed out a plane and said, "Look, this plane is carrying 4 bombs on each side." To which he replied, "No, Mom. It's carrying 3 missiles and 1 bomb on each side." Dominic admitted the kid was right. At least Sammy doesn't go around singing "I'm right, and you're wrong" anymore. That was annoying.

After the museum we rented the movie "Top Gun." I fast-forwarded through all the talking parts so they could fully enjoy the airplane scenes. Benjamin discovered a new way to die. Let me just say that this kid "dies" several times a day. There are the common deaths (guns, sword and lightsaber fights, poisoned cookies, drowning, falling into lava) to the bizarre (running himself down with the toy lawnmower). Now he pretends to be Goose falling out of a plane. He looks at me and says, "I'm Doose. Aaaaaah," and falls down. He cracks me up! Another thing that gets me is when he says, "I'm so cuuute," where cute sounds like teeewt.

Sammy likes to take care of the food. When he is hungry, he raids the fridge and cupboards and puts random things on the table. Then I look through it and narrow it down to what can go together. We've had interesting lunches that way. One day while I was showering too close to lunch time, he spread cool whip on bread. He and Benjamin ate about half the loaf of bread like that, finishing it off. He was very proud of his meal.

Lisy wore her hair in pigtails for the first (successful) time today. It was adorable! Her hair even made little curls, as if I did it on purpose. Of course I don't have a picture, because I still don't know how to upload pictures onto the laptop. She has also been much easier since we started locking the fridge. Oh she screams about it, but the eggs are safe. She really enjoys getting tickled. When we stop, she takes our hands and puts them back on her belly to get tickled again. And finally, she loves to be taken care of. For instance, she enjoys getting her hair washed when it's coated in food, and she's the only one of the 3 who likes getting dressed or getting her diaper changed.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Little Monsters

It's official: our children are monsters.

A couple of Sundays ago I was the only one not sick, so everyone stayed home while I went to church. Halfway through I received a text message from Dominic: "What do you think is messier: raw eggs or poop? How about both all smeared over the kitchen floor?" Uh oh. But I thought it would all be cleaned up by the time I got home and he wouldn't need me, so I stayed.

When I arrived home, Dominic had cleaned up 3 Lisy messes and given her a bath. One problem he had was that she would make another mess while he cleaned up a previous one. After bathing her, he put her in the crib and finished cleaning the house. She screamed the entire time, but at least she couldn't make another mess. I felt really bad for Dominic, because he was sick, which is why he was home. The next day we bought a fridge lock.

Just this past Sunday, the boys were making a lot of noise on the floor and barely acknowledged my commands to quiet down. Our downstairs neighbors have a 3-month-old baby. The dad reached a breaking point and pounded on their ceiling, our floor. It scared my boys, who finally stopped stomping around. I was very embarrassed by their behavior, but I am grateful they obeyed someone.

The 3 little monsters do have their good moments, but they are still young children. They have a tendency to laugh when I want to yell at them.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Random thoughts

I haven't written for awhile, because nothing really big has happened. But I also don't want to fall out of the habit of posting, so I'll try some stream-of-consciousness writing.

The kids have been in bed for an hour, and the boys are still playing. Lisy is down to 1 nap a day. I now put her to bed after lunch or when she starts nodding off during lunch.

I enjoyed General Conference this weekend. Though I don't like how it makes Saturday feel like Sunday, and then Sunday feels like a vacation. What do you think about the Rome, Italy temple announcement? I feel like asking, "How did they pull that off?"

I really like the "Twilight" saga. Dominic thinks I like it a little too much, but compared to some people on-line, I'm not much of a fan. Besides Stephenie Meyer's website, I also peruse Twilight Lexicon.

I've had a nasty cold for the past week or so and haven't been able to run. If it stops raining, I'll run tomorrow. Lisy got me running again when I took a break after my race. You see, it had been about 3 weeks, and I was holding her while playing Tag with the kids. Every time I started running, she smiled really big. Then she kept climbing into the jogging stroller. The next day I took her running with me.

I decorated for Halloween! Luckily we don't have too much stuff, so it only took half a morning. Now Sammy says we need more decorations. I don't know - after a raccoon moved into our garage and used most of our Halloween decorations to build a nest a few years ago, I haven't been excited to buy things that will sit in storage.

In the time it has taken me to write this, the boys have finally fallen asleep. Yesterday I cut their hair, and now Benjamin's brown hair looks almost as light as Sammy's blonde.

I just finished reading "Before Green Gables," all about Anne Shirley's early life. Some parts were very sad, like when her parents died, but it was still very good. The author did an excellent job capturing Anne's personality and speech. I want to read the original series again.

Although I could go on, I had better stop before this becomes unbearably long and boring. This is a glimpse into my current life and mind.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Little Debater

Sammy will make a great debater some day. As Dominic put it, "he has the gift of gab." He has always talked a lot, but today he put this skill to great use.

