Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas 2010

I went to bed on Christmas night feeling amazingly blessed in every way.
This season was especially meaningful to me.

I will admit that I am happy to turn the page on 2010.
I am ready to move forward.
We had many wonderful memories of this year,
and we had lots of parts I could easily forget.
I wanted the Christmas portion of this year to be a beautiful ending.
Christmas 2010 will be a happy memory.
By the end of it, I even thought,
"We almost have this down."
To sum up the week,
It was really busy.
There was a moment last week when I had to wait on someone ahead of me.
I wondered,
"How on earth does that person get through life moving SO Slow?"
And then I noticed that lots of people move really slow.
I think I would too,
if I could.

My favorite part of Christmas?

A week ago,
Caleb asked why we don't give the homeless presents anymore.
I stopped to consider.
I used to fill 10 stockings with gifts.
  • A orange
  • toothbrush and paste
  • socks
  • treats
  • chocolates
  • a water bottle
  • and a gift card to McDonald's
The average cost was over $100.

And then we would go out the week of Christmas,
searching for people who looked like they needed some cheer.

I believe firmly in traditions,
and I never want to disappoint my kids,
so I did my best to put the gifts together again this year.
Only six this time,
and we used Santa bags instead of stockings.
I left out the toothbrush, toothpaste and orange.
It was still a good offering.

The week of Christmas had been just a little exhausting.
(Remember this is my journal,
and I write to remember,
and never to impress.
When I move tremendously slow,
I will think back to these years,
and wonder how we squeezed it all in.)
Dan worked 68 hours,
and volunteered an afternoon with the fire toy drive.
We managed a few trips to the temple,
and spent time with the kids.
There were all the usual chores,
the yardwork,
the car washings,
the housework,
and the extra Christmas needs.
The laundry was a major issue.
I was WAY behind,
and I so much appreciate my mother helping me round the clock for nearly 24 hours so I could finish.
We delivered the remaining Christmas to our final less-fortunate family.
I worked with little sleep all week so that we might have some fun together.
The day before Christmas Eve,
we got a call that a family in our neighborhood was moving at 7am Christmas Eve.
We were supposed to leave by 8.
It made me nervous.
Dan and the boys went to help.
He said it was the highest attended service project all year,
and it brought a great spirit to the holiday.
We loaded up for the zoo a little late,
but still had fun.
My Favorite part of Christmas:
We left the zoo and headed down Van Buren in search of 6 homeless people.
We found a lady,
and then spotted a group of 3 men on a bus bench.
We had to turn around and come back.
By then,
there were 4.
One was holding a paper bag with a bottle inside.
As Colin and I walked over to them,
the one was sharing his bottle with the others.
We handed the gifts to each man.
It's impossible not to notice how worn their faces were from years on the street.
The happy one (with the bottle) gave me a big hug.
I shook another man's hand,
and patted the others on the shoulder.
We wished them kindness,
and left.
As I got in the car,
the kids were chattering loudly.
"Did you know that guy mom?!?"
They burst into laughter saying,
"Why did you hug him then?"
Everyone needs a Christmas hug.
We headed deeper downtown looking for one more.
I finally told Dan to drive towards my brother's apartment,
hoping to catch him outside.
He wasn't there.
I wanted to cry to know that he lives in such a rough neighborhood.
We found our last guy,
sitting on another bench.
He had spread all his things around very comfortably.
Although it was chilly,
he sat barefoot.
Dan said,
"Well, at least we know he can use some socks."
The mood was cheerful,
and the shoeless guy was grateful,
and loud,
and of course the kids noticed.
We drove away explaining why most people are homeless.
I fought back tears.
Why does life have to be so hard for some people?
I have never understood.
The children were happy to have served.
My ambitions for the week were complete.
We were ready for the festivities to begin.
I, with several of my cousins,
ended up sick on Christmas.
It was still really fun.
A wonderful Christmas would not have been possible without all the help from the children and Dan. I love you.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Letters to Wednesday

Dear Wednesday,

You began at 4:15am. Dan spent the first part of his morning laughing at my expense, until he finally got hungry, and then nothing was funny anymore. Have you seen that new commercial...the one with the guy who turns into a diva when he gets hungry? That's my husband. We had Snickers with us, and he had some at 7:05am.