This afternoon Sammy went up to Dominic and said, "I like ginger ale." He then listed all the good qualities of ginger ale. He described how ginger ale is not just for sick people (I give it to the kids when they've got the flu), but it's also a good soda. He went on to mention how each family member could benefit from drinking ginger ale. At the end of his 7 - 8 minute speech, he asked "Dad, can we buy some ginger ale?" By this time (well, a couple minutes into it) Dominic was convinced. So we bought ginger ale this evening.

I only wish I could have heard him.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Toby Keith concert

A little background: Dominic has been to several concerts that he still talks about. I've only been to free concerts in the park and orchestras. Last May I asked him to take me to a real concert. Toby Keith was the only one I'd heard of who was coming to the area, and some of his songs are funny. Dominic found half-price tickets online (I love that man).

Last night: We went to the last night of Toby Keith's Biggest & Baddest Tour. It had been raining all day, and the concert was in an outdoor ampitheater. Fortunately the weather calmed down. Montgomery Gentry started off, and although they're popular, I'm not a big fan. Plus, one of them acted slightly intoxicated - less than impressive. Around 9 pm Toby Keith finally came onstage. Obviously the headliner, he had pyrotechnics and a large screen behind him for close-ups and audience shots.

He was a great entertainer. He joked with the audience, tailoring his jokes for Utah, and adding lines about Salt Lake City to his songs. He has a very strong voice. He is also good with slow songs, which I never noticed before. I liked that he showcased his band, even letting a back-up singer solo a song; she was very good. He sang 3 encores, ending with a couple of patriotic songs. Unfortunately he cussed a lot, and I didn't realize how many songs are about alcohol. As a matter of fact, I'm glad we made it out of the parking lot unscathed, considering all the alcohol consumed by the audience. I was once again reminded why I don't drink.

Overall I had a great time, it was a fun concert, and I'm glad I went (and came home safely). It ended at 11 pm. What with the traffic and the long drive, we got home about 1 am. I had no idea it would be that late! Dominic knew it, of course. The poor babysitter fell asleep on the couch. We paid her as much as both tickets cost. Ok, she's not so poor anymore.

Enjoying Nature

We spent a couple of days enjoying nature and animals this week. Dominic and I are not outdoorsy, meaning we don't do a lot of outdoor sports, but we love to be outside when the weather is nice (I'm less tolerant of extreme temperatures as I get older). Unfortunately I forgot the camera for our outings.

Antelope Island: We visited Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake for the first time. The lack of trees surprised me. We hiked up a little bluff, and Elisa walked about half the way. Dominic thought it was cute that I pointed out buffalo chips to the kids, but they avoided stepping in them after that.

We tried to go to the beach, but we couldn't find the trail and ended up following an animal path, where we saw a bobcat (yikes!). Luckily it wanted to avoid us and quickly disappeared. Since it is near the end of the dry season, the beach was quite expansive, and we never came close to the water. But in the sand we saw a lot of animal tracks: rabbit, bobcat, fox, and the path of a running antelope. Speaking of animals, we actually saw a pronghorn deer, jackrabbits, the bobcat, several buffalo, and countless water birds. Oh, and I saw brine shrimp (aka sea-monkeys) for the first time.

Hogle Zoo: The weather was still nice, and we hadn't seen enough wildlife, so 2 days later we visited the zoo. We saw the bobcat better on the island than at the zoo; scary! Dominic finally got to see the Pallas cat awake. It looked like a very fluffy house cat, and it kept eyeing the birds flying outside the cage.

The funniest thing I saw was Sammy and Benjamin walking around like monkeys. Dominic asked Elisa what the cougars were, and she said, "tat?" But just moments earlier she was saying, "tat tat tat tat," her word for cat. She got out of the stroller at one point, and Sammy quickly sat in her seat. Lisy pushed her big brother around the giraffe house, and they both laughed a lot.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sweet Sammy

Referring to his children in a letter to his wife, Emma, Joseph Smith wrote, "Be tender and kind to them; don't be fractious to them, but listen to their wants" (Ensign, Sep. 2008, 13).

Yesterday I was looking at pictures in a magazine with my boys, when we saw a picture of a girl giving her mom some flowers. I was tired and wanted to keep flipping through the pages, but Sammy really wanted to talk about that picture. Remembering the above mentioned quote, I turned back to the page and let Sammy talk. He mentioned that he likes to give me flowers and that he's very sad the dandelions are gone for the summer; he gave me many dandelion bouquets this year. I assured him the flowers will come back in the Spring. Then today at the park he found some bushes in bloom. He was thrilled to be able to give me flowers again. I probably would have missed the significance of his gift if I hadn't taken the time to listen to him last night.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Relatives!

My brother-in-law and his wife, Devin and Maren, came to visit us this past week. The boys love their uncle and aunt, and they excitedly jumped around during most of the visit. On Wednesday we ate a BBQ dinner at the park. The kids played on the playground while the adults played "Rook." Thursday we went to Salt Lake City and did the tourist thing. We toured the Conference Center, visited the Tabernacle and Visitor's Center on Temple Square, and ended at the Church History Museum. Somehow they'd never been to any of them before.

My highlight was walking on the roof of the Conference Center. About 8 years ago I helped plant dead grass on the rooftop garden. They assured us the grass was just dormant, but it looked dead to me. This trip was the first time I saw the finished garden; the roof was closed due to rain or snow on my previous visits. I'm happy to report that the grass actually grew!

Last month my sister Emily offered to babysit for us. Friday evening we took her up on the offer. We dropped off the kids and had a great time at the nearly-empty waterpark (it was the last day of the season). We ate dinner at the "Pie Pantry" but didn't get any pie; I don't know why. The water slides were the most fun. It's a shame we didn't know about them earlier in the summer. To make the evening even better, the kids didn't want to come home. One word: cousins!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Low-key anniversary

Our 7th anniversary was fairly low-key this year. It was better than our 5th anniversary - we were moving across the country and were somewhere in Nebraska. The next day I realized we forgot our anniversary. Oh well, we knew there would be more.

This year our anniversary landed on a Sunday, which made things difficult. Instead of going on a trip, although that would be fun, we bought a new laptop. I get Dominic's old laptop, and the kids get the computer on the fritz. On Sunday Dominic cleaned the living room for me. Of course the boys messed it up within 2 minutes, but he made them clean it up again. Then he had to go to work. So I made him homemade brownies when he came home (he prefers brownies to cake).

Monday, being Labor Day, we just rented The Covenant to watch after the kids went to bed. We actually liked it a lot. It was suspenseful, a bit spooky, and well made. The special effects were very good.

Tuesday evening we hired a babysitter and went out for dinner. We also finished reading the Twilight saga. Good. It took up way to much of our time, though it was an exciting and funny story. So, although we didn't do anything spectacular, it was fun to spread the celebration over several days.

Have I mentioned how grateful I am to be married to Dominic? We balance each other quite well. I help him feel happy and supported and he helps me calm down and relax. After 7 years, he still makes me laugh.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Updates

Elisa: Well, both of her traumatized fingers lost the fingernails. The fingers look weird, but they don't seem to bother her. Several people have assured me that her nails will grow back just fine, without deformities, because she's so young. I hope so.

Benjamin: He is very ready to get potty trained, and I'm sticking with it this time. I gave up too quickly (after only half a day) the last few times. I just quit when he started to resist or had a couple of accidents. This time I'm devoting most of my attention to him, and after 3 days it seems to be working. He likes to flush the toilet and sing, "Bye-bye, my pee!" (he came up with that, not me)

Sammy: He is getting good at hitting them with the flyswatter. He usually kills at least one fly every time he gets the flyswatter. Often the flyswatter magically becomes a sword with which to hit everything. They make weapons out of anything.

Dominic: He was accepted at Walden University into his doctorate program! Classes start after Labor Day. Since it's an on-line school, he can still work without changing his schedule. And since he received his Master's from them, they're giving him a discount on tuition.

Me: After the race I gave myself a little break from running, but the break kept getting longer. I finally came up with new goals to keep myself going. Old goals - run 3 times a week and get in shape for a race. New goals - run 4 to 5 times a week and lose weight. You see, I went down to my pre-pregnancy size but never lost the weight. My aim is to get within a healthy BMI (body mass index) range.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Benjamin's superhero party

Sierra, Batman (Benjamin), The Red Knight (Andrew), The Flash (Sammy), and Magic Ducky Guy (Tim) admiring the cool cake.






Although it's been almost 2 weeks, I don't want to forget the details. So, without further ado...

What a great party! This was the first big birthday party I’ve put together. A couple of weeks before his birthday, I asked Benjamin what he wanted, and he said “cousins!” He has 10 cousins, aged 10 years to 8 months, living within this state. I also invited Sierra, our 9-year-old neighbor, who acts like part of the family. I over-planned so no one would get bored. It wasn’t necessary; we met at a park, and the kids played at the playground during the down-times.

As people arrived, I gave them capes I made from a sheet and let them choose a superhero name. While Dominic started grilling the hamburgers and hot dogs, we tested the kids’ super powers: who can throw a bat-a-rang the farthest, jump the farthest, run the fastest. They also played “Bat, Bat, Joker” (duck, duck, goose), and “Simon Says.”

After lunch we played “Tape the Utility Belt on Batman.” Benjamin really wanted a piƱata, but I couldn’t find one I liked (aka cheap) so I just threw the candy around, which was still fun and much safer. As people started leaving, Dominic launched a rocket several times until it got lost.

Honestly, I couldn’t have done it without my sister Emily, sister-in-law Marrisse and, of course, Dominic. Emily took charge of the games while I helped Dominic prepare lunch, and Marrisse made the perfect Batman cake. I think everyone had fun, so it was a good party.

Friday, August 22, 2008

My poor computer

Why do I keep having computer problems? This last week I even had a lot to write about. But my pc kept shutting down (or not turning on at all) for no apparent reason. Dominic replaced the CMOS battery, and I was good to go. Then, I couldn't connect to the internet. Without internet this is just a big, expensive paper weight. Again, Dominic took a look, worked his magic, and the world was right again. This is a great computer; 4 years old and still doing great, but the parts are starting to wear out. It may become the kids' computer soon.