My house is crawling with kids today. I like kids, mostly. It's been absolutely beautiful this week. Cloudy and warm, with occasional sprinkles. We are wearing short sleeves. It's nice enough to be barefoot out on the winter grass. This is why we live here. And so, I keep kicking the kids out to the curb. Go play little varmints.

I thought I might escape the craziness of this month, but it didn't happen. We were fortunate enough to be involved with helping 3 other less fortunate families this season. My friend Holly taught me to give service, and it makes everything better. She's right.

2 Mickey's left. Still lots to do. Wednesday, thanks for cancelling scouts and youth group tonight. I might like you after all.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Wednesday Eve

Colin kept me up late last night and dragged me out in the cold to see the lunar eclipse.
I hope I always remember those moments.

Today, I am sad.
Can't really explain it.

My phone was missing for 36 hours and dead half that time.
It causes me anxiety to check it after so long.
I missed 29 calls and 11 text messages before it died.

Remember the 80's?
We talked on the phone,
tethered to the wall.
I miss it.

That reminds me,
we were in the hallway at church on Sunday.
There is a phone on the wall,
the old-fashioned kind,
with a long, curly cord.
Cade said,
"Look mom, someone's iPhone."
"Yes son, but you can't check your email on that one."

Cell phones and Internet are great,
but it's getting a little out of control.

I spend most of my time in trouble with most of the people I know.
If they only knew how many times I do answer my phone, emails, vm's, texts, FB, door-which should really be the revolving type.

It's Winter Break.
I welcome the change from the normal schedule.
A few hours ago,
a couple teenagers came in offering to help.
I put them to work wrapping gifts for a family in need.
When that started winding down,
I handed them washcloths and sent them after the fingerprints.
They are now out at the park,
watching Mayhem and Destruction,
who have been 2 steps ahead of me all day.
Thanks a million, girls.

Corbin came to me and said, "That smells gooooddd. What's that smell?"

Last night I treated myself to something.
What I need is a cleaning lady.
Instead I bought all new cleaning products.
I am not the only one who gets excited about things like that.
Colin immediately sifted through them too,
smelling each one,
and reading the labels for what purpose they serve.
He is my child
(except for the dark part....which he gets from Dan....hahahaha)

As the smell in the house gets better,
my mood is lightening.

It's Tuesday,
the day before Wednesday,
which is the day I do not like at all,
and upon which,
all weekly success is measured.

Happy Wednesday Eve.
Perhaps tomorrow will be mild this week,
even enjoyable.
You never know.

Monday, December 20, 2010

TP and Hammy

One more thing....
I came in last night from being out next door.
We had been laughing around the fire pit again.
There have been a string of TPing's happening around the neighborhood.

I have one son in particular that always gets blamed.
Last night,
all the adults were questioning whether or not I really know my son,
and his activities.
I said,
he's probably only ever been out TPing 3 or 4 times."
They laughed, "Surrre....right, hahaha."

We joked about Colin's TP signature style.
He tears a roll, square by square,
and it's kind of messy.
I explained,
"That's because I only give him one roll,
and he has to make it last."
No seriously.

I came in late,
and Colin and Sydney were on the couch.
I asked him to tell me about his TPing adventures.
He named all 3.
One of which,
he and his friends picked up and moved the TP from one house to the house next door.
(They knew I wouldn't give them anymore TP)

And one of his adventures,
he TP'd our own house,
so it didn't really count.

I told him about the reputation.
He said, "That's awesome."
Sydney confessed that she's the only girl in her church class that has never been TPing.
We all laughed to tears.

and that reminds me of the new pet we are borrowing.
It's the preschool hamster, 'Hammy.'
He replaced the last 'Hammy' that met with an unfortunate accident over Fall Break.
When I packed up Hammy to bring him home,
I asked about any special instructions.
The teacher said,
"Well, be careful. He bites."
I asked Corbin about it.
He said, "Yes, Hammy bites."
I came home,
handed the fur ball to the kids,
and gave the instructions.
"What kind of a preschool pet bites???"
They were rolling over that.