We had plans for a trip this week with other family members, but plans fell through. Instead, we did fun things together around here. (We saved a lot on gas.) On Wednesday we all met at a nearby waterpark. We were there long enough to feel worn out and to get properly sunburned; I promise I wore sunscreen, but my shoulders just like to burn. Ok, ok, I'm the only one who got red - my children are more like their dad and tanned, even with sunscreen on. To paraphrase a family friend: some people marry looks, some for money, and some for fame, but my family marries for pigment.

Thursday night we all met at my sister Emily's house for dinner. My children disappeared as soon as we walked in the door, and I only saw them in snatches for the rest of the evening. I don't mind. The adults had time to chat and laugh, and the kids were very happy. Last night as I put Sammy to bed, he told me that Daniel (just 10 months older) is his favorite cousin. When I asked why, he said "He's so funny. He's even funnier than me."

This week Dominic has been working on his graduate school application. Another good reason I'm glad we didn't go on the trip - the place had no internet, so he couldn't have submitted the application in time. They'll let him know on Monday whether or not he's accepted. Cross your fingers!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

So much happening

Wow, so much has been happening. I ran in a 5K race, Benjamin turned 3, I'm reading an addictive book, the kids continue to do and say funny things, and I was chosen to test a game. Warning: this is a ridiculously long blog entry. Feel free to read it over a few days.

Before I begin, here's the update on Elisa: her fingers are completely healed. A lingering effect is on her fingernails, which are yellowish with dark spots, probably bruises under the nails. Unfortunately, she still puts her fingers in dangerous places.

The race. I did it! Back in March I decided to run in a 5K, or 3.1 mile race, which I haven't run since high school. I started out very slow: 5 minute warm-up and 5 minute run around the block. Each week I increased my run by 5 minutes until reaching 45. I took Lisy with me in the jogging stroller, and she took her morning nap. On the days Dominic worked, I dropped off the boys at the playground and ran with Lisy around the park.

On the day of the race, the boys went to a pool party. We had to leave early so that I had time to walk to the starting area; I pushed the boys in the double stroller and carried Lisy in the Snugli for about half an hour (it was on Saturday, when Dominic works 6 am to 10 pm and takes our only car). I left the kids with a friend while I ran. The weather was hot, hovering around 100 degrees. I fell in behind some friends and stayed with them. I don't know my official time, but my friends' unofficial time was about 27:30, so mine was, too.

Benjamin is 3! He's getting so big. He idealizes Sammy, and sometimes they play too much at night to sleep. Dominic once commented that "it must feel like a slumber party every night when your brother is your best friend." For some reason Ben-Ben is fascinated with eyebrows. He likes to point out mine, then ask "do I have eyebows?" (he can't say his r's) When I asked what he wanted for his birthday, he said "cousins!" So tomorrow we're holding a party with his local cousins.

Twilight. This is an addictive book. It's a good thing Dominic and I are reading it together or I wouldn't get anything done. We couldn't find any used copies, so we bought it new. Great purchase.

Funny kids. Lisy is so proud of herself. She likes to climb, and whenever she reaches the top (of the coffee table, usually) she exclaims, "ta da!" and then claps. The other day I discovered a mess and asked who did it. Both boys claimed it was Lisy. I asked, " are you just saying that to get out of trouble?" And Benjamin promptly replied, "not this time." Sammy is fascinated with the Olympic games. After watching a volleyball match, he practiced the overhand serve. After watching the swimming and diving competitions, he told me he wants to go to the Olympics. Good luck.

Wrath of the Lich King. Ok, this is going to sound silly, but I'm excited to be selected as a beta tester for the new expansion of World of Warcraft. Beta testers are given access to new computer games before they're released so the company can fix any problems. Dominic signed up both of us, and they chose me! I think I already play the game too much, so I'm a little nervous about this. It'll be so much fun!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

First ER visit

It's finally happened. After 4 1/2 years and 3 children, we took our little girl to the emergency room this morning. Lisy likes to poke her fingers between the door and the door jam, and today Sammy closed the door without realizing her fingers were there. The 2 little fingers on her right hand were smashed to the point of transparency.

We hadn't eaten breakfast and nobody was dressed yet. Dominic and I dressed very quickly. He put all the kids in the car while I grabbed my phone and the diaper bag with insurance information. We made it to the hospital in record time.

The triage nurse was nice and calm, which helped us calm down, too. By now the mashed fingers were round again, but they still looked very sore. They took x-rays of her hand and found no broken bones. We then got to re-wrap her hand whenever she pulled off the bandage.

The excitement and adrenaline rush of the morning really wiped out both Dominic and me for the rest of the day. As for Elisa, as long as we gave her the baby Tylenol on schedule, then she was good.

Camping in Yellowstone

Last week we went camping up at Yellowstone National Park with Dominic's brother and his wife. I took a day trip there nine years ago, and I've always wanted to go back.





The children were great in the car; not too much squabbling and lots of sleeping (yea dramamine!). We camped for 3 nights, which was just right.

Wednesday, our first full day, we explored West Yellowstone, MT and bought supplies we had either forgotten or didn't realize we needed. For instance, did you know that even in July the nighttime temperature gets down to the 30's? I didn't know, so we needed to buy some warmer clothes. We also visited a museum - they've had some fascinating natural disasters. There were dozens of buffalo like this one around the town, each painted by a different artist.



Thursday, we stayed in the park. I jogged in the morning, and it was beautiful! We saw geysers and colorful hot springs. We went to a visitor's center and down to Yellowstone Lake. The adults played several games of "Rook," while the kids were happily getting dirty. Everyone took naps in the afternoon, so I took the boys under a nearby bridge. We talked, threw rocks in the stream, and found an elk footprint. That night we roasted marshmallows. Benjamin didn't want to go near the fire, so he ate the untoasted marshmallows off the stick. FYI: when children are covered in sticky marshmallow goo, they collect much more dirt on their faces, hands and clothes, which is a pain to clean off.

Friday, we came home. We passed a field of flowers, so we stopped to give the kids a break and to take cute pictures. Dominic and I were exhausted when we got home. I unloaded the necessities from the trunk, such as clothes, toiletries, and cooking supplies. Hm, I think the tent is still there. I needed to go grocery shopping but was too tired, which is why we had no food last Saturday (see "Party crashers"). Sammy didn't sleep all weekend: he went to sleep after me, woke up before me, and didn't nap. Fortunately he's back to his regular schedule.

Animals we saw: a bald eagle and its nest, coyote, squirrels, some buffalo and a bunch of elk. We saw an osprey and a moose just outside the park. Although the boys wanted to see bears, I'm glad we didn't.

Sammy is now begging us to go camping again.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Party crashers



In order to exercise when Dominic works, I drop off the boys at the playground and push Elisa in the jogging stroller around the park. Today there were a bunch of people at the park, and I told the boys it was ok to play with the other kids. Unbeknownst to me, it was a birthday party. Within a couple of laps I saw a clown and a Batman arrive. They put on a magic show, played games, painted faces and made balloon animals. After my run and stretches, I tried to get the boys' attention, but they were having too much fun. So I talked to some of the other moms. They had wondered where the boys came from and were impressed with Sammy's outgoing nature. Eventually I found the mom in charge, apologized for crashing the party and thanked her for the great time. She was very nice and grateful the boys had fun.

Friends of ours came to the park a little later for a picnic lunch and offered to share their food with us. I appreciated it immensely! You see, we have almost no food right now; I didn't know what I was going to feed the children when we got home. (Times like this I wish we had a second car.) I'm glad I let the children stay at the party a little longer so we could all eat lunch.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Not a control freak

Instead of putting the kids to bed, I was hiding in the bathroom reading Parenting magazine. I read "Hungry for Control," an article about the increasing prevalence of eating disorders among mothers. The article contained a list of warning signs, including "You're overly controlling about the way your kids play and eat." HA! Not me! No Wrestling on Sunday is one of our house rules, but the boys were wrestling in the living room, while Lisy was wandering around who-knows-where, and I was stealing a quiet minute for myself.

So the point is that I am not a controlling mother. I don't have an eating disorder, either.

Benjamin napped today, which means he wasn't tired at bedtime. He's really good about going through our nighttime routine with his brother and sister, but then he comes out of his bedroom, saying "Ee-ee a'eep (Lisy asleep). And 'ammy a'eep (Sammy asleep). And I still awake!" What can I do? I let him stay up. He is so sweet at night, when he doesn't have to be the middle child, and he just wants "to be with oo, Mom." I include him in whatever I'm doing, be it cleaning or computer time, and he always goes back to bed without a fuss.

See? I'm not controlling at bedtime either, so I can enjoy these moments with my son.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Impromptu Block Party

We let the kids stay up for the fireworks last night. Their bedtime is usually between 7:30 and 8:00 pm, and last night they went to bed at 10:30. They were incredibly good! Of course there was the excitement of explosions, but Elisa never cried through the loud ones (both boys did at her age). The best part was that no one got hurt. Last year Benjamin grabbed a sparkler right after it burned out, which put a damper on the rest of the night.

We lit a few little fireworks after dinner, and some neighborhood kids showed up to help. Then we got our kids ready for bed and waited until it was good and dark. More neighbors were out by then, and we had a pretty good view of the city's fireworks over the houses and trees.

The night felt like a block party because the families intermingled much more than usual, and someone blasted fun music from their house during the whole thing. We even met neighbors for the first time, even though we walk past their house often. It felt like we should have been grilling hot dogs and hamburgers and eating ice cream cones. It was a fun and celebratory atmosphere for the Fourth of July.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

My Bucket List

Last night I watched "The Bucket List," about 2 cancer patients who make a list of things they want to do or accomplish before they die, or "kick the bucket." It got me thinking, which it aimed to do, and so here is my bucket list:

Accomplishments - stay active in my church and strong in my faith; successfully teach my children to live joyfully; complete a half-marathon; earn another degree; become fluent in at least 1 other language

Travel - to the bottom of the Grand Canyon; to Mayan ruins; to Alaska in the summertime; to New York City and see a musical on Broadway; to England to research my ancestors; to Germany and visit my birthplace; to St. Petersburg, Russia

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Promised pictures

Here are some pictures I promised from Lisy's first birthday. Chocolate cupcakes (traditional) are much less messy without frosting (because we didn't have any).