And so we have Hammy,
who spins around in a little ball all over the house.
Only Colin really handles him,
because everyone else is nervous to hold him.

Yes, Colin,
Hammy must go back.
No, the preschool kids won't kill him.
They are too afraid.


What a huge difference it makes to have the week before Christmas off.
The last few weeks have been full of concerts, parties, projects and finals.
It's been super fun,
and super exhausting.

My mom did a sneaky thing
She planned a progressive dinner with her kids in the neighborhood.
the funnest night ever with our family.

We began at our house with vegi's and music.
Colin played sax.
Hallie played her violin.
Caleb played his trumpet.
Kiersten and Nolan played the piano.
Sydney sang.
We had 3 versions of jingle bells.

It is customary here to sing when the kids are playing.
I wanted to,
but we just listened.
Colin and Caleb owe me another round.

(A side note to my sons.....I absolutely love to hear you play.)
Both have played trumpet,
and what a difficult instrument that is.
Caleb has it this year.
He comes upstairs in the mornings sometimes and plays for me.
He plays and I sing,
and we giggle our heads off.
I am amazed that any sounds come out of that difficult instrument at all.
I am so proud of his dedication to the music,
because it's really tough.
I love. love. love. to hear him play.

After our house,
we went to Grandma's.
She put out an Italian feast.
It was so yummy.
We ate in the garage/dining room.
(It's really fancy, painted and everything.)
And the 14 cousins that were there had a great time eating together.
Grandma dressed the kids up in Nativity costumes,
and we traveled to Uncle Matt's in a herd of excitement.

The church that meets at the school across the street was having a huge, rockin party,
and the feeling in the air was festive.

Uncle Matt read the Nativity,
and the kids acted it out.
Somehow, Yoda made an appearance in the production.
The sheep was a hamster,
and the kids posed gansta style for several pics.
Grandma Nancy and Grandpa Gary and my mom laughed and laughed.

From Matt's, we traveled on to my sisters,
where she had a huge spread laid out for gingerbread houses.
At one point during the construction,
Dan and I looked over to see Cade,
not working on a house,
but instead, munching a huge box of Dots.
We re-directed him so at least the candy was first stuck down in frosting,
prior to being plucked off and consumed seconds later.

At precisely 7:30pm,
as we were walking back to my brother's house,
the church across the street set off their big fireworks presentation,
right over our heads.
It was amazing.

We finished at a fire pit,
drinking coco,
and laughing,
while the kids played together.

The grandma's and grandpa turned in for the night,
and we sat as brothers and sisters around the fire.
I asked what everyone had done that day.
We all had the same response,
"Clean the house for company."

I am pretty sure that my mom was exercising her motherly influence when she planned the party the week before Christmas,
knowing that her kids would probably enjoy the holidays more,
if the "work-part" was finished early.
It's true.
We now have four days till the Christmas Eve,
and the hardest parts of the season are over,
and only the fun is left to be had.
Thanks, Mom.
We will always remember this fun year.

It's 6:51am and still dark.
My little minions sleep late too now.
I am so happy to have them together this week.
My life would empty without them.

I wish I could say that all our work was finished here.
I still have a considerable amount ahead on our quest to organize this house,
but I can do a little every day,
and be ready for a fun holiday.

Christmas this year has been particularly meaningful to me.
Around the time of Maryn's first birthday,
I really woke up again.
I always forget what that first year with a new baby is like.
It's wonderful,
and exhausting.
It drains everything from me,
And I wouldn't trade it for the world.

I feel good right now,
a little thin from recent sicknesses,
and there is a serious lack of fitness going on,
but mentally,
I feel awake.
I am thankful it happened before Christmas.