And here she's acting coy by trying to hide from the camera. She thinks it is very funny to avoid me and often runs away laughing.






Benjamin is saying "Cheese!" while showing off his dinosaur, which he takes everywhere I'll permit it.







Sammy is excited to watch his "pet" snail. He finds a new snail almost every day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Real Life - tagged

1) Kitchen sink - obviously I did not do any cleaning before taking the picture. Just so you know, it doesn't usually get this bad.







2) What are the kids doing now? Sleeping! Benjamin fell asleep during dinner, and the other 2 went to bed at the normal time. Even in this heat Sammy insists on wearing his sweatshirt; I don't know why.





3) Laundry room - shared with 2 other tenants in an unfinished basement. Did I mention this building was built in 1941?







4) Toilet - you can see the blue potty seat Benjamin refuses to use, and there are the lotions for my kids, who all inherited my dry skin.










5) Closet - our actual closet is small and difficult to use, so I hang my clothes and Lisy's dresses on a shelf behind the door. Not shown: pregnancy clothes piled on the floor.





6) Favorite room - more like a favorite corner of the living room, it's perfect for reading.











7) Fridge - nice and big, but it's still leaking. arg!












8) Favorite shoes - shoes?! What shoes? This is summer! (and I just painted my toenails) Ask again in 6 months when there's snow on the ground.








9) Self-portrait - my hair used to be blonde and now it's light brown. I might have to change that.








10) Dream vacation - this one is difficult for me. I know what Dominic wants to do, and I love to travel. However, the best 2-hour vacation that I want to repeat was clothes shopping without the kids; it was so peaceful and fun.

Now I tag Jen! The only person I know who's a blogger and reads my blog and hasn't already been tagged.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Busy, busy, busy

And this is why my journals are so short: I get busy and stop writing in them. But because I have an audience, I'll update you on our life.

Weeks and weeks ago (well, only 2) was Memorial day. After 6 1/2 years of marriage, we finally bought our own grill. Thus we barbecued despite the scattered showers. We finally went inside once we all ate and the rain remained constant. Then we went to see "Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull." I liked it! Sammy has been wearing hats and looking for treasure ever since.

3 days later we celebrated Elisa's first birthday! This is such a fun age. She obviously has big brothers, because she is an intrepid climber, loves to wrestle, and prefers cars to dolls. Yesterday she toddled around with a ferocious T-Rex in each hand and growled. It was especially funny because she looks so dainty. She does like getting her hair combed; she watches in the mirror and is all smiles.

We had a little scare (everyone is safe) when Sammy and the neighbor girl disappeared. The kids were playing in the apartment behind us. The woman saw the kids playing outside and invited them in. First, only scary people invite little kids in (remember Hansel and Gretel?), so what was she thinking? Second, Sammy always asks before going into his friends' home, so how could he forget this time? And third, her car was gone, so we didn't look there immediately. Neither Sammy nor his friend were allowed outside for a couple of days.

Which reminds me, does anyone need an apartment? Both the family below and the woman behind us moved, leaving us alone in the building. Bad timing for our new landlord. By the way, the building finally sold!

Finally, we went to the zoo. Our "must-see" animals: for me, the albino alligator; Sammy insisted on snakes; Benjamin asked for the bears; Lisy loves cats, so we took her to see the big kitties. The zoo only had 3 degus (we have 7), so I suggested we donate some of ours, but Dominic said no. We all had a good time and wore ourselves out. Sammy fell asleep on the way home and woke up the next morning.

Now you're all caught up. I'll post pictures later.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Chocolate syrup

Benjamin usually wakes up first. He's the reason we put a lock on the fridge last summer: he kept scattering the condiments around the living room. Now he can open the locked fridge, and he only takes out what he wants to drink, usually milk. This morning, however, Benjamin poured himself a cup of chocolate syrup. I found out about it when Elisa happily discovered the cup of chocolate. She was covered in chocolate from nose to feet and couldn't stop smiling. And then there was the couch. It's a good thing we have a carpet and upholstery cleaner.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kid Quirks




We went to Golden Corral, and one of the chefs made these "fishing" balloon hats for the boys. Benjamin popped his hat in the car, so Dominic taped the "fish" to my hat. And how can I post pictures and not include Lisy? So here she is playing with the flowers (well, dandelions) that Sammy gave me.

Sammy loves toast, especially making toast. This morning while I was out running, Dominic fell asleep on the couch and woke up to the smell of toast. Sammy had toasted an entire loaf of bread. He was very proud of himself. I made eggs and bacon to go with it, and the kids snacked on toast all day long. There are still 4 pieces left.

Benjamin can't pronounce the letter S yet. He also tends to hurt himself a lot. At least once a day we here him cry, "I 'urt my 'elf." That poor little "elf" is always getting hurt. Dominic says we should name the "elf" Unlucky.

Elisa likes to play peek-a-boo while I change her diaper. But the other day she couldn't find a blanket to play with. So she covered her eyes with her feet. Ah, the flexibility of a baby.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Drive-in

Last night we saw 2 movies at the drive-in: Prince Caspian and Nim's Island. Prince Caspian was great; it was on par with the first one. Sammy liked the centaurs - he's been half a horse all day.

Drive-in pros: front row seats, no crowds, we can talk without bothering others, first run movies at 1/4th the price, feels more like a date once the kids fall asleep

Drive-in cons: movies ended at 1:30 am, Sammy stayed awake through both movies, everyone was tired today, popcorn all over the car

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Dinner

I know that I'm not the best cook in the world. However, I do try to make something my family will eat. Last night Sammy only ate the chicken, Benjamin might have taken a bite, and Elisa licked the bottom of her foot. So, she is a baby, but still - she would rather lick her foot than eat my cooking? At least Dominic and I liked it.

P.S. We found the Underdog disc, which means we didn't have to buy it. Shwew!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Haircuts and Mother's day

Lisy was amused to walk in elephant slippers (but no haircut)












Sammy and Benjamin, with their spikey pre-haircut 'dos








This weekend I cut the boy's hair. I'm not the best haircutter, but now their hair is nice and short for the summer, if the warm weather ever arrives.

For Mother's day, Dominic worked. Instead we celebrated today. I told Dominic that I didn't want to cook but wanted to go to Olive Garden for dinner. And we did! So although I wasn't pampered like a lot of moms (we're still recovering from that nasty cold), I did get a yummy meal with no prep or clean up. I also made brownies. Perfect.

Friday, May 9, 2008

"Iron Man"

What a great movie! Good music, great special effects, likable characters, awesome outfit, need I go on? The bad guy was really bad, too; he oozed badness. Not for children, but it didn't have the graphic violence like the Spiderman movies (I was disappointed that they advertised it as a kids film, then they had fight scenes that even I couldn't watch). Whenever it looked like I wouldn't want to watch a scene, they stopped just in time (sigh of relief). Halfway through the movie, Dominic said he couldn't wait to see the next one. I told him to finish watching this movie first.

Speaking of movies, I haven't written a review in awhile. Here are a few:

Alvin and the Chipmunks. It was cute, but the best part was Benjamin's reaction. Every few minutes he would laugh and say, "chipmunks!"

Underdog. A big improvement on the cartoon. It had a few really funny lines, too. The kids lost the dvd, but I don't think it's worth owning.

Cloverfield. Dominic enjoyed watching "a good monster movie." I spent half the movie hiding my eyes.

Bee Movie. The kids loved it, but all the inaccuracies annoyed me. I know I know - it's just a cartoon, so I'll stop.

Beowulf. Have I already mentioned this one? I have mixed feelings about it. It resembled the epic poem. Some of the changes gave it continuity that the poem lacks. Other changes, like Grendel's mother, made it feel too hollywoodized. I don't recommend it.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Hoped-for memories

I am not much of a housekeeper. Cleaning is not one of my favorite activities. And I have finally come to terms with that. But I hope my children remember the things I'm doing with them instead, such as:

-blowing bubbles on the front porch
-"helping" me cook (mostly just stirring)
-playing Stuck Monster
-tickling/wrestling and laughing
-evening walks
-snuggling after naps
-snuggling during scary parts of movies
-reading
-visiting museums
-water games (in the summer)

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Adventures in the Kitchen (not all protein is good)

It all started with this cold. The entire family has a nasty cold, and we are all cranky. This afternoon I tried to take a nap on the living room couch (well, futon). Random things (ok, the kids) kept waking me up, and I finally got up feeling unrested and still cranky. So I made cookies.

For dinner I tried to make macaroni and cheese. I like to add whole wheat macaroni to the boxed noodles for a healthy boost. Apparently it's been awhile since I used the whole wheat noodles. While checking the noodle doneness (is that a real word?), I saw a bug! I shrieked and dropped the test noodle. I almost ate the bug! EWW! My reaction worried Sammy, who was also test-eating a noodle. They were cooked, so they couldn't be that bad, right? I attempted to separate the contaminated noodles, but I was too grossed out. I finally threw out the whole pot of noodles.

Now it was dinner time and we had no dinner. I heated up a frozen pizza. It wasn't quite enough for us, so we filled up on the cookies. Half way through dinner I realized I was still very cranky, and I took an Excedrin. I was much nicer the rest of the evening.

P.S. Speaking of kitchen adventures, did I ever mention the melted ship? While making dinner one evening, Benjamin kept knocking over Elisa with his pirate ship. I took it away from him and placed it on the nearest surface so I could finish meal preparations. Something smelled funny, and I realized that the plastic ship was on the burner I'd just turned off (and thus still hot). On a positive note, we finally got out the potato chips Sammy had crammed in the cargo hold.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Graduation celebration

My brother-in-law Uchenna graduated from BYU with a Ph.D. in chemical engineering this weekend. Much of the family showed up to congratulate and celebrate. Including the family here in Utah, my sisters from California came with their families, and my Mom. I'm sure everyone else was here in thought.