For me,
this season is never a spectacular event.
(It's probably because I am not overly creative.)
I feel the spirit of Christmas quietly in my heart.
Mostly, we celebrate our greatest Gift reverently.
When I look into the faces of the sweet children who bless my life,
I am ever so much more grateful for the blessing of a Savior who makes it possible for us to be together beyond this life.
I love the part of the year where we focus on His birth and all he taught in His life.
If we could only love more as He did.

The women in my life make Christmas a wonderfully memorable event.
They are my best examples.

Grandma Terri makes sure we are properly decorated.
This time of year deserves extra effort,
and she came over a few days to help me over my roadblocks.
I will always remember my childhood house so beautifully outfitted for the Christmas season.
She ensures that every need is met.
It's a talent and a skill that has taken years of honing.
Her endurance is amazing.

Grandma Nancy brings ornaments, hugs and tons of baked goods to the season.
She always remembers our kids.
This isn't anything unique to Christmas for her.
It happens all year long.

Most people would think it odd that my parents were so close to my mother's ex-husband and his sweet wife.
They are my finest examples of unconditional love.

Grandma Donna is kind and sweet.
She is patient with things like sugar cookie making,
and the children explore her house freely.
She has such a way of connecting with people on an individual level,
especially the children,
and they love spending time with her.

I feel truly blessed.

The Gingerbread Mickey Calendar says only 4 Mickey's left.
That's my cue to get moving today.

Happy Monday.
Today is the day.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December 14

I am not sure where the time goes.

Last night,
around 11:30pm,
Cade was coughing so hard that his eyes became bloodshot,
and his cheeks turned red.

Past experience tells me that the nights are the worst part of a sickness.
I was getting a little worried.
It's been awhile since I've been through a respiratory illness.
We aren't equipped right now to treat at home.
For years,
we kept regular supplies of prednisone and albuteral,
but in the last 2.5 years,
I have developed a serious adversity to doctors and medications.
Last night,
alone in the quiet house with my sick little boy,
I battled with my thoughts over what to do.
There have been mid-night trips to emergency rooms,
and dozens of visits to the doctors.
Cade wasn't in any immediate danger,
but he was getting worse.

I set a time in my head,
that if he wasn't better,
I would take him in.
That would require me staying up late to get all the clothes and school needs ready.
I was already so tired.
Today, December 14th, is my very busiest day.
Cade slept off and on,
and was stable enough to be here at home.

I started the morning late for the 2nd day
after another sleepless night.
Sydney has finals today,
and a concert.
Corbin has his pre-school party,
and we bring home the pet to babysit over break.
The elementary kids have projects to complete.
This day is full,
but it's our last big day before Christmas, I hope.

3 years ago,
I had the worst Christmas Eve ever.
2 years ago,
we stayed at home because I was afraid to go out.
Last year,
we went out,
but I was still nervous.
All I wanted for Christmas was a clean house.
Dan was very sweet to let me finish my chores,
so I could have that,
but I spent Christmas morning cleaning my bedroom.

It's because of bad years,
that I have become somewhat obsessive about Christmas this year.
The years when I was not prepared,
were the years that are hardest on my memories.

What's an ideal Christmas for me?
I find meaningful gifts for the people we care about.
All the shopping is finished early.

I don't stay up all night wrapping gifts on Christmas Eve.
The house is clean and organized.
We have performed significant service.
I actually mail the Christmas cards.
I have food, clothes and shoes ready ahead.
I am not cutting hair on Christmas Eve.
The cameras are charged and ready.
Dan is here.
We spend Christmas Eve morning at the Zoo,
and Christmas Day at the movies.
It's all about the kids.
No nagging,
No hurrying,
No stress.
For me to accomplish all that
will take everything I can offer in the next 10 days.
I want our kids to remember these holidays with fondness.
How many times a year can our time be all about our kids and the family and friends we care about?
Not many.
But if it's possible,
I want to help it happen.
With that,
I am off to the doctor.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Plan B worked.

We get in weird funks,
and it really only takes a conversation
to remind everyone of their responsibilities.

Thanks guys.
I appreciate all your help.

Sometimes I wonder why I spend my time repeating the same actions over and over.
For example reading the scriptures everyday,
or attending church every week.
It doesn't matter how many times we have read, heard or attended,
we still find new meaning in the same old messages.
We are blessed for our willingness to try again.

Have a good Thursday my little minions.
I love you.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Plan A:

Dear Santa,

For Christmas this year, will you please send an elf or 2 just for a few hours? I really need some help today.

Thanks a Million,

Plan B:

Dear Children,

I don't think the jolly, fat guy will help us with our chores, so I really need you. Please, please, please help me before I go a little crazy. You each voluntarilly traded your designated sectors last night. To be clear:

Dining room - Colin (that means dumb dog too.)
Living room - Presley
Entry - Sydney (door-to-door, big counter and washing slobber window)
Family room - Reagan (don't forget to dust)
Stairs, loft, Powder bathroom - Caleb (yes. Yes. Yes!! I advise against leaving the room early next time we are picking chores)

These are your jobs until you master them. If you do them well, you get to choose first next time.

Remember, you are responsible for the appearance of your assigned room at all times of the day. It needs vacuumed once a day. Dusted, once a week.

And just so you know, you are all old enough to go the extra mile on your cleaning jobs. Beds should be made, pillows arranged, laundry put away neatly, bathrooms cleaned everyday. It's not that much to ask considering I was the means by which you entered this world.....(a super painful experience, in case you were wondering. If you need a reminder, we could watch the birth videos).

And you know I am far nicer than most moms, so please be helpful.

Happy mom = Happy everyone else.

Love you guys,

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

It's time for a post about laundry.....

The sensor went out on the washing machine.
It will be out of commission for a few days.

I was already a week behind due to sicknesses,
both me and the poor, overworked, fritzy washer.
(We share many commonalities)

If I were an appliance,
I would be a washing machine.
The old-school, top-loading kind.
The kind that has $.79 loads on Tuesdays and Fridays.
The homely, old reliable type.
I would want to hold more clothes than is recommended,
and end up off balanced when mixing sheets with towels.
New fancy machines make promises they can't keep,
but I would survive for years.

Today is Tuesday.
No one has clean underwear.
That's a big issue.

I made myself a promise to stay away from the laundry mat.
How do I break that promise now??

Monday, December 6, 2010

San Tan Flats

I was calling it a day on Saturday at 4:20pm.
It had been a long week.
I really just wanted to spend some time with my favorite blanket and squishy pillows.
Dan came in,
insisting that I get dressed to go out.
After that week....
No way.
He asked nicely.
He said I had 10 minutes to decide.
He left to gather kids from the neighborhood,
fed the little guys,
and delivered them to my mom.
I brushed out my day-old hair,
found my warmest, albeit, oddest looking skirt,
and a necklace.
I was wearing all black,
with the exception of sparkling silver, flat shoes.
Dan looked at me with raised eyebrows,
and I got in the car.
We drove 30 minutes north in silence.
Dan was content.
Me......just listening.
Peal Jam on the radio.

He took me to my favorite place.
As we walked along the tree-lined street up to the front steps of the temple,
He shot me a sly look when the blossoms in the air simultaneously reminded us of the library where we spent so many nights together in college.
I refused to return his glance.
I wasn't giving in.

This time of year,
the temple looks more amazing than ever.
It twinkles with thousands of tiny lights.
The grounds were dotted with couples,
quiet groups of people looking for some added Christmas spirit.

In the temple,
by chance,
we saw a few of my favorite people.
One old guy has worked in the temple for years,
and I rarely see him anymore.
For about 5 years,
he brought weekly encouragement to my long days.
He is always ready with a hug
and compliments I don't deserve.

Dan and I were the "mature" ones in our sealing session with 3 very young couples.
One newlywed couple wanted to sit next to each other.
I kind of just wanted to sit alone.
Dan kept smirking at me.
When we were all finished working,
We shared a quiet minute in my favorite room of the temple,
and then came back out into the busy world.