Thursday night 34 of us met at the Smalley's home for dinner. It was the epitome of "organized chaos." The evening was very fun and exciting.

After Dominic came home from work on Friday night, we made the trek down to Orem for the reception. It was the first time I met Uchenna's parents, and they seemed very pleased and proud of their son. But then, who wouldn't be?

We arrived home just in time for Dominic to get to bed (he has to wake up at 5 am on Saturdays.) The time was too short. I don't know when I'll see everyone again, especially Jen and Uchenna, who moved to Oklahoma. The distance between us makes me more grateful for telephones and email.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mini vacation

Before I begin, I just want to mention that Elisa took 2 steps to Sammy last night and still refuses to walk to me. (sigh)

Last week we took a day trip to Salt Lake City. We forgot how to get to the zoo, so instead we went to Liberty Park and fed 2 loaves of bread to the ducks, geese and seagulls. Dominic was able to get some geese and ducks to eat out of his hand. We had lunch at the cafe, where our kids amused everyone. Sammy told people his name is Clever Me. Why? I don't know. Probably the same reason he used to tell people he was Bug Bug Green Bean.

Unfortunately we had to drop off Dominic at work. So I took the children to the Bountiful temple and explained that Daddy and I were married there. The weather was beautiful, and we enjoyed playing on the grass.

We went to see a movie, and everyone (but me) fell asleep on the drive over. We arrived early enough to give them a half hour nap. We watched "Nim's Island," and I enjoyed it. The boys liked it, too, but the hurricane scenes scared Benjamin.

Sammy wanted to eat dinner at Applebee's to see the talking apple, like in the commercials. There were a lot of apples but none talked. I'm going to brag: we all had enough to eat and the bill, plus tip, came to $15. Yeah, I know how to order.

We spent the rest of the evening at the mall. I finally found the play place in an obvious spot, after walking all over the mall. In my defense I had another mall layout in mind and kept missing it.

Then we picked up Dominic from work and met a couple of his co-workers. One of them was trying to be funny and sat in our car, saying "Ok, let's go." Benjamin was too tired and cried a lot. She felt bad and kept apologizing for traumatizing him.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Elisa is walking!

Yesterday she started walking! Lisy was free-standing in the living room. Dominic went over to her and encouraged her to walk to him. She did. 3 whole steps. Dominic picked her up and hugged her, and she smiled really big. When I tried to get her to walk to me a few minutes later, she just fell in my direction.

This morning the kids were supposedly getting dressed but were actually wrestling. Elisa was right in there with the boys, climbing over them and laughing.

She is also sort of talking. There have been several times when she said "Mama," but usually when she's complaining. She also says "Dada," usually when she's happy and playing. So she might just be babbling.

Movie review: Bride and Prejudice. On the recommendation of my sister Emily, I rented this movie and loved it! Dominic likes the LDS version better, though. It's amazing how Jane Austin's story is timeless and universal. The boys were confused when the first musical number began. "Why are they dancing in the street?" asked Sammy. We should watch more musicals.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Sunday snapshot

We had a wonderful day. Here are some of the highlights.

Elisa almost took a step, but I think she just steadied herself while standing up, which she does more frequently. During sacrament meeting, she played under the pew with a ball she found.

Benjamin went to nursery without a hitch (yea!). He didn't even notice I left. This afternoon he pretended to be Nephi and kept breaking his bow. Tonight he was not tired at bedtime due to a long nap. After the other two were asleep, Benjamin and I read books. I don't often get one-on-one time with him, so tonight was very sweet.

Sammy prefers to hold the left side of the stroller when we cross a street during our evening walks. Who knows what's wrong with the right side? Last night (not today, but it was funny) we went to a spaghetti dinner at church. On the way out they gave us left-over spaghetti in a ziplock bag, and Sammy went around showing everyone the "dead worms."

Preparing dinner tonight I sang and danced around the kitchen. The kids are used to it and think I'm silly. If they were 10 years older, they'd probably roll their eyes and leave the room. But for now they're happy watching me have fun.

After dinner we had about half an hour until bedtime. I gave the boys 2 options: go on a walk or play "World of Warcraft." They unanimously and emphatically chose the walk. I was impressed.

Dominic will be calling me soon, once he gets out of work. Normally he can come home and relax, knowing the next day is his rest day - he catches up on his missed sleep. He's working tomorrow, so I hope he can still relax.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Snow?!

Here is the scene we woke up to this morning. It snowed on and off all weekend, but none of it stuck until today. I am such a weather wimp that it only took a second for me to decide not to run. I know, I know, people around here say it sometimes snows in June and July, but I'm ready for Spring. We are so ready, in fact, that we bought seeds last week and prepped them for planting. If the grounds ever thaws, we will plant Morning Glories, green beans and peas.