It was 9:06pm when we pulled into the parking lot of El Rico's.
The most happening restaurant in south Gilbert was shutting down,
so we headed to Queen Creek.
On our search for another Mexican restaurant,
we drove aimlessly east towards the unknown wherabouts of Serranos.
In our trek,
we happened upon a busy parking lot.
I had always imagined the place as some kind of church,
but it carried the tempting aroma of home fries, soft rolls, and perfect steak.

If it was a church,
it had food,
and we were already dressed in Sunday clothes
so we went in.

It was a restaurant of sorts after all.
There was a burly, tattoo-covered security guard at the entrance,
and a large center courtyard,
speckled with small campfires and picnic tables.
Live country music was playing in the background,
people chatting all around,
and an open air, empty dance floor.
We estimated that anyone within a 25 mile radius,
looking for atmosphere,
found their way to San Tan Flats that night.
It was packed.

We located the restaurant area of the grounds,
and were seated in a little round booth for 2.

The silence in my head,
the music in the air,
the fire dancing,
the peace,
finally settled on my restless mind.

In a distinct moment,
it occurred to me:
He was coercing back into his world.
A deliberate accumulation of seemingly unnoticeable coincidences.

I was caught.
A little angry,
but too weak to resist.

We finished our food,
laughed a little,
talked about my mid-life crisis,
and my ambitions to become a waitress....
somewhere with live music,
and good food.
He rolled his eyes,
and walked me out.

The country band was playing a Bret Micheal's slow dance fav from the 80's.
A few couples had made their way out on to the floor.
I reminded him that the last time we danced,
it was to that exact song.
If he hadn't been wearing a sport coat
in a place where Harley's and tattoos were standard,
I might have consented to another dance.
The weather was perfect,
the music....not so much.
In the backdrop of the beautiful Arizona desert,
in the faultless night air,
he kissed me outside the car,
and asked if I was back.
Back from where?

A days worth of effort,
an evening of patiently waiting,
so the night could end perfectly.

After 15 years,
how is it that he is still able to distract my mind
and capture my heart so easily?
He takes me from unrest
and leads me back to safety,
whenever I feel lost.

Why write all this down?
I never want to forget the way he looks at me,
or how it feels to hold his hand,
and every little detail of a December evening out together.

He is the constant in my little world.

Saturday, December 4, 2010


I lost a week to sickness.
It's the thing I neglected to account for in my daily scheduling.
(I don't allot for unproductive down time.
It kills me.)

Progress this week:
2 kids are on board with their laundry days.
Thanks, guys.
And that leaves 2 remaining.

I am feeling humbled this morning,
because of the many good things in my life,
and the many hard things that keep me strong.
This morning,
I am grateful for a good husband and mother who taught me how to do yard work,
and a dad that taught me how to clean.
(My mom would question that,
but it was really my dad,
and his second job,
and the many hours I spent helping him).
I am not afraid to work hard.
It's been my biggest blessing.

I also feel really grateful for my hardworking kids.
It's taken many years,
but I see their strength now too.
It keeps growing all the time.

I started a post to respond to some one's question as to how I manage to get my children to help around the house.
The short of it is in this theory:

  • Do As I Say
  • Do As I Do
  • Do As the Spirit Directs
So when they were small,
they protested the work.
I almost gave up,
because I hate forcing,
and really,
it almost requires that.
"Do As I Do" is easier.
Dan willingly does housework.
I help with yard work, shoveling, home repairs, etc.
There isn't much distinction between male/female jobs around here.
The work is all the same.

And as the kids have gotten older,
they help more easily,
because they would also like a clean, organized home.
And to be clear,
this house is far from what we all would like,
but it won't be like this forever.

I appreciate so much what the children offer to our household dynamics.
Without their help,
we could not accomplish anything.
I hope they know that their willingness is very inspiring to me,
and more than anything,
I appreciate it.

with a long list this morning,
it's back to the Saturday responsibilities.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Been sick.